But Now You Know

The search for truth in human action

WARNING: Composting Increases Your Carbon Footprint!


We are slowly coming to face the fact that many trendy “green” things actually harm the environment, instead of helping it.

Unfortunately, some of us are not learning their lesson, and new “green” activities are being pushed that are just as lacking in forethought, just as harmful to the planet.

One perfect example of this is the new composting fetish:

It is actually better for the environment to throw away garbage, than to compost it, if you’re worried about greenhouse gases, instead of just wanting good, free fertilizer.

Composting Releases Greenhouse Gas

Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are the second through fourth most significant greenhouse gases, after water vapor.

The materials in a compost heap contain nitrogen and carbon, locked away from the atmosphere.

The act of composing specifically converts nitrogen into nitrous oxide, and carbon into prodigous amounts of methane and carbon dioxide. No actual environmental scientist will deny this. It’s just a fact of chemistry…the two links above are pro-composting, environmentalist organizations, yet they confirm this.

Just to be clear on this:

  • Water vapor is the main source of the natural greenhouse effect, causing about 50% of all heat retention, depending on local humidity. All scientists agree that nothing humans can do changes the overall amount of water vapor in our atmosphere.
  • Carbon Dioxide, CO2, is the next greatest source, producing about 20% of warming.
  • Methane, CH4, is 30 times more powerful, but there’s less in the atmosphere, so it contributes about 6%.
  • Nitrous Oxide, N2O, is THREE HUNDRED TIMES more powerful, but even rarer, producing about 2% of natural warming. The biggest impact we could have, if any, would be to produce more of this more powerful, less common gas.

To be clear, composting produces extremely high amounts of nitrous oxide, as well as large amounts of methane, and even under the best conditions, more CO2 than almost anything else, in your entire household.

Landfills Reduce Greenhouse Gases

On the other hand, if you were to throw those compostables away, they would probably end up in a land fill. Recently, environmental scientists have bothered to actually check, and have realized that, in fact, materials in landfills do not rot the way they normally would, because of the way they’re compacted together. The International Encyclopaedia of Environmental Laws,  pointing out that paper and corn don’t rot in landfills, asks why one should even bother substituting paper for plastic, or “biodegradable” corn bags.

Again, those are environmentalists saying these things.

Environmental scientist and Green advocate Bill Rothje says that you can find readable newspaper that has been in landfills for at least 30 years. That means the carbon in newspaper (which comprises 19% of all landfill space) can be retained in the landfill for decades…or released into the atmosphere by composting.

So, according to Environmental scientists, trash in landfills is removed from the carbon/nitrogen cycle, staying out of the atmosphere. A landfill is, in fact, a tremendous REDUCTION in our “carbon footprint”.

In fact, next time you’re thinking about “recycling” paper, remember that this requires more energy, fossil fuel, and chemicals than making new paper…and that if you just throw the paper away, you’re removing its carbon from the atmosphere for the long-term.

It Gets Worse

Some governments are using taxpayer dollars to force the production of “worm composting”. Yet nitrous oxide is an inevitable by-product of worm composting. Remember, this is about 300 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.


Earthworm Jim farts Nitrous Oxide into his space suit, compost worms do it in our atmosphere

Meanwhile, not only do landfills produce mainly methane, not Nitrous Oxide, but nearly half of the methane they produce can be captures for use as green energy. Methane engines simply produce water vapor as a waste product.

Jim Frederickson, senior research fellow at Britain’s Open University, says “”We need to investigate all alternative systems for greenhouse potential.

“The emissions that come from these worms can actually be 290 times more potent than carbon dioxide and 20 times more potent than methane. In all environmental systems you get good points and bad points.”

The whole “composting” craze, from expensive plastic countertop bins to government-mandated worm farms, is just another example of people not caring what is ACTUALLY good for the environment, but pushing any ill-thought-out plan down our throats.

September 7, 2010 Posted by | environment, Politics, Science | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Employer’s Right to Hire…and Fire


Help (BANNED) WantedThe job you really want, right now, is being held by some lazy, incompetent fool, whose boss wants to fire him…but cannot, thanks to people like Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee. In fact, Cohen probably identifies with the guy stealing your job.

This is because of the way government meddles with the hiring and firing of employees, now.

Involuntary Employers

Obviously, part of the problem is that it’s so hard to fire bad employees.

  • First, ridiculous laws allow privileged groups to claim discrimination or mean treatment based on race, sex, lifestyle, or many other things, claims as vague and unrefutable as fake neck injuries…and just as indicative of the evils of lawyers and our corrupt legal system.
  • What’s more, an employer is nearly as likely to be assumed guilty, by the public or the courts, as if accused of child molesting.
  • The maze of what is a privileged group is so insane that the employer can’t guess WHO might turn out able to sue. Are you of a privileged lifestyle? A favored fringe religion? They’re not even allowed to ask…so EVERYONE is seen as a potential trap.

So the safe thing to do is just leave the bad employee in his job, and suffer the economic burden to the company (and therefore economy), spending even more money to work around the problem.

If only employers were free to fire bad workers, it would be easier for ALL workers to get jobs, and then prove themselves to keep them. Even if you lacked experience, an employer could feel free to take a chance on you, and see how you work out.

Forced Anonymity

Since you are banned from proving yourself on the job, you need to prove yourself before you’re hired, but when you first apply for a job, the employer knows nothing about you but some claims on a piece of paper. When he interviews you, he can ask questions that show how much you have memorized, and he can get an idea of how likable you are…but he still can’t know how you behave as an employee.

It’s to your benefit to be able to show a prospective employer what a great worker you really are, and the only really effective way to do this is through references.

But laws and our harmful legal system have made that almost impossible.

