Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Developing Nations, Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Environment, Junk Science, National Security | Tags: Anti-Chemical Activists, Genetically Modified Food, Organic Food Fables
Food prices are up, and manufacturers are trying hard to keep you from noticing. Cereal boxes remain the same height, but they are thinner. Baker’s chocolate, formerly in 8 oz. boxes, now comes in boxes that are about ¼” smaller in every direction, contains half as much chocolate “NEW! 4 oz. Easy Break Bar, Same great chocolate. ” Still the same great price, for half as much. Sugar packages have lost a pound of content. I don’t like seeing food prices climb, but I object even more to manufacturers’ attempts to fool me.
If we insist, as a nation, on putting most of our corn crop into our gas tanks — the result is food price inflation. Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation. Core inflation is running around 2%, but the USDA said food prices would be up 3% to 4% last year. Corn ethanol does nothing for the climate, and it contains less energy than gasoline. You’re just paying farmers to grow fuel instead of food. A rise in the price of corn affects the price of other farm commodities such as meat, poultry, dairy and soy products. Congress ended the direct ethanol subsidies in 2011, but the renewables standard remains, and it is the biggest factor. Food prices hit the poor the hardest, and the ethanol mandate is essentially a tax on the poor.
“Organic” foods have been heavily promoted. They cost about 30% more than non-organic foods, but the label “organic” means only that growers used “natural” fertilizers and “natural” pesticides, but pesticide residue does not cross the conservative safety thresholds set by regulators. Natural fertilizer refers to animal manure —pathogen-laden animal excreta. “Organic” is supposed to be better for the natural environment, but it isn’t so, it just uses more land. The term “organic” refers to the practices and procedures a farmer intends to use. It does not indicate superior nutrition, flavor, or healthful qualities. It’s not better for you, just more expensive.
And for sheer silliness, consider the locavores. Now that with modern transportation we can have summer foods in the winter, plentiful vegetables when it’s snowing out, and strawberries all year around, the purists insist on locally grown food, with the suggestion that it is much fresher. But there’s not much local in the winter, and it may be flown in faster anyway.
Environmentalists are the loons who care more about the environment than about people. Fringe anti-biotechnology activists are hell-bent on banning anything containing a chemical. Chemicals are bad. A current interest is genetically modified food. Modify people’s genes as much as you want, select the desired sex and attributes of your potential baby, but don’t modify plants to be more resistant to disease, or insert a gene for Vitamin A to prevent blindness, as in “golden rice,”— an incalculable benefit to parts of the world dependent on rice, yet lacking the essential vitamin in their food supply. Better to have blind kids than mess with their food. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) are not GMO skeptics, as they like to portray themselves, but fringe anti-chemical activists operating on the “precautionary principle” or the theory that if something is ‘suspected’ of potentially causing harm, you have to prove that it will not.
We are growing more food on less land, the green revolution, that will help to feed a hungry world. Food for the Poor is asking for help to feed starving Guatemalan children. Egypt is having trouble feeding their own people. We have over 17 years of successful GMO cultivation, millions of acres, hundreds of millions of servings and not one instance of adverse health or environmental effects. It is a remarkable achievement, and there are far more achievements in the pipeline.
Biotechnology offers an unparalleled safety record and demonstrated commercial success. Remarkably, however, biotechnology might not reach its full potential. In part, that’s because outspoken opponents of GM crops in the U.S. have spearheaded a “labeling” movement that would distinguish modified food from other food on grocery store shelves. Never mind that 60%-70% of processed food on the market contains genetically modified ingredients. In much of Europe, farmers are barred from growing genetically modified crops. Even in Africa, anti-biotechnology sentiment has blocked its application. In Zambia, for example, the government refused donations of GM corn in 2002, even as its people starved.
Opponents of GM crops have been extremely effective at spreading misinformation. GM crops don’t, as one discredited study claimed recently, cause cancer or other diseases. GM cotton isn’t responsible for suicides among Indian farmers—a 2008 study by an alliance of 64 governments and nongovernmental organizations debunked that myth completely. And GM crops don’t harm bees or monarch butterflies.
Anyone who cares about alleviating hunger and protecting the environment should work quickly to remove the bias against GM crops. A good first step is for educated, scientifically literate people to avoid being taken in by the myths about genetically modified food. These innovations have too much potential to empower individuals and feed the world to be thwarted by falsehoods and fear-mongering.
