Of Norway, petrodollars, free education, etc.

One of my old high school friends, an ardent liberal, posted the following on his Facebook page:

Norway smart - America stupid

Doesn’t that just make so much sense? Give free education and your nation will be wonderful.  Of course, both “Mr. Silhouette” and the friend who posted it suffer from no small amount of ignorance in making that assertion.  For one thing, I’m virtually certain that they don’t know that Norway can offer this free education, as well as a variety of other social benefits, in significant part because it’s floating away on an incredibly profitable sea of petrodollars.  Were Obama to allow the Keystone pipeline, we might be able to fund a few more educational opportunities in this country too.

The other thing that the cartoonist ignores is that Norway is a petite country (4,722,701 people compared to America’s 316,668,567).  More than that, Norway has a staggeringly homogenous population.  According to the CIA World Fact Book, the population breakdown for Norway is “Norwegian 94.4% (includes Sami, about 60,000), other European 3.6%, other 2% (2007 estimate).”  The numbers are a bit different for America:  “white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate).”  Even that’s misleading, because it’s just skin color (whites and blacks), and broad racial classification (Asian, Amerindian, Alaska native, etc.).  This breakdown utterly fails to take into account America’s cultural melting pot, with our genetic and cultural mix representing people from every corner of the earth.

The population differences between the two countries mean that, in America, it’s very difficult to convince everyone to do the same thing at the same time.  In Norway, on the other hand, people are practically born in lock-step.  (And don’t even get me started on Leftist educational trends in America that involve everything but education, or on the fact that we force non-academically inclined students into academic classes when they should be learning a trade.)

Finally, what neither Mr. Silhouette or my friend know is that Norway is having sufficient problems with its socialism — and that’s despite the fact that petrodollars are paying for the costly luxury that is socialism — that it is starting to turn right politically, away from socialism:

This country was transformed by the discovery of huge oil deposits off its shores in 1969. Although Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil, was quickly established to lead the development of the new oil discoveries, the industry has been open to private investment and participation on a scale seldom found outside the United States. That has led to an extremely efficient and profitable energy sector, which provides 36 percent of the national government’s revenue. The Government Pension Fund, into which much of the oil profits are channeled, had $445 billion in assets in 2010 and represented nearly 2 percent of the equity in European stock markets. The value of the pension fund’s assets approximately equals the value of all the real estate in Manhattan.

“Oil has turned Norway from a sleepy, largely rural economy into an economic powerhouse,” says Norwegian businessman Olaf Halvorssen. “So much money comes in to the government that Norway has largely escaped the trimming of the welfare state that many other European countries are going through.”

But more and more people recognize that the oil wealth won’t last forever, and a real debate is just starting in this country of 4.9 million people over what direction its economy should go. Norway will be holding elections for Parliament on September 9, just two weeks before Germany votes. If polls taken over the last year are accurate, the eight-year-old Labor-party government of Jens Stoltenberg is headed for a landslide defeat.

This trend is occurring despite the fact that, so far, Norway’s economy has not only been stable, but it’s been growing at twice America’s 1.5% growth rate:

This country was transformed by the discovery of huge oil deposits off its shores in 1969. Although Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil, was quickly established to lead the development of the new oil discoveries, the industry has been open to private investment and participation on a scale seldom found outside the United States. That has led to an extremely efficient and profitable energy sector, which provides 36 percent of the national government’s revenue. The Government Pension Fund, into which much of the oil profits are channeled, had $445 billion in assets in 2010 and represented nearly 2 percent of the equity in European stock markets. The value of the pension fund’s assets approximately equals the value of all the real estate in Manhattan.

“Oil has turned Norway from a sleepy, largely rural economy into an economic powerhouse,” says Norwegian businessman Olaf Halvorssen. “So much money comes in to the government that Norway has largely escaped the trimming of the welfare state that many other European countries are going through.”

But more and more people recognize that the oil wealth won’t last forever, and a real debate is just starting in this country of 4.9 million people over what direction its economy should go. Norway will be holding elections for Parliament on September 9, just two weeks before Germany votes. If polls taken over the last year are accurate, the eight-year-old Labor-party government of Jens Stoltenberg is headed for a landslide defeat.

Please read more of John Fund’s article to learn about the sea change taking place in Norway.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  if my Leftist friends put up a snarky political poster on their Facebook page, it’s invariably factual deficient or logically flawed.

An update about US energy production

In my post about Victor Davis Hanson’s talk, I wrote that the US is the world’s largest coal producer. It turns out that I was wrong. And by “I was wrong,” I mean just that. It was my error, not Hanson’s. I was simultaneously trying to listen to Hanson, eat a divine chocolate dessert, and take notes. That’s not a good combo, and I’m pretty darn sure I misrepresented his statement about US coal production.

Here’s the skinny, from Donkatsu:

U.S. has the world’s largest reserves of coal, almost half of the total, but we are second to China in production of coal. China is now a net importer of coal, which why it is increasingly profitable for the U.S. to export to the world – higher prices.

Russia has a shale formation in West Siberia, Bezhmenov, that is believed to be much larger than North Dakota’s Bakken. However, they need foreign technology to get it out. China has shale gas resources about equivalent to those int he U.S. but most of it is in regions without much water, a key ingredient in hydraulic fracturing. (messaging – suppose the industry had called it “water stimulation” instead of hydraulic fracturing).

