Flying is Quicker and more Cost Efficient than Passenger Rail

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 8th, 2014

Week in Review

Politicians everywhere want to build high-speed rail.  Why?  Because there are maybe only 2 high-speed rail lines in the world that operate at a profit.  All other passenger rail requires government subsidies.  Because the massive capital and operating costs for passenger rail are so great they cannot recover them via ticket prices.  And high-speed rail is the costliest of all.

So passenger rail requires new taxation to support it.  And politicians like new taxes.  Also, building passenger rail requires an enormous infrastructure.  Built and maintained by lots of people.  Union people.  Something else politicians love.  Rewarding their union friends with lots of new union jobs.  Which is why politicians love high-speed rail.  They get a lot ‘thank you’ votes for all that government spending.  No matter how costly or inefficient passenger rail is as a means of transportation.  As we can see here (see I Spent 28 Hours on a Bus. I Loved It. by Eric Holthaus posted 2/4/2014 on Slate).

traveling by plane car train bus R1

The infrastructure between point A and point B for cars and buses is already there.  Paid for with fuel taxes.  Planes need no infrastructure between point A and point B.  But trains do.  A very costly infrastructure.

Trains carry more people than buses.  But not as many as planes.  Which means the far greater cost of passenger rail is divided by fewer ticket purchasers.  Whereas the less costly flying is divided by more ticket purchasers.

Planes can fly around 500 mph.  Passenger rail can travel up to 100 mph on some sections of track.  While high-speed rail travels at speeds of just under 200 mph on dedicated (and very expensive) track.

You add these points together and it’s little wonder that traveling by train costs about 20% more than flying.  While taking 5.8 times as long.  Or a little less for high-speed rail. Making the plane the undisputed champion of long-distance travel.  And it works without massive government subsidies.  Which is the best kind of travel there is.  The kind where the people traveling pay for their travels.  And not everyone else.  As is the case with passenger rail.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Power Outage stranding Electric Trains show the need for Coal and Oil

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2013

Week in Review

There are few more costly ways to move people than by train.  Running a passenger train is incredibly expensive.  With the biggest cost in maintaining all the infrastructure before point A and point B.  Track, signals, rights-of-way and people.  Lots and lots of people.  To build this infrastructure.  To maintain this infrastructure.  With electric trains requiring the most costly infrastructure of all.  Especially high-speed trains.  These costs are so great that they are greater than their fuel costs.  Unlike the airlines.  That provide a much more cost-efficient way to move people.

Trains are slower than planes.  And they make a lot of stops.  So they appeal to a small group of users.  So few travel by train that it is impossible to charge a ticket price that can pay for this infrastructure that people can afford.  Which is why governments have to subsidize all passenger rail except for maybe two lines.  One Bullet line in Japan.  And one high-speed line in France.  Governments pay for or subsidize pretty much every other passenger train line in the world.  Which they are only more willing to do because those ‘lots and lots of people’ are union workers.  Who support their friends in government.

So governments build passenger rail lines more for political reasons than economic.  For passenger rail is bad economics.  In a highly dense city, though, they may be the only option to move so many people.  But even then the ridership can’t pay for everything.  So it requires massive subsidies.  Worse, by relying on electrified trains so much these rail lines are subject to mass outages.  Unlike diesel electric trains.  Trains that don’t need such a costly infrastructure as electric trains do.  And with a full tank of diesel they can move people even during a large-scale power outage.  Like that currently happening with Con Edison (see Stranded NYC Commuters Ask Why Metro-North’s Power Failed by Mark Chediak & Priya Anand posted 9/27/2013 on Bloomberg).

Less than a year after Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) left 900,000 customers in the dark during Hurricane Sandy, the utility faces the wrath of stranded commuters over a power failure that has crippled trains from New York to Boston.

Con Edison, based in New York, has warned it may take weeks to restore electricity to the Metro-North Railroad’s busiest line, which serves Connecticut and parts of suburban Westchester County. An electrical fault cut power on a feeder cable while an alternate was out of service for improvements…

The latest high-profile power failure for Con Edison follows Sandy, the worst storm in the company’s history, which brought flooding that left lower Manhattan without power for days. A few months before Sandy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, stepped in to resolve an employee lockout by the company that led to protests outside the Upper East Side home of Kevin Burke, the chairman and chief executive officer…

The rail operator is running buses and diesel-powered trains to accommodate no more than a third of the New Haven route’s regular ridership…

The power failure also affected Northeast Corridor passenger-rail service, as Amtrak canceled its Acela Express trains between New York and Boston through Sept. 29.

How about that.  Dirty, filthy, stinky diesel comes to the rescue.  Refined from petroleum oil.  As much as people hate it they can’t live without it.  No matter how hard they try.

This is what you can expect when you wage a war on reliable and inexpensive coal.  Pushing our power provides to become green only raises the cost of electric power generation.  Disconnecting coal-fired power plants from the grid removes more reliable power while replacing it with less reliable power.  And forcing power companies to invest in renewable power reduces their margins.  As they have to maintain their entire electric distribution system even if everyone has a solar power at home.  Because solar power won’t turn on your lights once the sun goes down.  And windmills won’t spin on a calm days.  So while power companies have to maintain their systems as if there is no solar or wind power they can’t bill for that capacity when the people get their power from renewable sources.  So they have little choice but to cut costs.  Leading to conflict with the unions.  And making an aging infrastructure go longer without maintenance.

You can’t have it both ways.  You can’t wage a war on coal and oil without getting costlier and less reliable power.  If you want lower-cost and more reliable power than you use coal and oil.  If you want to pay more for less reliable power then you can’t bitch when the trains stop running.  And the more we move away from coal the more our train will stop running.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is Probably as Good an Idea as High-Speed Rail

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 18th, 2013

Week in Review

We transport heavy freight over land by train.  And transport people over land by plane.  Have you ever wondered why we do this?  Especially you train enthusiasts who would love to travel by train more often?  Here’s why.  Cost.  Railroads are incredibly expensive to build, maintain and operate.  Because there is rail infrastructure from point A to point B.  And at their terminus points.    Whereas planes fly through the air between point A and point B.  Without the need for infrastructure.  Except at their terminus points.  Making railroading far more expensive than flying.

If planes are so much cheaper to operate than trains then why don’t we use planes to transport all our freight?  Here’s why.  Price.  Trains charge by the ton of freight they transport.  And they can carry a lot of tons.  An enormous amount of tons.  Which makes the per-ton price relatively inexpensive.  A plane can carry nowhere near the amount of freight a train can carry.  It’s not even close.  Which makes the per-ton price to ship by plane very, very expensive.  So only high priority freight that has to be somewhere fast will travel by plane.  Heavy bulk items all travel by train.