The references of bad former employees have to fear repercussions if they say anything bad about an employee…in fact, it’s considered increasingly dangerous to say anything NEUTRAL about an employee, as this has become a way of clearly not saying something good about him, to bypass the prohibition.

This means that anyone trying to call your references can’t really trust all your good reviews, so you’ve lost this tool for proving your value.

Know Your Associate

It is also illegal, effectively, to hire mainly people you know or have some social affiliation with, especially if most of whom you know are healthy, straight white males. You are required to have some artificial ratio of sex, race, sexual preference, even political viewpoint and other things, depending on how crazily PC your state is…and statistics say you won’t accidentally know exactly the right proportions of each, when thinking of what friends could fill that job opening.

This is unfortunate, because you have a better idea of the abilities of people you know, despite any biases you may have from friendship or other factors, than you could possibly know about strangers applying, especially under the current anti-reference conditions.

Another tool for finding a good employee, down the drain.

So employers are unable to screen workers well before they hire them, yet are trapped with the bad ones once they do.

Let’s Ban MORE Hiring Tools!

Not trying to prove the point by showing he's fugly, just want you to see who's attacking your right to win a job

As employers grow more desperate to find ways to pre-prove employees they are scared to hold to any standards once hired, some are resorting to running credit checks. Obviously, while it doesn’t directly show how they work, it increases the odds of knowing something about the character of the person. Not perfectly, but it gives them some chance to reasonably guess.

So you can’t prove your worth on the job, because the employer fears firing being stuck with bad workers.

You can’t prove how great you are with references, because it’s effectively illegal for them to be honest.

One of the few ways left is to allow a potential employer to run a credit check. Sure, it doesn’t show how you do a job, but there is some loose correlation between character and good credit. If your credit’s at least OK, the odds are at least somewhat better of you taking commitments seriously. And, anyway, it shows you have less incentive to steal from the company.

Having them run a credit check on you may be the thing that seals the deal.

But now,  Representative Cohen and others like him want to ban even this entirely plausible hiring tool.

They literally want to make it illegal for you to give your job prospect permission to run a credit check.

Obviously, aside from how almost any intrusion in the free market causes harm, this is wrong. They want to deprive both you and the employer of one of the few remaining ways to prove you should be hired.

Why, we wonder, aren’t they instead trying to restore the other, better ways that were already banned?

If checking credit does not work well, it will die out with competition. If it works well, they have a RIGHT to use it.

Interestingly, the only employers I’ve ever had do a credit check on me were government agencies and their contractors….and this bill exempts those, as corrupt Congresscritters typically protect themselves from the bad laws they impose on us.

This bill needs to be stopped, and the current laws preventing good job matching need to be fixed.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Economy, Family, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cash for Clunkers Causes Pollution and Poverty


This was going to be an article about how the Obama administration’s “Cash for Clunkers” campaign is an assault on the poor — which it is, because it breaks the flow of newer used cars to poorer people — but, in gathering facts for it, I came to realize that another of the unintended consequences of this self-destructive law is that it, literally, will increase pollution.

Why?

Ultimately, both of these side-effects are caused by the bizarre, authority-obsessed requirement that the cars traded in be destroyed, not sold to owners of even older cars.

Cash for Clunkers Pollutes

This is because the older a car, the worse its gas mileage. Not only in general, but also because cars tend to perform worse as they age.

But Now You Know is getting GREAT mileage out of this picture of the wind-powered Aerius, that charges its own hybrid battery while driving, in defiance of the laws of thermodynamics

But Now You Know is getting GREAT mileage out of this picture of the wind-powered Aerius, that charges its own hybrid battery while driving, in defiance of the laws of thermodynamics

Cash for Clunkers only rewards people for buying new cars, not for simply buying any car that got better gas mileage, regardless of its age. And it destroys the cars traded in, regardless of their own gas mileage.

This means that only more-prosperous people, who can afford new cars, are able to use the C4C program. They are, therefore, often trading in relatively nice, fuel-efficient cars. Often, they are even buying cars only a couple of miles per gallon more efficient.

Meanwhile, what about the people with older cars, which are much less fuel efficient?

Simple: They are having the nicer, more efficient used cars they WOULD have bought destroyed. Leaving them in a pollutive car longer than if the C4C never happened in the first place.

Since the older the car, the more pollutive, this has the net effect of WORSE pollution, not better.

Someone buys a new car that gets two miles per gallon better. His used car is destroyed, instead of going to someone who owns an older car that gets TEN miles per gallon worse. The net result is an LOSS of 8 MPG.

Take this real-life example:

  • Dude A has a 16 MPG truck
  • Trades it in for an 18 MPG truck, Obama gives him $3500 to save 2 MPG
  • Dude B has a Chevrolet 1500, that gets 9 MPG
  • Dude B finds he cannot afford to buy to buy a 16 MPG truck, because prices have gone up so much.
  • He keeps his old truck.

Net result? The Obama plan gets credit for a whole 2 MPG increase, but actually produced a 7 MPG decrease.

“But this isn’t a good example”, some greenie shouts, “people were trading in SUVs for compact cars!”

While that would be a good example of the program increasing traffic deaths, it’s not actually true in this case.

This is because the initial stats claiming it were a contextual lie.

The actual numbers, in fact, show that the most people traded their vehicles in for SUVs and trucks.

But that’s not all…there is a large “carbon footprint” around manufacturing a new car. Statistically, it should be impossible for the above +2 MPG truck to save enough, in pollution, to make up for being built, over keeping the used truck. Same with non-carbon pollution, manufacturing versus microscopically worse gas mileage. Keeping an older car can actually reduce pollution.

Of course that wasn’t the original point of this article:

…and Causes Poverty

In their attack on consumer choice, the Obama administration attacked consumerism itself, which is a very politically-correct thing to do. But the fact is that consumerism makes our economy more efficient, and benefits the poor.

