Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Multiple Problems Solved: CO2 + Oil wells

I love it when nerds put their minds to fixing problems and not just making the next consumer electronics gizmo. Looks like the nerds are attacking old oil wells in a third stage of recovery with enviros favorite villain (for now) CO2 in a process called CO2-EOR. Flooding old oil wells with CO2 recovers more oil from old wells, boosting production, and removes CO2 from the atmosphere and sequesters it back into the ground (that article is from 2001). This newer article actually cites some field evidence of it working. The peak oil debunked guy wrote about it in 2006. It is quite the change to the oil and CO2 situations if the US can add 40-89 billion barrels of oil to its recoverable reserves. There has been talk about "clean coal", CO2 capture & sequestering and numerous CO2 scrubbing ideas, but if we can get CO2 underground in old wells and pump out usable oil at the same time, it sounds like a much cooler way to sequester and store CO2. Killing two birds with one stone. We should all like that.

2009 First Half US Oil Stats

Interesting. Our production rose a bit despite some offline Alaskan production, and consumption has continued its trek down during this great recession. I would say we probably saw an increase because the Thunger Horse oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is finally up and running after Hurricane Katrina had set back production by 3+ years. A rig that can produce up to 300K barrels a day will do that for a national output. Hopefully, BP can get this find and the other Kaskida find up and running in the near future. Oil production in North Dakota and Montana has been steadily rising because of Bakken oil plays. I read an article about farmers and ranchers from North Dakota receiving oil royalty checks as the mineral rights for the land paid off handsomely. Bakken Shale has great potential and I hope companies and scientists can properly explore it. (above photo is from Huntington Beach, CA, seeing the rigs offshore is a surprise)

Californians should welcome this oil discovery. They could earn some royalties and tax revenue, which could help the hurting state coffers. While we will not get to a mythical energy independence (this means transportation fuel independence) through expanded drilling, it does show that America does have resources, we just set them off limits or do not invest in the exploration. A wonderful thing of drilling in a country like America is that we have strict regulations so that drilling will be handled with care and natural gas flares will be utilized. I remember the comparison of drilling sites in Jared Diamond's Collapse. This is why I support offshore drilling in America. If the Brits and Norwegians can do it safely, so can we. As I have mentioned before, I'd love to see federal tax receipts from drilling leases go to dun alternative energy tax credits/breaks.
My favorite quote from any of the referenced material is the quote from an author I am reading right now who was interviewed for the LA Times piece on the Cali oil Discovery...

"Every time people start to think that things are over," Yergin said, "technology opens up new horizons and new ways of understanding what is underground."

Mad Men Season 3

Mad Men Season 3 has had some meandering and some waffling here and there. There have been 5 episodes so far and I'll list my likes and dislikes. There's been some waste, and I am upset they set this in 1962 to have Draper child 3's delivery in the season rather than speeding us along and setting it in 1963, so we could have the obligatory "Where were you when JFK was shot?" episode. That will have to wait for next year. WRONG. I AM WRONG. It is 1963 THIS SEASON!!!!!
Likes
1. Peggy Olson's development as glass ceiling breaker and the story arc I have been calling. She's going to embody the 'feminist' movement and not have a family. I can just feel it.
2. Don Draper being Don Draper. The man is meant to be mysterious, charming, confident and womanizing.
3. Closet case Italian guy developments. I don't know what was better: the gay recreation of his TV ad for his horrified-confused wife or having a semi-tryst with the bellhop on the business trip. Bonus points for Don catching him, but saying nothing, so now a secret is between the two. Extra Bonus points for the green nighty outfit the closet case's wife wore one episode.
4. Betty's dad moving in and being a Grampa. Show old stuff to kids, be a jerk and eat ice cream with kids. That's what Grampa's do.
5. Big Red and the Redettes. I enjoyed the glimpse into her homelife and how her husband is this perfect catch (handsome, Doctor, smart, etc.) but really he's a failure douchebag who sexually assaulted her last season.
6. Smary guy (Pete Campbell) and his wife dancing at the stupid party hosted by Mr. Sterling. Pretty entertaining. The blackface segment that episode was weird.
7. Paul Kinsey calling in an old Princeton friend for weed who happens to be Miles Fisher. Even better that Peggy toked with them. Kinsey being more open about his hippie leanings is a nice set up for later 60s stuff.
8. The British. Just the line after the lawnmower incident "he'll never golf again" was brilliant.
9. 1960s stuff like Ann Margaret, stewardess uniforms, and the tacky wallpaper still make me happy.
10. The appearance of a "that guy" actor as Conrad Hilton. I hope to see him more.


