Week in Review
Katarina Witt was young and beautiful during the Olympics. Italian great Alberto Tomba was even smitten with her. But even the suave and debonair Tomba got the cold shoulder from Witt when meeting her during the games. For they may have both been superstars. But her star shined brighter. Few could ski like Tomba. But no one could skate like Katarina. She was just beautiful on the ice. Poetry in motion. Which is why the Stasi (East German secret police) took such great interest in her. She could prove the superiority of communism. And bring home the medals. For that she lived a privileged life in East Germany. But even that privileged life couldn’t match what she saw outside of her socialist utopia (see The Stasi watched my every move: Dancing on Ice star Katarina Witt reveals East German secret police spied on her since the age of eight by Katarina Witt posted 3/24/2012 on the Daily Mail).
Of course I became aware of international differences as I grew older. I remember my first trip abroad to compete in Vienna when I was 12. I looked at one shop window after another, crammed with goods. Everything was so much more colourful than shops at home in Karl Marx Stadt (which has now reverted to its original name of Chemnitz). Every Viennese street felt like a candy store, but an expensive one. I must have spent five hours trying to find an outfit I could afford.
In later years, I went on international exhibition tours alongside skaters from other countries. We became friends and, in the evenings, we would all get together in one or other of our hotel rooms and talk – with the Americans, the Russians, the West Germans. The Russians brought the vodka, naturally. The Americans ordered French fries.
Looking back, two decades later, it is as if we were living on a different planet, but we never questioned it at the time. The constant control, particularly when it came to travelling abroad, just became a part of my life. ‘We want to protect you,’ was the message. ‘We want to make sure you’re safe and sound.’
The rhetoric was all rather comforting in its way. I believed we were a country of fairness and good social values. Would I have wanted to live in another country? A free country? The question never occurred to me.
In fact, I probably had even less reason to question than most as I was well treated. Like other leading athletes, I was given rewards for winning. There were financial bonuses, for example, and I was allowed to rent an apartment of my own, even though I was only 19 and not married!
They let me jump the queue to buy a Russian-made Lada instead of going on the ten-year waiting list like everyone else.
This is communism. Karl Marx’s socialism. The caring, loving state. In a country of fairness. And good social values. And when one of the privileged got a taste of Western capitalism she saw that life was better in the West. And what they were protecting her from was that better life in the West.
This is the path the U.S is on. For Obamacare is all those things. And will help us become what East Germany was. Free stuff but no liberty. A caring government but a life that’s dull and gray. So much so that people risked their lives to escape it by climbing over the Berlin Wall. A life that is fair where everyone is equally miserable. Where the government provides everything but everything is un-colorful and even less plentiful. Where life is not being in a candy store. But more like being in grade school. Where you do as you’re told and someone is always watching you for your own good. But without the good social values. For the left gave those up long ago to get the youth vote.
Katarina Witt was one of the most talented people in East Germany. And beyond. And the Stasi rewarded her well for that. So her life wasn’t all that bad compared to other East Germans. But imagine their life. Those who didn’t get financial bonuses. An apartment. A car without waiting 10 years. Imagine that life. Or, better yet, just wait. For it will soon be upon us here in the U.S. If we don’t repeal Obamacare.
Tags: Alberto Tomba, capitalism, capitalist, Communism, East German, East Germany, Karl Marx, Katarina, Katarina Witt, Obamacare, Olympics, privileged life, socialist paradise, Stasi, Tomba, West, Western, western capitalism, Western capitalist, Witt
Week in Review
Volkswagen is testing the American market for an electric car. They will lease 20 electric Golfs for a nine month period to determine that there is no market for electric cars in America (see Volkswagen to test electric Golf in U.S. by Chris Woodyard posted 3/23/2012 on USA Today).
Volkswagen, which has scored big with diesels in the U.S., is about to expand its horizons. It’s going to field about 20 Golf electric vehicles in a test, Automotive News reports.
It’s only a nine-month test, but it should be at least a start in trying to see how owners will deal with the notion of having to plug in their car every day and other issues. It’s a prelude to the e-Golf, which will arrive in showrooms sometime next year, the News says.
