American Elephants


Have You Noticed Rising Food Prices? Here’s why: by The Elephant's Child

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.



Polar Vortexes and Presidential Pollution Proclamations by The Elephant's Child

article-2485612-1927936900000578-580_634x534

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.



Matt Ridley, On The Greening of the Planet. by The Elephant's Child

This video is a year old this month, but the very clear message seems not to have reached the true believers, so I’m re-posting it.  Apple CEO Tim Cook has just told global warming skeptics to “get out of this stock.” In essence, he told every Apple shareholder to take a hike and waved away any potential investors.

When Mr. Cook met with shareholders on Friday, a group proposed that the company be more open about its environmental activism and more transparent about the costs it incurs as it increases its dependence on renewable energy. “If you want me to do things only for ROI (return on investment) reasons, you should get out of this stock,” he said.

What he was saying is that profit is overrated, and if you aren’t interested in a warm feeling from political activism, you are misdirected. Cook succeeded Steve Jobs in 2011, and Apple has gone for fighting global warming in a big way, tripling the use of renewable energy for its offices to 75%, The goal is to go 100% renewable.

Unfortunately, comparing costs is interesting. The cost per megawatt hour of a new natural gas power plant averages $66, while the tab for wind is $96, and solar photovoltaic $153, and solar thermal $242. It not only costs way more, it doesn’t do anything whatsoever to stop the natural warming and cooling of the planet. And you may have noticed that cooling is the current mode. There has been no warming for over 17 years.

European countries are becoming aware of the vast drag on their economies from their investment in “renewable” energy. Germany is realizing that its Energiewende — its radical energy policies — cost taxpayers €22 billion last year alone, making businesses uncompetitive.

True believers aren’t interested in facts, but are hell-bent on saving the planet. It’s a religious belief, and it’s adherents are cult-like in their devotion.

Over the past three decades, our planet has gotten greener!

Even stranger, the greening of the planet in recent decades appears to be happening because of, not despite, our reliance on fossil fuels. While environmentalists often talk about how bad stuff like CO2 causes bad things to happen like global warming, it turns out that the plants aren’t complaining.



The Day of Reckoning Approaches: Drowning In Energy Subsidies by The Elephant's Child

Back in 2008, then candidate Barack Obama claimed in a speech in Golden Colorado, that his planned investments in “green” energy would create “five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced, ” Robert Bryce notes in the Wall Street Journal.  It was all bunk.

President Obama not only does not change his mind, he doesn’t learn from what is going on in the world. In his State of the Union speech, the president claimed credit for his “all of the above” energy policy, not mentioning that he has fought tooth and nail — every bit of energy production except wind and solar. He has attempted through the EPA to shut down the coal industry which provides nearly half of our electricity.

Increasing amounts of natural gas come from fracking by private investors on private land, which is fortunate, for Obama has opposed any drilling on public lands. He is still talking about “carbon pollution”— whatever he thinks that is — carbon dioxide is a natural fertilizer for plants, and as our climate cools will help crops to avoid damage from the cold.

In December, the Center for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based think tank, reported that European steelmakers are paying twice as much for electricity and four times as much for natural gas as their U.S. competitors. In Denmark, the wind-energy capital of Europe, residential electricity now costs about 41 cents per kilowatt-hour, more than three times the U.S. average rate. Robert Bryce notes:

Proof came last month when both the European Union and the German government announced separately that they were both rolling back aggressive subsidies and mandates for renewable energy. The reason: staggering costs. Spain has racked up some $35 billion in debt—known as the “tariff deficit”—thanks to excessive renewable-energy subsidies. In Germany, renewable-energy subsidies are now costing German consumers and industry about $32 billion a year. The costs have become so onerous that on Jan. 21 Germany’s economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel told energy conference attendees in Berlin that his country is risking “dramatic deindustrialization” if it doesn’t reduce energy costs.

It may take 20 years or more for Europe to recover from the waste of their investments in wind and solar.

The American energy landscape has undergone a big change — not thanks to, but in despite the actions of the U.S. government.  U.S. net imports of petroleum have declined from 12.5 million barrels per day in 2005 to 8.6 mbd in 2011. Dependence on imports has dropped from its 60 percent peak in 2005 to 45 percent the level it was back in 1995. This 30 percent reduction in just seven years is equivalent to three times the number of barrels nominally imported from Saudi Arabia. Some of the drop is related to the recession-induced drop in consumption, some to the blend with ethanol. Since 2008, technologies like deep-water drilling, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have increased crude oil output by 18 percent.

