The power of the [OPEC] cartel lies solely in its ability to limit the world’s supplies of liquid fuels by limiting access to petroleum resources. But there is a fuel that can be produced cheaply, without the use of petroleum. This is methanol, commonly known as wood alcohol. It can be made from coal, natural gas, garbage, or any kind of biomass without exception. It costs about $0.50 per gallon to make, and its current spot price, without any subsidy, is $1.20 per gallon. (This is equivalent in miles per dollar to gasoline at $2.18 per gallon.) The only problem is that the cars on the road today can’t use it. This, however, can readily be corrected. Flex-fuel technology will allow any car to run equally well on methanol, ethanol, or gasoline. It adds only $100 to the cost of a new car. Were such a feature made standard, gasoline and ethanol would be forced to compete with methanol, and OPEC’s power to limit access to fuel supplies and drive prices up would be broken.
Friday, April 29, 2011
In the 27 months of the Obama administration, there have been spectacular rises in the prices of gasoline ($1.83 per gallon to almost $4), oil ($41 per barrel to over $90), gold ($853 per ounce to $1,500), corn ($3.56 per bushel to $6.33), and sugar ($13.37 per pound to $35.39). The real median household income has declined by $300, to under $50,000; the number of food-stamp recipients has increased from 32 million to 43 million; the number of people officially in poverty has increased by 10 percent, to 44 million (more people than the whole populations of Poland or Spain); the ranks of the long-term unemployed have increased from 2.6 million to 6.4 million; and the U.S.’s position in the rankings of economic freedom of the world’s countries has declined from fifth to ninth.
I recall how President Reagan often argued in the 1980s not simply that a strong dollar was in the nation’s interest, but that a great country, by necessity, needs a strong and reliable currency. Link to gold — that was Reagan’s argument. Paul Volcker and then Alan Greenspan (during the first three of his four Fed terms) essentially agreed with Reagan. The 20-year collapse of gold prices that ensued was associated with a remarkable non-inflationary prosperity and a huge stock market rally that generated unbelievable volumes of new wealth for investors and entrepreneurs.
Today, this hard-money thinking is nowhere to be found in official Washington. Yes, the Fed can produce new money. But no, it can’t produce new jobs and growth in any permanent sense. What does? Limited spending, flat tax rates, minimal regulation, and stable money.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
At a breakfast this morning in New Hampshire, Sen. Rand Paul took a swipe at Donald Trump.
“I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned. I want to see the original long-form certificate of Donald Trump’s Republican registration,” Paul said.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
If you know the story of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board, and how it’s using government power to force Boeing back into the waiting arms of Washington State unions instead of opening a plant in South Carolina, there are passages in Atlas Shrugged that will make your hair stand on end.
The key to appreciating the violent media reaction to this film is to understand that while the critics complain loudly about the stiff dialogue and wooden acting of Rand’s heroes, it’s the portrayal of the villains that really bothers them… and every damn word they say is completely realistic and believable.
Some of the dialogue in this movie was ripped from today’s headlines… and by “today” I mean last Friday, months after filming was completed.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
As you can see, the top 1 percent of earners shoulder 38 percent of the personal federal income taxes and make only 20 percent of income. The top 5 percent of income earners pay almost 60 percent of income taxes and make almost 35 percent of all personal income.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
In FY2010, we spent $164 billion just on interest payments on the debt — up 18 percent from the year before. And that’s at historically low interest rates. If rates should go back up to their 1970s or 1980s levels, we could easily end up spending more on debt service than we spend today on big-ticket items like Medicare or national defense.
Monday, April 18, 2011
This [tax compliance] is a cost markup of 30 cents on every dollar paid in taxes. And this is not even a complete accounting of the costs of tax complexity.
David Keating of the National Taxpayers Union provides a useful perspective on how big the tax compliance industry is. According to his research, as of 2009 the income-tax industry employed "more workers than are employed at the five biggest employers among Fortune 500 companies—more than all the workers at Wal-Mart Stores, United Parcel Service, McDonald's, International Business Machines, and Citigroup combined." Without diminishing in any way the professionalism of tax attorneys, accountants and financial planners, all of these efforts produce nothing other than, well, tax compliance.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
All attempts to reduce bureaucracy increase it, and the same goes for cost. Such, at any rate, has been my experience of the British health care system—its famed, or infamous, National Health Service.
I guess what you said is tax "code", code for raising taxes. You managed to talk about a tax hike as a spending reduction. Can we afford that and the royalty checks you're going to have to send to George Orwell? That's the weirdest way of... just say "tax hike"! That's like saying, "I'm not going on a diet, I'm going to add calories to my excluded food intake!"
Friday, April 15, 2011
Two months ago, President Obama submitted a budget for fiscal 2012 that did not deal with the major sources of government spending while calling for much higher taxes on American businesses and families. This budget was widely panned as lacking seriousness.
Now comes a deficit speech that doesn’t even rise to the level of a plan. Missing was a credible way to curb out-of-control spending. Instead, the president called for greater reliance on government price controls, which would strictly limit the health-care options of current seniors while failing to control costs. The president would couple this approach with $1 trillion in tax increases, which would destroy jobs and hurt the economy.
