Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cuban Reintroduces Private Farms. Time to End the Embargo!

Cuba giving land to private farmers
The Associated Press, 12:55 PM EST April 6, 2008

In a country where almost everyone works for the communist state, dairy farmer Jesus Diaz is his own boss. He likes it that way - and so does the government.

Living on a plot of land just big enough to graze four dairy cows, Diaz produces enough milk to sell about four quarts a day to the state.

This is independent production on a tiny scale, but it has proved so efficient that Cuba has decided on a major expansion of its program to distribute underused and fallow farmland to private farmers and cooperatives.

"It's a way for the land to end up in the hands of those who want to produce. I see it as a very good thing," said Diaz, 45. He received his land and cows from the state in 1996, and now hopes to get access to more property.

The government is preparing for a "massive distribution of land," Orlando Lugo, president of Cuba's national farming association, said last week. Private farmers have begun receiving land for the cash crops of coffee and tobacco, and will soon be able to lease state land for other crops.
The idea is to revolutionize farming, one tiny plot at a time. (link)

Commentary
End the Embargo Now!

This is more good news from Cuba. Following the announcement that individuals would be given the deed to their homes, that Cubans could own cell phones, that Cubans could stay in luxury hotels, now comes another liberalization. This could be profound. Just a little market capitalism will reveal the superiority of markets over a command economy. This could be the camel getting its nose under the tent. The US should use these changes as an occation for ending its failed policy of isolating Cuba.

The embargo of Cuba began in 1960 and may have been a mistake from the very first. The intent was to pressure Castro to Democratize. It had the result of pushing Cuba further into the arms of the Soviet Union. The embargo made a martyr out of Castro and helped prop us his regime. The poverty of Cuba was the result of Castro’s socialist policies, but he could blame it on the U.S embargo.

If one thinks that there was logic for the embargo in 1960, surely that logic no longer applies in 2008. The Soviet Union is dead. The only two remaining truly Communist countries in the world are North Korea and Cuba.

Cuba is changing; we could facilitate that change if we would simply end the embargo. American dollars flowing into Cuba would mean more Cubans with money to spend, which would lead to more opportunities for the flourishing of a non-government sector of the economy and more pressure for more liberalization.

I suspect that Cuba would welcome US investment and trade. Along with that trade and investment would come a clarification of private property rights and the rule of law.

If it is too bold of a move for the current administration to totally end the embargo all at once, they could do it incrementally. A good place to start would be with a change in the policy that restricts Cuban-American and Cubans living in America from traveling to Cuba. This would be a humanitarian move and the right thing to do. Let families unite.

These moves by Cuba to liberalize should be met with American efforts to reinforce good behavior. We should change our policy regarding Cuba because it is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. If we want to see an end to socialism and totalitarian rule in Cuba, lift the embargo.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Undoing America's Ethanol Mistake

By SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 4:20 PM PT

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once said, "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."

When Congress passed legislation to greatly expand America's commitment to biofuels, it intended to create energy independence and protect the environment. But the results have been quite different. America remains equally dependent on foreign sources of energy, and new evidence suggests that ethanol is causing great harm to the environment. (link)

Comment: This is a good article by Senator Hutchison. It is about time someone talked common sense about ethanol. She clearly lays out why ethanol was a mistake-it increases food prices, increases greenhouse gasses and creates incentives for global deforestation. Senator Hutchison is introducing legislation that will freeze the biofuel mandate at current levels, instead of steadily increasing it through 2022. Hopefully. common sense can prevail over the desire of feel-good environmentalist to "do something" and the corn-growers financial interest.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ex-President for Sale

By Alan M. Dershowitz

If money determines political and public views-as Carter insists "Jewish money" does-then Carter's views on the Middle East must be deemed to have been influenced by the vast sums of Arab money he has received. If he who pays the piper calls the tune, then Carter's off- key tunes have been called by his Saudi Arabian paymasters. It pains me to say this, but I now believe that there is no person in American public life today who has a lower ratio of real [integrity] to apparent integrity than Jimmy Carter.

The public perception of his integrity is extraordinarily high. H is real integrity, it now turns out, is extraordinarily low. He is no better than so many former American politicians who, after leaving public life, sell themselves to the highest bidder and become lobbyists for despicable causes. (link)

Comment: I never voted for Jimmy Carter, but I have always liked him. I thought he was a poor president but a good man. Since leaving office, I have admired his work with Habitat and efforts to combat poverty in undeveloped countries.

I am taking this commentary from Alan Dershowitz with a grain of salt. Dershowitz has been a consistent, enthusiastic, public supporter of Israel and Jewish causes his whole career so he can hardly be considered an unbiased observer. Although he served as an informal advisor to Carter during his administration, after Carter published his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Dershowitz became a critic.

