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By Robert Rapier on Dec 20, 2010 with 72 responses

Borrowing For the Present at Our Children’s Expense

Dreams of a Child

This past week my youngest son told me that he wanted to be president when he grows up. I still remember when I felt that way. As a child, I thought “I would make a good president.” I thought I had the qualities that you would want in a president. I was considerate of others, wasn’t selfish, made pretty good decisions, always spent less than I earned, and focused on long-range planning. As an example of the latter two qualities, I actually started investing into an IRA for my retirement when I was 16. I started putting money away for college for each of my children when they were born. I was certain that this sort of long-range thinking would be a great asset in a politician.

Lower taxes AND higher spending can be achieved, as long as we agree that our immediate gratification is more important than the futures of our children.

Ah, the naive dreams of a child. As I grew older, I began to see that politicians tended to have opposite qualities of what I thought you would want in a political leader. They were incredibly selfish. They spent more money than they “earned.” They funneled tax dollars into their districts so they could get reelected — even when it was wasteful spending. They didn’t think about what was good for the country or for the next generation, they were thinking about how to give their constituents the maximum benefit today, even at the expense of everyone else. Often, to get what they wanted, they had to agree to spend tax dollars on another Congressman’s boondoggle. As a parent trying to save money to help my kids go to college, I began to be appalled at the level of debt that we were heaping on the next generation, especially if that spending would be of no benefit to them.

A Loss for Our Children

Voters seemed to favor political leaders whose self-interests would lead to deficit spending. The more selfish the political leader — i.e., the more money they could funnel into their district at the expense of everyone else — the more likely they were to be reelected. Interest groups would make big campaign contributions so they could influence politicians to send more funding their way, thus ensuring that they could make more campaign contributions. Instead of being selfless and considerate, politicians tended toward the selfish, privileged, and narcissistic. When I began to understand what politics was really all about, any notions I had of ever becoming a politician vanished.

What you tend to end up with in politicians are people willing to say things they don’t believe, people willing to pander, and people willing to sell out their principles for votes. You have people who have no problem becoming complete and utter hypocrites. You have the environmentalist calling for expanded use of dirty energy and the fiscal conservative calling for wasteful spending — as long as that happens to benefit their district.

Due to the nature of our political leaders, for the holiday season this year we were given a Christmas tree bill, loaded up with tax cuts and special interest spending even though we are in a deep deficit hole. Apparently, President Obama is beginning to agree with the previous administration that additional spending doesn’t have to be paid for with taxes. In fact, as we have learned for over a decade, we can have lower taxes AND higher spending. Not a problem. We just have to agree that our immediate gratification is much more important than the futures of our children, and we can just send them the bill.

We have been the “Me generation” for far too long. We run up credit card debts buying things we don’t need and then declare bankruptcy when our stupidity catches up with us. We refuse to sacrifice; in fact we do the opposite of sacrifice. We treat ourselves, and let someone else worry about the consequences. In the case of the national debt, instead of leaving our children an inheritance, we are going to leave them a crushing debt to repay. They will be the ones who will have to grapple with bankruptcy as the country struggles to pay off debt and at the same time pay Baby Boomers their social security. It is a sad legacy we will leave behind.

  1. By Walt on January 3, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Jay said:

    It’s a good thing entrepreneurs don’t need the blessings of politicians or this country would be even more screwed than it already is, if that’s possible.


     

    Jay, thanks for the feedback.  I believe it is important to identify all the problems within the marketplace, and that is why we visit RR’s blog is to learn what is wrong with the system.  It is obviously broken, but where are the blogs discussing the solutions or at least giving solutions an audience?  If you run the internet reading blog after blog you’ll find mostly negative press.  Of course, this is different if you follow the press release focused media which as RR has pointed out in the past are usually misleading.  While I too like to point out the negative aspects in the energy industry, and see if there is a way to fix those problems, I agree with you that “entrepreneurs don’t need the blessings of politcians”.  However, the tax system drives investment and entrepreneurs can only risk so much money before it gets too risky.  There are solutions to energy, economics and politics.  Where are they discussed…we should all make a New Years resolution to not spend all our energy focused on exposing the negative UNLESS we can offer answers to those problems, and put some of our own money behind those answers.

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  2. By BilB on December 20, 2010 at 5:47 am

    What price freedom?

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  3. By Kit P on December 20, 2010 at 7:30 am

    “It is a sad legacy we will leave behind.”

     

    Lets see! RR grew up the son of a farmer and now he is a rich guy.

     

    Lots of things have changed. We are living longer and heather. Food and energy are cheap. Our air is clean. You can live where you want regardless of your religion or the color of your skin. Young men are not being drafted by the thousands and dying by the hundreds each week.

     

    Our children will inherit the land of opportunity. Assuming they do not die in a car accident while texting.

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  4. By Rufus on December 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Agree with Kit.

    Also, they won’t “pay” the bonds off, any more than we paid off the WWII, WWI, or Spanish-American War Bonds. They’ll just “roll’em over,” and keep on trucking. That’s what we’ve always done; that’s what we’ll always do. We have a Fiat currency for a reason.

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  5. By Wendell Mercantile on December 20, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Often, to get what they wanted, they had to agree to spend tax dollars on another Congressman’s boondoggle.

    Pretty good description of how corn ethanol got to where it is.

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  6. By rrapier on December 20, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Also, they won’t “pay” the bonds off, any more than we paid off the WWII, WWI, or Spanish-American War Bonds.

    That was possible in the past because we had an expanding economy. You can see where oil prices are today. You can see that demand continues to remain strong in the face of these oil prices, and that will continue to keep our economy weak in my opinion. So the circumstances that allowed us to pay down terrible debt, when we were producing more oil than we needed, are quite different today.

    Taking your reasoning to the ultimate conclusion, why don’t we just reduce taxes to zero then, since we will never have to pay off the bonds? I think you would agree that this would be a problem. If so, you would also have to agree that at some point the amount we tax versus the amount we spend becomes a problem, regardless of whether we just “roll’em over.”

    The U.S. budget deficit has exploded in the past few years, and this comes at a time when the first wave of Baby Boomers is starting to retire. We have dipped heavily into the social security trust fund to pay for spending that is often wasteful. Some years back they had to raise the retirement age — regardless of whether they will just roll over the debt. I expect a lot more measures like this, but mainly I expect that a lot of measures like that will be imposed upon our children. After all, a booming economy made possible by cheap oil was not the only thing that allowed us to pay down debt following WWII. Tax rates went up sharply across the board. For the poorest earners, they more than quadrupled — but they increased for everyone between the beginning of the war and the end:

    Historical U.S. Tax Rates 1913-2010

    So there are clearly consequences when spending gets far ahead of taxes, and they are consequences put upon the next generation. In the case of WWII, it was justified. In the case of pork barrel spending, it is not.

    RR

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  7. By Rufus on December 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I don’t disagree with most of what you write, Robert. At least in spirit. But, we Have seen all of this before. We get pretty bolloxed up from time to time, but we are not Completely without feck. We can mitigate pretty hard, and fast, when we decide to.

