Following the Tragedy at Lac-Mégantic shipping Crude Oil by Train in Canada will be more Costly

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 27th, 2014

Week in Review

On July 6, 2013, a 4,701 ft-long train weighing 10,287 tons carrying crude oil stopped for the night at Nantes, Quebec.  She stopped on the mainline as the siding was occupied.  The crew of one parked the train, set the manual handbrakes on all 5 locomotives and 10 of the 72 freight cars and shut down 4 of the 5 locomotives.  Leaving one on to supply air pressure for the air brakes.  Then caught a taxi and headed for a motel.

The running locomotive had a broken piston.  Causing the engine to puff out black smoke and sparks as it sat there idling.  Later that night someone called 911 and reported that there was a fire on that locomotive.  The fire department arrived and per their protocol shut down the running locomotive before putting out the fire.  Otherwise the running locomotive would only continue to feed the fire by pumping more fuel into it.  After they put out the fire they called the railroad who sent some personnel out to make sure the train was okay.  After they did they left, too.  But ever since the fire department had shut down that locomotive air pressure had been dropping in the train line.  Eventually this loss of air pressure released the air brakes.  Leaving only the manual handbrakes to hold the train.  Which they couldn’t.  The train started to coast downhill.  Picking up speed.  Reaching about 60 mph as it hit a slow curve with a speed limit of 10 mph in Lac-Mégantic and jumped the track.  Derailing 63 of the 72 tank cars.  Subsequent tank car punctures, oil spills and explosions killed some 47 people and destroyed over 30 buildings.

This is the danger of shipping crude oil in rail cars.  There’s a lot of potential and kinetic energy to control.  Especially at these weights.  For that puts a lot of mass in motion that can become impossible to stop.  Of course, adding safety features to prevent things like this from happening, such as making these tank cars puncture-proof, can add a lot of non-revenue weight.  Which takes more fuel to move.  And that costs more money.  Which will raise the cost of delivering this crude oil to refineries.  And increase the cost of the refined products they make from it.  Unless the railroads find other ways to cut costs.  Say by shortening delivery times by traveling faster.  Allowing them an extra revenue-producing delivery or two per year to make up for the additional costs.  But thanks to the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic, though, not only will they be adding additional non-revenue weight they will be slowing their trains down, too (see Rail safety improvements announced by Lisa Raitt in wake of Lac-Mégantic posted 4/23/2014 on CBC News).

Changes to improve rail safety were announced Wednesday by federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt in response to recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board in the aftermath of the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Que.

The federal government wants a three-year phase-out or retrofit of older tank cars that are used to transport crude oil or ethanol by rail, but will not implement a key TSB recommendation that rail companies conduct route planning when transporting dangerous goods…

There are 65,000 of the more robust Dot-111 cars in North America that must be phased out or retrofitted within three years if used in Canada, Raitt said, adding, “Officials have advised us three years is doable.”  She said she couldn’t calculate the cost of the retrofits, but told reporters, “industry will be footing the bill…”

The transport minister also announced that mandatory emergency response plans will be required for all crude oil shipments in Canada…

Raitt also said railway companies will be required to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods. The speed limit will be 80 kilometres an hour [about 49 mph] for key trains, she said. She added that risk assessments will be conducted in certain areas of the country about further speed restrictions, a request that came from the Canadian Federation of Municipalities…

Brian Stevens head of UNIFOR, which represents thousands of unionized rail car inspectors at CN, CP and other Canadian rail companies, called today’s announcement a disappointment.

“This announcement really falls short, and lets Canadians down,” he told CBC News.

“These DOT-11 cars, they should be banned from carrying crude oil immediately. They can still be used to carry vegetable oil, or diesel fuel, but for carrying this dangerous crude there should be an immediate moratorium and that should have been easy enough for the minister to do and she failed to do that.

“There’s a lot of other tank cars in the system that can carry crude,” Stevens explained. “There doesn’t need to be this reliance on these antiquated cars that are prone to puncture.”

Industry will not be footing the bill.  That industry’s customers will be footing the bill.  As all businesses pass on their costs to their customers.  As it is the only way a business can stay in business.  Because they need to make money to pay all of their employees as well as all of their bills.  So if their costs increase they will have to raise their prices to ensure they can pay all of their employees and all of their bills.