Dislikes
1. Dream sequences. They sucked on the Sopranos and they suck here. Stop it.
2. The TV Dept guy needs a better development or more screentime. There are iconic TV ads from that era, and they need to have him be a part of one.
3. Betty Draper. I just dislike her more each season. I can see her all wrinkled and smoking cigs 20 years later, acting miserable to her grown daughter and grandkids.
4. The fact that this is on cable and not HBO-Showtime. Dammit!
5. The idea that they might split a character or two to another agency. I don't want to have to follow them around at other agencies. I want one house, one spotlight, one setting.

Someone Cut Her Mic

Man she was great in Ghost, Eddie and Jumpin Jack Flash. She just has to stop. Just stop. There's no defending this guy. Just stop.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dockers "Meet the Family"




The beauty of Youtube. I found this within 60 seconds of looking for it. Brilliant in many ways, and the scene is like the set up for a 1960s comedy film. When this ad would come on, my friends and I would immediately shush conversation, which annoyed our girlfriends immensely. We'd be silent for about 20 seconds and then when it got to the dad, we'd lose it.

"You don't understand. it's the eyebrows that make it so funny!"

Dockers TheThe Ad



This was one of the best pants ads I can remember. Dockers used a special version of "This is the Day" by TheThe (way more upbeat than the album cut), and set everything in slow motion. You see the pants used in tons of awesome moments: bouncing on a bed, dunking a basketball, break dancing, popping champagne. This sticks out in my mind, and is an ad they could recycle if they wanted as the song itself is timeless.

**Dockers used a Thievery Corporation song in an ad around 1999. I think the ad was called "Dinner Party" or "Meeting the In-Laws". Another absolutely great ad they could reuse.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Foreign Policy Stuff

So much going on in the world, so much. The Global Recession still has everyone lying low, firing up the printing presses and sharpening the protectionism knives. Iran keeps marching towards the Bomb, Latin America is having pro-democracy rallies and counterrallies, the US has sold out Eastern Europe to Russia, China has 20-30 million unemployed people but won't admit it, Japan just elected a party that said they want US bonds denominated in yen, Pakistan is shaky, Afganistan is shakier, and we still have 130K troops in Iraq... we also won't be closing Guantanamo Bay anytime soon. No, George W. Bush is not the president. I do like the idea of getting our boys home in a quick and safe manner as they have done a good job, and this sounds OK for Afganistan. Wild times.

I like France's leader Sarkozy. He's been trying to reform France's strike happy workforce, trying to restrain overspending, and he's been pretty tough on the Muslims in France who want to force French women into wearing full body garb all day long. He also came out quickly in support of the Iranian democracy protestors. I also like his realism when it comes to Iran's government. He kind of wakes Prez O up from the "it'll be all good when i can sit & talk to them" dream. I'm waiting for Prez O's "dialogue setting change" now that the Iranians revealed they've had a 2nd secret uranium enriching location while he's been extending the olive branch. How can you negotiate when they've been playing possum on the critical issue? Pretty plain and strong words here from Sarkozy. Sarkozy is called the French JFK. I'm waiting on that one, but I like the cut of his jib so far.

This British headline here nearly made me shit my pants. This is from a major newspaper, and the British are not good at insulting people (self admittingly), but they made me laugh with that one. The Brits were also the first to smell the stink to Prez O with his bizarro gifts to the UK prime minister and his wife. I've not been a fan of the "I'm Awesome & Here to Apologize" tour from Prez O this year, and I am even less of a fan of his coming gigantic flip flop on Afganistan-Pakistan. Remember, that was the "good fight" we were suppose to concentrate on instead of Iraq. This guy does a good job of discussing the coming flip. I recall him saying we couldn't let Al Qaida have a playground and training field there. C'mon Barry!

