Archive for the ‘global warming’ Category

The Second Coming

January 22, 2013

The crowd was smaller, the cheers more muted, the media less adulatory. Nevertheless, many of the true believers gathered for a second occasion on the Mall yesterday,to glimpse their Messiah, even to touch his hand, or to reach out for his robe, in expectation of deliverance from all mortal afflictions, and the promise of eternal paradise. By His words, the Messiah lived up to all their expectations. They will know fours year on, whether those words were true promises or whether they were false rhetoric floating on the frosty midday air, whether indeed this was the true liberal Messiah, or just another in a long legion of false, self-seeking prophets.

‘I am the government, and I am here to command you’ was the message to the gathered multitude. ‘I promise you, my subjects, that I shall deliver ever more government throughout the coming quadrennium. I warn all those skeptical of my authority, or careless of my commands, that I shall not hesitate to dispatch you, as I dispatched Cain before you, to the land of Nod, on the East of Eden.’

Barack Obama’s inaugural address, as I expected, reflected personal hubris intermingled with disdain for the political opponents whom he had decided to bait. His words were not those of a unifying leader of a divided nation, but rather those of a spokesman for a minimum winning coalition of 51 per cent of the electorate. Almost as surely as the sun rises in the east, hubris is followed by nemesis and that vision is outlined in the column that I posted on the day of the Second Coming. Americans of all views must now brace themselves for four bitter years as the vision of the Founding Fathers will be tested again, as it was tested throughout the second disastrous term of FDR – 1937-1940.

“Democratic government has the innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable.” FDR Inaugural Address, January 1937

There then followed four years of indiscriminate government intervention and a consequential collapse of market confidence, that extended the Great Depression in the United States years beyond that suffered by any other nation on the planet.

Obama at the bat

April 18, 2012

For those of you who have not yet viewed the four minute video referenced below I am sure that you will enjoy. It is satire at its best. It was created following the 2010 mid-term U.S. elections. It parodies a famous nineteenth century music hall  baseball poem: Casey at the Bat.  It captures the moment perfectly:

Obama’s Solyndra leaves toxic waste dump at abandoned plant

February 24, 2012

President Obama hailed Solyndra for its ‘go clean while going green’ plans for a new post-Bush environment. What a bag of tricks he created in squandering on   this environmental loser more than $700 million of taxpayers’ money  as poster boy for his ‘save the earth’ campaign.

Not only was the loan flushed straight down the White House toilet by an incompetent, even corrupt corporation. Left behind in its abrupt closure and bankruptcy filing, is a filthy toxic waste dump at its abandoned plant in Milpitas, California, leased from its landlord, iStar C.T.L.I.L.P.

Officials at iStar were not given the keys to the premises until February 2012, though Solyndra had stopped making its lease payments in September 2011. when it filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware. Left behind, abandoned on the premises were part-opened containers of unidentified chemicals and lead processing machinery.    It is known that remnants include liquid chemical compounds, including cadmium sulphide, thiourea and hydrochloric acid, as well as lead contaminated equipment.

Perhaps President Obama is in the process of redefining these compounds as environmental cleansers. If not, perhaps the President would care to cough up his own personal fortune to cover the cost of Environmental Protection Agency  violations and to restore the abandoned premises to required pristine environmental standards?

More likely the President will  divert his gaze straight back to the campaign trail and leave iStar to clean up the filthy mess that his administration has imposed on Milpitas, California.

‘I have some very nice solar panels on the back of my truck, folks, that I should be pleased to sell to you.  They fit well onto the  bridge in Brooklyn that goes with them in this once-in-a-lifetime special deal! Just throw the greenbacks onto my campaign truck. ‘Yes, you can!’

The wages of Obamania

February 2, 2012

“The political strategy behind Obamanomics was always simple: Call for ‘stimulus’ to rescue the economy, run up the debt with the biggest spending blitz in 60 years, and then when the deficit explodes call for higher taxes.    The Congressional Budget Office annual review released yesterday shows this is all on track.” Editorial, ‘$5 Trillion and Change’, The Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2012

In fiscal year 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration,  federal government spending was $2.98 trillion, or 20 percent of GDP.  For fiscal year 2012, the final year of the Barack Obama administration, the CBO reports that projected federal government spending will reach $3.6 trillion, or 24 percent of GDP.  This projection does not account for the $2 trillion tab for Obamacare that will impact the post 2012 economy if that legislation is not repealed.

