Northeast Governments to Freeze their Citizens

I often write in generalities about the lunacy of looking to the State to meet your needs, but today I think I’ll talk about some U.S. state governments in the northeast and what they are doing to their citizens. I think most of us are aware that California is driving industry out of the state and that there is a great flow of business towards Texas as it has much lower electric rates. California charges approximately double what Texas does for electricity. But let us look at the states in the northeast on the other side of the country which are about to enter a crisis trying to supply energy in the winter.

The governors of six New England states have recognized an impending crisis situation and so had a meeting to see how to deal with it. (see here) The governors even invited five premiers of Canadian provinces to join them since Canada can generate electricity while the northeast U.S. does not have that ability any more.

Last winter record low temperatures hit the northeastern region and utilities struggled to supply electricity to the region. Since the region has moved from generation by coal and oil to utilizing natural gas there was the problem that natural gas can not be stored up like coal can so there was not enough gas to heat homes and generate electricity. Now this may come as a total shock to some folks but in times of shortage the market will ration the product in short supply via higher prices. Sure enough, the price to the utilities went from $4 mBTU to $79 mBTU. That would be an almost 20 fold increase in price in one year. Naturally the price of electricity skyrocketed all over the region as the utilities had to buy expensive power from other regions at the same time as their own generation costs were skyrocketing.

But how in the world did we get to the state where the northeast United States can no longer reliably supply its own power? Glad you asked. It seems there has been a long campaign to rid the region of any form of “dirty” energy like coal or oil as well as nuclear power. The statistics are that only three percent of the region’s power comes from coal and only one percent comes from oil these days. New England’s power now comes mainly from natural gas, but the region does not have enough natural gas pipeline to meet its needs and there is great political resistance to building any more even though Pennsylvania has surplus natural gas and would love to sell it to the northeastern states.

The region has just barely the electrical generation capacity to meet its needs without the reserve that is needed for extreme usage times like a really cold winter. Even so, the region expects to shut down 10% of its capacity to please the extremist environmental pressure groups or EPA regulations. (but I repeat myself) First on the target list are the remaining coal plants. At least five will be shut down possibly before the coming winter. Along with that, we see that the remaining nuclear generation plants are targets to be closed as well.

So who is hurt the most by these idiot moves by the state governments? Why the elderly and the poor of course; along with blue collar workers. The well-to-do “liberal” activists and pressure groups look forward to sky high power rates as they hate the poor and hope to drive them out of the region. Does that seem harsh? Well, look at their actions and ask yourself if they give a flying fig about the lower classes.

The government at all levels is waging war on the productive section of the American economy. The over paid busybody regulators from Washington D.C. down to your local town hall are writing anti-business regulations that have been exporting jobs to places like China for decades.

Realistic weather prognosticators are forecasting another year like last year’s cold winter and that will bring ever higher prices and perhaps brownouts to the northeast region. New England residents pay about 50% more than the rest of the country already and it looks like they are in for more fleecing by their ever-so-green governments. The news out of Detroit should give you a taste of what New England is headed for in the near future unless they wake up and reign in their idiot regulators and legislators. However, I predict that it will take massive amounts of people freezing in the winter to wake up the people of the northeast — if even that will do it.

This is just another example of government working hard to make your life worse. That is what the criminal gang writ large does.

Marketa

 

Patrick Moore lays into Greenpeace

I have spent most of a week looking at a story about the government agencies corrupting the historical record of temperatures in a most fraudulent way. I intend to write that story up today or tomorrow. What could cause such wide-spread, anti-science behavior? I think the same sort of thing that could corrupt an organization that I supported a long time ago. I ran across a story by Delingpole on Patrick Moore and, for now, thought I would share it here.

The following is from a story by James Delingpole:

Patrick Moore, a Canadian environmentalist who helped found Greenpeace in the Seventies but subsequently left in protest at its increasingly extreme, anti-scientific, anti-capitalist stance, argues that the green position on climate change fails the most basic principles of the scientific method.

“The certainty among many scientists that humans are the main cause of climate change, including global warming, is not based on the replication of observable events. It is based on just two things, the theoretical effect of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, predominantly carbon dioxide, and the predictions of computer models using those theoretical calculations. There is no scientific “proof” at all.”

Moore goes on to list some key facts about “climate change” which are ignored by true believers.

1. The concentration of CO2 in the global atmosphere is lower today, even including human emissions, than it has been during most of the existence of life on Earth.

2. The global climate has been much warmer than it is today during most of the existence of life on Earth. Today we are in an interglacial period of the Pleistocene Ice Age that began 2.5 million years ago and has not ended.

3. There was an Ice Age 450 million years ago when CO2 was about 10 times higher than it is today.

4. Humans evolved in the tropics near the equator. We are a tropical species and can only survive in colder climates due to fire, clothing and shelter.