I decided to make a foreign policy tag as it is my real love when it comes to politics, and a big part of the reason I went abroad. I quickly learned foreign people are just as good or bad as Americans. I did love how all the foreign kids worked & lived at a slower pace than the ave American despite being 18-22 yrs old. I'm a firm believer in the idea that you don't truly have allies, you only have interests. This is why I keep pushing my nat gas transportation fuel program. I believe government is there to be the umpire when it comes to enforcing contracts, should protect it's citizens from foreign attacks, and provide a stable currency.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Doesn't Help the Global Warming Chicken Littles

Hmmm, so using models to map out reality sometimes turn out to be hyperaggressive???? No way. Glad to see the North Pole will probably still be covered in ice into 2030-2040. I support researching and data collection, not modeling, as the basis for doing anything for Global Warming. Before we destroy the economy and make millions poor around the world, let's get the best picture of what could happen. After all, the sunspot activity from the big ball of gas in the sky has been really quiet and we're entering a period that could be similar to a period of sun activity that was last seen during the mini-Ice Age.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Public Employee Pension

This is from 2005. I can only imagine how much worse the pension situation has become. It's getting small attention now, but could truly get a newspaper, magazine or news channel attention. Pension Pulse is a good resource for this. Sadly, they do not have the megaphone that major news outlets have at their disposal.

There are many reasons why this is important. Public Employee defined benefit pensions have been a driver of muni and state taxes. Taxpayers have shouldered that burden with little attention. Reform is difficult as SEIU workers, corrections officers and the brave police and firefighters are a solid voting bloc that shows up and can make a difference. There's also another darker element to this. The police receive good pay (sometimes great pay depending on the area) and benefits (rich pensions & free healthcare). Without these benefits, the folks who enforce the law could be corrupted with money. NYC went through this. Taking care of the folks who have the power to arrest is important. I just don't believe in final year salary based pension benefits that give a guy 50% (often much more) for eternity starting at age 55 or 60. Social Security does not pay that well and does not kick in for us schmucks until 65+.

Looking back at my homestate, I hope the Maine police do not get extremely rich pension benefits. Pulling over Massholes for speeding and breaking up drunken teenage parties does not earn you 75% of pay forever.

Now for Something Fun....




and the sequel....

Rihanna- Disturbia Music Video [OFFICIAL]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Review: Nazi Hunter - The Wiesenthal File

A trip to "half priced books" found me $15 lighter but 3 books richer. The first one I tackled was "Nazi Hunter". This centers on Simon Wiesenthal who was famously portrayed in a fictional role by Laurence Olivier in "The Boys From Brazil" (a cheese classic). He tracked down Nazis after the war as they made their escape from justice and disappeared to far away lands. He has his detractors, and some of his stories are questioned (the comments section is weird), but the man did have a great drive in keeping awareness of the Holocaust and the Nazis among us high.

The chapters on tracking Eichmann, the odd travels of Mengele in South America, the hunting of 3 separate mid-level Nazis and the story of the lone Swede who saved many lives in Eastern Europe only to be imprisoned by the Soviets are great. It reads like a movie with tracking down the movements of an escpaed Nazi, then honing in on the target, and finally the extradition and arrest. Some of these fools would set up shop, then send for their family to join them. A few stopped using fake names and IDs after a few years, as if no one would be looking for SS members after the Holocaust was exposed and the Nuremberg War Tribunals over. Concerning the human condition, what I found scary was how these Nazis could walk in and out of this life of torture, cruelty and murder with no future effects. The whip weilding female prison guard who found love and security in post-WW2 America was the perfect light switch change. Freaky. I will wrap this up with the sadness of how the Swede who saved thousands of lives languyished in Soviet prison camps for years. It was so sad to read about it. It was also sad to consider how so many in Eastern Europe traded one ghoulish totalitarian state for another horrible terror state. The Soviets were awful, and it is pointed out in this book lightly how they gladly took the old Nazi tricks and used them later. That chapters that discuss Austrian politicians and their cloudy pasts are a waste of time to me, but wrap up the career of Wiesenthal. The author is not afraid to challenge or question Wiesenthal. It is a good read, and I recommend it.

