Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: November 8, 2010


Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

I suppose I should be surprised at this, but I’m not. Mitch McConnell seems now to believe that earmarks are a hallowed legislative prerogative, and Rep. Jerry Lewis is keen to retake the gavel of the Appropriations Committee.

Basically, the deal is this: After talking a good game about fiscal conservatism for months, the GOP is going to take its cues in the Senate from a guy who basically doesn’t give that much of a crap, and very likely empower a guy in the House whose top priorities have previously included money pit swimming pools into which he likes to dump massive, great, heaping piles of your hard-earned cash because, hey, he’s in charge here, dammit.

I don’t like it; you don’t like it. Let’s hope that by some miracle, folks calling the shots up on the Hill might possibly be paying attention to what everyone from the Tea Partiers to me, your local candy-ass RINO, thinks: Quit with the earmarks, and let’s not just empower the people who pursued them with zeal last time the GOP was in charge, because well screw it, we won… kind of…

So, is that the deal? Head fake to the right on spending for the Tea Party during the election, but back to business as usual after winning? Are the 2006 Republicans back?

If so, it’s gonna be a long two years, and 2012 is gonna be a nightmare.


Irony: Biofuels may be 167% more polluting than fossil fuels

Even more irony – the groups lining up against the EU’s energy targets mandating the use of biofuels are not who you would expect:

Energy targets for 23 of the EU’s 27 members suggest 9.5 percent of the bloc’s transportation energy will come from biofuels by 2020, said the groups, which include Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and ActionAid. The crops may need an area twice the size of Belgium, and clearing the necessary land could make the fuels 167 percent more polluting for the climate than sticking with gasoline and diesel, they said.

The proponents naturally say that’s all nonsense:

The EU aims to get 10 percent of its energy for transportation from biofuels, hydrogen and renewable power by 2020. The target is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

EU energy spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said the targets require less land than the study suggests and that EU guidelines prevent the use of deforested land.

“The Renewable Directive says very clearly that it is not allowed to chop down forests to produce biofuels,” Holzner said in an e-mail. “The same goes for drained peatland, wetland or highly biodiverse areas.”

Well of course it says that’s not allowed. Whether or not that’s actually followed is another matter entirely. But here’s the point – the directive’s implementation means that existing land that can be used to reach the targets must be converted from growing whatever it is growing now (food?) to being dedicated to biofuel production. Either way a large area (twice the size of Belgium?) is going to have to be dedicated to such production to make the 10 percent target viable. So where does "food production" go? Looking for new land, that’s where. Or, the EU learns to live with the reduction in agricultural products and the resultant increase in prices required to turn the existing land into biofuel production.

The bureaucrats wave away the concern:

The 10 percent target would require 2 million to 5 million hectares of land, and there is enough unused terrain in the EU that was previously used for crop production to cover its needs, Holzner said.

This is classic government intrusion into markets and the beginning of the inevitable market distortions that brings along with the law of unintended consequences.  Biofuels have to be grown somewhere.  Government is going to subsidize that at a rate higher than growing food.  That means, at some point, food growth is going to be displaced.   Holzner, with an airy wave of the hand says “hey, the land is available – problem solved”. 

Of such are man-made disasters cluelessly formulated and executed.

~McQ


The GOP’s new state level clout may mean a winner in 2016

Lost in the news of the drubbing Democrats took in the House is the state level progress the GOP made on November 2nd.

The GOP now has 690 new seats in state legislatures, five new governors, and currently controls the legislatures and governor’s offices of more than 20 states.

That means two very important things for the GOP. 

1. State budgets.  Republicans at state level in a majority of states will control the budget, taxes and spending.   With the stimulus funds about to dry up, they’re going to have to put together austerity programs that work toward balancing the budget – a requirement in many states.

2. Reapportionment and redistricting.  2010 is a census year.  That means that reapportionment and redistricting House seats will be a priority.   In most states Governors are intimately involved in this process.  With almost 30 governors the GOP is poised to set itself up rather well as the House reapportions state representatives and the states redistrict as a result.  Ohio and Florida are two examples of states which have gone GOP and will be committed to both reapportionment and redistricting.

It also means that somewhere out there is a fiscally conservative member of the GOP who will be gaining important experience with austerity budgeting, governing and attempting to bring down unemployment in his or her state.    While it may be too early for 2012, those that are most successful at doing what is necessary to put their state back on firm fiscal footing and increasing employment in their state should be considered for 2016.  It is not too early for the GOP to begin watching, monitoring and grooming the right people for that particular race.   And yes – resumes with accomplishments will count heavily.

~McQ