Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why the global warming debate matters.

I understand it if your eyes glaze over whenever you hear the term "anthropogenic global warming."  Only geeks and scientists spend time delving into the nuances of solar cycles, CO2, ice cores and the like. But here's why you need to at least a little bit about what's going on.

First, you want to follow the money (hint - look hereand here for examples). But this is just the tip of the iceberg (it's not the melting kind). For example, George Soros wants to get the International Monetary Fund involved. Then, there's a queue of nationswhich want to shake out a few more billions.  But these funds pale in the face of carbon cap & trade schemes which have already fattened Al Gore's coffers.

Keep these in mind the next time someone tries to tell you that skeptics and deniers are "in the tank" for big oil. Big oil has invested a paltry few million for research but if you dig a little further I think you'll find that, like many big corporate entities, they sprinkle a little on both sides in order to have friends in high places no matter who prevails. They're not ideological, just fiscally prudent.

But wait, there's more! Money isn't the sole reason scientists would sell out. Most would be offended if they were even suspected of selling out so cheaply. But give them access to power and now you have a recipe for compliance. If the U.N. prevails in this debate then they get to become the high priest of the world and the scientists get to be bishops. I can't totally blame them for not recognizing the path they're on since they study science instead of humanity.  Many have even convinced themselves that a trace gas like CO2 is enough to force the climate to change which just makes them even more useful as pawns in the hands of the power brokers. 

The bottom line: The earth may or may not warm but it will do so in spite of, not because of mankind (cooling is more likely and far more deadly). But when a world government tries to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator, the suffering of the people is guaranteed, rain or shine, hot or cold. That's one thing that is "settled science" throughout history. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are you smarter than a 6th grader?

Are you smarter than a 6th grader?

Peter, a 6th grader, with the help of his dad, scientifically demonstrates a major problem with our current temperature data collection system. Worth noting: Peter follows scientific protocol in that he explains his sources, and how he arrives at conclusions. Perhaps the CRU can take some lessons from him.

All we need now is some information about which temp sites are being used in the warming alarmists calculations. For more info, visit WattsUpWithThat.

count: 7371

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Climate Simplified

Climate Simplified

We plumbers know that in order to solve a complex problem it needs to be broken down into more clearly delineated steps. Example: 
"I don't have hot water" will start a list of questions. . . is this problem every where or just in one faucet? When was the last time you had this problem? Electric, or gas? Circulator? Have you paid your utility bill. . . .you get the idea. Perhaps we can break down the human induced global warming conundrum into simpler, more digestible bites. 

  • World temperature is complicated. If we're going to get good answers we need good data, right? And the more questionable the data, the less confidence we have in the answer, right? So, the fact is, nobody really knows what the Earth's temperature is. The job of sorting out thousands of data sources, some less reliable than others is just as much of an art as it is a science. If you want to see some of the artist's work, check out HARRY_README.TXT file. Mind you, I'm not throwing rocks at the programmer of the temperature calculating program. I've done enough programming of my own to know what  nightmare it can be to try to match up data from many differing and evolving sources. My main point here is to observe that there is an error factor in the data that climatologists are using when they scream "the Earth is warming, the Earth is warming!" How big is the fudge factor?  I don't know. Pick a number 1or 2 degrees? 5 degrees? I think your guess is as good as theirs but after all the data manipulations they're claiming a fudge factor of about 0.18 degree.  (I'm really trying to keep a straight face here. Don't make me giggle!)
  • Just how big is the so called 'warming trend?'  Using this mishmash of data, the UN climate folks are claiming that the earth has warmed about 0.74 of a degree (give or take 0.18, or a fudge factor of over 24%). Whatever. So, let's stipulate that they're right. 0.74 degrees is supposed to be 57.88 degrees(c). So as a percentage, our temp would be just a shade over 1% higher over the past century. Hold that thought.
  • Carbon (Atomic #6) is supposed to be the 6th most plentiful element in the universe. If you believe in the law of conservation of matter then you know that we have the same amount of carbon now as we've ever had. That's why we refer to "releasing carbon" rather than "creating carbon" when you fire up that SuperDuty diesel of yours. Carbon dioxide is great plant food and it's even very important to proper respiration in humans. It's considered to be a green house gas because it allows sunshine in but reflects radiated heat -- meaning that it helps our planet capture and use solar energy.  Carbon is said to make up about 0.038% of our atmosphere.Mankind is supposed to be responsible for about 3% of that 1/3% so figure our contribution to the pie to be somewhere around 0.0011% of the total greenhouse gases. But let's put that carbon foot print into perspective. . . 
  • Water vapor is not counted as a greenhouse gas but in fact, it makes up about 95% of the whole greenhouse effect. I'm told the oceans evaporate about 92 quadrillion gallons a year (please don't tell congress about quadrillions!  In 2050 that will be our new budget!!). My calculator spits and sputters but I think what this means is that our supposed 28 billion tons of carbon is being dumped into almost 35 trillion tons of water vapor. In other words, try as we might, the best we can do is to spew less than one tenth of one percent of the total greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Makes you feel pretty insignificant huh?