We may be having an obesity problem but in the grand scheme of things people are very light.  But take up a lot of volume for their given weight.  The space their body physically occupies.  And the greater space around them containing the air they must breathe.  That holds the food and drink they must consume.  And the toilets they need to relieve themselves.  Now let’s look at a 747-400 with 450 passengers on board.  Let’s say the average weight of everyone comes to 195 pounds.  So the total flying weight of the people comes to 87,750 pounds.  Assuming flying costs for one trip at $125,000 that comes to $1.42 per pound.  If we add 15% for overhead and profit we get a $1.64 per-pound ticket price.  So a 275-pound man must pay $451 to fly.  While a 120-pound woman must pay $197 to fly.  Of course we don’t charge people by the pound to fly.  At least, not yet.  No, we charge per person.  So the per-person price is $224, where the lighter people subsidize the price of the heavier people.

The 747-400 is one of the most successful airplanes in the world because it can pack so many people on board.  Reducing the per-person cost.  Now let’s look at that same cost being distributed over only 28 passengers.  When we do the per-person cost comes to $4,464.  Adding 15% for overhead and markup brings the per-person price to $5,134.  A price so high that few people could afford to pay for it.  Or would choose to pay for it.  And this is why we transport people by plane.  That can carry a lot of people.  And we transport heavy freight by train.  That can carry a lot of tons.  And why this idea will probably not work (see Elon Musk Is Dead Wrong About The Cost Of The Hyperloop: In Reality It Would Be $100 Billion by Jim Edwards posted 8/16/2013 on Business Insider).

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s plan for a space-age Hyperloop transport system between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost only $7.5 billion, he said in the plans he published recently…

But the New York Times did us all a favor by calculating the true cost of the Hyperloop: It’s going to be ~$100 billion…

The Hyperloop is a pressurized tube system in which passenger cars zoom around on an air cushion, at up to 800 miles an hour.

There is no greater infrastructure cost between point A and point B than there is for high-speed rail.  Because these rails have to be dedicated rails.  With no grade crossings.  All other traffic either tunnels underneath or bridges overhead.  These tracks are electrified.  Adding more infrastructure than just the tracks.  All of which has to be maintained to exacting standards to allow high-speed trains to travel safely.  Which is why high-speed rail is the most costly form of transportation.  Why there are no private high-speed rail lines as only taxpayer subsidies can pay for these.  And for all these costs these trains just don’t transport a lot of people.  Making high-speed rail the most inefficient way to transport people.

The Hyperloop will be more costly than high-speed rail as this is an elevated tube system of exacting standards.  Requiring great costs to build, maintain and operate.  While transporting so few people per trip (28 per capsule).  Not to mention high-speed travel is very dangerous.  Unless it is up in the air separated by miles of open air.  But on the ground?  When a high-speed train crashes it is pretty catastrophic.  And it can tear up the infrastructure it travels on.  Shutting the line down.  So traveling 800 miles an hour inside a narrow tube is probably not the safest thing to do.

Of course the biggest fear in a system like this is some politician will pass legislation to build it.  Because of all the taxpayer-subsidized union jobs it will create.  As they are constantly trying to build high-speed rail for the same reasons.  For the politics.  Not because it’s a good idea.  For any idea requiring taxpayer subsidies is rarely a good idea.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Air Transport vs. Rail Transport

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 29th, 2013

Economics 101

Trains require an Enormous Amount of Infrastructure between Terminal Points whereas a Plane does Not

Trains and jets are big and expensive.  And take huge sums of money to move freight and passengers.  Each has their strength.  And each has their weakness.  Planes are great for transporting people.  While trains are best for moving heavy freight.  They both can and do transport both.  But pay a premium when they are not operating at their strength.

The big difference between these two modes of transportation is infrastructure.  Trains require an enormous amount of infrastructure between terminal points.  Whereas a plane doesn’t need anything between terminal points.  Because they fly in the air.  But because they fly in the air they need a lot of fuel to produce enough lift to break free from the earth’s gravity.  Trains, on the other hand, don’t have to battle gravity as much.  As they move across the ground on steel rails.  Which offer little resistance to steel wheels.  Allowing them to pull incredible weights cross country.  But to do that they need to build and maintain very expensive train tracks between point A and point B.

To illustrate the difference in costs each incurs moving both people and freight we’ll look at a hotshot freight train and a Boeing 747-8.  A hotshot freight gets the best motive power and hustles on the main lines across the country.  The Boeing 747-8 is the latest in the 747 family and includes both passenger and freighter versions.  The distance between Los Angeles (LA) and New York City (NYC) is approximately 2,800 miles.  So let’s look at the costs of each mode of transportation moving both people and freight between these two cities.

Railroads are so Efficient at moving Freight because One Locomotive can pull up to 5,000 Tons of Freight

There are many variables when it comes to the cost of building and maintaining railroad track.  So we’re going to guesstimate a lot of numbers.  And do a lot of number crunching.  An approximate number for the cost per mile of new track is $1.3 million.  That includes land, material and labor.  So the cost of the track between LA and NYC is $3.6 billion.  Assuming a 7-year depreciation schedule that comes to $1.4 million per day.  If it takes 3 days for a hotshot freight to travel from LA to NYC that’s $4.3 million for those three days.  Of course, main lines see a lot of traffic.  So let’s assume there are 8 trains a day for a total of 24 trains during that 3-day period.  This brings the depreciation expense for that trip from LA to NYC down to $178,082.

So that’s the capital cost of those train tracks between point A and point B.  Now the operating costs.  An approximate number for annual maintenance costs per mile of track is $300,000.  So the annual cost to maintain the track between LA and NYC is $840 million.  Crunching the numbers the rest of the way brings the maintenance cost for that 3-day trip to approximately $278,671.  Assuming a fuel consumption of 4 gallons per mile, a fuel cost of $3/gallon and a lashup of 3 locomotives the fuel cost for that 3-day trip is approximately $100,800.  Adding the capital cost, the maintenance expense and the fuel costs brings the total to $566,553.  With each locomotive being able to pull approximately 5,000 tons of freight for a total of 15,000 tons brings the cost per ton of freight shipped to $37.77.

Now let’s look at moving people by train.  People are a lot lighter than heavy freight.  So we can drop one locomotive in the lashup.  And burn about a gallon less per mile.  Bringing the fuel cost down from $100,800 to $50,400.  And the total cost to $516,153.  Assuming these locomotives pull 14 Amtrak Superliners (plus a dining car and a baggage car) that’s a total of 1,344 passengers (each Superliner has a 96 passenger maximum capacity).  Dividing the cost by the number of passengers gives us a cost of $384.04 per passenger.

Passenger Rail requires Massive Government Subsidies because of the Costs of Building and Maintaining Track

A Boeing 747-8 freighter can carry a maximum 147.9 tons of freight.  While consuming approximately 13.7 gallons of jet fuel per mile.  At 2,800 miles that trip from LA to NYC will consume about 38,403 gallons of jet fuel.  At $3/gallon that comes to a $115,210 total fuel cost.  Or $778.97 per ton.  Approximately 1,962% more than moving a ton of freight from LA to NYC by train.  Excluding the capital costs of locomotives, rolling stock, airplanes, terminal infrastructure/fees, etc.  Despite that massive cost of building and maintaining rail between point A and point B the massive tonnage a train can move compared to what a plane can carry makes the train the bargain when moving freight.  But it’s a different story when it comes to moving people.

