Welcome to Jon Caldara

Jon Caldara's official blog! Caldara is the President of the Independence Institute, Colorado's free-market think tank in Denver, Colorado. Caldara also hosts a radio talk show every Sunday, from 5 to 8pm on 630 KHOW. His current affairs television program Devils Advocate, on Colorado Public Television Channel 12, airs on Fridays at 8:30 pm repeated the following Monday at 1:30pm. Be sure to follow Jon on Facebook and Twitter!

In time for Earth Day: How “green” are Colorado’s green schools?

Posted by on Apr 22 2014 | Environment

 

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 22, 2014

Contact: Mary MacFarlane, 303-279-6536 ext. 102, Mary@i2i.org

 

How “Green” Are Colorado’s Green Schools?

Think tank study reveals vagueness when measuring energy efficiency

DENVER, Colo – Many Colorado school districts have at least one “green” school that uses more energy per square foot than the best-performing traditional school in the same district, says a new issue paper published by Colorado’s free-market think tank, the Independence Institute.

When looking at the higher construction and operating costs green schools require compared to traditionally built schools, Todd Myers, Environmental Director at the Washington Policy Center, found that in some cases, green schools are using up to 60 percent more energy than the best performing traditional school.

“On Earth Day, many on the Left confuse environmental symbolism with environmental effectiveness. Too many green schools end up increasing environmental damage and the cost is not only paid by taxpayers and students. The environment also loses as we waste resources on policies that look good instead of where we could really make a difference,” said Myers.
The paper, titled “Colorado Green Schools” is available here.

“We’d encourage all Colorado districts to follow Poudre School District’s lead and do a comparison of energy performance versus cost to see if ‘green’ school buildings live up to their promises,” said Amy Oliver Cooke, Energy Policy Center director.

“We aren’t saying that air conditioning and natural lighting don’t promote a better learning environment for students and teachers,” added Cooke. “But labeling creature comforts as cost-saving, energy-efficient ‘green’ building codes is disingenuous to taxpayers and Mother Nature, as the study proves.”

The Independence Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Denver.


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Calling all entrepreneurs! (And wanna-be entrepreneurs)

Posted by on Apr 16 2014 | Events

Our good friends at Liberty on the Rocks will be hosting an incredible FREE weekend event for all current and aspiring entrepreneurs, here at the Independence Institute offices, May 2-4th. The event is aimed at folks who don’t want to just understand the theories behind free markets and liberty, but want to actually engage the free market in order to advance liberty. Below you’ll find the details of the event from Amanda Muell, President of Liberty on the Rocks and host of the Liberty Lab.

Have you heard about Liberty Lab? It’s the newest how-to-start-a-business-boot camp designed specifically for liberty minded entrepreneurs. Whether you live in Denver or wish to participate remotely, this event is for anyone with an idea for advancing freedom!

Do you have a project or a business idea that you believe will change the world, but don’t know where to start? Or have a project or startup you are looking to grow in a new direction? Liberty Lab is the event you can’t afford to miss – you will even have the chance to win up to $2000 in seed funding. And, it’s free to attend!

Held over the course of three days (and also streamed live online), Liberty Lab is your opportunity to connect and collaborate with like-minded freedom lovers, while learning how to launch your project from some of the best and brightest liberty minded entrepreneurs in Colorado. Don’t believe me? Here are a few people you will be learning from:

  • Jeff Proctor, Senior Instructor at the Koch Institute
  • Lani Langton, Business Coach at ActionCOACH
  • Brian Watson, President of Northstar Commercial Partners
  • Darrell Hornbacher, CEO of Midas Financial Company

Click HERE to see the full list of speakers, coaches, and mentors.

Spaces are filling up fast, and you don’t want to miss out on this unique opportunity. Register today, mark your calendar, and get ready to change the world. And don’t forget to tell your friends!

Can’t make it in person? Register here to participate remotely.

Click Here to Register for your chance at $1500 in Seed Funding**

What: Liberty Lab

When: 05/02/2014 – 05/04/2014

Where: Independence Institute, 727 East 16th Avenue, Denver, Colorado

Why: Individuals, not government, are the answer to societies problems

Who: Hosted by Liberty on the Rocks

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Institute for Justice Event This Wednesday

Posted by on Apr 14 2014 | Events, U.S. Constitution

It isn’t easy being illiterate. My dyslexia makes everything more interesting, just like those dyslexic atheists. They don’t believe in dogs.