The idea of “energy independence” has been way oversold. Oil is a commodity. Assume all of the petroleum in the world goes into one big storage tank. Producers pour oil in, consumers take it out. Everybody pays essentially the same price, and the international oil companies determine what happens to the oil once it enters the global market. When the Arab oil-producing countries declared an embargo of the U.S. and selected European countries way back in 1973, there was no real shortage in the U.S. The long gas lines and price hikes had more to do with panicked consumer behavior and the complete bungling of the Federal energy bureaucracy. The Soviet Union has threatened boycotts of European countries, which has been one of the reasons for the ramp-up of wind and solar in the European Union. There has been talk about a crisis that might be caused by a blockage of the Straits of Hormuz. But America is not dependent on the Persian Gulf for its oil supply. Most of U.S. oil imports come from North America. When there is a supply disruption somewhere in the world, it affects everyone.

A huge calculating error in official U.S. government climate data shows beyond a doubt that climate scientists unjustifiably added on a whole degree of phantom warning to the official “raw” temperature record. Skeptics believe the discovery may trigger a real climate scandal in Congress and sound the death knell on American climate policy. Independent data analyst Steven Goddard released his study of the official adjusted U.S. temperature records relied upon by NASA, NOAA, USHCN and scientists around the world to “prove” that our climate has been dangerously warming. Goddard found a startling disparity between the “raw” thermometer readings, as reported by measuring stations, and the “adjusted” temperatures. The adjustments, in effect, turn a 90 year cooling trend into a warming trend.

Patrick Michaels asks in Forbes if the Overselling of Global Warming will lead to a new Scientific Dark Age? We have relied too much on computers to answer questions for which they have no real answer. We have constructed models of the climate which contain way too many assumptions and guesses, and people are beginning to recognize that it is politics that is driving the issue rather than science, that wind and solar aren’t really free, but make expensive energy that is no longer on offer when the subsidies are removed.



Bad Economic Ideas Aren’t Going to Create Lots of Jobs. by The Elephant's Child

Democrats mostly don’t read Republican stuff, whether history, economics, or foreign policy. We are the enemy and our opinions and our writings are suspect. A liberal member of the family refused to read a piece I had extracted from the Wall Street Journal because he considered the Journal to be right-wing territory — even though only the Opinion page leans right and the news pages lean left. Anecdotal, of course, but typical of many on the left.

Do you suppose that many Democrats have watched the great videos of Milton Friedman explaining troublesome ideas like the minimum wage, or extending unemployment benefits. They just don’t. And they would reject it, not because it didn’t make sense, but because they were enemy ideas.

Republicans study issues to determine what works. Democrats cite studies that they believe will help them win. Republicans are looking for growth in the economy and successful strategies to get there. Democrats are looking for issues that will sway their voting groups, and testing potential language to see what words will be most effective.

Many studies over time have shown that increasing the minimum wage is an unemployment act for young people. Many states have minimum wage rates that are higher than the national minimum wage. It is meant as a starter wage for people just learning to work, not as a wage to support a family. The official poverty level for a one person household is $11,490. A full-time worker earning $7.25 an hour is above the poverty level. For a two-person household, the poverty level is $15,510, and two people earning the minimum wage would not qualify as being below the poverty level. In most cases, the person who earns the minimum wage belongs to a household where the family income is $50,000 or more. Most people who earn the minimum wage get an increase within a year. Most businesses that hire people at the minimum wage are finding it advantageous to replace workers with self-checkout aisles, and mechanization and robots will soon be replacing more. Then where do beginners learn how to work?

New research shows that extending unemployment benefits is a net economic drag. The liberal case for extension of benefits rests on the supposedly stimulative effect of greater disposable income for the unemployed. The new study conducted by economists at the University of Pennsylvania and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York contends that any such stimulus is dwarfed by the economic damage done by extending jobless benefits. People respond to incentives, and unemployment benefits reduce one’s incentive to look for a job. They allow some people to wallow in discouragement longer than they otherwise would, or encourage the recipients to wait for a better job.

The White House pays women less than it pays men.

Universal pre-kindergarten does not improve outcomes. There are modest positive effects during the preschool era, but they do not last even into kindergarten, much less through elementary years.

There is no evidence that Michelle Obama’s obesity initiatives for children have reduced obesity. Mostly, the kids won, because they hate the lunch menus.