The Boeing 747-8 carries approximately 467 people on a typical flight.  And burns approximately 6.84 gallons per mile.  Because people are a lot lighter than freight.  Crunching the numbers gives a cost per passenger of $123.11.  Approximately 212% less than what it costs a train to move a person.  Despite fuel costs being almost the same.  The difference is, of course, the additional $465,753 in costs for the track running between LA and NYC.  Which comes to $346.54 per passenger.  Or about 90% of the cost/passenger.  Which is why there are no private passenger railroads these days.  For if passenger rail isn’t heavily subsidized by the taxpayer the price of a ticket would be so great that no one would buy them.  Except the very rich train enthusiast.  Who is willing to pay 3 times the cost of flying and take about 12 times the time of flying.

There are private freight railroads.  Private passenger airlines.  And private air cargo companies.  Because they all can attract customers without government subsidies.  Passenger rail, on the other hand, can’t.  Because of the massive costs to build and maintain railroad tracks.  With high-speed rail being the most expensive track to build and maintain.  Making it the most cost inefficient way to move people.  Requiring massive government subsidies.  Either for the track infrastructure.  Or the electric power that powers high-speed rail.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Japan clings to the same Keynesian Policies that have Failed for over 20 Years

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 30th, 2012

Week in Review

The fiscal cliff negotiations are all about deficit reduction.  The Right wants to do it with spending cuts.   The Left wants to do it with new taxes.  So they can spend more.  This is why they can’t reach an agreement.  The Right wants to reduce the deficit.  While the Left wants to increase spending.  For benefits.  For education.  For investments in Green Energy.  For infrastructure.  For economic stimulus.  Which will only increase the deficit.  So the Democrats are not exactly sincere when they talk about deficit reduction.  Which is why they can’t make a deal with the Republicans.  Who are serious when they talk about deficit reduction.

Another reason why the Democrats want to spend so much money is that they are Keynesians.  Who believe the government can bring an economy out of a recession with stimulus spending.  Despite that failing every time we’ve tried it.  In the United States in the Seventies.  Again during the Obama administration.  In the Eurozone.  In Asia.  Especially in Japan.  Where they’ve been trying to stimulate themselves out of a recession since their Lost Decade.  The Nineties (see Japan’s New Stimulus: The Race With China To The Bottom by Gordon G. Chang posted 12/30/2012 on Forbes).

The universal consensus is that the fall in manufacturing bolsters the case for Shinzo Abe’s plans to stimulate the economy.  The new prime minister is pursuing a broad-based program of shocking Japan out of its fourth contraction since the turn of the century.

First, Abe is going to prime the pump in a big way…

Second, Abe is going to push the yen down to help struggling exporters…

Third, the just-installed prime minister is leaning on the Bank of Japan to open up the taps…

Markets may love Abe’s stimulus solutions, but they are at best short-term fixes.  Tokyo, after all, has tried them all before with generally unsatisfactory results.  What Japan needs is not another paved-over riverbed—past spending programs have resulted in useless infrastructure—but structural reform to increase the country’s competitiveness.

Tokyo’s political elite, unfortunately, has got hooked on the false notion that governments can create enduring prosperity.  Two decades of recession and recession-like stagnation in Japan are proof that repeated government intervention in the economy does not in fact work.

If you keep trying to stimulate yourself out of a recession with Keynesian policies for over twenty years perhaps it’s time to give up on those failed policies.  Of course to do that may require some spending and tax cuts.  And you know how well that goes over with big government types.  It’s why the Americans can’t make a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.  And why the Japanese are going to try more of the same failed policies of the past.

Another impetus for these bad policies decisions is what’s happening in China.  Whose economy is much younger than Japan’s economy.  So they don’t have years of failed Keynesian policies digging their economy into a deep hole.  And because of that they’re going to go big.  Their stimulus is going to include the building of cities.  And that’s what the Japanese see.  That, and the (one time) economic explosion of their export economy.  Something they once had in Japan.  And would love to have again.  So they are going to follow China’s lead.  Even though their economic expansion is pretty much at its end.

Although there has been a “recovery” beginning in October, it looks like the upturn is already running out of steam.  China’s technocrats know they’re in trouble: they are apparently planning to increase the central government’s planned deficit for 2013 by 41% to 1.2 trillion yuan ($192 billion).  At present, it is now slated to be only 850 billion yuan.  Much of the shortfall is going toward an urbanization push next year.  Last year, Beijing announced its intention to build 20 new cities a year in each of the following 20 years.

The two biggest economies in Asia are ailing at the same time, and both Beijing and Tokyo have decided that government intervention is the shortest path to long-term growth.  Neither government’s program, however, looks viable.  Unfortunately, both China and Japan are going down the wrong road at the same time.

This could help the U.S. economy.  If they enacted spending cuts for their deficit reduction they could cut tax rates to spur the economy along.  And make the U.S. competitiveness soar while Japan and China dig themselves into deeper holes.  But the Americans, being the foolish Keynesians they are, are going to follow the Japanese and the Chinese into economic stagnation.  And with President Obama’s reelection they will stay Keynesian.  Drive over the fiscal cliff.  And compete with the Japanese to see who can have more lost decades


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

India turns to Renewable Energy and Abandons Coal, causing one of the World’s Worst Power Outages

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2012

Week in Review

India suffered a massive power outage that left some 600 million Indians without power.  Stranding train travelers.  And trapping miners underground.  Not to mention leaving people to swelter in 100+ degree Fahrenheit temperatures.  In one of the most humid climates to ever grace our planet.  Some buildings had backup generators.  Including hospitals.  But these were few.   Most just suffered.  One wonders how this can happen in one of the biggest emerging economies.  India is, after all, one of the BRICS.  And being that the modern economy runs on energy it leaves one scratching their head.  If India has such a burgeoning economy where is their electricity production (see India: More than 600 million without power in biggest blackout ever by Rick Westhead posted 7/31/2012 on the Toronto Star)?

 While India has been aggressively trying to encourage investment in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, critics say it rarely upgrades its electrical grid. India has missed every annual target to add electricity production capacity since 1951, Bloomberg reported.

Oh.  They’ve been pouring millions into renewable energy to save the planet while they in essence have left their country plugged into the lamp post on the corner.  Here’s an interesting fact.  India just recently switched on the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant.  They are also a leader in wind power.  So they are working hard to remove their carbon footprint.  While their economy, and their people, starve for reliable electric power.  Let’s go to Bloomberg for more details (see Ambani, Tata ‘Islands’ Shrug Off Grid Collapse: Corporate India by Rajesh Kumar Singh and Rakteem Katakey posted 8/3/2012 on Bloomberg).