What will the cost of this retrofit be?  To make these 65,000 tank cars puncture-proof?  Well, adding weight to these cars will take labor and material.  That additional weight may require modifications to the springs, brakes and bearings.  Perhaps even requiring another axel or two per car.  Let’s assume that it will take a crew of 6 three days to complete this retrofit per tank car (disassemble, reinforce and reassemble as well as completing other modifications required because of the additional weight).  Assuming a union labor cost (including taxes and benefits) of $125/hour and non-labor costs equaling labor costs would bring the retrofit for these 65,000 tanks cars to approximately $2.34 billion.  Which they will, of course, pass on to their customers.  Who will pass it on all the way to the gas station where we fill up our cars.  They will also pass down the additional fuel costs to pull all that additional nonrevenue weight.

Making these trains safer will be costly.  Of course, it begs this burning question: Why not just build pipelines?  Like the Keystone XL pipeline?  Which can deliver more crude oil faster and safer than any train can deliver it.  And with a smaller environmental impact.  As pipelines don’t crash or puncture.  So why not be safer and build the Keystone XL pipeline in lieu of using a more dangerous mode of transportation that results in tragedies like that at Lac-Mégantic?  Why?  Because of politics.  To shore up the Democrat base President Obama would rather risk Lac-Mégantic tragedies.  Instead of doing what’s best for the American economy.  And the American people.  Namely, building the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Americans want ever more Free Stuff as the Founding Fathers feared they would under Mob Rule

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 27th, 2014

Week in Review

Let’s imagine you buy your groceries a different way.  Instead of going to the store and picking things off of the shelves and paying for them at checkout imagine this.  You don’t pay the store.  A third party does.  Like it does for everyone else that shops at this store.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Let’s say people pool their money together for purchasing power.  And have this third party take that pooled money and use it to get better pricing.  Because of the large amounts they will be paying for.

So everyone pays in a monthly amount to their third-party purchaser.  Then goes to the store and takes what they want.  And at checkout they just sign an invoice to acknowledge they took this stuff.  And the store will submit the bill to the third-party purchaser.  Of course, there would have to be some rules.  Because if everyone pays a flat amount each month you can’t have someone picking up steaks every day when you’re buying hamburger for your kids.  So there are limits to what you can buy.  Requiring the third party to review every submitted invoice.  Requiring a very large staff to review every grocery store purchase to approve and disapprove line items on each and every invoice for payment.  To resolve billing and payment errors.  And to bill shoppers for any unapproved purchases they made.  Even if they didn’t understand that these items weren’t covered.

So, included with that monthly payment there must be an overhead fee.  To pay for all those people reviewing those invoices.  Those who bill shoppers for unapproved items.  Those who pay for the approved purchases.  And those who process payments from shoppers.  Still, things slip through the cracks.  People are getting unapproved purchases through the system.  Grocery prices rise.  The overhead costs at the third party grow due to new costly regulations.  Etc.  Such that on occasion the total amount of cash out at the third party exceeds the total of cash in.  Requiring them to raise the monthly amount everyone pays.

Sounds a bit more complicated than just going to the store and paying for what you want out of pocket.  And more costly in the long run.  But if someone else pays the third party for those monthly fees it’s a whole different story.  Say as a benefit at work.  Because without you having to pay anything it’s just free groceries.  At least, to you.  And you will demand that your employer pays for more stuff so it’s free to you.  Even though it’s not.  Because the rising cost of third party grocery purchases will cost your employer.  Which will limit your pay.  And other benefits.  Because in the real world nothing is free.  Even if people think that a lot of stuff is free.  Or should be free.  Like health care (see Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say health plans should cover birth control by Karen Kaplan posted 4/22/2014 on the Los Angeles Times).

Among the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, few are as controversial as the one requiring health insurance providers to include coverage for contraception. A new survey finds that support for this rule is widespread, with 69% of Americans in favor of the mandate…

Women, African Americans, Latinos and parents living with children under the age of 18 had higher levels of support for mandatory contraception coverage than people in other demographic groups, the survey found…

— 85% of those surveyed supported mandatory coverage for mammograms and colonoscopies.

— 84% supported mandatory coverage for recommended vaccines.

— 82% were in favor of mandatory coverage for diabetes and cholesterol screening tests.

