Category Archives: Economics

Animal’s Daily Ethanol News

First things first:  Thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Also:  Check out the latest of my Profiles in Toxic Masculinity over at Glibertarians!  This week’s example is Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, an honest to gosh American hero whose hand I was once honored to shake.

Moving on:  The Trump Administration has promised to expand the ethanol mandate.  It’s a stupid idea, and should be ended, not expanded.  Excerpt:

Already guaranteed a share of the energy market through the Renewable Fuel Standard, a regulation which mandates that fuel used for transportation contains a certain amount of renewable sources like ethanol, Big Corn is reaching out for even more.

This is a problem, as the ethanol mandate has never come cheap. Indeed, it’s hugely expensive, both economically and environmentally. University of California-Davis researchers determined that the mandate has raised corn and soybean prices 30% and 20%, respectively. Higher prices for food and feedstock are bad news for consumers and farmers raising chickens, cattle, turkeys, and other livestock.

The mandate has also produced undesirable environmental side-effects. The National Wildlife Foundation found that it resulted in the “conversion of 1.6 million acres of grassland, shrubland, wetland, and forestland into cropland between 2008 and 2016.”

Complying with the mandate is hugely expensive for American refiners as well. Naturally, those costs are passed on to consumers — sometimes costing them more than $1 billion a year. The Energy Policy Research Foundation and others estimate it has driven up gasoline prices 6 to 9 cents per gallon.

The article is well worth the read, and it’s a great illustration of why the Imperial government (or, for that matter, any other level of government) shouldn’t mess with markets.  Left alone, markets aren’t perfect – nothing is – but left alone, markets generally get things right in the long run.  And, besides, ethanol isn’t for fuel – it’s for drinking!

Not sure if she’s in favor of the ethanol mandate or not.

But the article, well-argued as it is, misses the biggest point.  I leave it to you, True Believers, to discover one thing for yourselves; examine this document, supposedly the law of the land above and beyond all others, and show me where the Imperial government has been granted the power to do this kind of meddling.  Go ahead; I’ll wait right here.

Back?  OK, good.  Didn’t find anything, did you?  Neither did I.  Probably because it isn’t in there.

I’d claim to be surprised, but you and I all know that isn’t true.  The Imperial Congress and most of our Presidents have been wiping their asses with the Constitution since about 1860, and that trend has just been getting worse.  This policy is no exception.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links, and to our pals over at The Daley Gator for the linkback!

If this doesn’t piss you off, I don’t know what will; Americans spend more on taxes than on health care, food and clothing.  Combined.  Excerpt:

Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2018 than they did on the basic necessities of food, clothing and health care combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

The survey’s recently published Table R-1 for 2018 lists the average “detailed expenditures” of what the BLS calls “consumer units.”

“Consumer units,” says BLS, “include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons living together who share major expenses.”

In 2018, according to Table R-1, American consumer units spent an average of $9,031.93 on federal income taxes; $5,023.73 on Social Security taxes (which the table calls “deductions”); $2,284.62 on state and local income taxes; $2,199.80 on property taxes; and $77.85 on what BLS calls “other taxes.”

The combined payments the average American consumer unit made for these five categories of taxes was $18,617.93.

At the same time the average American consumer unit was paying these taxes, it was spending $7,923.19 on food; $4,968.44 on health care; and $1,866.48 on “apparel and services.”

These combined expenditures equaled $14,758.11.

So, the $14,758.11 that the average American consumer unit paid for food, clothing and health care was $3,859.82 less than the $18,617.93 it paid in federal, state and local income taxes, property taxes, Social Security taxes and “other taxes.”

And here’s the kicker; you can choose what clothing and food to buy, and even in our increasingly-controlled health care market you still have some leeway as to what coverage you want to pay for.  But taxes?  No.  That is money that is taken from you by force; if you don’t pay up, the government will send men with guns out to compel you to pay.

