Carbon Tax coming to Western Australia but no one may have to Pay It

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

They’re saving the planet in Western Australia.  With a new carbon tax.  Or so some would want you to believe (see Carbon tax adds $134 to annual power bill by Gareth Parker posted 6/9/2012 on The West Australian).

The average annual household electricity bill in Perth and the South West will rise by $134 from July 1 as a result of the Federal Government’s carbon tax…

The rise is in addition to the projected 3.5 per cent increase in electricity prices the State Government imposed in its Budget last month, which also applies from July 1.

Taken together, the average household’s annual power bill will rise by $183, or $3.52 a week, to $1598.13…

“The average WA household electricity bill will rise by around $2.50 a week – and the Federal Government is providing $10.10 a week on average to households in the form of tax cuts, higher family payments and increases in pensions and benefits,” he said. “This gives the lie to the misleading claims by Tony Abbott that electricity prices would rise by as much as 30 per cent due to the carbon price…”

Synergy is the only retailer of electricity to household customers in Perth and the South West.

Synergy chief Trevor James said it was announcing the rise now to give customers time to plan.

“Of course, the best way to keep electricity bills down is to use less energy and there are many opportunities to cut electricity use,” he said.

So they’re adding a carbon tax to encourage you to use less energy.  But they are giving households tax cuts and payments as well as increasing their pensions and benefits to help people pay this new tax.  I don’t really see how that will encourage anyone to use less energy.  If they are going to fully compensate these households for the added carbon tax.

They are adding a tax.  That they will pay for with more taxes.  Which means more money is coming out of the private sector.  For no net change.  Except, perhaps, buying votes in Perth and the South West.

This is government at its finest.  They’re adding a carbon tax to save the planet.  Pleasing the environmentalists who want this tax.  Whose taxes may be used to undermine the very goal of the carbon tax by letting the people escape this tax.  So they’re screwing the people by not saving the planet.  And they’re screwing the environmentalists.  All the while passing more money through government hands.  Brilliant.  And a bit devious.

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An Ivy League Professor says their Ivy League Government Policies have killed the American Dream

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

The Ivy League has long had an influence over government policy.  Administrations have been filled with Ivy League graduates.  Where they have been advising lawmakers and writing policy.  Much of the economic mess we suffer from these days goes back to the progressive views of the Ivy League.  Where they think the private economy will work better when smart and enlightened thinkers like themselves tweak it. 

And over the years our capitalist free market has been slowly morphing into crony capitalism.  Where those businesses with like minded ideas as those in government (as advised by their Ivy League intelligentsia) get preferential treatment by the government.  And those who don’t think right are hit with excessive regulations and taxes.  Or as they would say in Columbia, being fair.  Because fair is whatever they say is fair (see The ‘American Dream’ Is a Myth: Joseph Stiglitz on ‘The Price of Inequality’ by Aaron Task, Daily Ticker, posted 6/8/2012 on Yahoo! Finance).

In his latest book, The Price of Inequality, Columbia Professor and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz examines the causes of income inequality and offers some remedies. In between, he reaches some startling conclusions, including that America is “no longer the land of opportunity” and “the ‘American dream’ is a myth…”

For example, just 8% of students at America’s elite universities come from households in the bottom 50% of income, Stiglitz says, even as those universities are “needs blind” — meaning admission isn’t predicated on your ability to pay…

“What I want is a more dynamic economy and a fairer society,” he says, suggesting income inequality is ultimately detrimental to those at the top, too. “My point is we’ve created an economy that is not in accord with the principles of the free market.”

The only thing preventing the American Dream today is progressive government policies.  Immigrants used to come to this country with nothing but loose change in their pockets and went on to start a business.  Today there are so many taxes and fees and regulations that require a lawyer to understand.  This is what’s killing the American Dream.  Government.

More millionaires are self-made middle class people with a good idea.  They became entrepreneurs.  And succeeded despite the obstacles government put in place.  For no one ever heard an entrepreneur say he or she wished there was more government involvement in their industry.

