Though Denying they are pursuing Nuclear Weapons Iran’s Actions indicate Otherwise

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2012

Week in Review

Iran is enriching uranium like there is no tomorrow.  Putting them on a fast-track to build a nuclear weapon.  Which they, of course, deny (see Iran rapidly expanding nuclear production, says UN by the AP posted 2/24/2012 on The Independent).

Iran has rapidly ramped up production of higher-grade enriched uranium over the last four months, the UN nuclear agency says in a confidential report…

Iran insists it is not interested in nuclear weapons and says all of its activities are meant either to generate energy or to be used for research.

For someone who doesn’t want nuclear weapons Iran is doing everything necessary to make them.  So is an energy-rich nation that literally has oil to burn just looking to build nuclear plants to generate electricity?  Or could it be that they want to incinerate Israel?  Well, they have said they would like to incinerate Israel.  So you be the judge.

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Welfare and Pensions in the UK are Bankrupting the Nation

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2012

Week in Review

The United States followed the United Kingdom into the Industrial Revolution.  And emerged the greatest superpower on the planet.  We did well following her lead.  Emulating her capitalistic ways.  But we can stop now.  For we don’t need to follow her to where she is now.  Although we’re pretty darn close to that place already (see Osborne: UK has run out of money by Rowena Mason posted 2/26/2012 on The Telegraph).

“The British Government has run out of money because all the money was spent in the good years,” the Chancellor said. “The money and the investment and the jobs need to come from the private sector…”

The Chancellor’s tough words were echoed by Liberal Democrat Jeremy Browne, the foreign minister, who warned that Britain faced “accelerated decline” without measures to tackle its debt and increase competitiveness…

Mr Browne writes that reform of pensions, welfare and defence is essential to stop the departments “collapsing under the weight of their own debt”. “Just because the spending was sometimes on worthy causes does not in itself mean it was affordable,” he says…

Amid warnings that Britain urgently needed to adopt a more pro-business outlook, senior Conservatives have urged the Government to get rid of the 50 pence top rate of tax.

Figures from the Treasury last week suggested the policy was not raising the expected amount of revenue and was threatening to drive leading business people and entrepreneurs away from Britain. Dr Liam Fox, the former Conservative Defence Secretary, yesterday argued for the top tax rate to be scrapped, but added that cutting taxes on employment was even more important.

“I would have thought the priority was getting the costs of employers down and therefore I would rather have seen any reductions in taxation on employers’ taxation rather than personal taxation,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics show.

Oh Britannia, what has become of you?  And why in the world are we still following you?

Money, investment and jobs must come from the private sector?  Why that’s a novel idea.  One Britain had a century or more ago.  And one the United States had, too.  Before the welfare state made these two great nations less great.

Everyone knows that too much debt is a bad thing.   It’s no secret.  Bad things happen to people who can’t pay their bills.  And as it turns out, worse things can happen when a government can’t pay its bills.  Just ask the Greek government.  Who are dealing with riots in their streets.

The private sector created jobs long before governments ever did.  We need to remember this.  And we solve economic problems in the private sector.  Where there is a high price for failure.  Thanks to capitalism.  And profits.  Alien concepts to governments.  Which is why the greatest debt crises are always in the government.  Not in the private sector.  Something else we would do well to remember.

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Private Bondholders asked to lose 53.5% of their Holdings in new Greek Bailout Agreement

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2012

Week in Review

Be thankful you don’t have any Greek bonds.  If you do you have nothing to be thankful about (see Greece submits its debt cut offer posted 2/24/2012 on BBC News).

Under the proposed debt swap, banks and other private creditors are being asked to take a 53.5% loss on their Greek bonds.

Ouch.  If you had your retirement savings invested in Greek bonds you won’t be able to retire as planned.  Imagine that.  Say you had saved $250,000 and put it into some of the safest investments out there.  Government debt.  Because unlike private corporations they have the power to tax.  And will always be able to repay their debt.  Until now, that is.  Instead of getting your $250,000 back you’ll only get $116,750 back.  That’s a worse hit than homeowners took during the subprime mortgage crisis.  Even though their mortgages are underwater at least they have a chance of getting their lost value back.  Not these Greek bond holders.  Once this deal goes through they lose their money forever.  And 53.5% is a lot to lose.

Will this solve their problems?  Not unless they severely cut their government spending.  And with Greeks in the streets rioting that will be easier said than done.  Which means they will continue to spend.  Run deficits.  And borrow money.  Putting them right back on the road they’re trying to get off.  And just who is going to take a chance on buying Greek bonds when the current bondholders just lost 53.5% of their holdings?  Here’s a clue.  It won’t be as many who bought them before the 53.5% write-down.

This will not likely end the Eurozone debt crisis.

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53% of all Births to Women under 30 are born to Single Women

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2012

Week in Review

The feminists may have freed women from the hell of wedded bliss but this new empowerment and sexual liberty has led to an even worse hell.  The hell of single motherhood (see Family Fact of the Week: Majority of Births to Women Under 30 Are to Single Moms by Rachel Sheffield posted 2/24/2012 on The Foundry).

Unwed childbearing has been on the rise for more than five decades, and today more than 40 percent of U.S. children are born to single women. A new study additionally reveals that the majority—53 percent—of births to women under 30 occur outside of marriage…

However, unwed childbearing isn’t the norm for all young women. In fact, for the college-educated it is still very uncommon. The majority of births are instead to women with a high school diploma or less…

The increasing rate of unwed childbearing, as well as the corresponding breakdown of marriage, in low- and middle-income America is creating a divided society split along the lines of marriage and education.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  Encouraging women to empower themselves with consequence-free sex wasn’t suppose to lead to consequences.  And apparently the men who impregnated these women aren’t doing the honorable thing.  Probably because doing the honorable thing was the last thing on their mind when they were enjoying a woman’s empowerment.

