Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: May 2011

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Oxfam predicts world food shortages by 2030 mostly because of “climate change”

In advance of the December climate summit in South Africa this year, the scare-factory is ramping up its efforts to sell the need for “drastic action” to prevent “climate change”, the current euphemism for AGW.   The stories are beginning to flow.

Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

"I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions," Birol told the Guardian. "It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say."

Of course the not-so-hidden premise here is that any increase in temperature is driven by our carbon dioxide emissions, even when the science doesn’t support the theory and models which make such a claim (about CO2 amplification) have been shown to be wildly inaccurate.  That doesn’t stop the scare-factory from ignoring the discredited nonsense to make their claims:

Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the influential Stern Report into the economics of climate change for the Treasury in 2006, warned that if the pattern continued, the results would be dire. "These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a ‘business as usual’ path. According to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] projections, such a path … would mean around a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100," he said.

Except the IPCC’s report, as anyone who has read this blog knows, has been mostly discredited, thereby yielding this result:

Added to that, the United Nations-led negotiations on a new global treaty on climate change have stalled. "The significance of climate change in international policy debates is much less pronounced than it was a few years ago," said Birol.

Consequently, the scare-factory must crank up its stridency to new levels.  So expect to see more of this as December approaches.  The formula is pretty predictable:

By 2030, the average cost of key crops could increase by between 120% and 180%, the charity forecasts.

It is the acceleration of a trend which has already seen food prices double in the last 20 years.

Half of the rise to come will be caused by climate change, Oxfam predicts.

Can you guess what the other cause is?

In its report, Oxfam says a "broken" food system causes "hunger, along with obesity, obscene waste, and appalling environmental degradation".

It says "power above all determines who eats and who does not", and says the present system was "constructed by and on behalf of a tiny minority – its primary purpose to deliver profit for them".

It highlights subsidies for big agricultural producers, powerful investors "playing commodities markets like casinos", and large unaccountable agribusiness companies as destructive forces in the global food system.

Oxfam wants nations to agree new rules to govern food markets, to ensure the poor do not go hungry.

Or “capitalism”.  Oxfam’s “solution” is no different than the AGW alarmist’s solutions:

It calls on world leaders to improve regulation of food markets and invest in a global climate fund.

Of course it does.   And those “improved regulations” and the “global climate fund” will shift power where?  To centralized authorities.  And we all know how well central planning works don’t we?  After all, under the USSR and Maoist China, central planning adequately fed their citizens for years, didn’t it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Krugman and the false prophets of economics

The one-trick pony that is Paul Krugman, constantly pushes massive government spending as the panacea for all recessionary ills.  It is supposed to be the way one “manages the economy” from a central government position – as collectivist a thought as one can imagine.

In fact, one of Krugman’s criticisms – despite the fact that his estimate of the amount needed to stimulate the economy was $200 billion less than what was passed in the stimulus package – is that the government hasn’t borrowed and spent enough.  And he certainly is no fan of austerity, claiming that the “pain caucus” has been in charge (what almost a year trying to address decades of borrowing and spending?), with no significant results and oh, by the way, look at the UK.

“In Europe,” he wrote last week, “the pain caucus has been in control for more than a year, insisting that sound money and balanced budgets are the answer … [But] Europe’s troubled debtor nations are … suffering further economic decline thanks to those austerity programs.”

Yes, friends, “sound money and balanced budgets” are, apparently, things to be avoided.

But curiously Krugman never says, “oh, by the way, look at Switzerland” because if he did, he’d have to explain their positive outcome based on austerity:

The Swiss have run a prudent fiscal policy throughout the economic crisis. They have had a structural surplus in each of the past five years. Their net debt is actually lower today than it was in 2005. And guess what? In 2009 their economy suffered the smallest contraction in Europe, with unemployment today below 4 percent. As for sound money, the Swiss franc is up 95 percent against the dollar since 2000.