— 77% backed the provision on mandatory coverage for mental health care.

— 75% supported mandatory coverage of dental care, including routine cleanings.

There’s a reason why the United States is a republic and not a democracy.  For the Founding Fathers feared a democracy.  And wanted responsible people between the people and the treasury.  For once people understood they could vote themselves the treasury they would.  And things like this would happen.  Mob rule.  Where the mob demands more and more free stuff while fewer and fewer people pay for that ‘free’ stuff.  And people in government anxious to win elections will keep giving the people more ‘free’ stuff that others have to pay for.  Until one day you end up with the health care system we have in the United States.  All because other people were paying for routine costs people could expect and budget for.  Things that if they paid out of pocket for would cost less in the long run.  Which would keep insurance what it was supposed to be.  Insurance.  And not turn it into a massive cost transfer scheme that only allowed the price of health care to soar.

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Farming Societies are more Advanced than Hunter and Gatherer Societies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2014

Week in Review

Why did the Europeans become the dominant people in the world?  Why did their colonies become some of the richest and most affluent nations?  Because when the Europeans entered those ships to cross the oceans they were farmers.  Having given up their hunter and gatherer past long ago (see DNA analysis solves the mystery of how Europeans came to be farmers by Steve Connor posted 4/24/2014 on The Independent).

It was the biggest cultural shift in European prehistory but the Stone Age transition from a lifestyle based on hunting animals and gathering wild berries to one built on farming and livestock was largely a mystery – until now.

A detailed analysis of the DNA extracted from the bones of 11 prehistoric Scandinavians who lived thousands of years ago around the Baltic Sea has shown that the transition from hunting to farming was more of a one-way takeover than previously supposed.

The genetic makeup of the people who lived through this cultural revolution has revealed that the incoming migrant farmers from southern Europe subsumed the indigenous hunter gatherers of the north, rather than the other way round, scientists said.

Farming people are more advanced than hunters and gatherers.  Because it takes knowledge and organization to master their environment and not live at its mercy.  Which is what hunters and gatherers must do.  As they travel across great expanses looking for food.  Food they can only eat if nature provides it.  And they can find it.  Whereas farmers can grow food and raise livestock.  On small farms.  And they can grow a surplus.  To carry them through winters.  And bad growing seasons.  While hunters and gatherers can only go hungry.  And die.

So farming societies are more advanced than hunter and gatherer societies.  Their knowledge and organization created food surpluses.  And economic activity.  Which created wealth.  This is why the Europeans went on to dominant the hunter and gatherers they met in the Americas, Australia, etc.  And why the transition from hunting to farming was a one-way takeover.  For advanced people have the knowledge, organization and wealth to dominant less advanced people who must live at the mercy of their environment.

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Only about 3% of All Workers at any one time make the Minimum Wage

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2014

Week in Review

If you’ve heard the left talk about the urgent need to raise the minimum wage you would think half the nation is languishing under pauper’s wages.  While rich business owners are lighting their cigars with twenty dollar bills.  As they rest their feet on the back of a minimum wage worker.  But it’s not quite that bad (see The Cost of the Minimum Wage: $20 for a Burger posted 4/24/2014 on E21).

McDonald’s high turnover rate shows that most of its workers are using the job as a stepping stone to other careers or as a transition position between jobs. One in every eight U.S. workers has been a member of McDonald’s 750,000 person workforce. Economics21 director Diana Furchtgott-Roth entered the workforce scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins at about $3 an hour. She never intended to have a career in ice cream…

Ninety-seven percent of American workers make more than minimum wage, not out of the kindness of employers’ hearts but because this is the only way that employers can retain employees. Low-skill workers need jobs, wages, and work experience too, and if the minimum wage rises, these people will be priced out of a job.

So only about 3% of all workers at any one time make the minimum wage.  And the 3% from 10 years ago are most likely included in the 97% of workers today.  Because minimum wage jobs are entry-level jobs.  And what makes them so valuable is their low pay.  For these workers gain some skills and work experience.  And then get the hell out and join the 97%.  And go on to do great things.  Even become CEOs and directors.  Which they never would have done had they stayed at those minimum wage jobs.  Which they might have had if the minimum wage was a more comfortable living wage.