It is difficult to know how much a person or organization is influenced by their funders. Those who favor nationalization of health care in America, are quick to point out that opponents of health care reform often receive large contributions from the insurance and pharmaceutical industry. Does that mean that we should discount their criticism? Do funders support people who share their opinion or do people take positions that please their funders? Is Carter immune from the influence of money yet other people are not? It may be a little harsh to say Carter is and ex-President for sale. I have no idea to what extend Carter’s financial ties to anti-Semitic Arab interest influences his opinion, but that connection should certainly be revealed.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Banning Credit Card Solicitation on College Campuses

Last week the Tennessee State Senate Education Committee unanimously passed legislation out of their committee that would ban credit card solicitations on State college campuses. The bill grew out of concern about students graduating with large credit card debt.

As a housing counselor a lot of what I do actually has little to do with housing directly. A lot of my job is counseling people on credit repair, budgeting and money management skills. I know first-hand how inept many people are at managing their finances. I have often encountered college dropouts or recent college graduates with very large credit card debt in addition to their student loans. I know that credit cards are heavily marketed to students who do not even have incomes. Credit card companies offer inducement such as free backpacks or other give- aways to students to get them to accept a free credit card. Apparently most lenders make money off of making the credit cards available to students or they would no longer do it.

I share the concern of the State legislators. Many 18-year-olds, away from home for the first time may not have the maturity to turn down an offered credit card. However, the days of colleges being in loco parentis are long gone. The application of that principle has largely disappeared from higher education. In the modern college dorm no one is keeping the boys and girls separated. If your teen-age daughter gets pregnant you cannot sue the university. Universities are required to treat 18 year olds as adults.

Like it or not, at age 18 a person is an adult. An 18 year old may vote, may choose to get an abortion, may shake up with a member of the opposite sex, may get married, may purchase a car, may enter into contracts, may change religions, may drop out of college, may move across the country, and may join the military. About the only thing they cannot do that other adults can do is legally purchase alcohol. I am not so sure that the state should protect 18 year olds from credit card solicitors.

If parents have not trained their children to make wise decision before they turn 18 then I think by the age of 18 it is too late. With Tennessee second in the nation for personal bankruptcy, apparently a lot of children are not learning money management skills at home. If parents are not teaching their children well, then the state my have a roll to play, but that should be while the child is still in high school. Currently Tennessee offers an elective to high school students in personal finances. I would support making it mandatory.

In colleges however, I think we need to recognize that college students are adults. Along with the rights of being an adult, comes the responsibilities and paying the consequences for making poor decisions. We can only go so far in protecting adults from their own foolish behavior. An 18 year old should be free to make stupid decisions.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Carter should stay home and teach Sunday School


Former President Carter should stay home and stick to teaching Sunday School and building houses. No doubt Jimmy Carter is a good man, but one can't be good at everything. He wasn't very good at foreign policy as President and should not try to practice it now.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Condensed version of History for those who slept through World History 101

This was sent to me by my brother; not the liberal brother, my other brother.

Here is a condensed version.

Humans originally existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunters/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer and would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in the winter.

The two most important events in all of history were:
1. The invention of beer, and
2. The invention of the wheel.

The wheel was invented to get man to the beer, and the beer to the man. These facts formed the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups:
1. Liberals
2. Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered, it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early humans were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed. Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to BB Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as the Conservative movement.

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly BBQ's and doing the sewing, fetching, and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement.

Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as girlie-men. Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy and group hugs, the evolution oft he Hollywood actor, and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide all the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

Over the years, Conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare. Another interesting evolutionary side note: most liberal women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't fair to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, athletes, Marines, and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to govern the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America! . They crept in after the Wild West was tamed and created a business of trying to get more for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history.

It should be noted that a liberal may have a momentary urge to angrily respond to the above before forwarding it. A conservative will simply laugh and be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately to other true believers, and to more liberals...just to irritate them. Have a great day.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Love Eath Day


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Briley Berates Rep. Stacey Camfield over Child Support Paternity Bill

I think men should be forced to pay child support for children they produce. The state should aggressively pursue child support collection. However, it is an outrage that a man must pay child support for children that are not his own, unless he has adopted the children. That often occurs. Representative Stacey Campfield introduced a bill in the state legislature that would correct this injustice in Tennessee. Unfortunately, the House Judiciary Committee last week referred the bill for "summer study" which essentially kills the bill.