The key point is the Swiss never let their economy get in the shape that is now plaguing the rest of Europe and the US.  It has never spent and taken on debt like the UK, much less Portugal and Greece.  It has been a program of economic austerity for years.   Consequently, the debt level is miniscule compared to other Western economies and recovery was quick with minimal intrusion (if any) from government.   We, on the other hand, were borrowing in good times and borrowing heavily to spend on things our government has no business involving itself in much less borrowing money to do so.  And it points out that even if you buy into the Krugman theory that we ought to be borrowing and spending in “bad times” ala Keynes, the other borrowing that has taken place limits those options considerably:

The real lessons for the United States are clear. Those who run up debt in good times can borrow only so much more when a recession strikes. And heavily indebted governments postpone fiscal stabilization at their peril. If you wait to reform until the bond market calls time, you are—to use a technical term from economics—screwed.

And we’re headed toward that “technical term” more quickly than we can imagine, and yet the Krugman’s of the world still counsel more spending of borrowed money leading to more accumulation of debt. 

At a certain point, the amount of debt begins to shave percentage points off the GDP as the debt is serviced.  That, at least in my opinion, is where we are now and one of the reasons we’re seeing such a slow recovery.  GDP growth, last quarter for instance, is not at all robust:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011…

Economically we have to understand, at the highest levels, that despite the siren songs of Keynesians like Krugman, that the bill has come due – in fact it is past due-  and must be addressed and paid.  We  can’t afford to ignore it anymore, nor pretend that spending borrowed money will do more good than harm.  We and the can are at the end of the road.  It can’t be kicked anymore without dire consequences.  Unfortunately, while it seems we’ve at least recognized that fact – for the most part – what we can’t seem to make ourselves do is that which is necessary – cut spending deeply.  We continue to hear from the false economic prophets that we can fix all this if we’ll just borrow and spend.  

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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"Death panels"? Don’t make me laugh. Why look at other single payer systems, they don’t have "death panels", do they?

Just check out one of the longest running versions of the liberal/socialist dream:

British citizens who smoke, drink, or tip the scales because they’ve eaten too many fish and chips could soon be denied medical treatment for lifestyle-related illnesses. It’s a system the United States will be forced to implement under ObamaCare.

Great Britain’s government-run health care system, the National Health Service (NHS), has long considered limiting coverage for people with illnesses deemed to be lifestyle-related. In 2005 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the NHS’s guiding body, advised that smokers and obese people be refused health care. Now NHS North Yorkshire and York is preventing certain operations for the obese or smokers because they say unhealthy lifestyles lower their chance of success.

Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told UK reporters, “These policies are being introduced because of financial constraints,” said Gerada.

And, of course, it is no longer your choice or frankly, your health – it all belongs to the state and the state says, "misbehave and we’ll punish you by making you live with your unauthorized choices and refusing to treat you". And they’ll pin it on those non-compliant miscreants … they just don’t live the proper lifestyle and thus their benevolent government has chosen for them – and it has chosen not to treat them.

But don’t you dare call those decisions the result of “death panels”.

They already have a postal-code lottery. Where you live determines the amount of care you receive. Since there’s nothing available outside the NHS, it means the local trust has the authority to change the benefits or determine the level of care you receive,” Herrick says.

Although everyone is supposed to receive “free” health care from the NHS, Herrick notes, NICE determines the level of benefit from a certain drug or procedure. Based on that NICE research, the local trusts may decide the cost of a certain cancer drug is too high or not effective enough so they won’t buy any or will ration it in some areas of the country.

Because, you know, there are no such things.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Memorial Day 2011

As you celebrate Memorial Day today, remember its real purpose.  When you’re with your family today, please remind them the sacrifice this day memorializes, and the young men and women who’ve given their all for us to be able to celebrate it.   In all of America’s wars, approximately 1.2 million Americans have paid the ultimate price.  It is only fitting and proper that we honor that sacrifice and make it known to all our appreciation for what they fought for and have helped preserve.

 

Memorial day

 

Enjoy the day but never forget.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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McCain– Palin can beat Obama

Someone, somewhere has to understand that whatever John McCain says, one should bet their house on the opposite:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he thinks Sarah Palin could defeat President Obama in next year’s presidential election, but he’s far from certain that she will actually jump into the race.