So, here's my question: If we nasty humans are only capable of contributing less than a tenth of a percent of those nasty greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere is it really reasonable to give us credit/blame for the whole global warming issue (if it exists at all?). Let's be reasonable. Perhaps there's another reason the earth is warming? The Arctic icecap thawed a hundred years ago. Where were we then? What about the sun?  I'm just saying that there's a good reason to be skeptical about what the U.N. is trying to foist on the world. But that's a whole other entry. To be continued?


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Victory Garden Update II

Victory Garden Update II

We're gonna starve.

Yep, that's the prognosis. Getting a suburban garden to produce a meaningful amount of grub is just plain daunting. Perhaps it would be different without work, soccer, school and every other distraction you can imagine ('09 will go down as our worst year for distractions, that's for sure).

This is not to say that the garden isn't valuable. This experiment is an excellent way to observe how lifestyle choices affect our economy and ecology. Rather than get my hands dirty in the soil, I pursue other, more profitable work. This is the division of labor which Adam Smith refers to. But if the economic bubble bursts, our household will face a transition to different sorts of work, part of which will include more gardening. It's unrealistic to think that the garden would be enough but if the distribution system is struggling, it's very likely that a garden's return on investment will be significant.

I just hope the distribution system doesn't break too badly!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How's that Obama thing working out for you?

As you may know, I wanted to give this president the benefit of a doubt. It is beginning to look like I was being more charitable than many who succumbed to his smooth talk only to be disappointed by 'The One'. The fact is: Mr. Obama is a one term president. I suspect he will make Jimmy Carter look good (I voted for Carter, which then led to my entry into the conservative politics game).

Please understand: Mr. Obama will not be ousted because of his skin pigment. He will be ousted because of his poor leadership,  leftist ideology, his "politics as usual," and because he is just plain out of touch with the majority of the U.S. population (before you retort with "He won the election" remember that he ran the best presidential campaign in history against the worst presidential campaign in history. This doesn't mean he was elected because he was a better choice. He simply played the game better -- sort of like how MS Windows became the ubiquitous operating system of the nation).

I don't consider Mr. Obama to be evil any more than I consider FD Roosevelt to be evil. FDR had good intentions when he tried to manhandle the economy by controlling prices, wages and production. But his policies ended up destroying wheat in one part of the country while other parts of the country had food shortages. Good intentions with an evil outcome.

Which brings us to this current mess: We're still trying to recover from FDR's socialist security program which spawned medicare which spawned medicaid which spawned subsidized drugs and etc. And now, the D's are frantically trying to pass another health care power grab in a well intentioned but ignorant attempt to fix the problem spawned by the previous socialist policies. As long as we're on this path, the fixing will never end. I can't wait to see the economic power house created by a 70% income tax!