    Now, if you want to state that we are, almost certainly, in for an “Interesting” ten years, I will undoubtably agree with you.

    We do have to keep one thing in mind. Our Capitalist System is hopelessly “Manic.” We get way too sanguine during the booms, and, in turn, much too pessimistic during the busts. Equanimity R’ Not Us.

    Uh, and wholesale unleaded front month is pushing at $2.36/gal.

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  8. By Benny BND Cole on December 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I would vote for RR for US president, in a heartbeat.
    The lack of resolve on the debt is breathtaking.
    One week we pat ourselves on the backs,and talk loftily about Simpson-Bowles.
    The next week, bang-bang huge tax cuts.
    Sadly enough, I think we have to inflate our way out of debt, as we lack the resolve to pay it down.

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  9. By rrapier on December 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I would vote for RR for US president, in a heartbeat.

    But the point is, Benny, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything. Our political leaders are afraid to ask their constituents for sacrifice, and when I insist that we must sacrifice, they will continue with their selfish ways of pushing these problems onto someone else later on. So they would never cooperate with me. In our system with our leaders, you can’t get people to sacrifice for the future until there is a clear emergency in front of you (which is also why I believe our national savings rate is so low — saving for future needs is just not something we do well).

    RR

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  10. By Kit P on December 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Many people are short sighted about debt.  Does the debt result in assets that repay the cost of the debt or lower the cost of energy for all taxpayers?

     

    Out children will be inheriting 104 nuke plants, a large hydroelectric system, and an interstate highway systems.

     

    One of the dairy farm anaerobic digester projects received a $500,000 cash grant.  Is that a future asset that contributes to the tax base or a boondagle?  I do not know, ask me in twenty years.  If is still pumping out the MWh’s and other dairy farmers have added anaerobic digesters to their farms, then it was a good investment.  Everyone benefits from reducing the demand for fossil fuels.  It leaves more for future generations.

     

    I am very skeptical of sweeping arguments that talk about ‘special interests’ because every thing is a special interest.

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  11. By GreenEngineer on December 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    A friend of mine had a political science professor of the Baby Boom generation who was fond of saying to his students “When we were your age, the world was our oyster. Unfortunately, we ate it.”

    RR’s response to Rufus is dead on: Historically, we have simply outgrown or outproduced our debts and bad decisions. But that obviously cannot continue forever — the Infinite Growth Fairy is a myth, just like Santa.

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  12. By Renewable Power Spac on December 20, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Having a dream to become a president is always good to a child. The reality is even you do become a president, you may not be able to fullfill all your dreams. I guess this is part of the reason why Pres. Clinton is more successful in post-presidency years than when he was the president, at least to me – he spends more of his energy on enviromental and charity issues than 10 years ago and that’s how I measure success.

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  13. By Kit P on December 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    “that’s how I measure success.”

     

    My company was developing renewable energy when Clinton was president. I measure success a different way. Texas had a RPS and was building renewable energy projects. The governor of Texas was Bush. As POTUS, Bush leadership on renewable energy was measured by new projects built and electricity generated.

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  14. By Rufus on December 20, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Nah, those past debts are still there – All of them. We just inflated them into inconsequence. Just like we’ll do to today’s.

    We have a fiat currency for a reason.

    It’s why the Federal Reserve embraces inflation, and is deadly afraid of deflation. Only total destruction of the banking system, and the resulting Deflation/Depression can “screw the pooch.”

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  15. By PeteS on December 21, 2010 at 1:06 am

    RR, I don’t think you are being unfair to politicians. But you’re too kind to voters. People get the government they deserve. And they vote for candidates who exploit sectional interests, and who discount the future to pay for the present. Short-termism is a deficiency of democracy which cannot be easily fixed. And while most people are probably at least a little conficted between morality and selfish nature, those who manage to avoid moral qualms altogether become politicians.

    Perhaps you will be able to inflate away all the problems, as Rufus suggests. As a microcosm of one problem with that approach, my company employs a hundred or so Americans whose jobs will be lost if the dollar is sufficiently weakened. Also, there are many countries holding dollar reserves who will obviously not be best pleased to see what is effectively an engineered default on debt through inflation. You can only piss off those customers so much before the dollar loses its value as a reserve currency. (And aircraft carriers cost money, before Kit P gives us the stock answer on his preferred remedy for that problem).

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  16. By russ on December 21, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Everyone responds true to form!

     

    Rufus – wait until you see a ‘fiat’ currency. You haven’t the slightest idea except for having read the term. When you take your wheel barrow of dollars to the store to buy bread you will learn all about ‘fiat’ currency.

    There is a rather fantastic bill that will demand a rather fantastic amount of suffering that will come due. The Investment and Recovery Act is in reality the Dig Your Own Grave Act. Little of the money was actually invested but dolled out to Solyndra and other companies that are going down the drain.

    The borrowing has been going on so long that it seems most people are convinced it doesn’t matter – guess wolf was cried too many times and now people refuse to see it coming.

     

     

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  17. By Mike on December 21, 2010 at 8:54 am

    H.L. Mencken once said that “democracy is the election of jackals by jackasses”.

    @PeteS – I’d agree that in theory the responsibility for the actions of government must lie with the people in a democratic system, but it’s important to bear in mind that people can only vote with information that they have. Ignoring any kind of behind-the-scenes machinations to do with re-districting or voting machines, if the media is a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate power structure that benefits from the status quo, if the hard news is only available through inherently discredited outlets like the internet, if people need to work longer hours than ever before to sustain an ever-decreasing standard of living, when and where will they access the truth they need in order to make an informed choice. Sure, people get lazy and greedy. Sure, people get complacent, but in the end, you can’t blame a single mother working two jobs to support herself and her kid(s) for not having the time to do some online research or read some books, especially when her local libraries are being closed down for lack of funding and she can’t afford to buy anything that isn’t food or gas. Yeah, she might have cable which could be gotten rid of, but by the time someone gets to that point, they don’t even know that there are things they don’t know, if you take my meaning. Knowing that there is a curtain behind which you should look requires a certain foundation that not everybody gets in this life, let alone the time and skills to find out what they need to know.

    I once told my father that I wanted to be President and he told me, point blank, that I’d make “a terrible president”. I asked him why, feeling hurt in my twelve year old way, and he said that it was a compliment, that because I was honest, wasn’t good at compromise and didn’t have a killer instinct, I would fail as a politician because I wouldn’t talk out of both sides of my face, stick the knife in whoever was facing the other way and change my mind based on what would preserve my grip on power. Maybe that was the point where I began questioning the political structure as it’s presented (and this was before the internet made everything available at the click of a mouse).

