Drumbeat: February 5, 2010

WORLD FOREX: Euro Sinks As Oil Plunges On Drop In Risk Demand

The euro fell against the dollar midday Friday in New York as a slump in oil prices further erased demand for riskier assets at a time of growing investor anxiety over deteriorating finances of some European countries.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a trade-weighted basket of currencies, jumped to its highest level since July, while the euro sank to a fresh eight-month low against the dollar, with the common currency dipping briefly below $1.36.

The sharp decline in oil prices is feeding additional pressure on the currency markets, said Marc Chandler, global head of foreign exchange at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York. "It's a vicious cycle that hasn't been broken."

Oil fell nearly 4%, while silver and gold prices also dropped.

Marcellus Coalition Posts Facts on Flowback Water Treatment

"The industry currently treats or recycles all of its flowback water. Recycling accounts for approximately 60 percent of the water used to complete Marcellus Shale wells, with greater percentages predicted for the future. There are more than a dozen approved water treatment facilities available to treat flowback water, with plans for additional capacity in the future.

"Companies are working with international water quality experts and are funding research and development projects to develop mobile and permanent treatment technologies such as evaporation and crystallization. These efforts will enhance the Commonwealth's overall water treatment capabilities, while bringing more commerce into Pennsylvania. We're also researching and developing deep underground injection well technology, which is a proven, safe disposal method in other regions of the country.

"Claims about elevated levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in the Monongahela River from natural gas development have been refuted by studies that attribute a minimal amount of the total TDS levels to Marcellus Shale drilling activity.

Micro-inverters vs. Central Inverters: Is There a Clear Winner? (podcast)

In recent years, the solar industry has seen radical change in the inverter space. On the utility side, inverters have been getting bigger in order to accommodate massive, multi-megawatt projects. On the residential side, they've been getting smaller and more adaptable, opening up the market for "plug and play" systems. This has created more choices for consumers and installers. But it also raises the question: Is one technology better than the other?

PV Analysts: Cautious Optimism for 2010

The global economy, however, has thrown many of these incentives into a tailspin. Spain, a fast growing market, has reduced its feed-in tariff (FIT) by 30%, which has resulted in lower expectations for growth. The German government is considering a steeper cut to FITs for solar energy, which could also result in lower growth. And in the U.S., many states are already burdened by the recession and plan to lower tax credits; we think the federal government will extend its tax credit to eight years, which will provide some relief. The Administration is also proposing a $3.4 billion stimulus package to improve the grids.

The reduction in incentives takes away from the growth of solar PV systems. We think that the industry will continue to grow in 2010, but perhaps not as fast as in previous years. Incentives help to expand PV installations, which, in turn, reduce cost. PV has come a long way, and we feel that its benefits, especially in today's energy environment, will overcome the loss of incentives and, in the long run, continue traditional growth. When recovery is more evident, some incentives may return.

Electricity 2.0: Unlocking the Power of the Open Energy Network (OEN)

In a major new policy paper, Green Project Director Michael Moynihan argues that America must upgrade to Electricity 2.0, an open, distributed network, to unlock the potential of clean technology and unleash a renewable revolution.

Read the full paper (.pdf)


A refreshing dose of honesty: Maria Cantwell and the politics of global warming

Of all the bills that would put a price on carbon, cap-and-dividend seems the most promising. (A carbon tax would be best of all, but has no chance of passing.) Ms Cantwell has a Republican co-sponsor, Susan Collins of Maine, and says she is hearing positive noises from a few other Republicans, such as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The most attractive thing about the bill is that it is honest. To discourage the use of dirty energy, it says, it has to be more expensive. To make up for that, here’s a thousand bucks.

This challenges the conventional wisdom in Washington, DC, that the only way to pass a global-warming bill is to disguise what’s in it. Leading Democrats try to sell cap-and-trade as a way to create jobs and wean America from its addiction to foreign oil. (It’s about “jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs,” said Nancy Pelosi, the speaker, last year.) Focus groups say this message ought to resonate. Frank Luntz, a pollster, released a study last month showing that voters are unswayed by melting ice caps but will support an energy bill that sticks it to the Saudis and creates American jobs.

