Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: November 22, 2010


Gore: corn-ethanol subsidy “not a good policy”

Holy moly, perhaps the oceans will rise and hell will freeze over – but it won’t be because of “climate change” or whatever the warmists are calling it this week.  Nope, Al Gore has found a government program he doesn’t like.  Yup, that’s right.  And not only that – and this is the hell freezing over part of it – it’s a “green” government program.

Yes, friends, Al Gore says that the US government’s subsidies for corn ethanol is “not good policy”.

"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol," said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank.

"First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.

"It’s hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going."

Gadzooks.  A flip-flop.  He supported the program previously.  Oh, wait – he was just making a political statement then:

He explained his own support for the original programme on his presidential ambitions.

"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

Dear farmers – vote for me and I’ll pay you outrageous subsidies to grow corn for ethanol.  "Certain fondness” my rear end.  Nothing has changed about Gore in the “I’ll say anything to get what I want” department, has it?  Flippin’ piece of crap – buying votes with your tax dollars.   Not that he’s the only one that does it, but for heaven sake, given the financial situation we’re in does he have to be so freakin’ glib about it?

Of course the reason corn-ethanol is a crappy idea is the subsidies are high and thus 40% of the corn grown is grown for ethanol.  That puts it in competition with corn for food.  Any guess what corn based food products have done since this nifty little program has been in place?

Yes, they’ve gone up quite a bit.  In this case, we call that the “law of unintended consequences” only as a rhetorical device.  The consequences may have been unintended but there were any number of economists saying “if you do that you’re going to drive up food prices”.  And, of course, the answer from our government experts was the “you don’t know what you’re talking about”. 

You know, the same experts that have told us that more of us can have more health care and it will cost less.

Anyway I thought you’d enjoy Gore’s little walk-back.  Don’t forget the same experts who brought you corn-based ethanol and higher food prices will be “debating” an energy bill at some point in the future.  I’d hide my wallet before then if I was you.

~McQ


Speak for yourself, Mr. Buffet

People who do what Warren Buffet is doing irritate the holy hell out of me.  They decide a) taxes are fine, b) they’re fine with paying more taxes and c) if they find them fine and feel they should be paying more taxes everyone in their financial situation should too.

Uh, no sir.

First, taxes are supposed to fund Constitutional government – i.e. the government allowed under the Constitution.  Taxation has evolved into a political means of controlling behavior and funding things the founders never even dreamed would be something which government would fund.

Secondly, taxes were supposed to be something everyone paid.  You shared the pain and you had skin in the game – a reason to follow government and ensure it wasn’t wasting the hard earned money you were coerced into giving it (don’t ever, ever believe the nonsense that taxes are “voluntary”). Somewhere that notion got warped into what we endure today.  Taxes are essentially considered government’s rightful cut of whatever you earn with which it can do pretty damn well what it pleases.  Oh, and for some favored “victims” of life, they don’t have to pay anything.  No skin in the game, no reason to oppose the government’s profligacy – how convenient.  Interestingly the left likes to refer to that as “progressive”.

Finally – for the Mr. Buffets of the world: If you’re feeling under-taxed, if you’re feeling you could give more and in fact are willing to give more, no one will stop you.  Got that Mr. Buffet?  -

No. One. Will. Stop. You.

Pick up your check book, write the check in whatever amount you think is right and send it to the Treasury Department.   Trust me, they won’t turn it down.

Other than that, quit trying to speak for other people and stay out of their lives (or quit encouraging government to take more).    We have a serious spending problem and all the extra taxes in the world aren’t going to change that.  Instead of trying to bully the rich into giving up even more of their money, beat up the politicians and demand they cut spending, cut  it now and cut it drastically?  Make spending equal revenue.

If they’d do that, you wouldn’t have to make silly statements about taxes and wanting to pay more, would you?

~McQ


TSA absurdities–trading liberty for security and getting neither

This TSA nonsense is getting past absurd very quickly. Yesterday in San Diego (again – that’s where "don’t touch my junk" was first heard) there was another incident. This time the guy in question refused the scanner and, knowing what was coming, and most likely trying to avoid being groped, stripped down to his underwear.