In this YouTube video Rep. Rob Briley lashes out against Campfiled, asking his views on infidelity, pre-marital sex and child support. This video was the subject of an article in this morning's Tennessean.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling, Blogrolling

I spend a lot of time surfing the net and I often come across sites that I really like. I have added Blogroll to my blog so I can more easily list these sites and share them with visitors to this blog. Previously I had my own list of links called “Links to the Good Side” and “Good Links to the Other Side”. I have deleted those categories and am throwing everything into Blogroll.

Listed in my Blogroll will not only be blogs but also publications and the link to the web sites of organizations. Not all of the sites I have listed are sites that I agree with politically. To be informed, I think one needs to read information from a wide variety of sources. I think one of the downsides to the Internet information age is that too many people tend to get a lot of information from sources that simply reinforce what they already believe. I make a conscious effort to read from a variety of points of view. If there is a link to a left wing or liberal site in this list it is because it is a site that I think is thought provoking, informative, or entertaining and a site I want to return to myself; it is not an endorsement of the political viewpoint of that site. For that matter, many of the Conservative sites are too neocon or religious right or global-warming-denying for my taste but I still think the sites have value anyway. Not all of the sites are of a political nature. I have interest other than politics, so I am basically linking to anything that I like and would like to share.

In using blogroll, if you hover your mouse over the link, you will get a short description of the site. I have not included that feature for all of the links however. Also, if the site has had an update in the last 24 hours, the words “new post” will appear next to the site title. Sites will open in a new window so you may return to my blog after you visit a site. My blogroll is in no particular order except that the newest additions are at the bottom of the list. So, if you return and want to see what new sites I have been added, look at the last entries.

At any one time only 30 sites will be featured but more sites may be achieved. From time to time, I will be deleting sites when I become bored with them or they may get replaced with similar sites that I think are better. Those sites that are linking to my blog will tend to stay on the list.

Here are just a few of the sites that I would like to call your attentions to:
Truth Serum This is the site of Don Williams. Don is an award-wining Journalist, a talented writer and he is my brother. Unfortunately he is very liberal.
Republicans for Environmental Protection Some Republicans do believe in global warming and sensible environmental policy.
Don and Earl Homepage Family and those who know me may be interested in this site. Don Williams of Don and Earl was my father.
The Charlie Daniels Band Charlie Daniels of CDB is quite the social conservative.
Cato Institute Cato is a libertarian think tank and offers analysis of the issues of the day from a classical liberal viewpoint without being so far out as to be irrelevant.
Hillbilly Savants Being from East Tennessee myself and having lived in upper East Tennessee, I enjoy this sites for its reporting on the true Appalachia instead of the Appalachia of movie stereotypes.
The Carbon Tax Center This site advocates for a carbon tax, an issue I feel strongly about.
Debt Free As a housing counselor teaching economic literacy and money management skills, I find this site a good source of practical information.
Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundations My sister Kathleen Williams is Executive Director of this worthwhile organization.

Please visit often to see what new sites I have discovered. If you have a site you think I might be interested in and would like to recommend for my blogroll, either let me know in this comment section or email me. I will take a look

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

EU set to scrap biofuels target amid fears of food crisis

By Ian Traynor in Brussels
The Guardian, Saturday April 19 2008

The European commission is backing away from its insistence onimposing a compulsory 10% quota of biofuels in all petrol and dieselby 2020, a central plank of its programme to lead the world incombating climate change.

Amid a worsening global food crisis exacerbated, say experts andcritics, by the race to divert food or feed crops into biomass for the manufacture of vehicle fuel, and inundated by a flood of expert advice criticising the shift to renewable fuel, the commission appears to be getting cold feet about its biofuels target. Under the proposals, to be turned into law within a year, biofuels are to supply a tenth of all road vehicle fuel by 2020 as part of the drive to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the same deadline. (link)

Comment: The EU is backing away from its biofuel policy, the UK is “reviewing” its policy and Germany recently announced a retreat from its biofuel policies. Is there an American leader willing to offend the feel-good environmentalist and mid-west corn growers and propose a repeal of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007? Will an American leader stand up for common sense and true environmental interest or will we continue down the ethanol-fueled road of environmental degradation, government mandated increases in global warming, and higher food prices for the hungry of the world ?

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Charlie Daniels' on Guns and Church

Since I identify with the people who fall into Barrack Obama's elitist description of people of faith who keep firearms I'm not very happy with Barrack Obama's recent remarks. He said something to the effect that us rednecks cling to our guns and our religion when we get frustrated and I would like to take umbrage to these remarks.

My faith goes much deeper than his superficial explanation and I love my guns even when I'm not frustrated. And I am not by myself. I was going to church and shooting guns before Mr. Obama was even born and come from a long line of good people who have been doing it for generations. To me this latest Obama blunder only helps reveal the depth of condescension the far left wing of the Democrat party has for the folks out here in flyover country. Mr. Obama's remarks are insulting to a lot of folks. It's kind of like Abraham Lincoln said, "God must love the common people because he made so many of them".