Peak oil in Davos: Oh yes it is, oh no it isn’t. (Kjell Aleklett)

The fact that nobody from ASPO was invited to discuss energy security in Davos shows that they are not interested in anyone bearing unpleasant news. The fact that the journal Energy Policy accepted our paper “Peak Of The Oil Age” for publication last November could have been a good reason for an invitation but one never came.

The bearer of unpleasant news became, instead, Thierry Desmarest, the chairperson for Total. In his speech he said that oil production would never exceed 95 million barrels per day (Mb/d) and in his press release he clarified his view by saying, “peak oil is still a problem; it will be reached in ‘about 10 years’, but not today”. Total has previously mentioned 100 Mb/d and that they are now saying 95 Mb/d shows that they are approaching the conclusion that my Ph.D. student Fredrik Robelius presented in his thesis. That scenario had a maximal production of 93 Mb/d in 2018. The requirement for that level of production was that production from 7 giant oil fields in Iraq would commence immediately. The fact that this has been delayed makes it all the more difficult to reach that production level.

Crack Spreads Widen as Refineries Close in the U.S. (Update3)

“We expect the U.S., Europe and Japan to continue running at low utilization rates as demand is not picking up yet,” said Brynjar Erik Bustnes, an analyst at JPMorgan in Hong Kong. “This will leave the Asian refiners capable of maintaining a higher run rate and also enjoying slightly better margins.”

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s biggest crude producer, is exporting about 1 million barrels a day to China, more than to the U.S., Chief Executive Officer Khalid al-Falih said in an interview in Davos, Switzerland.

“Asia is really the only one with all the economies pulling out of the recession and with industrial activity increasing,” said Vivek Mathur, an analyst focusing on Asian oil and petrochemicals at Energy Security Analysis Inc., a Wakefield, Massachusetts-based energy research firm. “The overarching view is that this increasing economic activity is bolstering crack spreads.”

How Nigeria is sabotaging the global oil market

Nigeria's oil industry is about to implode. . .

It's not just Chevron. Royal Dutch Shell dominated oil production in Nigeria for 50 years. But since 2008, bandits have destroyed 50,000 barrels per day of Shell's production. Now, it's had enough. The company will put 10 onshore fields up for sale, worth between $4 billion and $5 billion.

Since Shell's announcement, rumors came out that its partners, French oil company Total and Italian oil company ENI, would soon follow. Both companies cite problems in Nigeria for their poor performance in 2009.

Shell and Total currently produce around 10% of Nigeria's oil and gas. If they leave, there will be a vacuum of talent and expertise. We saw the same thing happen in Mexico, Venezuela, and Ecuador. When the giant Western oil companies leave, all the experts go with them.

With those companies gone, Nigerian oil production will collapse before the paint dries on the new company logos.

OIL FUTURES: Oil Plunges 5% On Debt Fears, U.S. Jobs Data

Crude oil futures plunged 5% Thursday as jitters over a rise in weekly U.S. jobless claims and euro-zone debt led investors to flee riskier assets and move into the safe-haven of the dollar.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled $3.84, or 5%, lower, at $73.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. This was the lowest settlement since Jan. 29 and the biggest one-day loss in crude since July 29.

Peak oil never sleeps

Even while so many of us are wringing our hands over the Copenhagen Collapse, the dwindling chances of getting anything even remotely resembling the action we need from China, India, or the US on CO2 emissions, and all the other flavors of angst currently suffusing climate chaos land, we’re still using roughly 85 million barrels of oil every day, worldwide. You can do our own math to convert that into gallons per various time units (at 42 gallons/barrel, of course) and scare yourself spitless without any help from me.[1]

But that whole awful peak oil thing is still really, really far away, like in the science fictional year of 2015, right? Well, it seems yet another notable source is saying nope, we’re there:

World Oil Capacity to Peak in 2010 Says Petrobras CEO:

Oil, gas output rise in Colorado

Colorado oil and gas production is on the rise, despite a global recession and tighter state rules on drilling.

Natural-gas production rose by 4.4 percent last year to 1.6 trillion cubic feet. That's according to the Colorado Oil and Gas conservation commission.

Tony Hayward: BP's straight-talking chief on evolution not revolution

Tar sands are part of a wider diversity of supply of energy sources that the world is going to require, Hayward argues, dismissing the idea that the growing pressure on the US military not to use these imports will bear fruit. By 2015 BP could be providing 100,000-200,000 barrels a day from this source for which the company is preparing two US refineries specially to process the crude.