If ever in Washington and you have an empty afternoon or morning, go to the Holocaust museum. It is emotionally draining but amazing. I am glad I went, and will not go until my kids are old enough to understand. Havign met survivors and hearing my grandfathers' tales of seeing the camps, I loudly debate anyone who denies the Holocaust happened. I don't care the audience. It is often stated "it can never happen again" by politicians to say genocide will not happen again, but pretty much everyone lets it happen on their watch. From forced famines in Russia & China back in the day to the horrible genocide in Rwanda, bizarre persecution & killing in North Korea & Hollywood's favorite until Jan 20, 2009 Darfur, it is out there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The NEA Propaganda Wing

Once more, Andrew Breitbart and his crew have a huge scoop in the news. Our wonderful government is using the National Endowment for the Arts as a propaganda wing for the big 4 ideas of education, energy, environment and health care. This was rumored and whispered about, and obviously swept under the rug by the mainstream media. My wife even commented how recently a fellow dancer talked of making a piece centered around growing old and the challenges of health care. Good to see the foot soldiers are at work. This is a poor waste of taxpayer money.

My wife and I discuss how I am against government funding of art. It's not that I dislike art. I love it. I've even donated to a private dance group. I think it's the wonder of humanity that separates us from the animals. It is the expression of the human condition. Good art can make you cry, smile and feel alive. What I dislike is taxpayer money being handed to artists because it eventually comes with strings attached. All funding money to one degree or another comes with strings whether private or public. The scary part is when it is the from the folks who makes laws and have the power to jail. This is rather lame that the White House in August was so desperate to reframe the health care and cap 'n' trade debates that they enlisted artists that rely on them for funding. Keep in mind the message is not to show both sides of the debate through art but to show the 'good side'. Wonder where the NY Times was on this one? Probably talking about bikini waxes for men again.


What is scary is if a far more sinister leader would do with this. This is why the precedent is bad. Other countries have done this. Here's a list: Venezuela, the USSR, Cuba, Nazi Germany. What if a honest Joe type of politician from the Mountain States or South took the wheel and drummed up a war with a foreign enemy that had enough of a population in America to warrant internal surveillance (like a hyper drug war with Mexican cartels). What if he wanted to get the message out and to his liking? Couldn't he co-opt the NEA and say "Y'all get your funding from us, so you might as well toe the line". Some artists would back away on principle, but some might strike a deal if it meant funding (Elia Kazan did in the '50s). It sets a dangerous precedent.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cash for Clunkers Lookback

When the Boston Globe says that Cash for Clunkers was a waste of time and money, then you know it was a bad idea. Their lone wolf conservative columnist wrote a month earlier in a fake Q&A style how it was a bad idea. Of course, no paper has bothered detailed analysis of the true cost of these giveaway programs, but Calculated Risk tackled it. I was against this for many reasons:
1. It doesn't improve fleet auto mileage and CO2 issues much (400K trade ins in a nation of 250 mil passenger vehicles (0.16% of total fleet)).
2. It favors one industry over the many many manufacturing industries crushed in this recession. (Where is the cash for clunkers airplane edition???)
3. It subsidized autopurchases so people could finance autos without going the full 100%.
4. It added a few billion to the national debt that we do not need.
5. Top models purchased were made outside of the US or benefited foreign companies. I noticed no GM or Chrsyler cars on that top 10 list. Guess moving production offshore for years and ceding marketshare in the small car market backfired. As an "owner" of those companies, I am steamed!
6. It destroyed thousands of vehicles from the used car market that middle & lower class Americans would purchase. My 1st car was a 1991 Honda Accord in 1997. I got rid of it in 2005.
7. It iss a one shot sugar high stimulus to buying that sucks out future demand from the next few months. Wait for Sept-Oct car purchase numbers.
(Photo note: let's pray that we don't have wandering bands of jobless men.)
During the 2008 campaign, we heard about fairness or what is fair from then candidate Obama often (Clinton as well). This C4C program only benefits car manufacturers, dealers and their suppliers. Is that fair to the many steel & plastic product manufacturers not aligned with the auto industry hurt by foreign imports with no "special protection"? What about tool bit makers & ball bearing manufacturers? Is it fair to auto supplies stores that specialize in helping Americans get more years out of their vehicles? Add in distribution companies for non-auto industries, and it is staggering how Congress-WH threw billions on a one shot car deal that benefitted Japanese & Korean companies more than US companies!!! I won't touch how zombie Bank and specific insurance company TARP bailouts have screwed competitors. This kind of knee jerk short term policy making was tried before and failed.