As the best-off consumers buy better things, items out of favor — whether used or just old models — become less expensive, allowing poorer people to buy progressively better stuff for the same prices.

In the case of cash for clunkers, the Obama administration broke this:

  • Nice used cars will now be in shorter supply, which will raise the relative prices of the remaining nice used cars.
  • This will make it harder for poorer people to afford to upgrade.
  • This will trickle all the way down to the very poorest, who will soon find that their ability to buy some minimal car AT ALL, is affected.
  • That can mean the difference between getting to a job, and getting out of poverty, or being trapped indefinitely.

So aside from the many other unintended consequences of this program, and there are many, the program has actually set the scene for poor people to have an even harder time affording cars, a vital tool for earning more money.

What’s more, most of the sales are ones that would have happened, anyway.

Didn’t Even Help

The net result of Cash for Clunkers will be more depressing effect on our economy. Government is often credited with the famous Reverse Midas Touch: Everything it touches turns to crap

The net result of Cash for Clunkers will be more depressing effect on our economy. Government is often credited with the famous Reverse Midas Touch: Everything it touches turns to crap

Speaking of poverty, the program did not actually stimulate car buying, to help the economy, especially did not help the American car companies (who did not deserve it, anyway), and did not even get those new buyers to save gas mileage!

Why?

Because most of the buying was just what economists call “front loading”; the choice to buy a car was simply moved ahead…once the plan ends, car purchasing will decline to an abnormal low from where it would have been, as most people who could have anticipated buying a car in the next year or two will have simply bought ahead, at taxpayer expense.

The net result, therefore, will be the same amount of economic activity, but crammed hastily into a shorter period of time, and with the economy-damaging side-effect of government spending having required government debt or taxpayer burden.

“Hasty” seems to be a government motto, of late.

Oh, and the “helping American car companies”? The people who took advantage of Cash for Clunkers mostly bought Japanese cars.

In all, these factors mean that even this most feel-good of big government programs, Cash for Clunkers, has had the overall effect of increasing pollution and harming the poor, by removing perfectly good, modern used cars from the road, trapping poorer people in much older cars, for longer…while either increasing pollution through manufacturing more new cars, or just causing future economic turmoil by using economy-depressing public finance to encourage people to simply buy their cars a few months early, all at one time.

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August 14, 2009 Posted by | Economy, environment, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Check out the Worker’s Rights Manifesto


anarcho-capitalist-workerYou and I, as a workers, have certain rights that are naturally ours, and that nobody should be allowed to violate. These rights are choices we are free to make, unless the powerful try to steal them.

  1. The right to work for the amount we choose.

    What we earn should be a matter between ourselves and our employers, not something controlled or approved by some government…more

  2. The right to work for whom we choose.

    Where we work should be a matter of which job offer we accept, not controlled by some law or.…more

  3. The right to keep the product of our labor, and do with it as we choose.

    The product of our labour is the amount we agree to sell our services to an employer for. It is ours by right, and any authority who takes it from us for their own purposes is wrong.…more

  4. The right to decide how we work.

    What if we don’t want three weeks off, but would like a little extra pay, instead? What if we want to buy health insurance with a huge deductible for two hundred bucks a year, instead of paying two hundred bucks per month for full insurance, because we have a lot saved up in the bank in case we get sick? Nobody should be able to.…more

  5. The right to work the way we choose.

    We have a right to decide what is “safe”, for ourselves, instead of.…more

  6. The right to become owners / management, and be proud of it.

    If we work hard, and make the sacrifice of saving our rightful income (product of labor), or work in our own time to create a great new idea, we have a right to invest it to create new wealth.…more

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s OK if it Kills People


(caption: Standing by a compact car, crushed in a test against a mere mid-sized car: "The laws of physics can't be repealed. Even with modern safety features like multiple air bags, people in small, light cars are always at a disadvantage in crashes." -- Russ Rader, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

(caption: Standing by a minicar, crushed in a test against a mere mid-sized car: "The laws of physics can't be repealed. Even with modern safety features like multiple air bags, people in small, light cars are always at a disadvantage in crashes." -- Russ Rader, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (click picture to see video))

It’s bad enough that new gas mileage standards will cost the already-struggling US automakers at least $21,000,000,000 per year, which they will pass on to YOU, either in as consumers or taxpayers, but they also can TRIPLE the chance of your family dying in a car crash.

The new CAFE standards require automakers to have a much higher average gas mileage within a few years.  But since automakers can’t force people to buy smaller cars, this means they must stop making larger cars, in order to force the “average” bought to be more efficient.

GM, for example, is going to literally stop selling the Caprice, one of its most popular and longest-made cars, to regular people…because it’s large. It will only offer those to “fleet” buyers, like police, taxi, and limo companies. Each company will also make the cars it does offer smaller and lighter. You will have no choice but to buy these, if you want a new car.

And, of course, you will be forced to finance this change through your taxes, with the new Cash for Clunkers law, while Cap and Trade (if you let it pass) will cause more car shrinkage and insane tax burden on you than CAFE and Cash for Clunkers combined.

Forced Green = Death

(caption: You're three times as likely to die in a small vehicle than a large one)

(caption: You're three times more likely to die in a small vehicle than a large one)

Yet no expert seriously denies that smaller cars are far more dangerous than large cars. They may refuse to use those exact words, but crash test results like this are not just normal, but a question of physics.

When a car hits something, its size, weight, and the materials out of which it’s made decide how much harm will come to its passengers. This is true even when an immobile object like a fence or tree…but it’s most true when hitting a moveable object, like a deer or another vehicle. These factors determine how much of the energy goes to moving the object you hit, and how much to crushing your body.