"The likelihood of the US army not using a secure local supply of energy is quite low … Canadian heavy oil is going to be a very important part of America's energy," he argues.

He rejects the suggestion that exploiting tar sands contradicts the "beyond petroleum" mantra, seeing it instead as just another fuel source on top of its wind, solar and biofuel investments.

Obama's Nuclear Giveaway

But as Mother Jones has reported, there will be no nuclear renaissance unless the US taxpayer covers the tab. While the country's 104 nuclear power plants currently produce nearly 20 percent of American electricity, growth has flatlined in the past three decades. Even as public opinion toward nuclear power has warmed, projected construction costs for new plants have soared, with a single reactor now estimated to cost as much as $12 billion. In fact, the outlook for nuclear plants looks so dire that even Wall Street banks have balked at financing them unless the government underwrites the deal.

Of course, that means the government would also assume almost all the risk. The chances of default on the government-backed loans are "very high—well above 50 percent," according to the Congressional Budget Office. "If they go belly-up, taxpayers get to pay it," said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear. "With hundreds of billions in bailouts already on the shoulders of US taxpayers, the country cannot afford to move forward with a program that could easily become the black hole for hundreds of billions more," wrote the heads of the National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the George C. Marshall Institute, and the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in a letter to the administration [PDF] this week.

Obama's nuclear power policy: a study in contradictions?

Obama wants to triple public financing for new nuclear power plants, even as he nixes funds for storing commercial radioactive waste. The policy may be calculated to win votes for climate change legislation, but critics say it's not 'coherent' and carries new security risks.

The Department of Energy recently proposed $36 billion in new federal loan guarantees on top of $18.5 billion already budgeted – for a total of $54.5 billion. That's enough to help fund six or seven new power plants.

It's a full-speed nuclear-power gambit that many say is largely a bid to win votes from pro-nuclear senators for legislation to address climate change. But his strategy is generating a firestorm of opposition, amid warnings that much more is at stake than a political calculus.

From environmentalists to fiscal hawks to nuclear security experts, the Obama plan is sparking near-open revolt. The nuclear-power expansion is not accompanied by any plan to store commercial radioactive waste, they note, and includes a new push by the Department of Energy into spent-fuel reprocessing and small "pocket nuke" reactor research, which they see as a proliferation risk. The Obama nuclear policy is at cross purposes to his nonproliferation goals, they add, and might even cement his energy legacy as the president who revived a moribund industry that hadn't built a nuclear plant in decades because of the financial, environmental, and security risks involved.

Energy Interests Fretting Over Obama's Budget

But Obama’s budget also calls for imposing roughly $40 billion in new and additional taxes on the U.S. energy sector over a 10-year timeframe. The bulk of the windfall would come from eliminating two accounting practices that have been in place since the first two decades of the 1900s: the percentage depletion of oil and gas wells and the expensing of intangible drilling costs.

Critics contend these changes would disproportionately impact independent oil and gas companies, which drill 90 percent of domestic wells and produce 82 percent of U.S. natural gas. “The elimination of these two accounting procedures would overwhelmingly impact smaller independent oil and gas explorers, not big oil,” says U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans. “The result would be putting thousands more Americans out of work at a time when we should be creating, not eliminating, jobs. That is poor policy.”

High Hopes for Clean-Energy Jobs

The U.S. could add hundreds of thousands of jobs if Congress requires that part of the nation's electricity be derived from renewable sources, according to a study released Thursday.

The study, by Navigant Consulting, said a renewable-energy standard requiring utilities to produce between 20% and 25% of their energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources would create between 191,000 and 274,000 jobs.

More than half would be high-value manufacturing jobs that could help the U.S. boost exports and develop an advantage in technological innovation, said Navigant, a business consultancy that conducted the study for the RES Alliance for Jobs, a consortium of renewable-energy companies.

Absent such a federal mandate, the study found, many states would lose renewable-energy jobs in coming years and some industries, such as biomass, could collapse altogether.

Renewables 61% Of New EU Power Generation Capacity In 2009

Renewable energy made up the bulk of new power generation capacity added in the European Union last year, the European Wind Energy Association, or EWEA, said Wednesday.

Renewables accounted for 61% of new electricity generating capacity in 2009. Of the total new capacity, 39% was from wind power and 16% was from photovoltaic solar power, EWEA said.