    @Kit P – you said that young men aren’t being drafted in their thousands and dying in their hundreds each week. Is it somehow more acceptable if the draft is socio-economic rather than legislative? Is it less of a tragedy if they die in smaller increments each week? One here, three there…death is death, so let’s not dress it up to make an already weak point. Food is cheap because it is largely refined from commodities rather than produce – this, by the way, is the same food that makes the US one of the most obese, unhealthy, heart disease/cancer/diabetes-ridden nations on earth. As an aside, go to this link if you still think America is somehow “winning” at health: http://www.photius.com/ranking…..ranks.html – you’ll find the US ranked 37th in terms of healthcare, between Costa Rica and Slovenia. Food is cheap because it is mass produced as monoculture on land that is increasingly failing to yield anything without massive inputs of fertiliser and pesticides, all of which are made out of the shrinking fossil fuel resource base at the heart of the ever-ratcheting sense of impending disaster most people feel. Fuel is cheap because the US government effectively subsidises it by not taxing it. Fuel is cheap because the hidden cost is in a currency not accounted for on balance sheets, the currency of blood, of pain, of human suffering, of ecological devastation. Your children will inherit a land of opportunity? Are you high?! Your children will be the first generation in almost two hundred years to have a lower average income, lower life expectancy, higher rate of serious illness, higher rate of mental illness, higher tax burden and smaller job market than their predecessors. Take a moment to crack open the champagne for the Big Win you’ve left your children. The Baby Boom generation has consumed 50% of the world’s non-renewable resources in a single human lifespan, leaving behind scarcity, pollution, disease and extinction. Congratulations! Let me know when Ed McMahon shows up with your cheque.

    Robert’s right, as usual. Any changes that will help the US will have to come from serious reform to the system that allows these douchebags to run roughshod over the Constitution they were elected to protect and the people that sent them to Washington to do it. Without public campaign financing and term limits, the US will always be blighted by career politicians in thrall to “them what brung ya”, to use a Texan aphorism. And don’t even get me started on a two party state that calls itself a beacon of democracy. The Chinese would be proud of the propaganda job that sold that one to the American people.

    As for inflation, Russia and China are already dumping their dollar reserves faster than a dog with diarrhoea. Considering that the bulk of US debt is held by foreign powers, I don’t see a happy resolution to America deleveraging with worthless bills. They’ll end up needing to redeem in SDRs or some other internationally recognised currency if they go that far. If that’s the case, inflation is a disaster because paying off US debt with non-US currency will of course be more expensive if the dollar devalues. Bear in mind the pot/kettle situation six weeks ago when Geithner was calling foul on China keeping the yuan low. The US hasn’t had a fairly valued dollar since they completely broke free of Bretton Woods II in 1973. Inflation will not help pay off debts because Fat Tony doesn’t want wallpaper or toilet paper, he wants money.

    Money created from debt will always require economic growth to service and/or pay off that debt. The US is, like much of the Western world, coming to an end of economic growth as we know it. Without ever increasing energy inputs, economic growth is a pipe dream. Without economic growth, sovereign debt will pile up until even servicing the debt becomes too much, and then we’re in Shitsville, Population: Us. Ipso facto. If you think I’m wrong, go get a tennis ball and drop it onto the floor. If it keeps bouncing without you touching it a second time, I’ll recant.

    So guys, really, enough with the “it’ll be fine” or “we’ll just do [x] or [y]“. If you find your country in a position where you’re citing complete devaluation of your currency as the saviour of your situation, or you’re quoting military or technological supremacy (and the violence that goes with maintaining it) as solutions, you’re already screwed. Like they say, if you think you might be too drunk to drive, you are. Hand over the keys to a generation that haven’t completely ruined the planet and the country and bitch from the sidelines. Then I might believe you when you say things can get better.

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  18. By Walt on December 21, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Robert, have you ever watched the movie “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”?

    If you have not seen it recently, you might pick an evening with your family and set them down to watch it together. It is the story of a true American hero so to speak, and although I am personally disgusted with business and Washington politics, it is no different if you are in Russia, China or the EU Parliament. Men are just corrupt generally speaking, and some can control it while others seek power and money which brings out the worst in corruption.

    Of course, it is not called corruption in Washington politics, unless you put the cash in your refrigerator, but as “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” shows corruption can come in many different colors. It is worth watching if you have not seen the movie.

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  19. By Wendell Mercantile on December 21, 2010 at 9:52 am

    “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” shows corruption can come in many different colors. It is worth watching if you have not seen the movie.

    Walt~

    You’re right a great movie. But unfortunately, it is fiction and just a movie. The true “Mr. Smiths” are far too rare. The last one I know of is Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and he was voted out this last election, and replaced by a rich, talking suit.

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  20. By Wendell Mercantile on December 21, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Slightly off topic — but only slightly. NPR did a great piece (part 1 of 3) this morning on the politics of corn ethanol. I can already hear Bob Dinneen squealing: The recent tax cut bill preserves a pretty sweet deal for corn ethanol. It extends a tax subsidy, along with an import tariff supporting a fuel that already enjoys a guaranteed market. But what do taxpayers get for all the help?

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  21. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Yada, yada, yada. Heard it all in the 70′s. Believed it then; know better now.

    We have an “immediate” problem developing in transport energy. We’ll solve it when we “have to” solve it. As for the rest of it: Actually, I HAVE studied the Weimar Republic, and we’re Not the Weimar Republic. What we are is an economy that’s approx. 3 times larger than the second largest economy on Earth; and a people with the highest per capita income of any other major economy by far.

    And, yes, those Nuclear Carriers, and Stealth Bombers DO make a difference.

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  22. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Wendell, as of today they get 940,000 bbl/day of a drop-in fuel that sells for approx $1.80/gal (after tax credit,) wholesale – compared to $2.38 front month for unleaded (of course, that unleaded price would, undoubtably, be higher without that 940,000 bbl/day of ethanol on the market.)

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  23. By Kit P on December 21, 2010 at 11:26 am

    “Is it somehow more acceptable if the draft is socio-economic rather than legislative?”

    Yes Mike it is different! It like the difference between being part of an elite group based on accomplishment rather elitism because your perceived position ‘socio-economic’ structure. While Mike claims to be an honest person I would say not so much. An honest person would explain a better way to protect our children from the evil in the world.

    Food and energy are cheap in America because farmers and energy production workers are very productive and efficient. I suspect Mike from what you wrote that you know little about about either. Again I have to question your honesty. Maybe you should not have brought that up. But again Mike if you would like to suggest a better way that a long list of stuff that you read in the elitist press.

    “Are you high?”

    No, we have raised our children with the concept of personal responsibility. They will not have to fight in WWII, Koera, or VN. They do not have to worry about polio, small pox, chicken pox, cholera, diphtheria, mumps, measles, and a whole host of other childhood diseases. Cars have seat belts. They grew up in a smoke free house with clean outdoor air. Our children were raised with a balanced diet and know how to put a economical meal of the table.

     

    The interesting thing is that every statistic I look at causes me to be optimistic. I see no reason for life expectancy to be lower because many of the causes have of early death have been eliminated. If they ruin their health by making poor choices, they can blame if they want.