Back in the 1930's and 1940's there was an economist who predicted the outcome of FDR's policies. His predictions will also apply to the outcome of Mr. Obama's and the Democrat party policies. His name is F. A. Hayek and his seminal work is "The Road To Serfdom," first published in the U.S. in 1944. His book is fairly heavy reading but it is filled with quotable paragraphs. Here's an excerpt which demonstrates the futility of the path our Democrat leadership is attempting to foist upon us:

"Once government has embarked upon planning for the sake of justice it cannot refuse responsibility for anybody's fate or position. In a planned society, we shall all know that we are better or worse off than others, not because of circumstances which nobody controls, and which it is impossible to foresee with certainty, but because some authority wills it. And all our efforts directed toward improving our position will have to aim, not at foreseeing and preparing as well as we can for the circumstances over which we have no control, but at influencing in our favor the authority which has all the power."

What Hayek figured out is that the path of planning has only one possible route to take: Planning leads to totalitarianism. It's really simple to understand. Let's use the health care debacle as an example: A government plans to cover the entire population with a health insurance program. If the government allows people to choose which program to sign on to, there will inevitably be some who choose 'none of the above'. Most likely, those who choose 'none of the above' will be currently healthy, not needing health care at the moment. This causes problems to the plan because without healthy people in the pool the risk factors increase for the rest of the pool, driving up the cost of insurance.

To remedy the disparity, the planners pass a law requiring that everybody buy into a policy. But another problem pops up: Now that this new group is in the pool, they will begin to use more health care resources. "After all, I'm paying for it, I may as well use it." This makes perfect sense doesn't it? But with more people seeking services the planners are now faced with a shortage of health care providers. More laws, more policies are required in order to encourage or goad more people to become providers. The cost of doing all this recruiting and incentives pushes the cost of health care higher. Keep in mind that in financial terms, health care providers fall more into the expense category than in the asset category, meaning that health care providers don't produce much. Moving producers into health care reduces the overall production capacity, a cost that it much more difficult to calculate. More planning, more control is required to make the plan work and then, one day, we begin to realize that we are no longer in charge of the government, it is in charge of us.

The "free market" solution is to allow society to determine what it values most. We will vote with our pocket books and accept the outcome. The market doesn't work because it is morally superior to planning. It works because it pits individual greed and desires against one another, achieving a better equilibrium, a better distribution of resources. It's not perfect but personally, I prefer an imperfect free market over totalitarianism.  Planning seeks to achieve equality among the people but the only way to achieve equality is to lower the standards of all to the lowest common denominator. I prefer to allow those who rise to the top to enjoy their success, knowing that those who linger at the "bottom" are still better off than they would be in an egalitarian society. The debate, it seems, will never end.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Average American re: Ruling Class

In response to Boehner's letter to Charlie Rangle a commenter calling him/herself "Average American" offered this:

"It seems to me (average American) that there is a political ruling class in this country. People like Rep. Charles Rangel(D)NY have a separate set of rules that apply only to them.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel(D-NY) as chairman of Ways and Means Committee Mr. Rangel helps set tax policy. If anyone should know these laws one would think it should be Mr. Rangel.

When this average American sees our lawmakers break their own laws and are not held to the same standards one can only assume there are two sets of laws.

Mr. Rangel show the American people that there is only one set of laws. Resign your committee chairs, pay your back taxes along with the appropriate penalties and interest.


Average American"

In this particular instance, Rangle is on the "D" side but there are plenty of instances where "R's" were in the wrong as well. It is important to note the theme of abuse of power. The more power we place in the hands of our government, the more it will be abused. I did not say "might" I said "will" because it is a fact just as well known as gravity. Our constitutional form of government is designed to limit power, not to consolidate it. Keep that in mind the next time you attempt to turn more of your responsibilities over to government control.


Monday, August 31, 2009

On The Socialist Railroad Engineer

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

The battle for sanity has many fronts. President Obama is paying back political favors and buying political capital with $8billion tax payer dollars being funneled into his high speed rail scheme.  Rail has its place, no doubt about it, but in order for HSR to have a remote chance of serving a majority of taxpayers we would spend hundreds of billions . . . or maybe a trillion or so since that's the new "billion." Is that a worthwhile investment?

The scheme claims potential for tens of thousands of job created. Isn't it reasonable to think that the same amount of capital might create as many, or even more, jobs when used in other enterprises?

