Environmental Policies create Chicken Wing Shortage this Super Bowl Sunday

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 26th, 2013

Week in Review

There’s already been a lot of disappointment for football fans.  Especially for people in New England and Atlanta.  As well as for people in Denver, Houston, Seattle and Green Bay.  Whose teams came so close to making it to the Super Bowl that they could taste it.  And as if that disappointment wasn’t bad enough there’s something else they may not be able to taste (see Chicken wing shortage threatens Super Bowl Sunday by FOX NEWS posted on the New York Post).

The National Chicken Council released a report that said the demand for wings this year is at “an all-time high” due to decreased wing production caused by the high cost of corn and feed prices. Wings are currently the highest priced portion of a chicken and cost $2.11 a pound in the Northeast, up 12 percent from last year…

“Chicken companies produced about 1 percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices,” Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based National Chicken Council said in a release. “Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons: last summer’s drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol. Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced.”

The Left claimed their environmental requirement to burn 40% of the corn crop as fuel in our cars had nothing to do with the higher food costs that have hurt families this past year.  But they did.  For corn is everywhere in our food supply.  We eat it as popcorn.  Corn on the cob.  Cream style corn.  And we eat the things that eat corn.  Or come from things that eat corn.  Chicken.  Beef.  Pork.  Milk.  Eggs.  Cheese.  Everything a family struggles to put on the kitchen table to feed their family.  All made more costly thanks to those environmental policies.  Policies based on rising temperature in the Nineties that didn’t continue to rise.  Proving all of their projections wrong.  Yet here we are.  Having to cut back on wings this Super Bowl Sunday.  Just so Al Gore can live in a mansion on the beach.  For even Al Gore doesn’t believe the global warming alarmism he puts out.  For if the sea levels were really rising he would not have bought a mansion on the beach.

If you can afford a mansion on the beach do you know what else you can afford?  All the chicken wings you heart desires.  So, if you want a good time this Super Bowl Sunday try to get an invite to the party Al Gore will be having in his mansion on the beach.  It should be a swinging time.

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FT138: “High gas prices mean high food prices.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 5th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

We use Diesel Fuel in our Ships, Trains and Trucks to move Food from the Farm to the Grocery Store

People don’t like high gas prices.  When the price at the pump goes up more of our paycheck goes into the gas tank.  Or, more precisely, in everyone’s gas tanks.  For even if you don’t drive a car when gas prices go up you’re putting more of your paycheck into the gas tanks of others.  Thanks to oil being the lifeblood of our economy.  And unless you’re completely self-sufficient (growing your own food, making your own clothes, etc.) everything you buy consumed some petroleum oil somewhere before reaching you.

Gas prices go up for a variety of reasons.  The purely economic reason is the market forces of supply and demand.  When gas prices rise it’s because demand for gasoline is greater than the supply of gasoline.  Which means our refineries aren’t producing enough gasoline to meet demand.  And the purely economic reason for that is that they are not refining enough crude oil.  Meaning the low supply of gasoline is due to the low supply of crude oil.  Which brings us to how high gasoline prices consume more of our paychecks even if we don’t drive.  The reason being that we just don’t make gasoline out of crude oil.  We also make diesel fuel.

Diesel fuel is a remarkable refined product.  It just has so much energy in it.  And we can compress an air-fuel mixture of it to a very small volume.  Put the two together and you get a long and powerful power stroke.  Making the diesel engine the engine of choice for our heavy moving.  We use it in the ships that cross the ocean.  In the trains that cross our continents.  And in the trucks that bring everything to where we can buy them.  To the grocery stores.  The department stores.  To the restaurants.  Everything in the economy that we don’t make for ourselves travels on diesel fuel.  Which is why when gas prices go up diesel fuel prices go up.  Because of the low supply of oil going to our refineries to refine these products.

Oil is at a Disadvantage when it comes to Inflation because you just can’t Hide the Affects of Inflation in the Price of Oil

And there are other things that raise the price of gasoline.  That aren’t purely economical.  But more political.  Such as restrictions on domestic oil drilling.  Which reduces domestic supplies of crude oil.  Political opposition to new pipelines.  Which reduces Canadian supplies of crude oil.  Special ‘summer’ blends of gasoline to reduce emissions that tax a refinery’s production capacity.  As well as our pipeline distribution network.  Higher gasoline taxes.  To pay for roads and bridges.  And to battle emissions.  The ethanol mandate to use corn for fuel instead of food.  Again, to battle emissions.  All of which makes it more difficult to bring more crude oil to our refineries.  And more difficult for our refineries to make gasoline.  Which all go to adding costs into the system.  Raising the price at the pump.  Consuming more of our paychecks.  No matter who is buying it.

Then there is another factor increasing the price at the pump.  Inflation.  When the government tries to stimulate economic activity by lowering interest rates they do that by expanding the money supply.  So money is cheaper to borrow because there is so much more of it to borrow.  Hence the lower interest rates.  However, expanding the money supply also causes inflation.  And devalues the dollar.  As more dollars are now chasing the same amount of goods and services in the economy.  So it takes more of them to buy the same things they once did.  One of the harder hit commodities is oil.  Because we price oil on the world market in U.S. dollars.  So when you devalue the dollar it takes more of them to buy the same amount of oil they once bought.

Oil is at a particular disadvantage when it comes to inflation.  Because you just can’t hide the affects of inflation in the price of oil.  Or the gas we make from it.  Unlike you can with laundry detergent, potato chips, cereal, candy bars, toilet paper, etc.  Where the manufacturer can reduce the packaging or portion size.  Allowing them not to raise prices to reflect the full impact inflation.  They still increase the unit price to reflect the rise in the general price level.  But by selling smaller quantities and portions their prices still look affordable.  This is a privilege the oil industry just doesn’t have.  They price crude oil by a fixed quantity (barrel).  And sell gasoline by a fixed quantity (gallon).  So they have no choice but to reflect the full impact of inflation in these prices.  Which is why there is more anger about high gas prices than almost any other commodity.