His remarks make me think that Obama doesn't know the people of this country very well. I'm sure he knows the jet set and the Hollywood bunch, the limousine liberals and the save the whales, kill the babies crowd, but does he think that the ordinary people don't count? Does he think that they're so stupid that they don't know who he's talking about when he says these things? Does he think their opinions aren't important? Apparently.

How can a man stand in front of America and tell people what he wants to do for them and have so little respect for a whole segment of the population. In fact, a very large segment. Does that mean that he would only represent the high-minded liberal ideals of the far left and ignore the rest of us? What kind of Commander and Chief would he make if he doesn't respect the very people who make up the lion's share of the armed forces. You may say I'm over reacting, but I'm getting sick and tired of him making these elitist statements and saying that he had been taken out of context or some other flimsy excuse.

After his wife's remark about not being proud of this country and his pastor's statements calling America the U.S.K.K.K.A. and his own statement about not wanting his daughter punished with a baby, it makes me wonder what kind of a man Obama really is and what kind of a president he'd make. Would he be an antigun advocate pushing the effort to take the firearms out of innocent citizen's hands? Would he not respect the religious beliefs of America, not taking them into account in his agenda? I really don't know much about the man and neither does America. He basically came from out of nowhere and as the facts come out little by little, they don't make a particularly confident picture. I have a great fear that if our military gets broken by another president, this time we're not going to have time to fix it again and what that spells for America, I don't even want to contemplate. Oh well, I guess I'll grab my gun and go to church.

Pray for our troops.

What do you think?

God Bless America

Charlie Daniels

Commentary: I pretty much agree with the view expressed by Charlie Daniels in this article, but I don’t own guns or regularly go to Church so I am not as offended as Charlie Daniels. Obama made a stupid remark. Maybe he should use the Hillary excuse and blame it on sleep deprivation and fatigue. The day of when you could say one thing to one group and something else to another is over. In this information age, the tape is always running. Did Obama not think that the rednecks in Pennsylvania might be listening when he was speaking to the elitist liberal crowd in Hollywood?

I have always liked Charlie Daniels. In the mid 70’s I had several CDB albums and wore them out. I always thought Charlie Daniels was Country, but at that time he was not played on Country radio. He fell in the genre of “Southern Rock” and you were more likely to hear CDB on Rock radio.

In the heyday of the Charlie Daniels band, I attended several of the Volunteer Jams. These were ruckus concerts that lasted eigth to ten hours. The lineup was never announced in advance. The bulk of the music was Southern Rock but covered the spectrum from Hard Rock to hard core Country to Soul Music to even an occasional Opera performance. Those concerts were great fun. People anticipated them and speculated on who the guest would be. People partied hard, heard some great music and had a great time.

Knowing the Daniels from the 70’s and 80’s I have been surprised by the Daniels of recent years. Until recent years, I never did know the politics of Charlie Daniels, but he had a tolerant view of drug use and was somewhat of a rebel. In recent years he has emerged as a God-fearing, hard-on-crime, anti-drug Conservative. I agree with many of his political views but never expected he was so religious or such a social conservative. He always reflected a populist value and that still shines through.

Charlie takes his editorializing quite seriously and post his opinion on his web page about once a week. He has a folksy way of expressing himself and I think he often says what a lot of people are thinking. I wish his opinion pieces had wider distribution. He needs to be syndicated. His site is listed in the blogroll to the left. Go to his site and then click on “soap box” for his editorial page.

Here is Charlie Daniels performing one my favorite songs, Long-haired Country Boy. This song brings back pleasant memories and I enjoy it every time I hear it. I don’t feel like a put-upon poor southern boy, so I don’t know why I love this song as much as I do. Charlie was obviously not the God-fearing, anti-drug, social conservative he is today back when this was a hit.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hillary Loves Guns! No, she really does


“You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl. You know, some people now continue to teach their children and their grandchildren. It’s part of culture. It’s part of a way of life. People enjoy hunting and shooting because it’s an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter.”


Comment: I agree with her, but with Hillary's record of supporting gun control it sounds a little like pandering. I guess if I was a gun-toting Democrat, I would prefer Hillary Clinton's pandering over Barack Obama's condescension. It is no big deal really. All politicians pander. I just wanted an excuse to post this picture.
Oh, I stole this from "First door on the Left", a frequent advertiser here. Pay that blog a visit. See the listing in my blog roll.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

There is this Scientist, this Leftist, and this Ageing Hippy Tree Hugger…


and they all agree that ethanol is a bad idea.

