A Dem/Socialist Smackdown Two-Fer

On June 6th The Signal published a column by Josh Heath entitled “The progressive case for ending welfare” (Link), in which he advocated what is essentially a “working welfare” government program modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs of the Great Depression. As Heath wrote: “These jobs would be modeled after what President Franklin Roosevelt had Americans doing during the Great Depression: Building roads, schools and post offices; beautifying communities; teaching students; making art.”

Unfortunately, I think he overlooked a major flaw in his proposal.

You can’t really “create” those jobs because they already exist in our government work force. If there’s something that needs to be done — such as his examples of building roads, schools, teaching, whatever — there’s already someone doing it, as those things already exist as government programs or through bureaucracies.

So you can’t create “new” jobs; all you end up really doing is replacing the current workers, many of whom are private-sector contractors, with “working welfare” employees.

The country’s economic model pre-FDR was fundamentally different from today. The government had a much smaller role, so FDR was able to create jobs out of pretty much thin air – though the long-term economic benefit to the country has been doubtful at best – and ultimately the slack was really taken up by the manpower demands of engaging in World War II.

Since that time, the government has grown into a gargantuan entity with its tentacles woven throughout our economy, the natural result of FDR’s expansionist policies. So the economic reality of Heath’s proposal would result in major disruption of a significant portion of the work force as current employees – both direct and indirect (such as vendors and contractors) – were replaced by the “working welfare” employees. In fact, all you would really do is create an entirely new group of people without jobs, merely shifting the burden from one group of people to another.

Just as the Obamacare promise of solving the problem of the chronically uninsured actually only shifted the demographic from millions of the “poor” to millions of the middle class, Heath’s proposal also will only trade one set of the unemployed for another. It doesn’t actually “solve” anything.

In regard to Gary Horton’s column “America: just another nation?”, published on 7 June (Link), I have to say, it really is a lot of fun watching lefties wail and moan. I want to examine a couple of his complaints.

Okay, NATO. Trump hasn’t withdrawn us from NATO. What he HAS done is tell our “partners” that they’re finally going to have to pay their actual commitments to their share of the funding, something virtually ALL of them have been shirking for God knows how long. What a drag, right? So instead of coasting on our dime, and wasting their own money on their social welfare programs, now they’re gonna have to pony up. Bummer, I’m sure.

The Paris Accord. That scam that’s SO bad that it was never even submitted to the Senate for ratification, because it was a sure-fire epic fail there. Yep, Obama had his “phone and pen”, but now, so does Trump. Same phone, same pen. So now we’re out.

That’s a GREAT deal for America. Instead of keeping our cheap and abundant energy resources uselessly in the ground, while China and India charge ahead with their massive coal-fired energy projects, all while we chase after expensive “green energy” fantasies, we can use those resources to improve our economy and standard of living. Instead of losing millions of jobs and throwing hundreds of billions of dollars to Third World corruptocracies in a massive international wealth redistribution scheme in which we’re the victims, we can keep those jobs and those monies for our own benefit.

Sounds like a “YUGE” win… for us.

Gary: “So much leadership and potential trashed, all in 138 days.”

Well, yeah, I know it looks like that… to him. But to me it looks like we’re finally veering away from the socialist highway the lefties had us on. I can sure understand why that upsets so many of them, while a whole lot of US are cheering.

To me it looks like in that same 138 days Trump has actually made a great effort to live up to and fulfill his campaign promises, something I had little confidence he was actually going to do. I’m very impressed!

 

©Brian Baker 2017

 

(Also published today in The Signal)

 

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The “Climate Change” Zealots Are At It Again

That must mean there’s 4 more weeks of winter coming…

Just like Punxsutawney Phil’s annual Groundhog Day appearance to “predict” whether or not it’s going to be a long winter, it’s that time of year again when all the global-warming nuts make their appearance to pester the rest of us with their wild-eyed hysteria about the coming end of the world due to mankind’s driving too many non-electric cars, or something.