Filed under: Economy, Environment, Freedom, History | Tags: Idaho's Clearwater River, Loggers and River Men, The Last Log Drive
Northern Idaho had a splendid stand of white pine. Logging on the upper Clearwater river began in North Central Idaho in 1928 and continued until 1971. That last great Log Drive, was an historic ninety-mile river trek from the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Clearwater down to the Potlatch mill, the world’s largest white pine sawmill, at the confluence of the Clearwater and the Snake River at Lewiston, Idaho.
The 1971 Log Drive was described as the last major white-water sawlog river drive in the United States. In 1971, the completion of the Dworshak Dam meant the end of log drives and inundated the stretch of the North Fork of the Clearwater. Most drives started about May 10th and lasted about 21 days. In the spring, loggers prepared for the snow melt and rising waters. The Wanigan was assembled— a floating cookhouse with two bunkhouses that would follow the drive down the river. Food, tools, safety equipment and work-boats were prepared. It was a cold, harsh and dangerous environment for the river men. Their job was to recover any logs hung up on the banks, sand bars or islands and send them on their way again.
In the early years of the drive, flumes were built from the woods to the bank of the river. Tree lengths were skidded down to the river then bucked by sawyers into saw logs about 16½ feet long. Peavey crews accompanied the logs, keeping them moving, breaking up jams and sometimes having to dynamite jams to get them moving again.
This picture gives you an impression of the mass, and the potential for jams. The men wore heavy caulked boots with thick leather soles and steel caulks for traction on the logs.A slip could not only send you into icy water, but the logs were dangerous. Work boats were originally bateaux with oars, then outboards and they eventually developed jet boats with powerful engines that could help to pull logs out of jams.
After a day of cold, hard dangerous work, three hot meals a day were important and the number one priority on the drive was a good cook. The company furnished the best cook and the best food they could get. Hearty meals meant a lot, and the work developed good appetites.
Here a wanigan hits a patch of white water — this wanigan will have a bunkhouse on each end, with double steel framed bunks, with warm wool blankets and an Arctic heater that burned presto logs for warmth at night, and in the middle the cookhouse with a smaller stove than most kitchens, and a cook who also had to pilot the raft.
Here’s a good shot of the peavey men at work. They still make peaveys, and there are still lumber mills and lumber mills have mill ponds, but the big log drives are gone forever.
Here is a longer photo-essay with more pictures, if you are interested in the days when real men did hard things, in God’s country.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Politics, The United States | Tags: Focus Group Tested Words, Telling the Truth, The Poverty Line
President Obama, speaking yesterday in Connecticut said:
Nobody who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.
Nice warm sentiment. Who could disagree? But this is the triumph of nice words, as is customary from this president, over reality.
A person who works full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, earns more than the official poverty line. We can’t win “the war on poverty” until we start talking about it truthfully. See here. It’s a game played to get votes, not to actually improve anyone’s life.
Improving lives is not a game, and is done with a growing, thriving economy that provides jobs for those who want to work, and take pride in the work they do.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, History | Tags: Changing Times and Needs, Long Lost Occupations, Things People Used to Do
He made the night a little brighter
Wherever he would go
The old lamplighter
Of long, long ago
Here’s a gallery of pictures of extinct occupations. Jobs that have been bypassed by time and technology. Times change and we mostly change with them. Some occupations remain in the hands of craftsmen who cater to those with an affection for historic times. Buggies and buggy whips are still made. Somebody makes stone boats. Peaveys and ice tongs are made. Historic reenactments are popular, and they need be equipped. I saw a stone boat in action a while back at a meeting of a draft horse preservation group. People have all sorts of interests, and groups spring up to share them. You can find them if you really look., and it can be worth your time.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Taxes, The United States | Tags: No President is Above the Law, The Meaning of the Constitution, What is a Law?
Cynthia Burwell, Director of the White House Office of Management And Budget testified before the Senate Budget Committee on the problematic problem of President Obama’s just submitted budget. Currently, federal discretionary spending is capped by the Ryan-Murray comprehensive spending bill that President Obama signed just 10 weeks ago. So ranking Republican Jeff Sessions asked Ms. Burwell whether the president’s budget increases spending above the Ryan-Murray level passed by Congress and signed by the president into law.
