Posting will be light for a while. Events have conspired to make my evenings this week less than available for the usual web-based perambulations. Consider my lack of pointing out obvious things which are wrong with our politicians as an early Christmas gift.
The latest in the ethanol saga:
From the farm to the governor’s mansion, ethanol boosters from South Dakota and other Midwest states joined forces Thursday in Washington to defend their industry as the White House considers changes that could crimp future demand for the fuel.
It’s Friday night and I’m pretty well wiped out from this week (and no, I’m sure the brutal cold has nothing to do with that). So, I’ll keep it simple.
The boosters are not defending their industry. Rather, they are defending their industry’s continued dependence on taxpayer subsidies and government mandates to stay in business.
Why worry about future demand when there isn’t current demand? The reason that the EPA mandated X billions of gallons of ethanol be produced and blended was that the market said it didn’t need/want that much ethanol for automotive fuel. I, and many other drivers, find that ethanol does not work as well my auto engine (not to mention it should never be used in my yard machines or 50-year-old gasoline tractor). Recently, several gas stations that I frequent have done away with the 87 octane straight gas pumps and replaced them with 87 octane (10% ethanol) pumps. So, now if I don’t want ethanol at those gas stations, I have to get premium –and pay considerably more per gallon.
The demand was never there. It was artificially created through government mandates. And now, government mandates may undo what was previously done.
Our sentence from above could be rewritten as follows:
Politicians and producers from South Dakota and other Midwest states who have benefited from the federal government’s ethanol production mandate joined forces Thursday in Washington to defend continued taxpayer subsidies and other special treatment for their industry as the White House considers changes to the rules which require a certain amount of corn to be converted to ethanol despite the the lack of an actual market for the fuel.
Bill Whittle writes a bit (though most followers of this space have heard more of his talking). If you’ve got a few minutes (and consider JRR Tolkien to be far more than a middling writer of fiction) head on over and enjoy yourself.
The interesting thing for me was, having heard many, many soliloquies by Mr. Whittle over the years, I can hear him speaking, even when I’m reading the words.
Michael Totten continues his excellent series of articles on Cuba and includes this tale from the early days of the “Revolution”:
He told me about what happened at his sister’s elementary school a few years after Castro took over.
“Do you want ice cream and dulces (sweets),” his sister’s teacher, a staunch Fidelista, asked the class.
“Yes!” the kids said.
“Okay, then,” she said. “Put your hands together, bow your heads, and pray to God that he brings you ice cream and dulces.”
Nothing happened, of course. God did not did not provide the children with ice cream or dulces.
“Now,” the teacher said. “Put your hands together and pray to Fidel that the Revolution gives you ice cream and sweets.”
The kids closed their eyes and bowed their heads. They prayed to Fidel Castro. And when the kids raised their heads and opened their eyes, ice cream and dulces had miraculously appeared on the teacher’s desk.
And so it went for an entire generation, followed by another and another. Today, I’m guessing, however, that ice cream and dulces are no longer even available from Fidel.
But are we not doing much the same thing in this country as we tell children that they don’t need to look to their parents or their churches for the necessities of life (as well as the not-so-needed things)? Instead, we are, though perhaps not so blatantly, telling an entire generation that they are to look to the government from whence come all good things.
The results of more than 60 years of Marxist experimentation may be found on an island not too far from the Florida coast. Isn’t it time we paid attention to the lessons of history?
Than making a poor decision is doubling down on it when one knows it is the wrong thing to do, but can’t stop because of an addiction:
Iowa Republicans Gov. Terry Branstad, Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Rep. Steve King are up in arms over the EPA’s decision to roll back ethanol-to-gas volumes because ethanol producers have reached a blending wall in production. The trio – who are ostensibly against government subsidies except in cases where it helps them – have threatened legal action against the EPA because they believe the agency doesn’t have the authority to arbitrarily reduce the amount of ethanol in gasoline. According to their logic, though, the EPA does have the authority to arbitrarily raise the amount.
Folks, there’s nothing wrong with actually growing corn so we can eat it. We can’t eat petroleum, so it makes a whole lot of sense to burn it. We might wish things to be different (and for the laws of physics and nature to allow all of us to get unlimited energy for no cost from the wind and the sun) but reality is what we must all deal with. And reality tells us that continuing down the ethanol for auto-fuel road is, dare we say it, unsustainable.