And there’s more, too, The U.S. is commonly portrayed by the egregious Tom Friedman and B. Obama, among others, as being on the sidelines of energy developments in the world. In fact, we are #1 in wind capacity, #1 in biomass (bigger than Brazil), #1 in natural gas, #3 in crude oil (headed for 1 or 2 soon), #2 in coal, # 1 in geothermal and #4 in solar PV.

Universities discover that you reap what you sow

Universities have long been the incubators of climate change hysteria.  They teach anthropogenic climate change there with the same certainty that they teach accounting principles.  There is no room for debate.  Students graduate as true believers.

But what happens when the students discover that their teachers are hypocrites?  They go after them:

A group of Swarthmore College students is asking the school administration to take a seemingly simple step to combat pollution and climate change: sell off the endowment’s holdings in large fossil fuel companies. For months, they have been getting a simple answer: no.

As they consider how to ratchet up their campaign, the students suddenly find themselves at the vanguard of a national movement.

In recent weeks, college students on dozens of campuses have demanded that university endowment funds rid themselves of coal, oil and gas stocks. The students see it as a tactic that could force climate change, barely discussed in the presidential campaign, back onto the national political agenda.

“We’ve reached this point of intense urgency that we need to act on climate change now, but the situation is bleaker than it’s ever been from a political perspective,” said William Lawrence, a Swarthmore senior from East Lansing, Mich.

Because I do not believe in anthropogenic climate change (as opposed to naturally occurring climate change, in which I strongly believe), I think we should be funding research into and production of any and all sources of energy.  Massive amounts of available energy improve people’s lives around the world.  I therefore hope that this de-funding effort doesn’t result in such massive financial losses that America is forced to abandon important energy sources.  Nevertheless, this movement appeals to me.  The universities thought that they could have both ways:  teach hysteria at the front end while making money at the back end.  It’s great to see them being called on their hypocrisy.

Cargo cults and E-cons

During WWII, New Guinea natives noticed that whenever Allied soldiers built airfields, airplanes would magically appear out of the sky bearing gifts. Thus, reasoned the islanders, all they had to do was to build airfields to propitiate the gods and magic airplanes would appear bearing gifts. Sounds logical.

Ha, ha, ha…silly islanders! But hold on…who are we to laugh? We practice the very same logic in our society today. Consider the ever-lengthening string of taxpayer-funded environmental “green energy” companies going belly-up busted broke. Here’s a recent list of these taxpayer-funded E-conomic disasters (up-to 34 and growing fast):

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/10/18/president-obamas-taxpayer-backed-green-energy-failures/

Quite clearly, our own environmentally sensitive natives believed that all one needed to do was to build bricks, mortar and steel into modern-looking structures, pick an environmentally friendly “technology” with a cool sounding name and, voila! Magic benefits would come out of thin air – endless BTUs of cheap, pollution-free, guilt-free, Gaia-approved energy that defied the laws of physics, engineering and economics. What did fall out of the air was never-ending wads of taxpayer cash.

Thus did the E-natives expropriate $-billions and $-billions of other peoples’ labor and monies to build their false idols and propitiations to Mother Gaia. And, now…nothing! The money is gone and the losses pile up as useless junk. Just as with the airport idols in New Guinea, Gaia remained strangely silent.

There is, of course, one very big difference between this modern chain of events and that of the New Guinea islanders. And that is this: the sharks and grifters (E-cons) who took their cuts from those $-billions of taxpayer funds in the form of inflated salaries, over-generous pension plans, consulting fees, legal fees, subcontracts, illegal equity payouts, Washington lobbyist budgets, Democrat party donations and union crony deals. Somehow, I suspect that these variables did not factor in the New Guinea islander cargo-cult politics. With bankruptcy, the paper-trail remnants of these shady, underhand practices will pretty much be shredded from public view.

The New Guinea Islanders may have been guilty of faulty logic and misplaced idol worship. The modern day cargo-cult environmentalists have been just as guilty of false-idol worship, but, supposedly, they had “education”, “science” and “reason” on their side.

However, herein lies the critical difference: today’s Gaia’s acolytes have waged a far-more corrupt and damaging game than any New Guinea native ever did, through the enormous waste of resources that can never be recaptured by a world that is currently bleeding capital in a time of desperate need. That lost capital will not be available to drive the economic growth that this world needs.

I can only hope that some day, soon, this growing list of E-con-driven bankruptcies will be submitted to extensive forensic audit in the public domain to cast light on those who benefited from this exploitation of the Gaia cult fantasies and to detail just how the taxpayers got shafted in this growing list of debacles.

Let there be a full accounting.

Then, bring out the pitchforks.

Oil boom!

Just recently, I happened to drive through the southern end of the Bakken Field in North Dakota on my way to Montana. I can tell you that an oil boom in the making is absolutely awesome to behold! There is black gold in them thar hills!

