Category Archives: Economics

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

This piece on 5 Major Paradigm Shifts The Wuhan Flu Crisis Has Revealed Americans Need came out late last week, but I didn’t have time to digest it until the weekend.  Here are the two things I found most interesting, with my comments:

When the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic arose and began spreading, for weeks the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sought to cover it up, with deadly consequences for the world. When communist China was blamed, it not only refused to take responsibility, but slandered America for pointing the finger, to the point of calling the United States culpable as part of a disinformation campaign.

The CCP even threatened, via a state-backed publication, to cut off essential medical supplies should Americans continue speaking openly and honestly about the CCP’s role in creating the crisis. Then the CCP cynically tried to act as a savior for the crisis it created.

Every day this pandemic persists, and long after it is neutralized, we must remember the CCP bears by far the greatest responsibility of any party for this pandemic. If the CCP is not made to pay in a meaningful sense for the global catastrophe it caused, it will continue to act with impunity in its quest for hegemony, guaranteed.

This pandemic should represent the most tangible sign yet for all of America that we must decouple from communist China in every strategically significant sector. We cannot put our survival in the hands of a hostile adversary.

President Trump’s 2016 campaign was focused in large part on bringing our manufacturing sector back home.  While I’m not a fan of government at any level mandating how businesses run, I do see plenty of talk now about how big companies are re-thinking their supply chains in light of what is happening right now.  And, frankly, that’s the smart thing to do.  Keeping the supply chains closer would lessen the impact of the recurrence of this kind of event.

Then there’s this:

While a society-wide shutdown certainly represents the most extreme kind of financial shock, nevertheless, the devastating impact of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic accentuates the problem of our largely debt-based economy in both the public and private spheres.

At the governmental level, the fact that we are likely to completely blow out budgets that were already so bloated as to ensure interest payments on the national debt would soon swamp all spending besides entitlements shows the extent of our profligacy and misplaced confidence we can debt-finance the U.S. government forever. There appears to be zero national will to deal with runaway spending and the runaway deficits and debt it creates.

But the reality is that in the next major crisis, we will be in an even worse financial position. What will happen if multitrillion-dollar relief bills are simply not tenable at that point?

What the hell?  What do you mean at that point?  It’s not tenable now!

The national debt is already past the point of no return.  The Kung Flu pandemic has lots of folks out of work and many more worried about money, and I can understand the pressure pols feel to do something.  But what they are doing is throwing money at the problem, and the only thing that is staving off inflation is the Fed keeping interest rates at near zero, which discourages saving and drives people into equity markets, which looks good on paper but is likewise inflated beyond any actual worth…

A big part of our national economy is a house of cards.  We still have companies that make things, and we still have a fairly decent business environment; but if that house of cards collapses, it’s going to bring plenty of otherwise-sound enterprises with it.

If that happens, forget viral pandemics.  We’ll have bigger problems.

Animal’s Daily Fricking Fracking News

Fracking is an unalloyed good thing, so it’s not surprising both of the daffy old men running for President on the Democrat ticket want to do away with it.  Excerpt:

Fracking is seen as a critical issue to many Democratic voters in the presidential campaign. Bernie Sanders opposes any fracking. Joe Biden, on the other hand, said he would not support a nationwide ban on fracking, but would ban gas drilling on federal lands. 

Actually, most fracking is done on private and state lands, not federal lands, and thus would be difficult to stop. Today, thanks to such drilling in shale deposits spanning from Pennsylvania, to Ohio and Texas, natural gas dominates electricity production in the U.S. What’s more, the rise of gas in energy production is the reason why the U.S. is reducing carbon emissions faster than any other country.

So, why do so many want to ban the use of fracking? The short answer is that fracking opponents believe that electric power should only be produced without carbon or other emissions. We can discuss some ways to minimize such emissions.

Let’s start with coal, which for many years produced about 50 percent of the electrical power for America. But with the start of fracking about 20 years ago, the use of coal has steadily moved down to about 25 percent of America’s electricity use.

Huge amounts of carbon emissions are reduced in the U.S. simply by switching from coal to gas plants. Since 2010, hundreds of coal plants have closed, and others are expected to be retired in upcoming years.

Don’t read the comments, by the way.  The commenters on The Hill frequently seem to be competing to be the first to reach Tard Factor Eight.  It’s maddening and serves no good purpose.