The GOP’s standard-bearer in 2008 also shrugged off his former running mate’s poor standing in many polls, saying she would have the opportunity to turn that around if she did make a bid for the White House.

If Newt Gingrich has more baggage than Delta Airlines, Sarah Palin isn’t far behind.  Not necessarily because she earned all the baggage, although she’d done her fair share of contributing to the pile, but right or wrong, she’s loaded with it.   While she is and can remain a force in GOP politics, the presidency isn’t in her future.  And that’s especially so if John McCain, whose campaign was instrumental in helping the woman begin her baggage collection with the inept way she was handled, says so.

Frankly I’d love to see someone on the Republican side drive McCain to an early retirement (ok, not so early, certainly not early enough, how about just retirement).  He’s had his day and needs to be out of the scene.   A man more concerned with “campaign finance laws” than free speech has no business in government in a free country. 

As for Sarah Palin – rabble-rouse lady, make the left squirm, do all the things you do so well right now.  You do that well and  I love to see them prove almost daily that they embody what they claim is endemic to the right.   The irony is sweet.   But run for President?  That type of movie is still running in Washington DC as we speak and I don’t care to see a sequel. 

Somewhere out there in this great land there has to be someone better than the present GOP field, with or without Sarah Palin.  Adding her  to it doesn’t improve it one bit.  John McCain saying she could beat Obama is as ignorant as many of the other things he’s said in the past, to include saying he prefers clean government over free speech.

Why anyone would give it credence at all is beyond me.  All I can figure is Palin must have some pictures she’s holding that has McCain by the short and curlies. 

I don’t know of a single well constructed poll anywhere which gives Palin even a ghost of a chance against Obama.  So all one can figure is McCain pulled this out of the place his head usually occupies.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Alarmist journalist links the recent tornado outbreak to AGW

Of course it is not unusual to find someone, somewhere who has swallowed the Al Gore driven AGW mantra whole who wants to tie extreme weather events to man-made global warming.  

Bill McKibben, a journalist blogging at the Washington Post, gives it a new twist with a whole bunch of links to weather events that have to be – that’s right, have to be – caused by global warming (although he sarcastically pretends there are no such links in an attempt to shame skeptics by what he seems to consider obvious linkage). 

Never mind the mean temperature globally hasn’t risen over the past decade, and the climate models that predicted all this have been proven to be wrong, that the conditions necessary for there to be a greenhouse effect from CO2 don’t exist nor have they ever, the “hockey stick” was broken years ago, that the data has been admittedly fudged or manipulated and that they couldn’t “hide the decline”, this is all because of global warming.  Because “warm air holds more moisture than dry air”.   

Of course most of his examples are really, honestly laughable on their face.  For instance:

It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.

What happened to the moisture laden air?  And how about his reference – the 30’s era dust bowl? It couldn’t be natural systems again asserting themselves, could it?  No, of course not, because then the cause couldn’t be pinned on AGW, could it?  El Nino and La Nina?  Forget about them.  You need to buy into this simplistic explanation of why bad weather events are happening.

If you did wonder, you see, you would also have to wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest — resulting in record flooding along the Mississippi — could somehow be related. And then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming, and to the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold air.

Well they’ve been predicting mega hurricanes for years as well, and we’ve had very mild hurricane seasons.  We’re also supposed to be up to our rear ends in water right now, what with melting glaciers and ice pack, but we’ve found out that the data for that has been fudged too.  And we had similar floods in – 1927 – well before the era in which we’ve supposedly polluted our planet to the point that it is now “striking back”.  And what about the Johnstown flood of 1889?   What were their cause? 

Propose your own physics; ignore physics altogether. Just don’t start asking yourself whether there might be some relation among last year’s failed grain harvest from the Russian heat wave, and Queensland’s failed grain harvest from its record flood, and France’s and Germany’s current drought-related crop failures, and the death of the winter wheat crop in Texas, and the inability of Midwestern farmers to get corn planted in their sodden fields. Surely the record food prices are just freak outliers, not signs of anything systemic.