The I-94 freeway was a solid line of trucks ferrying equipment to the oil fields. Low-level hotel and motel rooms are booked 4 years out and cost in the upper $-100s per night. Everywhere over North Dakota’s (very attractive, in my view) rolling western plains you see oil storage tanks and pumps blending (yes, blending…they are not ugly or obtrusive) in the countryside. The crush of people from all over and construction in small-but-fast-growing towns like Dickinson and Williston is energizing. Oh, if I was young again…

I met a semi-retired petroleum engineer in Alberta that was working on the Canadian tar sands development. I asked him what he had heard regarding the size of the Bakken oil field. He indicated that, pessimistically, it contained 1x the reserves of Saudi Arabia, while the optimistic projection was 3x the Saudi oil reserves. Plus, there are all the other oil fields out there waiting to be developed (e.g., Western Colorado) and the natural gas fields scattered throughout the country.

Interestingly, he also told me that he thought the Obama administration made the right call on the Keystone Pipeline in that the forced redirection of the pipeline would be much more responsible (environmentally speaking), given the shallow ground water tables in Nebraska.

I don’t believe that this can be stopped. Cheap energy is at hand and it will change our country and the world.

Government perverts the marketplace, destroying true value analysis.

I have been following with interest the running comment thread on my post asking about whether electric cars are actually cleaner, or if they just shift pollution outside of the consumer’s view.  Very quickly, and probably inevitably, the post shifted to a cost-benefit analysis, which aimed to compare fossil fuel to alternative fuels.  Just as quickly, each side started accusing the other of hiding the real price of these energy sources behind government funding, whether in direct funds (alternative energy) or tax benefits (fossil fuels and alternative energy).

After reading everything, my question about the clean-air benefits of electric cars remains unanswered.  I don’t think anyone delivered a killing blow about electric cars’ virtues or failures.  What is patently clear, though, is that government interference perverts the marketplace, preventing a true analysis of each energy source’s true costs and, by extension, its true benefit in decreasing pollution.  It’s impossible to tell whether there wouldn’t be more utility in putting energy into clean methods for extracting, refining, and using fossil fuels, as opposed to having the government prop up the creation and use of alternative energy.  Only the marketplace can provide this true value analysis, and the government is completely corrupted the marketplace.

If I was king of the world, I would do away entirely with all direct or indirect subsidies.  Only in that way can we measure what really works.

It’s not your imagination: Obama’s fuel policies are hurting you badly

Sadie sent me a link to a calculator that shows precisely how Obama’s energy policies are hitting you every time you pump gas.  And those are just the costs you see.  These increased fuel prices affect every aspect of American life, because oil truly is the liquid that powers the entire United States.  Higher fuel prices mean more expensive goods and services (including food), whether at the production or transportation level.

“Keynes” and other back-pats

Here’s a Robert Samuelson article, “bye bye Keynes” that should give us all pause: the arguments he uses to write Keynes’ obituary are arguments that we all posited in our own excoriation of Keynes in years past, in response to a string of commentators, ranging from A to Z.

I’ve been reviewing our last few years at Bookworm Room and I think that we all deserve a round of huzzas and raised beer mugs or wine glasses, whatever is at hand. We’ve been so right about so many issues, be it “Keynesian”economics; anthropogenic global warming; the Islamist threat; U.S. fossil fuel reserves; “green” energy; Iraq; Obama; the EU’s collapse…and on and on und so weiter.  Sometimes, our prescience has preceded events on the ground by years.

To all of you Bookworm guests and, especially, to Bookworm, our hostess: I’m so d*** proud to know you! I am so much smarter for having enjoyed the many experiences of your insights and commentary.

The problem with introducing freedom into industrial societies — or the tyranny of fossil fuels

Two things happened on November 26, two entirely unrelated things, that nevertheless ended up merging into a single thought in my mind:  In the modern world, fossil fuels equal liberty.  If you cannot assure the people the former, forget about trying to foist upon them the latter.  Let me walk you through my thought processes.

The first thing that impinged onto my awareness was a conversation I had with a most delightful 85-year-old Jewish man who, except for WWII and the Israeli War of Independence, has always lived and worked in South Africa.  During a wide-ranging conversation, I asked him what the situation was like today in post-apartheid South Africa. “Horrible,” he said, “just horrible.”  According to him, the moment Nelson Mandela left office, the new ANC government began to be as racist as the old apartheid government, only with the benefits flowing to the blacks, this time, not the whites.  It’s not Zimbabwe, yet, but he sees it coming.

What was most fascinating to me was this man’s claim that the black people are deeply unhappy with the status quo.  Yes, ostensibly they have civil rights that were denied them under the old regime.  The problem, though, is that the country is so horribly mismanaged under the current government that, while they have civil rights, they lack electricity, clean water, food and transportation.  The blacks he speaks to therefore look back longingly on apartheid.  While their lives then were demeaning and economically marginal, the old government was stable and efficient.  Excepting those who lived in the most abysmal poverty, apartheid-era blacks could rely on what we in the modern era consider to be the basics for sustaining life:  not just the bare minimum of food and water, but also electricity, reliable long-distance transportation, and plumbing — all of which are dependent upon a modern fossil fuel economy.

