The West worries about Cow Flatulence while China’s Air Pollution causes Lung Cancer

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 10th, 2013

Week in Review

The environmentalists are trying to change our lives to prevent global warming.  They have launched a way against coal.  And the internal combustion engine.  But they haven’t stopped there.  They even want to change how our cows pass gas (see Sensors measure cow flatulence – for science by Julia Sklar posted 3/8/2013 on New Scientist).

Cows and other ruminants emit methane gas into the atmosphere, but the amount released has been hard to measure. Teagasc has estimated that livestock contribute one-fifth of global methane emissions.

By strapping these methane-measuring devices to dairy cows, Teagasc can catch their every fart, giving a more accurate measure. They also estimate emissions by examining the cows’ faeces. If the faeces contain archaeol – methane-producing microbes that cows use to digest food – it suggests the cow is a big emitter.

Other groups have created gas-sniffing submarines that lurk inside cows’ stomachs to track their methane emissions.

Important scientific research.  Sniffing cow gas.  For what in the world could harm more people than the toots of cows?  There is a theory that the dinosaurs killed themselves off with excessive pooting.  But can blowing the butt trumpet extinct a species?  Probably worth checking into.  For what greater threat is there to the human race than cutting the cheese?  Well, there’s this (see Air Pollution Shrouding China and People’s Health by Li Rulan posted 3/10/2013 on The Epoch Times).

Dr. Zhong Nanshan, president of the China Medical Association, warned that the smog problem in China is “scarier than SARS,” while speaking at a plenary session in Beijing on March 5…

Zhong cited a World Health Organization air quality report showing that the island city of Haiko, with the cleanest air in China, still ranks only 1530th of the 1,802 cities listed worldwide. Zhong added that the report shows China’s lung cancer incidence is among the highest in the world, with 76 per 100,000 among males and 48 per 100,000 for females affected…

Earlier, Zhong told Sohu.com that, while working with surgeons, he has seen the lungs of many Guangzhou residents over the age of 40 or 50 are black from air pollution. Although one of China’s largest cities, Guangzhou has relatively lower pollution levels. “Some may think I’m overstating the matter, but this is a fact,” Zhong said. “If Guangzhou is like this, Beijing must be much worse.”

While the Western World tries to regulate our lives to make our clean air cleaner China’s air pollution is so thick it’s causing lung cancer.  Which begs the question why are we, the people with clean air, continuously increasing costly regulations on our businesses to make our clean air cleaner?  When no matter how clean we make our air the amount of pollution China is putting into the atmosphere will cancel out anything we do to save the planet from global warming?

The environment in the Western World is about as clean as it can be without the human race following the dinosaurs into extinction.  If there are any warming emissions China must be producing them.  So it makes no sense for the Western World to sacrifice any more economic activity.  No.  Instead, the environmentalists should direct all of their energies to the Chinese.  Who will politely listen to their suggestions.  And ignore every last one of them.  As the Western World should.

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President Obama has given us the Worst Economic Recovery since the Great Depression

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 10th, 2013

Week in Review

The president’s economic policies have done nothing to improve the economy.  The labor participation rate continues to fall.  As more people give up finding a job.  Because there are none to be found.  And it makes one wonder.  Why?  Why are things so bad in the economy?  The last 4 years have been the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.  And what has been the common denominator these past 4 years?  President Obama.  And his anti-business policies (see The Cruel Things President Obama Is Doing To The Labor Market by John Goodman posted 3/7/2013 on Forbes).

President Obama’s proposal to increase the minimum wage and the health insurance employer mandate will combine to destroy job opportunities for young, unskilled workers in cities and towns across the country.

With respect to the new health law, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the minimum benefit package that everyone will be required to have will be $4,750 for individuals and $12,250 for families. That translates into a minimum health benefit of $2.28 an hour for full time single workers and about $3 an hour for someone working 30 hour a week. For family coverage, the cost is $5.89 an hour for a 40-hour-a week employee and $7.85 an hour for a 30-hour-a-week employee.