We cannot accept an approach that starts from the premise that ever-higher levels of spending and taxes represent America’s new normal.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
http://polipundit.com/?p=30146 > Hey, at least he’s not calling them “kinetic spending action.”
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The "old enough to fight, old enough to drink" argument has force. In fact, 18-year-olds in America are old enough to do pretty much everything except drink. Along with joining the military, 18-year-olds can vote, marry, sign contracts, and even take on a crippling lifetime burden of student loan debt in pursuit of an education that may never land them a job. Yet we face the absurd phenomenon of colleges encouraging students to go into six-figure debt—which can't be discharged in bankruptcy—but forbidding them to drink on campus because they're deemed insufficiently mature to appreciate the risks.
To be fair, over 130 college presidents, as part of something called the Amethyst Initiative, have called for an end to the drinking age of 21.
Monday, April 11, 2011
SO OBAMA’S PEOPLE ARE TALKING TAX INCREASES AGAIN. Here’s my proposal: A 50% surtax on anything earned within five years after leaving the federal government, above whatever the federal salary was. Leave a $150K job at the White House, take a $1M job with Goldman, Sachs, pay a $425K surtax. Some House Republican should add this to a bill and watch the Dems react.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
>> Paul Ryan’s plan would “end Medicare as we know it.”
>> The Democrats’ “plan” — business as usual — will end America as we know it.
Friday, April 08, 2011
“This is why I don’t want elites setting the rules, because when you look at your elites, they’re not the kind of wise men that they pass themselves off as,” Steyn said. “They’re boobs, which is what Lindsey Graham is. I’m embarrassed by him.”
Thursday, April 07, 2011
“I discovered that the data that was sent to me from the city of Brookfield was not transferred to the final report that was given to the media on Tuesday night,” Nickolaus said. Heavily red Brookfield, she said, had cast 10,859 for Prosser and 3,456 for Kloppenberg, netting the incumbent over 7,000 votes and a lead that could put him beyond the legal trigger for a mandatory recount.
More important, Ryan's budget, like his 2010 "Road Map For America's Future" (from which much in the budget is inspired), is a serious attempt to think through the implications of the past decade's wild spending spree, in which federal outlays increased by more than 60 percent in real terms and debt held by the public exploded from 36 percent of GDP in 2007 to its current 62 percent level. Ryan should be commended for refusing to be passive in the face of spending trends that threaten to swamp the nation's economy. Shockingly, the "new normal" for the 21st century has been massive expansions in government spending and reach, first under Bush and now under Obama.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
The president's recent budget proposal would accelerate America's descent into a debt crisis. It doubles debt held by the public by the end of his first term and triples it by 2021. It imposes $1.5 trillion in new taxes, with spending that never falls below 23% of the economy. His budget permanently enlarges the size of government. It offers no reforms to save government health and retirement programs, and no leadership.
Our budget, which we call The Path to Prosperity, is very different. For starters, it cuts $6.2 trillion in spending from the president's budget over the next 10 years, reduces the debt as a percentage of the economy, and puts the nation on a path to actually pay off our national debt. Our proposal brings federal spending to below 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), consistent with the postwar average, and reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion.
Monday, April 04, 2011
The reason we’re losing this thing is because of a lack of cultural confidence, of which the fetal cringe of this worthless husk out-parodies anything Coward could have concocted. When I’m speaking on this subject, I often get asked to reprise the words I quote in my book, from Gen. Sir Charles Napier in India explaining to the locals his position on suttee — the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Napier was impeccably multicultural:
You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows.You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Mr. Obama ought to tell the whole story about Brazil, instead of just half of it. He touts the measures Brazil took to improve its energy independence, such as flex-fuel vehicles and biofuels. And yes, Brazil has gone from importing 77% of its oil from foreign sources in 1980 to importing no oil by 2009. A great success story in conservation and alternative energy? Not really. Total Brazilian oil consumption still more than doubled.
The biggest factor is that Brazil increased its domestic oil production over the last two decades by 876% (not a typo). Most of that production has come from offshore exploration.
Brazilians achieved independence from foreign oil the old-fashioned way—they drilled.
Friday, April 01, 2011
We should watch for some very strange things in Libya in the days ahead: (a) Euros bet on the wrong rebel horse, and if Qaddafi survives, he will surely “renegotiate” his massive oil exports to Europe, or perhaps prefer to deal with the Chinese. So Britain, Italy, and France will become increasing panicky and want us to ratchet things up. (b) Expect to hear less and less about the UN and the Arab League as Obama, to win, needs more and more to ignore their restrictions on using American ground troops and direct bombing of Libya’s assets. (c) Expect the Left to get increasingly antsy as it weighs the viability of Obama’s progressive domestic agenda versus their own humiliation at having to keep still and support a preemptive bombing campaign against a Muslim, Arab, oil-exporting nation, without congressional approval, that was not a national-security threat to the U.S.