About 1.6 trillion rupees ($29 billion) spent by companies including Tata Motors and billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), to quarantine their plants from the national grid is shielding India’s biggest users of electricity from disruptions. Sixty years of missed investment targets, transmission losses and theft is prompting factories to build their own plants boosting costs in a nation that suffers from the fastest pace of inflation among BRIC nations…

Five of India’s biggest electricity users generate 96 percent of their requirement, according to their annual reports.

India’s electric power is so unreliable that large consumers of electricity have to produce their own.  We call it captive power.    They generate it.  They keep it.  Which is only fair as they paid a fortune to generate it.  Which, of course, they pass on to their customers.  Via higher prices.  Which just adds to the inflation.

India has missed every capacity addition target since 1951, underscoring the urgency behind Singh’s effort to boost investment in power. As much as $300 billion, or 30 percent of the total spend planned on infrastructure, over the next five years is on the electricity sector, according to Planning Commission Member B.K. Chaturvedi.

The network in Asia’s third-largest economy loses 27 percent of the power it carries through dissipation from wires and theft, while peak supply falls short of demand by an average of 9 percent, according to India’s Central Electricity Authority. Some 300 million people in India, or one in every four, remain without links to the grid and the number will still be about 150 million by 2030, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

The blackout engulfed as many as 19 of the South Asian country’s 28 states on July 31, with more than 100 intercity trains stranded on the second day…

They have been failing to meet demand since 1951?  Wow.  What a horrible track record.  Yet they can build the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant.  Even though their electric grid can’t transmit the insufficient power that they can produce.  And what’s astonishing is one in every four people doesn’t even have electricity.  This in one of the strongest emerging economies.  A country that is capable of doing so much better.  Full of people deserving so much better.  But they leave the electric grid to the elements.  While they spend a fortune to build the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant.  That can only “power a medium-sized city’s worth of homes.”  What a catastrophic misuse of investment capital.  No wonder large consumers of electricity are building their own generating capacity.

Companies plan to set up more than 33,000 megawatts of new captive power capacity and applications for approvals are pending with various state agencies, Rajiv Agrawal, New Delhi- based secretary of the power producers’ lobby said on Aug. 2. Some of these stations may not be set up because of a shortage of coal supplies, he said…

The pace of growth in generation has failed to keep up with demand because of a shortage in coal and natural gas supply, and deficient monsoon rains.

The world’s second-most populous nation suffers from frequent power outages that can last as long as 10 hours, amid summer temperatures of as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in the capital, New Delhi. Power supply shortages shave about 1.2 percentage points off the nation’s annual growth, according to the Planning Commission…

This is what happens when you demonize one of the most energy-rich and reliable fuels.  Coal.  To reduce your carbon footprint.  Saving the planet may come at the cost of killing people.  Forcing people in an advanced society powered by electricity to go without electricity frequently.  Coal-fired power plants are the backbone of baseload power.  Those plants that run 24/7 to produce a steady stream of power to meet most of our needs.  These efficient heat engines can spin steam turbines forever as long as we feed them coal.  And a large coal-fired power plant can power everything in a region full of large cities.  Not just the homes in a medium city.

Subsidized electricity to farmers is also exacerbating electricity-supply bottlenecks, discouraging producers from adding capacity. India deliberately abandoned metering power supply for agricultural irrigation in the 1970s, as part of a strategy of switching to new high-yield crops, which required regular water supplies, Miriam Golden of the University of California and Brian Min of the University of Michigan said in a report published in April…

The Reserve Bank of India refrained from raising its benchmark interest rate on July 31 amid the slowest pace of growth in almost a decade and raised its inflation forecast to 7 percent from 6.5 percent, citing rising food prices and lack of roads, ports and power plants…

A dry monsoon season is a double whammy.  The lack of rain has lowered levels in the reservoirs at hydroelectric dams.  Reducing the amount of power they can produce.  On top of that the dry weather has forced farmers to irrigate their lands.  Using free electricity.  Which doesn’t discourage them in any way from sucking power off the grid.  Adding to the strain of the grid.  Doing their part in causing power outages.  Adding to inflationary pressures.  And loss in GDP.

This is a horrendous energy policy.  But you know who would approve of it?  President Obama.  For he is trying to do the same thing in America.  Shutter the coal industry and replace it with renewable energy.  He’s even cool on nuclear power.  Which is something the Indians are planning to expand to meet their exploding electrical demand.  Nuclear power.  So their horrendous energy policy is bad.  But it’s still a bit more sensible in one area.  They aren’t trying to shutter nuclear power, too.  Which happens to be one of the other most energy-rich and reliable fuels.  Joining coal to provide the backbone of baseload power.  Where a government will have it, that is.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oil and Natural Gas in East Africa are Bringing the Chinese and other Nations to Africa

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 1st, 2012

Week in Review

The developed nations are falling in love with East Africa.  Why?  Because they have oil literally oozing out of the ground.  And enormous natural gas deposits are under the waters off Tanzania and Mozambique.  The kind they measure using the word ‘trillion’.  This energy bonanza is drawing the developed nations to East Africa to bring these resources to market.  And into their economies (see Oil and gas are the new African queens by Emily Gosden posted 7/1/2012 on The Telegraph).

“In the space of a few years, East Africa has become a feeding ground for most of the world’s oil majors, which have sniffed our resources of oil and gas on a truly gargantuan scale,” wrote Malcolm Graham-Wood, oil analyst at VSA Capital, in a recent note. And in the world of oil and gas where, as he puts it, “if you find it, they will come”, those gargantuan reserves are the key.

“It’s been known there’s oil here for 100 years,” Laurie Hunter, chief executive of explorer Madagascar Oil says. “It actually seeps out on the surface in places.”

But with exploratory drilling consistently exceeding expectations, the geology of East Africa is proving to be even better than once thought.

FTSE 100 explorer Tullow Oil began drilling by Lake Albert in Uganda in 2006 – the first well there since 1938. It has drilled 45 wells to date; 43 of them have hit hydrocarbons. The company says it believes the Lake Albert rift basin is a “a major hydrocarbon province in its own right”, with resources as high as 1.1bn barrels. French oil major Total and Chinese CNOOC have paid $2.9bn to buy into Tullow’s stakes…

But while the oil discoveries look transformational – for all involved – it is gas that is causing the most excitement. In the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean, off the coasts of Tanzania and Mozambique, gas discoveries are estimated to stand at more than 100 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Potential resources are significantly higher. By way of context, the UK’s entire annual natural gas consumption in 2010 was 3.3tcf…

But it’s not just the geology that makes East Africa so exciting – it’s also the geography. “Conveniently,” Mr Graham-Wood notes, East Africa’s gas “faces the lucrative markets of India and the Far East and is now a truly valuable commodity”.