You don’t have to propose you own anything, you just have to inform yourself.  For instance, the Russian heat wave:

The deadly heat wave that seared Russia last summer was driven primarily by a natural weather phenomenon, not man-made causes, government researchers said in a study Wednesday.

[…]

In their report, the scientists concluded that the extreme temperatures were caused by the formation of a blocking pattern, a massive high-pressure ridge that halted the normal movement of cooling storms from the west and allowed warm air to flow north from the tropics. Such anomalies are relatively common and the result of natural actions, though the intensity of the one over Russia was highly unusual.

The role of human-caused warming could not be discerned from the natural weather patterns behind the event, Dr. Dole said.

You see, it is much easier to speculate than to do the research necessary to understand weather and patterns, or to simply hit Google.  They are indeed signs of something systemic, just not the system the Alarmists would prefer.  But as you can see, that doesn’t stop them from attempting to “connect the dots” as they pretend.

The Alarmists have an agenda.  They are clearly on the defensive.  Their predictive power has been shown to be essentially worthless.  So they’re back to claiming weather events prove their point.  The twist is they want to link them all together even when they obviously have nothing to do with their claim  – see Russia – because they think the more of these events they can claim, the greater the force of their argument.

Yeah, not working guys.  Again, while everyone knows CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it doesn’t work as the models theorized it works and thus doesn’t have the amplifying effect they claim.  Consequently, it isn’t doing what they want to claim it does.   Secondly, man’s contribution to the overall amount of CO2 emitted naturally is miniscule and not worth doing anything about and especially, as noted, since CO2 doesn’t do what the Alarmist claim it does.

Finally, climate does change – always has.  No one denies that.  Most on the skeptical side of AGW simply don’t buy the Alarmist’s claims – because they certainly aren’t proven science – that man has anything to do with it.  We write most of those claims off to hubris, not science.

[HT: Chad M]

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Your universe as seen from your home planet

Amazing :

 

 

 

What makes this time lapse particularly amazing–because we’ve all seen plenty of time lapse videos of the night sky–is the four telescopes in the foreground. Watching these instruments work against a black background would be endlessly fascinating on its own. Unfortunately you won’t be able to pay them too much attention. Because damn, what a sky.

Watch it on full screen if you can.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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The fake Chrysler loan “payoff”

You probably remember when GM made the big announcement that it had paid off its loans from the bailout?  You most likely also remember that subsequent investigation found that GM was simply using borrowed money from a government extended line of credit to “pay back” part of what was loaned under the bailout?  In other words it took taxpayer money extended under the LOC and gave it to the government as a payment of “debt”.  Overall, though, it’s debt remained the same.

This week Chrysler went through the same sort of shenanigans as Conn Carroll reports:

American taxpayers have already spent more than $13 billion bailing out Chrysler. The Obama administration already forgave more than $4 billion of that debt when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Taxpayers are never getting that money back. But how is Chrysler now paying off the rest of the $7.6 billion they owe the Treasury Department?

The Obama administration’s bailout agreement with Fiat gave the Italian car company a “Incremental Call Option” that allows it to buy up to 16% of Chrysler stock at a reduced price. But in order to exercise the option, Fiat had to first pay back at least $3.5 billion of its loan to the Treasury Department. But Fiat was having trouble getting private banks to lend it the money. Enter Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu who has signaled that he will approve a fuel-efficient vehicle loan to Chrysler for … wait for it … $3.5 billion.

This is simply more smoke and mirrors from the “Smoke and Mirrors” administration, now engaged in pre-election image burnishing.  In fact, the payback (someone call Debbie Wasserman Shultz) involves allowing a foreign auto company to take more control of Chrysler and then tossing a loan for 3.5 billion from government on top of the Fiat purchase of Chrysler stock at a reduced price.

They want you to believe this signals a stronger and profitable Chrysler.  In fact, it is a pathetic attempt to fool the public.