Diesel cars are successful for one simple reason. They still use fossil fuels. Just like gasoline cars. So there is really no changing of one’s driving habits to go diesel. For pretty much every gas station in America has diesel fuel. Which means if you’re cruising down the highway enjoying a great American past time you can pull in any number of convenient gas stations. Fuel up. And get right back out on the open road. Americans like that. The freedom of fossil fuels. Going wherever the road takes you. Secure in knowing that you’ll always be able to get back home.
Contrast that with an electric car. That won’t let you do any of those things. Cruising the open highway. Or going wherever the road takes you. Instead you’ll be sweating bullets on the drive back home after work. Praying you have enough charge to make it. As you squint and shiver, driving in the dark with the headlights and the heater off. To conserve what electricity you have left in your battery to make it home. And heaven help you if you run out of electricity on that drive home. Because you can’t walk to the gas station, borrow their gas can, fill it up with electricity and pour it into your battery. Instead you’ll either have to tow your car home to an electrical outlet. Or run one long-ass extension cord to your car and let it charge overnight. So you can drive it home the next morning after the battery recharges.
Tags: battery, charge, diesel, electric car, electricity, fossil fuels, gas station, golf, open highway, Volkswagen
Week in Review
Republicans are most in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. But they’re not the only ones in favor of it (see Americans Favor Keystone XL Pipeline by Elizabeth Mendes posted 3/22/2012 on Gallup).
A solid majority of Americans [57%-29%] think the U.S. government should approve of building the Keystone XL pipeline, while 29% think it should not. Republicans [81%-9%] are almost twice as likely as Democrats [44%-38%] to want the government to approve the oil pipeline. About half of independents [51%-35%] also approve…
The proposal from TransCanada Corporation for building a pipeline to carry crude oil from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, first made in 2005, needs approval from the U.S. president because it crosses an international border. The Republicans in Congress inserted a provision on the pipeline in the payroll tax extension bill late last year, but in January, President Obama rejected TransCanada’s permit entirely. However, the administration is allowing TransCanada to reapply for the permit it needs.
The pipeline would travel through the Midwest and the South, and Americans in those two regions are the most likely to approve of the project. Nearly 7 in 10 Midwesterners want the government to approve the building of the pipeline and 61% of those in the South do as well. There has been discussion in Washington and in the media about the potential new jobs the pipeline project would create, which may partly explain the higher support seen in those regions. Americans in the West and East are less likely to approve.
Did you catch that? TransCanada Corporation has been working on this since 2005. It’s now 2012. This kind of gives you an idea of the regulatory hoops Big Oil has to jump through and how many palms they have to grease to get approval. And then the president rejected their permit. As a nod to his environmentalist base. And now TransCanada Corporation is right back where they started. After who knows how many millions of dollars they’ve spent to get to the Obama rejection.
What is really fascinating is that the people the president is protecting with his permit rejection, those in the route of the pipeline that may suffer the ‘horrors’ of environmental impact, are the ones most in favor of running the pipeline. And the environmentalists who oppose it live where all the rich and connected environmentalists live. In California and New York. (Al Gore lives in a mansion on a beach in California despite global warming and rising oceans. Yes, environmentalists are rich.) The people who will be least impacted by any environmental fallout. And the people that have the most to gain. As California and New York have some of the highest gas prices in the nation. Which tells you something. Environmentalists are rich and can pay for gas whatever it costs. And they don’t care about the poor and middle class who are hurt by high gas prices. Which means, of course, that the president is protecting his rich fiends over the poor and middle class. So much for the Democrat Party being the party that protects the working class.
Tags: Canada, Democrats, environmentalist, Environmentalists are rich, independents, Keystone XL, Keystone XL pipeline, Obama, poor and middle class, Republicans, TransCanada, TransCanada Corporation
Week in Review
The Obama administration stopped the Keystone XL pipeline. In the face of rising gasoline prices. Which doesn’t make sense. Because that pipeline will lower oil prices in the future when it’s pumping oil. And lower gas prices. So approving the pipeline would have been the smart thing to do in the long run. The problem is that it doesn’t help them in the short run on something that is far more important than lowering gas prices (see Obama defends handling of Keystone pipeline by KEN THOMAS, Associated Press, posted 3/22/2012 on Yahoo! News).
Deep in Republican oil country, Obama said lawmakers refused to give his administration enough time review the controversial 1,170-mile Keystone XL pipeline in order to ensure that it wouldn’t compromise the health and safety of people living in surrounding areas.