The gas will be cooled into liquefied natural gas (LNG) so it can be shipped to Asia. Gas consumption jumped 21.5pc in China and 11.6pc in Japan in 2011, according to BP data…

Exploiting the reserves in East Africa is not without its challenges, as Mr Joyner notes from a recent visit to Mozambique. “There are no roads and you have to fly everywhere on dodgy twin-props.”

China has been particularly busy in Africa.  Building a lot of infrastructure.  In an infrastructure-starved continent.  Out of the goodness of their heart.  Unlike the colonial powers of times past.  And I’m sure it’s just coincidental that enormous natural gas reserves are located so close to China.  Just begging to find their way into that Chinese economy.  Where gas consumption has jumped 21.5% in 2011.  No, I’m sure that hasn’t a thing to do with their interest in Africa.  Even though they’re investing in the energy industry in Africa.

As the developed nations buy these resources it should bring money into the private economies of East Africa.  Or create them if they don’t yet exist.  Creating jobs.  A middle class.  And hopefully a stable society.  Complete with all the middle class institutions and the rule of law.  Raising the standard of living for all in East Africa.  By using the revenue from their energy sales to build an infrastructure in an infrastructure-starved continent.  Preferably one that favors their needs and not the Chinese.  Or the other nations flocking to East Africa.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

China Spending less on Unprofitable High-Speed Trains, wants Private Investors to Lose Money Instead

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 26th, 2012

Week in Review

Governments everywhere want to build high-speed trains.  They like them because they’re very high profile and can stand as memorials to the politicians that gave them to us.  They like them because they are so costly, both to run and to operate.  Requiring higher taxes and lots of government borrowing.  They like them because they are so labor intensive.  Both to build and to operate.  This creates a lot of jobs.  Yes, they are all of these things.  But one thing they are not is profitable (see Railways try to get investors on track by Wei Tian and Xin Dingding posted 5/21/2012 on China Daily).

Experts predict lukewarm response as sector seeks private capital…

Zhou, who is chairman of the Wenzhou Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Development Association, represents a group of wealthy industrialists in East China’s Zhejiang province.

The railway authority in Wenzhou, he said, has been negotiating with entrepreneurs but so far the government is offering just 8 percent of the profits.

“Eight percent is not attractive,” he said. Railway programs require huge investment, the sector has suffered losses and entrepreneurs are cautious, he said.

According to data released by the ministry, its debt reached 2.43 trillion yuan ($384 billion) by the end of March, with a debt ratio of 60.6 percent.

The ministry also reported a loss of 6.98 billion yuan in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, fixed investment in railways was 89.6 billion yuan, 48.3 percent less than the same period last year…

…private capital is already involved in railway construction, he said, explaining that a 624-kilometer coal transport line, partially funded by the privately owned Xinjiang Guanghui Industry Investment Group, had begun construction in late March.

However, he warned that it will not be easy to attract private investors into industries that are no longer profitable.

Building these railways gave the government a huge debt.  That debt ratio (total liabilities divided by total assets) means lenders are not all that happy.  With over half the total assets of the railway programs paid for by debt and an annualized loss of 27.9 billion Yuan (4 X 6.98 billion Yuan) investors see these railway programs for what they are.  Investment losers.  They rack up debt and can’t operate at a profit.  Even the government doesn’t want to pay for them anymore and is trying to find private investors to throw away their money.

Railroads are so costly because there is infrastructure everywhere a train travels.  And the revenue from the train has to pay for this infrastructure.  From the first survey to the first grading to the first ballast to the first track to the first switch to the first signal there are nothing but high capital costs.  Followed by high operating costs to make everything work.  From maintenance crews to engineers to conductors to train crews to dispatch centers to ticket sellers.  High-speed passenger rail is the most expensive rail of all.  Because they’re typically electric which requires even more infrastructure wherever that train travels.  And no grade crossings.  So that’s more tunnels and bridges.

Only two high-speed lines earn enough revenue to pay both their capital and operating costs.  One in Japan.  And one in France.  Governments subsidize all other passenger rail.  Only the freight railroads are profitable.  Which is why companies in the private sector still own the freight railroads.   Why freight?  Because there is no more cost effective way to move containers or bulk freight.  Like coal.  Which is where private capital is currently going to in China.  Because coal is never an investment loser.  And there is no better way to move coal overland than by train.

The bidding process has come in for harsh criticism by the public after a crash involving two high-speed trains in Zhejiang province killed at least 40 people and injured more than 200 others in July.

According to the findings of an investigation announced last December, malpractice and illegal contracts were found in the bidding process administered by the Ministry of Railways and its subordinate bureaus, which resulted in the failure of a train control system that had never undergone field tests before launch, Xinhua reported.

The national auditor said in March that it had uncovered evidence of fraud, waste, mismanagement and irregular accounting and procurement totaling billions of yuan at the ministry’s flagship high-speed Beijing-Shanghai railway.

And here’s the other reason why politicians love high-speed rail.  It is so much easier to conceal fraud, waste and irregular accounting and procurement practices when the money amounts are so large.  It’s a sad thing that government is not very good at building and running trains but is very good at the fraud.  We should remember this the next time government wants to spend a fortune on high-speed rail.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Steam Locomotive, Diesel Electric Locomotive, Interstate Highway System, Airplane, Air Travel, Refined Petroleum Products and Pipelines

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 21st, 2012

Technology 101

The Diesel Electric Locomotive could pull a Train Cross Country and into the Heart of a City with Minimal Pollution

The 1920s were transformative years.  The Roaring Twenties.  It’s when we moved from animal power to mechanical power.  From the horse and plow to the tractor.  From steam power to electric power.  From the telegraph to the telephone.  From the gas lamp to the electric light.  From crowded mass transit to the freedom of the automobile.  From manual labor to the assembly line. 

You can see a glimpse of that world in 1920’s Steam Train Journey Across the United States – Westward Ho!  The beginning of the modern city.  With modern street lighting.  Electric power and telephone overhead wiring.  Streets crowded with automobiles.  Tractors and mechanical harvesters on the farm.  And, of course, the steam locomotive.  Connecting distant cities.  Transferring the freight to feed the modern industrial economy.  And shipping the finished goods.  As well as all that food from the farm to our grocer’s shelves.  Proving the 1920s were vibrant economic times.  With real economic growth.  And not a speculative bubble.  For there was nothing speculative about all of this technology becoming a part of our way of life.

Of course the technology wasn’t perfect.  The coal-burning locomotives belched black smoke and ash wherever they went.  Which wasn’t all that bad in the open country where a train or two passed.  But it was pretty dangerous in tunnels.  Which had to be short lest they suffocated their passengers.  (One of the reasons why all subways use electric trains).  Making for some long and winding railroads in mountainous terrain.  To go around mountains instead of under them.  Slowing trains and increasing travel time.  And they were pretty unpleasant in the cities.  Where the several rail lines converged.  Bringing a lot of coal-burning locomotives together.  Creating a smoky haze in these cities.  And leaving a layer of ash everywhere.  The cleaner diesel-burning locomotives changed that.  The diesel electric locomotive could pull a train cross country and into the heart of a city with a minimal amount of pollution.  As long as they kept their engines from burning rich.  Which they would if they operated them with dirty air filters.  Reducing fuel efficiency by having the air-fuel mixture contain too much fuel.  And causing these engines to belch black smoke.  Similar to diesel trucks running with dirty air filters.