5. CO2 is the most important food for all life on earth. All green plants use CO2 to produce the sugars that provide energy for their growth and our growth. Without CO2 in the atmosphere carbon-based life could never have evolved.

6. The optimum CO2 level for most plants is about 1600 parts per million, four times higher than the level today. This is why greenhouse growers purposely inject the CO2-rich exhaust from their gas and wood-fired heaters into the greenhouse, resulting in a 40-80 per cent increase in growth.

7. If human emissions of CO2 do end up causing significant warming (which is not certain) it may be possible to grow food crops in northern Canada and Russia, vast areas that are now too cold for agriculture.

8. Whether increased CO2 levels cause significant warming or not, the increased CO2 levels themselves will result in considerable increases in the growth rate of plants, including our food crops and forests.

9. There has been no further global warming for nearly 18 years during which time about 25 per cent of all the CO2 ever emitted by humans has been added to the atmosphere. How long will it remain flat and will it next go up or back down? Now we are out of the realm of facts and back into the game of predictions.

Moore makes his remarks in the foreword to a new book by bestselling Australian geologist Dr Ian Plimer called Not For Greens. The book describes the various, complex industrial processes which go into the making of just a single teaspoon, starting with the mining of various metals.

If Greenpeace’s membership remained true to their principles they would have to eat with their bare hands because, as Moore notes, they are opposed to mining in all its forms.

“If you ask them for the name of any mine that is operating in an environmentally acceptable standard you will draw a blank. They have become so cornered by their own extremism that they must deny their daily use of cell phones, computers, bicycles, rapid transit, and yes, the simple teaspoon.”

Insurance, Homes, and College Education

Guest Post by Mickey Ellison

Insurance, Homes, and College Education

Most people say that some things in life are just “so” expensive and the cost of those things will just continue to rise no matter what. If we want to buy a house, thank God there are banks and mortgage companies to give us a loan to make those houses a reality for us. There is also college tuition. Man, those costs are skyrocketing, and without student loans, very few would ever be able to afford college. And of course there is the cost of healthcare. If I didn’t have access to health-care insurance, I could never afford healthcare. Healthcare has gotten so expensive that it took a literal act of Congress to make it affordable for all of us.

What if I told you none of that is true, and that the very thing that you and I assume are making homes, healthcare, and college a possibility is what is making three things cost so much. Let’s take houses, healthcare, and college one at a time.

Houses:
Why has the cost of buying a home increased so much? Does it really cost more money to build a house that cost $20,000 in 1970 that now costs $200,000? Think logically about this. Has technology improved since 1970? Is it easier or harder today to chop down a tree, send it to a lumberyard, and cut it into two by fours? Did it take more time in 1970 to build a house than it does in 2014? I’ll answer those questions. Technology has improved significantly in the last 44 years. It’s easier to turn a tree into a two by four today than it was in 1970 and it definitely takes less time to build a house today than it did four decades ago. If one thinks logically, shouldn’t those three things alone make it cost less money to build the house? So why is it so expensive to buy a house today? Debt! Who benefits more from debt when buying a house, the bank or the borrower?

It’s really pretty simple to understand why a house costs so many more dollars today than it did in 1970. We deposit $1000 into the bank, and they magically loan out $10,000 that didn’t exist before you made the deposit. If today there was only $1000 available to buy the house, but tomorrow there was suddenly $10,000, do you think I could charge more for the house? That drives the cost of the houses up making need for more loans that continue to drive the cost of houses up even more, making even bigger loans necessary to buy a house. The solution is also simple. Stop borrowing money. This wouldn’t be good for the banks, but it would definitely bring down the cost of a home. We saw that exact thing happening in 2008, but the Federal Reserve and government put a stop to that by bailing out the banks for making bad loans, and the Fed has continued to make more and more money available to drive those prices back up. Would the price of a home dropped to a level where we could buy the home without a loan? We will never know since the bankers and politicians distorted the market.

College Tuition:

It appears to be a given that the cost of college is going to increase every year no matter what. Even the cost of a home dropped from 2008 to 2010, but according to USA Today, the average tuition at a 4 year public university increased by 15%. In one of the presidential debates in 2012 President Obama boasted about how he was making college educations more attainable by making Federal Student Loans easier to get and keeping the interest rates down. Has anyone stopped to think that the loans may actually be what is causing the cost to go up so much in the first place? Let’s see, if I have a product, say education, where the government is going to give out unlimited amounts of money in the form of student loans, what is my incentive to keep the price down? What a great thing if you run a college or university? What a great thing if you get to collect the interest on those loans for the next 20 years? What a great evil it is to tell our children that they must have a college education to succeed, then provide them unlimited money at age 18 to get that education, and make them slaves for much of their adult life to debt that they can’t even write off should the declare bankruptcy! Just like the houses, stop borrowing money for college and in time the price will go down!