     

    “The Baby Boom generation has consumed 50% of the world’s non-renewable resources in a single human lifespan …”

     

    We also perfected so running out of electricity is not something our children have to worry about.

    I have always tried to figure out why the U.S. is such great country. It is the land of opportunity. One of the things that pulls our health statistics down is that immigrants often arrive broke and in poor health. I worked with one man from India who survived small pox. Another from Egypt with high levels of lead. His child labor job was recycling batteries. A man from Iraq told me about seeing neighbors hanging from street lights. Places like Cuba, China, Iran, & VN are all sources of our best and most productive citizen who understand why the is such great country. They just want an opportunity.

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  24. By Benny BND Cole on December 21, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    OT, and old news to many RR fans, and RR himself. But the mainstream guys are taking a look at Peak Demand.

    Energywise
    Has the U.S. Passed Peak Gas (Demand)?

    POSTED BY: Dave Levitan / Tue, December 21, 2010

    An interesting Associated Press article that’s making the rounds asserts that the United States has actually passed the point of peak demand for gasoline, and instead of a continued rise in the coming years we will actually see a decline from 2006 onward. The data seem solid on that assertion, but the implications may be more complicated than at first glance.

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  25. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I’m afraid a lot of people might read that, and not understand that the price they pay at the pump is a function of “International” Demand, not Local, or U.S. Demand.

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  26. By rrapier on December 21, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    NPR did a great piece (part 1 of 3) this morning on the politics of corn ethanol.

    My next essay, Wendell, is on who has been naughty for Christmas. It is all about the ethanol special interests, and the sleazy tactics they use to get what they want.

    RR

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  27. By Wendell Mercantile on December 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    It is all about the ethanol special interests, and the sleazy tactics they use to get what they want.

    RR~

    NPR should have asked you to be a contributor. I thought their first piece made some solid points, but they hurt themselves a bit by drawing on Pimental’s work. I’ve a lot of respect for Pimental and have corresponded with him, but much of his work is outdated and therefore draws the same tired response from Big Ethanol. Whenever they see Pimental’s name, it sets off something in their brains.

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  28. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I guess the post after that one will be on Big Oil’s sleazy tactics, and what They do to get what they want, eh?

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  29. By rrapier on December 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I guess the post after that one will be on Big Oil’s sleazy tactics, and what They do to get what they want, eh?

    Floor is open for that guest post as soon as you finish it, Rufus. I am keenly aware of the lies and hypocrisy that Big Ethanol employed to get what they want. I am sure you have plenty of examples ready to counter, but I don’t have them. So it would be an appropriate post for you.

    RR

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  30. By Benny BND Cole on December 21, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Rufus-
    I think worth mentioning is that Europe and Japan have posted declining oil demand for decades and decades, and posted higher living standards along the way, especially Europe (Japan is in the perma-throes of a too-tight money regime).
    This should help put into perspective fears about “Peak Oil.” It is possible–it has been done, with older technologies–to boost living standards and cut oil use. They already did it in Europe. For decades running now.
    Indeed, for the United Sattes, I suspect Peak Oil will be a boon–we will use more domestic resources, keeping our oney at home, whule cutting pollution.
    But Rufus, ethanol is for drinking. I guess I could abide by a PHEV fleet powered by ethanol. The decline in total liquid fuel demand would be so large that perhaps ethanol could suffice by itself. An all CNG, PHEV fleet for the US would means extra hundreds of billions in extra income for Americans every year.
    That would be my X-mas gift to Americans.

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  31. By Wendell Mercantile on December 21, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    …Big Oil’s sleazy tactics, and what they do to get what they want, eh?

    Rufus~

    It’s hardly about what Big Oil wants. It’s what the 196-million licensed drivers in the U.S. want, and what the 254-million registered cars in the U.S. need to keep running. Though they may complain mightily about the price, you try and be the one who takes oil away from those 196 million drivers.

    I walk to work three miles (each direction) each day, and believe me, it’s what the drivers of the 5,000 or so cars that pass me every morning want. They look at me as I’m crazy for walking, and aren’t about to give up burning oil and join me. Deep in their heart of hearts, each one of them is happy for whatever tactics Big Oil and the government use to keep them addicted.

    Our government keeping the flow of oil going is a lot like what the Romans did supplying “bread and circuses” to their population to appease them.

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  32. By OD on December 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    The interesting thing is that every statistic I look at causes me to be optimistic.

    Have you looked at the obesity rate statistic? I can not fathom how that would make you optimistic. It’s good you and yours have avoided being part of it, but a lot of Americans unfortunately haven’t. The diabetes rate is also skyrocketing with no signs of slowing down. I took my niece to school the other day and was quite stunned at how many obese children there are now.  I do not see how these children will outlive their parents unless dramatic steps are taken.

     

     

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  33. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    The fact is, Robert, Big Oil lobbies for their product, and the Ethanol producers lobby for theirs. I don’t “hate” big oil, and I don’t “love” the ethanol producers.

    I just want to be able to afford something to pour in my gas tank to make the ol’ jalopy run. And, even though I don’t drive every day, many days I put on over 100 miles in very hot, or very cold weather, so a battery-car isn’t going to get the job done for me.

    And, I’m not crazy about natural gas because we import that from Canada. That leaves a “local” fuel made from sticks, and twigs, and grass. When I get “That” post ready, I’ll gladly pass it along. :)

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  34. By Wendell Mercantile on December 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    …something to pour in my gas tank to make the ol’ jalopy run.

    Rufus~

    Is that a slip of the tongue or a deliberate “tell?” You called it a “gas” tank and not a fuel tank.

    [link]      
  35. By rrapier on December 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    The fact is, Robert, Big Oil lobbies for their product, and the Ethanol producers lobby for theirs.

    The essay isn’t going to be about lobbies. It is going to be about lies and hypocrisy from ethanol interests. That’s a lot more interesting than someone just out lobbying for a product. In fact, I think the ethanol interests have shown themselves to be pretty sleazy as of late, as I will demonstrate.

    RR

    [link]      
  36. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Whatever, Robert.

    Wendell, back in ’51 my daddy told me that was a “gas tank.” I been calling it that ever since; doubt that I’ll change, now. :)

    [link]      
  37. By rrapier on December 21, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Whatever, Robert.

    It isn’t “whatever.” The RFA has resorted to blatant dishonest and misleading arguments in their lobbying. If you want to show that the API does the same, be my guest.

    RR

    [link]      
  38. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Robert, Pleeeeze.

    The API is still running around, filing lawsuits using outdated, disproved data, claiming 15% ethanol will “harm” engines (in 2007, and “newer” cars?”) and referring to the debunked ILUC nonsense, and funding scores of “environmental” sockpuppets to do the same. Goodness.

    I’m not going to argue these points. It’s your blog; if you want to claim “Sainthood” for the oil companies, and malfeasance for the ethanol companies it’s your business. You might even be able to convince someone of it. Good Luck.