Even if your car has a rigid steel frame (Smart cars) and crumple zones (European cars), the change in speed from hitting a heavier object will snap your body around and kill you.

So when Barak Obama and John McCain attempt to force through standards that will effectively ban the building of larger vehicles for families, they are condemning many people to death. But, they say, this is worthwhile in order to force greater fuel economy on regular people.

Efficiency is more important than human life.

In 2004, a study by Dynamic Research, Inc. found a a 20% change in the weight difference between two vehicles in a collision produced a 15% change in mortality. The motivation, of course, was to show that people needed to be forced to drive lighter vehicles; punish SUV owners by reducing the side of their vehicles…but a more rational way to look at it is that, since large vehicles (and deer, and trees) will not cease to exist, a 20% reduction in the weight of new cars means a 15% increase in the death of families riding in them.

Your Death: A Risk They’re Willing to Take

(caption: Barak will remain safe in his gas-hogging limosine)

(caption: Never fear; Barak will remain safe in his gas-hogging limosine)

Not only will there continue to be industrial vehicles, tractor-trailor rigs, and other necessary vehicles on the road to hit your shrinking family car, and not only will the deer you hit not be on a corrresponding diet, but bear in mind that the “fleet vehicles” the politicians use are effectively exempted. So Obama, McCain, government officials, and their loved ones will still be safe in their gigantic limosines, massive taxis, and ponderous police cars, to collide with and crush we mere mortals.

Statistically, you are twice as likely to die in a small car than a larger one, during a crash…THREE times as likely, if it’s a single-car crash. That’s right; you don’t have to hit an SUV to die from driving a small car: The more your car weighs, the more it can push back against the object it’s hitting, reducing the speed at which your body is jerked in an accident.

In fact, in a recent test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, smaller vehicles even proved doomsday devices in crash tests against mere mid-level vehicles. It’s not just that a smart car will kill you if it collides with an SUV, but even a normal sedan…and when the new laws are in effect, the normal sedans being made then will be death traps against one made today.

So if a Cap and Trade politician’s limosine crashes into your family car, a few years from now, you (not he) will be far more likely to die than today…but that’s ok, it’s a chance he’s willing to take.

The Mid-sized sedan is slowed moderately by the impact, but the minicar reverses direction in a fraction of the distance. Outcome: Sedan's driver; pissed off, smartcar's driver; dead

The Mid-sized sedan is slowed moderately by the impact, but the minicar reverses direction in a fraction of the distance. Outcome: Sedan's driver; pissed off, smartcar's driver; dead

July 20, 2009 Posted by | environment, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Do Good People Hope Obama Fails?


che-obama-posterized

(caption: Hoping The People succeed often means hoping a specific politician's agenda will fail.)

There was a recent hue and cry about Rush Limbaugh saying he hoped that Obama would fail.

But he has plenty of people on his side…from all over the political spectrum. Why?

Look not at the words a politician uses to adorn his proposals, but at the things it will actually produce.

There is a huge gulf between the pretty things Obama promises, and the poverty and tyranny he, like his predecessor Bush, would deliver if successful.

Progressive “Universal health care”, anywhere in the world, produces universally short supply and slow progress of medical technology.

“Renewable energy” has been the promise of government for forty years, but all that it’s ever produced is renewable economic malaise.

“Comprehensive immigration reform” means bundling bad ideas with good ones, for an overall worsening of conditions.

Our economic depression was caused, in part, by high energy prices (because of Bush’s insane foreign policies driving the price of oil up 700%). Now Obama promises to drive up energy prices even higher, on purpose, in the name of “global warming” that ignores the past two years of global cooling…and we should wish him to succeed?

Canadians illegally sneak to the US to get health care, when suffering or even in danger of death, because it can be months, or even years, before their own system rations out treatment to them. Britain actually bans life-saving treatments it deems “too expensive”. You’re not even allowed to buy them for yourself, much less get them “free”. The whole problem with US health care, in the first place, is that government has been increasing the “universal” and “free” parts for over forty years, stripping consumer control from our hands, causing prices to go up and service to plummet…would we really hope Obama manages to make that rationing universal?

There are debates, in America, over:

* Whether jobs should be protected from new immigrants, or they will increase wealth and demand enough to be a net plus

* Whether people who have broken existing laws in order to sneak into the country, by tens of millions, should be given blanket amnesty, or have to go back home and start over legally, or simply be thrown in prisons or exiled permanently.

* Whether tax-paying, productive people should be forced not only to subsidize poverty and failure among formerly tax-paying Americans, but even for foreigners who show up illegally just to get the free handouts, as is helping bankrupt California right now. Should their children suffer for their wrongs, or just the children of people who pay taxes?

All of those debates should be settled, separately. Lumping separate issues together to force people to take the bad ones in order to have the essential good ones is one of the great crimes of modern government.

But we must hope he succeeds in this?

That’s not the kind of “hope” people voted for in 2008.

We hope THE PEOPLE succeed…which often means hoping a specific politician’s agendas fail, completely.

July 10, 2009 Posted by | Economy, environment, Health, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Hypocritical Car Dealers’ Whining…


This car dealer whines about how an automaker should not be allowed to lay him off, and then talks about how HE laid off 35 employees

(caption: This car dealer whines about how a car company should not be allowed to lay him off, and then talks about how he laid off 35 employees)

Oh no, the bankrupt automobile manufacturers are ending their association with two thousand car dealerships!

This is unacceptable, because bankrupt companies should never cut costs, nor do anything else to become efficient and remain in business. They should keep all of their employees, business associations, et cetera, even if it means continuing to lose money and vanish entirely within the year.

On the other hand, why are these hypocrite car dealers not doing the same thing?

The ones pandering to a grandstanding Congressional panel today complained that they — the dealers themselves — had to lay off dozens of employees.