That’s because businesses can only persuade you to conduct a transaction.  Government can force you, and they damn well will.

And the genesis of this?  As I noted recently, until early in the 20th century the Imperial government only consumed about 3% of GDP.  Now that figure is about 20%, and it’s still going up.  We have passed 22 trillion in debt, counting unfunded liabilities, and that is almost certainly past the point of no return.  But the government continues to confiscate our resources and, increasingly, to interfere with our affairs.  The tax code is so complex that an entire industry has sprung up to help the citizens navigate the torturous and twisted paths of taxation.

I’d like to think that, eventually, some semblance of fiscal sanity will return to the Imperial City, but honestly, I’ve given up hope.  That ratchet only goes one way, True Believers, and that way ain’t in our favor.

Rule Five Climate Hypocrite Friday

Why is it that, so often, the more celebrities hector us about “climate change” and reducing our carbon footprints, the bigger hypocrites they are about it?  Forget Leonardo DiCaprio, forget Al Gore.  The UK’s Prince Harry may well be one of the worst.  Excerpts from the story, with my comments:

The Duke of Sussex is in Botswana helping to create a new forest habitat after decades of deforestation because of locals gathering firewood and through elephant activity.

He flew there, of course, on a commercial jet, in economy class – right?  Right?  Don’t be ridiculous.  He used one of the Royal Family’s private jets.

Wonder what the carbon footprint of that trip amounted to?

Speaking on the banks of the Chobe River, he referred to the speech by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, at the UN general assembly in which he warned that the world had seen unprecedented temperatures.

Meanwhile his wife was on a royal tour of Africa, accompanied by infant son Archie, a team of 13 assistants, and her personal hairdresser.

Did you get that?  Her personal furshlugginer hairdresser.  Hubris, thy name is Meghan Markle.

Wonder what the carbon footprint of that trip amounted to?

“This week, led by Greta, the world’s children are striking. There’s an emergency. It’s a race against time and one which we are losing. Everyone know it. There’s no excuse for not knowing that,” he said.

First:  These children don’t have any ideas, other than getting out of school for a day.

Second:  Harry apparently doesn’t really believe it’s an emergency, given his jet-setting around the globe; the Daily Mail documents four private jet flights in less than two weeks.

Wonder what the carbon footprint of those trips amounted to?

“And the most troubling part of that is I don’t believe there is anybody in this world who can deny science, undeniable science and facts.

Nor can we deny your hypocrisy, Harry; not given your wife’s jetting off to New York to take in a tennis tournament.  If there is really a climate crisis, maybe she should have just stayed in one of the Royal Family’s energy-guzzling palaces and watched it on the telly?

Wonder what the carbon footprint of that trip amounted to?

“Science and facts that have been around for the last 30, maybe 40 years, and it’s only getting stronger and stronger.

Let’s talk again about those royal palaces, Harry.  How big is the Royal carbon footprint again?  Maybe, if you really want to practice what you preach, you could move into a small flat somewhere in Sussex?  You know, that place you’re supposedly Duke of?

I suppose it’s too hard to maintain that royal lifestyle from a second-floor walk-up in Chichester.

“I don’t understand how anyone in this world, whoever we are – you, us, children, leaders, whoever it is – no one can deny science, otherwise we live in a very, very troubling world.”

Then look in a damn mirror, you pampered, entitled fuckstick.  You claim “royal” status, based on nothing more than whose vagina you slipped out of; you lecture the common people of the UK and the US on their carbon emissions while ignoring the greater culprits, one of which, India, used to be part of the British Empire; you wag your finger at regular folks going about their lives while your wife hauls her retinue of servants around the world on the Royal private jets.

This, True Believers, is the problem with “royalty.”  They presume to lecture the rest of us from royal palaces, from private jets, from stretch limos, while showing no compunctions about advertising their own consumption.  They just presume that the policies they advocate for won’t apply to them, and Harry may well be the worst of the lot.