“Unfortunately, Congress decided they wanted their own timeline,” Obama said. “Not the company, not the experts, but members of Congress who decided this might be a fun political issue decided to try to intervene and make it impossible for us to make an informed decision.”
Really? You want to use that as your excuse for stopping the Keystone XL pipeline? That your experts didn’t have enough time to help you arrive at an informed decision? Just like your experts helped you to arrive at an informed decision to fund Solyndra? And all those other green energy initiatives that couldn’t receive the necessary private investment capital? And failed? That’s the excuse you want to use?
First of all, the president’s experts really aren’t all that good. Based on their track record of helping people arrive at informed decisions. Secondly, everyone knows this was a nod to the environmentalist base. And is purely political. To help them with fund raising. And their reelection chances. As their record on energy and gas prices (or the economy in general) isn’t going to garner them any votes. So they have to make sure they get 100% of the vote from those who hate oil. (And a healthy economy.) The people who wanted them to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The environmentalist base.
Tags: environmentalist, environmentalist base, gasoline, gasoline prices, high gasoline prices, Keystone, Keystone XL, Keystone XL pipeline, Obama, oil, oil prices
Week in Review
On the one hand gas prices aren’t high (see Rising gas prices aren’t as bad as you think). On the other hand they are. But there’s nothing the president can do about it so quit your bitching (see FACT CHECK: More US Drilling Didn’t Drop Gas Price [Higher fuel economy won’t lower gas prices according to AP] by JACK GILLUM and SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated Press, posted 3/21/2012 on ABC News).
U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that’s not what prices are now.
That’s because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.
Funny. When the stimulus failed it was the stimulus wasn’t big enough. But when we only increase oil supplies a little and it doesn’t influence the world price of oil they don’t say the increase in supply wasn’t big enough.
The late 1980s and 1990s show exactly how domestic drilling is not related to gas prices.
Seasonally adjusted U.S. oil production dropped steadily from February 1986 until three years ago. But starting in March 1986, inflation-adjusted gas prices fell below the $2-a-gallon mark and stayed there for most of the rest of the 1980s and 1990s. Production between 1986 and 1999 dropped by nearly one-third. If the drill-now theory were correct, prices should have soared. Instead they went down by nearly a dollar.
Figures don’t lie but liars figure. Talk about twisting the facts to support your Democrat president. For what they say the data doesn’t support the data DOES support during the previous decade. Following the 1973 Oil Crisis. When OPEC placed an embargo on oil shipments to the U.S. and other Western nations that helped Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Oil prices soared. Bringing a lot of non-OPEC producers into the market. To cash in on those high prices. And while they were increasing oil production from the mid-Seventies to the mid-Eighties they flooded the market with oil. Which also coincided with a reduction in demand in the U.S. Who switched from gas-guzzlers to little cars with ‘sewing machine’ engines. Tiny four cylinder engines. This explosion in supply and reduction in demand caused the 1980s oil glut. Causing oil prices to plummet. Which kept gas prices low throughout the 1980s oil glut.
So when oil supply goes up gas prices come down. In the 1980s that increase in oil supply came from outside of the U.S. But it lowered gas prices nonetheless. If an increase in U.S. production can match the increase of the non-OPEC producers during the Eighties then gas prices will come down, too. But NOT increasing oil production will only increase gas prices in the face of increasing oil demand.
Unlike natural gas or electricity, the United States alone does not have the power to change the supply-and-demand equation in the world oil market, said Christopher Knittel, a professor of energy economics at MIT. American oil production is about 11 percent of the world’s output, so even if the U.S. were to increase its oil production by 50 percent — that is more than drilling in the Arctic, increased public-lands and offshore drilling, and the Canadian pipeline would provide — it would at most cut gas prices by 10 percent.
By this logic then there’s no point in trying to improve fuel economy. Yet we do. For when it comes to gasoline everything on the demand side of the equation can lower gas prices. But nothing on the supply side can. President Obama says we can inflate our tires. Get a tune up. Increase CAFE standards (force auto makers to increase the miles per gallon their cars can get). Move into electric cars and hybrids. If we do any of these we can bring down the price of gasoline. But if we flood the market with new domestic oil it won’t do jack squat. Go figure.