The NY Governor Situation

David Paterson. He's the only Democrat SNL will make fun of now. Eliot Spitzer had no clue just how critical his Lt. Gov pick would be when he ran for Gov of NY. He strengthened his voting bloc with a black politician from the NY state legislature. Paterson is blind, which helps with the sympathy vote. Who is going to vote against a blind guy? What no one counted on was Spitzer paying hookers for rough sex and doing it across state lines. Spitzer stepped down, and the state of NY was suddenly in the hands of a politician with no executive experience. Paterson has been a train wreck, has lost the approval of most NYers, and is now doing more damage to his party than good. His approval rating has been at 20%+/- for over 6 months. Now the president is asking him to step aside and not run in the upcoming election.

This is uncommon for a sitting gov to be so terrible that his own party asks for him to step aside and clear the way for the heir apparent. The fear is to lose the seat if Paterson is the nominee for the Dems. The fear is that fighting against Cuomo will drain money away from Cuomo and dredge up bad as well as good things about him in the primary season. This would weaken him in the general. I do not think the Dems have anything to fear unless Guiliani runs, even though Cuomo has a nice lead in a hypothetical match up right now. Interesting thing about Cuomo is he was not well liked until he started going after AIG & the big banks.

Zero hedge has an interesting post on all of this. Cuomo is digging deep right now in the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch deal. Prez Obama giving Cuomo the nod and clearing the way would put his crusade against BoA to rest, and not dig up any dirt that would be used against Bernanke-Paulson-Geithner. The last thing Obama needs right now is for Cuomo to dig up a golden nugget like Berny-Paulson-Geithner forcing Ken Lewis into an illegal act with the promise of no jail time. Remember the focus is off our insolvent banks and now onto health care, despite the banks not being fixed. Has anyone seen an interview with Ken Lewis about that merger? He stutters a lot and looks scared. If it came out that Berny did some illegal moves, it would make Obama's reappointment of Berny look bad, and suddenly he would have to find a new Fed Chairman. This would be bad for Obama because 1. shows either incompetence in reappointing him or deliberate bad behavior since he is privy to the dealings Bernanke did, 2. a new Fed Chairman would be a horse jump midstream and any future bad moves he can't blame on an appointee grandfathered in from the previous admin, and 3. It reinforces how he doesn't "change" anything.

The American people deserve this investigation. Cuomo would do the nation (and NY) a better service by sticking with this investigation than by moving to the Gov's office. If as Gov he did push his replacement to fight just as hard as he has with the BofA investigation, I would support that. It would be great if he came out and stated that. Cuomo could also keep the fire to BofA, bide his time, let whomever wins this Gov election lead for a term as NY state flounders economically and goes through budget crisis and budget crisis, and run in 4 years as the man who got to the "truth for the people". He would have a groundswell of support to tackle the issues at hand and the political cover to maybe do things that run against what his party stands for but will bring longer term success to the state (reining in state employee union benefits and cutting some state spending).

