Air Pollution is so bad in India that it Burns your Lungs when you Breathe It

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 16th, 2013

Week in Review

The environmentalist in the United States are trying to kill the internal combustion engine.  And coal-fired power plants.  Because of global warming.  And air pollution.  But the air quality in the U.S. has never been better.  No one knows we have any air pollution unless measuring devices tell us.  For we can go to pretty much any U.S. city and breath the air without the word pollution ever coming to mind.  Which is more than some people can say (see Air pollution on the rise in Kolkata by Smita Prakash posted 3/15/2013 on Channels News Asia).

Rapid modernisation and an unchecked number of vehicles are making Kolkata one of the most polluted cities in India…

Ms Karmakar said: “My whole respiratory system feels a burning sensation. When I breathe, the smoke in the air goes inside through my nose, chokes me and enters my lungs and I feel a strong burning sensation in my lungs. Vehicles emit black smoke and run past.”

Based on her statements you can only come to one conclusion.  The U.S. has won the war against air pollution.  And any further environmental regulations would be pointless.  And an unnecessary job-killing cost to business.  For no one suffers a burning sensation in their lungs when they breathe in an American city.

And if the environmentalists say we must further regulate businesses to reduce the levels of air pollution that are so minute that you need a sensitive measuring device to detect them we should ask them what’s the point?  For whatever small reduction we can gain at great cost to our businesses (resulting in less job creation) cannot offset the kind of air pollution that causes a burning sensation in people’s lungs when they breathe.  Air pollution is bad in India.  And it’s even worse in China.  So how will further regulations in America clean the air in China and India?

The U.S. does not have an air pollution problem.  And if there is a global warming problem that battle has to be fought in India and China.  Not in the U.S.  Our air is cleaner by far than these two polluting superpowers.  It is they who need to catch up to us.  And they will.  In time.  But increasing the cost of business yet more in the United States when it won’t make the air noticeably cleaner or have an impact on reducing global warming makes no sense.  Unless you just hate capitalism so much that you’ll take any excuse to regulate and punish it.  Which is about the only reason to increase environmental regulations in one of the cleanest countries in the world.

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Solar Power grows at 76% Annual Growth but you wouldn’t know it by the Power it Adds to the Grid

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 16th, 2013

Week in Review

The government subsidized solar power industry is growing like gangbusters.  Thanks to all those government subsidies.  For it appears if it weren’t for that there would be no solar power industry.  Except in space.  Where it is the best choice.  But here on earth?  It just doesn’t work that well (see U.S. Solar Market Grew 76% in 2012 by Ucilia Wang posted 3/14/2013 on Forbes).

Imagine 16 million solar panels blanketing large pieces of land and covering roofs of homes and businesses. That was the number installed in the United States in 2012, when 3.3 gigawatts of the solar equipment materialized to representing a 76% annual growth.

Cumulatively, the country had about 7.2 gigawatts of solar generation capacity from solar panels by the end of 2012, according to a report by GTM Research the Solar Energy Industries Association. That capacity doesn’t mean consumers could tap that much power from solar power projects. The amount of production depends on whether the sun is up and unobstructed by clouds.

So how much useable power do we get from that installed 7.2 gigawatts?  Well, to determine that we must look at the capacity factor.  Which is the ratio of actual power to potential power over a period of time.  According to the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center they calculated the capacity factor for a solar array in Arizona.  A pretty sunny place.  They found the capacity factor to be 19%.  So if we use that we can calculate the useable power from that installed 7.2 gigawatts.  Which comes to approximately 1.4 gigawatts (0.19 X 7.2 gigawatts).  Now, assuming a house with a 200-amp, 240-volt service uses about 30 amps on average over a period of time that 1.4 gigawatts could power maybe 190,000 homes.  Of course, this power can only go to the grid when the sun is shining.  And in Arizona that means the air conditioners are running at maximum capacity.  So if we assume these houses are consuming 100 amps on average when the sun is shining this 1.4 gigawatts may only power 57,000 homes.

The U.S. is one of the fast-growing solar energy markets in the world, thanks in part to the generous federal tax benefits, loans and grants to support solar technology development and deployment. On top of that, over half of the states require their utilities to sell an increasing amount of renewable electricity.

The declining prices for solar panels in recent years have helped to make them more attractive. The fall — 28% for wholesale silicon solar panel prices — came largely as a result of a global oversupply of solar panels and a fierce competition. While project developers and consumers benefit from the lower prices, dozens of manufacturers have filed for bankruptcy or needed financial rescues to stay alive.