Perhaps we can lay the Greatest Blame for the Current Economic Malaise on the Government’s Inflationary Monetary Policies

Current gas prices are hitting record highs.  And this during the worse economic recovery following the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Gas prices and the unemployment rate are typically inversely related to each other.  When there is high unemployment people are buying less gasoline.  This excess gasoline supply results in lower gas prices.  When there is low unemployment people are buying more gasoline.  This excess demand for gasoline results in higher gas prices.  These are the normal affects of supply and demand.  So the current high gas prices have little to do to with normal economic forces.  Which leaves government policies to explain why gas prices are so high.

Environmental concerns have greatly increased regulatory policy.  Increasing regulatory compliance costs.  Which has greatly discouraged the building of new refineries.  And making it very difficult to build new pipelines.  Which tax current pipeline and refinery capacities.  A problem mitigated only with their restriction on domestic oil production.  The current administration has pretty much shut down oil exploration and production on all federal lands.  Reducing crude oil supplies to refineries.  These environmental policies would send gas prices soaring if the economy was booming.  But the economy is not booming.  In fact the U-6 unemployment rate (which counts everyone who can’t find a full time job) held steady at 14.7% in September.  So an overheated economy is not the reason we have high gas prices.  But the high gas prices may be part of the reason we have such high unemployment.

Perhaps we can lay the greatest blame for the current economic malaise on the government’s inflationary monetary policies.  Inflation increases prices.  Especially those things sold in fixed quantities priced in dollars.  Like oil.  And gasoline.  The price inflation in refined oil products is like a virus that spreads throughout the economy.  Because everyone uses energy.  Especially the food industry.  From the farmers driving their tractor to work their fields.  To the trucks that take grain to rail terminals.  To the trains that transport this grain to food processing plants.  To the trucks that deliver these food products to our grocery stores.  From the moment farmers first turn over their soil in spring to the truck backing into to a grocery store’s loading dock to consumers bringing home groceries in their car to put food on the table fuel is consumed everywhere.  Which is why when gasoline prices go up food prices go up.  Because we refine gasoline from the same crude oil we refine diesel fuel from.  Oil.  Creating a direct link between our energy policy and the price of food.

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President Obama’s EPA Policies are Causing High Food Prices and Global Hunger

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 18th, 2012

Week in Review

President Obama says he cares for poor people.  But his actions clearly show that unless there’s something in it for him he doesn’t care for poor people.  Even if they are going hungry (see White House offers drought relief, feels heat to waive ethanol mandate by John W. Schoen, NBC News, posted 8/13/2012 on Economy Watch).

President Barack Obama announced emergency measures Monday to ease the impact of the worst drought in half a century, but stopped short of waiving the government’s requirement that a large portion of the now-shriveled corn crop be diverted to make ethanol…

As the lowest yields in nearly two decades squeeze feed supplies, livestock producers are asking the government to waive a five-year-old requirement that gasoline sold in the U.S. contain roughly 9 percent ethanol. Because most ethanol in the U.S. is made from corn, roughly 40 percent of the corn crop, in a good year, is purchased by the biofuel industry…

With the rest of the world’s food chain already strained, the competition for each kernel of corn is going global. Last week, a United Nations food index jumped 6 percent, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization warned against the kind of export bans, tariffs and buying binges that worsened the price surge four years ago. The U.N. food agency stepped up the pressure on the U.S. to ease its biofuel policies…

Ethanol production had already begun slowing before this summer’s drought, as fuel suppliers have approached the limit of demand for the biofuel. Though higher concentrations are sold in a few stations, most gasoline formulated with ethanol is limited to a 10 percent blend.

Cutting production, though, could produce a bigger political backlash from another key contingency in an election year: American drivers. Since other additives have been phased out over the past five years, gasoline refiners have overhauled their plants and rely on ethanol to produce high-octane fuel that burns cleanly enough to meet air quality standards.

Save the planet.  Kill the people.

You know food prices are rising when the UN is asking the U.S. to ease its biofuel policies.  These are, after all, the same people pushing for economy-destroying environmental policies on the entire world.  Particularly on the advanced economies of the world.  So this food crisis is serious.  Which is why they are urging President Obama to stop using 40% of the corn crop for fuel.  And to use this food as food instead.  To save starving children in the less economically advanced parts of the world.  But President Obama’s answer?  “No.”  Why?  Does he not care for the starving children of the world?  Apparently not.  For he apparently cares more about the campaign donations from the ethanol lobby.

President Obama has shown he has no problem using executive orders to overrule the Constitution.  So he clearly could use his executive powers to change policies he has the legal authority to change.  Such as relaxing his EPA requirements during this hot and dry summer.  Let the cars pollute for a year until this crisis ends.  Then he can re-cripple the economy with his punishing EPA requirements later.  He can do it by executive order.  But he won’t.  Because the ethanol lobby is too well connected.  Besides a lot of his rich Hollywood contributors are all environmentalists who will never have a problem putting food on their tables.  But they will have a problem putting campaign cash on President Obama’s table if he rescinds any environmental policies.  So people will starve.  So the president can please his cash-contributing friends.