Anyway, when my staff emailed me all excited about getting the author of Terms of Engagement to speak here, I said “okay, do it.” You see, I thought they said the author of Terms of Endearment. Seemed like a chick flick to me, but Jack Nicholson was way cool in it so, you know, whatever.

Apparently Terms of Engagement is a book. Who knew?

Clark Neily is a senior attorney for one of the greatest outfits around – the Institute for Justice. He litigates economic liberty, property rights, school choice, First Amendment, and other constitutional cases in both federal and state courts.

Thee new book, which doesn’t even have a forward by Jack Nicholson, argues that judges need to take a lot of the blame for the hard turn to the left our nation has taken. And he offers a solution.

Well, come hear him speak at the Independence Institute offices (727 E. 16th Ave. Denver, CO 80203) this Wednesday, April 16th. Event starts at 5:30p with light refreshments. Did I mention the event is FREE? All you’ve got to do is RSVP either online here or over the phone at 303-279-6536.

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UPDATED! Article V Symposium featuring Rob Natelson

Posted by on Apr 09 2014 | Article V, Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, U.S. Constitution, Video

The other day I posted 4 of the 7 videos of the Article V Symposium that Rob Natelson moderated/MC’d. Below you’ll find the 3 missing videos for the whole collection!

Here are Rob’s opening remarks (8 minutes)

Author Bob Berry outlines several amendment ideas (20 minutes)

Michael Farris’ remarks (17 minutes)

Here’s the roundtable discussion (48 minutes)

Senator Kevin Lundberg and Representative Lori Saine’s resolution (13 minutes)

Questions and Answers (33 minutes)

Here’s Mark Meckler’s closing comments (11 minutes)

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Article V Symposium featuring Constitutional Scholar Rob Natelson

Posted by on Apr 07 2014 | Article V, Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, U.S. Constitution

Our senior fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence Rob Natelson was asked to be the moderator for this Article V “Convention for Proposing Amendments” symposium. Below you’ll find Rob’s remarks and the rest of the symposium for your viewing pleasure.

Here are Rob’s opening remarks (8 minutes)

Author Bob Berry outlines several amendment ideas (20 minutes)

Here’s the roundtable discussion (48 minutes)

Here’s Mark Meckler’s closing comments (11 minutes)

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April Fools’

Posted by on Apr 01 2014 | Purely Personal

I thought you might get a kick out of our April Fools’ joke press release we sent out today. Since the Left claims every organization that promotes Liberty (including us) is funded by the evil Koch brothers, we thought we should make their dream come true. At least one AP reporter ran with the story on twitter, then had to retract it.

Enjoy,

Jon

 

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 1, 2014

Contact: Mary MacFarlane, 303-279-6536 ext. 102, Mary@i2i.org



Independence Institute announces partnership with Koch Brothers
 

Today the Independence Institute, Colorado’s premiere think tank, is pleased to announce an exciting new chapter in its nearly 30 year history as Charles and David Koch commit to a sizable investment in Colorado.

Jon Caldara, president of Independence, announced, “After months of negotiation with the Koch brothers we have reached an agreement on ownership of the Independence Institute which preserves the integrity and effectiveness of this great free market organization. This arrangement ensures our future and our impact in Colorado.”

Under the terms of the agreement the Koch brothers have invested an undisclosed amount of funding into the Institute, in exchange they will receive 51% ownership of the organization. This will provide Independence with the resources necessary to continue operations and serving the cause of freedom in Colorado.

Caldara said that the change in ownership will not have a sizable change in the operations or the direction of the Institute saying, “We are thrilled about keeping the name “Independence” in the new iteration of our organization.”

Caldara declared that the newly titled “Koch Institute at Independence” pays tribute to our proud history but also points to our new and properly funded future.

The Independence Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Denver.


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Just the Fracking Facts: Hydraulic Fracturing Debate

Posted by on Mar 17 2014 | energy, Events

Just a reminder of our fracking debate coming up this Thursday at the Denver Post building.

Here’s the Facebook event page.

Fracking_Debate_Final

To RSVP online, go here. Or you can call Mary MacFarlane at 303-279-6536, ext. 102.

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Debate inside the mysterious Denver Post building

Posted by on Mar 14 2014 | energy, Events

Ever been inside the Denver Post building? Well, I have, and it’s frightening. Framed pictures of Karl Marx on the walls, everyone wearing those little gray Mao uniforms, and a soup line in the lunch room. Filing into the building, workers must pass 10-foot-tall reprints of the Post’s endorsements of Amendment 23, Fastracks, Ref C and D, last year’s Amendment 66, and scores of other tax and debt increases.