HealthCare:

Now this is a hot topic today since we have ObamaCare! While I’m no fan of The Affordable Care Act, the law is nothing more than a symptom of the problem, and the central planners have never seen a symptom that they couldn’t fix. Except, they typically make the problem worse. I believe the problem is that most of us have no idea what medical care actually costs since we have all been told that we have to have health insurance most of our lives. Is the problem really that insurance premiums are too high or that the cost of medical services are too high. Seeking to “make” healthcare insurance more affordable does nothing to treat the problem. In fact, making insurance more available might cause the problem, the cost of healthcare, to become worse.

In healthcare there is what I call the “Unholy Trinity” of big government, big insurance, and big medical. Let’s think hypothetically here. If my focus is on the cost of my insurance, who’s focus should be on the cost of healthcare? You would think the insurance company would want to keep the costs down as much as possible right? Wrong! To keep it simple let’s say that I have an operation. On my insurance statement it shows that the surgery would have cost me $100k, but my insurance company was able to negotiate the price down to $50k which is what they pay. This is great because of the great negotiating power of my insurance company right? When in reality the surgery only really cost $10k, the hospital got paid $50k, and the hospital was able to write off the $50k that they didn’t get paid maintaining their not for profit status. The insurance company can make their money through premiums that we pay even though they paid $40k more for the surgery than it really should have cost. Visit www.surgerycenterok.com to find out what it really costs for many operations when they only take self-funded insurance plans and cash. This is a simplified version of the “Unholy Trinity”. The disease can never be cured if we only focus on the symptoms.

We have been so indoctrinated that we now believe that a little inflation is a good thing, the cost of college should always go up, and that medical care is too expensive. It doesn’t have to be this way, but fixing these lies will take people that are willing to question what they have been taught and start asking why and how! Why is it good for me, the individual, when my bread costs more this year than it did last year? How does paying $4 for a gallon of gas benefit me when 10 years ago, I could have bought gas for a $1? Why do I have to keep borrowing more and more money to buy a house or get a college education? Who does that benefit? Seek the answers to these questions and you will find that we have nothing close to a free market and we are being manipulated and because we have been indoctrinated so thoroughly that we believe this is all good for us. Stop borrowing money and THINK!

by Mickey Ellison

Central planning, light bulbs, and the problem of information

Updated below

At the very core of the idea of central planning is a fundamental mistake that can not be overcome. It is a mistake involving information. All proponents of central planning ultimately believe that if they could assemble a bright and selfless crew of planners then these brilliant saints-on-earth could dictate the “best” course of action to the multitude. This fallacious assumption by all believers in central planing is not just the belief that planning committees are smarter than the average citizen or that they are smarter than an Einstein: no, the fundamental error is the belief that they are smarter than the united brainpower and experiences of the entire multitude.

Let us put aside for a moment the fact that planning boards are notorious for being corrupt and easily pressured or bribed into passing rules and edicts that harm the majority as it helps the small special interest groups. Even if the planners were men and women of extraordinary moral fortitude and keen insight, they still will be led astray by the fads and myths of the times into making horrendous decisions.

In just the USA we have about 315 million people and these people make hundreds of decisions every day. There are billions of decisions to be made and there is no way for any centralized bureaucracy to address all the issues. There is no way for a planning board to even understand all the issues involved. There is no way to assemble all the relevant information. In fact, the central planning group is most often so far removed from understanding the real situation of those who they seek to tell how to live that their edicts almost always make matters worse.

To give on concrete example, consider the new year and the rules taking effect that ban yet more incandescent bulbs.

Lightbulb

It is said by the minions of the state that the incandescent light bulb is only 10 to 20 percent efficient and that compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) are much more efficient. How much more? I had to look that up. It is said that fluorescent bulbs are 4 to 6 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs. But these figures are only for converting electrical energy into light. There is no consideration of what else I might want from the light bulb, nor any thought as to how they are manufactured and later deposed of.

Consider that the electricity in a incandescent bulb is converted into both heat and light and that for a goodly part of each year I am trying to heat my house and don’t consider the heat given off by incandescent light bulbs “waste” at all.  The heat put off by the incandescent bulb is helping to heat my house.  This consideration has not been included in the justification for the draconian laws banning incandescent bulbs in favor of the “more efficient” florescent bulbs. This erroneous thinking is typical with the overly constrained and simplified engineering perspective of the central planning process. The central planners will always fail to take into consideration all potential use cases and in the case of the “waste heat” they missed a large and obvious one.

