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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NFL Cheerleaders are suing for a Livable Wage for their 300 Hours of Annual Work

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 26th, 2014

Week in Review

If you were in the ‘in’ crowd in high school the most ‘in’ people were the quarterback of the football team and the head cheerleader.  Typically the best looking guy and girl in high school.  This is why girls want to be cheerleaders.  Because only pretty and popular girls are cheerleaders.  These girls don’t get paid.  And that’s okay.  Because they do it for the privilege of wearing that cheerleader uniform.  And being part of the ‘in’ crowd.

There’s a fascination with cheerleaders.  Men like them so much they made a porno movie about a girl trying to make a football cheerleader squad that wasn’t the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders but looked like it was.  Debbie Does Dallas.  A porn bestselling video.  Because men like cheerleaders.  For they are toned, fit and beautiful.  And they wear revealing outfits.  Which is why NFL cheerleaders are sexy.

Women try hard to become NFL cheerleaders.  But only toned, fit and beautiful women get to be cheerleaders.  Which is why women work so hard to be toned, fit and beautiful.  So they can go to cheerleader tryouts and best the competition.  To win that honor of wearing an NFL cheerleader uniform.  At least, that’s how it has been until now (see String of Cheerleader Lawsuits the Next Headache for the NFL by Tierney Sneed posted 4/25/2014 on US News and World Report).

What will become of the Buffalo Jills, the cheerleaders that are on the sidelines for Buffalo Bills games? A lawsuit alleging lower than minimum wage earnings and other New York labor law violations filed by five former Buffalo Jills has caused the suspension of the squad, and taken with a pair of similar suits, is creating yet another public relations cloud over the National Football League.

Stephanie Mateczun – president of Stejon Productions Corp., the third-party production company that manages the Jills and was named in the suit alongside the team – confirmed the organization’s activities had ceased indefinitely as a result of the lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court Tuesday…

The Jills’ lawsuit is the third case to be brought up by an NFL team’s cheerleaders against their respective organization this year. Each case – the first, a class action suit filed in January against the Oakland Raiders, and the second, launched in February by a Ben-Gals cheerleader against the Cincinnati Bengals – is unique in its specifics…

The string of cases, as well as leaked copies of cheerleader handbooks from other teams, suggest the alleged mistreatment of cheerleaders is a league-wide problem. They are often paid per game, with hours spent practicing or at off-field events left uncompensated. They are also held to standards unthinkable in most workplaces: regular weigh-ins, costly requirements for certain hair and beauty treatments, and restrictions on who they date and what they post to social media…

Similar claims were made in the next suit to follow, filed by Ben-Gals’ cheerleader Alexa Brenneman against the Bengals in February. It suggests she made less than $2.85 an hour for her 300 hours of work during the season, well below Ohio’s $7.85 an hour minimum wage. The Jills suit likewise describes an alleged violation of New York minimum wage laws, and also details what it calls “demeaning and degrading treatment” at Jills events where the cheerleaders supposedly faced “lecherous stares,” “degrading sexual comments” and “inappropriate touching…”

“The issue here is … how we treat our workers in this country,” Dolce, of the Jills case, says – which is why he thinks the NFL should be paying attention as well. “I know it’s not a central issue for the NFL, but in terms of worker rights and human rights and gender politics, it shouldn’t just be ignored…”

The controversy isn’t sitting well with the NFL’s current  marketing outreach to female fans. A Change.org petition launched before the lawsuits were filed demands teams across the league provide their cheerleaders with livable salaries – and it has more than 100,000 signatures.

Livable salaries?  Cheerleading is not a job.  It’s a thing to do for fun.  That thing these women may enjoy unlike their day job.  Which provides their livable salaries.  Not their cheerleader earnings.  I mean, who can work only 300 hours a year and expect to pay all of their bills?

Cheerleading can’t be that horrible.  Because women go to cheerleader tryouts to make the squad.  And abide by all the rules to remain a cheerleader.  If it was so horrible they wouldn’t do this.  But they do.  And they’re not doing this for the money.  For we know they don’t make any money being a cheerleader.  No.  They do this because they love it.

You know who’s happy now?  Teams that don’t have cheerleaders.  And if they were considering adding them you can bet they won’t now.  In fact, those teams that do may consider dropping theirs.  For here’s a startling fact.  Cheerleaders don’t win games.  The only time most people even see them is coming out of a commercial break.  Then they’re gone.  As the football game fills widescreen televisions across the country.  They are trying to use cheerleaders to make the stadium experience special as a lot of people these days prefer watching football at home on their widescreen televisions.  Making it harder to sell out some home games.  But it is doubtful people are going to buy tickets for a game because they may be able to talk to a cheerleader.  No matter how pretty or sexy they are.  Because people love football more.