This Thanksgiving, while we have many positive things for which to be grateful, we also have many negative things for which we should be grateful. Paul Rahe brings up one very important bad thing for which we should be thankful, the failed experiment in socialism performed by the Pilgrims. At the end, he provides us with this summation, one which is based on an understanding of the human heart, and as such, is timeless in its application:
The moral is perfectly clear. Self-interest cannot be expunged. Where there is private property and its possession and acquisition are protected and treated with respect, self-interest and jealousy can be deployed against laziness and the desire for that which is not one’s own, and there tends to be plenty as a consequence.
But where one takes from those who join talent with industry to provide for those lacking either or both, where the fruits of one man’s labor are appropriated to benefit another who is less productive, self-interest reinforces laziness, jealousy engenders covetousness, and these combine in a bitter stew to produce both conflict and dearth.
History is full of horrible happenings. May we be grateful for these events to the end that we may understand how we ought not to repeat them.
ObamaCare is in serious trouble. And yes, this is a good thing. Of course, we also have a President who doesn’t like to let a crisis go to waste, so who knows what might be getting cooked up to take advantage of this one. Speaking of ObamaCare and cooking, here’s a good thought:
Like a frog who cooks in a slowly heated pan of water, the long term outcome is far more damaging than if the frog is thrown in hot water, feels the pain and jumps out. The very reason that Americans are turning on Obamacare and its authors is because they are actually feeling the pain. If the pain is delayed and dulled so that Americans can go about their daily lives as normal, they will be lulled into accepting this debacle before the true consequences are known.
He’s got the right of it. As humans, we are naturally selfish. We don’t care about much other than ourselves and our needs/wants, unless we are trained/train ourselves to do so. Times of plenty do not provide much inducement for such training. We’ve had it pretty easy in this country, broadly speaking, for almost two generations now.
The key, of course, is determining what is at the root of the pain and excising it, rather than covering it up with a painkiller and continuing on, blissfully unaware that the pain is merely the symptom of something deeply and dangerously wrong with our country.
Here’s to pain. May we use it wisely.
As regular readers of this space know, I’m not at all certain that the decades-long push to have everyone graduate from college is a good thing. Here’s just one reason:
[T]here are 155,000 janitors with bachelor degrees right now, according to Bob Morse, who is the director of data research at U.S. News and World Report — the magazine that produces its definitive college rankings every year. That’s more people than there are chemists.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a janitor. At one time, I was essentially that (cleaning beach-houses on the Jersey Shore). I did this before going for my degree. Why? Well, the pay was low, but so were the skill requirements. I didn’t need to know how to speak passable tourist French to vacuum hair off a tile floor, or understand different typefaces and their usage to be able to leave lovely patterns on the 4th floor carpets of a Cape May Victorian.
Well, don’t look at me that way. I’m just repeating what other folks are saying:
Democrats flat-out despise insurance companies. They’ve been called “immoral villains” (Pelosi), “deceptive and dishonest” (President Barack Obama), “fly-by-night” (former Gov. and DNC chair Howard Dean), “rapacious” (Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.) and “greedy” (Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.).
Are health insurance companies any greedier than any other for-profit sector of the economy? In 2009, before Obamacare, profit margins for the network and communications equipment industry averaged 20.4 percent; Internet services and retailing was 19.4 percent; pharmaceuticals averaged 19.3 percent; railroads 12.6 percent; gas and electric utilities 8.7 percent; and food consumer products 6.7 percent. Health insurance and managed care companies? They averaged 2.2 percent.
Oh, wait a minute. It would seem that the data does not support such labels. Sorry. Pass it on.
It’s been a while since the status of the Keystone XL pipeline was the hot topic. Since then we’ve seen, well, you know what else has been going on in DC. But, despite that, the pipeline is not forgotten–though there is still a contingent who would like us to forget the whole thing:
Choosing to make their opposition to the pipeline its marquee position was a strange strategic blunder for the green movement, simply because the pipeline itself isn’t the thing hurting the earth, or causing climate change. True, the Canadian oil it will transport to Gulf Coast refineries is of a particularly dirty and low-quality variety, but if President Obama chooses to nix Keystone, that oil will still find its way to market, whether by truck, train, or alternative pipelines. Keystone would just be the most cost-effective, safest option, but blocking it won’t shut down Alberta’s tar sands production.
Succinctly put. Let’s see if the President feels the need for a bump up in the polls. Who knows? We might yet see the pipeline in our lifetimes. Not to mention the longest bike trail in the US.