Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Too dumb for words

Walking to the shops ‘damages planet more than going by car

Walking does more than driving to cause global warming, a leading environmentalist has calculated.

Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. Provided, of course, they remembered to switch off the TV rather than leaving it on standby.

The sums were done by Chris Goodall, campaigning author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, based on the greenhouse gases created by intensive beef production. “Driving a typical UK car for 3 miles [4.8km] adds about 0.9 kg [2lb] of CO2 to the atmosphere,” he said, a calculation based on the Government’s official fuel emission figures. “If you walked instead, it would use about 180 calories. You’d need about 100g of beef to replace those calories, resulting in 3.6kg of emissions, or four times as much as driving. “The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better.”

This presumes beef as the only food to replace energy lost from walking. Utterly stupid. What if people ate a piece of bread or a bowl of rice?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quantitative Easing Explained

I hope this video goes viral.

John Hussman -- in his November 8 essay "Bubble, Crash, Bubble, Crash, Bubble..." -- has a more serious take on the actions of the Federal Reserve. The Fed has completely outstripped its authority and its charter, usurping the role of the legislature, just as our activist courts have been doing.

Hussman writes:

[Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernanke's 1999 speech included a very disturbing paragraph, particularly in light of what the Fed did by purchasing $1.5 trillion of these agency securities [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt securities].

“In thinking about nonstandard open-market operations, it is useful to separate those that have some fiscal component from those that do not. By a fiscal component I mean some implicit subsidy, which would arise, for example, if the BOJ purchased nonperforming bank loans at face value (this is of course equivalent to a fiscal bailout of the banks, financed by the central bank). This sort of money-financed “gift” to the private sector would expand aggregate demand for the same reasons that any money-financed transfer does. Although such operations are perfectly sensible from the standpoint of economic theory, I doubt very much that we will see anything like this in Japan, if only because it is more straightforward for the Diet to vote subsidies or tax cuts directly. Nonstandard open-market operations with a fiscal component, even if legal, would be correctly viewed as an end run around the authority of the legislature, and so are better left in the realm of theoretical curiosities.”

Yet this is precisely what the Fed did with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a year ago. Bernanke understands this. He simply does not want the public or Congress to recognize it.

Given that fiscal authority is enumerated by the Constitution as the sole right of Congress, and spending is prohibited by the Constitution without explicit appropriation, it seems clear - regardless of how the Federal Reserve Act is written - that monetary operations involving anything but Treasury securities contain unconstitutional “fiscal component,” unless they involve repurchase agreements that would make the Fed whole even if the underlying securities were to fail. It is doubtful that when Congress drafted the Federal Reserve Act to allow the use of mortgage-backed securities, it ever dreamed that the Fed would purchase these securities outright when the issuer was insolvent. Until this issue is clarified in legislation, Bernanke will continue to see it as “perfectly sensible” for the Fed to make “money financed gifts” that substitute his own personal discretion for those of a democracy.

Today, in addition to the tyranny of the executive order, we are under the threat of the tyranny of judges, and now the tyranny of fiscal policy conducted by the unelected head of the Federal Reserve. Our wimpy Congress does not take responsibility for its enumerated powers, and will not forcefully object to the usurpation of those powers by the judiciary and the central bank. We need to stiffen their spines.

Bush/Obama modus operandi

It's a new variation of an old plea.

Next Tuesday I will gladly borrow more money to give you interest on the money you loaned me to buy a hamburger for every citizen (and a steak for every banker) today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cable TV Waterloo

Mish reports that cable TV customers are canceling subscriptions in droves. People can't afford the bills anymore. Many of those who stay connected are cutting deals -- more content or lower bills. Fierce competition, but many people are getting off the cable/satellite merry-go-round.

From Rolling Stone last month:

"Cutting the Cord... According to one firm, up to 15 percent of US
households will be watching TV exclusively on the Internet by the end
of this year. Cable subscriptions went down steeply last spring (that
never happens!), and new Internet-only boxes like the Boxee Box and
the rejiggered Apple TV -- which now hooks up to Netflix -- are lining
up to fill the void. For the cable networks, 2011 is looking
suspiciously like 2000 did for the music biz: the year the shit hits
the fan."

I am watching J. Michael Straczynski's old post-apocalypse series Jeremiah
on hulu.com now. It's not bad. Luke Perry and that kid from the Cosby
show star in it. I'm waiting for the new Stargate Universe shows to come
online. They delay them a month now on hulu. Who cares? Hulu you think
you're foolin'? If there ever comes a day I cannot wait a month to
see a new episode of some TV show, somebody shoot me in the head. Take my life.

There is enough content on hulu.com to entertain anyone indefinitely.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A mighty wind is blowin'

Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine company, announced last month it is "closing its factories in Scandanavia, with a loss of 3000 jobs." (wikipedia)

It is expanding in Portland, Oregon. This is office space, not production. 400-500 jobs. (Portland Business Journal)

"...currently expanding and opening up new production facilities in China, Spain and the United States." (wikipedia)

Would they be here at all without subsidies? Our wind turbines will blow in from China. Blades are made in Colorado (200 jobs), with 1400 more jobs set to be created at an assembly plant under construction, also in Colorado.

The number of green jobs in wind turbine manufacture is a piddling amount here in the US. We need to create at least 100,000 jobs monthly to keep up with new workers being added to the work force. Even with subsidies, alternative energy can only fill a tiny percentage of the number of jobs needed just to keep the unemployment rate static.