Cynthia Burwell, presidential appointee, refused to give a straight answer to a simple yes or no question. She implicitly acknowledged that the president’s budget does indeed pay no attention whatsoever to the agreement that Republican and Democrats agreed to less than three months ago. She kept claiming that it is “paid for.” That simply means that in addition to ignoring the spending caps, the president’s budget raises taxes to pay for it. Sleazy work from a sleazy administration that is choosing to ignore the limitations the Constitution places on his actions. Out of control and unrestrained by reality.
I am a great admirer of the fearless Senator Jeff Sessions.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Global Warming, Junk Science, Politics, Regulation, Science/Technology | Tags: 17+ Years of No Warming, A Religious Belief, The Cult of Climate Change
In January of this year, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) told a Senate Environment and Pubic Works (EPW) committee hearing that the president must have fabricated two oft-repeated climate claims.
“Both statements are false,” Inhofe said of Obama’s global warming claims, since neither the EPA nor the U.N.’s IPCC climate group can provide any supporting statistics.
On multiple occasions, and most recently on May 30th of last year, President Obama has said, and this is a quote he has used several times, he said that “the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even ten years ago” and that “the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or ten years ago.”Neither agency could provide statistics to support the president’s claim. Senator Inhofe pointed out that temperatures have “flat-lined over the last 15 years, something no climate model ever predicted.”
When you go back and loot at the temperature projections from climate models and compare them to actual temperatures, two things are readily evident: first, temperatures have flatlined over the last 15 years, and second, an average of over 100 climate models from the last decade shows that the scientific community did not predict this would happen. And to my knowledge, not a single climate model ever predicted that a pause in global warming would ever occur.
Climate scientists thought that they could enter into their computer models the established, known facts about climate, and add to that educated guesses, and likely scenarios, and the result would allow you to predict the future climate out 50 to 100 years. Well, garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). We just didn’t know that much about the climate.
And then it turned out that our national temperature records had a distinctly ‘warming’ leaning because many of the stations were located next to air-conditioning outlets and concrete walls to reflect the heat. The records could not be trusted. And tree rings turned out to be faulty as well.
And then it was realized that although clouds had a major influence on climate, we had no clue as to how to measure that. Clouds are of many different types (my dad always loved cumulus nimbus — I think he just liked to say it) and shapes. They move, a lot, and at different levels they may be moving in opposite directions, so you’re dealing with air currents as well. And then we know that meteorologists cannot predict the weather out more than 7 days, and they don’t always get that right.
President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2015 budget allocates about $1 trillion for discretionary spending, and within that amount is continued funding for regulations by the EPA to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants. They’ve issued rules for new plants and rules for existing plants will come out in June. His budget ( the one they said is ‘dead on arrival’ ) calls for:
- A permanent extension of the production tax credit for wind, $19.2 billion over 10 years. $401 million for alternative-fuel trucks tax credits and $1,7 billion for cellulosic biofuel. (more polluting than gasoline)
- Cut $4 billion in ‘tax breaks’ that are currently available to the oil and natural gas industries, and $3.9 billion in tax preferences for coal, which supplies nearly half of our electricity.
- $1 billion to fund new technology and ‘infrastructure to prepare for climate change’ and for research.
- $2,3 billion more for the Forest Service to suppress and ‘research’ wildfires.
- $400 million for DHS to identify “critical infrastructure vulnerabilities” to climate change.
- $362 million to the National Science Foundation to research ‘advanced forms’ of ‘green energy.’
- Overall the budget boosts funding for the Energy Dept. to $27.9 billion in 2015, an increase of 2.6 percent over 2014. Includes $355 million to fuel transportation infrastructure and beef up the electrical grid.
On the Left, global warming — now referred to as climate change — is a matter of religious faith. They simply believe. Republicans don’t, because they keep up with the changing science. Undoubtedly one of the reasons the left believes is because Republicans don’t. They sneeringly call us “deniers” although nobody denies that the climate is always changing. We just deny that it’s a big problem. Back in the 1970s, we were worried about global cooling and a new ice age.
We haven’t had any warming for seventeen years. It has been far warmer in the past — the medieval warming was the finest weather known to man, when wine grapes grew in England and Germany. It’s been far colder as well. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been higher in the past and also lower. Man seems able to adapt. Number Watch, a British website, consists simply of a complete list of things “caused by global warming.”