Maybe some people spend a lot of time worrying about those who make more money than they do. It has always seemed to me that it is only a challenge to yourself. What matters is your own success at the things that matter to you. Some mothers take a part-time job so they can be home with their kids when they aren’t in school. When you retire, you and your company part company, They are through with you and concerned with current employees. When you ponder your accomplishments in your old age, it will have more to do with your family and friends than with what you did at work. I just don’t think people spend a lot of time envying those who make more money, though the federal government it insistent on encouraging envy.



The Marvelous Michael Ramirez Strikes Again! by The Elephant's Child

RAMclr-012914-slips-IBD-FIRST-COLOR.gif.cms

What more needs to be said? (click to enlarge) IBDeditorials.



The Fatally Failed Fallacies of the Obama Administration by The Elephant's Child

pic_giant_102513_SM_Obama-the-Avatar

I am constantly fascinated by language, and the extent to which we use it to confuse or elucidate, to sway minds and to get our way. We have terms for three of the things that can go awry:

  • Unintended consequences —nobody knew that if you did this, that would happen. Pretty straightforward. Sometimes one side has warned about the consequences, but the other denied that it would happen.
  • Paradox — A seemingly contradictory statement that may nevertheless be true. Hegel: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” To be thoroughly confused, consult Wikipedia’s paradox page.
  • Fallacy — An idea or opinion founded on mistaken logic or perception, a false notion. This is the word that describes the entire Obama administration, and the specific  reason that there has been no real economic recovery.

President Obama made it clear from the first that he believed the Iraq War was a “dumb war,” and the only reason for being in Afghanistan was to “get” Osama bin Laden. When bin Laden was killed, Obama clearly believed that al Qaeda had been defeated, and was “on the run.” This was mistaken logic, and al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah, and is resurgent throughout the Middle East.

President Obama was sure that spending lots of stimulus money on infrastructure would create the jobs that were needed to restore the economy to prosperity. He discovered that “all those shovel-ready jobs weren’t really shovel ready”.

He was determined to kill two birds with one stone and create green jobs while also saving the earth from global warming. There weren’t really any “green jobs,” the installers came from the manufacturers, and they tried to cover up the lack by labeling janitors, bus drivers, garbage men and secretaries in energy installations as “green jobs,” but that didn’t work. Unemployed men were trained for so-called “green jobs” in government jobs programs like installing insulation, but discovered that to be a competitive field in most communities, who didn’t need additional employees. And the globe hasn’t been warming for over 17 years.

It turned out that green energy merely raised the cost of power, was as inclined to pollute as much demonized petroleum. We have Solyndra, and dozens and dozens of other bankrupt green-energy companies. Electric cars caught fire or turned into bricks, or cost so much that only multi-millionaires could afford to buy the federally subsidized cars. The EPA pushed 15% ethanol in gasoline that would destroy many car engines, and ruin small engines like boats or lawnmowers.

The more you look, the more fallacies you find. The Keystone XL pipeline offers 20,000 direct jobs, and thousands of spin-off jobs. Obama announces a new effort to create jobs, yet refuses to approve the project, which annoys our most important trading partner, and may send the energy to China.

Obama announces a pivot to jobs, while his Environmental Protection Agency is churning out regulations that kill jobs. We have had five years of fallacy.We hired a president who had no experience at running anything, no experience in managing anything. The people with whom he surrounds himself in the White House are as new and inexperienced as the president himself. Their ideas are founded on mistaken logic or perception.

Fallacy. They don’t know what they are doing, and while they may mean well, they lack understanding of the consequences of their actions. In today’s news are more studies that show that giving people insurance — Medicaid for the uninsured — actually significantly increases their use of emergency rooms, raising health care costs rather than saving money.

But we knew that. That was the experience of Romney Care in Massachusetts — the health care the Obama administration liked to pretend they were copying. A complete fallacy in itself. As a policy is put into practice, it collapses or fails to work due to it’s own internal misconceptions.



Your Power Bill Is Going Up. Blame The Environmental Movement. by The Elephant's Child

America is is the midst of an energy boom. Fracking technology has released abundant oil and gas stored in shale deposits. The amazing paradox of the domestic fossil-fuels boom has been overwhelming destructive federal government policy. The U.S.Oil boom driven by private investment and ingenuity has transformed North American oil markets. The International Energy Agency estimates that America will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producers by 2015.