The only people stuck in their class are the elite rich who own the Ivy League institutions and restrict admissions to their friends and family.  And the poor who are the victims of government programs that are supposed to help them.  Implemented by government on the advice of those Ivy League graduates who fill the ranks of policy makers in Washington.  Which perpetuates a permanent underclass for government to take care of with ever expanding government programs.

He is right, though, about the economy not in accord with free market principles.  President Obama hates capitalism and has taken active measures to oppose it.  Shut down oil exploration on federal lands and in international waters within our exclusive economic zone.  Not approving the Keystone XL pipeline.  Strong-arming Obamacare through Congress with backroom deals to pass a bill the American people didn’t want.  Subsidizing green energy companies like Solyndra that fail.  Attacking private equity.  And so on.  Helping like-minded people.  And hurting those who think differently.  This administration has become the model of crony capitalism. 

The land of opportunity and the American Dream will return this November.  It will take a while to undo some of the damage done these past 3 years or so.  But opportunity is still there.  If government would only get out of the way.

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Scott Walker turns Deficit into Surplus without any Layoffs while Los Angeles Furloughs Teachers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

Los Angeles turns to furloughs to delay layoffs.  Betting everything on yet another tax increase this November (see Los Angeles teachers and school district reach pact to spare jobs by Howard Blume posted 6/9/2012 on the Los Angeles Times).

The Los Angeles school district and the teachers union reached a tentative agreement Friday that would prevent thousands of layoffs in exchange for 10 furlough days, which would shorten the school year by a week.

Under the accord, teachers would lose pay for five instructional days plus four holidays and one training day, equivalent to about a 5% salary cut…

If voters turn down a tax increase for schools, L.A. Unified’s budget woes would worsen considerably, the superintendent said. The equivalent of three additional weeks of school would have to be sacrificed, Deasy said. A typical school year is 180 days…

If the governor’s tax initiative passes, union officials said any additional money must go toward reducing the number of furlough days. And if teachers take the furlough days and the district ends up with a year-end surplus, teachers would be reimbursed for the pay cut, the union said.

More than 9,000 teachers had faced being laid off as of June 30…

This year’s crisis followed a familiar recession-era pattern. In 2008, the district closed a $427-million deficit; in 2009, $838 million; in 2010, $620 million; in 2011, $408 million. In all nearly 8,000 employees were laid off over the last four years; many teachers have since been rehired or used as substitutes.

Scott Walker didn’t furlough or lay off any teachers in Wisconsin.  They all kept their jobs by pitching in a little more for their benefits.  Amazing how just that can turn a deficit into a surplus.

This brings us to what’s missing in this article.  Pensions and health care benefits.  Which have to be the reason for all of those deficits.  Because public sector pensions and health care benefits are busting budgets in cities and states throughout the nation.  Especially for those retirees.  Which is why in the private sector people don’t get pensions anymore.  They save for their retirement in a 401(k).  And pay a large portion of their health care benefits.  An alien concept to those in the public sector.  But one they will soon learn.  Because the people are tired of sacrificing their lives to pay more taxes to support a privileged class who can retire earlier.  And enjoy more generous benefits in their retirement while they work well into their 60s to pay for it.

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The Solution to Global Warming is more Coal-Fired Power Plants

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

Volcanoes are amazing things.  They can belch so much soot, ash and sulfur into the atmosphere they can lower global temperatures.  British Airways Flight 9 (callsign Speedbird 9) flew into a cloud of volcanic ash in June 1982 over the Indian Ocean.  In the black of night.  All four engines flamed out with the crew unable to figure out what was happening.  They continuously tried to restart the engine as the plane lost altitude.  When they saw they wouldn’t clear some high mountains on the island of Java they began turning the plane back over the ocean.  To try a water landing.  But then an engine sputtered to life.  Then another.  Till all four restarted.  They didn’t know it but as they passed through about 13,000 feet they emerged from the bottom of the ash cloud.  Which let them relight their engines.  Allowing them to fly the plane safely in.