It’s utterly baffling why Groper Joe and the daffy old Bolshevik would be taking this stance against fracking.  That places them firmly against cheap energy, warm homes in winter and cool homes in summer, jobs, lowering carbon emissions, and economic growth.

Why not just run against hot dogs and apple pie while you’re at it?

But, by all means, the Trump campaign should be encouraging this.  Running against the very industry responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan should be a sure-fire way to carry those states this November, right?

Right?

Now that I think on it, The Hill’s comment population isn’t the only group attempting Tard Factor Eight.  The Democrat Party seems to be reaching for the same goal.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Last Friday, as usual, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. went off to the local grocery store nearest our temporary New Jersey digs to do our normal weekly trading.  As discussed in yesterday’s post, there was, of course, an epic amount of panicky pants-shitting on display.  People were loading up entire shopping carts full of bottled water, apparently not realizing that it’s a virus, not a hurricane, and viruses almost never shut the water systems or electricity off.  Paper products were not to be had.  Frozen and other prepared foods were taking a beating.  What utter stupidity.

With that said…

On To the Links!

Just call him Czar Vladimir I.  Somewhere, Joe Stalin is smiling in admiration.

How do they plan to ban fossil fuels?  Short answer:  They can’t.  Not without some yet-to-be-discovered hypothetical dramatic new technology.  More on this tomorrow.

The Weld County (CO) Sheriff may be challenging Colorado’s rather idiotic red flag law.  This should be interesting.

Three Colorado counties have announced “You know what, fuck the First Amendment!”  Look, avoiding large gatherings, cancelling get-togethers, this is absolutely the prudent thing to do.  But no level of government can mandate that we do so.   Why?  This is why:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Immunizations.

And also this.  The proper response to government overreach like this is, of course, “fuck off, slavers!”

Meanwhile, the reaction to this virus has things shutting down all over.  Reducing interactions is how you beat this thing.

This guy may be the most rational and measured person at any level of government right now.  I’m not sure what that says about everyone else in the Imperial City.

Last Sunday evening saw an epic bout between a daffy old Commie and a senile old man.  It was the Special Olympics of political debates.

I… didn’t understand much of this.  Then again my science background is in biology, not physics.  Ask me to explain allopatric speciation, ring species or r-selected and K-selected reproductive strategies and I’m your guy.  Quarks and dark matter?  Not so much.

Well, this doesn’t sound ominous or anything.

Don’t panic.

This Week’s Idiots:

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) is an idiot.  Twice over, in fact.  Honestly, who keeps sending these lackwits back to Congress?

Bill De Blasio is an idiot.

Champaign, Illinois Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen is an idiot who needs to read the Bill of Rights, to learn how big an idiot she is.

The New York Times’ Charles Blow is (again) an idiot.

And So:

I expect the next few weeks will give us plenty of opportunities for facepalming and bemoaning the stupidity of some of our fellow citizens.  Over the last week or so I’ve been disturbing my own dear Mrs. Animal by facepalming so repeatedly that it is sounding like a round of applause at the Royal Albert Hall.

But that’s OK.  Here’s some bonus totty from the archives to cheer us all up:

And so, we return you to your (probably isolated) Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily TP News

Be sure to catch the latest in my Gold Standards series over at Glibertarians.  This week:  The .30-06!

The ongoing coronavirus freakout/pants-shitting has inexplicably encompassed water and toilet paper.  Excerpt:

OK, I can understand face masks and hand sanitisers walking off the shelves, as these are the crucial tools in containing the spread of the pandemic. Most face masks – as with so many other products in our shops – are made in China and in the current crisis conditions any new and additional supplies won’t make it out of the country, so whatever is already here is it. And it isn’t, as masks have been the first item to disappear from retail outlets from your local pharmacy to a Bunnings store.

I can also understand the non-perishable food supplies. Even though Australia could be quite self-sufficient if need be (minus the out of season imported fruit and veg), possibly people are stocking up not so much in fear the food will run out but out of reluctance to go out in the public in a few weeks’ time should the situation really turn into a zombie apocalypse. In any case, there is nothing wrong with having a well stocked pantry.