The “global warming” scam is just fodder for the socialist Kool-Aid gulpers. The fact of the matter is that the planet is a bit over 4 billion years old, and in that time the climate has always been “changing.”

Always has, always will.

And thank God for it.

pack ice

San Francisco Bay Area, August 30, 8000 BC

Ten thousand years ago — a mere blink of the eye in geological time — half the Northern Hemisphere was completely covered with pack ice over a thousand feet thick, extending all the way down to what is now central California.

What happened? Those woolly mammoths drive too many SUVs? Those Stone Age people keep their thermostats set too high?

A couple of decades ago, Al Gore was babbling about how, right about now, New York City would be submerged.

Even though I find a lot of appeal in that idea, I have yet to see news video of people swimming down Park Avenue.

Meantime, the polar caps on Mars were shrinking, last I read about it. Is the Mars Rover belching out too many hydrocarbons? Those Martians irresponsibly using too many spray cans of hair gel, or what?

Back in the ‘70s, the big “coming disaster” was “global cooling.” We even got to be treated to periodic Hollywood post-apocalyptic disaster movies about it, too.

Watch them now; they’re laughable beyond belief.

Of course, “cooling” is now no longer de rigueur. And since the “climate” hasn’t actually warmed in almost 20 years, the socialists are now using the more all-encompassing term “climate change.”

And since the climate is always changing, that’s a pretty clever catch-all. No matter what … “The sky is falling!”

yawnThis entire “climate change” scam is so ludicrous that no one with half a brain falls for it anymore. Which is why polling data places it w-a-a-a-y down the list of people’s priorities.

Time for the socialists to get a new script. That one’s definitely in turn-around.

The planet’s climate is an incredibly complex dynamic system, driven by solar forces, planetary, geophysical, meteorological, geological, oceanic, astronomic, and cyclical influences, among many, many others.

Football is a much simpler dynamic, not nearly as complex. How come, at the start of the season, the “experts” can’t tell us which teams are going to be in the Super Bowl, which one’s going to win, and what the point spread will be?

Once they can do THAT, maybe I’ll have some confidence in these Chicken Little “climate predictions”, and their lame attempts to blame mankind for what is in reality a natural phenomenon.

© Brian Baker 2014

Sneaky Leftists

 (I know… oxymoron, right?)

Over the last few years out here in Commiefornia, capitol of the enviro-whacks, there’s been a rising tide of panic about the “dangers” posed to the environment by the bags used in grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores to package your purchases.

A few years ago, paper bags were the bugaboo, because trees were being “sacrificed” for such a “wasteful” purpose. There was much loud wailing and gnashing of teeth from the enviroNazis about how people should use plastic bags instead.

Then a couple of years ago those same fanatics changed their minds and decided that everyone should have to bring their own bags instead. It seems that plastic bags have also made it onto the “no-fly” list because of their durability (generally considered a good thing in other products); it seems some of them have been spotted floating around out in the middle of the ocean somewhere.

Can’t have that!

The problem is, they can’t sell their whacky ideas to the proletariat. That pesky free will at work again. So the answer was obvious: get their leftist buddies in government to do their work for them!

Of course!

So, in San Francisco (surprise!) and here in LA County, laws were passed to make the use of plastic bags illegal. They were banned, like other dangerous substances such as heroin and cocaine. The only “approved” choice is now back to those paper bags that were previously scorned … at a mandated “fee” of 10 cents per bag, of course. Fortunately for me, LA County has no regulatory power over the incorporated cities in this county, so here in Santa Clarita we still get to exercise our free choice in the matter.

But those stalwarts in the City of Los Angeles aren’t satisfied. Oh, no! Now they’re on the verge of passing a law banning paper bags, too (Link). Their goal, as they plainly admit, is to force people to bring their own reusable bags to the store, kinda like the Russian babushkas had to do in the glory days of the Soviet Union. I always have to wonder what was so appealing about the USSR that our homegrown leftists so often try to emulate it.