Periods of high volcanic activity have cooled the earth so much that it has affected agriculture.  Colder and wetter growing seasons led to poorer crop yields.  And famine.  So volcanoes are powerful.  They can dramatically cool global temperatures.  Even kill us by reducing the length of our food growing season.  Now someone is thinking about deliberately pumping sulfur in the atmosphere to combat global warming (see The black sheep of climate engineering by Doug Craig posted 6/9/2012 on redding.com).

In his book, Hack the Planet, Eli Kintsch explains “manually tinkering with Earth’s thermostat to reverse global warming” was seriously proposed in 1997 by Lowell Wood, also known by some as Dr. Evil, and the conservative Edward Teller, “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” because “geoengineering was a better way to tackle the climate crisis than the Kyoto accords.”

A decade later, Wood recommended burning sulfur and “then dumping the particles out of high-flying 747s, spraying them into the sky with long hoses or even shooting them up there with naval artillery. They’d be invisible to the naked eye, Wood argued, and harmless to the environment. Depending on the number of particles you injected, you could not only stabilize Greenland’s polar ice — you could actually grow it. Results would be quick: If you started spraying particles into the stratosphere tomorrow, you’d see changes in the ice within a few months. And if it worked over the Arctic, it would be simple enough to expand the program to encompass the rest of the planet. In effect, you could create a global thermostat, one that people could dial up or down to suit their needs (or the needs of polar bears).”

As I read this all I could think about was the attack on coal.  And the correlation between the rise in global temperatures and this assault on coal.  From adding scrubbers on coal-fired power plants to phasing out coal-fired power plants because they purportedly contribute to global warming.  But much like the volcano burning coal has a cooling affect on the planet.  For it throws up soot, ash and sulfur into the atmosphere just like a volcano.  Who’d a thunk it?

Funny, isn’t it?  By trying to save the planet from global warming they’ve actually caused global warming.  Perhaps we should fire up more coal-fired power plants.  And remove those scrubbers.  To cool the planet.  But not too much.  We wouldn’t want to cause a famine now, would we?

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Honda has New Electric Car that gets 118 Miles per Gallon of Gasoline

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

Honda is selling an electric car that can get 118 miles per gallon of gasoline.  Even though this car doesn’t consume a drop of gasoline to go those 118 miles (see Honda electric car gets 118 mpg, but costs add up by Jonathan Fahey and Tom Krisher, Associated Press, posted 6/7/2012 on Yahoo! Autos).

At 118 miles per gallon, the Honda Fit electric vehicle is the most fuel-efficient in the United States. But getting that mileage isn’t cheap — and it isn’t always good for the environment…

The electric Fit has an estimated price tag nearly twice as high as the gasoline-powered version. It would take 11 years before a driver makes up the difference and begins saving on fuel…

People drive an average of almost 13,500 miles a year, so a typical driver would spend $445 on electricity for an electric Fit over a year, and $1,552 on gasoline for a regular Fit…

A fully charged Fit EV can go 82 miles, meaning a daily commute could cost nothing for gasoline.

First of all the 118 miles per gallon is meaningless.  An electric car doesn’t go a single mile on gasoline.  So if you divide the miles you’ve driven by the amount of gasoline you used to go those miles you’re dividing by zero.  When you divide anything by zero you get infinity.  But 118 is NOT infinity.  So there is a formula they use to give you a comparable mpg by calculating cost per mile.  But as gasoline prices and driving distances vary this number is a moving number based on some assumptions.  And, in the end, meaningless.

And speaking of driving distances, who has ever leased a car?  I have.  My lease was for 15,000 miles per year, though.  Not 13,500.  And I went over on miles.  About 3,000 miles.  So let’s assume that the average miles people drive per year is 18,000.  If you divide 18,000 miles by 365 (the number of days in a year) you get 49.3 miles per day.  Leaving you a cushion of 32.7 miles (82-49.3).  Unless you’re running the air conditioner (or heater in winter).  If so subtract about 20% from that 82 miles.  Giving you a range of 65.6.  And a cushion of 16.3 miles.  Or less if you’re car pooling (more weight means shorter battery life).   Or if you’re stuck in rush hour traffic with the air conditioning (or heat) on.  Or run an after work errand.