OK, OK, I know. Enough is enough. I may be beating a dead horse. If you love ethanol there is no use confusing you with facts. I am going to shut up about it, at least for a while. Simply to point out that it is not just us right-wing reactionaries who think ethanol is a bad Ideal, I am posting links to three articles that make that point. The first is Science Magazine, the second is Mother Jones, and the last is Whole Earth News.

Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt
Joseph Fargione,1 Jason Hill,2,3 David Tilman,2* Stephen Polasky,2,3 Peter Hawthorne2

Increasing energy use, climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low-carbon fuels a high priority. Biofuels are a potential low-carbon energy source, but whether biofuels offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced. Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop–based biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels. Science Magazine (link)

The Ethanol Effect: When Alternative Fuels Go Bad Why corn-based fuel isn't our miracle cure for oil dependency.
Cameron Scott November 2007

"everything about ethanol is good, good, good," crows Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, echoing the conventional wisdom that corn-based ethanol will help us kick the oil habit, line the pockets of farmers, and usher in a new era of guilt-free motoring. But despite the wishes of Iowans (and the candidates courting them) the "dot-corn bubble" is too good to be true. Mother Jones (link)

The Ups and Downs of Ethanol Fuel
By Laura Evers

So what’s wrong with ethanol?

The first and foremost problem with today’s ethanol is it comes from corn, one of the most prominent food crops worldwide. Growing a crop for both food and fuel is problematic because the increased demand for the food crop leads to higher food prices. This, among other factors, has caused worldwide corn and grain production to struggle to keep up and prices have risen to record levels.

But that’s not all that pops the argument for corn-derived ethanol:
Mother Earth News (link)

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Communism is coming to an End in Cuba

Cubans to get title to state-owned homes

April 12. 2008 Associated Press

HAVANA -- Thousands of Cubans will be able to get title to government-owned homes under regulations published Friday –A step that might lay the groundwork for broader housing reform.

My Commentary: This should be a cause for celebration; not dancing in the streets celebration but at least a high-five. Communism is ending in Cuba. The process may be slow but it is starting. Cubans are still not allowed to sell their homes to anyone but the government, but they get title, they do not lose their homes when they change jobs, and they can pass their home down to their children. Who can doubt that more change is not on the way? This will lead to wealth creation, home loans, home improvements and a Home Depot.

This change in policy allowing Cubans to own their own home came a day after another important announcement that ended the maximum wage limit in Cuba. Earlier this month, the new Cuban president opened the way for ordinary Cubans to own cell phones.

America could speed up the process of change in Cuba if we would only end our senseless embargo. The embargo at one time made sense, but that day has long ago passed. Because the embargo may have been logical when Cuba was a client state of the Soviet Union, does not mean that we should stick with that policy forever. There certainly has been no justification for our policy ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Our policy has meant that Cuba could blame all of their failings on the US embargo and the US had no opportunity to have influence in Cuba. We trade with China and Vietnam, why not Cuba? What is the logic of our current policy?

If American dollars could flow freely to Cuba, we would see concession on the part of Cuba to accommodate investors. With opportunities to make money, we would see an evolving entrepreneurial class. With more dollars to spend, Cubans would not be dependent on the government for everything, other spheres of influence would emerge and the socialist totalitarianism mold would be broken. Even if Cuba remained an authoritarian one-party state for some time, they would become Communist in name only. A little freedom leads to a demand for more freedom. Cuba is changing despite the policy of the United States. We should help accelerate the change that is taking place in Cuba by ending the embargo now.

Someone needs to tell President Bush the Cold War is over. If President Bush were a bright fellow and a statesman, he would use today’s announcement about the change in the homeownership policy in Cuba as an occasion to say that we were encouraged by the reforms occurring in Cuba and as of Monday, we were lifting the embargo and would be looking for ways to facilitate trade and friendship between our two nations.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007…


Should be known as “The mandatory Increase in Global Warming and Corn Growers Enrichment Act.”

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was passed by the then newly elected Democratic Congress as part of their “100 hour plan” of things they promised to do within their first 100 hours of business and it was signed into law by President Bush. It is a counterproductive measure and should be repealed.

Among the major components of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is a mandate that by the year 2020, automakers must increase CAFE standard to 35 MPG and it also mandates that by the year 2022 that the use of biofuels added to gasoline must be increased from 4.7 million gallons 36 billion gallons.

The causal feel-good environmentalist and environmental activist celebrated the passage of this bill. After all, the evil global-warming-denying and fellow-traveling Republicans had been defeated; the people who really “care” about the environment had won the election.