Of course, this stupid policy blatantly ignores the problems attached to the reusable bags: they’re unsanitary, most of them are made in China, and that little issue of people being able to make their own choices.

But then, they’re leftists. The only “free choice” they believe in is the choice to murder unborn babies. Anything else must be government-approved.

© Brian Baker 2012

Scum of the Earth

This essay is something of a companion piece to my last one, in which we explored the fallacy of the leftist dogma of “alternative energy” solutions to oil and gas prices. Since I wrote that piece, Dear Leader Obama has weighed in with his proposal for a solution to the problem.

Algae.

Yep. That’s right. The Brilliant One has pinpointed pond scum as the way to “energy independence”.

“We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae… Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in the United States.” Dear Leader in a speech at Miami University. (Quote from IER)

Well, maybe there’s something to that. After all, where does oil come from? The transformation of organic matter into oil. We know we can create biofuels from used cooking oil. So maybe there’s something to this, right? I decided to look into it.

I went to the website of the Institute for Energy Research (Link) and lo and behold, they had an article on just that topic (Here). It seems that from 1978 to 1996 the Department of Energy funded research into the development of algae – pond scum – as an alternative fuel source. But they ran into several problems.

To meet 100% of our fuel needs would take algae farms that would cover an area the size of the state of North Dakota. Even if we set a target of meeting only 17% of our fuel needs – per Dear Leader’s speech – that still requires farms that would equal an area the size of South Carolina. Now, I doubt that the residents of either state would be too keen on evacuating just to make room for scum farms, so someplace would have to be found to grow the stuff.

Remember, we’re talking pond scum, so it would have to be in the South, because the stuff won’t grow in the cold. It would have to be warm all year round. Which means we’d probably have to fill up our southern deserts with scum farms. Wouldn’t that disrupt the habitats of some turtles or something? Oh, well, a problem for another day.

Of course, scum needs water in which to grow. A lot of water. About 350 gallons of water for each gallon of scum oil. Where’s that going to come from? Especially in the desert? Well… maybe we can locate these scum farms near the rivers instead of in the deserts. But now we’re back to inhabited areas again. Are those people going to be any more willing than the Dakotans and Carolinians to just up and move away to make room for the scum?

Then we’re going to need a whole new technological infrastructure – refineries – to process that green stuff into stuff you can put in your car. You can’t refine scum in an oil refinery. Oh, no! Even more disruption of the environment!

That’s the problem with these hare-brained ideas that come from the leftists: they’re … well… hare-brained.

© Brian Baker 2012

A Hundred Bucks To Fill The Tank?!?!?!

When I was a kid, you could buy a whole used car for that amount

I’m revisiting a topic I’ve written about before, but it seems especially timely given that the price of gas at the pump has risen to over four bucks a gallon – a new record for this time of year – and there’s no end in sight.

Also, in this election year, there’s no doubt that this can – and should – be an election year topic. After all, when Obama took office the price of gas was somewhere around $1.75/gallon. That’s right! Remember that?

Our economy is driven by its fuel. The price of fuel affects literally everything, not just your personal cost to operate your vehicle. It affects our costs to manufacture and transport goods, too, including our agricultural products. It keeps this country mobile, which has been one of the – if not the – key elements in making us the economic powerhouse we are.

What have we heard from Obama and his minions, and the “environmental” lobby, about how to address the problem? Endless blather about “alternative fuels and energy”. Put another way, speculative science fiction.

What I’m doing here is reprinting an email dialogue on this topic that took place today thanks to my web-buddy Buck, who initiated the emails on the topic. It started with a fellow talking about the fallacy of the economies of the Chevy Volt. I’ll start with my response.

ME:  Here are some facts:

The energy-to-weight nature of petroleum-based fuels far surpasses that of any battery ever made. What that means is that petroleum isn’t going to be replaced as the power source for most transportation. At best, you’ll see “hybrid” technology utilized.