Pretty soon you’ll be worrying about making it back home.  We call this range anxiety.  Also, few people own a car for 11 years.  The two-year lease is a popular lease for the car may remain under the factory warranty for the term of that lease.  But if you buy an electric car and hold it for 11 years to get your investment out of it there’s a chance it will be out of warranty when you’ll need some big ticket repairs.  Such as replacing the batteries.  It’s why a lot of people lease.  They’ll live with a car payment forever just to have a car that is no older than 2 years and will always start when they need it.  And never have to deal with the hassle of taking the car in for service.  Or get a very expensive out or warranty repair bill.

The electric car market is confusing.  Because we understand gasoline-powered cars.  We understand mileage.  How far we can go on a tank of gas.  And know that it takes only a few minutes to top off the tank.  Which feels like forever if you’re in a hurry.  Imagine having to wait an hour or two to recharge.  That will really feel like forever.  But if you never drive more than 20 miles a day and don’t care about cost savings, you can enjoy driving a car without ever having to visit another gas station.  Which wouldn’t be bad for a retiree.  But not very practical for someone who really puts some miles on a car.

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Kids are Fat in Canada, Too

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

Kids aren’t obese only in America.  They’re obese in Canada, too (see N.S. to spend $2M to combat childhood obesity posted 6/7/2012 on CBC News).

The Nova Scotia government will spend about $2 million over the next year to help reduce childhood obesity and associated health problems…

“Nova Scotia is dealing with epidemic levels of childhood obesity, inactivity and unhealthy eating,” said Premier Darrell Dexter.

Their plan includes a “healthy start with a focus on breastfeeding.”  They’ll educate kids about nutrition and exercise.  Make healthy food and exercise readily available.  And spend money on trails, sidewalks and facilities to get these kids off of their fat asses.  Interestingly, there is no mention of a 16 ounce limit on sugary beverages.  New York’s Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to combat child obesity.  Though one could make the argument that breast milk is not a sugary beverage.

So if it’s not the soda pop making these kids fat what is it?

Among the surveyed Grade 3 students, about 80 per cent of both boys and girls met the physical activity standard on five or more days per week. By Grade 11, that number dropped significantly — about five per cent for boys and less than one per cent for girls.

Thompson blames electronic devices and poor attitudes for the problem.

Guess that would be cell phones.  Smartphones.  Computers.  Tablets.  And, of course, video games.  It appears that kids prefer gossiping and playing video/on-line games over physical activity.  Or they’re just so narcissistic that they have to share every thought and minute detail of their lives with their social network.  Which is just a more sophisticated way of saying “look at me, look at me, look at me.”  So they spend their passing hours with their electronic devices.  Instead of going biking or dancing they’d rather simulate that activity.  Gossip about a friend.  Or be the center of the universe.  All while getting fat in the process.

You know, it just may not be those large cups of sugary beverages causing our obesity problem.  It may be something else.  Wise words from the past come to mind.  From the wisest of wise.  The Oompa Loompas. 

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do
I have a perfect puzzle for you
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee
If you are wise, you’ll listen to me

What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?
Eating as much as an elephant eats
What are you at getting terribly fat?
What do you think will come of that?

I don’t like the look of it

Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who’s to blame

The mother and the father

Those little orange bastards were wise.  Even if they were only characters in a movie.  Then again it’s hard to parent these days.  There are so many outside influences.  And because of the high cost of living these days it often takes two incomes to raise a child.  Leaving our kids without parental supervision for a few extra hours each workday.  Where they are more likely to pick up bad habits.  Perhaps we should be looking at that.  Why does it take two incomes these days to raise a family?  High taxes and inflation.  Both have shrunk real earnings so much that a single income can’t raise a family like it did before.  It was LBJ’s Great Society spending in the Sixties that caused the massive inflation of the Seventies.  And parenting in the US has never been the same since. 

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