Spending Backlog Vexes Energy Chief

Energy Secretary Steven Chu expressed frustration Thursday that most of the roughly $37 billion in stimulus money Congress gave his agency last year had yet to be spent, but said the agency could manage a new round of funding for clean-energy projects as part of an expected jobs bill.

At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Chu said his agency had handed out only a fraction of the authorized stimulus funds. According to the agency's Web site, only $2.1 billion has been spent.

The disbursement has been slowed partly by the complexity of the review process the department must follow when determining which projects are eligible for support, he said.

Lawmakers propose region's highest renewable energy requirements

Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colo.), lawmakers and renewable energy supporters introduced a new proposal on Thursday for energy standards.

The legislation would require large utility companies to generate nearly one-third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Nigerian minister threatens to sack officials if fuel crisis persists

Nigeria's oil minister Thursday threatened to sack officials in his ministry if they failed to end an acute fuel shortage in a week.

Officials have attributed the fuel scarcity to the suspension of fuel imports by private companies late last year, the poor performance of the nation's four refineries, the sabotage of oil pipelines by militants and hoarding by marketers.

But analysts observe that official corruption and mismanagement in the industry were behind the scarcity.

Schlumberger warns drilling services shortage could emerge again

Schlumberger Ltd., the world's largest oilfield-services provider, said the pressure on costs from crude producers has passed and that a surge in oil prices may lead to shortages in drilling services.

Talks with producers to cut prices “are behind us,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Gould said today in an interview in Oslo. “The whole industry worked very hard in 2009 to bring down costs and they've been reasonably successful. The danger is that if oil prices accelerate then in the supply industry, certain shortages will appear quite quickly.”

Argentina oil and gas output falls

Argentina's oil and gas production fell last year compared with the previous year, marking the third consecutive decline since 2006.

McClendon says shale tougher overseas

Large oil companies such as US supermajor ExxonMobil snapping up shale-gas acreage overseas will likely find it hard to develop that land due to constraints such as infrastructure availability, the head of US shale pioneer Chesapeake Energy said today

Bangladesh seeks $7 bln foreign investment for power

Bangladesh is seeking $7 billion of foreign investment to boost its electricity generation, a shortage of which has slowed the country's economic development, a government adviser said on Thursday.

Due to technical constraints and shortfalls of natural gas supply, Bangladesh can produce only around a maximum of 3,700 MW of electricity while peak hour demand reaches more than 5,500 MW, officials said.

Electricity demand has been growing by 7.50 percent annually since 1990.

Around 40 percent of Bangladesh's 150 million population has access to electricity, one of the lowest levels in the world.

Climate Change: The SEC Weighs In (Or Not)

OK, so right off the bat these "climate change" and "global warming" thingies get the finger-wiggling treatment. Why? Well Schapiro is wary of opining as to whether the world's climate is changing. Also, she's troubled about opining as to the pace of the climate change that she has no opinion about.

Moreover, she also seems worked up over the prospect of opining about the causes of the non-opined pace of the non-opined "climate change" or "global warming." For good measure, Schapiro gets in one last shot about how nothing the SEC does should be construed as weighing in on "global warming" or "climate change."

Wind power growth limited by radar conflicts

The most well-known obstacles to installing wind turbines are complaints over their visual impact and the potential for bird and bat deaths. But conflict with radar systems have derailed over 9,000 megawatts worth of wind capacity--nearly as much as was installed in the U.S. last year.

"We're not going to put up more wind (in many locations) without conflict because radar systems and wind systems love exactly the same terrain...which is where the wind is at," said Gary Seifert, a program manager for renewable energy technologies at the Idaho National Laboratories, during a presentation at the RETECH conference here on Thursday. "It's really causing a challenge to meeting long-term goals."

The problem is wind farms create "cones of silence" above them, making it difficult for primary radar systems to detect airplanes when they fly over them, Seifert explained. Planes with transponders can communicate with air traffic control towers, but smaller planes don't all have transponders.

Sales of the Smart Fortwo Plummet

When it comes to plunging car sales, all eyes have been on Chrysler. Car sales at the company now managed by Fiat dropped 44 percent in 2009 compared with 2008.

Smart USA doesn’t get the same attention, but its sales were just as bad. Now they’re getting worse.