Battery powered cars are great, until you reach their maximum range of 200 or 300 miles. Then you have hours of recharging time in front of you, and there’s no way to shorten that to the time frame involved in filling up your gas tank.

Aircraft aren’t going to be powered by solar panels or batteries. Ships, unless they’re nuclear powered, will not be powered by anything other than petroleum-based fuels. You’re not going to see battery-powered big rigs.

We have the largest known deposits of crude in the world in shale, enough to make us energy-independent well into at least the next century, and a net-exporter if we so choose. The Athabasca oil sands development has proven the extraction to be cost-effective, and Shell’s new in situ extraction process has proven to be very “environmentally friendly”.

Unless the Starship Enterprise shows up to share their di-lithium crystal technology with us, our need for petroleum isn’t going away in the foreseeable future. That’s just a fact.

Let’s look at some further facts.

The Tesla Roadster is the first — and so far only — electric-only car in production. (True at the time I wrote the original essay on my blog) It has a range of 244 miles on a single charge. It recharges at a rate of 56 miles/hour, so a full recharge takes 4 hours.

By the way, electricity isn’t free; it’s actually pretty expensive, and getting more so.

ANYway… the battery has an estimated life of about 100,000 miles, at which point it has to be replaced at a cost of about $36,000… the price of a new gas-powered SUV.

According to Tesla’s own white paper:

(http://www.teslamotors.com/display_data/TeslaRoadsterBatterySystem.pdf)  “the Li-ion batteries in the Tesla Roadster only store the energy equivalent of about 8 liters of gasoline; a very small amount of energy for a typical vehicle.”

The battery weighs about 750 pounds. That’s the equivalent weight of about 130 gallons of gasoline. Assuming your car gets 20MPG, you’d drive 2600 miles on that 130 gallons of gas. If your car has a 20 gallon tank, you’d have refueled 7 times. At an average refuel time of 10 minutes, that would have taken about an hour altogether.

Your Tesla would have been “refueled” 10 times. With an average refuel time of 3.5 hours, you’d have spent 35 hours charging your car. There’s no way to speed up the recharge process; you can’t “slam” a charge into a battery. It’s an electro-chemical process. If you try to do it too fast, the battery simply explodes, just like a nuclear reaction goes critical if it’s allowed to proceed too quickly, resulting in a meltdown or nuclear explosion.

More wonky numbers. According to Tesla’s site:

(http://www.teslamotors.com/electric/charging.php) It takes about 68 kWh to charge the car. Here in the SCV that’s somewhere around $9/charge. That works out to about $0.04/mile. Gasoline in your theoretical car, at 20 MPG and $3/gal works out to about $0.15/mile.

At the 100,000 mile mark, you have to replace the battery in the Tesla at about $36,000, plus you’ve spent $4000 on electricity. Total of $40,000.

In your theoretical car, your engine’s still good for maybe another 100,000 miles, and you’ve spent $15,000 on gas. Even if you have to replace the engine, you’re only looking at about $4000. Total cost including engine replacement: $19,000.

Gas-powered car at 100,000 miles: $19,000.

Tesla at 100,000 miles: $40,000.

This is what I mean about the practicality of the technology, or lack thereof for this application.

RJ:  Well Joe and Brian, It looks like gasoline is here to stay. Why about hydrogen. Anyone ever put any serious efforts into this. It is the fuel used by our space craft so why not auto engines. I realize it is highly explosive and something would have to be done about that but it should be easily solved by our chemist and engineers. Also, with the price of gas from the Muslims soaring every day, why do we not use our own gasoline supplies supplies. It is my understanding that we have enough of our own to last for over 400 years if it were not for the green people. We need to be spending the gasoline cost in our own country and not giving the Muslims whatever they demand for it and all they want is to see us all destroyed.