Well, if only “caring” was enough, wouldn’t it be a grand world. The 2007 Energy Act should have been called the “The mandatory Increase in Global Warming and Corn Growers Enrichment Bill.” There should have been no doubt about the detrimental effects of ethanol on the environment at the time the bill was passed. The truth was well known. The truth is that ethanol is not a solution to global warming but use of ethanol will drastically increase global warming greenhouse emissions. Not only does ethanol increase global warming greenhouse emissions, the increase use of fertilizers and pesticides is destroying life in the oceans, is creating water shortages, is destroying the most bio-diverse regions of the world, and is turning food into fuel and increasing food prices.

The CAFE standards portion of the bill may also prove to be counterproductive or at least useless. The original CAFE standards passed in 1975 gave rise to the SUV. Because SUV’s are classified as “light trucks”, consumers who wanted to drive big cars switched to SUV’s. If you are old enough, you may recall that station wagons were once very popular. Those vehicles were particularly popular among families because of the extra room they provided as opposed to the typical sedan. When CAFE became law, automakers could not create station wagons that met the higher fuel efficiency standards for cars, so the auto companies killed the popular models and switched to SUV’s, which are passenger vehicles put on a truck frame.

Part of what the 2007 Energy bill was attempted to do was to close that loophole by making “light trucks” also subject to the same CAFE as passenger vehicles. Will this new law give rise to the “super SUV”, maybe putting a passenger vehicle on a REALLY big truck frame? Who knows? The law of unintended consequences could lead to the introduction of the Monster SUV, the SUV on steroids.

Perhaps a result of the higher CAFE standards will be that Americans will simply drive more. If vehicles get 30% more gas mileage, maybe Americans will simply drive 30% more, thus expanding urban sprawl and all its accompanying harmful effects. The better fuel efficient vehicles people may move even further from where they work and they may take more vacations in their personal family automobile. If the new CAFE standards actually increase MPG, in the absence of gasoline price increases, then driving and dependence on the automobile becomes actually cheaper.

Another result increased CAFE may be that we will see a slowing in the rate of fleet turnover. Fleet turnover takes a long time. If Americans cannot purchase the car they desire, they may simply put-off trading in their old car for a new car. Any slowing of the fleet turnover rate could negate any positive increase in CAFE standards by several years. If CAFE slows fleet turn over enough, then global warming emissions are actually increased.

More likely, however, the increase in gas prices will achieve a lower MPG rate without any action on the part of government. We are already seeing it. With higher gas prices, people are driving less and voluntarily choosing vehicles that get better MPG. The most likely scenario is that the increase in CAFE will have no negative impact. Just as it does no harm to raise minimum wage if the market has already raised the minimum wage above the mandated minimum wage, it will probably do no harm to mandate the higher CAFE standards since Americans are already curtailing their gas consumption. As gasoline prices increase, people choose to drive less and choose cars that get better MPG. It is not an accident that Europeans drive those tiny little cars. People respond to prices. The increase in CAFE will probably do no harm, but it is very doubtful it will do any good.

If the feel-good environmentalist and the environmental activist were rational people and really cared about the environment they would propose a repeal of the “The mandatory Increase in Global Warming and Corn Growers Enrichment Bill of 2007” and would put their energy behind a bill that taxed carbon emissions. It is an economic law: If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.

Archimedes once said, "Give me a place to stand and I can move the world." What he meant was that if he could stand far enough away from the earth he could use a lever to move it. Levers make heavy objects easier to move. Tax policy can leverage market forces. Environmentalist would achieve much more if they would learn to work with and leverage market forces rather than oppose market forces.

Unfortunately, trying to tell a liberal environmentalist that an energy bill mandating higher CAFE standards and ethanol use can actually lead to more global warming is useless. They will view an appeal to logic as a dirty trick. It there were enough rational environmentalist we could actually do something about global warming. Unfortunately, there are not enough environmentalist who are rational, and not enough rationalist who are environmentalist.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Conversion on Gobal Warming

I was late in coming to the anti-global warming cause.

I am a conservative Republican. More“Conservative” than “Republican”. In my teens I was a Goldwater enthusiast and have considered myself part of the conservative movement my whole life; subscribing to the journals, reading books by conservative thinkers, and donating money. However, of late, I have become unhappy with the influence of the religious right in the party, with the fiscal irresponsibility of the party, and I was opposed to our going to war in Iraq. I am still a conservative and still a Republican but a disillusioned conservative Republican. Now to that, I must add that I am disappointed that Republicans have shown no leadership on global warming or energy independence.