Where I start to no longer understand the consumers is bottled water. We are fortunate to live in a developed country where one can safely drink from a tap. There won’t be shortages of drinkable water under any circumstances – except for a complete societal collapse – and coronavirus is not a water-borne pathogen like those causing cholera or typhoid. If you are still paranoid, you can boil your water before ingesting (just make sure you cool it down).

Look, there are reasonable precautions, and there are unreasonable precautions, then there are ridiculous paranoias.  The hoarding of bottled water and toilet paper is somewhere between the latter two of these, leaning sharply towards “paranoia.”

This is a virus, not a hurricane or earthquake.  The power and water are going to stay on.  Stores will be restocked.  It’s just freaking idiotic to think that you won’t be able to get toilet paper a month from now.  A week from now may be problematic – but only because of precisely this kind of paranoid stupidity from the idiots who are stocking up with entire cartloads of bottled water and toilet paper.

The linked article includes this gem:

Water.

Personally, of course, what I find the most ironic about the current situation are the memories it brings back of growing up in communist Poland, when in the early to mid-1980s you really had to queue up for toilet paper (or “srajtasma” as it was colloquially known – a shit tape), mostly unsuccessfully, because of the endemic shortages, unless you “knew people”, which my father fortunately did and so we never lacked in the basic sandpaper-grade, deep grey-shaded, uneven shaped rolls that in truth looked like slightly wider (and depressing) versions of party streamers. The fact that the socialist government couldn’t even provide the workers in their paradise with something as basic as toilet paper has since then become both a historical joke as well as a serious emblem of the failings of planned economy where, as the saying goes, everything is planned except for the economy, as this nostalgia-inducing archival news story from 1984 (!) reports:

For once President Reagan was not blamed by communist authorities for the latest woe facing Poles — an official shortage of toilet paper.

Poles have been promised an extra roll this year to meet demand.

Yes, socialists and communists always fuck up supply.  But we aren’t (yet) a socialist country.  Stocks will be replenished, and probably pretty quickly.  Relax, folks.  Have a drink (something that will calm you down; not necessarily water.)  Calm down.  This too shall pass.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Meanwhile, the pants-shitting over COVID-19 continues, all out of proportion; The New Criterion‘s Heather Mac Donald tells us why.  Excerpt:

The number of cases in most afflicted countries is paltry. As of today, 127 countries had reported some cases, but forty-eight of those countries had fewer than ten cases, according to Worldometer. At this point, more people have recovered from the virus than are still sick. But the damage to people’s livelihoods through the resulting economic contraction is real and widespread. Its health consequences will be more severe than those of the coronavirus, as Steve Malanga shows in City Journal. The people who can least afford to lose jobs will be the hardest hit by the assault on tourism. Small entrepreneurs, whether in manufacturing or the service sector, will struggle to stay afloat. Such unjustified, unpredicted economic havoc undermines government legitimacy.

President Trump has been criticized for not being apocalyptic enough in his press conferences. In fact, he should be even more skeptical of the panic than he has been. He should relentlessly put the coronavirus risk into context with opioid deaths, homicide deaths—about sixteen thousand a year in the United States—flu deaths, and traffic deaths. One might have thought New York governor Andrew Cuomo a voice of reason when, a few days ago, he tried to tamp down the hysteria in a press conference, saying: “This is not Ebola, this is not sars, this is not some science fiction movie come to life. The hysteria here is way out of line with the actuality and the facts.” And yet since then he called a state of emergency in New York, and he and Mayor Bill de Blasio have all but shut down the New York City economy. They, like most all U.S. politicians nowadays, have shown an overwhelming impulse to be irrationally risk-averse.

Rather than indiscriminately shutting down public events and travel, we should target prevention where it is most needed: in nursing homes and hospitals.

And now we see why toilet paper and bottle water have been flying off the shelves.

Critical Shortages.

There really has been very little discussion of the actual, comparative scope of the coronavirus issue.  For one thing, the very use of the term “coronavirus” seems new and scary to people not familiar with viruses; some 10-15% of the upper RI issues we call “the common cold” are caused by coronaviruses.  It is, after all, a type of virus, not a specific virus; the COVID-19 is just one member of that family.

The primary message from all levels of government should simply be “observe the same precautions you observe every cold and flu season.  This, too, shall pass.”

But no.  It’s all to panic time.

Animal’s Daily COVID-19 News

Be sure to check out the latest in my Allamakee County Chronicles over at Glibertarians!