    As for myself: I’d rather just take the grown-up attitude that these are “business,” and that they’re going to “talk their book,” and do everything short of committing a criminal offense to further the interests of the shareholders. That’s why I study these things – so I don’t have to “Take “Anybody at their Word.”

    [link]      
  39. By Kit P on December 21, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    “Have you looked at the obesity rate statistic?”

     

    No, OD have you looked at statistics for liberal elitists who like to control other people while being out of their own lives because of the failure to understand the concept of individual responsibility?  First there was President Kennedy’s fitness program, then there was anti-smoking campaigns, next was just say no to drugs.   

    I have been involved with school kids for 35 years.  I am in a 5th grade class every week sponsoring a chess club.  Maybe that is why I am an optimist.  Anyway kids look much the same as I remember 35 years ago.  I have noticed that methods for teaching reading have improved from out first to our last.  Anything was better than see Jane run, run, run run.   

    OD if you think obesity is a problem caused by my generation, tell me what the root cause is and I how I can change it.  I do not see having an adequate supply of food or energy is a problem.

    [link]      
  40. By Kit P on December 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Here is $10 million in barrowing that sounds pretty good.   

    Comp Dairy Energy LLC was awarded the grant as part of a $10 million package aimed at converting waste materials into electricity, heat, fuel and other bioproducts using anaerobic digesters.

    http://www.lancasterfarming.co…..lion-grant

    [link]      
  41. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Speaking of what-all; it looks like the API Lost Another One.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/…..ate1-.html

    The API was challenging the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard. Judges said, “Take a Hike.”

    [link]      
  42. By Rufus on December 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I love that anaerobic digester story, Kit. There are something like 100,000,000 cows, and calves in the U.S. I think I figured out one time that it only took 5 or so dairy cows to supply All the electricity for a home.

    Potentially, AD can be a pretty bid deal.

    [link]      
  43. By rrapier on December 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    The API is still running around, filing lawsuits using outdated, disproved data, claiming 15% ethanol will “harm” engines (in 2007, and “newer” cars?”) and referring to the debunked ILUC nonsense, and funding scores of “environmental” sockpuppets to do the same. Goodness.

    We aren’t going to argue via innuendo here. Please document your charges, as I will document mine. I can tell you that we have different standards of what amounts of mischief. If I broadened my definition to include the sorts of things you mentioned above, I could fill several essays. Outdated and disproved? According to you? I am talking about lies, not a difference of opinion.

    I’m not going to argue these points.

    So you will just make the insinuations, and leave it hanging, eh? That’s not what I am going to do.

    It’s your blog; if you want to claim “Sainthood” for the oil companies,

    We also aren’t going to argue strawmen. I have documented the RFA lying in a press release. If you wish to do the same, please do so.

    RR

    [link]      
  44. By rrapier on December 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Rufus said:

    Speaking of what-all; it looks like the API Lost Another One.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/…..ate1-.html

    The API was challenging the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard. Judges said, “Take a Hike.”


     

    Your bias is showing again. They challenged a retroactive requirement. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

    RR

    [link]      
  45. By Kit P on December 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Rufus I calculated that all the US dairy cows could produce about the same amount as a a large nuke. Beef cows and calves provide less manure and is harder to collect. Many dairy farms have flush systems to reduce the potential for disease that would an udder disaster.

    AD is a good source of local power because it is dispatchable. I liked the concept of using dual fuel and over sizing the generator. Most of the time it would run on biogas but could support a local emergency. I did not visit a dairy farm that did not have an emergency generator.

    Rufus
    I calculated that all the US dairy cows could produce about the same
    amount as a a large nuke. Beef cows and calves provide less manure
    and is harder to collect. Many dairy farms have flush systems to
    reduce the potential for disease that would an udder disaster.

     

    AD
    is a good source of local power because it is dispatchable. I liked
    the concept of using dual fuel and over sizing the generator. Most
    of the time it would run on biogas but could support a local
    emergency.

    [link]      
  46. By Wendell Mercantile on December 21, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    back in ‘51 my daddy told me that was a “gas tank.” I been calling it that ever since; doubt that I’ll change, now

    Rufus~

    Reckon that means you’re pretty set in your ways, right?

    [link]      
  47. By russ-finley on December 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Is the problem with politicians?

    They are not really leaders. Although one could argue that most people with political aspirations are either naive or power hungry hypocrites, they all end up behaving the same since they have no choice but to please their constituency or become unemployed. Ergo, the problem is the constituency, but how do you rapidly educate 300-plus-million self-serving, vengeful, near-sighted, ignorant dumbasses? ; )

    Or is the problem the constituency?

    Following is a quote from John Plaza, CEO, Imperium Renewables, one of the largest biodiesel refiners on the west coast, located in Washington State:

    Today marks a tremendous event for the biodiesel industry. With both the Senate and House including the biodiesel tax credit in the President’s Tax Package, we can get back to the job of supplying our Nation with renewable fuels made in America. We are thrilled that Congress has extended the biodiesel blender’s tax credit and we must thank U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, U.S. Senator Patty Murray …”

    This credit, combined with the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard will help Imperium ramp up production, add as many as 30 new jobs and contribute up to $50 million in revenue to the state of Washington in 2011.

    I’m sure the 30 jobs is an exaggeration and suspect that the $50 million is a complete fabrication.

    Both senators are from Washington State of course, which produces next to nothing when it comes to biofuel feedstock. Imperium has always used Canola imported from Canada (although the politicians have recently asked them to claim they are using US feedstock) and exports most of what it produces.

    Had these Senators polled the constituency they may have found little support for the extension. But why open a can of worms? This was a way to funnel federal tax dollars to powerful corporate interests in their state. It was good politics and will increase the odds of reelection as well as landing lucrative jobs when they leave office.

    So, finally, you might ask, is the problem America’s unique form of legal bribery–corporate campaign finance?

    Here’s a video of Obama railing against further degradation of the system he’s trapped in.

    Although every last one of us believe we would behave differently, humans tend to behave the same (statistically) depending on the system they are trapped in. Bureaucrats are bored, unmotivated, uncreative because they are trapped in a system (bureaucracy) that does not reward innovation and hard work. German and Russian soldiers were trapped in a shoot or be shot system, as are today’s North Koreans, in addition to being trapped in a bureaucracy.

    At least in a democracy, we tend to stop short of shooting or being shot.

    But America’s democracy has been evolving. Pressures from moneyed power brokers, which are a constant all through human history, are always at work. How long can any government hold out against this unending pressure?

    The following quote will sound familiar:

    A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

    Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.

    Although this quote or some version of it is usually attributed to some famous personage, it was apparently made by the president of the Armstrong Cork Company who was by no means famous but was probably wiser than most of the silver spooner dilettantes who made it into the history books.

    This was first uttered in a talk back in 1943 as a warning against communism, just when America was about to create the McCarthy era anti-communist stain on our history. A few years later, Ike, a Republican and former leader of the Allied forces tried to warn us about the military industrial complex, to little avail.

    A democracy cannot exist without a vibrant middle class. Our middle class has been shrinking for decades.