I am a cynic and do think of most politicians as corrupt douchebags, who get elected because of what they are or who they know, not what they have done. The internet might be changing things. Even as far back as 2004, Howard Dean showed the Internet potential of fundraising from small donors in mass amounts. Ron Paul did the same thing in 2008. Obama's success in 2008 showed how a tech savvy campaign can help efficiency and outreach. The Tea Party movement of '09 has showed just how easy it is to get people together. If politicians consider this in their actions, we might just take back some power from entrenched interests. I doubt it, but I can dream. Even if you cannot topple the ruling elite (admit it, that's what we have), if you can make them fear you, it's a victory.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Swaze

Right after news of his death, I remarked how Patrick Swayze was both an icon for macho movies and chick flicks. Few actors have ever pulled off as tough a guy as Dalton, the bad ass mulleted bouncer in Roadhouse, or the sensitive, loving non-mulleted ghost in Ghost. He could wear a mullet and not weara mullet. It did not matter. Cracked agrees. He was underappreciated as he wasn't a heavy hitter like Tom Hanks but he delivered the goods. As a dance instructor, bouncer, Civil War soldier or self help guru, he pulled off the role.

Swayze File
Favorite movie: "Red Dawn".
Favorite character: Dalton from Roadhouse.
Favorite line from a Swayze movie: "I'll get all the sleep I need when I'm dead."
Funniest line from a Swayze movie: "I am an EFF-BEE-EYE Agent!"
Guiltiest Pleasure Youngblood Not many hockey movies, but this one is enjoyable.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Scary Financial Stuff

Go to this page and look at the left hand column under "Yield Curve US Treasury". The yield on 1, 3, and 6 month uS T-Bills is almost nil. The 2 year yield is below 1% again, which is close to the extreme lows of last winter. This is not good. This is not healthy. This is money pouring out of money market funds (which has a US govt guarantee set to expire) and into short term US govt debt. This is putting money in a spot where it is guaranteed to be the next day. This money does not make it into our financial system for lending to small and medium sized businesses that really need credit to operate. People are not deploying their savings or their invesments into longer dated areas.

Add to this gold popping up over $1000 and holding. I would add oil hanging above $70 when industrial output & trade have tanked from 07-08 levels. There's a weird situation out there now where psychos at a few trading desks are jacking the stock market up while other people are scared to death of any risk so they are throwing money into Gold, Oil, and US T-bills/bonds. Normal folks just want to know that the dollar they have today will be worth the same next year so they can plan their lives.

We have to fix the banks, not just lip service because stocks are up again. We have to break the the too big to fail banks up. We have to audit the Fed. We should cap the US Debt Limit. If not, the USA could end up in a currency crisis.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Foxwoods

Foxwoods is on the ropes? Maybe fail. They used the 'sovereign authority' exemption to get a casino in a state where gambling is illegal. They also banded together a loose tribe. They also suffered from severe greed as many people do. If they made bad choices, just like everyone else who overextended themselves. I don't give a shit. Foxwoods did pay out to tribal members but let's be honest: the state of Connecticut and all of their 'investors' were the driving force behind 250 American Indians banding together for a casino. I am a bit sickened how the Globe says the Pequot could not find investors, when it has been long rumored that a group of investors found the Pequot and their 'sovereign' loophole to put a casino about 2 hours from Boston, NYC & Hartford.

As a customer of Foxwoods, I saw them change customs and rules to fit their greed. They used to be a tax free shopping and eating destination since they were 'sovereign land'. That went out the window when they charged a "tribal fee" which matched Connecticut's sales tax. That's pure profit for them. They also skimped on comps. They also did not have the payouts for special hands at their poker tables. In Vegas, it is custom to give a free meal, jacket, etc. to someone who gets 4 of a kind or a straight flush. As of 2005, it was for royal flush hands only. Yup, way to be good to paying customers. They had odd behavior with drinks as well where I remember no waitresses coming around for 30 mins at a time. I don't even want to get into the way they target senior citizens, as all casinos do that, but it's rather twisted.