One of them said something like “I have been turned into a glorified used car dealer, which…[sob]…cost thirty-five of our loyal employees their jobs! [whimper]”

But…but…why on earth did he not simply keep all 35 of those employees, the way he’s demanding the automaker be forced to keep his dealership?

Every single explanation he might give, if asked this, would translate into an argument for why the automaker needed to get rid of extra dealerships.

Of course, the automakers could have kept more dealerships, if the Obama administration were not undermining their ability to get out of insane contracts with the UAW monopoly.

But, either way, the automakers are SUPPOSED to cut costs, at the cost of jobs and associations.

Or else the car dealerships should not be laying off employees, just because they lost their new car contracts.

And now we see another consequence of the Bush/Obama nationalization of industries...

And now we see another consequence of the Bush/Obama nationalization of industries...

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank Liberalism for the SUV…again


(caption: You can't ban powerful vehicles, any more realistically than you can ban stupidity.)

(caption: You can't ban powerful vehicles, any more realistically than you can ban stupidity.)

 

Years ago, busybodies decided to violate the limits to the powers of the Federal government, by setting gas mileage standards (and many other harmful regulations) on automobiles.

As is always the case with the Law of Unintended Consequences, this actually produced the opposite of the intended results.

It created the green-hated SUV boom.

This is because there are legitimate uses for large engines, and large vehicles. You can’t just declare that everything has to get X miles per gallon. Obviously, trash trucks cannot. The tractor-trailer rigs that deliver most of our goods cannot. Vehicles that actually are needed to drive somewhere on the road and then go off-road to do work cannot. 

There are, in fact, many sporting or work activities that require the power or weight that make high gas mileage impossible.

So the bureaucrats were forced to create special exceptions…for example, a Sports-Utility Vehicle class.

But arrogant, ivory-tower civil rulers cannot anticipate all needs. OK, let’s face it, they are actually incompetent at anticipating the needs of real people. 

So it didn’t occur to them that regular families need large vehicles, for many reasons. Nor that the regulations on minivans would make them too underpowered and, well, ugly, for most people to find tolerable.

So, in fact, the typical family was faced with an artificial division between the “efficient” vehicles, and those even more powerful than they need.

They were, therefore, actually driven (no pun intended) to buying from the latter class. Stuck between feeble, dangerous, ugly cars with good mileage, and inefficient, powerful, good-looking ones, they chose the latter. As they should.

It’s the environmentalists’ own fault.

And now they’re at it again:

The Obama/Pelosi administration have announced a McCain-like plan to FORCE Americans to drive even weaker, uglier, more fuel-efficient cars. This will not only increase poverty, by hugely raising the price of cars and therefore pricing people out of transportation, but will surely have many other unintended consequences, in the long run. More automaker bankruptcy, as they’re forced to make cars we won’t buy? Even crazier automotive trends, as we try to find a way to get what we actually need, instead of what they want us to have?

Have fun finding out what they’ll be.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | Economy, environment, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stop Blaming Capitalism: for Socialism’s Failures


New, Permanent Home!

This article has garnered such overwhelming response, that it has been given a permanent place, here.

The page below is now only a quick summary, with the details and citations moved to the real page.

(Almost all of what "evil capitalists" are blamed for is actually caused by socialism)


HMOs, the health care crisis, strip mining, robber barons, deforestation, SUVs, “global warming”, world hunger, unemployment, inflation, periodic recession/depression…what all have in common is that Big Government is the cause, but your economic freedom is blamed.

Politicians tend to force bad government programs on us, which then have destructive side-effects, usually the opposite of what’s intended, and then saying the effects were caused by whatever freedom of choice is left over, and trying to take that away.

Included in the list of such failures:

An entire group founded around this topic, including extensive discussion of it, can be found at Stop Blaming Capitalism, for Socialism’s Failures

(It's amazing how many things government forces on us, which are then blamed on our freedom)

(It's amazing how many things government forces on us, which are then blamed on our freedom)

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Real Americans Don’t Buy American


When you hear those lazy, tax-dollar-stealing car company reps on the radio saying you should “buy from us, or otherwise be sure to Buy American”, don’t forget that “Buy American” is unamerican.

Not only do they rob the taxpayers, but these lazy bureaucrats want us to buy inferior cars, out of fake patriotism

Not only do they rob the taxpayers, but these lazy bureaucrats want us to buy inferior cars, out of fake patriotism

The American Dream is for everyone to earn their way, NOT for people to be given an easy way out with affirmative action.

And Buying American™ in order to protect overpriced, inefficient union monopoly jobs is the very worst form of Affirmative Action.

We Americans have, for good reason, a long-standing belief in “meritocracy”, people getting what they earn, earning what they get.

Most of us have ancestors who came here because they could earn what they deserved, regardless of class, nationality, or whatever…at least compared to anywhere else.

And they passed on the kind of attitude necessary for such a tremendous move. Most of us still have a healthy dose of it, today.

And we’re in the one place in the world where we still have some opportunity to exercise it. Not as much as America used to, especially not as much as we’d like…but still more than anywhere else.

So we love this place, America, because we really do believe it’s the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

We love it enough that it’s hard to avoid getting suckered into tolerating, or even supporting, something completely unamerican, if it’s clothed in enough patriotic trappings.

The examples of that today are many…more than since the middle of the Cold War. But, aside from the many others which get plenty of bandwidth on the net already, there’s one which I almost never hear anyone speaking out against.

So I’m doing that, now.

Do you know who deserves to have the money for that new car you want to buy?

Whoever makes the best car in your price range. Frankly, that’s the only answer that fits with the Spirit of America.

Same with your shirt, your birdhouse, your silicon implants…whatever.