The second thing that happened on November 26 was that Danny Lemieux put up a post commenting on Bruce Bawer’s Thanksgiving article examining the possibly naive American notion that all people crave freedom.  Danny had this to say:

I believe that I can understand the pull of serfdom for many people. Just think of all of the difficult life decisions that are taken away from the individual serf: as wards of the state, they don’t have to worry about where they will get their food (of course, they can forget about shopping at Whole Foods as well), whether they will meet their financial needs (albeit at a subsistence level), understanding politics, moral values, education, finding a job…etc. It is, in other words, regression to the mind of a child. They can simply exist for the moment of the day: no responsibilities but, also, no hope. Like vegetables, if you think about it.

I agree with Danny (and Bruce Bawer), but I I’d like to add to what both say, by dragging in fossil fuels.

What may have made the extraordinary American experiment in individual liberty possible was that it happened right at the start of the industrial era, before people’s expectations were raised by the industrial and post-industrial era.  At the end of the 18th century, people’s material expectations were limited by the technology of the time (electricity was a lightening bolt; clean water was the creek behind your house; transportation could be found in the bones and muscles reaching from your hips down to your feet).  Fortunately for America’s future, she was rich, not only in space, but in the natural resources that would become so necessary in the next two centuries, including fossil fuel and the drive to put that fossil fuel to work.  Put another way, at the moment our nation was born, our material expectations were low, but the possibilities proved to be almost endless.  The exquisite historic timing that brought together our new freedoms and the nascent industrial revolution made the American miracle possible.

Nowadays, the source of all physical comfort is fossil fuel.  Except for those people who still live a virtually stone age existence (whether in Indian, Africa, Latin America or Asia), every single person in the world benefits from fossil fuels.  They give us light, water treatment plants for clean water, food in the fields and in the marketplace, transportation, clothing, housing, every bit of our technology, everything.   Nothing in our modern world would be possible without them.  Fossil fuels drove Hitler’s maniacal push to the Soviet Union and ended the Japanese ability to fight a war.  (If you’re interested in more on oil’s central role in WWII, check out The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power.)  No wonder the global warmists, with their anti-Western mindset, are so determined to destroy fossil fuel.

In a modern world, one that premised upon expectations of fossil fuel’s blessings (an abundance of food, clean water, ready transportation, technical, etc.), giving people freedom without meeting those expectations — which are, by now, the minimal expectations for creature comfort — is doomed to failure.  It is no longer enough to couple free speech with a horse, a plow, and some seeds.  Nor will people be excited about freedom of worship if they have only a small flame to light the night-time darkness.  Today, America’s famous four freedoms will satisfy people only if they are coupled with the riches flowing from modern energy.

What all this means in practical terms is that, if you invade Iraq and destroy a tyrant, but simultaneously knock out the power supply, you will not have a happy population.  Post-industrial people would rather have tyranny and electricity (and the food, water, transportation and other things flowing from that electricity), than freedom in a world limited to stone age energy sources.  Proverbs 15:17 therefore got it wrong.  As you recall, that proverb says “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”  Our modern experience with trying to bring people to the American model shows that most would say, “Better a stalled ox and a well-lighted barn where tyranny is, than starvation and the darkness of night where freedom lives.”

 

Oily memes repeat, repeat, repeat!

One lesson of advertising is that, no matter whether true or false, to make a message stick, one must repeat, repeat, repeat. This is how false messages become enshrined into the ideological orthodoxy of the Left and ripple out to the collective consciousness of the masses.

Now, there are many ways to deliberately distort a message. One commonly used tactic is to deliberate omit information that provides necessary context. Thus, the message may be true as it stands, but it misleads by what it does not say.

Here is an article that simultaneously illustrates how the Left establishes talking points for wide dissemination based on distorted information, while demolishing one particular such talking point that was found to reverberate repeatedly on this blog: the claim that the United States uses 25% of all world oil production but contains only 2% of the world’s oil reserves.

Yes, the U.S. has only 2% of the world’s “proven reserves”. However, as defined, “proven reserves” represents only a very small fraction to total reserves. When total reserves are factored in, U.S. petroleum holdings are likely to rival Saudi Arabia’s. Read it all – it really is very clearly presented

http://spectator.org/archives/2011/05/27/energy-myths-of-the-left

The article then goes on to demolish the argument that the U.S. uses a disproportionate amount of the world’s oil production.

Observe, however: the usual response of the Left when confronted with information that proves anathema to developed orthodoxy is to personally attack the source (shades of Galileo!) rather than distort the information (a classic Alinsky tactic). Orthodoxy  must be protected at all costs!

And, rightly so. For once these tactics are exposed for what they are, the credibility of the Left is forever put into question and people go elsewhere for their information.

Whenever any information emanates from the Left, it should be viewed with great caution. Left-wing memes are like highly damaging computer viruses: easy to create and very laborious to detect and remove. Caveat emptor.

Full of gas!

Bruce McQuain, of the always thought-provoking and very economically libertarian QandO blog, has an interesting post that provides a good overview of just how many large natural gas resources there are in the U.S. and the world.

http://www.qando.net/?p=10647

 

Add to that our vaste coal and oil resources…

 

Folks, there is absolutely no excuse anymore for the United States (or the world, for that matter) to be dependent upon Middle East oil and gas resources.

 

Does anyone disagree?