When global warming first became an issue of public concern, I tended to scoff and tended to believe those who (1) said it was not occurring, and (2) if it was,then it was not caused by human activity. However, after a while it appeared to me that the consensus of informed scientific opinion was the opposite of what I had believed. In addition to the environmental concern, I believed that being less dependent on mid-east oil was a national security concern. So, I admit I was wrong about global warming, and now think we should get serious about dong something about it.

Once I became a “convert” I became appalled at people like Rush Limbaugh and those who still deny that global warming is occurring. Having switched sides in the debate however, I was equally appalled by what I perceived as the stupidity and naiveté on the part of the anti-global warming side. Many seemed to be on this kind of spiritual tree-hugging trip, and offered no solution other than “respecting mother nature”. I also saw lots of advocacy for alternatives such as bio-fuel, windpower, solar, ethanol, and hydrogen. While I believe all of these may have merit, it seemed so obvious to me, that for any alternative to flourish it had to be able to compete in price with current coal and oil. I am all in favor of wearing a sweater and turning down the thermostat, but believe people are more motivated by economics than exhortations to do the right thing. It seems that so many people in the environmentalist movement somehow have distaste for any solution that recognizes that the market has a roll to play in solving the problem.

While solving the problem of global warming or energy independence is not painless or simple, the starting place should be to increase the price of gas. When gas went to $3 a gallon here in Nashville, our bus system had the most ridership it had ever had. I content that if gas prices stayed high and gradually got higher, over time we would see alternatives flourish, conservation, occur, more efficient vehicles and a curtailment of urban sprawl. I believe that it is a fact, that if you want more of something you should can it and if you want less of something then you can tax it. It doesn’t matter a lot what the “something” is. We may not know the slope of the demand curve for energy, but surely we should not disagree about the direction. I am as appalled at the economic ignorance on the left, as I am at the remaining scientific ignorance on the right.

Since it is Democrats who have long warned of the dangers of global warming, I would expect them to be offering real solutions. However, prior to the recent election when Nancy Pelosi was talking about her goals for when the Democrats take over the house, she mentioned in the same statement both bringing down the price of gas and combating global warming. Is she just pandering or is it ignorance? Does she not see those are contradictory objectives? Where is the leadership?

I have been especially encouraged to see conservative journalist such as Krauthammer, Brooks, and Robertson,and the Libertarian publication Reason take the positions they have taken regarding global warming. As an anti-global warming conservative, I feel a lot less lonely, and I think they bring an understanding of economics to the debate which has largely been missing from the anti-global warming side until recently. Maybe overtime, some political courage will emerge.

Many liberals seem to want to keep the anti-global warming movement reserved for the pure of heart. Instead of welcoming the Krauthammers, Brooks, and Robertsons, they criticizes them for not speaking out earlier and think that their motives are suspect. Those who are concerned about Global warming need to welcome supporters wherever they come from. People do not have to agree on the minimum wage, health care policy, Iraq, or abortion to see the rationality of taxing carbon emissions.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Obama's Grandma's Typical White


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There are ways Nashvillians can avert foreclosure

Act quickly and you might be able to stay in house (link)
By NAOMI SNYDER Staff Writer The Tennessean, April 6, 2008

The biggest mistake most people make when falling behind on mortgage payments is waiting until it's too late to do anything about it, housing advocates say.

"They're scared and they ignore several letters," said Rod Williams, director of housing services for the Woodbine Community Organization in Nashville. "I get calls from people that are going to foreclosure next week. It's hard to do anything at that point."

"Often (lenders) are willing to take a loss rather than have a foreclosure," Williams said. "The mortgage company really doesn't want to take your house."

Comment: I am interviewed for this article on how to avoid foreclosure.

Please, please, do not lose your home to foreclosure without exploring all the options. If you are in the Nashville area, let me help you. Don't try to deal with your mortgage company without getting help.

Avoiding foreclosure is often possible, but only if you know what you are doing. Get professional assistance. Don't avoid getting help because you are embarrassed. Don't think you don't need help. If you don't know the options available to you, you won't know what to ask for. You should no more face foreclosure without a professional housing counselor than you should go to court without an attorney. Don't give the mortgage company your financial information until a housing counselor has reviewed it.

One of the most important things for avoiding foreclosure is to act early. You have a much better chance of saving your home if you take action early. If you are behind on your house payment, or your adjustable rate mortgage is about to reset and you know you will have difficulty making the higher payment, call me. If you have friends or relatives who may be facing foreclosure, have them give me a call. There is no cost for our services.

Rod Williams, Director of Housing Services, Woodbine Community Organization. 850-3453

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bio-Fuels

Bio-Fuels: Brought to you by the feel-good environmentalist. Bio-Fuels: increasing global warming, killing the oceans, destroying the rain forest, starving the hungry.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Jane Fonda Endorses Barack Obama;

There Goes the Crossover Vote.