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The NHS drops Life-Saving Drug as it would lead to more Rationing and longer Wait Times

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

In 1954 almost 35% of all workers belonged to a union.  Since then that number has fallen to about 11.3%.  As the high cost of union contracts chased manufacturing out of the country.  Today the majority of workers belonging to a union work in the public sector.  Where they enter contract negotiations with the taxpayers to secure better pay and benefits than most taxpayers have.  Of course during these negotiations the taxpayers have no say.  As politicians and unions hammer out these contracts.  Unlike trade unions.  Where the people paying the workers actually have a say.

This is another reason why national health care is the Holy Grail for the left.  They want to unionize all those health care workers.  Pay them more.  And deduct union dues from their pay to fund their political activities.  Leaving less money for patient health care.  But they’re okay with that.  But they’re not okay with a pharmaceutical company charging a lot of money for life-saving drugs.  Which, also, leaves less money for patient health care (see Breast cancer drug turned down for NHS use due to high cost by Sarah Boseley posted 4/22/2014 on the guardian).

A Herceptin-style drug that can offer some women with advanced breast cancer nearly six months of extra life has been turned down for use in the NHS because of its high cost.

In draft guidance now open to consultation, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) blames the manufacturers, Roche, who are asking for more than £90,000 per patient, which is far more than any comparable treatment…

“We apply as much flexibility as we can in approving new treatments, but the reality is that given its price and what it offers to patients, it will displace more health benefit which the NHS could achieve in other ways, than it will offer to patients with breast cancer.”

Paying health care providers more will not improve the quality of health care.  Unless health workers are doing a half-assed job now.  Which I don’t believe they are.  But Roche is helping people with death sentences live another six months or so.  That’s a pretty remarkable thing.  If the NHS can’t afford this wonder drug perhaps they should use their own.  Of course they can’t.  Why?  Because they don’t have one.  For they didn’t pour hundreds of millions of dollars in developing this drug and the all those drugs that failed.

Developing a miracle drug is costly.  Money the pharmaceuticals pay up front.  Because their employees don’t work for free.  Which is why these drugs cost so much.  That high price pays for all of the costs that went into this drug.  For all of the drugs that failed.  And provides a return for investors.  Who give these pharmaceutical companies hundreds of millions of dollars up front just in the hope they may develop a miracle drug.  Which is the only way we should invest in these miracle drugs.  Because these investors will only take a chance on a good thing.  Unlike government.  Which has a history of backing the wrong investment time after time.  And pouring good money after bad.

It’s a tough choice to make.  Take health care benefits away from other patients to pay for a miracle drug for those dying from cancer.  Or let people die 6 months or so sooner.  One thing for sure, though, unionizing our health care workers won’t give either of these patients more health care benefits.  It will only leave less money for everything else.  Leading to rationing.  And longer wait times.  Because less money will pay for fewer things.  Making those other things scarcer.  Forcing people to wait longer and pay more for treatment.

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The Left says we need to combat Manmade Global Warming even if the Theory of Global Warming is Wrong

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2014

Week in Review

The Democrats say manmade global warming is real.  That the science is settled.  And anyone who denies this is a fool.  So the danger of manmade global warming is real and time is of the essence.  To save the planet.  Destroy the economy.  And our way of life (see Examiner Editorial: Governments resolved to stop global warming even if it doesn’t exist posted 4/21/2014 on the Washington Examiner).

PJ Media’s Tom Harris recently noted that global warming advocates ought to heed that warning. Harris’ observation followed release of the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC cried that fossil fuel energy use around the world must be reduced by as much as 70 percent by 2050 to avoid the apocalyptic “death, injury and disrupted livelihoods” caused by man-made atmospheric warming.

“This will require massive cuts in our use of coal, oil, and natural gas, the sources of 87 percent of world primary energy consumption,” Harris said. It will also require quadrupling the amount of energy generated from renewable and nuclear sources, plus widespread adoption of carbon capture and storage technology that doesn’t even exist yet.

So, to fight global warming will require the kind of spending it took to win World War II.  The cost of energy would soar and leave people with little left to spend on their families.  Crippling our economy.  While leaving us with far less reliable electric power.   Making brownouts and blackouts commonplace.  Changing our lives greatly.  And what will we get in return?  Not a whole heck of a lot.