 

Alternately, we could simply follow the President’s advice and go out and buy new fuel-efficient electric cars that cost a small fortune.

 

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East

Israel as the next Saudia Arabia?

 

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, Israel’s unusually large and high-quality shale oil reserves may yield as much oil as all of Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703806304576242420737584278.html

 

These discoveries are in addition to of Israel’s recently diclosed gas reserves, also anticipated to be vaste.

 

There are few countries in the world as reality-based as Israel, because Israel has no other choice. It must be reality based in order to survive. This convinces me that Israel will waste  no time in developing these deposits, not only for self-sufficiency but also to gain leverage with the international community. Imagine the political consequences,, if you would, if Europe no longer had to depend upon the Middle East for its oil.

 

Oh, I wish I could say the same about our own country, rich beyond imagination in oil, gas and coal reserves. In our own country, a far-too-comfortable bourgeoisie entertains unicorn visions of Shangri La-like utopias, unspoiled by any energy development other than windmills and solar panels manufactured in China. The price of these idle visions is steep, as measured by lost jobs, investment capital, trade balances and tax revenues, not to mention military missions to fund our energy needs and keep world energy supplies safe. The self-satisfied American bourgeois elites sleep well, oblivious to the environmental, economic and social disasters inflicted upon our own country and others to satisfy our presumptions of environmental virtue. Not even a record recession (depression?) and all its accompanying miseries is enough to shake our self-satisfied masses from their ut-opium dreams.

 

The bottom-line is that most of the bad international news that we read about today, from Iraq to Libya, Iran, North Africa, Sudan, Nigeria and world jihadism in general, has to do with the quest for affordable energy. Take away oil as an issue by crashing its price on world markets through oversupply, and most of these issues cited above simply fade away, along with the revenues transfered to countries that use them to fund activities inimical to our prosperity and civilization. Crash the price of fuel, jihadism dies. Crash the price of fuel, the world’s poor and unemployed benefit. Israel gets it, we don’t.

 

North America enjoys the world’s largest deposits of oil, gas and coal. Europe has recently discovered immense gas deposits that should more-than meet its internal needs. It’s time for our civilization to wake up: we should be developing our own energy resources as a crack pace, if for nothing else than to avoid a world disaster. War and poverty also have environmental consequences.

 

The New York Times’ own wacky Tom Friedman *UPDATED*

This is the cozy mansion New York Times‘ columnist Tom Friedman calls home:

thomas_friedman_house

Judging by its size, it probably has a carbon footprint roughly equal to a small nation’s:

As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in “a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club.” He “married into one of the 100 richest families in the country” – the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.

Heating and cleaning the pool alone probably consume enough energy to power a factory.  The picture above is somewhat out of date, so things may have changed, but I’ll note that Friedman’s solar panels are, well, conspicuously absent.

All of which makes it screamingly funny when Friedman, after a first paragraph so profoundly ignorant its laughable (I’ll get back to it later), offers the following idea as a means for the Tea Partiers to gain the New York Times‘ seal of approval:

But should the Tea Partiers actually aspire to break out of that range, attract lots of young people and become something more than just entertainment for Fox News, I have a suggestion:

Become the Green Tea Party.

I’d be happy to design the T-shirt logo and write the manifesto. The logo is easy. It would show young Americans throwing barrels of oil imported from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia into Boston Harbor.

The manifesto is easy, too: “We, the Green Tea Party, believe that the most effective way to advance America’s national security and economic vitality would be to impose a $10 “Patriot Fee” on every barrel of imported oil, with all proceeds going to pay down our national debt.”

Friedman is right that America shouldn’t be dependent on foreign oil, but he seems to have forgotten that it’s his own party (and his own paper) that has made it virtually impossible for America (a) to drill, (b) to process oil shale or (c) to produce meaningful nuclear power.  Instead, he’s hooked his wagon to solar and wind energy, both of which are incapable of servicing America’s energy needs.  This means that Friedman wants to make us economically suffer by taxing us even more, without enabling us to have any viable energy alternatives.  (He also thinks a carbon tax is a hunky dory idea.)

A $10 a barrel tax  and a carbon tax may be irrelevant to a man living off of “one of the 100 richest families in the country,” but it will destroy America’s industry and, frankly, every thing else but for her wealthiest class.  In other words, Friedman has neatly spelled out the recipe for an economic meltdown similar to Zimbabwe’s and one that will leave the same outcome:  a poverty stricken nation, centered around a small, fabulously wealthy (and, inevitably, corrupt) ruling class.  We already know which niche Friedman has carved out for himself.

But really, what can one expect from a man who shows his profound ignorance and sneering disdain for America — not to mention his shallow intellectual dilettantism — in his very first paragraph.  (See, I promised I’d get back to it.) I usually wait until deep within my posts to sound this stupid:

I’ve been trying to understand the Tea Party Movement. Sounds like a lot of angry people who want to get the government out of their lives and cut both taxes and the deficit. Nothing wrong with that — although one does wonder where they were in the Bush years. Never mind. I’m sure like all such protest movements the Tea Partiers will get their 10 to 20 percent of the vote.