Teams may make some money with their cheerleaders.  But it’s probably not enough to justify these legal headaches.  So NFL cheerleaders may soon be a thing of the past.  Something most football fans probably won’t even notice.  For few in a big stadium can even see them.  And those watching on television may catch a glimpse of them but that’s not why they’re tuning in.  No, the people who will most notice the passing of the NFL cheerleader are the cheerleaders.  And the women who wanted to try out to become a cheerleader.  Something they may have dreamed about since high school.

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Catholic Women have more Sex and that Sex is more Satisfying

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 26th, 2014

Week in Review

The Democrats get the youth vote.  Because the Democrats aren’t these kids’ parents.  After a lifetime (i.e., high school) of their parents telling them ‘no’ after they turn 18 they turn on their parents.  And start voting Democrat.  Wait until you’re married before having sex?  I think not, Mom & Dad.  Because there isn’t anything wrong with having cheap meaningless sex with a bunch of different people.  The Democrats understand this.  And provide these young women with birth control and access to abortion so they can have a lot of casual sex without any consequences.  Of course, a lot of this sex won’t be very good (see Devout Catholics Have Better Sex, Study Says by Elizabeth Flock posted 7/17/2013 on US News and World Report—an older article appearing in their Twitter feed this past week).

Devout, married Catholics have the best sex of any demographic group, the Family Research Council said at an event Wednesday, pointing to a collection of studies from the last several decades.

The socially conservative Christian group relied heavily on statistics from the University of Chicago’s last National Health and Social Life Survey, conducted in 1992, which found the most enjoyable and most frequent sex occurring among married people, those who attended church weekly – any church, whether Catholic or not – and people who had the least sexual partners…

The notion that Catholics have better sex isn’t a new one, especially coming from Catholics. In 1994, Andrew Greeley, a Catholic sociologist and priest, published “Sex: The Catholic Experience,” which released a litany of new statistics: 68 percent of Catholics professed to have sex at least once a week versus 56 percent of non-Catholics; 30 percent of Catholics had bought erotic underwear versus 20 percent non-Catholics; and 80 percent of devout Catholic women approved of having sex for pleasure alone.

Girls go to parties where guys ply them with alcohol.  To get them drunk enough to lower their inhibitions.  A Girl may want to be relaxed enough to be with a guy she likes.  While a guy may just want to get her drunk so she can’t say ‘no’.  One thing for sure, though, whatever happens won’t be the subject of any romance novel.  It could be a scene in a porn movie.  But it sure won’t end up on the big screen in a love story.

Let’s face it, any sex where being inebriated is a prerequisite just isn’t going to be that good.  Or memorable.  Further, it is likely to leave a woman filled with shame or regret.  As she worries about what she did.  With whom she did it with.  And then the questions to fret over.  Did she take any precautions?  Is she pregnant?  Did she catch a sexually transmitted disease?  Did someone make a video of her while she was passed out and naked?  Doing things to her?  Is she going to see herself on the Internet?  Will her friends and her family see her on the Internet?  Her professors?  Her boss?  Will this come up should she decide to run for public office?

To have the same frequency of sex married women have may leave her with more feelings of shame and regret.  And an emptiness.  For while she is having sex a married woman is making love.  For a married woman doesn’t have to get drunk to lower her inhibitions.  For there are no inhibitions to lower.  She doesn’t have to worry about catching an STD.  And if she gets pregnant it may be because she wanted to get pregnant.  Also, there is no shame and regret the day after.  For a married woman is not coming home disheveled the following morning.  Where her neighbors can see her wearing the same clothes she had on the night before.  And see her underwear fall out of her purse while digging out her keys.

For a married woman sex is about love-making.  Sharing intimate moments with the person she loves.  Someone she wants to please.  Just as her husband wants to please her.  As well as honor her and protect her.  He won’t be posting any videos of her passed out and naked on the Internet.  Sure, they may leave the bathroom door open, but there’s honor and protection.  As well as an active sex life spiced up with things like erotic underwear.

So what are the Democrats really doing to our young women by being anti-parents?  Opening them up to a lot of shame and regret.  And worse.  Democrats are ruining their sex lives.  For using birth control and abortion to stay unmarried only makes their sex lives less fulfilling.  At least according to this study.  And it’s rather ironic that the women who oppose birth control and abortion (i.e., Catholics) are having better sex lives than those who don’t.  So once again their parents were right.  Even when it comes to waiting until marriage to have sex.  For if you do it will apparently blow your socks off.

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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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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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Electric Cars are Toys for the Rich

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

It turns out that the majority of electric car owners share something in common.  They’re rich (see Electric-Car Buyers Younger And Richer Than Hybrid Owners by Jim Gorzelany posted 4/22/2014 on Forbes).

Based on calendar-year 2013 sales, the study found that 55 percent of electric vehicle buyers are between 36 and 55 years old and have an average household income of $175,000 or more. By comparison, 45 percent of those driving hybrid-powered models off the lot are 56 years old or older (compared to just 26 percent of new EV owners), with only 12 percent having an annual income of $175,000 or higher.

So electric cars are toys for rich people.  Why?  Because working-class people can’t afford to throw money away.