These are not small changes. They can double the cost of labor in some cases…

Employers have four ways to reduce this burden: (1) the mandate doesn’t apply to firms with fewer than 50 workers, (2) the mandate doesn’t apply to employees who work fewer than 30 hours, (3) the employer doesn’t have to offer or subsidize family coverage and (4) rather than provide health insurance, the employer can pay a $2,000 per (full-time) worker fine.

There are going to be lots of firms that fail to grow beyond 49 employees. But be warned: If an individual owns, say, two or three fast food franchises, the IRS has signaled that it will treat their combined operations as a single business. Also, in calculating the number of full time workers, the IRS is going to count “full-time equivalents.” That means that two workers, each working 15 hours a week, will count as the equivalent of one full-time (30 hour) worker.

As noted, employers are already reacting to ObamaCare. In fact, there was a huge shift to part-time employment in the fast food industry beginning in January. The reason: ObamaCare will employ a 12 month “look back.” That is, in deciding whether a worker is full-time or part-time next January (when the mandate becomes effective) the government will look at the average weekly hours worked in the previous year…

Bottom line: employment opportunities are being curtailed by the imposition of ObamaCare. Things will be even worse if a 24 percent increase in the cash minimum wage is heaped on top of it.

Economists have traditionally believed that an increase in the minimum wage (as well as mandated benefits) causes unemployment. However, a study by David Card and Alan Krueger found very little employment effect in the fast food industry in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

You wonder if economists ever talk to employers when they do these studies…

If government imposes higher labor costs on this industry, the restaurants will try to make it up by raising their prices. However, if the customers won’t pay the higher price — as may be the case in poorer neighborhoods — the restaurant will have to close.

Moreover, in order for prices to rise in one market there must be a corresponding decline in other markets. For the economy as a whole, employers can’t raise prices on the average with no change in the money supply.

Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of economics knows these policies don’t help business.  They don’t create jobs.  And if they aren’t helping to create jobs is it any wonder we’re in the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression?  Of course not.  And we’re back at that question.  Why?

Well, we have two possible answers.  Because the Obama administration is just incompetent and doesn’t understand economics.  Or they know exactly what they’re doing.  And if they do there would be but one explanation for their anti-business policies.  They are purposely trying to make businesses drop their health insurance as paying the fine is less costly.  Leaving the door open for the federal government to step in.  And be the insurer of last resort.  A backdoor way to national health care.  The Holy Grail of the Left.

So is the Obama administration incompetent?  Or devious?  It is one or the other.  And neither choice bodes well for the country.

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Charging your Electric Car will be as Simple as Understanding your Cellular Bill

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 10th, 2013

Week in Review

People hate the high price of gasoline.  And bought electric cars so they could laugh at those poor saps still buying gasoline.  For with their electric car all they needed was to plug in when they needed some charge and go on their way.  Of course, they didn’t think about that charging part so carefully.  For plugging in at home is one thing.  And appears to be free.  Because your electric meter doesn’t itemize your electric use.  But when you’re looking from a charge away from home some may have been surprised to see there is a cost for electricity.  When they can even find a place to plug in (see Merging networks give electric car drivers more places to charge by Eric Evarts posted 3/8/2013 on Consumer Reports).

It ought to go without saying that with relatively few public chargers for electric cars, if you have an electric car you ought to be able to plug into any one of them.

That wasn’t the case last year, when highlighted the challenges EV owners face when traveling beyond the range of a home recharge…But now with a new partnership forged, it is getting much easier for EV drivers to recharge on the go.

The two largest charging network providers, Ecotality (Blink) and Chargepoint, have come together to create a joint billing and data connection called Collaboratev. As a result, Collaboratev will allow each network’s customers to charge up at any Blink or Chargepoint charger by swiping a single card and get a single bill. The networks are working to recruit other, smaller networks to the system, as well.