And for the second time this year, Niagara Falls has frozen over. The pictures are breathtaking. And the Great Lakes are close to being completely frozen over. 57° degrees here today.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, National Security, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Dead on Arrival, Fantasy and Unicorns, The President's Budget Request
The President’s budget — released a month late, in the midst of a faltering, dismal economy, and amid rising global threats — and, he claims, in the midst of “an era of austerity”— he actually proposes a budget that would sharply cut defense spending and impose $1.8 trillion in tax hikes. Bwa-ha-ha-ha. This is a budget request, and it demonstrates that Obama is not much connected to reality, which is worrisome.
His budget rests on the assumption that real GDP growth this year will be 3.1%/ The Congressional Budget Office suggests 2.7% and the consensus in the financial sector is for 2.5%.
He expects us to believe that — all evidence to the contrary — he can add $100 billion in spending on top of the “baseline” this year and next, but then he’ll get serious about spending restraint as he prepares to leave office.
The federal government is more than $17 trillion in debt. Obama’s budget proposal does nothing, nothing at all, to reduce that debt. Instead it adds hundreds of billions of dollars to it every year. The president’s rosiest economic projections say the budget would add $8.3 billion to the national debt, otherwise more. Obama says:
This budget adheres to the spending principles members of both Houses of Congress have already agreed to.
President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 into law on December 26,2013, a little more than two months ago. His budget breaks the spending caps by $56 billion in 2015, and by $791 billion over the ten years of the budget proposal. His budget will increase total spending by 63 percent from today’s levels over the next decade.
President Obama’s budget never balances — ever!
He wants to plow more money into repairing crumbling roads and bridges and into rail projects. He really doesn’t change his mind, does he.
He claims that his budget “ensures we maintain read, modern and capable defense forces to address any threats we might face, including threats from terrorism and cyberattacks.”Yet the only part of the government that sees real spending cuts is defense, which he wants to cut back to pre-World War II levels. Defense cuts of $1.14 trillion over the next decade account for more than half of his proposed $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction. I think we’re in “shovel-ready job territory” here. Roughly half of the new taxes go to new spending rather than deficit reduction.
President Obama’s plan nearly quadruples interest costs — the fastest growing item in the budget. Interest this year will be $223 billion but would rise to $812 billion in ten years.
I’m pretty much done with these promises of, although we’re not reducing the debt by much this time, but —in the future it will be different. Uh huh.
Did you know that Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was an Economics major?
One blog I particularly like is The Diplomad 2.0. The author is a former foreign service officer who has served all over the world. I first encountered him when the earthquake and tsunami struck Indonesia in 2004 and he was right in the middle of it. He always has something pertinent to say about foreign policy, and I particularly liked these excerpts:
Our “leaders” are simply not to be taken seriously on critical foreign policy issues. They have no overall strategic aim for our foreign policy; no clear idea where they want us to be in three, four, five years; simply put they don’t really care about foreign policy. They react to crises with bland words, and by wishing them away into the cornfield with the help of the compliant media. Whatever happened to the urgency of the Syrian crisis?
As I wrote in July of last year,
My experience at State and the NSC, has shown me that < . . . > [f]oreign policy for the Obama crew is an afterthought. They really have little interest in it; many key jobs went vacant for months at State, DOD, CIA, and the NSC. The Obama foreign policy team is peopled by the “well-educated,” i.e., they have college degrees, and as befits the “well educated” in today’s America, they are stunningly ignorant and arrogant leftists, but mostly just idiots. They do not make plans; they tend to fly by the seat of their pants using a deeply ingrained anti-US default setting for navigation. They react to the Beltway crowd of NGOs, “activists” of various stripes, NPR, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Relying on what they “know,” they ensure the US does not appear as a bully, or an interventionist when it comes to our enemies: after all, we did something to make them not like us. Long-term US allies < . . . > they view as anti-poor, anti-Third World, and retrograde Cold Warriors. Why else would somebody befriend the US? Obama’s NSC and State are staffed with people who do not know the history of the United States, and, simply, do not understand or appreciate the importance of the United States in and to the world. They are embarrassed by and, above all, do not like the United States. They look down on the average American, and <. . . > have no problem with anti-American regimes and personages because overwhelmingly they are anti-American themselves.
The path to a real foreign policy rebirth begins at home.