    This shrinkage accelerated when a guy named Reagan (“who provided the FBI with names of actors whom he believed to be communist sympathizers within the motion picture industry”) bought hook line and sinker a now debunked theory called trickle down economics. From Reaganomics (not to be confused with Reaganing, a term coined on the funniest show I’ve ever seen): Reagan described the new debt as the “greatest disappointment” of his presidency.

    And so it continues, with one side expanding debt to feed the military industrial complex and the jobs created by it, and the other side expanding debt to provide services for citizens and the jobs created by it.

    It’s truly ironic to me that our economy is starting to look more and more like that of the former USSR where government bureaucracies dolled out money to one group or another in “five year plans.” Military spending is a grotesquely inefficient way to create jobs as are unending, unsustainable subsidies that never create a net return on investment.

    [link]      
  48. By ronald-steenblik on December 22, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Wow, a tour de force, Russ! And thank you for the fascinating quote from the president of Armstrong Cork Company. He is in good company. One of the most brilliant political scientists of our time, Mancur Olson, predicted that the downfall of liberal-economic (in the European sense) democracies would be what he called “economic sclerosis”). Olson identifies various strands in this process of sclerosis, the main one being the activity of special interest groups. As he puts it in his last book, The Rise and Decline of Nations (published in 2000 posthumously):

    [T]he larger the number of individuals or firms that would benefit from a collective good, the smaller the share of the gains from action in the group interest that will accrue to the individual or firm that undertakes the action. Thus, in the absence of selective incentives, the incentive for group action diminishes as group size increases, so that large groups are less able to act in their common interest than small ones.

    This reviewer of that book goes on to explain:

    [K]eep this process going on long enough and apply it to enough goods and services and you find a magical growth in prices, regulation, administration, the number of lawyers, and government share of G.D.P. In a sense this is the old pre-civilisation tribalism in modern guise. “If you have the power use it.” The common-good on this reading has a very local definition and is blind to the good of the society as a whole. This seems to be a cultural problem and Olson sheds light on the uncomfortable dual nature of economic liberalism. On the one hand competition is good because it promotes efficiency and choice, and lowers prices. But on the other it is an anti-society instinct that easily slides out of control.

    America, IMHO, is well into the final stages of economic sclerosis, and it is hard to see any cure that can undue the damage already done. Several years ago I reviewed a carefully researched book written by a self-published author, Brian J. Finegan (who died only a couple of years after finishing the book), called The Federal Subsidy Beast: The Rise of a Supreme Power in a Once Great Democracy (no, these reviews were by other people). His central thesis was that there was no longer much difference between the two major parties, and that there was only one dominant party in Washington: “The Subsidy Party”. His recommendation was to strip virtually all tax-and-spending spending authority from the federal government and to vest it in the individual states. His idea was that citizens and corporations could “vote with their feet” if they found that their government representatives were wasting their hard-earned money. But, of course, we know that is never going to happen. Rather, the states have learned that it is easier to let the federal government take the blame for taxes and then to lobby it for “their fair share”.

    [link]      
  49. By Wendell Mercantile on December 22, 2010 at 9:40 am

    (although the politicians have recently asked them to claim they are using US feedstock)

    They could just claim they are using American feedstock — which of course would be true. Technically, people from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. are all Americans; as are Brazilians, Argentinians, Uruguayans, et al.

    [link]      
  50. By Wendell Mercantile on December 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Part two of NPR’s three-part series on the politics and adverse effect of corn ethanol:

    If Your Meat Prices Rise, You Can Blame Ethanol

    Robert,

    J. Patrick Boyle agrees with your position that corn ethanol benefits from a mandate, and then subsidizes that mandate.

    “I don’t see why we can really justify subsidies, when all that does is raises cost of producing food,” says economics professor Bruce Babcock, of Iowa State University.

    The American Meat Institute’s J. Patrick Boyle says the current system is unfair, because the ethanol industry is benefiting from a trifecta of government subsidies.

    In the case of ethanol, he says, “the government mandates the consumption of your product, subsidizes its production, and then insulates the product from international competition.”

    [link]      
  51. By Rufus on December 22, 2010 at 10:15 am

    There are about 2.6 lbs of corn in a lb of beef. So, I guess, ethanol might be responsible for a $0.01 to $0.02 rise in the cost of your quarter-pounder.

    On the other hand, every morning the average family writes a $3.00 check, and mails it to a foreign country.

    I wonder which has the most effect.

    [link]      
  52. By Benny BND Cole on December 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Ronald Steenblik-

    Mancur Olsen! Excellent! But democracies can adapt, and I think we will.

    BTW, and OT, but this blurb ran on Greencarcongress today. I have been following CNG and PHEV cars, and I confess this hydrogen car heading for mass production (!) has crept up on me unawares, so to speak.

    It is another example why democratic Western civilization may last a few centuries longer than some recent predictions made here–I sure hope so.

    Hyundai completes development of 3rd generation fuel cell vehicle; targeting mass production in 2015
    22 December 2010

    Tucson ix Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. Click to enlarge.

    Hyundai Motor Company has completed development of its next-generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicle—the Tucson ix Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)—and will begin testing next year with an eye toward 2015 mass production. (Earlier post.)

    Hyundai’s third-generation FCEV is equipped with a 100kW fuel cell system and two hydrogen storage tanks (700 bar). The SUV has a full-tank range of 650 kilometers (404 miles)—equal to that of a gasoline-powered car. It can start in temperatures as low as -25 °C (-12 °F).

    [link]      
  53. By Kit P on December 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    “They are not really leaders.”

    Lets talk about leadership.   Leadership is first about figuring out what is the right thing to do and then doing it.  When it comes to renewable energy transportation fuel biodiesel is both a good environmental choice based on LCA and a practical choice.  How do I know it is practical?  Because people are doing it!  

     

    “Following is a quote from John Plaza, CEO, Imperium Renewables, one of the largest biodiesel refiners on the west coast, located in Washington State:”

     

    Wow, two years after the 2005 Energy Bill Washington State is a leader!  Very Good!  Imagine a state that picked a solution that worked for them.  I do not have to imagine there is Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, and all those other hicks states.

     

    Imperium

    http://www.imperiumrenewables……tSheet.pdf

     

    Leadership build on the lessons of the past.    This picture is at a facility 100 times smaller than Imperium Renewables plant.

     

    “Doug helped make biodiesel history when he hosted President Bush on May 16, 2005. It was the first time a U.S. President had visited a biodiesel plant.”

     

    http://www.virginiabiodiesel.com/

     

    Another in Virginia:

    http://www.redbirchenergy.com/index.html

     

    “Had these Senators polled the constituency they may have found little support for the extension.”

     

    It is surprising.  Russ lives in an urban cesspool with 6 lane freeways going north, south, east, and west that epitomize the build absolutely nothing near anyone (BANNA) crowd.  Worse yet these folks want to tear down the hydroelectric system, the coal plant, and the nuke plant.  This is how it works in Washington State.  After all the other counties count the votes, Russ’s folk count ballots and find just enough to win.  