The Obama administration will have increased the federal debt by approximately $5 trillion in just four years of  a shamelessly wasteful open wallet. By the end of fiscal year 2012, the national debt held by the public will climb to 72.5 percent of GDP.  At the end of fiscal year 2008, it stood at 40.3 percent of GDP.  President Obama has the worst record in this respect of any President in modern times. He is far, far worse than his most profligate predecessor.

The four years of the Obama presidency – and we must hope that four years is all that it will prove to be – will mark the four highest years in spending and deficits as a share of the economy since Harry Truman first entered  the Oval Office. And Harry Truman, together with the British Empire, had successfully led the United States to victory in the two theaters of World War II.

What can President Obama show for his fiscal extravagance?  Nothing, but economic decline, and a grave loss of international respect. Those are the wages of his fiscal sin.

Solyndra: capitalism still patrols the borders of government failure

October 9, 2011

President Obama was center-stage for the Solyndra fiasco. Indeed, the failure of this government-funded solar company is a spectacular example of the innate inability of socialist politicians to pick winners in the market-place of capitalism.

“The shiny photo ops long ago became a blur: President Obama posing on one gleaming factory floor after another, often in shirtsleeves or protective glasses, with newfangled green-energy gizmos funded by his policies.  He lifted high-efficiency light fixtures in Wisconsin, touched windmill blades in Iowa, drove an electric car in Detroit and admired steam turbines in New York.  ‘It’s happening right now,’ he said after examining solar panels at a California company called Solyndra in May 2010. ‘The future is here.’  Michael Scherer, ‘The Solyndra Syndrome’, Time, October 10, 2011

Well, the future is already over for Solyndra, with the solar-array manufacturer declaring bankruptcy on September 6, 2011 thereby making it clear that  525 million taxpayer dollars have been flushed down the toilet by the President of the United States. The money may look like peanuts by comparison with the trillions of dollars that have gone down with it into the same public sewers. But $525 million would purchase one hot dog each (two each from MacDonalds) for every person living in the United States. And those hot dogs must look very enticing to the many hungry children whose empty stomachs have been further deprived by the man who took an oath of office to preserve and to protect them.

Solyndra indeed was the first project approved for an Energy Department loan, just two months into Obama’s presidency.  A key investor in this failing venture was George Kaiser, a top Obama fundraiser, who enjoyed easy access to the Obama White House.  Suggestions of a crony-capitalist payoff are now circulating widely across the U.S. media and blogosphere.

Obama and his senior bureaucrats were either ignorant of market developments, or corrupt, or, most probably, both. When Solyndra – then known as Gronet Technologies – was founded in 2005, the solar industry was constrained by two cost drivers: the price of silicon, an essential ingredient of most solar panels, and the expense of installation.  Solyndra’s proprietary technology was silicon-free and easier to install than other panels. 

Alas!  While Obama fiddled in shirtsleeves on the Solyndra factory floor, global prices for silocon-based solar panels collapsed, effectively pricing Solyndra out of the market. Simultaneously, The Peoples Republic of China plowed $20 billion in credit into its solar industry, effectively wiping the United States out of the market. China now occupies 54 per cent of the global solar technology market, up from 6 per cent in 2005.  In contrast, the United States share has declined from 42 per cent in 1997 to just 6 per cent in 2011.

All this information was already out there in the global market-place in 2009. It never reached the brain-cells of President Obama and his green-energy accolytes, or if it did, it was corruptly suppressed. Fortunately, what is left of the capitalist system rarely misses out on such information. Wall Street may be much despised by American malcontents. But it is a mean and efficient  street when it functions effectively.

As George Kaiser and Solyndra, as well as President Obama, have learned the hard way. Hopefully, the American voter will be sufficiently alert to take in the Solyndra message when casting his vote in the November 2012 presidential election.

Jobs will not return while Obama retains the presidency

September 3, 2011

President Obama has placed himself on the economic rack as the 2012 presidential elections loom ever closer.  His militant socialism during the first two years of his presidency – manifested in a verbal onslaught against free-market capitalism, his support for unheard of increases in federal spending, his nationalization of a large sector of the automobile industry, his socialization of healthcare, his support for green environmentalist policies, his support for trade union power, his misuse of regulatory authority, and his unwillingness to lead on debt reduction policies – now hangs over him and the U.S. market economy like a dead hand. 