Should taxpayers be saddled with funding of transportation that the overwhelming majority will never use?

Is "Europe and Japan have HSR and so should we. . ." a good enough reason to spend more money that we don't have?

Is there even a glimmer of hope that subsidized (socialist) travel will ever earn a profit on its investment (buying votes and political favors does not count as a profit).

One of the stated benefits of socialized travel is to push more of our population into major cities. It seems to me that the bigger the city, the more problems it brings so why would we want that?

Ultimately, all we're getting is more social engineering stemming from the "successful" (sic) track record of the "War On Poverty," "The War On Drugs," federal education system and more. Instead of being the engineer on a socialist train, our president should help our country get back on track by getting off the tracks.

Here's a pro rail article found on Huffington Post.

For balance, here's a counterpoint found on the Washington Post.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Simple Health Care Points

The health care debate is simply one battle front of a much greater culture war but we still need to make some sense of it. I don't like the way each side of the debate attempts to compare the best (or worst) of one option with the worst (or best) of the other option. For example, the socialized health care proponents like to compare our infant mortality rate with that of other developed countries to demonstrate that our system is failing to protect infants. The big problem with the data is that the U.S. is the only country which counts all babies as babies. In other countries, premature babies who die aren't counted as infants. They're simply dead fetuses which means the socialized medicine proponents are comparing apples to oranges.  This isn't difficult to understand.

Now all of us, and I do mean EVERYBODY, are pro savings. We all want to cut the costs of health care in our nation and we all agree that there are plenty of places where efficiencies can be gained. For example: Medicolegal (yes, that's a real word) expenses have been estimated to add as much as $178 billion  per year just to cover health care providers backsides. This would include redundant testing, in depth reporting and in many cases, simply having to over engineer the whole health care system. The $178 billion is there in order to protect the health care providers from multimillion dollar awards for costs, pain, suffering, and punitive damages resulting from a mistake. Considering these huge expenses, tort reform should certainly be a key facet of any health care reform.

But you won't find any mention of tort reform in the bills before congress simply because, according to Howard Dean, the congress people are afraid of making the lawyers mad. Stop me if I'm wrong but I thought health care reform was supposed to be for the people, not the special interests.  (Note: in the video clip, I suspect that the questioner intended to say 200 Billion instead of 200 million but I don't know for sure).

One of the big points for pro-socialized health care is that it would "keep the insurance companies honest."  Currently, health insurance companies hide behind government protection because they get to deal with employers rather than the actual consumers of their product. We would make a lot of headway in this arena if we simply allowed the same tax protections enjoyed by employers to be enjoyed by all taxpayers who purchase health insurance. This would help break the monopolistic protection the insurance companies have, exposing them to the sunlight of consumer preference. We might need to tweak some of the rules about pre-existing conditions - perhaps even appropriating some tax payer funds to reduce some of the exposure (if we insist on having government involvement). But nothing in our current debate even refers to this option which would actually improve responsiveness to the health care consumer in both pricing as well as coverage.

So much for stuff that's not in the debate. What about some of the really bad stuff that is in the bill that Pelosi and crew are trying to foist on us. I have read at least some of the bill, probably more than the average congress person. One thing I find disturbing is that this "public option" is joined at the hip with the IRS. The IRS shares your income tax information with the health care bureaucracy in order to calculate "affordability credits." But there's more -- it is the IRS that the health care plan refers to for its pre-existing conditions definitions (I'll bet you thought that our government funded health care plan didn't even have limitations on pre-existing conditions). This may come as a shock to you but figuring out how to comply and/or dodge IRS regulations is a multi-billion dollar industry which is a parasitic tax on business and individual alike. Is it reasonable to think that socialist health care will be any better when it is administered with the IRS bureaucracy?

The reforms also claim cost savings due to the scale of the enterprise, implying that government can do things more cheaply than the private sector. A lot of opponents try to use the Postal Service vs. Fed Ex and UPS. For me, that comparison is off limits because delivering a first class letter to a rural route in Homer Alaska costss far more than the first class stamp. You see, our constitution provides for a postal service as well as carrier routes because communication is vital to freedom. But you won't find health care anywhere in the constitution. But let's make a comparrison to another entity that our government takes credit for: Our education system.