     

    “This was a way to funnel federal tax dollars to powerful corporate interests in their state. It was good politics and will increase the odds of reelection as well as landing lucrative jobs when they leave office.”

     

    Imperium has a powerful corporate lobby and the Governor and Senators want to run a seed oil crusher in Sunnyside?   

     

    One more with a great picture, did someone say free food?

     

    “People crowd into the Louis Dreyfus plant Tuesday morning for the inauguration ceremony. Company officials said more than 6,000 people attended the event.”

    http://claypool.ldcommodities……9b9ecc5728

     

    It looks to me like this is the kind of government spending that is an investment in the future for our children.  It the right thing to do and they are doing it.  

    [link]      
  54. By Rufus on December 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I’m a strong supporter of biodiesel, but was Imperium involved in the “splash, and Dash” ripoff?

    [link]      
  55. By rrapier on December 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    I’m a strong supporter of biodiesel, but was Imperium involved in the “splash, and Dash” ripoff?

    Don’t tell layman Kit, but Imperium has been involved in a lot more than that. Less than a year after they won a contract to supply a utility in Hawaii with fuel:

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/vent…..124044.asp

    they closed their offices there and laid everyone off.

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/…..fice-1272/

    Total failure to deliver, and because that plant was only permitted to burn biofuel, their inability to deliver resulted in an idle power plant.

    But to Kit, they are a great success.

    RR

    [link]      
  56. By russ-finley on December 22, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    From Ronald Steenblik’s post:

    On the one hand competition is good because it promotes efficiency and choice, and lowers prices. But on the other it is an anti-society instinct that easily slides out of control.


     

    No doubt capitalism is a powerful beast. Harnessing it for the common good is the hard part.

     

    [link]      
  57. By BilB on December 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    This guy

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/…..nd-economy

    is making the US a total laughing stock, and epitomises the thrust RR’s argument.

    As everyone is saying OMG!!!

    But on a different note

    http://www.google.com/hostedne…..aa03d3.731

    here is the lever to get something meaningful under way for those Climate Change believers. Not that anyone in Australia can criticise any other government because this country has taken the lead as global No. 1 environmental pariah. Our government is a total disgrace.

    [link]      
  58. By BilB, Australia on December 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Imperium phoenix??

     

    http://www.marketwire.com/pres…..129521.htm

     

    No mention of Hawaii there.

    [link]      
  59. By BilB, Australia on December 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    But there is mention of Imperium and Hawaii here.

     


    http://www.liquida.com/page/2213919/

    http://www.liquida.com/page/134886/

    and then there is that cellulosic stuff and BP

    http://www.liquida.com/page/8706029/

    [link]      
  60. By Kit P on December 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    What RR wrote,

    “they closed their offices there and laid everyone off.”

     

    What I read in the link provided by RR,

    “has closed its Hawaii office and laid off two staff members there”

     

    What
    RR wrote,

     

    “they
    closed their offices there and laid everyone off.”

     

    What
    I read in the link provided by RR,

     

    “has
    closed its Hawaii office and laid off two staff members there”

     

    [link]      
  61. By OD on December 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    OD if you think obesity is a problem caused by my generation, tell me what the root cause is and I how I can change it.  I do not see having an adequate supply of food or energy is a problem.

    Kit, I do not place blame on your generation. If anything I blame MY generation. I can not believe you honestly think obesity is not a problem?

    [link]      
  62. By Kit P on December 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    RR wrote,

    “Total failure to deliver, and because that plant was only permitted to burn biofuel, their inability to deliver resulted in an idle power plant.”

     

    From BilB’s link

     

    “Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission last week rejected a contract between Hawaiian Electric Co. and Imperium because of the likelihood that it would boost rates to customers of the utility.”

     

    BilB the drama between PUCs and utilities is like a soap opera. Each state has its own.

    [link]      
  63. By Kit P on December 22, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I can not believe you honestly think obesity is not a problem?

     

    What I said was I had not observed a problem. OD if you think something is a problem please feel free to work on a solution, My dance card is full with energy and the environment.

    [link]      
  64. By russ-finley on December 22, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    (although the politicians have recently asked them to claim they are using US feedstock)

    They could just claim they are using American feedstock — which of course would be true. Technically, people from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. are all Americans; as are Brazilians, Argentinians, Uruguayans, et al.


     

    In the past they claimed they were using “domestic” feedstock. Define that word for me ; )

    [link]      
  65. By rrapier on December 23, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Kit P said:

    RR wrote,

    “Total failure to deliver, and because that plant was only permitted to burn biofuel, their inability to deliver resulted in an idle power plant.”

     

    From BilB’s link

     

    “Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission last week rejected a contract between Hawaiian Electric Co. and Imperium because of the likelihood that it would boost rates to customers of the utility.”

     

    BilB the drama between PUCs and utilities is like a soap opera. Each state has its own.


     

    Leave it to you to only tell half the story to try to save face. What you left out from the link:

    Imperium initially planned to build a $91 million biodiesel refinery next to the new electric power plant on the island of Oahu, though those plans crumbled after financial troubles hit. Imperium later renegotiated the contract to supply the Hawaiian facility with fuel from the company’s Grays Harbor plant on the Washington coast.

    So they made a deal and had to renegotiate because they ran into financial troubles. And what was the source of the feedstock they planned to use? Palm oil. And what made it so expensive?

    “While we’re disappointed in the ruling from the PUC, we understand their concerns about cost to ratepayers,” Imperium CEO John Plaza tells the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. “We put together the best proposal we could based on HECO’s contractual requirements to source sustainable palm oil.”

    So the fact that they had to make sure that the palm oil wasn’t grown on land that had just been carved from a rain forest doomed them.

    One final note regarding Kit’s attempt to downplay Imperium’s issues:

    Imperium recently sold off its Seattle biodiesel facility, while its Grays Harbor plant remains idle. The company — once a rising star of the state’s clean tech industry — also has laid off most of its staff in the past two years.

    RR

    [link]      
  66. By BilB on December 23, 2010 at 6:28 am

    I have no opinion in this RR, I was curious to see if Imperium survived.

    [link]      
  67. By Kit P on December 23, 2010 at 10:13 am

    One final note regarding Kit’s attempt to downplay Imperium’s issues:

    I get that you want to argue with me RR. I think biodiesel is a good environment choice so I am interested in it. So I posted some links in the off chance that others might be interested as long as I was there. I also read RR and Russ provided. Thanks for links.

    One final
    note regarding Kit’s attempt to downplay Imperium’s issues:”

     

    I get
    that you want to argue with me RR. I think biodiesel is a good
    environment choice so I am interested in it. So I posted some links
    in the off chance that others might be interested as long as I was
    there. I also read RR and Russ provided. Thanks for links.

    [link]      
  68. By Walt on December 27, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I know I might have been too hard in my last post where I referred to “corruption” by politicians worldwide…but the typical US American seems to look at the rest of the world as taking bribes and corruption ridden, but American politicians all do everything legal.  I just wonder if this is legal…?