Oddly, in the midst of an energy boom, U.S. electricity prices have skyrocketed to new highs. This paradox is not a result of the free market, but of runaway “green” regulation by the government. In November, the BLS Electricity Price Index hit 202.284, an all-time record high nearly 20% higher than just six  years ago. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2008 the U.S. produced 2.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Today, it’s 12.3 billion cubic feet and growing fast. But as energy booms, electricity prices are going up as well.

What is at work here is the green movement’s moral beliefs about what kinds of energy are “good.” Wind and solar power, which are “morally pure” cannot exist without generous governmental (taxpayer) subsidy. Wind and sunshine are of course free, but as producers of electricity, very expensive. The wind is intermittent and must be backed up 24/7 by conventional power, and the wind may not blow for days at a time. The sun goes down at night, and only shines in the day when the clouds don’t cover it. Trust me, I live in the Seattle area. We call the occasional appearances of the sun “sun-breaks.”

Electricity is now one of the most regulated goods in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency has sweeping powers to regulate CO2 — a power not found anywhere in the Constitution, electricity has become even more expensive, and will get more so. The EPA’s new rules, put in place to pander to the environmental movement will remove 34,705 megawatts of coal-based energy capacity off the market. This will increase electricity prices and the cost of everything where electricity is used.

This is a de facto ban on all new coal-fired power plants in spite of the fact that coal produces a third of all electricity in the country due to its cheap coast and plentiful supply.  Despite the fact that CO2 levels are falling in the U.S., not rising, and despite the fact that the earth is cooling, not warming, as it has been for the last 17 years.

The demonization of coal and other fossil fuels means that utilities must shut coal-fired plants, and replace them with more costly energy sources like wind and solar. This is an enormous hidden energy tax, levied on every individual and every business — killing jobs and adding to the unemployment rolls.

Chicago political rules mean you must reward your financial supporters. The environmental movement is flush with money, wind and solar are awash with crony capitalism, and besides, the cost of higher electric bills will be borne by taxpayers.

Of course higher electricity bills on top of higher grocery bills, higher cost health insurance and higher cost of medical care may seem unreasonable. When confronted with a problem, Democrats first reaction is to make a law, to regulate. But that’s where the whole problem came from in the first place — excessive regulation.

Ironically, the very success of economic and  political freedom reduced its appeal to later thinkers. The narrowly limited government of the late nineteenth century possessed little concentrated power that endangered the ordinary man. The other side of the coin was that it possessed little power that would enable good people to do good.  And in an imperfect world there were still many evils. Indeed, the very progress of society made the residual evils seem all the more objectionable. As always people took the favorable developments for granted. They forgot the danger to freedom from a strong government. Instead, they were attracted by the good that a stronger government could achieve — if only government power were in the “right” hands.
…………………Milton and Rose Friedman: Free to Choose



The Great Summing Up by The Elephant's Child

I always hate the week between Christmas and New Years. The Media does the “Great Summing Up.” Lists and rankings, best and worst, biggest news stories, best photos, most notable deaths, the best books, the worst books, the funniest cartoons and the best and worst movies. These are not exactly think pieces.

The American Dream is dying, or dead. Things are really bad and only getting worse. The Least Productive Congress in History? The Do-Nothing Congress has been good for America, and if they pass few new laws, we can breathe slightly more easily.  Congress passed just 70 laws, which may be too many. But Obama and Congressional Democrats planned an array of Big Government initiatives — gun control, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, more job creation, infrastructure (again!), climate change, and education, to name only a few. Congress ended the year with none of those initiatives signed into law. And we are far better for it. No major tax hike, and the probability of a major tax hike in the next year has fallen.

Congress’ approval rating fell to a new low in a November Gallup poll at 9%, and 72% of Americans agreed that “big government” was the nation’s Number One threat. That is an encouraging opinion.

It used to be that a limited government with only modest aims was the guiding principle of nearly every Congressman. Until some sanity is restored to Congress, gridlock may be the best thing we can hope for. A year spent thoughtfully repealing useless laws, wretched excess, and governmental duplication would do us a world of good.

Markets have been encouraged by governmental inaction. Businessmen are not quite so frightened about what government might do next. In 2013, the growth oriented NASDAQ has surged 40%. Markets look six months to a year on down the road.

The EPA is facing real questions about just what ‘science’ they are relying on in their push for power and control. They are backing off their attempt to require 15% corn ethanol in gasoline, which will save many cars and all sorts of small engines. Inaction from the EPA would be a real boon to the economy.

