Benjamin Zycher

Benjamin Zycher

Credentials

  • Ph.D., economics, University of California, Los Angeles. [1]
  • M.P.P., public policy, University of California, Berkeley.  [1]
  • A.B., political science, University of California, Los Angeles. [1]

Background

Benjamin Zycher is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), and former senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He formerly worked as a senior economist at the RAND Corporation. [1]

Zycher has worked as an adjunct economics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and owns his own company, Benjamin Zycher Economics Associates. [1]

He is also a former adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute where he appears to have done work on tobacco issues. Zycher was a member of the editorial advisory board of the Cato Institute's Regulation publication in the 1990s. [2], [3]

Tobacco History & Timeline

As SourceWatch has documented, Zycher was “erratically involved in the cash-for-comments network run for the Tobacco Institute.” The network was operated by James Savarese through his company Ogilvy & Mather PR[4]

“Ben Zycher was one of their later recruits, and his role was mainly to provide help in convincing other economist that the ultra-libertarian version of free-market economics applied to the health industries, and that cigarettes should not be regulated in any special way. […] He appears to have shifted to the Cato Institute which also did contract tobacco industry lobbying work,” SourceWatch reported. [4]

Supporting Documents

June 20 – July 3, 1991

The Tobacco Institute featured a session in Seattle with the theme of “Earmarked Taxes: Economic and Political Dimensions.” Benjamin Zycher was chairman and a discussant at the event, which also featured papers from Dwight LeeHenry N Butler, and Robert Hayes. [5]

July 3, 1990

One of Zycher's papers, titled “Insurance Markets, Smoking, and the Coase Theorem,” was presented at an “Invited Session at the Western Economic Association” meeting in San Diego.  [6]

“In the final paper, 'Insurance Markets Smoking, and the Coase Theorem,' Dr. Benjamin Zycher of the Rand Corporation addressed the argument that smokers impose costs on others because they increase insurance rates for everyone. As Zycher pointed out, even if one accepts the claim that smokers impose more costs on insurance companies than non-smokers (a claim that is not generally true) it does not follow that smokers impose an insurance externality on nonsmokers,” read an event description on file at the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. [6]

Tobacco industry documents also indicate one of Zycher's papers, “Insurance and Smoking, Market vs. Government,” was presented in a session at the San Diego meeting. The session, “Smoking and Public Policy” was organized d by Dwight R. Lee and chaired by Richard Wagner of George Mason University. [7]

July 3, 1988

Zycher made comments on papers by Dwight Lee and Richard Wegner that were subsequently sent to the Tobacco Institute. Zycher had the role of “discussant.” [8], [9]

July 1984

Zycher was co-author with economist C 'Matt' Lindsay of a report titled Substitution in Public Spending: Who Pays for Canadian National Health Insurance,” published by Economic Inquiry. Lindsay later referred to the report in testimony against HR 236, which would increase taxes on cigarettes. [10]

Stance on Climate Change

June 2, 2017

Zycher wrote an article in National Review praising President Donald Trump for withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. Zycher argued that withdrawal wasn't enough: [11]

“So how happy should we critics of the climate industry and the environmental Left and its myriad arguments and nostrums be? Answer: Sort of happy, no small achievement in the Beltway, but not nearly as much so as could have been the case,” Zycher wrote.

On the science, Zycher went on to incorrectly claim[11]

“Almost all of the climate models have overestimated the recent temperature record. Global temperatures appear to be on a long-term upward trajectory, but the degree to which that trend is anthropogenic is far from clear […] [11]

May 18, 2017

“It is absolutely true that anthropogenic climate change is 'real' in the sense that increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations are having a detectable effect, important evidence of which, perhaps counterintuitively, is declining temperatures in the lower stratosphere. 