    “Numerous times this year, members of Congress have held fundraisers and
    collected big checks while they are taking critical steps to write new
    laws, despite warnings that such actions could create ethics problems.
    The campaign donations often came from contributors with major stakes
    riding on the lawmakers’ actions.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..2JB8WrYBeV

    [link]      
  69. By Wendell Mercantile on December 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I just wonder if this is legal…?

    Walt~

    Of course it’s legal, they write the laws. It’s legal because they say it’s legal. The question is whether it’s moral or ethical.

    In my state we have pretty tough “no call’ laws. Except — you guessed it — the politicians wrote the law so they don’t have to follow the law.

    [link]      
  70. By Walt on December 29, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    I just wonder if this is legal…?

    Walt~

    Of course it’s legal, they write the laws. It’s legal because they say it’s legal. The question is whether it’s moral or ethical.

    In my state we have pretty tough “no call’ laws. Except — you guessed it — the politicians wrote the law so they don’t have to follow the law.


     

    Wendell,

    You absolutely MUST and I mean MUST watch this 6-part video series.  I saw it last night and literally almost started crying.  It tore out my heart knowing one man stood against the LA judicial system after serving it for 43 years.  You are right Wendell, he says for him it was simply a moral and ethical issue of choosing right from wrong.  He said it was a simple decision, although, if he had to spend 18 months in “Coercive Confinement” again he would consider his family suffering more closely.  How many would take on the system corruption as this man did?  In video 3 it seemed there was not even one lawyer in LA that would even consider representing him in court…and this man himself has been a lawyer for 43 years in LA.

    http://www.fulldisclosure.net/…..p?stream=1

    I admit the more I see what is going on in my own business of methanol, and pure technology development, the more I see the corruption is so deep in Washington it makes me want to give up.  Who can try to make a difference when every door is slammed in your face unless you are willing to bribe and play the corruption racket in business and politics?  There was a little hope that methanol would get a second look here in America if the ethanol lobby did not get another wave of government gifts, but now that hope is dead in me.  You cannot fight all the negative press and deceptions about methanol promoted by the ethanol lobby…it is just not possible.  I could make methanol for free, and it still would be among the most evil chemicals in the world according to a few spin doctors out of DC and Madison Avenue.  Methanol can be converted to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel FAR FAR FAR cheaper than algae-gasoline, or cellulose-ethanol…but even this is dead on arrival.

    Few if any could ever take on the corrupt judicial system like Dr. Fine did in LA, and win.  When oil hits $150/bbl and gasoline $5/gal does this mean that ethanol will be profitable without subsidies, and $0.25/gal methanol will be imported to USA from China at $2.50/gal?  Maybe this is a bit hypothetical but I can almost be crude prices are going to rise, and Methanex is very clear their methanol prices rise with crude oil.

    We can only hope Dr. Fine can fix the judicial system as he mentions in the last video, otherwise, our system will collapse entirely without that check and balance functing ethically and morally standing against bribery and corruption. 

    [link]      
  71. By Walt on January 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Robert,

    I would like your comment, if willing, on this fundamental issue of taxes facing the economy.  Here is a video entitled, “Higher Taxes on Top 1% Equals Higher Productivity”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..nrEHFwZ9hk

    Since a lot of your energy comments are related to government subsidies, taxes and other economic criticism so this could be a good discussion for your readers who are studying history.  The economy will struggle with managing all this debt in 2011-2012 via austerity measure implementation.

    [link]      
  72. By jay on January 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Walt said:

    I admit the more I see what is going on in my own business of methanol, and pure technology development, the more I see the corruption is so deep in Washington it makes me want to give up.  Who can try to make a difference when every door is slammed in your face unless you are willing to bribe and play the corruption racket in business and politics?  There was a little hope that methanol would get a second look here in America if the ethanol lobby did not get another wave of government gifts, but now that hope is dead in me.  You cannot fight all the negative press and deceptions about methanol promoted by the ethanol lobby…it is just not possible.  I could make methanol for free, and it still would be among the most evil chemicals in the world according to a few spin doctors out of DC and Madison Avenue.  Methanol can be converted to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel FAR FAR FAR cheaper than algae-gasoline, or cellulose-ethanol…but even this is dead on arrival.

    Few if any could ever take on the corrupt judicial system like Dr. Fine did in LA, and win.  When oil hits $150/bbl and gasoline $5/gal does this mean that ethanol will be profitable without subsidies, and $0.25/gal methanol will be imported to USA from China at $2.50/gal?  Maybe this is a bit hypothetical but I can almost be crude prices are going to rise, and Methanex is very clear their methanol prices rise with crude oil.

    We can only hope Dr. Fine can fix the judicial system as he mentions in the last video, otherwise, our system will collapse entirely without that check and balance functing ethically and morally standing against bribery and corruption. 

    Walt,

    Thanks for your candid appraisal of the sorry state of alt fuels and America’s sad situation. The biodiesel and ethanol players are entrenched with subsidies continuing and others like methanol and higher mixed alcohols aren’t even discussed in passing. Public and political awareness of ethanol alternatives? What awareness?It’s like speaking Swahili when we present, and we spend a lot of time on education and outreach. We have to. It’s pretty difficult to convince small fry investors who don’t understand what’s beyond the current biofuel industry.  And if we can’t inform and engage potential investors then how will we ever enlighten our political overlords whose altar is the no-longer-almighty petrodollar?

    Simply how it is for the time being and how it will remain unless there is traction on market integration and the business development and mindshare front. I mean is anybody going to be able to ignore domestically produced renewables in a few more years, given the nightmarish petroleum outlook? The writing’s on the wall and I honestly think people with skin in the alt fuels game need to adopt some of the tactics that have worked out so well for gen one biofuel producers.

    Which is to say if methanol is going to fly, find a way to crack the market with production, even if it’s just a dribble. If higher mixed alcohols are going to fly, its producers must do the same. Ultimately our country is going to need every viable fuel input and we need to get started with scaleups so that when the cliff edge arrives there will be at least some hope of maintaining a semblance of normalcy in this country.

    Our pilot project calls for 7mgpy of production within 24 months of funding. A drop in the bucket relatively speaking. But enough to validate our GTL process many times over. As for getting it to market, 70 million gallons of gasoline blended with 7mgpy HMAs at 10.25 percent would yield 20 percent more mileage and 25 percent more torque, and cleaner tailpipe emissions. People will surely notice the difference.  This will prove harder and harder to ignore in political circles.

    It’s a good thing entrepreneurs don’t need the blessings of politicians or this country would be even more screwed than it already is, if that’s possible.  I refuse to don kneepads and assume the position as a bloviating spectator to the greatest economic train wreck of them all, and am glad to know that there others who not only have opinions, but are actually doing something credible to advance them because they’re important.

    Wishing you and yours a very happy new year,

     

    Jay 

    [link]      
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