That paragraph has just got everything one would expect from someone living and work in the one of the ritziest, and most liberal, parts of the world.  In mere sentences, we get oozing condescension for the foolish, impenetrable masses; contempt for the anger that sees people taking to the street, Constitutions in hand, protesting a rapacious federal government; and, of course, the inevitable attack on George Bush.

As to that last point (“where the heck were they during the Bush presidency?”) I think this simple chart is a good starting point for explaining where these same frustrated (as opposed to angry) people were before Obama; or, more accurately, why they weren’t taking to the street to protest government overreach:

usgs_line.php

Need I say more?  No, I don’t think so.

UPDATE:  Turns out — no big shock here — that Friedman’s not the only green colored hypocrite.

America’s carbon footprint and the world’s oil reserves

I’ve got two quick environmental links for you today.  The first has to do with pollution.  You know that I’ve said at this blog all along that cap-and-trade is stupid, not only because it will destroy America’s economy, but because the really big up-and-coming polluters are China and India.  Turns out I was wrong:  they’re not up-and-coming; they’re here and now, as are Africa and the Gulf countries.  America is a pollution piker.

Also, as you may have seen before, there is increasing evidence that oil is not a finite resource, dependent on the transformation of prehistoric plant and animal matter.  Instead, it might be a recurring product produced in the very bowels of the earth.  Cool.  (H/t Pierre  of Pierre Legrand’s Pink Flamingo Bar)

The destructive forces of green energy

Our travels this weekend took us over the Altamont Pass, home of one of America’s largest windmill farms.  The children were amazed by the endless vista of spinning windmills, and my husband waxed rhapsodic about the clean energy.  Being contrary, I mentioned that the windmills kill lots of birds.  Indeed, I said, there was something of a conundrum, because people who care about birds also care about clean energy, and here they were, faced with a clean energy source that kills birds.

It seems I’m not the only one who’s noticed that conundrum.  With exquisite timing, today’s WSJ has an op-ed on precisely that topic:

On Aug. 13, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to killing 85 birds that had come into contact with crude oil or other pollutants in uncovered tanks or waste-water facilities on its properties. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees.

ExxonMobil is hardly alone in running afoul of this law. Over the past two decades, federal officials have brought hundreds of similar cases against energy companies. In July, for example, the Oregon-based electric utility PacifiCorp paid $1.4 million in fines and restitution for killing 232 eagles in Wyoming over the past two years. The birds were electrocuted by poorly-designed power lines.

Yet there is one group of energy producers that are not being prosecuted for killing birds: wind-power companies. And wind-powered turbines are killing a vast number of birds every year.

A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

Altamont’s turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon’s tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.

[snip]

Why aren’t wind companies prosecuted for killing eagles and other birds? “The fix here is not easy or cheap,” Mr. Lee told me. He added that he doesn’t expect to see any prosecutions of the politically correct wind industry.

This is a double standard that more people—and not just bird lovers—should be paying attention to. In protecting America’s wildlife, federal law-enforcement officials are turning a blind eye to the harm done by “green” energy.

On the subject of wind farms, a little imp also urged me to say that there must be a few other problems with them, since Teddy Kennedy refused to have them built anywhere within sight of his home in Hyannisport.  Mr. Bookworm first denied that this was true.  When I convinced him of its truth, he then said that it was perfectly reasonable for Kennedy to preserve his view and shift those ugly windmills elsewhere.  He did not concede that “elsewhere” might be less efficient or impair someone else’s view.  In fact, it’s perfectly possible that shifting them would be both more efficient and aesthetic.  I just enjoyed my spouse’s assumption that, if Kennedy said “no,” that possibility must be the reality.

Speaking of Newspeak — how about Kerry and Boxer on energy?

Even working together, Babs Boxer and John Kerry are still unable to beat Palin’s clear message and, instead, come out with meaningless government speak.  I can’t resist a very light fisking of their opinion piece for the WaPo, which does precisely what my blog slogan says Democrats do:  they take conclusions and try to sell them as facts. I’ll be so light that I won’t dive into underlying facts. I’ll just expose the nonsense on the face of the document.  Also, out of deference for fair use principles, I’m not going to fisk the whole thing, just bits and pieces.  And with those caveats, here goes:

Palin argues that “the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!” The truth is, clean energy legislation doesn’t make energy scarcer or more expensive; it works to find alternative solutions to our costly dependence on foreign oil and provides powerful incentives to pursue cutting-edge clean energy technologies.  [Objection your honor:  non-responsive!  Have Babs and the French-looking guy said anything here that belies the claim that new energy will be scarcer and more expensive?  They've said they'd like to cut spending on foreign oil, but that has nothing to do with scarcity or cost.  They've also said the government will provide financial incentives for new energy, but that sounds costly -- and there's no guarantee that there is affordable and clean new energy to be had, at least in the short term.  In other words, they've said nothing at all that counters Palin's claim that new government clean energy proposals will make energy scarce and costly.]