I'm not against gambling. In fact, I like it. Foxwoods had such a monopoly with gaming (Mohegan Sun sucks), that they could do as they pleased. I didn't like that. If they had to live on the Strip in Vegas, they would have been way friendlier. They also would have been a bit more careful with their expansion as they would have had competition all around them. Alas, the mighty 250 Pequot American Indians did not and now may have to go back to making a living like the rest of us.

Oktoberfest

Went to Oktoberfest in Indy this weekend. Giant beers for $5-6, a winegarten, German folk music, people walking around in lederhosen and dirndl, and old people were the big draws. The food was good. I had a brat, sauerkraut and German potato salad. I wish it had a geneology section or a section with some more traditional German stuff. Kind of small but enjoyable.

That was Fast China

We do not need a trade war with China. Not now, not really ever, but especially not in the middle of a recession. Looks like one might be starting. They waited a whopping 48 hours after Prez O set trade barriers (tariffs) on tires. This is all right before the G-20 meetings (which China will atend) start in Pittsburgh on the 20th of September.

There is an old phrase that goes "when goods stop crossing borders, bombs cross borders".

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Not Good, Let's Think This Through

Trade Wars are not good. They are especially not good in the middle of a huge recession that we don't want to call a depression but is looking more and more like one every month. The Great Depression was heightened by protectionist moves like the Smoot Hawley Act. Obama and our Congresscritters want to start fighting with our big trade partners (Canada-China) and our biggest creditor, China. This is not good. This is stuff you learn in basic econ classes.

When you impose a tariff on a nation, they get upset. When that nation has 2 trillion dollars worth of your debt, they have a huge weapon at their disposal to hurt you back. "Punch back twice as hard" to use an Obama phrase. This is why the Obama-Pelosi-Reid debt problem is so important (Bush ran deficits I disliked, too). China is a major creditor to the US. If they stop buying or just lower their total purchase amounts of US assets, we will see higher interest rates and weakness in the dollar. This affects all citizens as everything we do is priced in dollars. Inflation is a stealth tax on all of us, and a weaker dollar will lead to higher prices in all of the stuff we import. Inflation is a double whammy when the nation is at 10% unemployment. You have less money coming in and that lower amount of money buys less stuff.

This is where I find fault in those first steps the 'change' crew took in the spring. We didn't break up or address the big bank situation. We just poured more money into Citigroup & AIG, did a stress test and said "all clear". A stimulus package was created that poured a lot of money into medicaid and medicare, very little of it went to 'infrastructure projects', and the tax breaks were to people who don't pay taxes already and payroll deduction changes that only affect you if you have a job. There are no lasting impact projects or productive projects or programs to create sustainable growth. It's insulin injection style boosts.


Here is a job boosting solution to please many different people with long term impact: start the conversion of our transportation fleet to natural gas. Many govt vehicles are gas hogs. Let's switch them over to natural gas to create a built in demand for the vehicles (this goes for buses-SUVs-trucks as well). Impose an additional gas tax of $1.00 per gallon offset by an increase in the standard deduction so people's taxes do not increase. If you drive a lot & whine, too bad, ask smokers how they feel paying sin taxes that you don't. The differential between regular gas and natural gas for a car fuel will be great enough that people will see a definite payback in buying a nat gas car. Nat gas cars have a lower CO2 output. Nat Gas is a domestic fuel we have a glut of and can last for years and years (this guy theorizes how much to replace all petro based gas). Nat Gas is also at 7 year lows for price.


Benefits:

1. Natural Gas Producers and Employees - All along the chain (drillers-pipelines-utility firms) there is a sudden heightened demand for nat gas. These jobs are located in the US. They will hire people. This would also help blue and red state economies. This would put people to work.

2. Car Companies - Honda already makes a nat gas car. We can cut a deal with Honda to have it produced in their American plants. GM, Ford, Chrysler can all follow suit. These cars already qualify for the tax credit on enviro friendly cars. With the govt buying for govt fleet vehicles, the automakers would have a built in demand base. We can also run a true 'car fleet enviro upgrade', by doing a trade in program to reduce CO2 emissions by switching. This could be like 'cash for cunkers' except it REALLY would impact the environment.