It’s like Cuba, except with a Starbucks.

Well, here’s your big opportunity to see it for yourself! We are hosting a debate on hydraulic fracturing in Colorado. And we’re doing it in the Post’s swanky auditorium this Thursday, March 20, at 5:00 pm. It’s going to be a conversation with both sides of the issue. We’re glad to have the Left-leaning Alliance for Sustainability partnering with us, and the always dapper Eric Sonderman serving as moderator. Tickets are free, but required, to get in.

 

Get info and reserve a seat before they’re all gone on our events page here.

And I hope you know I was just kidding around about the inside of the Post building. There’s no Starbucks.

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The Lamp of Experience: Constitutional Amendments Work

Posted by on Mar 09 2014 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, History, Natelson Rob', Rob Natelson, U.S. Constitution

(This article originally appeared in the American Thinker.)

Opponents of a Convention of States long argued that there was an unacceptable risk a convention might do too much. It now appears they were mistaken. So they increasingly argue that amendments cannot do enough.

The “too much” contention was first promulgated in modern times by apologists for the liberal, ultra-activist Earl Warren/Warren Burger Supreme Court. Specifically, these apologists feared a convention might propose amendments to reverse their favorite judicial decisions. Their tactic was to claim that an amendments convention, even if legally limited, could turn into a “con-con” that disregarded its limits, repealed the Bill of Rights, and restored slavery. (Yes, some of them really said that.)

The liberals who promoted this scenario must have been amused when some deeply conservative groups fell into the trap and began using the same argument to kill conservative amendments.

The “too much” line, however, has been losing its persuasiveness. New research shows it to be legally and historically weak, and Americans increasingly are pondering the very real dangers of not resorting to the convention process the Founders bequeathed to us.

Hence the shift to the “too little” argument. Its gist is that amendments would accomplish nothing because federal officials would violate amendments as readily as they violate the original Constitution.

Opponents will soon find their new position even less defensible than the old. This is because the contention that amendments are useless flatly contradicts over two centuries of American experience — experience that demonstrates that amendments work. In fact, amendments have had a major impact on American political life, mostly for good.

* * * *

The Framers inserted an amendment process into the Constitution to render the underlying system less fragile and more durable. They saw the amendment mechanism as a way to:

* correct drafting errors;
* resolve constitutional disputes, such as by reversing bad Supreme Court decisions;
* respond to changed conditions, and
* correct and forestall governmental abuse.

The Framers turned out to be correct, because in the intervening years we have adopted amendments for all four of those reasons. Today, nearly all of these amendments are accepted by the overwhelming majority of Americans, and all but very few remain in full effect. Possibly because ratification of a constitutional amendment is a powerful expression of popular political will, amendments have proved more durable than some parts of the original Constitution.

Following are some examples:

Correcting drafting errors

Although the Framers were very great people, they still were human, and they occasionally erred. Thus, they inserted in the Constitution qualifications for Senators, Representatives, and the President, but omitted any for Vice President. They also adopted a presidential/vice presidential election procedure that, while initially plausible, proved unacceptable in practice.

The founding generation proposed and ratified the Twelfth Amendment to correct those mistakes. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment addressed some other deficiencies in Article II, which deals with the presidency. (My reference to a particular amendment does not mean I agree with every provision in it.)

Both the Twelfth and Twenty-Fifth Amendments are in full effect today.

Resolving constitutional disputes and overruling the Supreme Court

The Framers wrote most of the Constitution in clear language, but they knew that, as with any legal document, there would be differences of interpretation. The amendment process was a way of resolving interpretative disputes.

The founding generation employed it for this purpose just seven years after the Constitution came into effect. In Chisholm v. Georgia, the Supreme Court misinterpreted the wording of Article III that defines the jurisdiction of the federal courts. The Eleventh Amendment reversed that decision.

In 1857, the Court issued Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which it erroneously interpreted the Constitution to deny citizenship to African Americans. The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment reversed that case.

In the 1970, the Court decided Oregon v. Mitchell, whose misinterpretation of the Constitution created a national election law mess. A year later, Americans cleaned up the mess by ratifying the Twenty-Sixth Amendment.

All these Amendments are in full effect today, and fully respected by the courts. Some argue, in fact, that the Supreme Court actually over-enforces the Eleventh Amendment — a contention with which I do not agree.

Responding to Changed Conditions

The Twentieth Amendment is the most obvious example of a response to changed conditions. Reflecting improvements in transportation since the Founding, it moved the inauguration of Congress and President from March to the January following election.