Never before has one man caused so much suffering to so many for the benefit of so few.  Well, actually, there have been a lot of people who have done this.  But they were usually warmongering dictators.  Not the leader of the free world.  Which makes this especially sad.  Unlike his republican rival for the presidency this fall, our president clearly takes care of his rich friends while poor people suffer in the United States from high food prices.  And poorer people throughout the world suffer hunger.  Because of President Obama’s EPA policies.  Something that even the UN says are harmful to poor people everywhere.  And is begging the president to stop willfully hurting these people.

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Californians hate their Environmental Policies so much they buy Chevy Volts to Cheat the System

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 9th, 2012

Week in Review

Buses are cheaper than trains.  Because all a bus needs is fuel in its tanks and firm ground to drive on.  A train on the other hand is very expensive.  Because wherever a train goes you need a dedicated road (i.e., railroad tracks).  A massive infrastructure wherever that road goes.  And an army of people to maintain and operate it.  Subways are even more expensive.  Because they are underground.  Which makes everything more costly.

California has spent a fortune on their trains in the greater Los Angeles area.  So let us compare a few statistics on both buses and trains.  Buses are more numerous.  They have 183 bus routes covering 1,433 square miles.  While they have 5 rail lines for a total of 79.1 rail miles in service.   Their buses have average weekday boardings of approximately 1,125,840.  While their trains have average weekday boardings of approximately 319,883.  (These numbers are approximate because one train line’s boardings are included in the Metro Bus ridership numbers for some reason). 

It is clear their trains are not moving anywhere near the number of people their buses are moving.  And for all that investment it hasn’t even helped to remove cars from the road or cut pollution.  Because the roads are still so congested that they have High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or car pool lanes on their expressways.  To encourage people to save the planet.  By jamming as many people into a car as possible for their commutes to work.  For if they do they can take the less congested HOV lanes and cut an hour or so off of their drive time.  Well, it turns out that not only do Californians hate taking the bus and train they also hate car pooling.  Enter the Chevy Volt.  The answer to all of their dreams (see Volt sales surge in California thanks to car-pool access by Peter Valdes-Dapena posted 6/7/2012 on CNN Money).

Sales of General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt plug-in car, which had been dwindling in recent months, are enjoying a big resurgence in California, a state with some of the highest gas prices in the nation.

But the uptick in Volt sales isn’t about saving gas; it’s more about saving time.

Despite being incredibly fuel efficient, the Volt’s emissions when operating on gasoline weren’t clean enough to qualify it to drive in California’s car-pools lanes, relegating Volt owners to the whims of grueling California traffic.

But now, thanks to some new engineering tweaks to fix that issue, 2012 model year Volts sold in California can drive in those free-flowing HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes — even with only one person in the car…

California car buyers will jump at any opportunity to drive in HOV lanes.

Those lanes flow much more smoothly than other traffic-choked lanes on California highways, especially at rush hour, O’Dell said.

O’Dell owns a car with an HOV-lane sticker and says that when he’s driving that car, he gets to work in about an hour. When he’s driving a car without the sticker it takes him from two to two-and-a-half hours, he said.

In addition to HOV-lane access, the Volt is also eligible for a $1,500 state tax rebate in California on top of a $7,500 federal tax credit. Some local governments in California offer additional benefits for plug-in car buyers, as well.

The Chevy Volt allows these people do what they want to do.  Stay off the buses.  Stay off the trains.  And drive their cars.  Alone.  And it has nothing to do with saving the planet.  They just want to drive in the HOV lanes and save a couple of hours driving each day.  And they’re willing pay more to be able to do that.  For time is money.  And life.  Time lost sitting in traffic and waiting for a bus or a train is time that we can never get back.

California has the strictest environmental laws in the country.  But when it comes to living with the consequences of these laws the people will look to cheat.  As they are with the Chevy Volt.  Which will reverse all the progress the environmentalists have made in restricting people’s freedoms in California.  By placing such a high opportunity cost on driving a car alone.  Painfully long commutes.  But thanks to the Chevy Volt Californians can do what they’re always wanted to do.  Drive their gasoline-powered cars.  In the fast lane.  Hell, they may never plug in their hybrids.  And pretend they’re driving real cars in the fast lane.  Just to relish the knowledge that they’re putting one over on the environmentalists.

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High Gasoline Prices blamed on Wall Street instead of Where it Belongs – Environmentalism

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 15th, 2012

Week in Review

Is Wall Street to blame for high gasoline prices?  Or are governmental environmental policies.  Most like to blame Wall Street.  Because they have no understanding of the oil business.  Even though it’s pretty straight forward.  And follows all the rules of supply and demand.  Where most of the current price pressures are coming on the supply side of the equation.  But Wall Street isn’t to blame for that.  We are.  For our collective attacks on the oil industry.  And our acquiescence of the environmental movement (see If the U.S. is now an oil exporter, why $4 gas? by Leah McGrath Goodman posted 4/11/2012 CNNMoney).

The U.S. is now selling more petroleum products than it is buying for the first time in more than six decades. Yet Americans are paying around $4 or more for a gallon of gas, even as demand slumps to historic lows. What gives..?

Americans have been told for years that if only we drilled more oil, we would see a drop in gasoline prices. (Speaking to voters last month, Newt Gingrich made the curious assurance that more oil drilling could drive down gasoline prices to $2.50 a gallon, prompting the White House to accuse him of “lying.”)

But more drilling is happening now, and prices are still going up. That’s because Wall Street has changed the formula for pricing gasoline.

Until this time last year, gas prices hinged on the price of U.S. crude oil, set daily in a small town in Cushing, Oklahoma – the largest oil-storage hub in the country. Today, gasoline prices instead track the price of a type of oil found in the North Sea called Brent crude. And Brent crude, it so happens, trades at a premium to U.S. oil by around $20 a barrel.