But the IPCC is crying wolf, according to the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, a voluntary international assembly of scientists and scholars brought together by the Heartland Institute, an American think tank. The NIPCC’s goal is to “present a comprehensive, authoritative, and realistic assessment of the science and economics of global warming” independent of the political and economic interests that inevitably drive the analyses of governmental entities like the UN’s IPCC.

The NIPCC’s bottom line is that atmospheric warming comes and goes over time, with average temperatures actually declining over the past 17 years. As a result and contrary to those crying wolf on global warming, the earth’s ice cover “is not melting at an enhanced rate; sea-level rise is not accelerating; and no systematic changes have been documented in evaporation or rainfall or in the magnitude or intensity of extreme meteorological events.” In fact, warmer temperatures and increased carbon content in the atmosphere can be beneficial to human beings, animals and plant life, “causing a great greening of the Earth,” according to the N-GIPCC.

Yes, warm is better.  After all, no one bitched when global warming caused the glaciers to recede and end the ice ages.  Because where the glaciers receded life took to that once frozen wasteland.  And when the glaciers from the greatest ice age (ending about 635 million years ago) receded after nearly covering the planet in ice man wasn’t even using fire yet.  In fact, the greater apes man evolved from didn’t arrive until about 15 million years ago.  After the great glaciers receded back from the equator.  So when the planet warmed and pushed back those glaciers it sure wasn’t man doing it.  Which means if you believe in evolution you can’t believe in manmade global warming.  Because the planet warms and cools.  And has been doing so far longer than man has been around.

Tim Wirth, the former congressman and present vice chairman of the U.N. Foundation, said “even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” No matter that jobs, growth and comfort will be lost. Keep that in mind next time President Obama claims Americans must spend billions of tax dollars on “green” energy because global warming is “real.”

So these great costs are necessary even if they are wrong and manmade global warming is not settled science.  Because crippling our economy and causing power brownouts and blackouts are a good thing.  Why?  One reason.  It empowers government.  To further intrude in how we live our lives.  Which is the only thing battling manmade global warming does.

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People chose Low-Cost over Comfort with Spirit Airlines

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 20th, 2014

Week in Review

Flying used to be reserved for the very rich.  But after deregulation ticket prices fell.  Allowing most anyone to afford flying.  Flying isn’t cheap, though.  Especially with high fuel costs.  Which has created a bunch of low-cost airlines to keep the price of flying as low as possible.  Something people like when buying their tickets.  Even if they end up complaining about the flight (see Spirit Airlines: nation’s highest complaint rate and highest profit margin by Hugo Martin posted 4/20/2014 on the Los Angeles Times).

It may be no surprise that the U.S.-based airline that has drawn the most complaints per passenger over the last five years is Spirit Airlines.

After all, the Florida-based carrier is known for super-tight seating and dozens of fees, including charges for soft drinks and carry-on bags.

But the executives at the ultra-low-cost carrier are probably not sweating the study results because another report released last week said that Spirit also had the highest profit margin of any U.S. carrier in 2013.

Most people want to get where they’re going and really don’t mind the getting there.  If they’re paying, at least.  If the company is picking up the tab, sure, business class all the way.  But most others are traveling somewhere.  And when they get ‘there’ they want to have as much money left over after getting ‘there’ to make their time ‘there’ as good as possible.  So they will put up with being cramped.  Go thirsty.  And pack light.  They may not enjoy this.  But that’s okay.  As long as they can enjoy their time when they get wherever they’re going.

And this is why Spirit Airlines is so profitable.  For as bad as people may find the flying portion of their travels they like having more money in their pockets when they get there.  So people willingly fill those cramped seats.  Because this airline is offering them exactly what they want.  How do we know this?  Because they are filling those cramped seats enough to make Spirit Airlines very profitable.  Which they couldn’t do if people weren’t filling those cramped seats.  So passengers may be saying they don’t like flying Spirit Airlines but their dollars say otherwise.

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Energy and Low Taxes reduce Unemployment Rates

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 20th, 2014

Week in Review

The Democrats have little good economic news during the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  To create more economic activity they argue to raise the minimum wage.  And to provide a pathway to citizenship for those illegally in the country.  But will these help the employment picture?  Well, we don’t have them now and employment is doing very well in parts of the country (see Tight Job Market in U.S. Cities Prompts Higher Pay by Steve Matthews posted 4/16/2014 on Bloomberg).