The feminists have freed women from men.  Allowed them to be their own people.  And encouraged them into a life very similar to that wedded bliss the feminists rescued them from.  Only without a husband to help pay the bills and raise the children.  I’m not sure how women are better off this way.  Or their children.

Of course the societal split along the lines of marriage and education will have the feminists countering that they need to get into the high schools to teach these girls about family planning.  Especially the ones that don’t go on to college.  Give them more birth control.  And easier access to abortion.  Anything but marriage.  Because that’s a kind of hell they would wish on no woman.  Despite so many women wanting this life.  At least, based on the television and movies they watch.  Where a man and a woman end up married and live happily ever after.  I mean, there’s a reason why they call romantic comedies ‘chic flics’.  Because it’s the women who watch them.  And want to live the fairy tale.  To live happily ever after.  Something the feminists have been working hard to prevent these last 5 decades or so.

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There’s a Direct Link between the Type of Crude refined and the Price at the Pump

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2012

Week in Review

Oil is not oil.  There is Brent sweet crude.  And West Texas Intermediate (WTI).  We import the Brent.  While a lot of the WTI comes from wells closer to home.  The U.S.  Canada.  The Gulf of Mexico.  And there is a correlation between gas prices and the type of crude (see Angry About High Gas Prices? Blame Shuttered Oil Refineries by Matthew Philips posted 5/24/2012 on Yahoo! Finance).

The U.S. refining industry is being split in two. On one hand are the older refineries, mostly on the East and Gulf Coasts, that are set up to handle only the higher quality Brent “sweet” crude—the stuff that comes from the Middle East and the North Sea. Brent is easier to refine, though it’s gotten considerably more expensive recently. (Certainly another reason for higher gas prices.)

Then there are the plants able to refine the heavier, dirtier West Texas Intermediate (WTI)—the stuff that comes from Canadian tar sands, the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico, and the newer outposts in North Dakota, which just passed Ecuador in oil production. These refineries tend to be clustered in the Midwest—places such as Oklahoma, Kansas, and outside Chicago. While the price of Brent crude has closed at over $120 a barrel in recent days, WTI is trading at closer to $106. That simple differential is the reason older refineries that can handle only Brent are hemorrhaging cash and shutting down, while refineries that can handle WTI are flourishing.

“The U.S. refining industry is undergoing a huge, regional transformation,” says Ben Brockwell, a director at Oil Price Information Services. “If you look at refinery utilization rates in the Midwest and Great Lakes areas, they’re running at close to 95 percent capacity, and on the East Coast it’s more like 60 percent,” he says.

How about that?  Economic reasons for the high price of gasoline.  The cost of Brent sweet crude makes it impossible to sell in America at a profit.  So the refineries are selling it overseas at prices that can keep them from operating at a loss.  Or they’re shutting down refineries.  To reduce the surplus of gas they can’t sell at a profit.  Making the gas stations supplied by these refineries sell at record high gas prices.  Whereas those stations supplied by the WTI refineries are able to sell gas at more affordable prices.

The lesson here?  The amount of oil brought to market matters.  The more the oil supplied the lower the price.  And the lower the price of gasoline made from that oil.  There’s not much we can do about the price of Brent sweet but there is something we can do about WTI.  Drill more.  Build more refinery capacity for it.  And build more pipelines to move that precious cargo all over the United States.  Creating lots and lots of jobs.  And letting people enjoy hitting the highway again in cars they like that may also happen to be gas guzzlers.  Which will also reduce the price at the pump.  Because demand for gasoline will rise to sustain this economic buildup.  Allowing prices to fall due to economies of scale.

And it’s all there for the taking.  All we have to do is to take this future.  Instead of the one we’re working on now where driving has become a four-letter word.

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The Demand for an ever Higher Fuel Economy has decreased the demand for Gasoline and raised Gas Prices

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2012

Week in Review

A Republican congressman complains about the high price of gasoline.  But because he’s a Republican AND drives a Hummer he gets little sympathy (see Florida congressman upset at Obama for $70 fill-up of his Hummer by Justin Hyde posted 2/23/2012 on Yahoo! Autos).

Saying gas costs too much based on your H3 — which sports an average fuel economy of 16 to 18 mpg — seems akin to arguing Americans have grown too fat at the drive-through window of a Carl Jr.’s. Yet West and other drivers can’t be blamed for the current run-up; it’s not American demand for gasoline causing its prices to rise, but rather demand from China, Latin America and worries over Iran’s actions near the Strait of Hormuz. Last year, fossil fuels were America’s biggest export — partly because of the economic recession and the shift toward vehicles that get 40 mpg instead of 16.

Sad, isn’t it?  China and Latin America can enjoy life.  But the country that made driving the great American past time can’t.  Over there they’re buying gas and enjoying it.  Over here we make people feel ashamed for doing something their parents loved to do.  Packing the family into a big and safe vehicle.  Hitting the open road.  And seeing America.

Well, if it’s any consolation just think about this.  While we scrunch into our commuter mobiles that can fit 2 adults almost comfortably the Chinese communists are now living the American dream in China.  Enjoying the freedom and adventure gasoline gives you.  Who knows, perhaps they’ll be buying recreational vehicles in their retirement.  Spending their golden years seeing their country.  Like we once did here.  Visiting their family.  And camping out at parks and campgrounds.  Enjoying their retirement.  Something few can do now thanks to the high price of gasoline.

There’s a lot the government can do to fix this.  They can STOP doing everything that hinders the oil industry and stop equating gasoline to a drug addiction.  Let the market set the prices.  Let supply flow in to meet market demand.  And let us drive what we want to drive.

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