The markets have been messing themselves over the coronavirus.  Here’s an interesting take on the implications.  Excerpt:

My first session was with Michael Milken, the noted financier and philanthropist. Milken was cautious for the short term, but generally optimistic. Computer power for gene sequencing and AI models to predict infection spread, he said, are vastly more capable than during the SARS scare of 2002-2003 and the H1N1 epidemic of 2009-2010, when 700 million to 1.4 billion people became infected worldwide and upwards of 500,000 died. Technology can identify and solve problems much faster today.

Milken cited the U.S. polio epidemic of 1952 and the HIV/AIDS panic of the late 1980s as times when fear gripped the population. “People were afraid to be in the same room with someone infected with HIV.”

Fear, of course, is hard to break. The polio fear persisted a few years after the Salk vaccine. Milken said it was popular figures like Elvis Presley, photographed during his Army vaccine, that broke the spell. What lifted the clouds for AIDS were new drug cocktails that eliminated the death sentence, along with thriving patients such as basketball star Magic Johnson.

Capitalism, reasonably regulated, Milken reminded us, has remarkable recuperative powers. The COVID-19 crisis has created the lowest mortgage rates in U.S. history. Oil and gas are priced almost at the lows of early 2009 [update: and now significantly lower.]  “The cost of living is going down. Purchasing power is going up.” Milken said, which will lead to a faster recovery of any recession caused by COVID-19.

There’s an old saying:  “Today’s problems are solved with tomorrow’s technology.”  While it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future, it’s likely that the coronavirus outbreak will be over sooner and with less loss of life than earlier, similar outbreaks.  Why?

Because of technology.  Technology developed in free-market conditions, technology that made a profit for its developers and oh, by the way, improved quality of life for millions into the process.

Yesterday the daffy old Bolshevik from Vermont was trumpeting that, should he be President, any coronavirus vaccine would be “free.”  Let’s set aside the ridiculous notion that anything can be “free” – TANSTAAFL applies – and imagine how swiftly private companies would develop a revolutionary new vaccine with only the promise that a socialist government would demand that said vaccine be handed over at cost to Imperial practitioners, to be administered with no direct cost save the massive tax increases The Bern has promised.

Left to themselves, markets usually get things right on their own – that includes meeting needs through innovation.  A vaccine for the COVID-19 would be no exception.

Rule Five Reboot Friday

Could we reboot Illinois?  RealClearPolitics’ Richard Porter thinks so.  Excerpt:

We need to reboot Illinois so that families and businesses that love this area and want to stay aren’t punished for doing so. Illinois can be restructured using a variation on the legal technique the federal government employed in its reorganization of GM — call it the “old state, new state” Illinois reorganization plan.

Recall some founding principles: 

1. The U.S. Constitution, our supreme law, provides that “the United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican Form of Government.” 

2. A republican form of government is, as Abraham Lincoln stated at Gettysburg, “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” When paying creditors becomes the government’s primary function, that’s government for creditors, not the people.  

3. In a republic, people, not their government, are sovereign; all people are created equal and are endowed with unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Independence states, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness….” 

4. Illinois was granted statehood in 1818 by residents living here with the concurrence of Congress.  The Constitution empowers Congress to admit new states to the union, and provides that new states may be formed out of existing states with the concurrence of the state’s legislature and Congress. 

5. The “state” of Illinois was created by residents and Congress, not God or science. Before 1818, it didn’t exist — and if it no longer works for the people living here today, we can replace it with the concurrence of Congress. 

6. Congress has the power to annul or impair contracts to which state governments are party. Bankruptcy courts impair contracts, and, just a few years ago, Congress passed legislation setting up a process for impairing Puerto Rico’s contracts to resolve its financial failure. Congress has the power to wind down the existing government of Illinois and to establish a process for adjusting or impairing the state’s contracts. 

What does this mean?  We can reboot Illinois.

It’s an interesting idea, and a possibility that shouldn’t be limited to Illinois, but should be considered in other states that are suffering from overwhelming debts and irresponsible state governments (California, anyone?)