Tags: 1980s oil glut, fuel economy, gas prices, gasoline, high prices, non-OPEC, non-OPEC producers, oil, oil demand, oil prices, oil production, oil supplies, OPEC, price of gasoline, U.S. oil production
Week in Review
Gas prices are getting to where they were under George W. Bush. Or higher. And the media, the political opposition and Hugo Chavez painted George W. Bush as the antichrist for those high prices. Chavez literally (he said he smelled sulfur at the podium whenever he spoke after Bush). Bush and Dick Cheney were co-antichrists as they purposely made gas expensive so they and their friends in Big Oil could profit from our misery at the gas pump. But now it’s a different story (see Rising gas prices aren’t as bad as you think by Steve Hargreaves posted 3/21/2012 on CNN Money).
But despite rhetoric, high gas prices aren’t hurting as much as they used to.
Because, of course, the Democrats are in charge now.
This isn’t to say high gas prices don’t hurt — they do, especially for people living paycheck-to-paycheck or those that drive a lot.
But for the average American household, which has an income of over $62,000 a year, the increase in gas prices represents a relatively small portion of total spending.
Here’s where the Obama administration-friendly media is doing back-flips to report a recovering economy. Though it’s a jobless recovery. We’re putting people back to work without putting them back to work. Somehow. Because the official unemployment rate (U-3) is falling. It fell below 9% in 2011. And it’s still below 9%. Recently tumbling all the way down to 8.3%. But you can’t use the U-3 rate when you’re talking about average households earning $62,000 a year. For no one earns $62,000 a year unless they’re working full-time. So you have to look at the unemployment rate that counts all the people who can’t find a full-time job. The U-6 unemployment rate. Which currently stands at 14.9% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A rate that is ABOVE the lowest unemployment rate during the Great Depression. So, no, the average American household is not earning $62,000 at the moment. Unless those working part-time jobs are working 2-3 part-time jobs to make up for the lost income of those who have simply given up looking for a full-time job because they can’t find one (people the U-3 rate excludes in its count of the unemployed).
“It seems like people are still getting out there and opening up their pocketbooks,” said Beth Ann Bovino, deputy chief economist at Standard and Poor’s.
Bovino thinks prices would have to reach between $4.50 and $5 a gallon to really see an impact in spending.
Part of the reason Americans are coping with higher gas prices is that oil makes up a smaller percentage of overall energy use, she said.
Oil made up 48% of the nation’s energy consumption in 1971, S&P noted in a recent report. Now, thanks to a shift to cheaper natural gas and coal, oil accounts for just 40%.
If gas prices were $4.50 and $5 a gallon while Bush was still in office there would be no calm rationale given. The people would have gotten the pitchforks out. Burned Bush and Chaney in effigy. Ridiculed them on late-night comedy TV. And in the mainstream media. For not doing anything to lower prices. And for purposely raising prices so they, Bush and Chaney, could reap profits along with their friends in Big Oil. But President Obama gets a pass. For with him the line is that there’s nothing the president can do about gasoline prices.
They go back to 1971 to find something positive to say. That in about 40 years we reduced our consumption of oil from 48% to 40%. But what was the change between 2008 and 2012? Have we reduced our energy consumption so much that when it takes over $50 to fill the average American fuel tank that we can whistle a happy tune? Because though these prices are high they are at least not $4.50 to $5.00 high? And that we must be consuming less oil someplace else? Funny, for that’s not what these high prices are saying. They say we’re consuming so much oil that our demand is outpacing supply. Which causes prices to rise. Even the president has said we must break our addiction to foreign oil. That is not a lessening demand no matter how you look at it.
The price of oil is rising because our demand for it is outpacing our supply of it. Increasing the price at the pump. Forcing us to cut back elsewhere to put more of our paycheck into the gas tank. And unless you like giving up things in life you enjoy and would prefer to have but can’t because of the price at the pump then these high prices hurt. They hurt the economy. And the family budget. And saying otherwise is insulting to those who are giving up the things they enjoy to put more of their paycheck into the gas tank.
Tags: Big Oil, Bush, Cheney, demand, Democrat, Dick Cheney, energy consumption, gas, gas prices, gas pump, gas tank, gasoline prices, George W. Bush, high gas prices, Obama, price at the pump, supply, unemployment, unemployment rate, working full-time