To hire 10 to 15 project coordinators this year, Sabre Commercial Inc. has boosted pay 10 percent and added a 401(k) retirement plan.

“It is an employee’s market,” said John Cyrier, co-founder and president of the 48-employee Austin, Texas-based builder. “We are definitely seeing a labor shortage in Austin and central Texas. I see it only getting worse.”

Companies across the U.S. from Texas to Virginia and Nebraska are struggling to fill positions with metropolitan jobless rates below the 5.2 percent to 5.6 percent level the Federal Reserve regards as full employment nationally. Competition for workers is prompting businesses to raise wages, increase hours for current employees, add benefits and recruit from other regions…

In New Orleans, where unemployment is 4.2 percent, “we are getting killed on overtime,” said Ti Martin, co-owner of Commander’s Palace, SoBou and Café Adelaide, which employ a total of more than 350 people. “We are doubling up and working extra hours,” and managers are filing in as cooks. The restaurants have a dozen or more openings, mainly for experienced chefs and servers, she said…

In Omaha, with a 4.5 percent unemployment rate, the Greater Omaha Chamber is coordinating a program that will increase the number of internships to more than 300 this year from 135 in 2012 at employers including Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co., Union Pacific Corp. (UNP) and ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG) Exposing young people to the city has been an “excellent recruitment tool,” said Sarah A. Johnson, director of talent and workforce initiatives for the chamber…

The labor shortage is expected to worsen in some regions. In Houston and the surrounding area, construction for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries on the Gulf Coast will require about 36,000 more workers in 2016 than in 2013, according to Industrial Info Resources Inc., a Houston-area based research company.

Even with hot labor markets in some cities, twenty-nine metro areas still have unemployment rates of at least the October 2009 post-recession peak of 10 percent, including Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Fresno, California.

Virginia is doing well in the Washington area thanks to lobbyists and those getting fat on the largess of government.  Nebraska is doing well because of some big national companies there.  Which attract people there even though their taxes are a little on the high side.  But the balance of good economic activity is in low-tax states.  Such as Texas.  Which has no state income tax.  And the energy business is keeping the Gulf States doing well.  Thanks to the energy boom in North Dakota.  Which has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate.

So it is clear what is driving the economy.  Energy.  And low taxes.  Put these together and you have low unemployment.  Which is why Atlantic City and Fresno still have unemployment rates of at least 10%.  Because these are in Democrat states.  Which have high tax rates (California and New Jersey are the two of the highest taxed states in the nation).  And prefer green energy over oil and gas.

A higher minimum wage won’t reduce unemployment.  For California and New Jersey have some of the highest minimum wages in the nation.  So a higher minimum wage is not helping their economies.  But energy and low taxes will.  As proven by the healthy economies in areas with them.  And bad economies in areas without them.

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Vladimir Putin is running roughshod over International Law and the EU is addressing Coffee Makers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 19th, 2014

Week in Review

Vladimir Putin is running roughshod over international law.  He took Crimea.  And is threatening further parts of Ukraine.  Some think he will take Moldova next.  Or possibly one of the Baltic States.  And what is the European Union (EU) doing to protect democracy?  This (see EU lays down the law on coffee making by Edward Malnick posted 4/19/2014 on The Telegraph).

Filter coffee machines will have to turn off automatically to help save energy, under new European Union rules.

All of the devices on sale for domestic use from next year will be required to go into “standby mode” after brewing the drink, the Sun reported.

The European Commission said the changes would save money on electricity bills and were “supported by consumer and industry organisations” as well as member states including the UK.

However campaigners claimed the rules would leave many people with “cold coffee”…

Those machines with non-insulated jugs will have to go on standby after no more than 40 minutes.

Really?  Coffee makers?  That’s the threat to Europe?  Not Vladimir Putin running roughshod over international law.  I guess the EU has a different set of priorities.