But the temperature records are not consistent with a looming crisis view. Atmospheric temperatures have been roughly flat since 2002,” Zycher wrote at Investor's Business Daily. [12]

April 21, 2017

“The constant warnings about the adverse impacts of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, apart from being utterly inconsistent with the evidence, are similar to the ancient interpretation of destructive weather as the gods’ punishment of men for the sins of Man,” Zycher wrote at AEI. [13]

February 18, 2015

“Since the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, the satellite temperature record essentially has been flat,” Zycher claimed at AEI, citing charts by Roy Spencer for support. [14]

February 5, 2015

Zycher argued that the finding by the EPA that there would be an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions from the Keystone XL pipeline was “nonsense.” [15]

“In reality, the Canadian oil will be produced, and the only questions are where it will be refined and at what higher cost,” Zycher wrote at AEI[15]

October 15, 2014

In an article at RealClear Markets, Zycher described fossil fuel divestment as “anti-human”: [16]

“[T]he divestment campaign, perhaps realizing it and perhaps not, has slipped into the anti-human trap that is the hidden but essential core of modern environmentalism: Far from being a resource, ordinary people are a scourge on the planet,” he wrote. [16]

September 23, 2014

Zycher wrote the following at The Hill: [17]

“[T]he pause — that is, the absence of a recent temperature trend — is an enormous problem for the climate industry, as efforts to explain it,” Zycher wrote. “And so the scientific basis for the assertion that 'climate change. … [i]s happening now' is entirely obscure.” [17]

On extreme weather, he wrote: [17]

“With respect to the effects of greenhouse gas concentrations, the evidence suggests that increases in extreme weather events have not happened despite the predictions of many.” [17]

On sea level:

“There is no long-term trend in sea-level increases correlated with atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.” [17]

Dec 3, 2013

“There has been no temperature trend over the last 15 or so years despite increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG),” Zycher wrote at AEI, linking to data from climate change denier Roy Spencer[18]

On Renewables

February 1, 2018

“There is nothing 'clean' about it. There is heavy-metal pollution created by the production process for wind turbines. There are noise and flicker effects of wind turbines. There is the large problem of solar-panel waste. There is wildlife destruction caused by the production of renewable power. There is massive and unsightly land use made necessary by the unconcentrated nature of renewable energy,” Zycher wrote at National Review. [19]

August 3, 2017

Zycher made a nearly identical statement on renewables in 2017, writing at the Washington Examiner: [20]

“Renewables are simply more costly than conventional energy, in large part because the energy content of sunlight and wind flows is unconcentrated, unlike the case for fossil fuels. […] Moreover, there is nothing 'clean' about renewables. There is the heavy-metal pollution created by the production process for wind turbines, along with their noise and flicker effects. There is the large problem of solar panel waste. There is the wildlife destruction caused by the production of renewable power. There is the land use both massive and unsightly, made necessary by the unconcentrated nature of renewable energy.

“And above all: There is the increase – yes, increase – in the emissions of conventional effluents caused by the up-and-down cycling of the conventional backup generation units needed to avoid blackouts caused by the unreliability of wind and solar power,” Zycher wrote. [20]

On fossil fuel subsidies, Zycher suggests financing should be provided by the private sector. “This anti-oil coalition is absolutely correct that subsidized finance for fossil-fuel projects is highly wasteful,” he wrote. [20]

Key Quotes

April 20, 2018

Zycher regularly writes articles criticizing Earth Day.

In April 2018 he wrote: [21]

“Earth Day is a classic religious holiday: The interpretation of destructive weather as the gods’ punishment of men for the sins of Man is ancient.” [21]

On April 22, 2016, he wrote (nearly word-for-word what he declared the previous year): [22]

“Tens or hundreds of millions of the world’s poor have died from malaria as a direct result of the multination ban on DDT use, driven by deeply disingenuous propaganda on its harmful effects on various bird species, vastly exaggerated on Earth Days past. This indifference to the death toll among the least fortunate is strangely reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s view of the difference between one death and millions; and it is no accident, as Pravda used to put it, that the modern Earth Day mindset reflects that of the original.” [22]

In 2015, Zycher wrote: [23]

“Tens or hundreds of millions of the world’s poor have died from malaria as a direct result of the multination ban on the use of DDT, driven by vastly exaggerated fears of its harmful effects on various bird species. This indifference to the death toll among the least fortunate is strangely reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s view of the difference between one death and millions; and it is no accident, as Pravda used to put it, that the modern Earth Day mindset reflects that of the original.” [23]

April 15, 2018

Zycher criticized groundbreaking kids' climate change lawsuits filed in 2018 as “a blatant attempt to circumvent democratic processes, in terms of both the Congressional power to make policy and the authority of the president to implement it.” According to Zycher, as he wrote at Investor's Business Daily, the lawsuit “is part of the long-term effort by the environmental left to use any means possible to exert control over other people’s property, economic choices, and lifestyles.” [24]