Yet some people, mostly bloated, bureaucratic corporations who make products which can’t compete on fair terms because they’re overpriced and underquality, have the nerve to tell us that it’s patriotic to “Buy American”. And because the word “American” is one we love, we’re tempted to fall for it.

But we need to stop.

If Mitsubishi and Hyundai make better cars than Ford and Chrysler, then they’re going to get more money. Then Ford and Chrysler are going to struggle. The solution? It’s for them to get off their lazy butts…and we, as Americans, are just the kind of straight-talkers to SAY that about them…and make better effing vehicles.

But if they can convince us to unconditionally “Buy American”, along with forcing us to give them billions in bailouts, then they don’t have to. They can keep making mediocre-or-worse cars. Which is what they’ve done since at least the mid seventies.

I remember an ad where Lee Iacoca leaned forward earnestly at what was implicitly his desk as a Ford executive, and said, in essence, “OK, we admit it, we have been half-assing the cars. But you taught us a lesson, so now we’re making really good cars. All you have to do is come back and try us out, we’ve decided that Quality is Job One, now.”

That was twenty-something years ago, if I recall correctly.

Just recently I saw another ad. Another car exec looking repentantly into the camera and ernestly saying something like “OK, we get it, we’ve been half-assing the cars. But you taught us a lesson, so now we’re making really good cars. We think quality is job one, now. No…really. This time we mean it.”

No, they’ll mean it when the people — who really do buy inferior cars because of emotional appeal — stop letting  the FEELING of being patriotic come before the actual actions of American ideals.

I’m going to stick to being a REAL American, and you should, too.

Support whomever deserves it, because anything else is not only wrong, and unamerican, but self-destructive in the long run.

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Unemployment Benefits INCREASE Unemployment


The recent increases in unemployment benefits, rather than helping fight unemployment, have actually increased unemployment dramatically 

 

The recent increases in unemployment benefits, rather than helping fight unemployment, have actually increased unemployment dramatically

Subsidies Cause Surplus

If you wanted to have too many apples, you could simply get the government to pay billions of dollars to apple growers. You can do this with almost anything; it’s called a subsidy.

Aside from the many problems intentional subsidies always cause, there are many “unintentional” subsidies. Perhaps the worst of these is the unemployment subsidy.

When you give people money for each apple you grow, more people choose to grow apples, and apple growers choose to make more. It creates an imbalance, producing more apples than the society really finds worthwhile.

When you give people money based on how unemployed they are, you likewise cause more people to be unemployed, and people to be unemployed longer. I don’t even need to go into how that creates an imbalance, as (unlike apples) more unemployment is obviously, universally, bad.

Some people, mostly those who have little real-life experience (like a Kennedy or Bush family member) might say “But nobody would CHOOSE to stay unemployed, just for benefits”.

Second, they’re wrong…but I’ll get back to that.

First

FIRST, it doesn’t matter if nobody does it on purpose. When the Fed raises interest rates just 0.25%, fewer people buy houses. Not one human being actually says “I am not buying this house, because the Fed raised rates by a fraction of one percent”.  It isn’t even raising home loan rates (it has no control over those), just the rate at which it lends to banks. Yet the trickle-down effect is fewer homes bought, in part because home loan rates creep up a tiny bit.

The same is true of unemployment. There is a trickle-down impact, over the span of 300,000,000 people, where some stay unemployed longer, and more BECOME unemployed, because unemployment is subsidized. As even a tiny increase in home loan interest rates invisibly pushes a few people over to the side of not buying a house, an increase in unemployment subsidy pushes a few people over into being unemployed.

Over the span of hundreds of millions of people, that is dramatic, in both cases.

And now we can get back to “second”:

Second

The ivory tower “nobody would choose to stay unemployed” people are wrong.

People DO choose not to work because they know they have an unemployment buffer.

They choose not to work as hard or otherwise volunteer to be the one laid off, choose not search as hard, pass up jobs they would otherwise take, and even actively stay unemployed, because of the unemployment benefits.

We who have real-life experience probably ALL, right now, know people who are doing this. Many of you, in fact, probably have done it. I am a consultant, so I don’t get unemployment benefits, but I’m sure it would influence me if I did.

I certainly have friends who actively cite the unemployment benefits as allowing them to take their time working. I even know someone who says they are glad the benefits have been extended, as they will be able to go for a year without looking for a job, now.

Sure, most states have some sort of fake attempt to require people to look for and take jobs. But there’s no way to actually make this work. It would cost more than unemployment benefits provide, to actually verify all the claims people make on their “looked for a job” forms. And any cheaper means of proving it would be draconian against all the people who were honest.

The Unemployment Subsidy

So yes, that’s exactly what the Liberals’ unemployment extension has done:

Increase unemployment, by subsidizing it.

We will have higher unemployment rates, and suffer this depression longer, because of the benefit increases. Yet another example of government’s coercive “help” making the problems they attack worse, instead of better.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Family, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Attacking AIG-style Bonuses Will Cause MORE Companies to Fail


Money BombRecently, I wrote an article about how Golden Parachutes are important for our economy, instead of bad.

And yet now we have people objecting to AIG fulfilling its contractual obligations to people who might otherwise have abandoned the company to collapse years ago.

This needs to be re-explained, in simpler, clearer terms:

  • If a company is struggling, it needs the best people it can get, in order to TRY to save itself.
  • If you are the best man for the job, then you don’t need to work for a struggling company. You are almost certainly going to choose a healthy, growing company where your job is secure.
  • In order to obtain your services, a struggling company must either:
    1. Offer you far more money up front, which it probably can’t afford to do, or
    2. Offer you protection against the company failing, like a bonus that you will get even if, or only if, something goes wrong despite your best efforts
  • In order for struggling companies to have a chance to survive, benefiting the entire economy and all of we who are in it, you must therefore have:
    1. The power to offer bonuses in case the company fails despite a manager’s best efforts
    2. enforcement of that bonus contract, so the potential managers trust it’ll get paid, and
    3. freedom from punishment for receiving such a bonus

The problem, here, is not AIG honoring a style of contract that is absolutely necessary for the health of our economy.