So, even as we drill for more oil in the U.S., the price benchmark has dodged the markdown bullet by taking cues from the more expensive oil. As always, we must compete with the rest of the world for petroleum – including our own…

To put it more literally, if a Wall Street trader or a major oil company can get a higher price for oil from an overseas buyer, rather than an American one, the overseas buyer wins. Just because an oil company drills inside U.S. borders doesn’t mean it has to sell to a U.S. buyer. There is patriotism and then there is profit motive. This is why Americans should carefully consider the sacrifice of wildlife preservation areas before designating them for oil drilling. The harsh reality is that we may never see a drop of oil that comes from some of our most precious lands.

It’s not Wall Street.  It’s the crude oil.  The refineries.  And the fact some refineries can only refine the Brent sweet crude oil.

The stuff we import, Brent sweet crude, is a higher quality crude.  It’s cleaner.  And easier to refine.  But it’s more expensive.  Which is a problem for the refineries on the east coast.  And on the Gulf Coast.  Because that’s the crude they can refine.  Because their crude costs are higher their refined gasoline costs are higher.  Therefore, these refineries lose money when selling at the prevailing market price.  So they export their gasoline where they can sell it at a higher price that covers their costs.  Or they shut down refineries.  Which they have done.  Shutting done some 5% of refinery capacity within the last 6 months.  Bringing total online capacity to about 60%.

The stuff we get from Canada, North Dakota and the Gulf of Mexico is West Texas Intermediate.  Which is a heavier, dirtier crude oil.  The refineries that can refine this oil are located in Oklahoma, Kansas and outside Chicago.  And because the gasoline they sell starts with a crude oil priced about $20 less a barrel than their east and Gulf Coast rivals they can sell at prevailing market prices and make a profit that recovers all of their costs.  Which is why these refineries are operating at about 95% of capacity.  Which explains why gasoline is cheaper in Midwest than on the coasts.  Well that, and California’s own emission standards that require an even more costly blend of gasoline than your typical summer blend (to reduce the polluting affects of gasoline at higher temperatures).

(You can read more about refining costs in a February Bloomberg article.  And more about gasoline blends in an Energy Policy Research Foundation article.)

So, no, it’s not Wall Street causing the high gas prices.  It’s environmental policy.  Which requires costly blends of gasoline to reduce emissions.  And makes any expansion of the refinery infrastructure cost prohibitive.  Environmental impact studies alone can take years to complete.  And cost hundreds of millions of dollars.  So the aging infrastructure strains at the seams.  Whereas if those policies weren’t so cost prohibitive we could build new refineries along the east and Gulf Coast to replace those underutilized and shuttered facilities.  And flood them with domestically produced West Texas Intermediate.  Which would make gas prices fall.  At least it would lower the east and Gulf Coast prices to that enjoyed in the Midwest.  But not in California.  Who will forever have the highest gasoline prices thanks to their emission standards

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The Environmentalists are Telling Obama to Just Say No to a Canadian Oil Pipeline

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 5th, 2011

Week in Review

The Obama administration wants to make the U.S. independent of terrorist-sponsored Middle East oil.  Or so they say.  Because the U.S. is one pipeline away from making that happen.  Thanks to our energy-rich good friends to the north.  But the Obama administration is all but telling them to pound sand (see Canada toughens tone for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline approval by Bruce Nichols, Reuters, posted 10/31/2011 on The Vancouver Sun).

In the face of rising environmental opposition to the planned pipeline, which would carry 700,000 barrels per day of supply from Canada’s oilsands projects to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Obama administration has signalled that it may miss a year-end target for approval.

Oliver said a delay by the Obama administration would not be fatal to the project, and that Calgary-based TransCanada has multiple options — including customers in Asia…

Following Environmental Protection Agency complaints about its initial analysis, the State Department said it would undertake a supplemental review.

Unbelievable.  As if killing the oil business in the U.S. wasn’t bad enough.  Now the Obama administration appears determined to make gasoline as expensive as possible in the future.  To please the environmentalists.  At the expense of the American economy.  And the U.S. consumer.

It’s pretty sad when the Canadians are telling the Americans to lighten up on their environmental policies.  I mean, Canada has always been greener than America.  Yet here they are.  The energy producers.  And the Americans are hugging the trees.

The Chinese are in full support of the Obama policies.  Because those policies look like they’re going to hook up China with a lot of cheap oil.  Now that the Americans appear to be out of the oil market.  And determined to stay in the recession market.

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Save the Economy or Save the Planet, it’s One or the Other

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 5th, 2011

Pushing back against the EPA’s Assault against Business

With the economy in the toilet where it will probably remain for a long time to come, a lot of people have given up on environmentalism.  They take a look around them and see that things look pretty good.  Environmental-wise.  In fact, it’s a regular paradise compared to all the environmentalists’ alarmist predictions from a decade or two ago.  Which look rather silly today.  Children in the UK will no longer know what snow is.  The overwhelming stench of dead fish decaying on America’s beaches (killed by warming ocean temperatures).  Flooded coastal areas due to melting of Arctic ice.  None of it happened as predicted.  We got all worked up over nothing.  That’s why environmentalism is more of a young person’s game.  Because after you lived through 20-30 years of failed predictions, you tend to grow a little skeptical.  Especially during times of high unemployment.

That’s why a lot of people don’t give a rat’s rear end about global warming now.  They want a job.  And the way they see it, all this environmentalist nonsense is killing the job market.  And the Republican-controlled House they’re starting to push back on the job killer itself.  The EPA (see Soaring emissions posted 6/2/2011 on The Economist).