All right, let’s look at the cost savings for the average EU consumer.  In America we typically brew a pot of coffee and let it sit on the warmer for maybe 2 hours.  After that it gets a little strong.  So let’s look at two hours.  Assuming a typical 600 watt heating element and an electrical cost of $0.15/kilowatt-hour the cost savings comes to $0.12.  If we brew a pot every morning that comes to a cost savings of $43.80 per year.  Of course, people will have to warm up their tepid coffee after the coffee maker automatically shuts down.  And the most likely way will be in a microwave oven for about 30 seconds.  You do this for three cups of coffee and you’re not going to consume much electric power.  But you’re going to put a lot of wear and tear on your microwave oven.  Which cost more than the $43.80 savings in electric power.  Not to mention the inconvenience of having to run your microwave when you want another cup of coffee.

You know what can keep that coffee warm without stressing your microwave oven?  The coffee maker.  For only $0.12 a day.  There are people that won’t stoop to pick up a coin if it’s less than a quarter.  So do you really think the people are going to appreciate paying more for a coffee maker (that now must include a timed shutoff mechanism) so they can go through microwave ovens quicker just to save $0.12 a day?  Probably not.

This is the problem with a nanny state.  Which the EU is.  The worst part is that these people are paid by taxes to come up with these brilliant ideas no one needs.  Something taxpayers may be more in need of is a way to stop the law-breaking ways of Vladimir Putin.  For Vladimir Putin probably poses a greater risk to Europe than coffee makers.

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Only Government can Create and Enforce a Monopoly

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 19th, 2014

Week in Review

So many people fear the low prices of corporations.  They say they will put higher priced Mom and Pop shops out of business.  Then when they have a monopoly they will raise their prices and gouge their customers.  Which is silly.  Because corporations can’t create a monopoly.  Only government can grant them one.  Allowing them to charge the high prices once the government eliminates all competition.  But even when the government does if there is a market for lower prices some competition will find a way (see 3 epic fails that prove Uncle Sam is a terrible venture capitalist by Burton W. Folsom Jr. and Anita Folsom posted 4/19/2014 on the New York Post).

After 20 years in Europe perfecting his steamboat, an inventor named Robert Fulton returned to the US in December 1806.

He knew that a legislator, Robert Livingston of New York, would back him to the hilt. Livingston was a Founding Father who believed that steamboats would work well on the wide rivers of North America. Livingston and Fulton obtained a monopoly from the New York legislature for the privilege of carrying all steamboat traffic in New York for 30 years, if they could produce a working steamboat within two years…

One problem with Fulton’s monopoly, however, was that it affected shippers in neighboring states. As steamboats became more common, the Fulton monopoly meant that other companies couldn’t sail in New York waters without fear of fines. The monopoly also kept ticket prices high.

Finally, in 1817, Thomas Gibbons, a New Jersey steamboat man, tried to crack Fulton’s monopoly when he hired young Cornelius Vanderbilt. Gibbons asked Vanderbilt to run steamboats in New York and charge less than the monopoly rates…

For 60 days in 1817, Vanderbilt defied capture as he raced passengers cheaply from Elizabeth, NJ, to New York City. He became a popular figure on the Atlantic as he lowered the fares and eluded the law.

Finally, in 1824, in the landmark case of Gibbons v. Ogden, the US Supreme Court struck down the Fulton monopoly. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that only the federal government, not the states, could regulate interstate commerce.

This extremely popular decision opened the waters of America to competition. A jubilant Vanderbilt was greeted in New Brunswick, NJ, by cannon salutes fired by “citizens desirous of testifying in a public manner their good will.”

On the Ohio River, steamboat traffic doubled in the first year after Gibbons v. Ogden and quadrupled after the second year. The real value of removing the Fulton monopoly was that the costs of traveling upriver dropped. Passenger traffic, for example, from New York City to Albany immediately dipped from $7 to $3 dollars after the court decision.

Only governments can maintain and enforce a monopoly.  And only a business with a government enforced monopoly can gouge their customers.  For with the government eliminating all competition what else is a consumer to do?  He or she has no choice but to buy from the business with the government enforced monopoly.  The same is true today.

Free market capitalism is always finding a better way to do something that costs less.  But people who enjoy government monopolies try to fight back.  To keep their government privileges.  Just look at the UAW and the automotive industry.  Which used the power of their government privilege to restrict competition.  Such as with tariffs and import quotas.  Which only let the UAW to continue to burden the American automotive industry with ever more costly union contracts that ultimately led to their bankruptcy/government bailout.  All the while keeping cars more expensive than they had to be.  As the UAW used their government privilege to gouge American automotive customers.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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