[O]ur goal should be, a government in which 95%-98% of the time it makes no difference to the average American citizen who is president. The US President should matter more to foreigners than to Americans. Except for foreign policy, national defense, times of national crisis, and providing a very broad economic vision, it should not matter who controls the White House. That means keep the government out of as many areas as possible, and where it has been involved deeply and for a long time, try to push the responsibility and resources out to the states, counties, cities, and people.
He adds: Our presidency was not designed to run the country— anybody who thinks that has not read the Constitution. The executive branch is not the country. The president must concentrate on the executive branch and the main tasks assigned it by the Constitution. Do read the whole thing. He makes a lot of sense.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Foreign Policy, Iran, Progressivism, Regulation, Russia | Tags: Crisis in Ukraine, Obama Campaigns, Russia Moves In
President Obama, focused like a laser beam on the crisis in the Ukraine, hits the campaign trail to pitch an increase in the minimum wage. He will appear with four Democrat governors from New England on Wednesday in Connecticut to boost his uphill fight to get Congress to approve an increase in the federal minimum wage.
His 2015 budget proposal will be released on Tuesday, calling for increased spending on manufacturing and early childhood education as well as hiking the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, theoretically redistributing income, but mostly destroying more jobs — in this case an estimated 2,500,000 jobs. We already have 7.8 million people working part-time who want full time jobs. Raising the minimum wage will put a lot more on part-time (ObamaCare regulations) and fulfill only the president’s fantasy of redistributing income.
The Democrats aren’t going to be able to run on the economy this fall. They won’t be able to run on increasing employment opportunities, nor on foreign policy, but by golly, there’s always the minimum wage. That’s the only thing they have to campaign on. If employers don’t just say the hell with it and purchase robots, tablet menus, or automated check out machines, they can always move to a state where business is more welcome.
You can trust Obama to always inadvertently come up with another way to kill jobs.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Dysfunctional, The State Exchanges, Two x Cost of Federal Exchange
The disastrous rollout of ObamaCare continues apace, but the federal government spent more on broken stat-run exchanges than it did on its own troubled system. Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia established their own health insurance coverage under ObamaCare. Of those fourteen, seven remain dysfunctional, disabled or seriously underperforming. The development of those exchanges was funded by the federal government through a series of grants that totaled more than $1.2 billion —almost double the $677 million cost of the federal exchange.
Oregon: Spectacular failure. $48 million “early innovator” grant from the federal government, which hoped the exchange would be a model for other states. Delays, delays, delays. Consultants warned that it was headed for disaster. Total federal grants —$303 million. I’m not sure that they have signed anyone up yet.
Maryland: Obama used Largo, Maryland as the background for a speech touting the benefits of ObamaCare. Maryland promptly turned out to be one of the worst in the nation. Announced this week it was terminating $193 million contract with Noridian Healthcare Solutions, its IT contractor. Officials now say the existing system is so flawed they may dump the whole thing.
Massachusetts: The state’s 2006 reform supposedly helped inspire the design of ObamaCare. They hired CGI, the same contractor who built the federal exchange. Technical glitches from day one. By January the state lagged further behind their original enrollment goal than any other state. Only 5,428 people signed up during the first 3 months, 0.8% of the first year goal. $135.6 million in federal grants, and an early innovator grant.
Vermont: The Affordable Care Act is not progressive enough for Vermont. State officials said they would pursue a single-payer program beginning in 2017. Failed launch, $165.2 million in federal grants, still not working. Calls for an investigation.
Minnesota: Exchange was glitchy on rollout, problems persisted for the next few weeks. 14 exchange officials received bonuses prior to launch, the director took a tropical vacation while the site struggled. Officials and contractors blame each other. Outside assessment warned that problems would not be fixed by the end of open enrollment on March 31. Total federal grants $153.7 million.
Nevada: One official described the failure of the exchange as ‘catastrophic’. The system enrolled just 16,000 of the 118,000 expected. Projections have been reduced to 50,000. State officials are said to be thinking of ditching their own exchange in order to join the federal system. Federal grants $83.7 million. (All lies, according to Harry Reid)
Hawaii: Hawaii’s exchange was taken down right after the launch, but enrollment remains exceedingly low. The state has signed up just 4,300 people for coverage, the lowest of all the states. Total federal grants $205 million.
All Democrat-run states, but that is surely just a coincidence. We can probably assume that those who have signed up are those most in need of health insurance, those with pre-existing conditions, and the healthy folks will wait for a better offer. Those who signed up early will be the most costly.