Palin asserts that job losses are “certain.” Wrong. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and American Clean Energy and Security legislation will create significant employment opportunities across the country in a broad array of sectors linked to the clean energy economy. Studies at the federal level and by states have demonstrated clean energy job creation. A report by the Center for American Progress calculated that $150 billion in clean energy investments would create more than 1.7 million domestic and community-based jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.  [Again, Babs and Kerry take the known problems expensive energy creates (inflation, job loss, a slowing economy and, against those history-proven facts, make the groundless promise that they'll make some new jobs in a private sector devoted to trying to figure out ways to come up with a better solution than fossil fuel.  As to that dream, it would help if, at the very least, they'd work out how to make fossil fuel cleaner and more efficient.  But noooo.  This wagon is hooked to stars such as biofuels, which take food out of the mouths of poor people; electric cars, which use lots of fossil fuel to create the electricity and which work only in densely populated areas where people can tank up quickly; solar energy, which works only where the sun shines (tough luck for those in cold, foggy areas); wind energy, which has proven to be spectacularly unreliable, etc.  One day, alternative energies may be the answer, but to make traditional energy sources impossibly expensive, while sucking money out of the economy to fund pie-in-the-sky "alternatives" is certain to lose jobs.]

[snip]

Take the acid rain program established in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. The naysayers said it would cost consumers billions in higher electricity rates, but electricity rates declined an average of 19 percent from 1990 to 2006. Naysayers said the cost to business would be more than $50 billion a year, but health and other benefits outweighed the costs 40 to 1. Naysayers predicted it would cost the economy millions of jobs. In fact, the United States added 20 million jobs from 1993 to 2000, as the U.S. economy grew 64 percent.  [This may true.  However, since I don't trust the source, how am I do know that, but for the Clean Air Act Amendments, the economy wouldn't have grown by a vastly greater amount.  As it is, I happen to enjoy clean fresh air.  I'm interested in reasonable, market-driven responses to cleaner energy that doesn't fund terrorists.  That doesn't justify crap-and-tax, though, does it?]

The carefully crafted clean energy bill that we will present to the Senate [pardon me while I laugh hysterically as Babs uses the phrase "carefully crafted" to describe anything that's coming out of the House right now], building on the Waxman-Markey legislation passed by the House, will jump-start our economy, protect consumers, stop the ravages of unchecked global climate change and ensure that the United States — not China or India — will be the leading economic power in this century. [And this will work because we're sending to China and India, countries unconstrained by these bills, all the jobs that American employers can no longer afford to pay for?  Help me.  I'm confused.]

Anyway, you get the idea. Go to the WaPo, and read the article for yourself. See if you find it more convincing than I do.

Ask stupid questions, get stupid answers

I got an email poll from my representative Lynn Woolsey.  I was willing to take the poll, even though it would mean newsletters from her, until I actually read the poll.  It’s a dishonest one, and makes intelligent responses impossible.

Here’s the whole email, with my comments in red:

As you may know, Congress is developing new energy legislation which could create millions of new ‘green collar’ jobs, end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and confront the threat of global warming.  [We'll just skip quickly past the fact that I think those "green collar" jobs are chimerical, that there are other ways than green to end the nation's dependence on foreign oil, and the threat of global warming is a scam.]  I’m hoping to get your thoughts on this issue, so please complete this very brief survey and let me know what’s on your mind.  At the same time you can subscribe to my electronic newsletter and stay up to date on the latest news from Washington.

Thanks

3 questions on energy

[The problem with the following series of three choices is there predicate, which is that there are only two sources of energy:  foreign fossil fuels and wacky, expensive, often polluting "green" sources.  There are a lot of Americans who believe in domestic drilling and extraction from domestic shale.  With those false choices, all poll results will be skewed.]

Obama’s plan to jumpstart the economy

Obama finally came out from hiding to talk a bit about the economy.  One of my liberal friends found this the most exciting aspect of his speech:

“We’ll be working out the details in the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.”

You could see my friend thrilling to the Rooseveltian aspect of it all:  the government will rebuild America.  It’s the CCC and WPA all over again — never mind that after several years of those programs, the US was mired in an even worse depression than that which Roosevelt inherited.

My friend outlined all of the wonderful alternative energy sources that could be created once Obama got his hands on the reins of energy creation.  He waxed lyrical about a way to use mirrors and water to create steam all over America’s vast plains and deserts, and then to run this steam into interconnected turbines that would power America.

“It can be done,” he said.  “They’re already building the prototypes in Nevada.”

“If it can be done,” I asked, “and it’s so wonderful, why hasn’t the private sector already stepped forward?”

“You don’t understand,” was his reply.  “All of these are isolated efforts, like the telephone system a hundred years ago.  They need to be tied together so that they work effectively.”

“I do understand,” I said.  “But why doesn’t the private sector build this infrastructure tying together all these great sources of clean energy creation?”

“Because of all the regulations blocking them,” was his answer.

“So you’re saying, aren’t you, that the problem isn’t too little government, it’s to much government?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying.  The government needs to bring them all together.”  (Always the government.)

My last word was that if Obama can cut the Code of Federal Regulations by 80%, freeing up money and ingenuity without using government money, he will be the greatest President in history.  I got a blank stare in response.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Oil shale

I know nothing about oil shale.  Harry Reid, however, made it news by trying to sneak an amendment into a bill that would block developing oil shale.  With oil shale being news, I’ve now learned from someone who seems to be well-informed on the subject (one of Anchoress’ readers) that Reid is acting as if it’s 1970 when he tries to block its use as an energy source.  In fact, says that knowledgeable person, we have vast reserves, and they can be accessed through methods that have minimal environmental impact.