Airplanes can travel between Two Points in a Direct Line at Faster Speeds than a Train or Bus with Minimal Infrastructure

Trains shrunk our country.  Brought distant cities together.  Allowing people to visit anywhere in the continental United States.  And the railroads profited well from all of this travel.  Until two later developments.  One was the interstate highway system.  That transferred a lot of freight from the trains to trucks.  As well as people from trains to buses and cars.  And then air travel.  That transferred even more people from trains to airplanes.  This competition really weakening railroads’ profits.  And pretty much put an end to passenger rail.  For people used the interstate highway system for short trips.  And flew on the long ones.  Which was quicker.  And less expensive.  Primarily because airplanes flew over terrain that was costly to avoid.

Highways and railroads have to negotiate terrain.  They have to wind around obstacles.  Go up and down mountainous regions.  Cross rivers and valleys on bridges.  Travel under hilly terrain through tunnels.  And everywhere they go they have to travel on something built by man.  All the way from point A to point B.  Now trucks, buses and cars have an advantage here.  We subsidize highway travel with fuel taxes.  Trucking companies, bus lines and car owners didn’t have to build the road and infrastructure connecting point A to point B.  Like the railroads do.  The railroads had to supply that very extensive and very expensive infrastructure themselves.  Paid for by their freight rates and their passenger ticket sales.  And when there were less expensive alternatives it was difficult to sell your rates and fares at prices high enough to support that infrastructure.  Especially when that lower-priced alternative got you where you were going faster.  Like the airplane did.

Man had always wanted to fly.  Like a bird.  But no amount of flapping of man-made wings got anyone off the ground.  We’re too heavy and lacked the necessary breast muscles to flap anything fast enough.  Not to mention that if we could we didn’t have any means to stabilize ourselves in flight.  We don’t have a streamline body or tail feathers.  But then we learned we could create lift.  Not by flapping but my pushing a curved wing through the air.  As the air passes over this curved surface it creates lift.  Generate enough speed and you could lift quite a load with those wings.  Including people.  Cargo.  Engines.  And fuel.  Add in some control elements and we could stabilize this in flight.  A tail fin to prevent yawing (twisting left and right) from the direction of flight.  Like a weathercock turns to point in the direction of the wind.  And an elevator (small ‘wing’ at the tail of the plane) to control pitch (nose up and nose down).  Ailerons correct for rolling.  Or turn the plane by rolling.  By tipping the wings up or down to bank the airplane (to turn left the left aileron goes up and the right aileron goes down).  And using the elevator on the take-off roll to pitch the nose up to allow the plane to gain altitude.  And in flight it allows the plane to ascend or descend to different altitudes.  Put all of this together and it allows an airplane to travel between points A and B while avoiding all terrain.  In a direct line between these two points.  At a much faster speed than a train, bus or car can travel.  And the only infrastructure required for this are the airports at points A and B.  And the few en route air traffic controllers between points A and B. Which consisted of radar installations and dark rooms with people staring at monitors.  Communicating to the aircraft.  Helping them to negotiate the air highways without colliding into other aircraft.  And air travel took off, of course, in the 1920s.  The Roaring Twenties.  Those glorious transformative years.

Refined Petroleum Products have Large Concentrations of Energy and are the Only Fuel that allows Air Travel

The most expensive cost of flying is the fuel cost.  The costlier it is the costlier it is to fly.  Not so for the railroads.  Because their fuel costs aren’t the most expensive cost they have.  Maintaining their infrastructure is.  They can carry incredible loads cross country for a small price per unit weight.  Without swings in fuel prices eating into their profits.  Making them ideal to transfer very large and/or heavy loads over great distances.  Despite dealing with all the headaches of terrain.  For neither a plane nor a truck can carry the same volume a train can.  And heavier loads on a plane take far greater amounts of fuel.  This additional fuel itself adding a great amount of weight to the aircraft.  Thus limiting its flight distance.  Requiring refueling stops along the way.  Making it a very expensive way to transport heavy loads.  Which is why we ship coal on trains.  Not on planes.

Trains are profitable again.  But they’re not making their money moving people around.  Their money is in heavy freight.  Iron ore.  Coke.  And, of course, coal.  To feed the modern industrial economy.  Stuff too heavy for our paved roads.  And needed in such bulk that it would take caravans of trucks to carry what one train can carry.  But even trains can’t transport something in enough bulk to make it cost efficient.  Refined petroleum.  Gasoline.  Diesel.  And jet fuel.  For these we use pipelines.  From pipelines we load gas and diesel onto trucks and deliver it to your local gas station.  We run pipelines directly to the fuel racks in rail yards.   And run pipelines to our airports.  Where we pump jet fuel into onsite storage tanks in large fuel farms.  Which we then pump out in another set of pipelines to fueling hydrants located right at aircraft gates.

These refined petroleum products carry large concentrations of energy.  Are easy to transport in pipelines.  Are portable.  And are very convenient.  Planes and trains (as well as ships, busses and cars) can carry them.  Allowing them to travel great distances.  Something currently no renewable energy can do.  And doing without them would put an end to air travel.  Greatly increase the cost of rail transport (by electrifying ALL our tracks).  Or simply abandoning track we don’t electrify.  Making those far distant cities ever more distant.  And our traveling options far more limited than they were in the 1920s.  Turning the hands of time back about a hundred years.  Only we’ll have less.  And life will be less enjoyable.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama uses a Joint Session of Congress for a 2012 Campaign Speech on Jobs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 9th, 2011

The Obama Jobs Speech was the Same Old Same Old with the Angry turned up to Eleven

The big speech was last night.  President Obama‘s Jobs speech.  After waiting with bated breath.  For him to come back from vacation.  On Martha’s Vineyard.  Where no one wants for a job.  Or anything.

What you thought of it depends on your party affiliation.  If you’re a Big Government liberal Democrat that wants to stick it to the rich, I’m sure you liked it.  If you were looking for substance, I’m sure you were disappointed.  It was just the same old same old.  With the angry turned up to eleven.

Here are some selections from the transcript with commentary (see Obama jobs speech transcript: Full text (as delivered) posted 9/8/2011 on Politico).

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share — where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in a while. If you did the right thing, you could make it. Anybody could make it in America.

For decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode. They have seen the decks too often stacked against them. And they know that Washington has not always put their interests first.

Yeah, it used to be like that.  Until greed set in.  Government greed.  Their insatiable want of private sector wealth.  And power over our lives.  High taxes.  And punishing regulations.  These have hurt American businesses that once provided those fair shakes.  It’s President Obama and his party that have been making this a business unfriendly nation.  Giving American businesses an unpleasant choice who struggle to compete.  Either close.  Or conduct business in a country that lets them compete.

