American Elephants


Stop Trying to “Win the Future,” Mr. President. It’s Not a Game! by The Elephant's Child

On Monday, the Obama Administration “announced a number of new initiatives designed to accelerate the modernization of the Nation’s electric infrastructure, bolster electric-grid innovation, and advance a clean energy economy.”

Aimed at building the necessary transmission infrastructure and developing and deploying digital information or “smart grid” technologies, these initiatives will facilitate the integration of renewable sources of electricity into the grid; accommodate a growing number of electric vehicles on America’s roads; help avoid blackouts and restore power quicker when outages occur; and reduce the need for new power plants(emphasis added)

“A 21st Century grid is essential to America’s ability to lead the world in clean energy and win the future,” said John Holdren, President Obama’s science and technology advisor.

This pushes all of my annoyance buttons. Dr, Holdren managed to get most of the administration buzz words all in one sentence. Why is there something special about “21st Century?” Why is it desirable to “lead the world in clean energy?” And please spare me the “WTF”, it’s absolutely meaningless.  A lot of countries have invested a lot of their citizens’ wealth in wind farms and solar arrays, and it hasn’t worked out anywhere. The promoters and rent seekers are driving forward, but the engineers and energy experts say that it’s a dead-end road.

Wind is free, but attempts to capture that energy fail because wind is too intermittent.  It is the nature of wind that is the problem, something that innovations in turbines cannot change. Solar energy is too diffuse, and the sun has the nasty habit of sinking beneath the horizon for half the day.

All “these efforts build upon the historic $4.5 billion in grid modernization investments provided in the Recovery Act.”  The Department of Agriculture has $250 million in loans for smart-grid technology in rural America. You can’t win the future by wasting more money.

The very detailed  illustration above  is devoid of information, if you enlarge it, it doesn’t help, there’s nothing there except for a solar panel on the roof.  They suggest that consumers can get more information about their energy usage, and you will be able to contact your house for its energy use with your smart phone!

To manage the energy shortage created by the Obama administration by starving the nation unnecessarily of energy, we can call the house and turn down the heat?  Or will the federal government decide how much power we may use? The Smart Grid will help us to eliminate greenhouse gases and lead the world in clean energy.

The carbon dioxide that Obama is so worried about makes up about 38/1000 of 1% of the atmosphere.   The amount represented by human activity is approximately 15/10,000 of 1% of the atmosphere. The climate has not warmed for the past ten years, and the sun has gone quiet.  We may be in for another Maunder Minimum (1645-1715), the most bitterly cold part of the Little Ice Age. It’s too soon to know, but cold is far more lethal than the 1 degree of warming that we have had over the last 100 years.

Ronald Reagan got it right, back  in 1981:

We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down.  Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive and free. Trust the people.

It is American ingenuity that has learned how to do slant drilling, to drill in deep offshore waters, to release oil from shale formations providing the whole world with ample new supplies of fossil fuels. Government cannot do a better job. Government cannot fix the economy,  Government cannot put America back to work.  Stop interfering and trust the people.



Enough With the Road Analogies, Mr. President. by The Elephant's Child

“There are  always going to be bumps on the road to recovery,” President Obama said recently, when he was celebrating the sale of the government’s remaining stake in Chrysler.  The Treasury was ecstatic  that Fiat had agreed to pay $560 million for the Government’s Chrysler shares. As Obama celebrated saving the auto industry, he didn’t mention that it was saved with 16,000 fewer auto workers.

The inimitable Mark Steyn took that up on Saturday in a column titled “Obama’s Road to Nowhere: This is Main Street, Obamaville; All bumps, no road.” Mark Steyn has the amazing ability to tell you the really bad news and make you laugh while he does it.

“I’m not concerned about a double-dip recession,” Obama said last week.  Perhaps it’s because all his economists have departed for the more comfortable surroundings of academe. I think we would all feel better if he was more concerned.

The American economy has amazing strengths. We have flexible markets, a smart workforce,  a tradition of labor mobility, and a strong entrepreneurial class that should be  driving the recovery and steadily cutting back on the unemployment rate.  Ideas are always plentiful among a free people.

So what’s going wrong?  Why does the economy seem stuck? Obama is annoyed because business is not stepping up and hiring and expanding.  Unfortunately, nobody in the administration has any business experience, nor run a business and discovered what it takes to keep a business solvent.  So what’s holding the economy back? What is missing?

Confidence.  Trust.  Hope.  Faith.  Expectation.  Optimism.  Anticipation.

Americans are an optimistic people.  Recessions are always the by-product of mistakes.  Government mistakes, business mistakes, financial sector mistakes, and fixing them takes time.  What causes confidence to return? This president  has done more to destroy hope than any president in living memory. He didn’t tell us that the Hope he espoused was ensconced in a vision of a regulatory state in which disinterested experts who were assumed to have the factual knowledge, practical wisdom and unwavering integrity to manage the economy well.  He was wrong. Americans cherish their freedom. They don’t need overbearing regulation, and they resent it.

When an economy is in trouble, there is a history of moves that work to restore confidence. The U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. If you want corporations to have more incentive to hire, why not cut their taxes?  When economic times are terrible, why would you raise energy prices dramatically and lay people off? The EPA is ratcheting up standards that will shut coal-fired plants down, and consumers will see their electricity bills jump an estimated 40 to 60%. When you supposedly recognize that there weren’t any shovel-ready jobs, why are you blathering on about investing in infrastructure and “green” jobs. Why do you pretend to reduce unnecessary regulation while your agencies turn out new ones faster than ever?

Unfortunately, almost everything a government does in response to a recession delays and weakens recovery.  Politicians naturally try everything they can think of to soften the blow of a recession.  Generous unemployment insurance postpones the search for a job.  The first-time homebuyer’s credit was meant to help,  as were programs to slow the foreclosure process or keep families in homes that they cannot afford.  Well intentioned, but it delays the correct price discovery process.  We’re two years into the recovery and housing prices nationally are still falling.

The Obama fiscal stimulus failed, and substituted for other fiscal policies that would have helped, like permanent tax-rate reductions — proven strategies from the Bush, Reagan, Kennedy and Coolidge administrations.   The president campaigned for higher taxes and continues to argue for higher rates, especially ideologically motivated higher tax rates on the wealthy, on saving, and on small business.

The free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea, long negotiated,  still languish, unsigned, on the president’s desk.  Expectations about inflation have a big influence in the economy. Fearful expectations about what the future will bring can be self-fulfilling. The evidence that Obama’s economic policies are failures is abundant.  How strange that the man who ran on a campaign of Hope and Change has brought so much change and so very little hope.




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