But it is even worse than that:

So, to recap, the Obama Energy Department is loaning a foreign car company $3.5 billion so that it can pay the Treasury Department $7.6 billion even though American taxpayers spent $13 billion to save an American car company that is currently only worth $5 billion.

Oh, and Obama plans to make this “success” a centerpiece of his 2012 campaign.

Again, don’t forget the $4 billion in loans the Obama administration has “forgiven” that taxpayers will never get back – all in an effort to make this truly horrendous deal for taxpayers seem better than it is so he can claim credit for “saving the US auto industry” during the coming political re-election campaign.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Politics 101

One of the basic laws of politics, which even the kid running for class president should know, is if you’re going to bash your opponent on an issue, you’d better have your ducks in a row on that issue or it is you who will come out looking idiotic.

Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the chairwoman of the DNC, recently tore into the GOP presidential contenders who were opposed to the bailouts for GM and Chrysler.

"If it were up to the candidates for president on the Republican side, we would be driving foreign cars; they would have let the auto industry in America go down the tubes," she said at a breakfast for reporters organized by The Christian Science Monitor.

As you’ve probably already guessed Wasserman Shultz doesn’t drive an American car, and certainly not a GM or Chrysler model.  Nope – she drives an Infinity.  It’s up to the little people, apparently, to “buy American”.

There are several ways Wasserman Shultz could have approached this issue without inserting “foreign cars” into the mix.  But she didn’t.  Apparently she didn’t think about her words at all before she spoke out.   She comes from the “blurt and backpedal” school of politics which makes for great blogging fodder for those of us out here in the blogosphere. 

Of course, the fact is the federal government shouldn’t have been involved in the bailouts and had the two car companies gone into bankruptcy, they’d have most likely emerged by now, leaner, meaner and more fiscally sound.   As it stands now, we simply don’t know if they have the long range fiscal soundness they need to compete and make a consistent profit because, that process was interrupted and we ended up subsidizing failure and discouraged future investors with the way the previous investors were treated (compensated) and how ownership was then divided.

"They can try to distract from the issue if they want," said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan. "But if Republican opposition researchers are snooping around garages, they should know that if Republicans — who said that we should let the U.S. auto industry go bankrupt — had their way, they wouldn’t find a single American made car anywhere."

Uh, hello in there – Ford? 

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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SCOTUS supports state’s right to impose penalties on businesses who hire illegal immigrants

In a decision today, the Supreme Court basically upheld the portion of the Arizona state law that sanctions employers who hire illegal immigrants:

The 5-3 decision upholds the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 and its so-called business death penalty for employers who are caught repeatedly hiring illegal immigrants. The state law also requires employers to check the federal E-Verify system before hiring new workers, a provision that was also upheld Thursday.

[…]

Thursday’s decision is a defeat for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, several civil-rights groups and the Obama administration, all of whom opposed the Arizona law and its sanctions on employers. They argued that federal law said states may not impose "civil or criminal sanctions" on employers.

This ruling boosts state’s arguments that they have at least some rights in terms of controlling illegal immigration (particularly when the federal government refuses to act).  The three dissenters disagreed:

In dissent were Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. They said federal law prohibited states from imposing their own immigration-related rules on employers. Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case.

Of course federal law prohibits, or tries to prohibit such rules by states, but the court just changed that, didn’t they?  It gives states back some of their rights and reduces the power of the federal government in an area where I think it’s power needed to be reduced, particularly since it appears the problem is out of control with the fed in charge.

I have mixed feelings about the so-called “death penalty” for businesses.  I assume, or at least hope that there are appeals, etc. before it is finally imposed because such a penalty effects more than just the business owners in many cases.

By ruling that the states have the right to impose such a penalty though, illegal immigrants will find gaining employment much harder than it was before as there are few businesses who are going to figure that saving a little money hiring an illegal is worth the “death penalty” if caught.

Oh … and to save the drive by commenters the trouble – being against “illegal immigration”, note the term emphasized, does not mean one is against “immigration”, thankyouverymuch.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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