The diminutive coupe, which is sold by Daimler AG, saw a 40 percent annual sales drop last year. And for the first month of 2010, sales have plunged off a cliff.

Rio Tinto hires new China boss to improve ties

Global miner Rio Tinto hired Ian Bauert, a fluent Mandarin speaker, to head its China business on Friday in an effort to improve relations with its largest customer after the arrest of a top executive there.

Hawaii's gasoline price average drops by a penny to $3.42

The statewide average for a gallon of regular was $3.42.

Honolulu's average price remained unchanged at $3.32 but 11 cents higher than last month and $1.04 higher than at this time last year.

Hilo's average was $3.47, two cents less than last week, but 17 cents higher than last month and $1 higher than at the same time last year.

Ukraine pays off January Russian gas bill

KIEV, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine has paid off its January Russian gas bill, the country's state oil and gas company Naftogaz said on Thursday.

"We have paid in full for 2.55 billion cubic metres on time," Naftogaz spokesman Valentyn Zemlyansky told a news conference.

Gazprom to extend Polish contract on Europe gas transit till 2045

Gazprom said on Thursday it will extend a contract on gas supplies to Western Europe via Poland until 2045, while gas supplies to Poland may be increased to 11 billion cubic meters from this year.

China's New Silk Road geo-strategy in Asia

Old Silk Road routes offer China the prospect of growing relief from reliance on sea-based energy imports leaving the Strait of Hormuz (22 miles wide and patrolled by the U.S. Fifth Fleet) and the Malacca Straits (1.6 miles wide and patrolled by the U.S. Seventh Fleet.) For example, there are pipelines linking Kazakhstan (with 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves) to Chinese refineries. There are gas pipelines stretching from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and ending in China.

Gazprom’s Q3 Results Boost Shares

Gazprom reported Monday that its profit for the first nine months of last year declined to just two-thirds of what it earned in the same period of 2008, despite a spectacular recovery in sales that began in the summer.

The gas export monopoly's profit decreased to 479.3 billion rubles ($15.77 billion) in the period ended Sept. 30, a 36 percent drop year on year, it said in a statement.

Volumes of gas sold outside of the former Soviet Union and on the local market declined by 11 percent each in the nine months. They plunged by 50 percent in the former Soviet republics.

Gazprom Sees Asia as Rising Client

Gazprom expects its shipments to Asia eventually to reach the same level as those to Europe, where it has a quarter of the market, chief executive Alexei Miller said.

State-run Gazprom in 2012 will begin building a pipeline that will stretch from the Yakutia region of Siberia through Khabarovsk on the northeastern tip of China to the port of Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan, Miller said in a statement late Wednesday.

Construction of that link will follow one now being built from Sakhalin Island west to the far eastern mainland through Khabarovsk and on to Vladivostok, Miller said.

Gazprom consortium hit by weak demand

An oil consortium headed by Russia’s Gazprom is considering postponing its vast Shtokman liquefied natural gas project in the Russian Arctic due to depressed global demand for gas.

Russian Oil Flow To Kazakhstan Restricted

A person at a Russian oil company, who requested anonymity, said the dispute between Russia and Kazakhstan resembles the spat with Belarus, when oil supplies were reduced during negotiations over customs duties on Russian crude. The curtailment in oil supplies to Kazakhstan, however, are less vital because Kazakhstan has enough oil to feed its refineries and exports its own hydrocarbons, the person said.

Novatek steps on the gas

Russian gas output reached an all-time monthly high of 63.95 Bcm last month, driven by Novatek and other non-state producers. The country is looking to regain its status as the world's top gas producer after falling behind the US last year.

Novatek, Total To Develop Field In Russia's Yamal Region

Russian natural gas producer Novatek (NVTK.RS) and French oil and gas company Total SA (TOT) have created a joint venture for exploration and development of the Termokarstovoye gas condensate field in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region, Russia's Arctic region, Novatek said Thursday.

Total's share in Novatek's subsidiary, which holds the exploration and production license for the field, will increase to a total of 49% by the end of 2010, Novatek said. The Termokarstovoye field's reserves are estimated at 396.8 million barrels of oil equivalent, consisting of 47.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 10.3 million tons of liquid hydrocarbons according to Russian reserve classification.