By his words and by his actions, indeed by his very body language, President Obama has induced a capital investment and a labor-hiring strike across the United States.  Whatever he now says or does, this image has become unshakeable in the minds of those responsible for product innovation, for  job creation, and for payroll expansion in the private sector of the United States economy.

The very best message that President Obama could deliver to an increasingly anxious nation, when he makes his much-heralded jobs speech on September 7, 2011, would be a statement that he is resigning from the office of the presidency in order to provide the nation with a fresh start and a new hope of a Reaganite recovery.

It would take a great statesman to make such a personal sacrifice for the wellbeing of the People. I have zero expectation that such a sacrifice will be forthcoming.

Failed retread: Alan Kreuger returns to Obama economics team

August 30, 2011

President Obama clearly has closed his mind to any radical change of direction  over the duration of his term of office in the White House.  By replacing Austan Goolsbee with Alan Kreuger as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, the President has brought back into his administration a Princeton economist who served an entirely undistinguished term as chief economist at the Treasury Department, advising  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner thoughout the first two years of the Obama administration.

Alan Kreuger is a left- of- center mainstream economist much in the same mould as Larry Summers, motivated by progresssive ideology to push economic policy in the direction of state capitalism. He is more focused on the numbers than Summers, but typically – though not always – finds the numbers to be supportive of bigger rather than smaller government. As a left-leaning specialist on labor market economics, Kreuger constitutes a real threat to Obama’s re-election prospects; and for that, those of us who are not already out of work  must be truly thankful.

Kreuger’s policy contributions at Treasury were simply dreadful:

He was the architect of the $3 billion subsidy designed to permanently boost auto sales by  removing auto clunkers from the road in return for new vehicle sales. Designed to bail-out Government Motors and Chrysler – the two nationalized automobile corporations – the subsidy served beautifully to advance car sales by one quarter, in return for  a next quarter’s equivalent decline!  He was also the architect of  a program of tax credits for employers who took on extra staff during the recession.  This program also had no net impact, as employers laid off workers in order to rehire them at a reduced cost.  In both cases, taxpayer monies were flushed down the Obama administration’s toilet. Rational expectations economists come back, all is forgiven!

Hey! Princeton Department of Economics, have you thought recently about hiring Robert Barro or John P. Taylor to your distinguished faculty? Your intellectually-under-nourished  students would clearly benefit enormously from a rational expectations enlightenment!

Sometimes the numbers have led Alan Kreuger in the right direction, but not when serving in a left-of-center administration. For example, in 2002 and in 2008,  Kreuger determined that paying people more not to work increases the incentive not to work, thus increasing the time that the unemployed spend out of work. Any chance of bringing that result to President Obama?  Not a snowflakes chance in Hell!  Kreuger will rerun the numbers and discover that increasing/extending  unemployment benefit in 2011 will drive the unemployed more quickly back into the workforce. For, times they are a changin’.

On one famous occasion, Alan Kreuger has been accused of  fudging the numbers. In 1992, New Jersey hiked its minimum wage by 18 per cent while its neighbor, Pennsylvania, left its minimum wage untouched. Standard economic theory suggests that unemployment should have advanced in New Jersey relative to Pennsylvania.  Alan Kreuger and David Card gathered information on fast food restaurants in the two states, using an employer questionnaire methodology, and determined that, by hiking the minimum wage, New Jersey had actually increased employment in New Jersey fast food restaurants, both absolutely and  relative to those in Pennsylvania.

The paper garnered quite a response, with a number of eminent economists- -including Gary Becker and James Buchanan –  suggesting that the result was more a reflection of fast fingers than of the hiring practices of  fast food restaurants.  A major issue of concern was that no one could replicate the Card/Kreuger empirical results.  Another was that the results of the  paper ran counter to a large number of other studies on the minimum wage, and, yet, contained no theory to explain why low-skilled New Jersey labor might exhibit a backward-sloping supply curve in 1992.

James Buchanan (Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences 1986) leveled a devastating charge against the two alleged sharpsters:

“no self-respecting economist would claim that increases in the minimum wage increase employment.  Such a claim, if seriously advanced, becomes equivalent, to a denial that there is even minimal scientific content in economics, and that, in consequence, economists can do nothing but write as advocates for ideological interests.  Fortunately, only a handful of economists are willing to throw over the teaching of two centuries; we have not yet become a bevy of camp-following whores.”   James M. Buchanan, ‘Minimum wage addendum’, The Wall Street Journal April 25, 1996.