Just look at the effect of Obamacare.  All hiring is frozen.  And those who can get Obamacare waivers are.  The communist Chinese don’t have these problems.

The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy.

He says as he scolds the American people.  And our Republican representatives.  Yelling at us.  Scowling at us.  Fed up with us.  Because he is not getting his way.

Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers.

Absolutely right.  And the best thing Washington can to is to stop helping.  Their tax and regulatory policies are smothering economic growth.  You want to help?  Then get out of the way.  And let business do what business does best.  Grow.  And create jobs.  To meet demand.  That the market is demanding.  Not building what the government thinks is best.

I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for.

That urgent is it?  Urgent.  But not so urgent to cancel your luxurious vacation on the exclusive Martha’s Vineyard?  Where the rich and famous vacation to get away from people like us.  You know, if it could wait until after Martha’s Vineyard, it can’t be that important.

Democrats and Republicans support everything in this plan?  If so why isn’t this already law?  If not important before, why is it now?  Some two and a half years into your presidency?  And some two and a half years after applying your laser-like focus on job creation?

It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for long-term unemployed.

Jobs for teachers?  There’s nothing stimulative about that.  They don’t hire workers.  And the kids they teach aren’t going to hire any workers for a very long time.  This is just more money for teachers’ unions.  Which will be funneled back to the Democrat Party via union dues.

We pay teachers with tax dollars.  Paid by the taxpayers.  This is money the government transfers from the private sector economy to the public sector teachers.  So before teachers can stimulate with this money the private sector has to lose it first.  They take a large sum of money from the private sector.  And give it to the teachers.  Less administration costs to make this all happen.  To stimulate the private sector economy.  Which means the teachers spend less money than the private sector would have if they were able to keep their money.  This is a net loss of economic activity.  And is not stimulative.

Teachers are like government.  They provide an important service.  But they are taxpayer financed.  And like anything taxpayer financed, they are a drag on the economy.

More shovel-ready construction projects?  You told us yourself there is no such thing as a shovel-ready project.  This won’t be stimulative either.  Construction projects just don’t happen overnight.  Even if you get rid of all the regulatory red tape.  Projects take months to engineer.  If you cut that short there will be cost overruns to correct all the things missed in the engineering process.  Then there’s the asbestos abatement study.  Lead abatement.  Environmental impact studies.  At best these will start hiring in time for the 2012 election campaign.  Which no doubt is the goal.

It will provide — it will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. (Applause.) It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and if they hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away. (Applause.)

If tax breaks are good for businesses then just cut tax rates.  A tax rate cut is more stimulative than a onetime tax credit.  A tax credit does not instill business confidence.  Because hiring a new employee is far more costly than any onetime tax credit.  Especially with Obamacare bearing down on small businesses.  It’s these permanent costs of current tax and regulatory policies.  These are what are keeping business skittish about expanding and hiring.  And a onetime tax credit won’t change that.  A repeal of Obamacare would probably spark some business growth.  But not a targeted tax credit.

Pass this jobs bill — pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or if they raise workers’ wages.

Wishful thinking.  Whoever came up with this is an economic simpleton.  He might as well have asked everyone to voluntary pay more for their groceries.  So the stores will hire more people with all that additional profit.  Employees are another cost of doing business.  Voluntarily increasing these costs above the market cost will only make these businesses less competitive in the market place.  Threatening their business.  And all the jobs they currently provide.

It’s not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that’s in this plan. You should pass it right away. (Applause.)

Yes, payroll tax cuts are good.  They reduce the cost of doing business.  And let employees keep more of their earnings.  So cutting Social Security and Medicare taxes will help.  But this will only set up higher taxes down the road.  Because these programs are going broke.  Businesses understand this.  They know it will only be temporary.  And illusionary.  For they will pay more in the future.  So they aren’t going to hire more now.

Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America? (Applause.)

No.  It didn’t.  We took over the title of economic superpower from the British before the federal highway bill.  And private industry built the railroads.  And robber barons.  Sure, government helped.  But it didn’t lead the way.

China?  Really?  Why is China building so much infrastructure?  Because they have cheap labor.  They couldn’t do what they’re doing if their labor costs were the same as ours.  And that high-speed rail system?  They’re now questioning quality and safety.

And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating.

According to my calendar it’s September.  And I’m pretty sure it’s September throughout the country.  Which means what?  That’s right.  The kids just went back to school.  Which means the next round of school renovation projects will take place starting next June.  When the kids get out of school.  Not very stimulative if you ask me.  Unless you just want a lot of people working on these school renovations during the 2012 election campaign.

And to make sure the money is properly spent, we’re building on reforms we’ve already put in place. No more earmarks. No more boondoggles.

Just like you promised your $800 billion stimulus wouldn’t contain any pork or earmarks?  When it was mostly pork and earmarks?  Fool us once shame on you.  Fool us twice shame on us.

And we’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it will do for the economy. (Applause.)

Great.  Nothing guarantees to speed things up like making it go through a new government bureaucracy.  Which can better send money to friends of the administration.  Just like that $800 billion stimulus.

Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.

Let’s crunch some numbers.  Say you hire someone.  Pay them $30,000.  Your half of Social Security and Medicare taxes come to $2,295 for the year.  Now factor in your other costs.  State and federal unemployment insurance.  Workers’ compensation insurance.  Health care.  Etc.  Not to mention their salary.  It adds up to a lot of money.  Far more than that $4,000 tax credit.  For hiring someone they don’t need to support their current level of business.  And you know what?  A smart business owner isn’t going to do this.

The plan also extends unemployment insurance for another year. (Applause.) If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance, and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a devastating blow to this economy.

The government has to take that money out of the private sector economy first.  Before it can pay unemployment benefits.  Someone is still spending that money.  Just a different someone.  By the time you add in the cost of administering those benefits, there is a net loss in economic activity. 

Unemployment benefits help the unemployed while they look for another job.  They don’t stimulate the economy.

The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I am asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan — a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run. (Applause.)

Standard and Poor’s wanted to see $4 trillion in real spending cuts.  Not cuts in the out-years that will disappear in the next budget deal.  Real cuts.  If not they said they would downgrade the U.S. sovereign debt rating.  They couldn’t do it.  The best they could do was a $1 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years.  And by golly if S&P didn’t downgrade our credit rating.

And the special commission is to find another half trillion in spending cuts?  On top of the $1.5 trillion they were already looking for?  That Congress was unable to find?  And now they have to find $2 trillion?  Yeah, like that’s going to happen.  That’s a plan with but one goal.  Failure. 

With this kind of spending, a deficit reduction plan can only mean one thing.  More taxes.  Just what the economy needs.  Not.

While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix. (Laughter.) We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake and where everybody pays their fair share.