OK perhaps he shouldn’t have done that, but by doing so it became clear there was nothing hiding on his person. That’s where the laugh out loud and shake your head moment came in:

This time the defendant, Sam Wolanyk says he was asked to pass through the 3-D x-ray machine. When Wolanyk refused, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel told him he would have to be patted down before he could pass through and board his airplane.

Wolanyk said he knew what was coming and took off his pants and shirt, leaving him in Calvin Klein bike undergarments.

“It was obvious that my underwear left nothing to the imagination,” he explained. “But that wasn’t enough for the TSA supervisor who was called to the scene and asked me to put my clothes on so I could be properly patted down.”

Yeah, that’s right – don’t believe you lyin’ eyes, only a good grope will satisfy the authorities.

This comes on the heels of another example of the absurdity we’re subjected too.  And no the following isn’t apocryphal, this happened and has been confirmed. These troops had already been cleared by customs in a detailed inspection to include sniffer dogs, the whole 9 yards. They had not been off the plane since. Over two hundred of them were on the plane with their M4 assault rifles and SAWs. The plane stopped in Indiana to drop off some troops and instead of letting the plane take off (it didn’t need to be refueled) to its final destination, TSA insisted the troops all get off for another inspection.  And, of course, TSA was very successful in finding a bunch of hidden weapons with which the plane could have been taken over. This was written by a soldier who witnessed the exchange:

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.

Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns-but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

Meanwhile, back in San Diego – Wolanyk is paraded through 2 other terminals in his underwear, because one assumes, it would have been too much of a hassle to let him get dressed before removing him from the TSA area.  He was obviously in the wrong for disrobing, but what that necessary?

And another less publicized arrest took place there as well.  A woman was arrested for taking “illegally filming the x-ray, and TSA screening process with a video camera.”  Her camera was confiscated, she was issued a citation and released.

The irony of all of this is if anyone wanted to do what the 9/11 killers did, all they have to do is go charter a plane.  So none of this is going to stop a 9/11 type event if the killer in question is reasonably intelligent.  If the killers want to bring down a passenger plane, there are all sorts of other ways to do so that TSA hasn’t even imagined.  But the agency is reactive – not proactive.  It’s looking for repeats of things that have happened, despite the fact that none of the things which have happened have been repeated.

We spend all this money and time to produce an agency which proudly announces that it is in the rights violation business and that your rights are not more important than security.  And when confronted with the fact that the flying public is rebelling against this gross breech of their rights (as one woman said, after a pat down, “in some countries we’d be married right now”) the TSA administrator throws this out there:

“Do I understand the sensitivities of people? Yes,” Pistole said to CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “If you’re asking, am I going to change the policies? No.”

Or, "screw you and your concerns about rights and propriety – once you get in my line, I decide what rights you have and what is or isn’t appropriate". Like all but strip-searching 12 year old boys.

A couple of points.  Much of the flying public that refuse to put up with such nonsense are going to be looking at alternatives.  Personally, anything 4 to 5 hours away by car is now automatically a car trip – I don’t even consider flying.  And given what’s going on, I’ll probably extend that to 8 hours away (which would cover 99% of my trips).  I don’t intend to reward a government policy which intrudes on my rights (and health) by subjecting myself to it.

Which makes the point that airlines may begin to see passenger traffic go down as the use of these scanners and and pat downs expand (another in a long line of innovative job/business killing policies by this administration).

I’m not willing to trade liberty for security.  And I’m damn sure not about to meekly submit to their intrusion in person.  I will refuse to use air travel as long as that’s the procedure.  And for the airlines, that’s another potential passenger you’ve lost until this TSA nonsense is stopped.

BTW, airlines –  it is my understanding you do not have to use TSA.  I’d be seriously considering that right now if I were you.  But regardless, you should be sitting in front of Pistole right now as a group pounding on his desk and demanding he change the policies and do so quickly.

Charles Krauthammer summed my thoughts up on this rather nicely last week:

We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety – 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.

The junk man’s revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.

But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?

This time you have gone too far, Big Bro’. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don’t touch my junk.

Amen.

~McQ

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