It may well be that the bevy of camp-following whores has expanded significantly in the 15 years since James Buchanan threw down that scientific gauntlet. In any event, it is likely to do so now, since one of its alleged founding fathers is about to serve right inside President Obama’s White House.

What happened to President Obama? Nothing at all

August 21, 2011

Many Americans who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 now ask: ‘what has happened to him?’ Former supporters from the left suggest that he has betrayed the principles of socialism that they so fervently share.  Former voters from the right suggest that he campaigned as a centrist but has performed as a leftist. Former voters from the black community suggest that he was elected to elevate blacks into preferred economic and social status and that he has shown no desire so to do.

The truth is that most of those now-traumatized voters paid insufficient attention to the 2008 presidential elections, and too little effort to tracking Barack Obama’s political history, and therefore relied on unreliable indicators to identify Barack Obama’s position in political space . Barack Obama is performing exactly as any intelligent and thoughtful voter would expect from his past record. He is delivering exactly what he promised to do. And what this President  is delivering is a tragedy for this once great nation.

When someone who is wealthy campaigns as though he is  personally impoverished, one knows that he is a hypocrite. When a black isolates himself from his own kind and lives in almost entirely white communities, one knows that he does not identify with his own race.  When an American demonstrates consistently anti-American rhetoric, one knows that he will not stand firm on American ideals.  When a young aspiring politician mixes with former domestic terrorists (Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohn), with American haters ( The Reverend Jeremiah Wright), and with anti-Semites (Rashid Khalidi), one does not expect him to perform as a George Washington or a Ronald Reagan all-American hero. When a U.S. Senator votes to the left of all his colleagues, one does not expect him to produce laissez-faire economic policies.  When an aspiring president shows no previous record of fighting on any principle other than those that enhance his personal advancement, one should not expect him to fight for policies that do not easily bring forth Congressional majorities.

A constitutional republic cannot long survive when its People become intellectually lazy and overly-complacent. Barack Obama should never have come close to accessing the White House given clear signals of what he offered the nation. That he did so is because many careless individuals voted expressively in favor of a perceived black Messiah destined to  carry the nation to an unattainable Utopia.

Well, dystopia is what they deserved and dystopia is what they have received. As Americans reflect backwards on the era of the Great Moderation (1984-2000) – if  they reflect at all on such matters – they should compare life then with life now. And they will surely conclude that they were much better off then than they are today. In the meantime, the black Messiah is having a whale of a time  living it up with limousine liberals, on the taxpayers’ dime,  in a gated property, on an exclusive Liberal Democrat island safely off the coast of Massachusetts.

Barack and Michelle Obama?  Think Juan and Eva Peron.

The United States in the early twenty-first century?  Think Argentina in the mid- twentieth century.

The projected slide?  Top Tier to Third Tier status within a short decade of collectivism.

Light bulbs and internal combustion engines: the cost of ignoring the wisdom of James Buchanan

July 23, 2011

In two recent columns, I outlined the essence of James Buchanan’s challenge to neoclassical economics with respect to the nature of individualism and the meaning of market order.  Consistently, Buchanan promotes the importance of individual choice and of market exchange against the alternative paradigm of economic efficiency maximization.

Well folks, if you love your cheap incandescent light bulbs and your cheap internal combustion engines, pull your heads out of the neoclassical economics sand and breathe some free market oxygen. Because, if you do not do so, you can kiss these well-loved commodities goodbye. Should you choose to illuminate the darkness and/or to utilize mechanized  wheels to move from place to place, you will soon pay much more for very much less. And neoclassical economists will be significantly responsible for your plight. Plus of course,  and inevitably, a slew of progressive politicians supported by a progressive President or two.

Neoclassical economists, much more than advocates of spontaneous orders, are always on the look-out for problems with market exchange. In this respect, how they love negative externalities. For negative externalities provide the perfect excuse for them to indulge their appetites for imposing their preferences on the ‘great unwashed’.  Global warming has provided not just a gift from the Sun, but a gift from Heaven, for such power-hungry homunculi.