The Republicans’ chief concern is the EPA’s authority, as affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007, to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases. But more broadly they worry that the EPA is constantly tightening restrictions on pollution, at ever higher cost to business but with diminishing returns in terms of public health. They point to a slew of new rules about industrial boilers, cooling water at power plants, the disposal of coal ash, and emissions of mercury, ozone and other chemicals from smokestacks, which cumulatively, they say, will have a crippling effect on power generation and other industries. “Even God,” says Joe Barton, a Republican congressman, “couldn’t meet some of the ozone standards.”

…The Republican leadership in the House has accused the administration of plotting to raise the price of energy through onerous regulation, in an effort to promote otherwise uncompetitive green technologies. It wants the EPA to give more weight to the impact on the economy and jobs when drawing up future rules.

The Obama administration has.  And is.  Trying to raise the price of ‘cheap’ energy to promote their green energy initiatives.  It’s on record they want gasoline to cost as much in the U.S. as it does in Europe (as in $8/gallon).  To make more costly and shorter-range electric cars easier to sell.  And they want to do the same with cheap fossil fuel-produced electricity.  To make more costly and less reliable wind and solar generated electricity easier to sell.

EPA officials appear baffled by this barrage of hostility… The agency, they say, already conducts cost-benefit analyses of all important regulations, in addition to submitting them for expert review and public comment. Every dollar spent on pollution controls mandated by the Clean Air Act, including the ozone restrictions that Mr Barton is complaining about, will bring $30 in benefits to public health, the EPA reckons.

Expert review and comment?  By who?  It certainly isn’t the businesses affected by their regulations.  Who know exactly the costs their regulations will add.  No, they can’t be the experts.  Not when they are protesting the onerous costs these regulations are adding.

And the $30 in benefits for every dollar spent on pollution controls is a specious argument.  No one can know this.  It’s made up math based on fallacious assumptions and unrealistic projections.  Much like the math they used some 2-3 decades ago when they made all those alarmist global warming predictions that never came true.

Saving the Trees but Killing the Planet

We were saving the trees going to a paperless world thanks to the Internet.  Little did we know that we were killing the planet by saving those trees (see Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time? by Alex Roslin, for Post Media News, posted 6/3/2011 on The Vancouver Sun).

Ironically, despite the web’s green promise, this explosion of data has turned the Internet into one of the planet’s fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions. The Internet now consumes two to three per cent of the world’s electricity…

The bulk of all this energy is gobbled up by a fast-growing network of huge “server farms” or data centres that form the backbone of the Internet. They are hush-hush facilities, some the size of five Wal-Marts, packed from floor to ceiling with tens of thousands of computers…

All those computers have a voracious appetite for energy, especially for cooling equipment to prevent overheating.

This means that every time you do an Internet search you’re releasing polluting carbon into the atmosphere.  Because the majority of our cheap and reliable electricity is produced with cheap and reliable fossil fuels.  And some of these server farms are fossil fuel beasts with voracious appetites.

Apple’s mega-facility is part of a cluster of gigantic new data centres coming on line in North Carolina that are powered largely by cheap and highly polluting coal power. Google has a 44,000-square-metre data centre in the state that eventually will consume an estimated 60 to 100 MW. Facebook has a 28,000-square-metre facility under construction there that will eat up 40 MW.

Greenpeace calls the three facilities “North Carolina’s dirty data triangle.” Coal, it says, is the most polluting of all fossil fuels and the world’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The technologies of the 21st century are still largely powered by the dirty coal power of the past,” the environmental group said in a report card on the IT sector in April, titled How Dirty is Your Power?

There is a reason why we use so much coal.  And it’s not because we hate the planet.

North Carolina offers industrial customers one of the lowest electricity rates in the U.S. — 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour, versus the U.S. average of 6.7 cents.

It just so happens that the state’s electricity is also some of the dirtiest in the country. Nearly two-thirds of the state’s electricity comes from coal.

And here is the tradeoff between global warming and jobs.  Coal is dirty but cheap.  Which keeps electricity costs down.  Which attracts business.  Like in North Carolina.  Other locations lost these new jobs because their environmental policies made energy more expensive in those locations.

The real solution, [Bill St. Arnaud, an engineer and green IT consultant in Ottawa] said, is for governments to impose measures like carbon taxes and emissions caps that make dirty energy less attractive financially.

“The planet is warming up, and it’s going to get very bad. We need a price on carbon. It’s the only way to get people to move off coal because coal is currently so cheap,” he said.

The environmentalist want to raise the cost of electricity.  So cheap coal-generated electricity isn’t so cheap.  So business have no less costly solution.  Thus guaranteeing their costs will rise.  Making them look elsewhere to cut costs.  As in not hiring people.  Or laying them off.  All the while passing these higher costs onto the consumer.  Increasing their utility costs.  As well as the goods they purchase.  Leaving them with less disposable income.  Thus reducing economic activity.  With them buying less business will sell less.  Which means they won’t expand.  Instead, they’ll probably cut their production.  And lay off people.

However you look at it, increasing the cost of energy ends badly for the consumer.  And that’s exactly what the EPA wants to do.  And the Obama administration.  So they can implement their green initiatives.  And, of course, adding a tax on carbon, the most abundant byproduct of energy production, provides a lot of revenue for an overextended federal government.  Which is, I’m sure, just a coincidence.  And by coincidence I mean it’s the driving force behind all green initiatives.  Increasing tax revenue.

The EU wants to Emission Tax the World’s Airlines

But this is not an American phenomenon.  It’s even bigger in the European Union.  And they’re looking to export their regulations to other nations (see Airlines, EU in escalating trade row over emissions by David Fogarty and Pete Harrison posted 6/5/2011 on Reuters).