The real problem here is the same that we face whenever there is government intervention with our taxpayer money:

This form of socialism will always cause conflicts of interest, that will harm the recipient, the taxpayer, and the economy ever more, in a snowball effect.

Think of how people were trapped on welfare, from the 1970s through 1990s. 

The government bailed  out people in need, but then had to punish them if they ever made any progress in getting out of poverty, because it would be irresponsible to keep paying them the same amount of welfare, when they got even a little of their own income. 

Likewise, many state governments violate your freedom of choice  on health-related issues, on the premise that those states are paying for some people’s health care. They impose gigantic taxes on tobacco, alcohol, even convenient food, claiming that people who use them are raising government health care costs.

In all three cases, the freedom of private people is violated as a natural domino cascade starting with government taking your taxpayer money, and bailing people out with it.

Our response to this obvious conflict of interest, between bailouts and people’s free choices, should be to legislate against bailouts, not liberty.

March 19, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super-Sizing Sour Grapes


What Americans have, even in the midst of an economic depression, is an embarrassment of riches.

When the citizens of other countries complain that Americas eat too much, what they are really saying is “We are jealous of America’s plentiful food”; Despite (or because of) all their redistributive, anti-choice socialist programs, the typical European has less access to food, in diversity or amount, than even the poorest fifth of Americans. Maybe nobody in Europe goes hungry, but they don’t really prosper, either.  (facebook readers beware; the rest of the article is after the picture, don’t ask me why that happens)

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.</b>

A Fox found a bunch of grapes, on a vine over a lofty branch. Turning round with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no success. At last he had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour, anyway." MORAL: It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

And when they say “Americans are too fat”, what they mean is “Americans are more affluent”. Americans don’t need to walk as much, or otherwise engage in as much involuntary physical labor. Even poor Americans have more comfortable homes, more access to cars, more video games and computers, infinitely better television, more leisure, even without the Europeans’ governments forcing them to suffer the pay cut imposed by a mandatory six week vacation every year. 

Of course their response to this being pointed out is “more leisure? More entertainment? More living space? Bah! What kind of horrible way of measuring quality of life! People must be equal, not happy, you dirty materialist!” And yet, of course, everything about socialism is materialistic, an endless class war of envy and hate, worrying about who has more than whom, redistributing wealth, controlling our choices. That is the reason Marxists called it the Materialist Dialectic.

But it turns out that socialism traps people in stagnancy and perpetual shortages, while freedom allows people to have many more things. So, naturally, the actual materialists had to turn around and claim that prosperity is “decadent”, and “greedy”. How it can be more greedy than wanting to redistribute other people’s money for oneself, I don’t know.

Americans have a tendency to be hard workers. They are, statistically, the most productive society on the planet…but people, in general, who have access to more food and more leisure have to learn how to balance that with the need to choose to maintain physical fitness. Even if Americans, as a society, do learn that, the percentage of individuals who do not will still drag down the “average”.

An embarrassment of riches is a wonderful problem to have. “Oh no, too many people want to date me!” “Oh woe, I’ve grown so many tomatoes, I must give them away!” “Pitty me: now that I’ve won the lottery, people keep asking me for money!”

Who would seriously choose a life of more hunger, less choice, and more involuntary struggle over one where they need to choose to struggle a bit to stay in good physical condition?

In tests, lab animals that go somewhat hungry live longer. This probably is true of people as well…but what benefit is the added life, if it’s a result of being forced to do with less? 

We’re better off being faced with the need to control how much to work out, to watch our diet, et cetera, than being lean because we haven’t the chance to be flappy even if we were irresponsible. To be free to choose whether to life short, fat, comfortable lives, or strive for longer, healthier lives.

Some of us will chose wrong…but that isn’t necessarily limited to the ones who choose leisure. 

For some people, the effort may make life less worthwhile. For others, the working to “stay fit” might actually be more fun, as well as healthier. 

Americans are free to choose, whereas the victims of socialism in the rest of the world have what is supposedly best forced upon them “for your own good”, in a one-size-fits-all solution. People are better off being free to determine their own size.

That’s why even the most enlightened, economically and socially homogeneous European country still has more citizens wishing to become Americans, than Americans (despite our larger population) wishing to move to that country.

The price of choice, is the risk of mistakes. Even life-altering ones. But, overall, the benefit far outweighs the cost.

Americans can be proud to have the freedom that allows us the prosperity to choose whether to supersize their meals. The reason the rest of the world complains, ultimately, is that they are deprived of even the option. They have super-sized Sour Grapes.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Economy, Family, International, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not a Recession: A Depression


 Why does this economic downturn seem different than previous ones in our lifetime? Why does it seem familiar to anyone who is familiar with the economic history of 19th and early 20th centuries?

Because, up to the mid 1940s, the US tended to face economic depressions. Since then, we had not had one…until now. 

What we are suffering, today, is an economic depression.

Sure, it had been trendy, in the last decade or more, to say “we just stopped using the D word after the Great Depression”. But, once again, anyone who knows economic history realizes there’s more to it than that.

There is no official definition of an economic depression, other than the idea that they’re worse than recessions.

There isn’t really an official definition of an economic recession, either, although the pat answer is “two quarters of GPD shrinkage”. Real economists hate that definition, because it ignores more factors than it considers, to the point of being almost useless.

But we can simply examine what were called “depressions”, from 1800 through 1938, and compare them to the recessions between 1947 and 2007, and the differences are obvious.