An executive secretary probably earns something north of $60,000 a year.  That puts her in a top marginal tax bracket of 25%.  Crunching the numbers and this executive secretary will pay $11,125 in federal taxes.  Now let’s assume Warren Buffet has a half billion dollars in investments that pay a return of 8%.  That’s a capital gain of about $40 million.  Taxed at a paltry 15% capital gains tax that’s a measly $6 million in federal taxes.  Funny.  His secretary has a higher tax rate.  But Buffet pays approximately 53,833% more in tax dollars.  I don’t know how you can say one person paying $40 million in taxes isn’t paying his fair share.

Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can’t afford to do both. Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? (Applause.) Right now, we can’t afford to do both.

This isn’t political grandstanding. This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. (Laughter.)

This is nothing but political grandstanding and class warfare.  And rather Orwellian.  In Nineteen Eighty Four, they just changed the meaning of words to control the people.  Such as slavery is freedom.  But changing the meaning of words doesn’t change what slavery is.  It’s still slavery.  No matter what you call it.  And political grandstanding and class warfare is political grandstanding and class warfare.  Even if you say it isn’t.

Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama and Colombia and South Korea -– while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.

America can’t compete with China because Chinese labor is cheaper.  So to make American products more competitive the president wants to subsidize our high cost of labor.  With American tax dollars.  Spread the higher cost of U.S. goods throughout the American economy.  Leaving everyone with less money for their own personal needs.  So we can keep Big Union working.  And supporting the Democrat Party.  Which will only increase government spending.  Our deficit.  And our debt.

To subsidize Big Labor they’ll have to pill that money out of the private sector economy first.  So you subtract X from the private sector economy.  And give X to Big Union.  Less an administration fee, of course.  Meaning that there will be a net loss of economic activity.

If we provide the right incentives, the right support — and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules — we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that we sell all around the world.

The free market doesn’t need government incentives and support.  They did fine and dandy in the old days without any government help.  And making our trading partners play by the rules?  If you could do that they would be playing by the rules already.  There’s nothing you can do to make China stop undervaluing the yuan.  Unless you want to throw up protective tariffs on Chinese goods.  Of course they’ll retaliate.  Which will only make everything more expensive for the American consumer.  Besides, we already tried this.  Just before the Great Depression.

You really want to talk about the government picking winners and losers (i.e., incentives and support)?  Really?  After the Solyndra bankruptcy?  And the FBI raid on their executive homes?

Well, I agree that we can’t afford wasteful spending, and I’ll work with you, with Congress, to root it out. And I agree that there are some rules and regulations that do put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it. (Applause.) That’s why I ordered a review of all government regulations.

Didn’t Al Gore already reinvent government?  To root out wasteful spending and regulations?  Yeah, he did.  Or tried.  Turns out that’s a lot easier said than done.  Especially when you don’t really mean it.  I mean, come on, the Left lives and dies for these costly regulations.  They’re not just going to sit idly by and let them get repealed.  Not when they fund Democrat candidates in elections.

But what we can’t do — what I will not do — is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.

Really?  So you’re not going to let anyone do what you did?  Like Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”  When you used the worst recession since the Great Depression to pass your stimulus?

Basic protections are one thing.  But your regulatory zeal has shut down this economy.  Just ask the Gulf oil workers.  If you can find any.  Because they aren’t working on rigs in the Gulf anymore.  Thanks to you.

We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party. But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future — a Republican President who mobilized government to build the Transcontinental Railroad — (applause) — launch the National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges. (Applause.) And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.

The seeds of the first transcontinental railroad were sowed back in the 1830s.  Lincoln became president in 1861.  The NAS was established by an Act of Congress.  Land grant colleges came into being in with the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.  First introduced in 1857.  Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.  But he did not create these other acts of Congress.  Congress did. 

And the transcontinental railroad?  That was Congress, too.  And one of the most corrupt Congresses in history.  The incentives and support Congress gave encouraged them to build track on ice.  Zigzag to cover as much land as possible to claim the mineral rights beneath. And when east and west finally met, they kept building track.  Parallel to each other.  To keep collecting money for track mileage laid.  And the cost overruns made a lot of Congressmen wealthy.  No, this railroad was not America’s finest hour.

How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip?

The government Internet (DARPA) was nothing more than file sharing and email for scientists.  If private enterprise and entrepreneurs didn’t step in that’s what the Internet would still be. 

The computer chip?  Funny. I thought that was Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor.  Which was ultimately based on the transistor.  Invented in 1947 by John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William B. Shockley of Bell Labs.  Who replaced vacuum tubes with semiconductors everywhere.  Except in high-end audio amplifiers.

What kind of country would this be if this chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? (Applause.) How many Americans would have suffered as a result?

Actually they’d probably be a lot better off.  As far as a return on investment, Social Security is one of the worst retirement investments out there.  Why?  Because it’s not an investment.  Your money goes into the Social Security trust fund.  Where it ‘waits’ for your retirement.  But before you do, the government takes that money and spends it.  Leaving an IOU in the trust fund.  This is no IRA.  No 401(k).  No mutual fund.  It’s not even a savings bond.  In fact, if you die before you collect, all that money you paid in is kept by the government.  It doesn’t go to your heirs with the rest of your estate.  Like an IRA, a 401(k) or a mutual fund would.

But Social Security has been a real success.  For the government.  Because it has made generations of people dependent on government in their retirement.  Who live in fear of losing their benefits.  And will do anything to keep those benefits coming.  Even if it means screwing their own children.  And their grandchildren.  They’re so frightened by the Democrats that they will vote Democrat.  No matter how much the Democrats steal from future generations.

I don’t pretend that this plan will solve all our problems. It should not be, nor will it be, the last plan of action we propose.

That’s right.  You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.  And they will milk this for all it’s worth.  Stimulus.  Bailing out the UAW pension funds (i.e., the auto bailout).  Financial reform.  Obamacare.  Everything they’ve always wanted.  But could never get through the normal legislative process.

The Problem with Barack Obama is that he’s a Keynesian who wants to Grow the Government

Once again the professor scolds those who don’t agree with him.  And offers more of the same.  Which has already failed to reverse the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And it’s not going to work this time.  How do we know this?  Because if this stuff worked it would have worked the first time.

And it would be nice to see the plan before our representatives pass the plan.  For as CBO said before, you just can’t score a speech.  We need to see the numbers.  And the leaps of faith.  But I guess it’s hard to quantify soaring rhetoric.  Especially when you’re offering the same thing.  That you’re trying to make sound different this time.

The problem with Barack Obama is that he’s a Keynesian.  With one slight difference.  Keynesian stimulus is supposed to be temporary.  Whereas Obama’s stimulus gets added into the baseline budget.  Making his stimulus spending permanent.  His number one goal isn’t growing the economy.  It’s growing the government.  That’s why his polices don’t help the economy.  But they sure have grown the government.  And in Obama’s book that’s mission accomplished. 

But he sure would like a second term to continue the fun.  But I just don’t see that happening.  For I can’t see how he can fool that many people into believing that they’re better off after four years of his policies.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,