Uzbekistan Worried About Tajik Power Plant's Effect On 'Frail' Environment

Uzbekistan's Prime Minister has sent a letter to his Tajik counterpart warning Dushanbe of potential damage by the Roghun power plant to Central Asia's "frail environmental balance.”

In the letter published in Uzbekistan's Russian-language "Pravda Vostoka" newspaper today, Shavkat Mirziyaev said that in a region facing water shortages and prone to earthquakes, the giant power plant project could bring catastrophic consequences.

U.S. Envoy For Eurasian Energy Explains Goals, Strategy For Region

Ambassador Richard Morningstar told a group at the Center for American Progress on January 28 that President Barack Obama's government is pursuing three fundamental goals. First and foremost, he said, U.S. policy is to encourage the development of new oil and natural gas resources across the Eurasian region while simultaneously promoting alternative technologies and the efficient use of all energy resources.

British Gas starts energy price war as bills fall for 8 million

Britain’s big energy companies are on the brink of a price war after British Gas cut its prices by 7 per cent.

The reduction, which will benefit about 8 million households, is expected to start a battle for customers with E.ON and RWE npower thought to be among the companies considering a cut as early as next week.

Energy prices: What does the future hold?

Ofgem has warned that energy bills will rise above £2,000 by 2020, while British Gas has just announced a 7% cut. What is going on in the energy markets?

Petrol: the biggest headache for Shell and BP

Refining – where crude oil is converted into the substance that powers vehicles – is sharply depressing overall earnings. Royal Dutch Shell, which on Thursday revealed the worst results in the energy reporting season, with a $427m loss in its refining arm, is far from alone. BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron have all been unveiling losses or severely depleted profits in their refining divisions.

How I cut my energy bill by £528

Kara Gammell has saved hundreds of pounds by making her household more efficient. Here's how.

Oslo considering major tunnel project

The Oslo City Council will now consider building a major joint tunnel which will lead all railway and subway lines under the centre of the capital. This was decided at the Council's meeting on Wednesday.

Statoil may sell off filling stations

Statoil's board of directors has unanimously decided to evaluate a new ownership structure for the group's energy and retail business, including the company's petrol and service stations.

Old mine may house garbage-burning plant

A controversial waste treatment project once slated for Liulitun, Haidian district, Beijing may be recycled and built instead in an isolated mountainous area far from populated parts of the city, a Beijing News report said yesterday.

Schweitzer, other governors discuss 'clean energy' push with president

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who joined nine other governors Wednesday at a White House meeting with the president on energy issues, said governors from both parties recognize the need to advance "clean energy" in America.

"There was very little disagreement that we need to move forward on clean energy in this country, but we need to do it in a way that doesn't create costs for consumers and industry," said Schweitzer.

Qaim given briefing on coal-based power plant

Karachi: A nine-members delegation of a coal mining group of Korea called on Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah here at Chief Minister House and gave him a briefing on development of Thar coal and generation electricity from it. It said 167 million people would benefit form the proposed project of coal power plant. It also briefed on the conventional systems of hydel-electrical power, thermal power and nuclear power, and non-conventional systems of solar power, wind power, tidal power and biogas power.
They presented a project of setting up 1200megawatt mine-mouth thermal power plant for Thar coal.

Yanukovych to help Russia build pipelines bypassing Ukraine, double gas transit

Kyiv should persuade Moscow to nearly double Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine, Ukrainian presidential frontrunner Victor Yanukovych said on Jan. 27 while ruling out the sale of transit pipelines.

Bangladesh Govt to Invite Tenders for 9 Power Plants This Month

Dhaka , Feb 2: Under a mega plan to bring the country to a zero load shedding level from nagging crisis, the Bangladesh government is likely to invite tenders within the current month to set up more than nine power plants having total capacity of about 4,000 MW.

Australia Newcastle coal port cuts export quotas

Australia Newcastle port, the world's largest coal export terminal, said it has cut miners' export quota by 1.7 million tonnes to clear logjams and that it would spend A$670 million ($594.5 million) to expand capacity.

Traders said the cut in exports would likely affect some shipments that were due to sail to China, and may encourage affected buyers to source for alternative winter supplies.

Colorado Springs cuts into services considered basic by many

This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

I wonder how much of this we will see elsewhere.