What a hypocritical royal asshole.  I”m so glad some of my ancestors took up muskets and fought a revolution so my country doesn’t have to deal with these “royal” horse’s asses.  And that’s good – we certainly have hypocritical assholes enough of our own.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

On to the links!

Denver’s proposed minimum-wage law will hurt the people it’s supposed to help.  No shit, Sherlock; just like every minimum-wage law ever instituted, anytime, anywhere.

Colorado’s own Mike Rosen on the Swedish doomcryer Pippi Longshpieling.

In 2001, I had the distinct honor of spending two hours in the studio of Denver’s 850 KOA on the Mike Rosen show, discussing my recently-released work Misplaced Compassion.  Mike is a brilliant guy.

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson weighs in again on the possible impeachment proceedings.  If you read one thing today, read this.  Here’s the money line:

Why Impeachment Now?

The Democrats have exhausted every other mechanism for destroying Trump—and they are running out of time before November 2020 election.

What would happen if the Earth’s magnetic field suddenly disappeared?  Nothing good.

Los Angeles-area political leaders are seeking an emergency declaration over homelessness.  Maybe the recent leprosy outbreak has something to do with that?

Global Warming.

More Global Warming.

Things in Hong Kong may soon go from bad to worse.

To the Moon, Alice!  To the Moon!

Debbie Harry, back in the day.

Remember Debbie Harry?  Boy, I do.  She has a new memoir out about her days in rock & roll.  Apparently (I haven’t read it and probably won’t) it’s about what you’d expect:  Sex, drugs and rock & roll.

Whenever I think of Debbie Harry, though, I remember the summer of 1980, when I was working in the Woolco store in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and the Blondie tune Rapture was playing on the store’s PA system several times a day.

Turns out Canadian Antifa are just as much a bunch of shitheads as American Antifa.

These college students are idiots.

John Brennan is an idiot.

These Yale students are idiots.

On that note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Nutty Bolshevik News

First things first:  Be sure to check out the latest in my Profiles in Toxic Masculinity series over at Glibertarians!

The daffy old Bolshevik from Vermont is going nowhere fast in the Democrat’s primary race.  Excerpts, with my comments:

With just four months until the first-in-the-nation caucuses, Sanders is in trouble. As he delivered his populist gospel to large crowds of camouflage-clad high schoolers, liberal arts college students, and trade union members across Iowa last week, a problematic narrative was hardening around him: His campaign is in disarray and Elizabeth Warren has eclipsed him as the progressive standard-bearer of the primary. He’s sunk to third place nationally, behind Warren and Joe Biden, and some polls of early nomination states show him barely clinging to double digits. He’s shaken up his staffs in Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s lost the endorsement of the Working Families Party, a left-wing group that backed him in 2016, to Warren.

Of course he has sunk to third place nationally, even though daffy old Groper Joe Biden may soon fall even farther and harder.  It won’t help Bernie, though.  A big part of what may be sinking Bernie, oddly enough, is his unusual candor for a loony old leftie:  He has been saying that folks are going to be paying more taxes to pay for his leftist nutballery.  A lot more.  That doesn’t play well in Paducah, folks.

Sanders is in a locker room in Decorah wearing a suit he bought at Kohl’s, surrounded by three of his aides. The county where Decorah is voted 60-38 for Obama in 2008 and 46.4-45.6 for Trump eight years later. He asks a staffer about his jam-packed schedule. “We’ll be good,” the aide assures Sanders. “We’ll be good.” Sanders sits on a bench and crouches over with his hands on his knees.

The county here in question is Winneshiek county.  I grew up in neighboring Allamakee County.  It’s important to note the venue here:

About an hour earlier, Sanders entered a gym at Luther College to shouts of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” He delivered his rip-roaring stump speech to about 500 people inside and 150 more streaming outdoors, in a city with a population of only 7,850. But there was a slight twist: He gave a brief preview of how he would campaign against Trump.