This would more or less reinforce the popular wisdom that hybrids, which typically cost only nominally more than comparable conventionally powered models, appeal more to family minded penny-pinchers than do the pricier EVs, which pack more in the way of high-tech luster and are often purchased as rolling status symbols (they also require a certain infrastructure – i.e. a garage with an updated electrical system for charging – and because of their limited range are usually the second or third car in a family’s fleet)…

… buyers of both EVs and hybrids tend to reside in more affluent zipcodes than typical consumers, with most green-car buyers clustered in hip cities along the west coast.

A gasoline-powered car is utilitarian.  It’ll get you to and from work.  Day or night.  Rain or shine.  Hot or cold.  If you need heat, headlights, windshield wipers and an extra hour to get home because of slow rush-hour traffic the gasoline-powered car gives you these things.  Unlike an electric car.  Because all of these things drain the battery.  Making getting home in night, rain and cold a risky proposition.  Especially if you get stuck in rush-hour traffic.  Which is why electric cars are “usually the second or third car in a family’s fleet.”  And who can afford having 2-3 cars in a family?  People earning more than $175,000 a year.  People who take their electric car out for nice, short afternoon drives.  Then get into old reliable (gasoline-powered car 1 and/or 2 in the family’s fleet) when they really need to get somewhere.

But even having two other cars can’t do anything about the weather.  For rich people in Minnesota are probably not driving their electric car to work in a February blizzard.  Which is why the most popular places to own and drive an electric car are on the west coast.  Where it rarely is winter.  So the rich may take the electric car out of the stable for a pleasant afternoon drive.  But working class people who have to deal with night, rain and cold on a daily basis will be driving to work as they always have.  In their gasoline-powered car.  For after a hard day’s work there is nothing better than going home.  Which is why they drive gasoline-powered cars.  Because they will always get you home.

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Legal and Taxable Marijuana a boon for Black Market Drug Trade in Colorado

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2014

Week in Review

This past Easter we saw a pot celebration in Denver.  Gathering in a central Denver park to smoke marijuana in public.  Even though doing so is still against the law.  Despite Colorado having decriminalized recreational marijuana.  Not exactly the image Colorado may have wanted.  But they may not mind a little pot tourism.  Especially to buy from their licensed pot shops.  Where pot smokers will pay a hefty tax on their legal marijuana purchases.  Eliminating the illegal drug trade.  And burying the treasury in new tax revenue (see Will Home Grown Marijuana Go the Way of Moonshine? by Caitlin Dickson posted 2/1/2014 on The Daily Beast).

I’d been in the Mile High City a total of 20 minutes before my local friend shattered the image I’d built in my head of a post-Jan. 1 Denver. She is a pot smoker. Why was she not one of the thousands of people I’d seen on TV, waiting in lines that poured out the doors of Denver’s retail marijuana shops? If not on New Year’s Day (that’s not really her style), then at least once in the weeks following the stores’ legal opening?

“I just get my weed from my friend Dave,” she said. “Most of my friends do…”

Maintaining a home grow is as expensive, if not more expensive, as setting one up. Dave says his monthly electricity bill jumps to roughly $600 in the summer, when he has to turn up the air conditioning to keep his plants from wilting, on top of the high cost of constantly running one high-voltage light for every six of his 36 plants (12 more than his red card permits). But the money Dave has put into building his basement greenhouse is nothing compared to the green his plants brings in. The 26-year-old—who now runs the grow by himself—says he makes between $40,000 and $60,000 per year selling his weed. It’s more than enough to live on for only about five to 10 hours worth of work per week.

To clarify, Dave’s livelihood is not legal…

Dave’s risk has yielded extremely lucrative rewards, and doesn’t show signs of slowing down, as his clientele of peers would unsurprisingly prefer to pay $20 to $30 for an eighth of an ounce than the $60 to $80 retail stores are charging. In fact, the dispensaries’ high prices (Colorado charges a 10 percent excess tax on all retail marijuana sales, on top of which Denver tacks a special 3.5 percent pot tax in addition to the general city and state retail taxes of 7.5 percent) are enough to motivate any thrifty green thumb try their hand at growing.

So decriminalizing marijuana does not get rid of the drug black market.  In fact, it has made the black market more lucrative.  As taxes raise the price of legally sold pot it makes black market pot much more attractive to recreational users.  In fact, the higher the taxes the better it will be for the black market drug dealers.  Just like cigarette smuggling into cities with high cigarette taxes is a very lucrative black market business.  As high taxes are a black marketeer’s best friend.

So decriminalizing marijuana won’t be everything they thought it would be.  For the higher cost of legal pot may attract another black marketeer.  From south of the border.  Mexico.  So Colorado may get some more tax revenue.  But they’re going to have to spend a lot of it on battling the same things they were battling when marijuana was still illegal.  With one other problem.  A state full of recreational pot smokers smoking a lot of pot.  And these recreational pot smokers will cause a lot of brain damage that will cost Colorado dearly in health care costs in the years to come.

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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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