Now, this is (like many good ideas) a long shot.  Either this would take an unprecedented action by Congress to essentially declare Illinois a state in rebellion against the republic’s founding principles – or the pols in the Illinois state government would have to vote themselves out of power.  Neither is likely, frankly, and to be fair, if that first happened, where would it stop?  One can easily see an eventual leftist-controlled Congress taking the same action against, say, Wyoming, for refusing to enact an Imperial gun-confiscation law.

But if one could reform a state like Illinois, I can think of a couple of things that might help steer the rogue state onto a more stable fiscal path:

  1. Abolish and outlaw public sector unions.
  2. No defined-benefit pensions for state employees; they get 401k plans like their private-sector counterparts.
  3. Place a balanced-budget requirement in the new state constitution.
  4. Strict term limits for state politicians, with no pension or benefits after leaving office.

There’s a lot more that could be done, but this would be a start.

Nothing of the like, of course, will happen.  At least, not until Illinois suffers its inevitable Stein’s Law collapse, after which, hopefully, the Illinois voters will finally, hopefully, take the keys away from the lunatics that are running that asylum.

Still, this is an interesting proposition.  It’s become painfully obvious that states like Illinois and California won’t fix their fiscal problems themselves.  Maybe a declaration of insolvency by the Imperial government should be the cudgel wielded to fix things?

Animal’s Daily Plastics News

Plastics have their uses.

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five linkery!

It seems plastics aren’t nearly as bad for the environment as some folks would have you believe; and it turns out that the United States is far from being a major offender as well.  Excerpt:

After painstakingly analyzing debris in the north central Pacific Ocean, where converging currents create the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a team of scientists from four continents reported in 2018 that more than half the plastic came from fishing boats—mostly discarded nets and other gear. These discards are also the greatest threat to marine animals, who die not from plastic bags but from getting entangled in the nets. Another study, published last year by Canadian and South African researchers, traced the origins of plastic bottles that had washed up on the shore of the aptly named Inaccessible Island, an uninhabited landmass in the middle of the southern Atlantic Ocean. More than 80 percent of the bottles came from China and must have been tossed off boats from Asia traversing the Atlantic.

Some plastic discarded on land does end up in the ocean, but very little of it comes from consumers in the United States or Europe. Most of the labels on the plastic packaging analyzed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch came from Asia, the greatest source of what researchers call “mismanaged waste.” Of the plastic carried into oceans by rivers, a 2017 study in Nature Communications estimated, 86 percent comes from Asia and virtually all the rest from Africa and South America. Developing countries don’t yet have good systems for collecting and processing waste, so some of it is simply dumped into or near rivers, and these countries’ primitive processing facilities let plastic leak into waterways.

It’s true that some plastic in America is littered on beaches and streets, and some of it winds up in sewer drains. But researchers have found that laws restricting plastic bags (which account for less than 2 percent of litter) and food containers do not reduce litter (a majority of which consists of cigarette butts and paper products). The resources wasted on these anti-plastic campaigns would be better spent on more programs to discourage littering and to pick up everything that’s discarded—a direct approach that has proved effective.

Note the sources – over 80% of ocean-borne plastic waste is from Asia (particularly China) and Africa.

The current trend of some of our (mostly Democrat-run) cities to engage in such petty virtue-signalling as banning plastic bags and straws us just plain silly, as the research done here proves; not that this will stop authoritarian nanny-state pols from pushing such policies, nor will it stop the ill-informed, emotionally-driven voters from agitating for such actions.

The core of this, it seems to me, has nothing to do with facts, or evidence, or thoughtful application of policy.  It has a lot to do with emotionally-driven activism, with an American-Bad philosophy, and with the weird strain of Luddism that seems to be infecting some of the political Left these days.

Animal’s Daily Smackdown News

Former President Obama went to Twitter the other day to claim credit for the current economic upswing that started almost the moment he left office – after eight years of blaming President Bush for the lousy recovery that lasted almost the entire eight years he was in office.

President Trump was not amused.  Excerpt:

President Trump didn’t mince words and accused Obama of “trying to take credit” for the Trump economy.

“Did you hear the latest con job? President Obama is now trying to take credit for the Economic Boom taking place under the Trump Administration,” Trump tweeted. “He had the WEAKEST recovery since the Great Depression, despite Zero Fed Rate & MASSIVE quantitative easing. NOW, best jobs numbers ever.”

“Had to rebuild our military, which was totally depleted. Fed Rate UP, taxes and regulations WAY DOWN,” Trump added.