So two terminological inexactitudes are currently flooding the journals of economics and moving their way relentlessly into political imposition across the United States: namely that the removal of the incandescent light bulb and the shackling of the  internal combustion engine represent increases in the range of  genuine consumer choice. Gee! how we all want to pay $6 each for an inferior version of a 25 cent light bulb! And how we  all relish paying $2,000 more for an auto engine that flunks out after 25 miles and has a top speed of 50 mph! 

The House of Representatives last week failed to secure the super-majority required to overturn regulations prohibiting the sale of cheap light bulbs beginning in January 2012.  The force behind these regulations is the watermelon (green outside- red inside) lobby. The mechanism is that of forcing a switch from incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs. As a sop to the great unwashed, the watermelons will allow the purchase of 72-watt halogen bulbs – at a stiff price premium – until the next round of choice-expansion. For those of you who have not compared the 72-watt halogen with the 150-watt incandescent bulb, well all I can say is that you will grope your way to a quick understanding of what the watermelons have in mind. Remember that the bad guys always prefer darkness to light. And watermelons ripen in the dark.

The watermelons are also ripening at the prospect of handicapping the internal combustion engine. Working through the Department of Energy – a North Korean agency innovation – proposals are now afoot to raise Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) requirements to unattainable levels. Currently, automobile manufacturers achieve an average rating of 30.3.  A few manufacturers, like Ferrari, score just 16.2.  By elevating CAFE levels to 40 or 50, and by increasing non-compliance penalties, the watermelons will make sure that everyone who drives a new car will clunk around in expensive, poorly-functioning hybrids or in impractical electric cars.  The watermelons are especially gleeful that raising CAFE levels will take 2.4 million new cars out of the market-place and eliminate 212,000 auto jobs. Wow!  What an increase in individual choice that will represent, with the added bonus of further reducing the resident population of Detroit – the  true heartland of the great unwashed!

Hey guys! Don’t listen to Professor Buchanan. You know that this is good for economic efficiency!  And  rest assured that aggregate happiness – which we can now measure neuro-economically by brain-scans –  will increase dramatically in this watermelon economy! The most impressive rise in happiness will be found in the cloisters of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Ann Arbor, and Berkeley. Virginia? Where is Virginia? Hey! Isn’t that a boonie state somewhere in the South. After all. who won the war?

Hat Tip: ‘The left’s brilliant lie’, The Washington Times, July 22, 2011



Take good care of King Coal; we need him on the environmental throne

February 13, 2011

Plenty of people in the United States are worrying about the Middle East in the wake of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarek. Mostly, I suspect, they are not worrying about the well being of  the Egyptian people, or indeed about any of the peoples in the Middle East. Rather, they are worried about their automobiles and domestic heating systems;  and specifically about the future price of oil. Many people are not as confident as I am that oil markets will thrive under any kind of political regime, Islamic or non-Islamic extremist, as fate may choose.

Well, the writing has already been on the wall with respect to oil prices for some time. Unless  the United States government opens up the US coastline and Alaska to unlimited oil exploration and oil-extraction, the real price of oil  will inexorably increase as known reserves are tapped out in the wake of massively increasing Indian and Chinese demands.  U.S. gasoline at $10 a gallon in 2011 prices is not far distant, and rationally should now be built into future transportation and heating costs.

So, it may be argued, now is the time to shift from gasoline-powered to electric- powered vehicles and from oil to electric household heating on a major scale. Fine!  But understand that such a policy is heavily dependent on King Coal unless the United States immediately commissions hundreds of nuclear power plants and brings them quickly on line. For electric power plants currently run on coal approximately 45 percent of the time. As oil and natural gas prices continue to increase, coal will further expand and entrench its grip on the nation’s electricity grids. Every time Al Gore  charges the batteries for his fleet of electric-powered cars and every time he flicks his electric heating and air-conditioning systems to on, he is significantly coal-reliant – as he should be since this is the cheapest endogenous source of power.

Solar and wind energy supplies are little more than sad jokes at the present time,  jointly accounting for less than 3 percent of US energy supplies, and even so,  geographically constrained as sources of power.  Perhaps in 50 years time they will account for 10 percent of US energy supplies. In the meantime, enjoy the generous  fruits of  Good King Coal, surely the most beneficent of monarchs and, to boot, a Jolly Good Soul; even if he might be a yet more welcome presence should he choose to bathe a little more frequently.