Jane Fonda, the actress and ardent anti-Vietnam War advocate who visited North Vietnam during those hostilities, has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.

There were no formal ceremonies for the endorsement. In fact, the Obama campaign may just be learning about the actress's approval now as word spreads like lit gunpowder via the Internet. (link)

My Comment: You should not judge a candidate by the people who endorse him. You can't always choose your supporters. Apparently Obama didn't seek this endorsement and if he is smart he will ignore it.

Given that at this point in the race there are only three choices, it is not surprising that Jane Fonda would endorse Obama. Of the three, Obama is the one promising an immediate pull out from Iraq and damn the consequences. I can see how that view would appeal to Jane Fonda.

There are people with whom I have a difference of opinion but still respect. There are very few public people who I truly detest. Jane Fonda is at the top of that short list. Most celebrities who say or do stupid things, I think should simply be ignored. Jane Fonda, however, I cannot forgive for her betrayal of America, her stab in the back of U.S servicemen, and her cheerleading for the North Vietnamese Communist.

I am generally a peace-loving, non-violent, forgiving type of guy. I hope no harm comes to Jane Fonda. However, if a deranged Vietnam vet was determined to assassinate a public figure and could not be talked out of it, and he was asking for nominations, I would not be disappointed if someone nominated Jane Fonda.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ethanol Worse than Gas in Causing Global Warming

Ethanol

“Politicians and Big Business are pushing biofuels like corn-based ethanol as alternative to oil. All they’re doing is driving up food price and making global warming worse- and your paying for it.” These sentences are on the cover of the most recent issue of Time magazine introducing an article entitled The Clean Energy Myth, written by Michael Grunwald.

Grunwald, who is a senior correspondent for Time magazine and has written extensively on environmental issues, examines the consequences of the increased use of ethanol and evaluates ethanol’s effect on global warming.

In the past decade, the US has quadrupled the production of ethanol and the recently passed energy bill mandates another five-fold increase. Grunwald quotes studies that show that the actual effect of the increase of the use of ethanol is that it’s dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it.”

One way this is happening is that the push to produce more ethanol is resulting in clearing of the Amazon rain forest. When the rain forest is destroyed, the act of deforestation releases carbon emission and this deforestation accounts for 20% of all current carbon emissions.

In addition to making global warming worse, in the process we are also destroying the most ecologically diverse places on the earth at an alarmingly accelerated rate, not only in the Amazon but also in Indonesia and other places in the world.

Another point Grunwald makes is that producing fuel from corn provides only a modest gain in net fuel. It takes almost as much energy to create a BTU of energy from corn as is produced.

Other points he the article makes are these:
Only sugarcane-based ethanol is efficient enough to cut carbon emissions by more than it takes to produce the fuel. The rest of the “green fuels” are net carbon emitters.
The U. S. leads the world in corn and soybean production, but if 100% of both crops were turned into fuel, it produces only enough fuel to replace 20% of the gas consumption.

The author is unequivocal that “biofules aren’t part of the solution at all. They’re part of the problem.”

How in the world could we be so irrational as to be mandating ethanol in order to deal with global warming? That is like an alcoholic who switches from beer to bourbon to deal with his drinking problem. The evidence is clear, that as the author says, “we’re better off growing food and drilling for oil.”

It is not as if the truth about ethanol was not known before the new Congress passed the recent energy bill. Rational environmentalist knew this all along but ethanol is trendy and the feel-good environmentalist want it. The rational environmentalists are too few and too timid to counter the feel-good environmentalist and the activist of the environmental movement. The environmental community, with few exceptions, celebrated the passing of the recent energy bill by the newly elected Democratic Congress.

It is disheartening that we are pursuing a policy that is making global warming worse in the name of fighting global warming, but most politicians are willing to give stupid people what they want. The fact that the nations first Presidential nominating contest is in the corn-growing state of Iowa probably plays a roll in the popularity of ethanol also. Candidates for President, of both parties, pander to the Iowa voters by endorsing ethanol. In 2000, John McCain was the only politician with the courage to speak the truth about the folly of ethanol, but apparently McCain wants to be President more than he wants to tell the truth, so this time around he also jumped on the ethanol bandwagon.

I don’t see much hope for curtailing global warming. Everywhere you look, the only news about global warming is bad news. Lofty goals are not met, and the rate of carbon emission continues to grow. Rationality on the issue seems to be in short supply. On the one hand, you have the global warming deniers and on the other hand you have the feel-good enviournmentalist who are happy as long as we do “something” even it that something is worse than doing nothing.

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