So charging your electric car will be like using your cell phone.  Or an ATM.  Where different costs and fees may apply depending where you are.  It’s not like that with gasoline.  Where any cluster of gas stations will have similar prices.  Making it easy to choose.  For the only price you need to know is on the gas station sign.  And you don’t have to worry about getting a monthly bill later with additional charges or fees added in.  Now that’s convenience.

Also, having more charging stations available doesn’t solve another problem.  You can pull into any gas station, pump gas for about 10 minutes, then go on driving.  And you can have your lights on and your air conditioning or heat on high.  Even drive on the highway for another 5-6 hours easily.  And you just won’t be able to do that with an electric car.  Where the limited range will make you very nervous on the drive home if you get stuck in traffic.  At night.  During a snow storm.  With your headlights on.  And your heat and defrosters on high to keep your windows clear.

You’ll be sweating bullets.  And praying that you have enough charge to get home.  While your gasoline-powered companions on the road have no such concern.  For if they run low on gas they can pull into a gas station.  Top off their tank.  And be back in that traffic jam some 15 minutes later.  Whereas if you run out of charge you will have to call a tow truck.  For you can’t go to a service station and come back with a can of charge to pour into the battery.  No.  You’ll need a tow to a charger.  And an hour or so to charge.  Or more.  Depending on the voltage.

This is the price of the all-electric car.  Convenience.  And security.  Something that gasoline gives you.  Which is why it is the dominant fuel we use.  Because there is nothing better.

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Hugo Chávez was loved by Venezuelans, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but mocked on SNL

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 10th, 2013

Week in Review

Justin Timberlake made fun of Hugo Chávez last Saturday night on SNL.  Impersonating Sir Elton John he sang a modified version of Candle in the Wind.  Some of the lines went like this:

You called George Bush the devil, when you spoke at the UN, you said he smelled like sulfur, and you called him Mr. Danger

And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind, If a candle could pull out two pistols at a press conference

And you said the U.S. caused earthquakes, and you outlawed Coke Zero

You helped to make your country the kidnapping capital of the world, but you also increased milk production by almost 50%

And it seems to me you once gave a speech where you encouraged shorter showers, and another thing you said was capitalism killed Mars

Yes you believed in a civilization that existed on the surface of Mars, but capitalism killed it all when it was introduced to Mars

Funny.  Because it’s true.  Albeit a bit disrespectful for the recently departed.  One thing for sure, though, when Justin Timberlake hosts SNL you will not be disappointed.  He’s talented.  The man can do it all.  And he’s got guts to sing a song like this about an icon of the American Left.  For there are some who revere Hugo Chávez (see Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone pay tribute to Hugo Chávez by Ben Child posted 3/6/2013 on the guardian).

Penn, who first met Chávez in Venezuela in 2007 and attended a candlelit vigil for the stricken firebrand in Bolivia in December, bemoaned the politician’s lack of credibility in North America. “Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion,” he said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chávez and the people of Venezuela.” Penn added: “Venezuela and its revolution will endure under the proven leadership of vice president [Nicolas] Maduro.”

Oliver Stone, who celebrated Chávez’s presidency and the successes of left wing politicians across South America in his 2009 documentary South of the Border, said the Venezuelan leader would be remembered fondly by historians as a champion of the poor. “I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place,” he said in a statement. “Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chávez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned.”

Michael Moore, who met Chávez at the Venice film festival in 2009 and posted pictures of himself with the president, tweeted: “Hugo Chávez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl. He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all. That made him dangerous. US approved of a coup to overthrow him even though he was a democratically-elected president.”

High praise indeed.  You would be hard-pressed to find someone saying anything nicer about Chávez.  Unless you listened to someone who hates the United States even more than Hugo Chávez (see Ahmadinejad: Chávez Will Return by The New York Times posted 3/6/2013 on The Daily Beast).

Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad posted a letter on his website, promising that the deceased president would “come again” with Jesus and a Muslim prophet expected to redeem mankind. Ahmadinejad called for a day of national mourning for the “Latin American anti-imperialist figure.”

How about that?  The Hollywood Left loved Chávez as much as America’s number one enemy.  A man who suppressed his people during the Green Revolution.  In response to voting irregularities that kept him in power.  Something that happened in Venezuela, too.  Suggesting Chávez  was not as loved as some say.  Or as much as the Hollywood Left loved him.   Apparently, those who loved Chávez the most were those who didn’t have to live in his socialist utopia.

Many of the Venezuelan people did love Chávez, though. Because Chávez was a populist.  He nurtured a cult of personality.  He made the people love him.  Because he convinced the people that he was their champion.  As Penn, Stone and Moore believed.  Despite Chávez dying with a net worth of $1 billion.  Siphoned off the top of all that oil money that went to the people.  To eliminate extreme poverty.  That’s right.  He acquired wealth just like George W. Bush did.  From oil.  Only Bush did it in the free market.  While Chávez did it by just confiscating it.  Like all anti-capitalist socialists are wont to do.  Because they are the champion of the people.  Where everyone is equal.  Only some are more equal than others.

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It will be Easier and as Expensive to Smoke Marijuana in Colorado than Regular Cigarettes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 10th, 2013

Week in Review

The stoners, the high school and college kids and the baby boomer-hippies of yesteryear are ecstatic about Colorado decriminalizing marijuana.  For now they don’t have to sneak around and buy their weed from some shady drug dealer.  No, today they can walk down the road any time and walk into Harry’s and hold their head up high and say in a loud steady voice, “Harry, I want you to sell me some marijuana.  In fact, today I think I’ll have some Acapulco Gold, for I am a Coloradan.  But people in other states?  They cannot.  Because their states have never made the great leap out of the Middle Ages and the domination of alien Episcopal supremacy.”

(Okay, so I borrowed a little from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.  And by a little I mean a lot.  From the scene where the Protestant goes on about being able to buy condoms unlike his Catholic neighbors.  You can see a clip of that scene here but be warned.  It is not appropriate for the workplace.  And not suitable for young children.  If you’re not a man-boy with a somewhat sophisticated yet sophomoric sense of humor you may find this scene somewhat offensive.  But if you are go and buy the two-disc collector’s edition for your personal collection.  So you, too, can impress your friends by quoting these scenes verbatim.  Or alienate everyone around you.  Depending on who your friends are.  But I digress.)

Where was I?  Oh yes, Colorado has solved all of their problems.  They’ve decriminalized marijuana so responsible adults can enjoy this drug responsibly while no kids will.  (Yeah, right.  Pull the other.)  And they’ve figured out a way to bring more money into the state treasury by encouraging people to smoke marijuana.  Even though they frown on people smoking regular cigarettes.  And pretty much banned cigarette smoking everywhere.  For that stuff can get into your lungs and kill you.  First-hand smoke.  Second-hand smoke.  Even third-hand smoke.  That ashtray smell left behind long after a smoker extinguished his or her cigarette.  So Colorado is serious about the harmful effects of smoking tobacco.  Unless it gets you high.  Then apparently the smoke isn’t that bad for you after all.  But just don’t dare light up a cigarette in public anywhere in Colorado.  But if you do, to be safe and save yourself from the judgmental stares of others just make you regular cigarette look like a marijuana joint.  And then you can light that up anywhere and everyone will be cool with you.  Apparently.

So Colorado is doing the responsible thing for responsible adults who will now all follow the letter of the law.  Even though they used to violate state and federal law before Colorado decriminalized marijuana.  Which was and still is classified as a schedule I controlled substance.  Along with heroin and cocaine.  Which carry some pretty stiff penalties if you’re caught carrying.  So these people were willing to break a law that carried stiff penalties when the drug was still illegal.  But that shouldn’t be a problem now that it’s legal (see Tax, and tax again: America’s first market for recreational marijuana will be far from free posted 3/9/2013 on The Economist).