Global airlines attacked the European Union on Sunday over its plan to force them into the bloc’s emissions trading scheme, as the EU vowed to stand firm against threats of retaliation…

The EU will require all airlines flying to Europe to be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from January 1 next year. The system forces polluters to buy permits for each tone of carbon dioxide they emit above a certain cap.

You want to fly to the EU?  Well, that’s fine, but there’ll be an additional tax.  You see, we’re trying to save the planet.  And our treasury.  As these EU bailouts are getting expensive.  And don’t appear to be ending any time soon.

Airlines say the scheme will increase costs and comes at a time when fears are growing about a faltering global economy, which could slash industry profit expectations…

“The last thing that we want to see is a trade war,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association. The EU had to heed a “growing chorus of countries strongly opposing an illegal extraterritorial scheme.”

“We have to absolutely avoid this because the risk of retaliation for Europe that is in survival mode would be the kiss of death,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of IATA’s annual meeting in Singapore.

The younger people today may not know what a trade war is.  It’s when one country raises the price of doing business in your country to every other country trying to do business in your country.  This is to protect the higher-priced domestic industries.  By removing lower-priced consumer alternatives.  When countries retaliate by doing the same you get a trade war.  And it is the consumer who suffers.  Because everything they buy becomes more expensive.  Oh, and it was a trade war that caused the Great Depression.

Under the scheme, the aviation sector will receive 213 million carbon permits, called EU Allowances (EUAs) in 2012 and then 209 million from 2013 to 2020, representing the cap. As many as 82 percent of them will be given free to airlines, meaning most of the rest will have to be bought from the market.

With six months before the sector joins the ETS, opposition is growing.

A China Southern executive has said the China Air Transport Association is preparing to sue the EU over the issue, a Chinese media report said.

“The opposition is broad,” said Andrew Herdman, Director-General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, which represents 15 airlines such as Cathay, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines…

China says Europe should adjust the ETS to reflect the differences between rich and poor countries, while Vijay Mallya, chairman of India’s Kingfisher Airlines, said he could not accept it.

The EU may know what’s best for the planet.  And their bank.  But the world doesn’t appear that it will sit back and transfer sovereignty and money to them without a protest.  Or a fight.  Perhaps even a trade war.  Which would be a bad thing as much of the world tries to pull itself out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And it would be a terrible shame for history to repeat itself on that score.  For one Great Depression was quite enough.

Carbon Taxes and Carbon Trading kills Jobs and crashes Economies

Green energy initiatives are just a cover for massive tax increases.  For desperate nations who can’t control their spending.  That’s why nations everywhere are fighting against carbon taxes and trading.  They see the cost to business.  And the jobs they will kill.  It’s not that they want to kill the planet.  They just don’t want to subsidize another nation’s financial problems.  Or see their own economies crash.  Which it will under a carbon taxing/trading scheme.

Environmental policies and economic activity are a trade off. You advance one by reducing the other.   Which makes advancing environmental policies during recessionary times difficult.  Because it’s one thing to save the planet when you have a job.  But another when you don’t.  At such a time, yes, you care about the planet.  But you care more about your family.  You think to yourself that the planet can take care of itself.  It survived ice ages.  Cataclysmic meteorite collisions.  Huge volcanic explosions.  Droughts.  Fires.  Hurricanes.  Tornadoes.  Earthquakes.  Plagues.  And if it can survive all that, you think it’ll be able to survive your having a job so you can support your family.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #23: “Those who seek a third party cede the election to the opposition.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 20th, 2010

THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES are often election spoilers.  Dissatisfied with the direction of their party, they leave that party to form a new party.  This, of course, will split the party they left.  Some may follow.  Most will probably not.

Third party candidates have small followings.  They typically have a single issue that pushes them to leave their party.  That single issue, though, may not be as important to those they leave behind.  And this one issue may be anathema to the opposition.  Guaranteeing very few, if any, will follow that candidate into a third party.

The Green Party, for example, is an environmental party.  Environmental issues, then, dominate their political agenda.  Environmental policies typically do not result in jobs or economic prosperity.  They will draw some people from the Democratic Party.  But only those with extreme environmental views.  They will draw no one from the Republican Party which is more associated with jobs and economic issues than environmental issues.  They, then, would have little impact on the party they oppose.  But they may have a negative impact on the party that they would have otherwise supported.

And then you have your core voters.  They have and always will vote for their party.  Populist movements rarely change the way they vote.  Populist movements may be single-issue.  They may be more of a subset of an existing political party.  Or they may be vague on details completely.  They may be many things but the paramount thing they are is popular.  And they pander to the people that are demanding something.  And whatever that is, they say they will give it to them.  Populist trends, though, don’t sway core voters.

SO WHO ARE in the two core parties?  The liberals?  And the conservatives?

Liberals are pseudo-intellectuals who want to tell others how to live.  Because they are ‘smarter’ than everyone else.  Most have never held a real job.  They inherited their money or made it big in Hollywood or in some other entertainment genre (the guilty rich), are college professors, sponged off of government (the self-proclaimed political aristocracy) or are in the mainstream media. 

Conservatives typically have jobs.

Few people agree with liberals so they have to offer special privileges in exchange for votes and political power.  They get the support of the poor because they get the poor dependent on their charity.  They get the entertainment elite by stroking their intellectual vanity.  They get the various minorities and single-issue groups by throwing a few bones to them (i.e., by buying their votes).  They get Big Business with crony capitalism.  They get the unions in exchange for anti-business legislation.  They get the young by being weak on drugs and morality.  They get a lot of women because of their abortion stance.  They get the illegal immigration community because they dangle citizenship in front of them while getting as many as they can addicted to welfare (so when they do become citizens they will become good Democrats.  Of course, with the majority of illegal immigrants in question being Hispanic, it will be interesting to see how that loyalty will play out.  A lot of Hispanics are practicing Catholics.  Will they continue to support the party that attacks their religion and religious values?  After all, they’re leaving a corrupt nation where only the ruling elite live well.  They come here for a better life for themselves and their families.  And many work hard for it.  With their religious values being a strong part of their lives.  Will the liberals tempt them with their welfare state after citizenship?  Time will tell).