Other amendments as well were wholly or partially triggered by changed conditions. The Seventeenth Amendment, which transferred elections for Senators from the state legislatures to the people, is still controversial in some quarters. But it was adopted only after social changes had caused widespread breakdown in the prior election system. (That is why the state legislatures themselves sought the change.) With the partial exception of Mark Levin, few if any of its critics address the very real problems the Seventeenth Amendment was designed to solve.

Similarly, the Nineteenth Amendment, which assured women the vote in states not already granting it, was passed for reasons beyond simple fairness. When the Constitution was written, overwhelming domestic duties and very short female life expectancies effectively disqualified most women from politics. During the 1800s, medical and technological advances made possible by a vigorous market economy improved the position of women immeasurably and rendered their political participation far more feasible. Without these changes, I doubt the Nineteenth Amendment would have been adopted.

Needless to say, the Seventeenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Amendments all are in full effect many years after they were ratified.

Correcting and forestalling government abuse

Avoiding and correcting government abuse was a principal reason the Constitutional Convention unanimously inserted the state-driven convention procedure into Article V. Our failure to use that procedure helps explain why the earlier constitutional barriers against federal overreaching seem a little ragged. Before looking at the problems, however, let’s look at some successes:

* We adopted the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Twenty-Fourth Amendments to correct state abuses of power. All of these are in substantially full effect.

* In 1992, we ratified the Twenty-Seventh Amendment, 203 years after James Madison first proposed it. It limits congressional pay raises, although some would say not enough.

* In 1951, we adopted the Twenty-Second Amendment, limiting the President to two terms. Eleven Presidents later, it remains in full force, and few would contend it has not made a difference.

Now the problems: Because we have not used the convention process, the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights) remain almost the only amendments significantly limiting congressional overreaching. I suppose that if the Founders had listened to the “amendments won’t make any difference” crowd, they would not have adopted the Bill of Rights either. But I don’t know anyone today who seriously claims the Bill of Rights has made no difference.

In fact, the Bill of Rights continues to have a huge impact more than two centuries after adoption. The courts enforce, to at least some extent, all of the original ten except, arguably, the Ninth. Some, such as the First Amendment, have been “super enforced.” Others, such as the Second and Fourth are under relentless pressure, but remain far better than nothing at all.

What about the Ninth and Tenth? They are certainly under-enforced today, but we must remember that they enjoyed full effect for nearly 150 years. No reasonable person would classify 150 years of effect as anything but a stellar political success. Even today, the Tenth retains some of its power, as Congress learned when the Supreme Court upended its effort to corral all the states into the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience,” Patrick Henry said. “I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.”

In this case, the lamp of experience sheds light unmistakably bright and clear: Constitutional amendments work.

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A New Triumph for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (and for II’s Dave Kopel)

Posted by on Feb 14 2014 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Dave Kopel, guns, Kopel Dave, Natelson Rob', Rob Natelson, Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

A federal court of appeals has just vindicated the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in a big way. And II’s own Dave Kopel was largely responsible.

California denied citizens the right to carry firearms outside their homes, unless they obtained a concealed weapons permit. But to get such a permit, citizens had to demonstrate “good cause”—and fear for one’s personal safety was not sufficient to show “good cause.” The effect of the statute was to allow the local sheriff to deny the right to bear arms to all but a favored few.

On February 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (the largest of the nation’s federal court of appeals districts) issued Peruta v. County of San Diego. It held that the California statute violated the Second Amendment. In doing so, the court cited one of Dave Kopel’s articles. But that citation went nowhere near showing the extent of his influence.

To clarify the historical understanding of the term “bear arms,” the Court spent much of its opinion citing and discussing obscure 19th century cases and commentaries on the right to keep and bear arms. It was Dave Kopel who first re-introduced these materials to public notice.

In 1998, Dave wrote an article called The Second Amendment in the Nineteenth Century, 1998 B.Y.U. L. Rev 1359. This was a massive compendium of cases, commentaries, and other materials. (By “massive,” I mean 188 pages, roughly three times the size of the typical law journal article.)

This article placed into the legal databases for the first time the full story of how the public viewed the Second Amendment during the century after the Constitution was ratified. By collecting and publishing this material, Dave made the collection readily accessible to later commentators, who built on his work. He also thereby made this material available to the courts.

The Court of Appeals cited Dave’s article in Peruta, but didn’t fully explain how that contribution made possible much of the later work that the court also cited. Pioneers don’t always get the credit they deserve.

This incident is only the latest example of how II, although a Colorado think tank, also advances freedom nationally and internationally.

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