According to the U.S. Census there were 132,312,404 housing units in 2011.  So that massive investment in government subsidized solar power can at best in the southern United States (where it is very sunny) power only 0.043% of the houses in the country.  While providing no power for our businesses or institutions.  Or our street lighting.  Which, of course, it can’t.  As the streetlights only come on when solar power doesn’t work.  When it’s dark.  Because the sun isn’t shining.

Which explains why solar power is so heavily subsidized by government.  Because it is so bad an alternative to coal-fired power plants that no private investors will provide the financing for these boondoggles.  Which is typical for any government investment.  For if there were any value in it private investors would be pouring money into it.  But they’re not.  Because solar power is a bad investment.  For it is such a poor producer of energy.  It has its applications.  Such as in space.  Where it is a cheaper alternative than running power lines to the International Space Station from a coal-fired power plant on earth.  But back on terra firma we are far better off running power lines from coal-fired power plants than from solar arrays.  Because coal is good.  Coal is right.  Coal works.  All of the time.  Even when the sun isn’t shining.

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Britain raising Retirement Ages to cope with an Exploding and Costly Aging Population

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 16th, 2013

Week in Review

When the actuaries first crunched the Social Security numbers do you know what they did?  They built a system that would start paying benefits to people who on average were already dead.  That is the retirement age was pretty close to the average life expectancy.  Which meant few people would live long into retirement.  So if you’re collecting taxes from everyone but only have to pay about half of them in retirement (as the other half would already be dead) it wasn’t that hard to keep Social Security solvent.  But then something happened.  We started living longer.  Which the actuaries never thought would happen.  Worse, people were having fewer babies.  So as more people lived longer into retirement there were fewer people entering the workforce to pay the taxes to pay for their long retirement.  Creating an aging population.  Something else the actuaries never thought would happen.

Put it all together and you have a financial mess.  With both Social Security and Medicare projecting to go bankrupt.  But it’s just not in the United States.  It’s everywhere (see Britain ‘woefully’ under-prepared for rising number of elderly people by Juliette Jowit posted 3/13/213 on the guardian).

Britain is “woefully under-prepared” to cope with an expected explosion of older people and ministers need to respond by raising the retirement age and tackle the costs by reviewing pensioner benefits, a House of Lords inquiry concluded.

A special committee of peers blamed successive governments for their failure to tackle policy issues generated by the ageing population, warned that the biggest threats are to already stretched health and social services, and proposed a raft of new policies to help people cope.

Led by Lord Filkin, the group did not put forward a specific timetable for increasing the state pension age – already set to rise from 60 for women and 65 for men, to 66 in 2020 and 68 by 2046 – but the body did cite recommendations made by Lord Turner, chairman of the pensions commission, who had said the threshold could rise to 70 by 2030…

The wide-ranging inquiry heard startling evidence about the scale of the demographic change coming. Between 2010 and 2030 there is expected to be a 50% increase in people aged 65 or older, and a doubling of people aged 85 or older.

The consequences are predicted to be a 50% increase in people with arthritis, coronary disease or strokes, and an 80% rise in people with dementia to nearly two million.

So the British are talking about raising retirement ages.  And means-testing their benefits.  One thing they don’t mention is their Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient.  To help the dying to die with dignity.  Though many call it a quasi death panel.  To help unburden the NHS with a lot of costly patients.  Helping them to stretch their limited resources to cover more people.  Obamacare includes something similar.  Some bureaucrat will make life and death decisions to determine whether medical care will have an acceptable cost-benefit ratio.  If not, well, there will be something similar to Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient in Obamacare.  For it will be the only way to cut costs with an aging population.  Unless you force health care workers to work at bargain discount pay rates.  Like they do in Cuba.  And North Korea.

This will be the future of Obamacare.  For it is the present of the NHS.  And we both have aging populations.

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Britain’s National Health Service works so well they Pass Laws Forbidding the Gagging of Whistleblowers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 16th, 2013

Week in Review

More and more people are finding out what life will be like under Obamacare.  And they’re not liking what they’re finding out.  Especially those pet owners who have just learned their vet bills are going up because the excise taxes on medical devices includes medical devices that can be used on people as well as animals.  Such as syringes.  Which is rather ironic that the most financially responsible health care in the United States will help subsidize the least financially responsible.  For people pay out of pocket at their vet.  Something they haven’t done at their people doctor since, well, forever.  Unless you lived before FDR’s time.  Before health care became a benefit.