Who is pleased with our educational rankings in the world these days? Are you a fan of "No Child Left Behind?" According to my socialist leaning friends, we need to spend more on education in order to "fix" it. Now, based on the track record of government spending, how long do you think it would be before the cry for more health care spending in order to "fix" our socialist health care scheme? This isn't complicated. Just open your eyes and look at history, recent history.

Speaking of money, let's talk about the check book. Our nation is over drawn and living on credit cards. Long before we treat ourselves to taxpayer funded health care we need to get our bank book back in balance. The congressional budget office has already said that there will be no savings to our economy by going the route spelled out in the HC bill. It will cost us money. And that's based upon the rosy estimates being bandied around. How long has it been since a government endeavor came in below budget? What do you think will happen when we flood the health care system with millions more patients while watching the flight of retiring medical professionals who no longer want to play the game.

If we're going to have a health care debate, let's put some real ideas out there instead of just arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I'm not sure whether our congressional representatives (either party) have the desire or the intelligence to sort it out. Which is the biggest reason why we need to step back. The free market, as ugly as it gets at times, has the unique ability to sort out massive and complicated problems if we just get out of the way and let it work. But I doubt it will get its chance because it seems that whenever we elect politicians they feel the need to control rather than enable. This will be our failure.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lancing a Racist Boil

Here are the news stories that prompted this edition:
Louis Gates Arrest Report
President Obama Press Conference
Professor Louis Gates about the incident
Sergeant Crowley about the incident

I'm concerned about with Obama's "leadership" and the way he and his administration are overtly fostering racism. Beginning with his inauguration (final prayer -- "whites do what's right" , then statements by Holder, and now, leveling personal accusations against a cop regarding an altercation he knows little about, Obama is encouraging blacks to carry chips on their shoulders for unsuspecting whites to knock off. This is racism.

I've had to deal with"race baiters" who assume that any criticism leveled at them is racist, even if it's a justifiable criticism. I think this is part of the reason blacks have higher unemployment - I have spoken to employers who have have steered clear of blacks with even a hint of that chip on their shoulder because hiring a race baiter opens the door to conflict and law suits.

President Obama will squandered his opportunity apologize to the officer and the nation. To the officer for leveling an unfounded accusation. To the nation for demeaning the office of the president (Imagine: the most powerful man in the world publicly accusing before an audience of millions, a police sergeant of acting stupidly!).


Louis Gates had the biggest opportunity to usher in healing. He should have publicly apologized to the officer as his actions clearly undermine the cooperation between law enforcement and the community. If Obama and Gates were to acknowledge that they over-reacted then they would be setting the stage for meaningful dialogue. Their admission that it is possible for blacks to foment racism just as much as any white supremacist would go a long ways toward resolving the race problems we have. This boil needs to be lanced.

I expect that some readers will say "you should walk a day in my shoes, I'll show you what discrimination looks like. . ." and I have no doubt that you have experienced blatant racism. But somebody has to admit that racism comes from the black community as well. In some cases it's incredibly overt. In the Gates/Crowley incident, it's obvious that Gates had a chip on his shoulder from the very beginning. Of course, he sees it differently and that's exactly why I think this can't be swept under the rug.

If you're trying to keep a plumbing shop running smoothly, the situation that our president stirred up might be a good conversation starter, especially if you sense that there are some underlying issues that are working against the team work of your crews. I don't recommend pointing accusatory fingers at any particular person/s. Instead, let the Gates/Crowley incident serve as the focal point. Here's the exercise: Read the police report and remove any reference to "black" by any party. What you then have is an incident where a citizen verbally attacks a police officer who is just doing his job. If the disorderly conduct continues, would the officer be justified in cuffing the irate homeowner? In some cases, I would think so, and it probably happens hundreds of time every day across the country where innocent citizens overreact to an officer. So, why does this time have to be about race? 