December 20, 2017

“As Mussolini might have put it: All within the climate crusade, nothing outside the climate crusade, nothing against the climate crusade. Thus has the climate industry evolved into a totalitarian ideology happy to crush the preferences of ordinary people,” Zycher wrote at AEI. [25]

December 4, 2016

Writing at The HillZycher celebrated the nomination of Scott Pruitt, declaring that Pruitt “will clean up the EPA.” [26]

“It is not the job of the EPA administrator to 'save the planet,' whatever that means, or to satisfy the supposed imperatives underlying whatever slogan happens to be the trendy one of the day,” Zycher wrote. […] Pruitt is very likely to put an end to the current EPA game of justifying its regulations on the basis of benefit/cost analyses that literally are bogus.” [26]

Aug 8, 2016

Zycher described referring to carbon dioxide as a pollutant as “propaganda,” writing at The Hill: [27]

The “description of carbon dioxide — the most important anthropogenic (manmade) greenhouse gas (GHG) — as 'air pollution' is political propaganda. Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas a certain minimum atmospheric concentration of which is necessary for life itself. It is not a 'pollutant,' and it certainly is not 'carbon' or 'carbon pollution,' the propaganda terms used more frequently in the debate over climate policy,” Zycher wrote. [27]

February 4, 2016

“If science is to affect policymaking, an inherently political undertaking, research conducted or funded by government cannot be separated from politics,” Zycher wrote at AEI. [28]

June 7, 2015

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Zycher claimed the Clean Power Plan would put an unfair disadvantage on red states due to their reliance on coal power: [29]

“Put aside that neither the Clean Power Plan nor the administration’s larger climate policy would have a measurable effect on temperatures. The reality is that the plan is so inflexible and costly that states heavily dependent on coal power will suffer an artificial competitive disadvantage, and will be forced to join regional cap-and-trade emissions trading systems. Since those states disproportionately are red ones—Mississippi, North Dakota and Texas, for example—the dominant effect will be payments for emissions credits from red states to blue ones,” Zycher wrote. [29]

June 1990

“The clear objective of the anti-smoking groups is economic rent, that is, the ability to obtain revenue and political power from the smoking issue,” Zycher wrote in a paper prepared for presentation at the Western Economic Association's annual meeting in San Diego, California. [30]

Key Deeds

August 7, 2018

Zycher spoke at the Heartland Institute's “America First Energy Conference” (AFEC 2018) in New Orleans, Louisiana. [43]

The purpose of this event is to promote and expand energy freedom in the United States, as outlined in President Donald Trump’s bold America First Energy Plan, a proposal first released during the 2016 presidential campaign. The president’s plan marks a decisive change in direction from the Obama administration’s 'war on fossil fuels' and focus on the theory of catastrophic man-caused climate change,” the conference description reads[31]

He spoke on a panel titled “Carbon Taxes, Cap & Trade, and other Bad Ideas.” [44]

May 2, 2018

Zycher appeared in a video discussion with Stephen Winterstein of Wilmington Trust to discuss climate lawsuits filed by American cities including New York City, San Francisco, and Oakland against large oil companies. Video below: [32]

April 17, 2018

Benjamin Zycher moderated an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event titled “What did they know, and when did they know it? The municipal climate litigation, the fossil-fuel industry, and the municipal bond market” to discuss the ongoing legal actions as cities and municipalities sue large oil companies for damage caused by fossil fuels. [33]

Speakers included climate change denier Patrick Michaels, who used his time to criticize the reliability of climate models. Video below: [33]

November 27, 2017

Zycher co-wrote an AEI report criticizing rooftop solar subsidies. In the report summary, Zycher and his co-author Ronald M. Barone argue that rooftop solar subsidies are “a perverse economic and energy policy, particularly given that the economic losers of the solar financing system disproportionately are the poor and the lower middle class.” [34]

March 7, 2017

Zycher is the author of an AEI report titled “The Deeply Flawed Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax” (PDF). In the report's appendix, Zycher claims that “surface and lower-atmosphere temperature records are not consistent with a looming crisis view” and that “surface temperatures have been roughly flat since 1998.” [35]