The Democratic majority is running scared from the ObamaCare disaster and its potential influence on the 2014 election. The President is not going to win back the approval of the American people easily. The economy might survive after all. Let’s hear it for gridlock, and root for another do-nothing year in the nation’s capitol.



“The Rescue of the Planet Gets Cancelled.” by The Elephant's Child

wind-farm_2503696b

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) has written a blistering criticism of climate activists’ efforts to impose a green authoritarian society over the rest of the world. They  overshot and missed the curve. The introduction reads:

The rescue of the planet gets cancelled. The climate advisory council to the government played high stakes poker. And lost. They failed at tricking their way past democracy.

A new study claims Britain’s climate change initiatives are both “staggeringly costly and excessive.” Britain’s £85 billion bill for climate policies is coming under attack. The Daily Mail has performed the valuable service of exposing the corruption that is rampant among British environmentalists; specifically, global warming alarmists.

The Mail on Sunday today reveals the extraordinary web of political and financial interests creating dozens of eco-millionaires from green levies on household energy bills.

A three-month investigation shows that some of the most outspoken campaigners who demand that consumers pay the colossal price of shifting to renewable energy are also getting rich from their efforts.

Here at home, the media are claiming that the 113th Congress is on track to be “the least productive” on record — as if that is a bad thing. But the Wall street Journal suggests that if gridlock lasts, Congress can still save a bundle by just not acting to extend the 20-year-old wind energy subsidy which provides a taxpayer gift to wind companies of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour. Congress can accomplish something for taxpayers by doing nothing. Congress is also considering cutting back on the subsidies for corn ethanol. About time.

Greenpeace has tried to get some attention with a video showing a sad, bedraggled Santa telling the kids that Christmas will be cancelled this year because there isn’t enough snow and ice at the North Pole. Unfortunately, there is plenty of ice and snow and it’s growing. It melts in the summer and grows in the winter. And what melting there is in the  Antarctic is because of volcanoes under the ice, not climate.

It is no secret that President Obama’s green energy  ventures have not gone well. But the media has largely ignored the extent of the failure. The problem is widespread. The media notices a bankruptcy, but garner attention only when it happens and it is not linked to past failures. Governments cannot pick winners and losers. It has cost taxpayers billions, and the numbers of failures, the cronyism and the corruption are not getting attention.

I wrote just below about the collapse of China’s green energy economy. Nations worldwide put a lot of hope into wind turbines and solar arrays, but the technologies are beset by the same problems that they have always had. The wind is intermittent. It does not blow at the right speed all the time, and when the wind does not blow, the turbines require backup, 24/7,  from a conventional power plant. Solar arrays depend on the sun shining. Solar energy is diffuse. The sun sinks beneath the horizon at night, and does not power anything on cloudy or rainy days, and also requires 24/7 backup from a conventional power plant. The energy produced is not competitive with the energy from a conventional power plant, it is far more expensive.

Well, cronyism, corruption, help your political friends to get rich, make lots of millionaires. Sooner or later it all comes tumbling down. And it is tumbling down all over the world.

ADDENDUM: I said that Congress is considering cutting back on the subsidies for corn ethanol, which was really a misstatement. They are considering cutting back on the amount of corn ethanol put into gasoline. The subsidies were ended some time ago. The EPA wants 15% ethanol, which is damaging to older cars, and all kinds of smaller engines like leaf blowers lawnmowers, boats — and corn ethanol is not an environmental improvement over plain old gasoline, but just another wrong turn.

The rescue of the planet gets cancelled. The climate advisory council to the government played high stakes poker. And lost. They failed at tricking their way past democracy.” – See more at: http://notrickszone.com/2013/11/30/europe-climate-policy-blows-engine-huge-failure-scientists-failed-tricking-their-way-past-democracy-mood-of-resignation/#sthash.ioPEqtCC.dpuf
The rescue of the planet gets cancelled. The climate advisory council to the government played high stakes poker. And lost. They failed at tricking their way past democracy.” – See more at: http://notrickszone.com/2013/11/30/europe-climate-policy-blows-engine-huge-failure-scientists-failed-tricking-their-way-past-democracy-mood-of-resignation/#sthash.ioPEqtCC.dpuf
The rescue of the planet gets cancelled. The climate advisory council to the government played high stakes poker. And lost. They failed at tricking their way past democracy.” – See more at: http://notrickszone.com/2013/11/30/europe-climate-policy-blows-engine-huge-failure-scientists-failed-tricking-their-way-past-democracy-mood-of-resignation/#sthash.ioPEqtCC.dpuf


Canada Ranks Lower than Latvia In A Survey of Energy Sustainability? by The Elephant's Child

About those national rankings: A new World Economic Forum (WEF) survey on the world’s “best sustainable energy systems” places energy self-sufficient Canada below Latvia, Costa Rica, Columbia and Romania.  Huh?