The way to turn this story into a positive experience is to use it to highlight the importance of personal respect to one another. Respect is color blind. When your crew builds respect for each other, there's no room for racism. You won't have to eradicate racism because it won't exist. I have listened to statements made by both Gates and Crowley. It's clear to me that Gates assumed that Crowley was going to be an oppressor. Gates also assumed that his helpful neighbor called the cops because he was black, and presumably wouldn't have called had he been white. This is where respect began to break down. Gates, being accustomed to treatment according to his lofty status as a professor and pal to the president, didn't appreciate being treated like everybody else. Then, the issue becomes a battle of wills. Crowley expected Gates to respect the badge so it became ego against authority and it ended badly. Note: I'm not saying that we should assume that a badge means someone is not a bad guy, I'm just saying that our preconceived notions go a long ways toward fanning flames unnecessarily.

Besides respect, we all need to learn not to take ourselves too seriously. When I make a mistake, I should own up to it. I don't always do that so it's an area that I have to work on. When race is injected into the situation, fessing up becomes even more important. If your pigment happens to be darker than that of some of your peers you can do a lot for the relationship and respect by admitting a blunder. Believe me, depending upon the area, some whites feel that they have to walk on eggshells around their peers of color because they're afraid of how a criticism can be misconstrued. (As I'm writing all this, the whole idea of specifying "color" is becoming absurd to me. . .why do we have to do that????) The same is true if you're so called white (pink, tan, whatever. . .). Be quick to own mistakes then they don't become fodder for misunderstandings later. This is especially true in situations where one person has some authority over another, color or no color. The boss should be extra quick to assume responsibility for errors. This earns and builds respect.


And one final, color blind note: A soft answer turns away wrath. Take the time to diffuse the heat before responding to an insult on your pride.

Life is an inalienable right!

A few things to consider before indenturing ourselves to the government managed health care:

Economics: I think we all agree that the "system" we now have would benefit from some tweaking. What system doesn't? But the concept that expensive health care makes our nation uncompetitive on the world markets is just plain wrong. The process of the free market generates wealth -- those health care dollars we pay fund myriad enterprises and as Adam Smith, economist, explains, every transaction has an impact on wealth generation. But governments can only do two things: Government can protect commerce (but not very well actually) or confiscate wealth. A government cannot create wealth. When a government funds something, such as health care, it can only fund it by using either a) wealth that has been confiscated from wealth producers (which is parasitic to the economy) or b) by printing currency (which devalues existing currency which is parasitic to the economy).

Freedom: The Declaration lists ". . . life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" among the inalienable rights of mankind. Governments are established in order to protect those rights. When a government body or committee gets to determine whether or not you get life saving treatment that government entity has usurped the right of mankind to make that decision. It make make economic sense to kill an old or unproductive person so that resources can be spent on more productive people but economics is not the whole value of life. Nobody said that freedom comes without cost so if we spend resources on keeping a "useless eater" alive that is just one of the costs of liberty. Make no mistake: Economics does play a huge role in life or death decisions. If a person desires a life saving treatment but can't afford it then economics helps to make the decision (just as it is not government's job to decide who lives or dies, it is not government's job to confiscate wealth from one person in order to give it to another). If a person chooses to sell the family farm in order to live another 6 months then it is their freedom to do so. But the bottom line is this: Life or death decisions will be made. It is not the job of government to make those decisions. Period.

The countable vs. the uncountable: It is relatively easy to count "uninsured" people. But how do you count the economic impact of confiscating wealth a nickel, dime or dollar at a time from the wealth producers of our nation? The cost adds up to missed opportunities, job opportunities that never materialize, wealth that didn't get created. That sort of thing is impossible to count so it loses the propaganda war. Make no mistake: When government takes from one class or group of people in order to give it to another class or group then it is usurping rights it does not have. And economically, it is as beneficial as scooping up water from the deep end of a swimming pool and dumping it on the shallow end. Don't buy the argument that "cheaper" health care will help our economy.

There are many more arguments as to why government managed health care is not only an economically unsound idea, not to mention being unconstitutional. Watch this space for more to come.