January 26, 2017

Zycher participated in an AEI panel where he opposed a carbon tax: [36]

“The debate over the effects of greenhouse emissions and policies to address them is intense, and the Trump administration clearly intends to moderate and reverse many of the regulatory initiatives the Obama administration implemented. One policy discussed broadly is a “carbon” tax on greenhouse gas emissions, as a substitute for the regulatory approach or as a component of a larger tax reform intended to reduce the taxation of capital, often advocated as a revenue-neutral tax shift,” the event description read. [36]

November 21, 2016

Writing at OurEnergyPolicy.org, Zycher described the Obama administration's calculations on the social cost of carbon (SCC), as “perhaps the most dishonest exercise in political arithmetic ever produced by the federal bureaucracy.” [37]

August 1, 2016

Zycher wrote an article at The Hill critical of net metering and subsidies for rooftop solar power generation. He criticized an essay by the Brookings Institute that was in favor of net metering, citing one essay by the industry-funded E&E Legal Institute. [38]

Zycher wrote a similar article for Forbes in January 2016 where he claimed that net metering was “subsidizing the rich.” [39]

August 5, 2015

Zycher wrote an article criticizing President Obama's Clean Power Plan, describing it as “all cost, no benefit.” He also suggested that the Clean Power Plan also held a conspiracy to raise energy costs in red states. [40]

“It is no accident that the Clean Power Plan would raise energy costs disproportionately in red states, thus reducing their competitive advantages over blue ones? Do not underestimate the power of wealth redistribution as a force driving policymaking in the Beltway,” Zycher wrote. According to Zycher, carbon pollution is a “propaganda term designed to end debate before it begins by assuming the answer to the underlying policy question. Carbon dioxide is not 'carbon' and it is not a pollutant, as a minimum atmospheric concentration of it is necessary for life itself.” [40]

March 27, 2012

Zycher testified before The Senate Finance Committee, opposing renewable energy subsidies and criticizing renewable energy sources as unreliable and unable to replace traditional fossil fuels. [41]

January 16, 1992

Zycher appeared on a CATO-Institute-sponsored forum in Washington, DC titled “National Energy Policy: Markets or Mandates?” The panel discussion revolved around oil imports and national energy policy. [42]

According to C-SPAN, participants included:

  • M.A. Adelman — Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Douglas Bohi — Director, Resources for the Future
  • Edward H. Crane — Founder and President, Cato Institute
  • Ed Rothschild — Director, Citizen-Labor Energy Coalition
  • Richard Thomas — Correspondent, Newsweek
  • Benjamin Zycher — Vice President, Benjamin Zycher Economics Associates

Affiliations

Other Affiliations

  • Benjamin Zycher and Associates — President (2004 – 2013).  [1]
  • U.S. Department of State — Associate, Intelligence Community Associates Program, Office of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2010 – 2012). [1]
  • California State University — Adjunct professor of economics and business at Martin V. Smith School of Business and Economics (2009 – 2010).  [1]
  • University of California — Adjunct professor of economics (1985 – 2000).  [1]
  • President's Council of Economic Advisers — Senior staff economist (1981 – 1983). [1]
  • Milken Institute — Vice president, research (1991 – 1998).  [1]
  • California Institute of Technology — Senior Economist, Arroyo Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1983 – 1985). [1]

Social Media

Publications

Events/Media

Testimony

Resources

  1. Benjamin Zycher,” American Enterprise Institute. Archived July 25, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/lDKGh

  2. About the Cato Institute,” Cato Institute, May 10, 1999. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. 2071116009-2071116014.

  3. Commercialising Air Traffic Control,” Regulation, 1997. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. 321839365-321839373.

  4. Benjamin Zycher,” SourceWatch. Accessed July 27, 2018.

  5. Proposed Session for Western Economic Meeting,” July 3, 1991. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. TI50541228.