ME:  Richard and Peter, yeah, that’s the problem with hydrogen, as we saw with the Challenger. Its explosive nature. There are extremely few substances with a higher stored potential energy than petroleum distillates (gasoline, kerosene, etc.), and those are basically explosives.

As to our own domestic capabilities: we’re among the most oil-rich nations on earth. We’re also the only country with oil resources that doesn’t maximize its development of those resources. In oil shale alone in the Green River formation we have enough unrecovered product, conservatively estimated at over 800 BILLION barrels, to meet all of our country’s oil needs for over 100 years at current consumption rates (http://ostseis.anl.gov/guide/oilshale/index.cfm). Then throw in all the other deposits, both known and so-far unknown, free oil and shale, oil sands, fracking recovery techniques, new recovery technologies that make formerly abandoned deposits now economically feasible again, and we could easily be a net-exporter country instead of an importer; we could actually be THE determinative factor in oil prices, rather than the Middle East. This would not only go a very long way toward reversing our economic problems, but would at the same time free us from our “dependence on foreign oil” and the restrictions it places on our foreign policy.

But no. NOOOOOoooooooooooooo… Can’t have that! MUCH better to depend on “alternative energy” sources that no one can name, that don’t exist anywhere near the horizon yet, but that are for sure going to magically appear just in the nick of time, like the cavalry in an old Western movie.

Maybe the Vulcans will show up and share their dilithium crystal technology with us. That makes more sense than what I hear from the Left on the issue, anyway.

Beam me up, Scotty.

RJ:  Well Brian, I agree with you 100% if we would ever get a government with enough guts to do all the things about gasoline. But don’t you not think that the explosive nature of almost free Hydrogen could be solved by our chemist and engineers? After all since the Challenger I don’t believe we have had any other problems with our space craft. Just an idea I have had for many years and wanted to see what others thought about it. I like the idea of being the worlds biggest exporter of crude oil if we could ever make this come about. We need something to try to balance our horrible trade deficit.

ME:  Richard, I think it’s probably scientifically achievable. But I don’t think it’s a near-term solution. Here’s why.

Frankly, I don’t think such a thing as a “near-term” alternative solution is at all possible regardless of the political aspects. And I’ll quickly interject that I agree that politics are the ONLY reason we’re not energy-independent using our own oil. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, a breakthrough occurs and a viable and economic alternative magically appears on the scene. That doesn’t in any way address the fact that there are many hundreds of millions of gasoline-powered vehicles on the road, the seas, and in the air both here and all around the world. And those vehicles are going to be around for decades, at least.

We can’t wave a magic wand and make them go away, or be magically converted to the new energy source. Also, the energy dispersal infrastructure – the means of refueling the vehicles – consists of tens of thousands (at least) of gas stations. So, no matter what, there’s going to be a transition period that’s going to take a loooooong time to complete. All those vehicles are going to have to be replaced, and the gas stations are ALSO going to have to be replaced, with the new technology. We’re talking about God knows how much time, and many many trillions of dollars at all levels. Our technological world developed around combustion as the primary energy source, and primarily combustion of hydrocarbons. Even a hydrogen-based technology is going to take a very long and expensive conversion period.

Then add to that the fact that there’s no universally-applicable mode of energy production. Aircraft can never be powered by solar, for example. They’re always going to be combustion-based. Some ships can and do use nuke power; some use oil; some use diesel; some still use coal. Examples abound that illustrate the problem. New technologies can’t simply be imposed by fiat; they have to find their way in a complex system that has to adapt.

______________________________________________

That was our dialogue, and I think it nicely sums up the state of the issue, both politically and scientifically. Hopefully, if you managed to wade through the whole thing, you’ll have some ammo you can use if you enter into a dialogue on the issue with someone.

And hopefully it’ll influence your thinking as we move forward, both in this election year and as a nation addressing a very major issue in the long term.

(My thanks to all who participated in that email conversation. I hope you don’t mind my quoting you guys. It was great!)

 

© Brian Baker 2012