Many agree with conservatives because they, too, just want to work and provide for their families.  And they would like their children’s future to be a good one.  (Again, the Hispanic question is interesting.  For they have conservative values, too.  Amnesty for illegals may be a Faustian bargain, but wouldn’t be ironic if it’s the Democrats who are selling their souls?  I mean, this large bloc of Catholics could very well vote for the religious right after citizenship.)

So liberals must appeal to their base during the primary election to get their party’s nomination.  Once they have that, they then must start lying about who they really are during the general election.  Because their views and opinions are minority views and opinions. 

The conservatives just need to be themselves.  When Ronald Reagan did just that, he won in a landslide.  Twice.

LET’S CRUNCH SOME numbers.  Some simple numbers.  Let’s say there are only 11 voters.  America is a center-right country based on honest polling.  So let’s say that 4 voters are conservative and 3 voters are liberals.  The 4 in the middle are independents and moderates.  So what happens at an election?

If all of the independents and moderates do not vote, conservatives win (4-3). 

Liberals cannot win unless some moderates and independents do vote.  So liberals must encourage the moderates and independents to vote.  And, of course, to vote for them.  While making sure their base votes (‘vote early and often’ is their mantra).  As well as some criminals.  And some dead who haven’t been purged from the election rolls.

Independents and moderates, therefore, determine elections.  And the general election is all about getting these votes.  Both sides turn down the volume on the ‘extremist’ positions they held during the primaries.  Conservatives talk about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle.  Liberals campaign as conservatives.  (Bill Clinton ran as a new kind of Democrat with some very conservative planks in his platform.  When he won, though, he moved so far back to the left that he lost the House and Senate at the midterm elections, proving once again America is a center-right country.)

So back to our little example.  If the conservatives get 2 of the 4 independent and moderate votes, they win (6-5).  Liberals need 3 of their votes for the same winning margin.  Advantage, conservatives.

Now let’s look at a rift in the conservative party.  Two leave and form a third party.  And take 2 votes with them.  For the sake of argument, let’s say these two call themselves the Anti-Abortion Party.  It is doubtful that any liberals will leave their party to join them.  And it is doubtful that independents and moderates would make overturning a Supreme Court decision a key voting issue.  They tend to tack to a centrist course through the prevailing political winds.

So the Anti-Abortion Party candidate will only get 2 votes.  This candidate will not win.  That leaves only 9 votes in play.  Which means getting only 5 votes will win the election (less than a majority of the total 11).  All the third party candidate did was to make it easier for the liberals to win.  They only need 2 of the 4 of the independent and moderate votes.  Conservatives now need 3.  The third party took the conservative advantage (only needing 2 additional votes to win) and gave it to the liberals.

THE MORAL OF the story here is that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the opposition.  The lesser of two evils may still be evil, but it is still ‘less’ evil.  You should never lose sight of that.  If a political statement is only going to result in the greater evil, it is better to be more pragmatic than idealistic when voting in a general election. 

The energy of a third party or third party-like movements (such as the new Tea Party) should be marshaled during the primary election.  To get good candidates who can win general elections.  And who will remember that they are the people’s representative, not a member of a privileged, ruling elite.

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LESSONS LEARNED #19: “Philosophical debates can be effective but character assassination is more expedient, especially when no one agrees with your philosophy.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 24th, 2010

THOMAS JEFFERSON HATED Alexander Hamilton.  So much so he hired Philip Freneau as a translator in his State Department in George Washington’s administration.  You see, Jefferson did not like confrontation.  So he needed a way to slander Hamilton, his policies and the Washington administration without getting his own hands dirty.  And that was what Freneau was supposed to do with the money he earned while working in the State Department.  Publish a newspaper (National Gazette) and attack Hamilton, his policies and the Washington administration.  Papers then were partisan.  More so than today.  Then, lies and libel were tools of the trade.  And they knew how to dig up the dirt.  Or make it up. 

Another scandalmonger, James Callender, was slinging dirt for Jefferson.  And he hit pay dirt.  Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds of Philadelphia had a lucrative business.  They were blackmailing Alexander Hamilton.  Mr. Reynolds had his wife seduce Hamilton.  Which she did.  And did well.  They had an affair.  And Mr. Reynolds then blackmailed him.  Jefferson pounced.  Or, rather, Callender did.  To keep Jefferson’s hands clean.  Hamilton, Callender said, was using his position at the Treasury Department for personal gain.  He was using public funds to pay the blackmailer.  They found no proof of this.  And they did look for it.  Hard.  But when they came up empty, Jefferson said that it just proved what a good thief Hamilton was.  He was so good that he didn’t leave any traces of his treachery behind.

Of course, when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.  And Jefferson’s association with Callender would come back and bite him in the ass.  In a big way.  Upset because Jefferson didn’t appropriately compensate him for all his loyal dirt slinging (he wanted the postmaster’s job in Richmond), he publicized the Sally Hemings rumors.  And after breaking the true story of the Hamilton affair, many would believe this scoop.  That Jefferson was having an affair with one of his slaves.  It was a dark cloud that would forever hang over Jefferson.  And his legacy.