  6. Invited Session at the Western Economic Association San Diego. California,” July 3, 1990. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. TI02590609

  7. Proposed Session for The Westn Economic Meeting,” July 1990.  Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. TI02590568

  8. Annual Conference of the Session on The Political Eonomy of Tax Esrmarking and User Charges Comments by Dr. Benjamin Zycher,” July 3, 1988. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. TI52151218-TI52151219

  9. MEMORANDUM To: Jim Savarese,” Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. TI50512537.

  10. REMARKS ON H.R. 236,” 1985. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. TIMN0137153-TIMN0137165.

  11. Benjamin Zycher. “Leaving Paris: One and a Half Cheers for President Trump,” National Review, June 2, 2017. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/YyAj8

  12. Exxon Lied, People Died — Or Something,” Investor's Business Daily, May 18, 2017. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/rTArb

  13. Earth Day and the divestment campaign against humanity,” AEI, April 21, 2017. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.fo/dqN46

  14. The Kyoto Protocol: 10 years of triumph,” AEI, February 18, 2015. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL:  https://archive.fo/edVpM

  15. The EPA on Keystone XL: Ideology trumps analysis,” AEI, February 5, 2015. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/7uY0x 

  16. The Breathless Hypocrisy Driving Energy 'Divestment',” RealClear Markets, October 15, 2014. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/eV5S1

  17. Why is the UN denying IPCC climate science?The Hill, September 23, 2014. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/KdWdP

  18. The Climate Change Climate Keeps Changing, but the Carbon Tax Is Eternal,” AEI, December 3, 2013. Archived July 26, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/64F40

  19. Benjamin Zycher. “A Washington State Carbon Tax: All Pain, No Gain,” National Review, February 1, 2018. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.fo/8n5Qd

  20. Wasteful subsidies for me and thee, not for that fossil guy behind the tree,” Washington Examiner, August 3, 2017. 

  21. BP and the Earth Day prayers of the rent-seeking corporation,” AEI, April 20, 2018. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/VEI2P

  22. Earth Day and the triumph of Dogbert,” AEI, April 22, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/hTlpp

  23. Earth Day and the celebration of suffering,” AEI, April 21, 2015. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/g6IjH

  24. The Children's Climate Lawsuit Against The Children,” Investor's Business Daily, January 12, 2018. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/J4n2O

  25. Modern environmentalism and the David vs. Goliath inversion,” AEI, Dec 20, 2017. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/IqgTp

  26. Benjamin Zycher. “Trump nominee Scott Pruitt will clean up the EPA,” The Hill, December 14, 2016. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/c4cwH

  27. More regulatory magic from the EPA,” The Hill, Aug 8, 2016. Archived July 26, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/rtENk

  28. Shut up, she explained: My request for climate evidence,” AEI, February 4, 2016. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/yx97p

  29. The EPA’s ‘Clean Power’ Mess,” The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2015. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/BofRX

  30. INSURANCE MARKETS, SMOKING, AND THE COASE THEOREM,” June 1990. Retrieved from Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library. Bates No. TI02590618.

  31. About,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived July 23, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/E4Gnt

  32. Climate change and the municipal bond market | VIEWPOINT,” AEI, May 2, 2018.

  33. What did they know, and when did they know it? The municipal climate litigation, the fossil-fuel industry, and the municipal bond market,” American Enterprise Institute, April 17, 2018. Archived April 23, 2018. Archive.is URL:https://archive.li/wvcBP

  34. Ronald M. Barone and Benjamin Zycher. “The Magnitude of Rooftop Solar Subsidies and Why It Matters” (PDF), November 2017.

  35. Benjamin Zycher. “The Deeply Flawed Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax,” AEI, March 2017.

  36. Carbon taxes: Public finance vs. public choice,” AEI, January 26, 2017. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/96sLl

  37. The Magical Powers of the Social Cost of Carbon,” OurEnergyPolicy.org. November 21, 2016. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/AKGIi

  38. Benjamin Zycher. “Missing the forest for the trees on solar net metering,” The Hill, August 1, 2016. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/crbLD

  39. Benjamin Zycher. “Subsidizing The Rich Through California's Solar Scheme,” Forbes, January 15, 2016. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/9uwnF

  40. President Obama's Clean Power Plan: All Cost, No Benefit,” RealClear Markets, August 5, 2015. Archived July 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/Nf8BE

  41. “Statement before the Senate Finance Committee: Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure” (PDF), AEI, March 27, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  42. U.S. Oil Imports and Energy Policy,” C-SPAN, January 16, 1992.

  43. Speakers,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived August 1, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/mwtga

  44. BENJAMIN ZYCHER, PH.D.,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived August 1, 2018. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/zmVFL

Other Resources