While vets keep their bills to where people will pay them to save Fido and Whiskers no such restraint exists with people medicine.  Which probably explains why Fido and Whiskers are getting better health care than some get at people hospitals (see Ban on NHS gagging orders by Press Association posted 3/14/2013 on the guardian).

Gagging clauses that stop departing NHS staff from speaking out about patient safety or care have been banned by the government.

Hundreds of whistleblowers have in the past been silenced by the clauses in their severance packages.

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the practice would end with immediate effect to help create a culture of “openness and transparency” across the NHS.

Interesting.  Openness and transparency?  Like President Obama promised that his administration would be?  One thing we’ve learned from the president is that he has a problem with being open and transparent.  So you know this culture will carry over into Obamacare.  For they no doubt learned from the British that you have to shut your people up after they leave their jobs.  Or else they will talk about how horrible you’re running things.  Such as the abysmal job the Obama administration did protecting our diplomatic staff in Benghazi.  Despite all of the signs of a resurging al Qaeda.  The place was getting so dangerous that the British pulled their staff out before al Qaeda killed four Americans.  And what did we here from the dead ambassador’s boss when questioned in Congress about altered talking points used on the Sunday morning talk shows?  “What difference does it make?”  So much for all of that promised openness and transparency.

“The era of gagging NHS staff from raising their real worries about patient care must come to an end.”

Almost £15m was spent over three years on compromise agreements with staff leaving the NHS, the Mail said, of which 90% contained clauses to stop whistleblowers from speaking out.

Gary Walker, the former chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, claimed he was sacked after raising concerns about patient safety.

He accepted a gagging clause as part of a settlement package but broke the terms to speak out last month about concerns over care, the Mail said…

The Health Secretary said that a “culture of covering up problems” led to the Mid Staffordshire scandal, and that NHS staff who identify problems should be encouraged to come forward and speak out…

“This can only be part of our response to Mid Staffs. If we have a culture where whistleblowing is necessary then obviously something has gone wrong.”

The National Health Service (NHS) has been doing national health care for a long time.  And, apparently, they still don’t have it right.  For if they did there would be no need for whistleblowers.  So here’s something to look forward to under Obamacare.  Gag orders and a culture of covering up problems.  And it has to happen here.  For the British are good people.  It’s just that national health care doesn’t work.  And we know the British are good people.  For they have been trying to make the unworkable national health care work.  Which must mean they care about their people.  So any failures of the system really can’t be blamed on the people.  It’s national health care that is at fault.  For it just doesn’t work.

So expect a lot of silence as more and more people suffer horrible health care.  And when a whistleblower does step forward and someone from the administration is called to testify before Congress we can already guess their answer to why more people are dying under Obamacare than they were before Obamacare.  “What difference does it make?”  Words you’ll never hear from your veterinarian.  Because there is no need for gag orders at your vet.  Why?  Because it’s cash out of pocket.  And vets have to meet a higher standard than some government policy.  They have to please Fido’s and Whisker’s owner.  The one with the pocket that has the cash that pays bill.  Which is why veterinarians work.  And Obamacare won’t.

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Paul Krugman says there is no Problem with Social Security showing why we shouldn’t listen to Keynesians

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 16th, 2013

Week in Review

Paul Krugman is a Keynesian economist.  He even won a Nobel Prize.  And the Left loves him.  Because he says it’s okay for the government to spend money it doesn’t have.  In fact, government should be spending more.  The reason why the stimulus failed according to Krugman is that the $800 billion wasn’t enough.  Which is why the Left loves this guy.  Because he says things like spending $800 billion is not spending enough.  Giving them moral authority to spend more.  For, after all, this guy is a Nobel Prize winning economist.  So he must know what he’s talking about.

Then there are real economists. People who actually understand how business and the economy as a whole works.  People of the classical school of economics.  The Austrian School.  And the Chicago school.  Who don’t think much of Mr. Krugman.  Or Keynesian economics.  For all they see is a historical record littered with failure.  They know why those in government only listen to Keynesian economists.  Because they simply want to expand government spending.  For they like having all of that money flow through their hands.  While reputable economists want that money where it benefits the economy most.  In the private sector.

Krugman gets a lot of air time.  Because he advances the government’s agenda.  Which the mainstream media is helping the president pass.  So you see him on television a lot.  And sometimes someone with a real understanding of the economy will have a little dustup with him.  As someone did recently on ABC.  The topic was Social Security and the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF).  Senator Ron Johnson (R, WI) said Social Security was going bankrupt.  Krugman said Johnson’s facts were all wrong.  That Social Security had a dedicated revenue stream.  And the SSTF was fat with investments not only earning interest but can be used to pay benefits.  Bruce Krasting does a little fact checking.  Here are some excerpts (note: this article appears to have missed the editing process and contains quite a few typos some of which we corrected) (see Paul Krugman Has Got His Social Security Facts Wrong by Bruce Krasting posted 3/11/2013 on Business Insider).