Luther is a private college, a rather expensive one, and back in the day was a haven for uninformed idealists.  The crowd Bernie played to at Luther is in no way representative of northeast Iowa’s population, which consists mostly of tradesmen and farmers.  Winneshiek and Allamakee County have no major industrial centers; Decorah, where Luther College is located, is a town of about 8,000 people.  Waukon, the county seat of Allamakee County, is about half that size.  Bernie is going for a population he’s not likely to win.

I know these counties.  I know the people who live there.  Bernie’s not going anywhere with this crowd.

But here’s the real giggle line:

Another thing that Sanders doesn’t often do is talk in depth about his working-class background.

Because he doesn’t have one.

Sanders has never held an honest job in his life.  He failed as a carpenter.  He has a gift for polemics, which has enabled him to have a political career despite his overwhelming economic illiteracy.  He even honeymooned with actual Communists in the Soviet Union, where he may well have been better off staying put rather than attempting to import his Bolshevism to the United States.

Thankfully, admiring crowds at Luther College aside, Bernie’s never going to be President, and that’s a good thing.

 

 

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

On to the links!

Where Do Black Holes Lead?  Probably to the brain of a Congressman.

Venus may have been life-bearing, or at least capable of supporting life, for billions of years.  Now, of course, Venus is uninhabitable due to a runaway greenhouse effect making the place a pressure-cooker.  Venusian cattle farting are to blame, no doubt.

Women these days have trouble giving birth, due to the large skulls of their babies.  It was not always thus.  But it turns out it wasn’t a steady transition.  Interesting.

It turns out predicted dooms-days generally don’t happen.  Who knew?

Meanwhile, environmentally-friendly windmills kill almost three million birds a year.  But Gaia, or something!

Speaking of birds:

Duck!

Duck!

Goose!

Alexandria “Crazy Eyes” Occasional Cortex opened her mouth and, predictably, something stupid came out.  Our pals at Pirate’s Cove have the details.

Candace Owens is a national treasure.

On the other end of the spectrum:

This Colorado Springs woman is an idiot.

Radiohead’s Thome Yorke is an idiot.

San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton is an idiot.

File this under “belaboring the obvious”:  Behavior Matters.  In other words:  Poor people will generally remain poor because they keep doing the things that make them poor.  Rich people will generally stay rich because they keep doing the things that made them rich.

RHEEEEEEEEE

Russian Navy vessel sunk in the Arctic – by a walrus.  Yes, really.  OK, it was only a rubber boat.  But still.

On that unlikely note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Rule Five Relative Poverty Friday

I’ve stated for many years that there is no abject poverty in the United States, only relative poverty.  Turns out that when you compare the U.S. to the rest of the world, we don’t even have that.  Excerpts, with my thoughts:

A groundbreaking study by Just Facts has discovered that after accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and Food Stamps—the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries. This includes the majority of countries in the prestigious Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including its European members. In other words, if the U.S. “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest.

It’s important to note that most assessments of “poverty” in the United States do not include government benefits such as those listed above.

Notably, this study was reviewed by Dr. Henrique Schneider, professor of economics at Nordakademie University in Germany and the chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. After examining the source data and Just Facts’ methodology, he concluded: “This study is sound and conforms with academic standards. I personally think it provides valuable insight into poverty measures and adds considerably to this field of research.”

It’s also important to note that the Swiss know a thing or two about economics.

To accurately compare living standards across or within nations, it is necessary to account for all major aspects of material welfare. None of the data above does this.

The OECD data is particularly flawed because it is based on “income,” which excludes a host of non-cash government benefits and private charity that are abundant in the United States. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • healthcare provided by Medicaid, free clinics, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
  • nourishment provided by Food Stamps, school lunches, school breakfasts, soup kitchens, food pantries, and the Women’s, Infants’ & Children’s program.
  • housing and amenities provided through rent subsidies, utility assistance, and homeless shelters.