Before I go on this subject, it reminds me again of my point that those who now style themselves Progressive are actually regressive.  The valid debate about abortion is conducted as if out-of-wedlock pregnancies are a heinous social sin, birth control is unavailable, and back alley abortions are commonplace.  The debate about racism is conducted as if Jim Crow still controls, not just the South, but the whole nation.  And now we learn that Harry Reid’s non-debate, sneak tactic about oil shale is, in all probability based on information that is 30 years out of date.

If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there, does it make a sound? *UPDATED*

You’ve all heard the question that is the title of my post, haven’t you?  Is an audience necessary for a sound to have meaning or even existence? And what if, in our world, the intermediary to the audience bugs out?  That’s today’s question, as Republicans vigorously debate the new drilling despite the fact that, Pelosi shut down the House, turned off the lights, and sent all her Democrats home.  And with the lights and mikes off, the media has mostly gone home, except those who try to display it, not as an act of substantive importance, but one of conservative silliness.

It seems to me though, in the wonderful world of the internet, we have the perfect opportunity to defang the MSM once and for all.  Go to the same Politico post to which I linked above, which describes what’s going on, and email it to your friends, and post it on your blogs, and talk about it to people.  In this Brave New Internet World, the MSM doesn’t have to be there; we the American people can be there instead.

To get you started, here is some of the Politico coverage:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats adjourned the House and turned off the lights and killed the microphones, but Republicans are still on the floor talking gas prices.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders opposed the motion to adjourn the House, arguing that Pelosi’s refusal to schedule a vote allowing offshore drilling is hurting the American economy. They have refused to leave the floor after the adjournment motion passed at 11:23 a.m. and are busy bashing Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for leaving town for the August recess.

At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark. But as Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz..) was speaking, the lights went back on, and the microphones were turned on shortly afterward.

But C-SPAN, which has no control over the cameras in the chamber, has stopped broadcasting the House floor, meaning no one is witnessing this except the assembled Republicans, their aides, and one Democrat, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has now left.

Only about a half-dozen Republicans were on the floor when this began, but the crowd has grown to about 20 now, according to Patrick O’Connor.

“This is the people’s House,” Rep, Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) said. “This is not Pelosi’s politiburo.”

Democratic aides were furious at the GOP stunt, and reporters were kicked out of the Speaker’s Lobby, the space next to the House floor where they normally interview lawmakers.

“You’re not covering this, are you?” complaing one senior Democratic aide. Another called the Republicans “morons” for staying on the floor.

The Politico story is exciting, too, because in a series of updates it’s clear that the Republicans are becoming more energized and the Dems more angry.  Keep in mind that the Dems and the Republicans know that the vast majority of Americans, tired of seeing their energy bills climb needlessly, are in favor of drilling.

UPDATE:  Finally, some live (ish) video.  Hat tip to the Anchoress, who is blogging about this here.

At long last, the Republicans are showing some mojo.  Let’s give them our help by keeping this a talking-point.

Flopping Aces is blogging too (and has a great cartoon).

Queen Nancy

IBD does an enjoyably neat job of cutting Nancy Pelosi down to size:

When challenged in an interview with Politico.com about her bullheaded refusal to let Republicans submit energy policies for approval, Pelosi resorted to risible hyperbole to justify her iron-fisted rule of the House parliamentary process.

“I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she responded. “I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy.”

If the San Francisco Democrat’s magisterial narcissism isn’t off-putting enough, her intent should be. She’s saying that her importance to the survival of Earth transcends our system of open government, elections and power-sharing. Because she’s trying to save the world, she can’t be challenged and dissent will not be tolerated.

Read the rest here.

Oh, speaking of stupidity regarding oil policy, get a load of this video of Barack Obama advising us to dig out our tire air gauges to save the planet, along with John Hindraker’s little reality check.

Are oil prices coinciding with lifted bans or demand worries?

Okay, I admit, that’s an incredibly awkwardly phrased post title (I’m making a habit of those), but I wanted to ask you all a question.  What I noticed some weeks ago was that, the moment Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling, oil prices dropped.  My view was that the mere expectation of increased domestic oil supplies was enough to put in a spike in the never-ending escalation of oil prices.

Today, however, I’m assured by Reuters that oil prices dropped because the market is “worried”:

Oil falls to 12-week low on demand worries

Oil fell to its lowest level in nearly three months on Tuesday, extending a steep slide since mid-July on mounting evidence high prices and a souring economy were cutting into world energy demand.

The drop coincided with a firmer U.S. dollar, which may have reduced the appeal of commodities to some investors playing the strong negative correlation between the markets in recent months, analysts said.

There is no mention at all in the article about Bush’s actions.

I’ll always be the first to admit that I’m woefully ignorant about the ways of the market.  However, my understanding has always been that, whenever there are oil worries, oil prices go up.  This is the first time I’ve heard of worries driving prices down.  And another thing — considering that rising oil prices have been terribly damaging to world economies, why does this article make it sound as if dropping prices is a bad thing?

Can anyone explain this to me?