FREE-THE-WEED campaigners speak not of “legalising” marijuana but of “taxing and regulating” it. True to their word, the ballot measure they placed before Colorado’s voters last November, which won the support of 55% of them, was called the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act and contained provisions for a 15% excise tax. Now that the law is taking shape, the signs are that one of the world’s first fully legal marijuana markets (Washington state also backed legalisation) will have all the taxes and rules anyone could have wished for…

Most importantly, the group wants to maintain, for three years, the “vertical integration” model that has governed Colorado’s medical-marijuana industry. Under this system retailers must grow at least 70% of the dope they sell. This forces licence-holders to master a suite of skills from cultivation to distribution. The task-force also suggests that for the law’s first year, only established medical-marijuana dispensaries should be granted retail licences. Some campaigners mutter about protectionism, though grudgingly admit that dispensaries deserve some reward for their pioneering (and risky) work.

Mr Finlaw admits that vertical integration makes it hard to apply the excise tax: licence-holders will have an incentive to undervalue their product. That may help explain another proposal: to slap a tax on marijuana sales, on top of existing state and local sales taxes and the proposed excise tax. No figure will be presented to the legislature, but an “example” of 25% was floated in hearings.

Regulators say they need the funds to enforce their rules. But set taxes too high, fear campaigners, and you leave the illegal market in place, which destroys one of the principal purposes of legalisation in the first place. Either way, any new taxes will have to be approved again by Colorado’s voters, probably in November.

With that level of taxation it is unlikely to make it any less expensive than the weed they used to buy.  And now that the penalty for buying ‘improper’ marijuana may be only as severe as being caught with cigarettes on you purchased in a low-tax state.  Unless you have a tractor trailer full the punishment will be a slap on the wrist.  When Canada raised their cigarette tax drug dealers turned to smuggling cigarettes.  Just as lucrative.  With far less risk.  Yes, the illegally imported marijuana may sell at a lower price than in the past but with it being legal they will be able to make up for a lower profit per sale on volume.  Because a lot more people will be smoking marijuana now.  Besides, a lot of those kids will not be able to walk into Harry’s.  They’ll still need to buy their stuff on the black market.

Over-tight rules create opportunities for and cosy relationships between the industry and regulators. But Colorado’s legislators must perform a balancing act, because they are being watched by the federal government. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law…

Some members of the prohibition industry are running out of patience. On March 5th the president of the International Narcotics Control Board, an arm of the UN, said that marijuana legalisation in America violated international treaties and threatened public health.

Ironic, really.  It’s the Left that is pushing for the decriminalization of marijuana.  Despite their relentless assault on Big Tobacco and making it pretty much illegal to smoke a regular cigarette anywhere outside your home or car.  And they’re closing in on those, too.  If you have children.  Because of that third-hand smoke.  It is also the Left that wants to keep ceding power and sovereignty to the United Nations.  And here they are.  Violating an international treaty of that august body that they hold so dear.  Go figure.

The Left is an inscrutable bunch.  With politics driving their every action.  They champion individual liberty when it comes to sex and drugs but want to put you in jail for smoking a legal cigarette.  Because smoking is bad for your health.  Unless that smoke is from marijuana.  Then it’s no big deal.  They want a big world government to pass environmental regulations they can’t pass in their own country to regulate and punish capitalism but then ask who does the UN think they are telling them they can’t violate a treaty they don’t like?  Like decriminalizing a schedule I controlled substance?

Individual liberty for those who think like them.  And oppressive and punishing regulations for those who don’t.  This is the political Left.  Which is also the way things were in an absolute monarchy.  A totalitarian fascist, Nazi or communist regime.  An Islamist theocracy.  And any other oppressive regime where those in power lived by a different set of rules than those who they ruled over.  Despite expressing equality and egalitarianism it was more times than not like life for the poor animals on George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Where everyone was equal.  Only some were more equal than others.

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