 

Depressions, Described

 

Each depression / panic from 1819 through 1938 shared certain traits:

A shortage of money itself, leading to

  • Usually at least 2 years, as many as 23 years
  • Sudden runs on banks, causing bank failures
  • Commodity price collapse, where something generic like cotton, steel, oil, or real estate plunged in value, causing a domino effect that devastated the economy
  • A more general decline in prices across the economy
  • A collapse in capital, for example stock market collapse, once that became an important factor
  • A credit freeze, making loans and other forms of obtaining temporary money more difficult 
  • Massive business closings
  • Astonishing amounts of job loss and unemployment

Now what about the subsequent “recessions”, from 1948 through 2003? 

Recessions, Rescribed

 

Every one of them happened like this:

A dramatic raising of interest rates by the Federal Reserve, followed by

  • Usually only a few months, rarely more than a year
  • An increase in private interest rates
  • An increase in unemployment
  • Moderate to extreme price increases
  • A plunge in the stock market and moderate tightening of capital
  • Some amount of business failure

You can see examples of both recessions and depressions at the History of Economic Downturns.

What’s the Difference?

 

We face, as was normal during the days of the gold standard, massive bank runs, a credit freeze, price failures

We face, as was normal during the days of the gold standard, massive bank runs, a credit freeze, price failures

Now the most obvious difference is timespan. 

During the days of economic depressions, the downturns lasted much longer.  Always years, sometimes decades. Economic recessions generally only last months, rarely more than a year…the longest recession has not lasted as long as the shortest depression.

The second is that the trigger is slightly different.

Depressions were caused by a direct shortage of currency (money) in the economy. This, in fact, led to the other obvious differences, like runs on banks, mostly caused by a shortage of money making people worry about bank stability.

Recessions, on the other hand, have been preceded, in every single case, by the Federal Reserve raising rates, trying to make it harder to get new money. That’s very similar, but it leaves the financial sector able to compensate, however painfully, so that bank runs and commodity price failures never become “necessary”.

And that’s probably the next most important difference:

During the depressions, bank runs were almost universal, commodity price collapse was normal, the loss of huge numbers of jobs and businesses was a constant.

In the era of recessions, none of those things occurred at all. Unemployment, though miserable, was generally only a few percentage points higher, and while some businesses failed, nothing like the tens of thousands of the depression days, even though the economy was smaller back then.

Now, which are we seeing today?

Are We Depressed?

 

Let’s make a list:
  • Runs on banks, and bank failures
  • Real estate price collapse, along with some other commodities, including many metals like gold, copper, and nickel
  • The massive price inflation expected to result from high energy prices failed to materialize, representing an inability of people to pay more, even though production cost had to rise
  • A collapse in capital, for example stock market free-fall
  • A failure in credit, making loans and other forms of obtaining temporary money more difficult 
  • Massive business closings
  • A rising snowball of job loss and unemployment

Well, this does indeed sound almost exactly like a depression, not a recession. 

And, in fact, it was preceded by a money shortage, just like other depressions. In our case, the shortage was caused by high oil prices, two wars, and hundreds of billions in new foreign “aid” shipping trillions of dollars overseas, much faster than the Federal Reserve was creating new money. This meant that, while the surplus of foreign-based dollars caused its value to plunge compared to foreign money, here in the US there was less money available than usual.

Without as much money, we could not maintain the prices of some commodities, we became distrusting of banks, credit became scarce…ultimately, a new economic depression was natural. 

Why didn’t we have depressions from 1948 through 2007?

Up to the 1940s, the US had usually depended upon gold, and sometimes silver, to back its money. It claimed you could cash in a paper dollar, any time you wanted, for gold. This meant that money was, in a sense, just a glorified form of barter for a commodity.

In those days of a gold standard, if the economy grew faster than the supply of gold, this created a shortage of money, which could only grow as fast as people could dig up gold. When the economy grew faster, the relative shortage of money would eventually force banks to close, commodity prices to plunge, prices to decline, credit to freeze, and generally the economy to grind to a halt, to wait for gold to catch up.

That ended in 1946, when the US entered into the Breton Woods agreement. This was a sort of price fixing scheme, where instead of making a dollar equal to a certain amount of gold for exchange, each government just attempted to force the price of gold to remain a certain amount, compared to its money.

This happened to coincide, exactly, to the end of economic depressions. Without money being linked to the barter of a commodity that had its own separate value and supply, it did not end up in such short demand that the whole economy would fail. The recessions that did occur were from money shortages caused by the Federal Reserve, but these could be overcome, so banks never had runs, commodity prices never collapsed, et cetera.

This became even more true in the 1970s, when even the Breton Woods agreement was ended, and the price of gold became a legitimate free market price, not a fixed one.

Why are we having a depression, today?

As I noted earlier, this is the first time since the 1930s when there was a shortage of money so grave that we stopped trusting banks, could not pay for important commodities, and so on.

This is because we sent so much money overseas, out of our own reach.

The normal money we have sent abroad for decades, because we buy goods, was actually barely enough to keep up with foreign demand for dollars…but in 2001, that began to change:

The price of oil went through the roof. At its peak, we were paying 700% of oil’s natural price. This amounted to as much as one trillion dollars leaving the US to import oil, without getting anything in return (beyond what we normally got for 1/7th the amount). 

Meanwhile, we engaged in two wars, that cost hundreds of billions of dollars, much of which went to foreign countries.

And, in order to support those wars, paid hundreds of billions in new “foreign aid”, money shipped abroad with no imported wealth to offset it, at all.

This left us without enough money to simply run our own economy.

The result? Bank closings, real estate and other price failures, massive unemployment, bankrupcies, business failures…

Another economic depression.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Economy, Politics | , , , | 2 Comments

   

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