In other words, the standard calculation of “poverty” dismisses and ignores major sources of income for the “poor” in the U.S., those being taxpayer-funded transfer payments in one form or another.

This is, of course, horseshit.  You can hardly read the comments section of any article on the subject of poverty without reading anecdotes of people on food stamps (at least, back when those were easily recognized) buying a cartload of expensive prime cuts of beef, then going outside and loading them into a new car.  I’ve seen it myself; almost thirty years ago, when food stamps were still the big USDA coupons, I took a cow elk into a butcher’s shop for processing and was in line for the cash register behind a woman who was buying a huge box of prime steaks – with food stamps.

I was sufficiently aggravated that I didn’t bother to see what kind of car she was driving.

Read the whole article, of course, but the upshot of all this is pretty simple to determine:  Anyone living in the United States has it fucking made compared to pretty much anywhere else on the planet, even if you are “poor” as such things are reckoned here today.  We have the richest poor people in human history, and it would be nice if for once the legacy media would stop lying about it.

Animal’s Daily Capitalism News

Before we start – make sure to head on over to Glibertarians for my usual Monday contribution, this one on bulls.

This isn’t exactly new, in fact it’s from 2002, but it’s still well worth the read; this is Dr. Balint Vazsonyi on The Price of Capitalism.  Excerpt:

It bothers me because capitalism – the word and the concept – was the brainchild of Karl Marx. As well as offering an “-ism” opposite his own -ism, it describes a rigid class society in which one class possesses the means of production, the other nothing except its labor. The latter class is called “The Proletariat” who, as Lenin declared, can lose nothing but its chains when it rises against the oppressor.

This is not the place to argue whether capitalism was the appropriate way to describe certain European societies. The point is that owning things has always been open to Americans. The moment you buy one share of stock, you part-own “means of production,” not to mention owning your home and arriving at your place of work in your own automobile – a very American image.

America never had a proletariat.

In that case, America could not have been a capitalist country.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has redefined capitalism after Marx, and it is inappropriate to use a word whose meaning is different from what the speaker has in mind.

Perhaps what we have in America is best described as a free-enterprise system.

Exactly so – Dr. Vazsonyi mirrors (more eloquently) what I’ve been saying here for years, and that is that there simply is no “-ism” in what we call capitalism.  There is no underlying ideology; there is no dogma.  There are only free people making free choices about how to manage their own resources, skills, talents and abilities.  There are only free transactions freely agreed to by all parties, in which every participant realizes a perceived gain in value.

Notice the key word there?  “Free.”  It’s a pretty damned powerful word.

The best economic system is the freest economic system, one can be described as a free-enterprise system, or more succinctly, simply as liberty.

Dr. Vazsonyi concludes:

What we benignly call “politically correct” is never without political purpose. Those who invented “native American” to replace “Indian” sought a term that would, at least by implication, diminish the legitimacy of everyone else who came here later.

Similarly, “capitalism,” having been used for a century-and-a-half to denounce those who practice it, has all the connotations of greed and exploitation, and none of the uniquely American, fabulously successful, and gloriously liberating ring of “free enterprise.”

There is literally nothing I can add to that.  Go read the whole thing.  Send it to your friends.  Send it to your kids.  (Maybe especially to your kids.)

Animal’s Daily Black Marketeer News

The city of Boulder, long known to Colorado residents as “The People’s Republik of Boulder” and “Twelve Square Miles Surrounded by Reality,” is cracking down on tobacco use and, in so doing, creating a lucrative opportunity for smugglers.  Excerpt:

Rich Marianos, a retired assistant director with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms warned those decisions come with consequences. He said, without proper resources, Boulder could face a new black market.

“What has time told us,” Marianos said. “When we put in a prohibition, we create crime, just like when we tried to instill the Volstead Act into illegal alcohol in the 20s and 30s.”