3. Environmental - The gas tax would definitely skew behavior away from spending money on big, bad gas. This has a direct impact on CO2 emissions. Every car & bus replaced by a nat gas vehicle would produce less CO2 (direct impact). A nat gas-electric hybrid would be even better. If you care about CO2, this is a direct & large impact. Far bigger than CFL bulb switching. Tree huggers should be pushing this.

4. Trade Deficit - Our trade deficit now is mostly China & our Oil import bill. Over 60% of our oil use is for the transportation sector. The US is environmentally handcuffed but still can produce 5.2 mil bpd and currently consumes about 18.7 mil bpd (we import 13.5 mil bpd). Doing rough math, this means about 11.2 mil bpd is used for transportation. A nat gas switch will not replace all gas-diesel use, but if we can reduce transportation use by 1/3, then we would reduce oil product use by 3.7 mil bpd. Because we produce far less oil than we use, that would be 1.35 billion bls less of oil we would need to import. Using a $70/bl baseline price, we're talking about a $100 billion savings per year from the trade deficit. This is HUGE.

5. State & Federal tax receipts - Drilling would create jobs & revenue for corporations. That income whether from ees or the employer would be taxed. The govt would see tax receipts increase. In case you have not noticed, tex receipts at all levels are down.

6. National Security - This would make the US better protected from a disruption in oil supply, which if you have not noticed is from countries with major internal and political problems or in hot spots. Oil would also be less of a weapon to use against us. Oil will be demanded from other countries, and let those countries fund the thug states that are major oil producers (Iran, Russia, and Venezuela come to mind).

I beat the drum often about nat gas as a transportation fuel. We have the infrastructure mostly in place. This would put people to work. This would help our national security and the environment. This makes too much sense and will never be enacted unless we get a red state Democrat elected president or a split Congress with an economically smart GOP Prez elected.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11

Another year has passed, and no further attacks on US soil. Truly amazing. I never would have thought that 8 years would pass with no follow up attack. No biological attacks. No colorful explosions. No dirty bomb attacks. No dynamite loaded shopping cart pushed into a train station or shopping center. Thank you to all involved from soldiers on down to alert citizens.

I remember there was that we got to carry on and be normal again vibe on campus, but it was hard to when you only go to class maybe 4 hours a day and 24-7 news had updates of the wreckage or the operations in Afganistan. There was so much pent up emotion and tension that I recall people just crying for no reason with confused looks on their faces. I also remember drinking Miller High Life with friends and watching the President throw a strike to open the first World Series game in NY. I still get the chills watching it. I don't agree with things he did later, but that night, he made everyone in my apartment feel good. The news and paranoia was terrible, and there was so much confusion and fear. When the Prez walked out there all business and threw a strike, it was like "fuck, hiding in our living rooms watching CNN all night, let's get this show on the road and play ball". Game 3 would be like any other game 3 since the Prez threw out the 1st pitch. The Yanks had to play, and life must go on.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Thoughts Exactly

This gets 2 thumbs up from me. This guy is far smarter and a far better writer than I am but echoes thoughts I have had, said and I think even typed about here. We still need to fix the banks, but we should have fixed the banks in the spring. Would have been huge for Barry Obama to build trust.

Barry had his 28th speech about Health Care last night. Yes his 28th (check Politico's count). The only things new I heard were about tort reform (yeah) and the magic number of insured is now down to 30 mil. Hmmm, how did it drop by 15 mil from one speech to the next?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Let's Maybe Slow Down and Stay Off TV for a While

Hey Barry, let's maybe slow down a bit and get off tv for a while. Maybe stay off the magazines. Maybe not make so many damn press conference dates about non-crisis things that you want to make a crisis. Maybe you want to keep a low profile, actually create a health care bill that people can understand & support, and get down to governing & appointing people. Maybe stop with the pretty slogans for the common folk and harsh words for the banksters and actually break up Citigroup & AIG. Oh wait, no, you're not going to do that. Oh, you got plans. Good luck with that.