Monthly Archives: August 2011
If you don’t believe me, look at the California experience to this point. If there’s any state in the union more amenable to and focused on providing green jobs, it has to be the Golden State. Governor Jerry Brown pledged to create 500,000 of them by the end of the decade.
But as often the case when the central planners make their pledges, they are woefully ignorant of what the market wants. And so rarely does what they envision ever come to fruition. Green jobs in CA is a good example.
Remember Van Jones? Well, when Jones left the Obama cabinet as his “Green Jobs Czar” he landed in California and has been what the NY Times calls an “Oakland activist” apparently pushing for the creation of green jobs. And it’s not like California hasn’t tried. It has simply failed.
A study released in July by the non-partisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more — 2.2 percent — in Silicon Valley. Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.
Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show. Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter, according to the State Department of Community Services and Development.
So a “stimulus” program that spent over $93 million dollars to create 538 jobs. Why so little in terms of takers? Well it seems the market wasn’t interested.
The weatherization program was initially delayed for seven months while the federal Department of Labor determined prevailing wage standards for the industry. Even after that issue was resolved, the program never really caught on as homeowners balked at the upfront costs.
“Companies and public policy officials really overestimated how much consumers care about energy efficiency,” said Sheeraz Haji, chief executive of the Cleantech Group, a market research firm. “People care about their wallet and the comfort of their home, but it’s not a sexy thing.”
You don’t say … the government didn’t have a clue at what the market potential of their boondoggle actually had, so they ended up spending $172,862 for each job. And you wonder where the money goes?
Job training programs intended for the clean economy have also failed to generate big numbers. The Economic Development Department in California reports that $59 million in state, federal and private money dedicated to green jobs training and apprenticeship has led to only 719 job placements — the equivalent of an $82,000 subsidy for each one.
“The demand’s just not there to take this to scale,” said Fred Lucero, project manager atRichmond BUILD, which teaches students the basics of carpentry and electrical work in addition to specifically “green” trades like solar installation.
Richmond BUILD has found jobs for 159 of the 221 students who have entered its clean-energy program — but only 35 graduates are employed with solar and energy efficiency companies, with the balance doing more traditional building trades work. Mr. Lucero said he considered each placement a success because his primary mission was to steer residents of the city’s most violent neighborhoods away from a life of crime.
You see you can fund all the job training centers in the world and run umpthy-thousands through it. But if there is no market for the jobs, you end up spending a whole lot of money for nothing. Again, ignorance of the market and its demands means expensive mistakes. Of course Mr. Lucero thinks the program is a success – he got to spend free money, was employed and it didn’t cost him squat. It cost you.
At Asian Neighborhood Design, a 38-year old nonprofit in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco, training programs for green construction jobs have remained small because the number of available jobs is small. The group accepted just 16 of 200 applicants for the most recent 14-week cycle, making it harder to get into than the University of California. The group’s training director, Jamie Brewster, said he was able to find jobs for 10 trainees within two weeks of their completing the program.
Mr. Brewster said huge job losses in construction had made it nearly impossible to place large numbers of young people in the trades. Because green construction is a large component of the green economy, the moribund housing market and associated weakness in all types of building are clearly important factors in explaining the weak creation of green jobs.
Market timing is pretty important too, isn’t it? If you introduce a product into a market in the middle of a market downturn, chances are slim you are going to be successful. While it may all look good on paper and sound good in the conference room, the “buy” decision is still made in the market place, and in this case it is obvious that the market has no room for these workers. Something which should have been, well, obvious. In fact, there is precious little market for traditional construction jobs in a “moribund housing market”. Yet there they are spending money we don’t have on job skills that are simply not in demand.
Finally there’s this bit of word salad to feast upon:
Advocates and entrepreneurs also blame Washington for the slow growth. Mr. Jones cited the failure of so-called cap and trade legislation, which would have cut carbon pollution and increased the cost of using fossil fuel, making alternative energy more competitive. Congressional Republicans have staunchly opposed cap-and-trade.
Mr. Haji of the Cleantech Group agrees. “Having a market mechanism that helps drive these new technologies would have made a significant difference,” he said. “Without that, the industry muddles along.”
You have to admire someone who tries to cloak central planning jargon in “market speak”. Imposing a tax on thin air to drive, from above, a behavior government wants is not a “market mechanism”. And beside, California passed it’s own version of this “market mechanism” with AB 32 in 2006. How’s that working out?
This is how:
A SolFocus spokeswoman, Nancy Hartsoch, said the company was willing to pay a premium for the highly-skilled physicists, chemists and mechanical engineers who will work at the campus on Zanker Road, although the solar panels themselves will continue being made in China. Mayor Reed said he continued to hope that San Jose would attract manufacturing and assembly jobs, but Ms. Hartsoch said that was unlikely because “taxes and labor rates” were too high to merit investment in a factory in Northern California.
Irony … central planning fails in CA while jobs end up in increasingly capitalistic China. Again, ignorance of the market causes disappointing results. Somehow I feel this came as a surprise to Mayor Reed … after he’d spent whatever of your money he’d committed to this project.
A couple of things have popped up on the radar screen concerning discontent on the left with Obama. It has gone from being a simmering thing discussed among the leftists to something that is becoming more commonly and openly expressed by Democrats. Two examples serve to make the point.
One came out of New Mexico where a Obama campaign Obama for America (OFA) New Mexico State Director Ray Sandoval let loose on critics of Obama, to include Paul Krugman and progressive bloggers he calls “Firebaggers” (most likely from the name FireDogLake, an extreme left “progressive” blog). A sample:
Paul Krugman is a political rookie. At least he is when compared to President Obama. That’s why he unleashed a screed as soon as word came about the debt ceiling compromise between President Obama and Congressional leaders – to, you know, avert an economic 9/11. Joining the ideologue spheres’ pure, fanatic, indomitable hysteria, Krugman declares the deal a disaster – both political and economic – of course providing no evidence for the latter, which I find curious for this Nobel winning economist. He rides the coattails of the simplistic argument that spending cuts – any spending cuts – are bad for a fragile economy, ignoring wholeheartedly his own revious [sic] cheerleading for cutting, say, defense spending. But that was back in the day – all the way back in April of this year. [...]
No, the loudest screeching noise you hear coming from Krugman and the ideologue Left is, of course, Medicare. Oh, no, the President is agreeing to a Medicare trigger!!! Oh noes!!! Everybody freak out right now! But let’s look at the deal again, shall we? [...]
Now let’s get to the fun part: the triggers. The more than half-a-trillion in defense and security spending cut "trigger" for the Republicans will hardly earn a mention on the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere. Hell, it’s a trigger supposedly for the Republicans, and of course, there’s always It’sNotEnough-ism to cover it.
This is an example, I think, of the level of frustration this early on that the campaign is experiencing. Paul Krugman, other than thinking the administration should have spent much more on stimulus, has been a pretty reliable water carrier for those folks. He can’t catch a break. Vilified and fisked regularly by the right, he’s now being denounced by the left. And you have to love the irony of the first sentence. If ever there was a political rookie in way over his head, it’s Sandovol’s boss. It’s obvious and it is the driver of much of the frustration.
However, on the other side of that, what Democratic Representative Peter Defazio (D – OR) said should be even more disconcerting to the Obamians. He’s pretty frank in his appraisal of the man in the White House. And his appraisal is one shared by many, at least those without political blinders on:
In his Eugene office Wednesday, Defazio accused the President of lacking the will to fight for the promises he made to get elected
“Fight? I don’t think it’s a word in his vocabulary,” said DeFazio. “ I mean come on he pledged as a candidate to make the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000. He repeatedly said that as president. Then the Republicans telegraphed to him they were going to use a fake crisis over the debt limit in order to muscle some major spending reductions or other things on to him. And that was in December. And what happens? Suddenly he flip flops and concedes everything to the Republicans.” DeFazio said.
Asked whether he thought the President had a shot at re-election, Defazio was skeptical.
“At this point it pretty much depends on how far out there the Republican nominee is. You know with a respectable, someone who is a little bit toward the middle of the road Republican nominee, he’s going to have a very tough time getting re-elected,” said DeFazio.
Now again, DeFazio would fall in what Sandovol calls the “It’sNotEnough” [sic] crowd. However, the real point is the fact that regardless of where anyone is coming from in their denunciation of Obama, they almost universally agree he isn’t much of a fighter, or leader. If you’re running for re-election, that is not something you want hung around your neck.
DeFazio also hits on a truism for the GOP – the “further out” the GOP candidate is, the more likely that Obama, warts and all, has a shot at re-election.
But back to DeFazio’s musings:
He’s also not convinced the President will do well in Oregon.
“I believe Oregon is very much in play. I mean we are one of the harder hit states in the union, particularly my part of the state. I’ve just done six town hall meetings, have seven to go but people are shaking their head and saying ‘I don’t know if I’d vote for him again.’” Defazio said.
Asked if he was surprised, the congressman shrugged.
“Not at all. One guy asked me … give me 25 words what he’s about and what he’s done for me. I’m like … ‘it could have been worse?’” DeFazio said.
If Oregon is really in play, Obama has major problems.
I have to admit, had I been the reporter doing the interview, the next question that would have come to my mind, given his 25 words is, “Really? How”?
One of the bits of genius installed by the founders of this country was three co-equal branches of government, each responsible for a different part of the governing turf. And the function of the three is not only to be the primary governmental institution in its explicit area of control, but to serve as a "check” on the others and provide “balance” by not letting one branch get more powerful than another.
In the area of immigration, to this point, the executive branch, under Barack Obama, has mostly done that with notable exceptions. But now, it appears, all appearances of following the law as laid down by Congress seems to have been thrown under the bus. The Obama administration has, for all intents and purposes, decided what how the law will be interpreted whether Congress likes it or not. After all, there’s an election in the offing, activist groups to be satisfied and votes to be bought:
Bowing to pressure from immigrant rights activists, the Obama administration said Thursday that it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as attending school, having family in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’ care.
The move marks a major step for President Obama, who for months has said he does not have broad categorical authority to halt deportations and said he must follow the laws as Congress has written them.
But in letters to Congress on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she does have discretion to focus on “priorities” and that her department and the Justice Department will review all ongoing cases to see who meets the new criteria.
“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”
Right … and to totally ignore cases against illegal immigrants who meet the arbitrary standards the administration finds to be “acceptable”.
This, of course, makes it clear to any illegal immigrant what the bare minimum is necessary to avoid deportation. It’s a government sponsored “okay” to stay illegally. Just meet one of the criteria (or appear too) and we’ll ignore the law for you.
However you feel about illegal immigration, we’ve always featured ourselves as a nation of laws, not men. A nation of laws is one which follows laws and, if they don’t like the law, feel it is fair, or whatever, go through the process of changing the law or abolishing it. What a nation of laws doesn’t do is ignore the law or arbitrarily pick and choose the parts it will follow. Imagine, if you will, deciding that you weren’t going to follow certain laws because you felt they were unfair. Say, doing 25 in a school zone. You tell the officer who stops you that doing 25 is not fuel efficient and you’ve chosen to ignore it and do 45. How far do you think that would get you in terms of avoiding a ticket?
In this case we have an administration that has decided to pick and choose what part of laws it will enforce. It isn’t the first. But this sort of blatant disregard for enforcing the law is both dangerous and something which needs to be stopped and stopped now.
If the executive branch finds a law to be something it has concerns or problems with, it’s recourse should be changing it through the legislative body, per the Constitution. Or taking it to the Judicial branch for a Constitutional check, if that’s appropriate. What it must not do is precisely what it is doing – ignoring Congress and literally taking the law into its own hands.
That is the law of men – arbitrary, selective, dangerous and wrong.
One of the key worries about the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing has been the fear that it would result in hyperinflation at some point. But, Mike Shedlock, writing at Business Insider, asserts that inflation is not what we should be fearing: deflation is. Despite his rather self-centered, Ooh-look-what-a-cool-boy-I-am writing style, he makes an excellent point, and provides some valuable insight.
Shedlock actually has a rather different definition of inflation and deflation than most do, as he doesn’t concentrate primarily on the money supply or price levels, but rather the state of credit markets.
Inflation is a net increase in money supply and credit, with credit marked-to-market.
Deflation is a net decrease in money supply and credit, with credit marked-to-market.
Complete loss of faith in currency.
The first two definitions have nothing to do with prices per se, the third does (by implication of currency becoming worthless).
To determine whether we are currently experiencing inflation or deflation, he uses the following criterion:
Symptoms of Deflation
- Falling Credit Marked-to-Market
- Falling Treasury Yields
- Falling Home Prices
- Rising Corporate Bond Yields
- Rising Dollar
- Falling Commodity Prices
- Falling Consumer Prices
- Rising Unemployment
- Negative GDP
- Falling Stock Market
- Spiking Base Money Supply
- Banks Hoarding Cash
- Rising Savings Rate
- Purchasing Power of Gold Rises
- Rising Number of Bank Failures
He then goes through all 15 criteria and shows fairly persuasively that—according to his definition, at least—we are in the middle of a credit-led deflation, despite the fact that consumer prices are rising. certainly, asset prices are declining.
Which, I think just means we’re having stagflation, if today’s CPI numbers are to be beleived.
In any event, as I’ve been saying since 2008, the danger of our policy mix is not inflation in the short-term, but rather a recreation of the Japanese response to the currency crisis/deflation of 1992 that brought about the "Lost Decade". We’ve actually doubled down on the Japanese policy, and are experiencing the same economic result.
So, businesses and consumers are holding tight to their wallets, adjusting their balance sheets…and waiting. Yes, there’s tons of cash sitting in banks right now that isn’t going anywhere, and as long as banks have a shortage of credit-worthy customers seeking loans, all of that cash is gonna keep sitting there are excess reserves.
Meanwhile, the one thing that has kept the dollar buoyed as the world’s reserve currency is that there’s really nowhere else to go. As attractive as the Euro might have seemed a couple of years ago, there’s a real chance that the Euro is on it’s way out, except perhaps as the joint currency of France and Germany.
What I would point out, though, is that Shedlock’s definition of hyperinflation is a state that exists as a result of a psychological event, not the result of something one can forecast via some predictive empirical measurement. That’s unsettling, because you can never quite predict when a psychological breaking point in public trust is reached. No matter how deflationary credit might be at the moment, if we begin seeing a serious, sustained rise in price levels for consumer goods, I’d be a little worried. A steep fall of the dollar’s price in the FOREX market would be worrisome, too. If hyperinflation is the result of a psychological shock disconnected with any sort of statistical measurement, then I’d be careful finding too much comfort in statistics.
The numbers say that deflation is our biggest problem right now, though, and I’d say that’s generally right. If the economy picks up and those excess reserves begin to flow into the hands of consumers though, I’d be looking very hard at the Fed as the velocity of money picks up, to see how they plan to sterilize the excessive growth in the monetary base they’ve created.
The New York Times published an editorial today that reminds one how liberally biased the paper’s editorial board is. In its editorial it claims that all of the problems the UK has recently undergone are the result of the current administration and their austerity measures.
Cameron has been talking tough, suggesting that perhaps eviction or cutting off benefits to looters who are on the public dole might be one means of punishing offenders and making others think twice about committing such crimes again. He’s even talked about cutting off internet service in areas hit by flash looting mobs to cut their communication links.
The Times finds all of that an abhorrent over-reaction, and there are some good arguments against such moves by government. But that’s not where the NYT editorial board gets it wrong. It is here:
Such draconian proposals often win public applause in the traumatized aftermath of riots. But Mr. Cameron, and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, should know better. They risk long-term damage to Britain’s already fraying social compact.
Making poor people poorer will not make them less likely to steal. Making them, or their families, homeless will not promote respect for the law. Trying to shut down the Internet in neighborhoods would be an appalling violation of civil liberties and a threat to public safety, denying vital real-time information to frightened residents.
Britain’s urban wastelands need constructive attention from the Cameron government, not just punishment. His government’s wrongheaded austerity policies have meant fewer public sector jobs and social services. Even police strength is scheduled to be cut. The poor are generally more dependent on government than the affluent, so they have been hit the hardest.
What Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting. Unfortunately, there is no sign that Mr. Cameron has figured that out. But, at a minimum, burdens need to be more fairly shared between rich and poor — not as a reward to anyone, but because it is right.
This is utter nonsense. As with most on the left the Times prefers to cast blame at those who they disagree with ideologically instead of actually analyzing the problem and admitting that perhaps it is their ideology which has led to these problems.
Point one – these riots weren’t a result of several months or even several years of austerity. They are the culmination of a decades long social engineering project that has created a culture and is dependent upon government for everything. It has coddled it, excused its behavior and now finds it can’t afford it. The socialists have finally run out of other people’s money and are now paying the price for such foolhardy social engineering.
Point two – the answer to the problem isn’t now nor has it ever been more “public sector jobs and social services”. Instead the answer is to entice the private sector into these areas and have them produce productive jobs. Of course, if the benefits program, i.e. the dole or “the game”, continue as it has, there’s absolutely no incentive for anyone to take a job. One of the standing jokes is about an government appeal for businesses in the UK to hire Brits instead of Eastern Europeans. But British businesses know that Eastern Europeans will actually show up, on time and work, whereas Brits won’t. That is a cultural problem – not an austerity problem. And it is a cultural problem that has been caused and nurtured by the likes of those who write editorials for the New York Times.
Point three – it won’t get better by doing the same thing again. As has been said by many, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. This is a social engineering project that has failed. Committing money they don’t have to recreate it is the height of idiocy.
The Times also stoops to a bit of class warfare by claiming David Cameron is a product of “Britain’s upper classes and schools”. The implication being he has no concept of the problem, being so far removed by class, and thus “he has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subculture”.
Janet Daley at the UK’s Telegraph rips into that premise and calls the Times on its hypocrisy:
Yes indeed he has, thus putting himself in agreement with about 90 per cent of the British population. But the New York Times in as uninterested in the overwhelming majority of British public opinion as it is in the great mass of American public opinion. It is as smugly and narrowly orthodox in its Left-liberal posturing as its counterparts in Britain. (If the BBC were to be reincarnated as an American newspaper, it would be the New York Times.) So it carries on in class war mode with accusations about Mr Cameron’s blithe imperiousness: “Would he find similar blame – this time in the culture of the well housed and well-off – for Britain’s recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?”
Well as it happens, the MPs’ expenses scandal is pretty small beer by comparison to the “pork barrel” and lobbying scandals which have dogged the US Congress for generations. Would the New York Times like to opine on how much relevance the class backgrounds of Washington legislators have to those problems?
If the Times could find an angle that would help it push its outmoded ideological argument, probably so, but her point is well taken. Dailey concludes with the real reason for the editorial, fact free as it is – it’s all about certain politics:
The remedies which it criticises Mr Cameron for adopting are, in fact, not within his personal power at all: evicting tenants from council housing is a matter for local councils not for the Westminister government. And he has not proposed “shutting down the internet in neighbourhoods [where there is civil disorder]“. As far as the New York Times is concerned, the riots of last week were all about the state of the economy and the Government’s spending cuts: an argument so untenable that even the Labour party does not advance it. In its pious conclusion, the editorial states unequivocally that “what Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting.” Barack Obama couldn’t have asked for a more generous endorsement. And that, one assumes, is what this ludicrous exercise in Schadenfreude was all about.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The polls haven’t been kind to any politicians recently. Congress has netted its worst approval rating ever. And Barack Obama hasn’t been an exception as the latest Gallup poll on his job approval ratings show. If he hasn’t figure out “it is the economy, stupid” someone better wake him up. The fact is there is a discernable trend, and that trend for him is down. To the the numbers:
A new low of 26% of Americans approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy, down 11 percentage points since Gallup last measured it in mid-May and well below his previous low of 35% in November 2010.
Obama earns similarly low approval for his handling of the federal budget deficit (24%) and creating jobs (29%).
Gallup goes on to point out, in relative terms, the President’s foreign policy ratings are fine.
The president fares relatively better on foreign policy matters, with 53% of Americans approving of his handling of terrorism and roughly 4 in 10 approving on foreign affairs and the situation in Afghanistan. Also, 41% approve of Obama on education.
However, the primary issue of the day sees his numbers in the dumps. And, most importantly, the constituency he most needs, independents, are none to happy with his performance, or lack thereof.
Nothing particularly surprising about the numbers from those identifying with the two major parties. But that middle column spells big trouble for the incumbent if the primary issues in November of 2012 remains jobs, the economy and the deficit. And at this point, there’s little to point to which says they won’t still be the top concerns for voters.
The Congressional Black Caucus, a mostly Democratic caucus in Congress that focuses almost exclusively on the black community in America, is not particularly happy with the President. So while the President is on a midwestern bus tour, the CBC is on a permission tour.
Meaning? Well they’re politicians seeking permission from the black community to “unleash” on the President according to Rep. Maxine Waters.
"We don’t put pressure on the president," Waters told the audience at Wayne County Community College. "Let me tell you why. We don’t put pressure on the president because ya’ll love the president. You love the president. You’re very proud to have a black man — first time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the president too hard, you’re going after us."
The problem, Waters said, is that Obama is not paying enough attention to the problems of some black Americans. The unemployment rate for African-Americans nationally is a little over 16 percent, and almost twice that in Detroit. And yet, Waters said, the president is on a jobs-promotion trip through the Midwest that does not include any stops in black communities. "The Congressional Black Caucus loves the president too," Waters said. "We’re supportive of the president, but we’re getting tired, y’all. We’re getting tired. And so, what we want to do is, we want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he’s prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is. We don’t know why on this trip that he’s in the United States now, he’s not in any black community. We don’t know that."
She joins the rest of America wondering “what the strategy is”. The President has talked all around it, but as usual, has offered nothing concrete, nothing in writing and certainly nothing the CBO could score. That would provide a record, and it appears this President wants to avoid such things. It would also provide leadership, something this President has avoided like the plague during his tenure.
The CBC still loves him, but they just don’t think he’s doing as well as he could (a sentiment shared by many in varying but overwhelming degrees). So, fingers firmly in the wind, the CBC is asking permission to launch on the Prez:
As she discussed her dilemma — frustrated with the president but hesitant to criticize him lest black supporters turn on her — Waters asked the crowd for its permission to have a "conversation" with the president. "When you tell us it’s alright and you unleash us and you tell us you’re ready for us to have this conversation, we’re ready to have the conversation," she said. Some members of the crowd immediately voiced their approval.
"All I’m saying to you is, we’re politicians," Waters continued. "We’re elected officials. We are trying to do the right thing and the best thing. When you let us know it is time to let go, we’ll let go."
"Let go!" some in the audience yelled.
Indeed. But don’t expect the same sort of treatment the CBC would give a GOP leader to be “unleashed” on Obama.
It is interesting, though, to analyze situations like this and to realize that there are very few if any constituents who are pleased with the President’s performance and leadership. All have different reasons – to far left, not left enough, etc. – but almost all seem to agree he’s provided little if any leadership during his presidency.
As for the CBC and their constituency – they’ll still vote for Obama and will support him to the bitter end, which many hope is January of 2013. However, like many communities of voters on the left, their enthusiasm isn’t at all what it was when it was Candidate Obama they were supporting. And that lack of enthusiasm could be fatal to Obama’s reelection hopes next year.
The truth, unlike the common wisdom or at least the Democrat narrative, is that far and away the bulk of the $37 billion in government energy subsidies goes to “renewable” energy sources, not evil oil and gas corporations. The $37 billion is $19 billion more than was spent in 2007 in government subsidies, a 50% increase in spending.
It was a feature of the Obama administration’s recent narrative that government was subsidizing rich oil and gas companies and that should stop. Never mentioned, of course, were where other subsidies were going. For example:
Of that $19 billion increase, additional subsidies for renewables amounted to more than $9 billion, a 186 percent increase. Subsidies for renewables now total $14.7 billion.
Wind power was the biggest recipient of federal energy dollars. Last year, this sector took in almost $5 billion in subsidies – a more-than-tenfold increase from 2007. Meanwhile, solar energy subsidies increased six times over the same period, from $179 million to $1.13 billion. And biofuels (think ethanol) saw a jump from $4 billion to $6.6 billion.
Any idea what we’ve bought for that money?
Take wind power. Today, it represents a paltry 1.2 percent of total domestic energy production. Yes, that’s up from 0.5 percent in 2007. But only after spending billions in taxpayer resources.
What’s more, wind power is expected to fall well short of some key growth goals set by the Obama administration. The Department of Energy has officially declared it wants 20 percent of the energy market comprised of wind by 2030.
Currently, there are about 40,000 wind megawatts online in America. Meeting the Department’s target on time would require creating 13,000 new megawatts of wind energy every year — twice the growth notched by the industry last year, which was an all-time high. And warnings of a major contraction ahead have already been sounded by the American Wind Energy Association.
A classic example of government trying to pick winners and losers, or, in more succinct terms distorting the market. Instead of letting the market decide what is viable, government hopes to force it. And, predictably, the results are not good.
As for the evil oil and gas companies. Well the Democrats try to sell them as the ones sucking down all the subsidy dollars and not paying their “fair share”. The truth, of course, is almost the opposite:
Plenty of politicians, mostly Democrats, have advertised that eradicating federal dollars for oil and natural gas as a budget panacea.
The EIA [Energy Information Administration – part of DOE] study shows that these critics have fingered the wrong energies. Researchers report that last year, oil, natural gas, and coal received a total of 11 percent of all federal energy subsidies. And most of those oil and natural gas “subsidies” are typical deductions, deferrals, and credits that all businesses take.
In fact, as a share of net income, the oil and gas industry paid 41.1 percent in federal income taxes last year, compared to 26.5 percent for all non-oil and gas S&P 500 manufacturing companies. Meanwhile, oil and gas account for 78 percent of domestic energy production and are responsible for more than 9.2 million American jobs.
The myths, however, continue to persist. On sector promises jobs and a new source of energy and is essentially a subsidy sink hole. The other accounts for over 9 million jobs and actually provides the vast bulk of energy the country uses. Guess which one is constantly under fire from the left?
The first thing I have to wonder is where Obama was during the George W. Bush era if he thinks the criticism he’s getting now is bad. In Iowa yesterday, Obama complained that he took more criticism than Abe Lincoln. A presidential scholar says that is laughingly absurd. Actually Alvin Felzenberg said it “is hysterical … that is really laughable in many respects.”
Why? Because what was said about Lincoln by the opposition is still unprintable today.
But as mentioned, the tone and rhetoric deployed against Obama doesn’t begin to reach the vitriolic level that was leveled at Bush 43. And certainly not Lincoln.
The exchange in which the comment came out was during a little town hall pity party:
“The Congress doesn’t seem to be a good partner. You said so yourself, they’re more interested in seeing you lose than [seeing] the country win,” the questioner lamented.
“Democracy is always a messy business in a big country like this,” Obama responded. “When you listen to what the federalists said about the anti-federalists … those guys were tough. Lincoln, they used to talk about him almost as bad as they talk about me.”
Obama’s always been sensitive to criticism. To the point of assuming the Presidency, he’d heard little of it, having essentially spent his life teaching, doing community organization and running for office. Suddenly, he’s in charge and under fire. And, given his record – something until this point he’s never had – the criticism is both warranted and mostly on-target.
Obama’s sensitivity to criticism is bound up with his progressive ideology, which sees political disputes as best resolved by experts, said Michael Franc, vice president for government studies at the Heritage Foundation. Obama believes “he has discovered the truth and if you disagree with him, it’s not only against the country, its unpatriotic and anti-Obama,” Franc suggested.
Eric Dezenhall, a former communications aide to President Ronald Reagan, went ever further in an interview with The Daily Caller: Obama’s complaint, he said, “is more grandiose than narcissistic … It’s equating any form of push-back with some sort of giant historical crime.”
Thus the comparison with Lincoln who was president during an incredibly tough era, even compared to this one. And while he won’t say it, it seems clear that Obama and his supporters do indeed think that criticizing him is “against the country…unpatriotic and anti-Obama. This is a guy who walked into office having done nothing and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As was clear, he felt it was his due. Now after almost 3 years and an obviously failing presidency, he’s beginning to whine about criticism and acting as if it is unwarranted.
One thing is for sure, given the economic, fiscal and unemployment situation in this country, the criticism isn’t going to lessen. He signed up for the big-boy job and now he has it. Let’s see if he can actually manage to act like a big-boy and quit whining about criticism.
Anyone surprised by this, given the pre-Perry GOP field, must have been living under a rock or just not paying attention. While there were small segments of the right delighted with at least one of the candidates, it appears that on the whole, most of the GOP faithful weren’t at all excited about any of them. Enter Texas governor Rick Perry and boom, we have a new front runner, according to Rasmussen:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary voters, taken Monday night, finds Perry with 29% support. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, earns 18% of the vote, while Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who won the high-profile Ames Straw Poll in Iowa on Saturday, picks up 13%.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who was a close second to Bachmann on Saturday, has the support of nine percent (9%) of Likely Primary Voters, followed by Georgia businessman Herman Cain at six percent (6%) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with five percent (5%). Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, and ex-Utah Governor Jon Huntsman each get one percent (1%) support, while Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter comes in statistically at zero.
Sixteen percent (16%) of primary voters remain undecided.
Naturally, as we’ve seen over the past day or two, all the fire from the left has lifted and shifted to Perry. A quick perusal of memeorandum and the top stories are all about Perry. One of the things we’ve already seen is the left is desperately sure it must refute the success of the Texas economy lest it be favorably compared to the mess Obama has made and thus put another Republican Texan in the White House. I’m not sure the loony left could survive that.
Conn Carroll reviews the Democrats emerging arguments – perhaps claims is a better word – about Texas as penned by Matthias Shapiro of 10,000 pennies fame:
Texas Liberal Myth #1: Texas’ 8.2 percent unemployment is hardly exceptional – Texas is adding jobs at a rate faster than any state at 2.2 percent. But the state’s unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, which is higher than blue states like Massachusetts and New York. How is this possible? Easy, Texas’ population is growing much faster than any other state. They have added 739,000 residents since the recession began. If Texas had the same population at the beginning of the recession that they do know, its unemployment rate would be 2.3%.
Texas Liberal Myth #2: Texas has only created low-paying jobs – Texas median hourly wage is $15.14 which is actually slightly below the median (28th out of 51 regions). But wages in Texas have actually increased in Texas since the recession began. In fact, since the recession started hourly wages in Texas have increased at a 6th fastest pace in the nation.
Texas Liberal Myth #3: Texas wouldn’t be leading in job creation without the oil industry – Energy has been a major source of job growth in Texas. In the last year, 25 percent of all job growth has come from the energy sector (which includes all natural gas, coal, and electricity generation). But even if you remove all of Texas’ energy-job growth, it would still lead the nation in job creation.
So, new week, new front runner, same old fact free attacks.
Aren’t you glad Obama changed politics as we know them?