Last week, Boulder City Council finalized a plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes as well as raise the age to buy tobacco and nicotine products to 21. They also agreed to let voters approve of a 40% sales tax on the remaining legal vaping products.

Marianos warned the combination of these proposals would create a black market.

“An example could be they were going to Colorado Springs where the taxes may be lower and then bringing them to Boulder and sell them at a higher rate,” Marianos said.

He called cigarette trafficking “the new face of organized crime.” He also said terrorist organizations use it to fund their illegal operations and moves like these would require law enforcement to do more with less.

But it’s for the children!

Every time you ban an item or a commodity, you create a black market.  You create a lucrative opportunity for criminals, and you make criminals out of normal citizens who buy products from the black marketeers.  That was the lesson of Prohibition in the United States, but that was a lesson that the city of Boulder (and New York, and San Francisco, and many other locales) clearly hasn’t learned.

Not even Soviet Bear could stop it.

The Soviet Union couldn’t even stop this, not even given the near-total control they had over the people.  There was a burgeoning black market in the Soviet Union, with everything from onions to automobiles sold “Nalevo” or “on the left.”  Boulder won’t have any more luck, and arguably even less, since you can go right up the road to Lyons, or Greeley, or (as the article notes) down to the Springs and buy anything you want.

Still.  It’s not the first stupid idea the Boulder City Council ever had, and it sure won’t be the last.

Rule Five Organ Donor Friday

Ever wondered about ways to solve the shortage of donor organs for folks needing transplants?  Well, John Stossel may have an idea on how to help, at least in some cases.  Excerpt:

I just clicked the box on the government form that asks if, once I die, I’m willing to donate my organs to someone who needs them.

Why not? Lots of people need kidneys, livers, etc. When I’m dead, I sure won’t need mine.

Still, there are not enough donors. So, more than 100,000 Americans are on a waiting list for kidneys. Taking care of them is so expensive, it consumes almost 3% of the federal budget!

So why not allow Americans to sell an organ?

People already legally sell blood, plasma, sperm, eggs and bone marrow. Why not a kidney? People have two. We can live a full life with just one.

If the U.S. allowed people to sell, the waiting list for kidneys would soon disappear.

“Poor people are going to be hurt,” replies philosophy professor Samuel Kerstein in my latest video. Kerstein advised the World Health Organization, which supports the near universal laws that ban selling organs.

“Body parts to be put into Americans will come from poor countries,” warns Kerstein. “I don’t want to see poor people in Pakistan having their lives truncated.”

What arrogance.

People have free will. Poor people are just as capable of deciding what’s best for them as rich people. Who are you, I asked Kerstein, to tell people they may not?

“We are people who care about people who are different from us,” he replied, “and poorer than we are. That’s why we care.”

These are “vacuous moralisms,” replies Lloyd Cohen, an attorney who’s long argued against the ban on organ-selling.

Vacuous is exactly the right term.

The fact is, you can sell an organ right now.  Let’s say you’re approached by someone who desperately needs a kidney – somehow they have become aware that you are a compatible donor.  Let’s say that this is a fabulously rich man or woman, and they make you a quiet offer – “…just between us, you understand.  I’ll put $1.5 million in an escrow account in your name, to be released to you after completion of the surgery.”

That’s technically against the law.  But who is going to report this crime?  The person whose life was saved, or the person who is now a mill and a half richer?

There’s no reason this should be illegal.  It’s a financial transaction between capable, consenting adults, both of whom have agreed to the terms of the transaction.

“But Animal,” you might ask, “won’t this sort of thing promote organ trafficking?”

“Organ trafficking happens now,” I’d reply, “and legalizing the process should actually reduce that by providing a supply of kidneys at less (or at least comparable) cost, with much less risk.”

Stossel has this one right.  It’s not the role of government to interfere in a private business arrangement between competent, consenting adults.