It is also the case that the florescent bulb costs more than the incandescent bulb and does not give off good descent light. If the florescent bulb were competitive to the incandescent bulb then people would have incentives to use the fluorescent bulbs and there would be no need for laws or ‘light bulb police’. If we were to rely on the market incentives and the wisdom of 300 million Americans then the best bulb would win out over time. Perhaps both bulbs have their place and people would figure out which application is best for which bulb. It is quite easy to imagine scenarios in which a compact florescent bulb does not save the citizen any money or is more trouble than it is worth but the law-giver bureaucrats can not figure that out. (or don’t get a damn) Since the public’s choices will be forcibly constrained so that some hypothetical citizen X may save a small amount of money using his light bulbs in a particular way, we will lose the collective experience and wisdom of the entire population using the various types of bulbs in diverse ways.

Florescent light bulbs contain mercury sealed within the glass tubing as part of the technology of the devise and must be recycled and deposed of properly. The incandescent bulb has no potential for mercury poisoning. So now we have to pay extra to dispose of the mandated-by-law bulbs. Was a bulb recycling industry part of the planning board’s calculations on which bulb is “more efficient”? You know it was not.

UPDATE: Incandescent bulb ban leaves bird care centre with dim hope — and yet another unintended consequence from the “brilliant” central planners.

The constitutionalism of Ron Paul

By the “constitutionalism of Ron Paul” I mean his many calls for returning to the original interpretation of the constitution as well as following it rather than ignoring it. He spent a lifetime in politics calling for the US to follow the constitution as well as his two runs for the GOP nomination for president. It seems to me that Ron Paul was always after an even greater goal than the US government following the original interpretation of the constitution. I think he was after a libertarian society and the quickest way to get there would be by first following the constitution and making the vast cuts in government that following the constitution would require. The quickest way to get to a libertarian society would be by making as much of government as possible optional or voluntary.

ron-paul-revolution

We need to forge a wide social agreement on the concept of voluntary self-government and tolerance and this means making secession at the personal level more and more of a reality. We live in a police state and empire at the present time and the brutality of the state grows with each passing day. Surely we can all agree that moving towards the laissez-faire economy and the non-intervention of government in our lives that was the hallmark of the first decades of this country would be a great movement towards real and total liberty. Even if it is difficult to see how cutting government down to size and making it follow the constitution might be accomplished, we can certainly agree that it is important as one of our goals in the liberty movement. This goal contrasts starkly with any more spreading of the government’s brutality, involuntaryism, coercion and cronyism. The power and reach of the US government has spread into more and more areas of life, here and across the world and it is time to put an end to the growth and start to reduce the long arm of the state.

Economics is simple really. Nearly the full extent of it can be taught in a small book, as has been done before. Look at Henry Hazlitt’s ‘Economics in One Lesson’ which is practically the full extent that any individual citizen needs to know about economics and you will see that the laissez-faire policies of the early republic were far superior to the fascist style interventionism of the present day.

Austrian economics has taught us that if we want to live a more comfortable life in a more comfortable world then we must live by the golden rule, or the non-aggression principle as we libertarians like to call it. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you —- or don’t aggress against anyone else unless they first aggress against you. This golden rule (or the N.A.P.) is not handed down by a supreme being, but it is the path to making the society approach a state of Nirvana none the less. The Taoists and their path (the Tao) told us a long time ago that intervention by “the ruler” was always bad and that we should let the people do things for themselves.

The fastest and easiest way to convince people that less government is more happiness by the masses is to reduce the size and scope of the government and let them see the incremental improvements. But there will be many road blocks along our journey to liberty. After all, the political class is not really running things. The political class is only the veneer of the state and not really the state itself. The state is the permanent bureaucratic structures and it is those institutions that make up the real ruling apparatus of the state. Look at the CIA for just one example.

No society can achieve any kind of justice based on the concept that some people have a “right” to have the state loot other people for their benefit. We see this today in the welfare state which has destroyed countless families and destroyed the morality of generations. Don’t forget that large, well connected corporations receive much from the state as well. We don’t call it “crony-capitalism” for nothing. We have created a power struggle that is endless, pointless, futile, and destructive. Only a return to the relatively non-interventionist government of the early days would be a good start towards a total freedom from the state. (that is, if you abhor the violence of armed revolution)

In truth there is no need for a “Constitution” to maintain peace and civility in a society. What is needed is a deep belief in the people that the initiation of physical aggression, intimidation, theft, fraud, and trespass are all morally reprehensible. That and the realization that assigning a monopoly power to an institution – government – is only going to yield in the end the utter brutality and cronyism we see around us today. When the people are compelled by a monopoly which interprets “the law” and uses violence to enforce its will upon the population, then it violates the individual’s right to choose which services one wants to use. We should have a right to choose which protective service we want to use for in a free, civilized society. No one should be above the law, and no one has any legitimate authority over anyone else without voluntary consent.

Ron Paul used a return to the constitution to try to teach the masses that government intervention is always the wrong way to go. Let us hope his message keeps on reverberating with the masses until they withdraw their consent to be governed by the evil monopoly we call the state.