The Geneva-based think tank’s latest survey of countries with the most “sustainable energy systems” put Norway as the country with the best energy system in the world. You always have to watch out when they start throwing that “sustainability” word around. It is an ever-so fashionable word, always to be thrown in to any paper deemed to be truly “serious.” And Geneva is always to be considered “serious.”

Canada, our neighbor to the north, producer of one of the world’s largest amounts of crude oil, natural gas, wind, nuclear and hydroelectricity, suddenly finds itself ranked below Latvia, which is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its fossil fuel supply. It had, however, “diversified” enough to warrant a ranking four places above self-sufficient Canada.

“The WEF,” the Financial Post says, “arrived at its befuddling conclusion after ranking countries on economic growth, environmental sustainability and energy security performance, and ‘analysing the complex trade-offs and dependencies that affect country efforts.’”

This report is absurd, of course, but governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have fallen into a pattern of using words that are fashionable but essentially meaningless to show that they are “with it,” to be taken seriously. Call them navy blue pin-striped words, or Rolex words. And “sustainable” is one of the worst. Sustainable means it will last over time, and we clearly have no idea. Tomorrow is unknown.

“Diversity” is more popular in academia than in the energy business, but a way of sneaking in a bunch of unaffordable “alternate energy”systems, beloved by environmentalists, yet only exist with ongoing governmental subsidies. In either case, it is nonsense. In academia it is supposed to be desirable to have students of varying races and ethnicities, but undesirable to have diversity in their thought or politics. All will conform.

Other words that fall into the same general category are “fairness,” (who decides?), “equality,” (how?) “tolerance,”( regarding what?). The words become more meaningless as they are used to excess, and no thought is dedicated to what they really mean in the context where they are used.

Silly report. Canada ranked a paltry 14th, and the United States, soon to become the world’s number one energy producer ranked a distant 37th out of 124 countries.



Goodbye, Atlantic Array. A Stark Warning —Is Anybody Listening? by The Elephant's Child

offshore_windfarm_master_tcm9-292972

The German energy giant RWE just pulled the plug on one of the world’s largest wind parks, the £4 billion Atlantic Array in the Bristol Channel. RWE did so for the stark reason that “the economics do not stack up”. It’s a mantra that well reflects the entire chaotic, incoherent and frankly competing elements at the heart of Europe’s energy policies. 

Big renewable energy projects will always require state intervention and public cash in pursuit of the illusory aims of decarbonization. Private investment and business venture capital, are of sounder mind, and not inclined to take on the monumental risks involved, without the safety net of government guarantees and continuing public subsidies. Often better known as crony capitalism.

A democratic electorate views its key priorities with a combination of skepticism and common sense, particularly when their first priorities, like an improving economy have gone a glimmering. RWE had complained that the government was treating environmental subsidies as a “political football” which is an accurate representation of the ideological differences at the heart of the coalition.

The British Liberal Democrat energy secretariat is philosophically committed to paying for renewable energy, apparently whatever the cost to the end energy user. George Osborne’s Conservative Treasury, on the other hand, is quite aware of the political cost of the consumer’s energy bills. Britain has been dealing with “energy poverty,” for a number of years. But the whole thing goes back to Germany’s panicked knee-jerk reaction to abandon nuclear power in the wake of Fukushima. That led to the early closure of perfectly operational power stations, many owned by RWE. That short-sighted reaction now threatens Germany with a serious power shortage. RWE knew that the Atlantic Array needed more, not less government subsidies, and there is no prospect of that happening. They have embarked on a fast track divestment of their assets, divested itself of part of its UK gas and electricity sector and are outsourcing 1,400 jobs from Europe to India.

This is a stark warning to the rest of the world that renewable energy projects come with a need for constant government subsidy. These projects do not pay for themselves. Australia is drafting legislation to abolish the country’s carbon pricing mechanism to assuage the consumer anger over soaring energy prices. Green Dreams are all very well, but business is business, and the public has had enough of governmental green dreams. Somebody really needs to tell President Obama.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,432 other followers

%d bloggers like this: