Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Today’s dose of comedy: Twitter will save Democrats in 2012, says speaker at DNC

I can’t do much better than to quote the first paragraph of this article in its entirety:

Democrats are hoping they’ve found a secret weapon for winning back the House in 2012: Twitter.

To quote a famous faux-professor, stop laughing. It get’s better:

“We know that we’re up against a team of about 43 think tanks on the other side. … But when you engage them in a good debate, they’re shallow."

As opposed to the 140 character sound bites in Twitter? You’re going to make a sophisticated argumentative reponse tht snds lik its a txt msg bcuz u haf 2 cmprss n2 140 chars? ROFL!

Why, the event was so successful, one delegate created a Twitter account! Right there at the event! Really!

A Democratic leadership aide described the event as a “nice hands-on training” for Members less familiar with social media, and it even led to one Member signing up for Twitter on the spot:
@DelegateDonna (Democratic Del. Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands).

Just think – a DNC delegate managed to do something so complicated that thousands of teenagers do it unassisted every day! What a triumph! 2012 is in the bag, man!

Yep, social media is going to save the Democrats. It will finally, finally get their elegant, persuasive message out.

They’ve had such tremendous obstacles, after all. Why, they’ve had to rely on such limited resources up to now. They’ve only had a bunch of their own think tanks, three broadcast news networks, one cable news channel that openly supports them and another that keeps a fig leaf of pretense that they don’t, every remaining non-bankrupt major city paper except the Wall Street Journal, a slew of pretentious magazines, and a government-funded national radio network that has come right out and admitted where they stand. On the Internet, they’ve had to rely on such a thin guard of sites: Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Media Matters, DogLakeOnFire (or whatever it is, I forget), TPM, etc. etc. I mean, just how far can Soros’ billions go? Those stupid rubes must need some serious educating to realize the wonder and magnificence that is collectivism. The work just never ends!

Hey, at least they’ve stopped explaining that Obama just needs to make more speeches. He seems to have taken that to heart. In the midst of some of the biggest foreign policy happenings of the decade, Obama has decided the best place he can spend time is the golf course. I’d like to disagree with him, but given what he would probably do if he actually did anything, I really can’t.

They’ve got a president who would rather be a dictator, but the problem is their message.

They were given control of all branches of the federal government, and the result was an economy in the dumper, unprecedented and unsupportable debt, one foreign policy blunder after another, a healthcare bill so hated that it help them suffer an historic election loss in 2010… but their real problem is getting their message out.

As in 2010, I hope this delusion continues. Please, please let them keep getting their message out. The union protesters in Madison, for example, are doing great work in this area.

They have clearly communicated the Democratic Party  message. It’s this: You intend to keep on sucking every possible bit of money while telling the rest of us exactly what sort of lives we’re allowed to lead.

That’s your message in a nutshell. Good news: it will fit in a post on Twitter.

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China’s effrontery knows no bounds

You are all familiar with the killer earthquake that occurred in New Zealand recently.  During that disaster, 70 international students at the King’s English Language School, along with 10 staff, lost their lives.  Among the dead were 7 Chinese students.

You’ll never guess why China is now demanding increased compensation for its dead students:

Chinese officials have requested extra compensation for the families of Chinese students killed by the Christchurch earthquake. They say China’s one-child policy means the families will face long-term economic hardship.

In a Radio New Zealand interview this morning, Cheng Lee, head of the Chinese Embassy’s disaster relief efforts, explained that China’s situation was very unusual due to the fact that, under Chinese law, families could only have one child per couple.

Mr Cheng believes the Chinese families deserve special consideration and should be given economic assistance above what’s available under New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) payments. Mr Cheng said: "There is a very notable difference in terms of the family situation between the Chinese family members and other foreign family members. You can expect how lonely, how desperate they are, not only from losing loved ones, but losing almost entirely their source of economic assistance after retirement."

So here’s a summary of the thinking as presented by Mr. Cheng – Since China unilaterally and by force restricted its population to one child per family and subsequently since in the case of the disaster in NZ, some of those children were killed, creating a hardship for the families, it is the responsibility of the government of New Zealand to up its compensation to the Chinese families (over and above what it pays others) because of the consequences of the Chinese law.

A pretty absurd claim wouldn’t you say?  And the claim also implies that the Chinese student’s lives were more valuable than those of the others that were killed  – again, the supposed value based in a law which restricted parents to one child.

Mr Joyce said that with all the investigations currently underway it was too soon to say if special compensation might be available for any of the victims’ families.

Really?  The fact that NZ is even entertaining the idea for the reasons given are astounding.  If China believes what it is claiming – i.e. that because of the policy of one child per family, the families effected have a particularly tough road ahead of them financially – then it should be compensating the parents for the consequences of its policy, not New Zealand.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 13 Mar 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Japanese earthquake and the implications for US nuclear policy, and Pres Obaba’s leadership style.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Libya: ruthlessness winning while the world dithers and religion takes over the opposition

A week or so ago I wrote a post about ruthlessness and how that usually wins in contests like we see in Libya.  Of course, the fact that the opposition is amateurish in the field and remains unorganized hasn’t exactly helped their situation.  But Gadhafi has been and continues to be ruthless in his pursuit of maintaining his power.

Meanwhile, given the deteriorating situation for the opposition, the time for a “no-fly zone” appears to have passed.  When it might have had some effect was early on in this battle.  As the battle has matured, the advantage seems to be going to the Gadhafi forces.  Not only are they more brutal, they’re better organized (relatively speaking) and performing better in the fight (again, relatively speaking).  At some point, one has to expect Gadhafi’s forces to take control of key areas that will signal, for all intents and purposes, that the revolution has pretty much failed (that’s not to say the civil war won’t go on for some time, but at a much lower key than now).

But back to the opposition and an article in the NYT today.  It’s interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a discussion of why the opposition formed and what is happening  to it according to the NYT.

Nearly 70 percent of Libya’s population is under the age of 34, virtually identical to Egypt’s, and a refrain at the front or faraway in the mountain town of Bayda is that a country blessed with the largest oil reserves in Africa should have better schools, hospitals, roads and housing across a land dominated by Soviet-era monotony.

“People here didn’t revolt because they were hungry, because they wanted power or for religious reasons or something,” said Abdel-Rahman al-Dihami, a young man from Benghazi who had spent days at the front. “They revolted because they deserve better.”

So the argument can be made it was started by the youth and the aim is secular – they have the luxury of oil but they’ve not enjoyed the benefits of that vital commodity within their country as they think they should.  Got it.

But, do you remember this quote from the older post?  It’s a quote from David Warren:

As we should surely have observed by now, whether or not the Islamists command Arab "hearts and minds," they are not only the best organized force, but the most ruthless. They are also in possession of the simplest, most plausible, most easily communicated "vision."

Religion, speaking here of Islam, is ubiquitous in the Middle East.  It just is.  And those who live there, whatever their other desires, sift everything almost unconsciously through the filter of Islam.  That’s why it isn’t difficult for religious leaders or radical religious leaders to quickly gain a foothold they ruthlessly expand in any situation like this.   And that’s precisely what the NYT discovers:

The revolt remains amorphous, but already, religion has emerged as an axis around which to focus opposition to Colonel Qaddafi’s government, especially across a terrain where little unites it otherwise. The sermon at the front on Friday framed the revolt as a crusade against an infidel leader. “This guy is not a Muslim,” said Jawdeh al-Fakri, the prayer leader. “He has no faith.” [emphasis mine]

Other’s continue to fight against that trying to keep it (or change it into) a secular fight:

Dr. Langhi, the surgeon, said he scolded rebels who called themselves mujahedeen — a religious term for pious fighters. “This isn’t our situation,” he pleaded. “This is a revolution.”

But, it seems it is turning into their situation.  Again back to the Warren quote – what is ingrained in the opposition fighters no matter what their ostensible reason for fighting may be?  Their religion.  And what has the “simplest, most plausible, most easily communicated “vision.”?”  Their religion.  When viewed against the complicated process of democratic governance, religion as a one stop shop for both their spiritual needs and their political needs makes the former much more difficult to sell than the latter.  Religion, whether it is a fundamentalist brand, or a more moderate strain, is going to emerge as a huge force in all of the struggles in that part of the world.

Something else to note from the NYT article that is interesting:

Sitting on ammunition boxes, four young men from Benghazi debated the war, as they watched occasional volleys of antiaircraft guns fired at nothing. They promised victory but echoed the anger heard often these days at the United States and the West for failing to impose a no-flight zone, swelling a sense of abandonment.

Obviously their feelings for the US and the West aren’t particularly good these days.  One has to wonder if they ever were, but clearly, now that they’re starting to get rolled back they are complaining about the West’s dithering and lack of response.

I’ve said it before, I don’t support the US imposing a no-fly zone.  That’s not to say I’m necessarily averse to a NFZ if Europe wants to take that bull by the horns.  But I see this as Europe’s fight, not ours.

That said, any good will we in the West had prior to today with the Libyan rebels seems to have dissipated and may, in fact, be in the negative column now.  The outcome could be the beginning of an even bigger problem for the West:

None of the four men here wanted to stay in Libya. Mr. Mughrabi and a friend planned to go to America, another to Italy. The last said Afghanistan. Each described the litany of woes of their parents — 40 years of work and they were consigned to hovels.

Why Afghanistan?  Well not to fight on the side of the US, you can be sure.  As for the other two, disaffected and disenchanted immigrants provide a fertile hunting ground for Islamists.  Should the two get to where they want to go is there a possibility that they, at some future date, become radicalized?  Of course there is. 

Again, who has the “simplest, most plausible and easily communicated “vision”?”

~McQ

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David Brooks: Mixing apples and oranges

David Brooks has a column today in which he talks about how people in the US see themselves in relationship with how other people in the world view themselves.  As  you might expect, Americans have a tendency to be a bit taken with themselves.  For instance:

We’re an overconfident species. Ninety-four percent of college professors believe they have above-average teaching skills. A survey of high school students found that 70 percent of them have above-average leadership skills and only 2 percent are below average.

Note where the two examples originate.

Moving on:

Americans are similarly endowed with self-esteem. When pollsters ask people around the world to rate themselves on a variety of traits, they find that people in Serbia, Chile, Israel and the United States generally supply the most positive views of themselves. People in South Korea, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan and Morocco are on the humble side of the rankings.

Not the key word (“self-esteem”).

Yet even from this high base, there is some evidence to suggest that Americans have taken self-approval up a notch over the past few decades. Start with the anecdotal evidence. It would have been unthinkable for a baseball player to celebrate himself in the batter’s box after a home-run swing. Now it’s not unusual. A few decades ago, pop singers didn’t compose anthems to their own prowess; now those songs dominate the charts.

American students no longer perform particularly well in global math tests. But Americans are among the world leaders when it comes to thinking that we are really good at math.

We’ve talked about this before.  The “my precious” syndrome – where every little munchkin under the sun is told everything he or she does is special and wonderful and that they are just a unique special person who just can’t do anything wrong.  This has spawned sports games with no score, baseball leagues where everyone gets a trophy, and everyone is as talented, smart, able and unique as anyone else.

Except that’s not true at all.  And most of us know that.  Much of it is fostered upon children in the schools where we see them go overboard to ensure that every student feels his or her work is extraordinary even when most of it is, at best, adequate.   We’ve come to believe that it is more important to shelter most kids from the reality of their mediocrity than to challenge them to overcome it.

And that has a tendency to shape behavior and attitudes like those reflected above.  

The institution of education isn’t the only entity to contribute to this syndrome, obviously many parents are on board too.  And they buy into the premise that it is okay to hide reality from kids because, well, they’re kids and it hurts them to realize they aren’t super-stars.

The two results of that are overindulged children who do have talent feeling the need and having the permission (given how they’ve been encouraged in their short lives) to act out as the baseball player does in the batter’s box.  

The other result is when the less talented kid’s brittle self-esteem meets reality and shatters like a window pane hit by a rock.  They’re not emotionally prepared for that reality because it’s been hidden from them and when it finally is sprung upon them, the results can be devastating.   The “my precious” syndrome fosters emotional immaturity that unfortunately retards the development of kids who’ve been raised as such. 

However, even the talented who act out as the baseball player does will eventually meet with a dose of reality.  The next time he steps into the batter’s box he can count on being hit somewhere other than in the bat.  If he is smart he will learn quickly not to do something like that.  He may be “my precious” among his intimate circle but outside of it he’s a show off deserving of a lesson.  And he usually gets it.

So:

In short, there’s abundant evidence to suggest that we have shifted a bit from a culture that emphasized self-effacement — I’m no better than anybody else, but nobody is better than me — to a culture that emphasizes self-expansion.

Writers like Twenge point out that young people are bathed in messages telling them how special they are. Often these messages are untethered to evidence of actual merit. Over the past few decades, for example, the number of hours college students spend studying has steadily declined. Meanwhile, the average G.P.A. has steadily risen.

Exactly right.  However, that doesn’t mean or lead to this:

Most pervasively, I wonder if there is a link between a possible magnification of self and a declining saliency of the virtues associated with citizenship.

Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation. I wonder if Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part because they are less conscious of themselves as components of a national project.

Perhaps the enlargement of the self has also attenuated the links between the generations. Every generation has an incentive to push costs of current spending onto future generations. But no generation has done it as freely as this one. Maybe people in the past had a visceral sense of themselves as a small piece of a larger chain across the centuries. As a result, it felt viscerally wrong to privilege the current generation over the future ones, in a way it no longer does.

It’s possible, in other words, that some of the current political problems are influenced by fundamental shifts in culture, involving things as fundamental as how we appraise ourselves. Addressing them would require a more comprehensive shift in values.

Did you understand all of that and how he’s trying to tie the “my precious” syndrome with the fiscal mess we’re in today?  Do you agree that there is an unwillingness to support the sacrifices necessary to avert fiscal catastrophe tied to the self-esteem mess?  Is this “enlargement of self” the reason we’ve gotten into the position we’re in and are likely to stay there?  Have we undergone a fundamental shift in values?

Well, if we have, much of it comes from those 94% of college professors who think they have above average teaching skills – and all the answers.

OK, I’m being a bit sarcastic.  Obviously I don’t buy into the belief  that says we must praise every mediocre thing little Johnny does as “special” and “wonderful.”  I also don’t believe that problem has fundamentally changed American culture or how American’s view citizenship.   Michael Barone wrote a book called “Hard America, Soft America” in which he details pretty successfully how we manage to reorient victims of the “my precious” syndrome.   The few that slip through the cracks, unfortunately, are usually talented in some way or the other.   And because they’re talented, they’re indulged to a far greater degree than others (take our current president for example).  At some point we all meet with “hard America”, i.e. reality – no matter how special someone has been told they are or how talented they think they are, there are limits to how far that will take you. 

The bratty baseball player learns not to celebrate in the batters box when he gets tired of getting cracked ribs after every time he does.  Hard America.  The stud athlete who was an indulged college star finds he’s just an average player, for the most part, when he steps onto the NFL field for the first time.  Hard America.  The kid who was told he was tough finds out what it is to become a member of the team in basic training and AIT, or washes out to his eternal shame.  Hard America.  The child who was told how smart he is and how everything he does is wonderful fails his college entrance tests because his effort falls short of the unforgiving and unmovable mark.  Hard America.

We have a culture that handles that part fine.  And has for years.   Our literature is full of stories of the pampered and indulged child who finally meets up with the real world and learns how it works and what he has to do to be a part of it.  I don’t think that has changed significantly.  But I don’t see that as a reason for what is going on today politically.

While there may be a cultural reason for what is happening, I think it is more along the line of our culture not knowing how to handle politics or politicians who have indulged themselves (in your name and, supposedly “for you”) with your money.  And there’s a reason for that.  Until the ‘70s or so, we didn’t have to worry about it.  For the most part, our political culture matched our national culture. 

But then something happened.  Not to the overall American culture, regardless of what Brooks tries to paint in the beginning of his article, but with the political culture.  A dramatic shift in both focus, priority and power took place.   The focus changed from a government focused mostly on protecting us and our rights to one that believed it was the purpose of government to engineer our lives and grant us “rights” and indulge them.  We went from equal opportunity for all to social justice.   And to do that the government needed power and money.  Because that change of focus was very gradual and sounded benign, we mostly ignored it and went on with our lives. 

The fiscal crisis changed all that.  All of a sudden people who hadn’t given government a second thought for most of their lives were forced to take a look at what these successive generations of politicians had done over the intervening decades.

And, for the most part we realized that’s not the government we want.  But we haven’t really figured out how to change that.  So this isn’t so much a denial of the need to sacrifice by the citizenry as it is anger about being in the position we’re in because we made the mistake of trusting those in power to do the right thing and they didn’t.    It is also discovering, for a good portion of the population, just what a mess we’re in.

It’s also frustration.

What we haven’t figured out yet in Hard America is how to teach the the lesson that needs to be learned by our politicians and government(s).  Yeah, we can fire politicians and replace them, but that doesn’t seem to solve the problem.  Crack the ribs of the bratty ball player and he either learns the lesson or he suffers it again.  At some point though, he’ll modify his behavior.

Whose ribs do we crack to modify the behavior of our political system? How do we cause enough pain to force behavioral change?  It is that answer our citizenry seems to be searching for.  Witness the three past wave elections. 

Brooks, I think, interprets that search for a solution to modifying governmental behavior as a refusal to make sacrifices.  It is instead an electorate that has just been awakened to a huge problem and is casting around for a compromise solution.  That’s why you get mixed messages in polls.  They say overwhelmingly that spending must be cut, programs must be eliminated, etc.  But then you hear, but they don’t want to give up this or that.

That’s simply the process of deciding what government should actually be, something most of the citizenry hasn’t worried about for decades.   Suddenly, their worried.

So no, Mr. Brooks, this isn’t a result of the inflated view of ourselves some of us have, or the result of the “my precious” syndrome, it’s an awakening.  And it is an awakening that has just begun, is disorganized and is still finding its legs.  Hopefully it is one which will snatch us back from the abyss to which our so-called leaders have led us.  Hopefully we’ll figure out a way to crack the ribs of the system enough to modify its behavior and put it back on the right track. 

Because I think we’ve all realized that if we don’t, it won’t matter how much or how little we think of ourselves once we fall off that cliff our politicians have put us on, that just won’t matter very much.

~McQ

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Obama no leader and would prefer "easier" job as president of China

John Hinderaker at Powerline hits on something I’ve been saying for quite some time about the man in the White House:

Last night Col. Ralph Peters was on Bill O’Reilly’s show, talking about Libya. Peters thinks we should act on behalf of the rebels there, but he expressed skepticism that President Obama will ever do anything. "Obama loves the idea of being President," Peters said, "but he can’t make a decision."

I think there is a lot of truth to that, even in domestic policy, where Obama has passively deferred to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi on all legislative matters. One can debate whether action is appropriate in Libya or not, but Peters is certainly right when it comes to foreign policy–it is a safe bet that Obama will do nothing, because doing something would require a decision.

Now it just so happens that I think we ought to stay out of Libya, so this is a stopped clock moment for me.  I essentially agree with Obama’s non-decision.

However, to the larger point.  I agree with Peters completely when he says “Obama loves the idea of President, but he can’t make a decision”.  I might have said it a little differently.  Obama loves the idea of being President and the trappings and perks.  What he doesn’t like is the job.

I think that should be abundantly clear to anyone who has closely observed the man and taken a look at his background.  I always remember the words of the managing editor of the Harvard Law Review who said that Obama loved the title of Editor of the Law Review, but he didn’t want to do the work.  The managing editor said he rarely saw him except when it was to glad hand or take credit (and praise) for what was being done.  Additionally, Obama never wrote a thing for the review during his tenure, something almost unheard of.

In all cases, his problem is a leadership problem – a familiar topic for regular readers here.  He’s simply not a leader.  He has no idea how to be a leader.  But that doesn’t keep him from wanting leadership roles that offer him prestige, perks and pleasure derived from simply from being in the position. 

The reason Obama can’t make a decision is he can’t reason like a leader must.  He has no experience.  And he doesn’t understand the decision making process as practiced by a leader.  He’s never really had to make leadership decisions. So he simply tries to avoid making them.  One way he does it is to ignore the problem.  Another way he does this is to appoint commissions and panels concerning problems the country faces in order to defer the problem (and decision).  He also like to defer to the “international community” on foreign policy or the Democratic leadership in the legislature on domestic things.  Again, the avoidance of decision making.

And, in the end, he lets them make the decisions for him and then he jumps on the bandwagon with a speech full of rhetoric about how they (whichever party he is deferring to on whatever issue) have listened to him and decided on a course much like he recommended.  Or something like that.

Even the Democrats are noticing how poor a leader he is.  They’ve been hollering for weeks, some of them very vocally, that he needs to step up and show some leadership in the budget process.  To this point he’s done much of nothing.   Today he gave a press conference on energy because gas prices have increased.  Essentially his line of argument, concerning domestic oil, is we’re doing fine and we shouldn’t worry.

And where has he decided to try to take a little leadership? 

School bullying.

Umhmmm.  That boiling, roiling top tier controversy that threatens to tear the world apart.  On the turmoil in the Middle East, yeah, uh, not so much.  France is doing just fine and besides, Hillary will be by to see you soon.

Instead of a leader, we’re stuck with this:

Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, “No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.”

Amazing. "Easier". See Peters’ words above.

I say we cut him loose in 2012 and let him take the “hope and change” show to China to make his case.  They’ll be bankrupt inside of 2 years.

~McQ

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What do you do when your government flat out lies to you?

It’s a rhetorical question for the most part, since it seems to be a daily occurrence anymore.  Obviously it is hard to trust any government that does that on a regular basis and with a straight face.  But that’s what we’re faced with.  The latest example comes from Ken Salazar, head of the Department of the Interior, and as usual, he’s dissembling about oil production.

Kyle Isakower at API’s “Energy Tomorrow” blog, brings us up to date on some of Salazar’s numbers:

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told Congress that oil production in the Gulf of Mexico "remained at an all-time high, and we expect that it will continue as we bring new production online."  He claimed: "In 2009 there were 116 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, in 2010 in February, 120, in February 2011, 126."

Key points: production “remained at an all-time high” last year.  And that such a state would continue to exist as “we” bring new production online.  Additionally, Salazar claims an increase of 10 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico from 2009 to last month.

Not true says Isakower citing Baker Hughes:

  • Four days before the Deepwater Horizon accident there were 55 rotary rigs actually drilling offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • On May 28, 2010, when the administration announced the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, there were 46 rotary rigs operating in the Gulf. 
  • Last week, 25 rotary rigs were operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

The point of course is oil production comes from working rigs.  While there may be more rigs (by 10) in the Gulf, there are less working rigs (by 30) than in 2009.

As Isakower quips:

Claiming an increase in idle rigs in the Gulf as a success story is like claiming the job market is great because a lot of people are unemployed and available to work.

As for the production figures and the claim by Salazar that production remained at “an all time high” is technically true, the next part of his claim is demonstrably false.  Isakower explains:

The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration reports that production in the Gulf of Mexico is in decline, forecasting a decline of 250,000 barrels a day from Gulf production, due partly to the moratorium and restricted permitting.  While the annual production figure for 2010 was greater than 2009, EIA’s month-by-month production figures show a peak in May of 2010, and a relatively steady decline since. And EIA Petroleum Engineer Gary Long told trade publication E&E News that the rig count in the Gulf was cut in half after the Deepwater Horizon accident and that it wouldn’t rebound to previous levels until the end of 2011 under the assumption that the permitting process is restored to historical rates. Further, since there is a lag time from the time an exploration permit is approved to the time of actual production, and since no only a handful of permits for new wells have been granted since April of 2010, it is likely that Gulf of Mexico production will continue to be hit hard in 2012 and beyond.

If anyone is monitoring the permitting process as it stands today, they know that the assumption about the process that Long uses isn’t valid (1 permit granted this year that I know of and that just before the hearings at which Salazar spoke).  What that then means, as Isakower notes, is production in the Gulf will remain “hard hit” and lower than 2009 until well beyond 2012.

So, here we have a critical need (the production of more oil) that could produce thousands of good paying jobs, would boost a regional economy not to mention provide money for the federal treasury (taxes and royalties) and we have a government official claiming we’re at record levels and will remain there and beyond because “we” have more rigs in the Gulf now than we did 2 years ago.

API is relatively gentle about it saying, [w]e appreciate that when it comes to selling the administration’s energy policy, Secretary Salazar is in a tough position”.

I don’t have to be that diplomatic.  Salazar isn’t “selling” anything, he’s spinning nonsense to Congress.  There is no cogent or responsible energy policy evident from this administration.  Instead, it has declared war on a vital industry that is absolutely critical to our nation’s economy and, using the Deepwater Horizon disaster as an excuse, placed barrier after barrier in front of the industry for almost a year to discourage new drilling operations.

Unfortunately the war has been successful.  Drilling rigs have all but abandoned the Gulf to be deployed elsewhere around the world.  That is a travesty and an inexcusable outcome of a thoughtless policy pressed for political reasons.  Again, the administration spins nonsense to make it sound like they are on board with more oil production while doing everything in their power to block it.

The sad truth is the results of that “policy” will eventually be paid by you, at the pump, as gas prices continue to rise.

Remember that in 2012.  It is another part of the record of the Obama administration.  And in 2012, Obama has to do something he’s never done before in his political life – actually run on his record. 

~McQ

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My book, Slackernomics, should be available for Kindle tomorrow

I’m happy to announce that sometime tomorrow my book, Slackernomics, will be available on Kindle at the Amazon store for the low, low price of $3. For those who don’t know, Slackernomics is a book on basic economics for people who think economics is boring. Instead of a bunch of charts and math, I present economics in a more enjoyable way.  For instance, here is a portion of my discussion on the role of prices:

Another feature of the price system is that it forces producers to put resources to their most valued uses. This is important because, quite often, consumers demand different goods that use many of the same components.

Let’s take petroleum, for example. People don’t just need gasoline; they need plastics to make computer keyboards and ugly furniture for college students. Businesses need chemicals for industrial production and dyes. Textile companies need artificial fabrics that don’t fade or discolor. Perverts need Vaseline.

So, in bidding for each of those items, their producers are also bidding for the petroleum required to make them. When more people buy Vaseline, Johnson & Johnson has to bid away some of that petroleum from refineries or textile mills. In turn, this increased demand in petroleum causes the price of oil to rise for everyone who uses it.

In order to keep buying oil, everyone now has to pay the price that Johnson & Johnson is willing to pay. As this raises consumer prices for these items, consumers are likely to buy less of them. For example, a consumer, noticing the increase in the cost of Vaseline, decides to spend Saturday night alone.

So, the price that Johnson & Johnson is willing to pay for oil becomes an added cost for all of the other businesses that use oil. If they want to bid away some of that oil, they have to be willing to pay the higher price. But since higher prices tend to mean lower sales, other producers will only bid away as much oil as they think they can use, now that sales are dropping.

The end result is that Johnson & Johnson ends up with a relatively larger portion of oil. In other words, the resource of oil has flowed to the highest valued product, an important…uh…medical lubricant.

Eventually, because there is an increasing supply of Vaseline, demand is affected. At some point, consumers are unwilling to buy it, because there’s enough of it on the shelves. And, of course, with all this petroleum bidding going on, the price has been increasing. So, some consumers may notice that the price of Vaseline has now increased relative to, say KY Jelly, and they may decide to purchase that instead.

Of course, either way, Johnson & Johnson wins.

So, if you’d like to get a better understanding of how economics work, and maybe get a few good laughs on the way, you can get it tomorrow for about 1/6 the price of the physical book.

I’ll provide the direct link to Amazon to purchase it when it becomes available tomorrow.

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