Hamilton admitted to his affair.  Jefferson admitted to no affair.  Hamilton would never hold public office again and would later die in a duel with Jefferson’s one-time toady, Aaron Burr.  This duel resulted because Hamilton was doing whatever he could to keep the amoral and unscrupulous Burr from public office (in this case, it was the governorship of New York).  When the election of 1800 resulted in a tie between Jefferson and Burr, Hamilton urged the House to vote for Jefferson, his archenemy.   Despite what had appeared in the press, Hamilton did have morals and scruples.  Unlike some.  Speaking of which, Jefferson would go on to serve 2 terms as president.  And all of that angst about Hamiltonian policies?  They all went out the window with the Louisiana Purchase (which was unconstitutional, Big Government and Big Finance).

RONALD REAGAN WAS routinely called old, senile and out of touch by the entertainment community, the media and his political foes.  But he bested Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Union, something Jimmy Carter never did.  He said ‘no’ at Reykjavik because he told the American people that he wouldn’t give up the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).  He knew the Soviet Union was bleeding.  Communism was a farce.  It inhibited human capital.  And impoverished her people.  SDI may have been science fiction in the 1980s, but capitalism wasn’t.  It could do it all.  Including SDI.  The Soviet Union was on the ropes and Reagan would give no quarter.  The days of living in fear of the mushroom cloud were over.  And capitalism would deliver the knockout punch.

Reaganomics, of course, made this all possible.  Supply-side economics.  Which follows the Austrian school.  Say’s Law.  ‘Supply creates demand’.  You don’t stimulate the economy by taxing one group of people so another group can spend.  You stimulate it by creating incentives for risk takers to take risks.  And when they do, they create jobs.  And wealth.

Tax and spend is a failed Keynesian, zero-sum economic policy.  When you take from the earners and give to the non-earners, we just transfer purchasing power.  We don’t create it.  For some to spend more, others must spend less.  Hence, zero-sum.  The net some of goods and services people are purchasing remains the same.  Different people are just doing the purchasing.

When Apple invented the Macintosh personal computer (PC), few were demanding a PC with a graphical user interface (GUI).  But Apple was innovative.  They created something they thought the people would want.  And they did.  They took a risk.  And the Macintosh with its mouse and GUI took off.  Apple manufacturing increased and added jobs.  Retail outlets for the Macintosh expanded and created jobs.  Software firms hired more engineers to write code.  And other firms hired more people to engineer and manufacture PC accessories.  There was a net increase in jobs and wealth.  Just as Say’s Law predicts.  Supply-side economics works.

Of course, the Left hates Reagan and attacked Reaganomics with a vengeance.  They attacked Reagan for being pro-rich.  For not caring about the poor.  And they revised history.  They say the only thing the Reagan tax cuts gave us were record deficits.  Of course, what those tax cuts gave us were record tax receipts.  The government never collected more money.  The House of Representatives (who spends the money), awash in cash, just spent that money faster than the treasury collected it.  The record shows Reaganomics worked.  Lower tax rates spurred economic activity.  More activity generated more jobs and more personal wealth.  Which resulted in more people paying more taxes.  More people paying taxes at a lower rate equaled more tax revenue in the aggregate.  It works.  And it works every time people try it. 

Because Reaganomics worked and showed the Left’s policies were failures, they had to attack Reagan.  To discredit him.  They had to destroy the man.  Except when they’re running for elected office.  Then they strive to show how much more Reagan-like they are than their conservative opponents.  Because they know Reaganomics worked.  And they know that we know Reaganomics worked.

GEORGE W. BUSH was routinely called an ‘idiot’ by the entertainment community, the media and his political foes.  Yet this ‘idiot’ seems to have outwitted the elite of the liberal Left time and time again.  I mean, if their policies were winning, they would be no reason to have attacked Bush in the first place.  The Left hated him with such vitriol that they said he blew up the Twin Towers on 9/11 as a justification for invading Iraq for her oil.  It was Big Oil’s lust for profit, after all, that was driving this Texan’s Big Oil policies.  And taking Iraq’s oil would increase Big Oil’s sales and give her even more obscene profits.

If Bush was an idiot, he must have been an idiot genius to come up with a plan like that.  Then again, gasoline prices crept to $4/gallon following the Iraq War.  Had all that oil gone on the market according to plan, that wouldn’t have happened.  Unless the plan was to keep that oil OFF of the market, thus, by rules of supply and demand, the price of oil (and the gasoline we make from it) would go up thus enriching Big Oil through higher prices resulting from a lower sales volume.  My god, what evil genius.  For an idiot.  Of course, gas taxes, numerous summer gas blends (required by the government’s environmental policies), an aging and over-taxed pipeline infrastructure and insufficient refinery capacity (the government’s environmental policies make it too punishing even to consider building a new refinery) to meet increasing demand (soaring in India and China) had nothing to do with the rise in gas prices.

IS THE POLITICAL Left evil?  Probably not.  Just amoral.  They have an agenda.  They survive on political spoils and patronage.  Old time politics.  Enrich themselves through cronyism.  If tribute is paid they’ll extend favorable treatment.  If tribute is not paid, they will release their wrath via hostile regulation, litigation, Congressional investigation and punitive taxation.  Just like they did to Big Tobacco (and, no, it wasn’t about our health.  They could have just made tobacco illegal.  But they didn’t.  Why?  It just brings in way too much money to the government.  Via sin taxes.  And federal lawsuits.  And with it being addictive, it’s a frickin cash piñata for them.)

They know few agree with their philosophy.  But they don’t care.  It’s not about national prosperity.  It’s about power.  And they want it.  That’s why they can’t debate the issues.  They know they can’t win.  So they attack the messenger.  Not the message.  If you don’t believe that, you can ask Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and just about any other Republican.  Well, you can’t ask Lincoln or Reagan.  But you can guess what they would say.

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