Simply put, Trump is right. There have been eleven recessions since World War II, each of which was followed by a recovery. We did experience an economic recovery under Obama—it just happens it was the worst one. Here are the facts: All jobs lost in post-World War II recessions were recovered after an average of twenty-five months. But, it took seventy-seven months for employment to return to pre-recession levels, making Obama’s recovery the slowest recovery of all of them, and by a wide margin. Obama is also the only president in U.S. history to have never had a single year of 3.0 percent or greater GDP growth.

To be fair, it can’t be easy for President Obama to see his “legacy” being systematically dismantled by the successor that he still can’t quite believe beat out Her Imperial Majesty for that seat at the Resolute Desk.  And it can’t be easy to see the current crop of nitwits, harridans, buffoons and nincompoops that are angling for the 2020 Dem nomination.

But if there was ever a President whose accomplishments with phone and pen deserved to be dismantled, it’s Barack Obama.

And the fun part is, it appears plenty of Americans agree with President Trump:

If Obama thinks he can claim credit for the booming economy—and that it will work—he’s got another thing coming. A recent Gallup poll shows that most Americans credit President Trump for the economy.

As I’ve been saying, it’s going to be an interesting election cycle.  But then, aren’t they all, these days?

Rule Five Divestment Friday

Here’s a story from last week that should be repeated hundreds of times a week:  Stupid college student makes stupid demands, professor rams the stupid demands down the stupid student’s throat.  (Original story sadly hidden behind a paywall.)  Excerpt:

Professor Andrew Parker of St John’s College at Oxford University is my new favorite person. The Times of London reports that a group of students wrote to Professor Parker to discuss demands being made by student protesters about fossil fuel divestment. His response wasn’t what they were expecting:

Two students at St John’s College wrote to Andrew Parker, the principal bursar, this week requesting a meeting to discuss the protesters’ demands, which are that the college “declares a climate emergency and immediately divests from fossil fuels”. They say that the college, the richest in Oxford, has £8 million of its £551 million endowment fund invested in BP and Shell.

Professor Parker responded with a provocative offer. “I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice,” he wrote. “But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.”

One of the students wrote back and said he would present the proposal but he didn’t think Parker was being appropriately serious. Professor Parker responded to that note saying, “You are right that I am being provocative but I am provoking some clear thinking, I hope. It is all too easy to request others to do things that carry no personal cost to yourself. The question is whether you and others are prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals of environmental improvement (which I support as a goal).” The best part of the story is the response from the organizer of the protest:

Fergus Green, the organiser of the wider protest, who is studying for a master’s degree in physics and philosophy at Balliol College, said: “This is an inappropriate and flippant response by the bursar to what we were hoping would be a mature discussion. It’s January and it would be borderline dangerous to switch off the central heating.”

To the young Mr. Green (hah) I can only say this:

“You stupid, stupid boy.  This is not an inappropriate response; it is a perfectly appropriate response to your idiotic demand; flippant it is indeed, only because your childish, petulant whine deserves no more than that.

You have been shown up for what you are; a deluded, immature hypocrite.  Not only are you not willing to put your money where your mouth is – although I’m betting you are perfectly willing to put other people’s money where your mouth is – you are incapable past seeing past the end of your own nose.  Do you honestly think that heating and utilities are the only use to which petrochemicals are put?

Unless you are willing to continue being (rightly) viewed as a whiny little wanker, as they say on your side of the Atlantic, they you’d better be damn well prepared to give up more than your comfortably heated classroom.  You had damn well better give up your laptop and smartphone, too, as well as the electricity to power them.  That bus you rode to school today?  Forget it; get used to walking.  That bus is not only fueled by petrochemicals, the lion’s share of its construction, from tires to plastic body parts, are based on petrochemicals, as is the asphalt on the road it runs on.

The future you envision would include cold food (and damn little of it), cold houses, no university learning, no technology; it would be a cold, bleak existence of the sort most of humanity has known throughout the vast majority of human history.

Your professor was far more polite to you than you deserve.  Were you to have framed your ignorant, childish whine my way, my response to you would have been two-fold:

‘Demand in one hand, shit in the other, and see which hand fills up first,’ and ‘Fuck off, slaver!’

It’s sad to think the Brits are wasting a university “education” on this little wankstain.