CR[S] [Congressional Research Service] had this to say about the TF for FERS [Federal Employees’ Retirement Service]

The assets in private-sector pension funds represent a “store of wealth” that firms can use to meet pension obligations as they come due. The CSRDF [Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund], however, is not a store of wealth for the federal government.

Got that PK [Paul Krugman]? The CR[S] says there is no wealth (aka money) in the TF:

The OMB [Office and Management and Budget] provides more clarity on TFs. From the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2010: Analytical Perspectives

Balances in the trust fund are available for future benefit payments and other trust fund expenditures, but only in a bookkeeping sense.

Ah! There is no money in the TFs. They are bookkeeping entries. OMB concurs with CR[S] – TFs are not a store of wealth. More:

The holdings of the trust funds are not assets of the Government as a whole that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits.

How many ways does OMB have to say this to convince PK? Another:

The existence of large trust fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, increase the Government’s ability to pay benefits.

Is this getting through to progressives like PK? This is not the tin hats talking PK. This is your “guys”.

Senator Johnson made the statement that the SSTF accounting was similar to a person who writes themselves an IOU for $20, and then somehow believes he actually has an asset. PK objected. This is what the OMB has to say about it; no wiggle room for PK with this:

These trust fund balances are assets of the program agencies and corresponding liabilities of the Treasury, netting to zero for the Government as a whole.

Got that PK? The Senator was correct. Writing an IOU to oneself nets to zero. If the OMB was the arbiter of the TV debate, it would have said that the Senator had the facts, and Krugman was blowing smoke.

Let me explain this in another way.  Remember the movie Dumb And Dumber with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels?  Where they drive to Colorado to return a women’s briefcase?  That briefcase was full of money and was supposed to pay a ransom to get that woman’s husband back.  Jim Carrey’s character picked it up before the kidnappers could because he had just driven the woman to the airport and was smitten with her and wanted to return it to her.  So she would marry him and they could live happily ever after.  And hence the road-trip to Colorado to return it.  Much hilarity ensued.  But then that briefcase opened.  And the boys saw all of that money.  These guys who had no money and no place to sleep.  In a cold Colorado winter.  And there was all that money.  So they did the only responsible thing.  They borrowed from that briefcase.  Leaving an IOU each time they did.  Then they bought some bare necessities.  The finest hotel suite.  A Lamborghini sports car.  New designer clothes.  Etc.  You know, bare necessities.  Near the end of the movie the briefcase is opened by the kidnapper who only sees slips of papers.  Their IOUs.  The kidnapper is enraged.  And Jim Carrey’s character reassures him that those IOUs are as good as gold.  Because they intend on repaying all of that money.  Even though each of them is dirt poor and unlikely to earn that amount of money in their remaining lifetime.

That briefcase is the Social Security Trust Fund.  All of that money poured into the Trust Fund.  While all those politicians looked at it.  And then thought about all the spending they wanted to do.  So they did the only responsible thing.  They spent the money in the Trust Fund and left IOUs in its place.  IOUs that they never will repay.  And everyone knows this.  Except, perhaps, Paul Krugman.  All rational people know how the government will replace those IOUs.  They will print money as they need it to pay benefits.  Causing even more inflation.  Raising prices further.  Forcing our retirees who paid into the Trust Fund to get by on less in their retirement.  Basically like what is happening right now.  And will only get worse.

You can’t loan money to yourself.  You can’t spend your personal savings and replace it with an IOU.  Because it nets out.  For if you borrow money you owe money.  Which means you’re doing stuff on both sides of the ledger.  And when you figure out your net worth (subtracting what you owe from what you have) you find there is little there.  The balance of your savings less the sum total of your IOUs is what you have to live on in retirement.  Nothing more.  For once you spent your savings they’re gone forever.  Just like that money in the Social Security Trust Fund.  They spent it.  And it’s gone forever.

Paul Krugman apparently doesn’t understand this.  As do few Keynesians.  For they keep spending money.  And running up more debt.  But never see any problem.  Unlike real economists.  Who, sadly, are not advising the government.  For they refuse to tell the government what they want to hear.  Like Paul Krugman and his fellow Keynesians.  Who say things like they’re just not spending enough.  Which is what every politician wants to hear.  No matter how ridiculous or asinine it may be.

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