Well this should be a good case study for these "get government out of my life", no taxation, free market worshipers to walk the walk. Hopefully there's no state or federal bailout coming for them when things really go to s**t (since both are broke I wouldn't think much $$ help would be forthcoming). Fine, go ahead and pay no taxes and have no government - tell us how that all works out for you...

Also seems to be a pretty ironic stance for a city that basically exists because of the federal government (Air Force Academy).

This would probably make a good documentary - tracking the progress of the city after making this decision - in the spirit of Roger and Me (or something like that)...


Also seems to be a pretty ironic stance for a city that basically exists because of the federal government (Air Force Academy).

Yea, like "keep the governments hands off my social security" that we have witnessed from some of our populist friends.

Don't forget the "Keep your socialized medicine away from my Medicare" rant too.

A very good and telling point, Trekker.

But maybe not quite as EXPLANATORY as it seems on the surface, as the govt from day one has done the auctioneerr chant thing, by announcing in small print in out of the way places, what the real score is.Then the sales fufff or hyperbole is delivered constantly , fast and furious in overwhelming volume about "your" social security.

Some of the older documents created for public consumption used the word insurance several times in a paragraph, paragraph after paragraph.

The press despite the whining of the left in this country has -at the lowest common denominator level-done almost nothing to correct the misimpressions created, nor has any liberal politician invested much effort in doing so.The wink wink has been that you "paid for it, that YOUR MONEY is in the bank , nice and safe and drawing plenty of interest, and your check is as good as gold in hand."

Now you and I both know that every major news magazine and most major newspapers have run an occasional story outlining the facts, but this has amounted to not much more than the coverage of peak oil and other looming off the books/radar problems.In essence, zilch, as far as level of awareness of the Joe and Jane general public is concerned.

The first thing the educated liberal elite, of whom I was once a card carrying member, MUST LEARN -or perhaps admit to themselves- is that Joe and Jane Sixpack are not only NUMERICALLY ILLITERATE, AS ALLUDED TO IN TODAY'S LEAD KEY POST.JOE AND JANE DON'T READ THE GXXXXXXXD NEWSPAPERS.

They watch tv-if they even bother with the news..And although they may be, collectively, as dumb as fenceposts (ignorant is a much better descriptive term, actually), they are at least smart enough that they realized some time ago that the nightly network news is a propaganda machine , as is NPR.CAN ANYBODY REMEMBER A NETWORK ANCHOR DESCRIBING A REPUBLICAN WIN AS a childish hissy fit on the art of the electorate?

(About Npr-I listen to it regularly and it has some very fine programming but anyone who thinks it is not overwhelmingly liberal in tone and content BY AMERICAN STANDARDS is either a European or else a hard core liberal himself.People do often times have problems recognizing thier own biases.)

When did YOU ever see a lead story about possible hard times for ss on network tv or hear one on NPR until AFTER tshtf as a result of the recent crash?

We should remember JUST WHO created a patently and obviously unsustainable program and has since done everything in thier power to make sure the average voter sees that program as "his" social security regardless of the actual facts.

Every real conservative I know is well aware that sss is in big trouble, and was DESTINED for big troubles-as the biologists say, perpetual growth in a finite system is simply impossible.This without being constantly expanded in a success long term oft repeated efforts to buy votes over the short term.

(A conservative is not necessarily the same thing as a republican voter, any more than a tort lawyer is a classical liberal.)

(Let it be understood that I am not opposed to ss, and that I support it,but that I am only trying to keep the discussion intellectually honest from my pov.I believe in lots of sunshine when examing ANY program.
I would like for the average man on the street to comprehend the reality of the sss but that is a forlorn hope.)

They, meaning the common people, went looking for somebody a little less condescending.

Now fox and talk radio are no better and in many ways worse, but at least the talking heads don't TALK DOWN to thier listeners.

I will be the first to admit , nay decry, the fact that both talk radio and ffox news are as much in the pockets, or more so , of the right wing, as the elite media are in the pockets of the left wing.

The real problem of course is that virtually our entire cultural model is patently unsustainable and that every initiative such as social security must be recognized as containing the seeds of its own destruction.All such things are temporary.

Incidentally I would have no problem with being called a classical liberal , which is not the same thing as a a modern member of the American Democratic party , necessarily.

When did YOU ever see a lead story about possible hard times for ss on network tv or hear one on NPR until AFTER tshtf as a result of the recent crash?

Actually Mac, Pete Peterson and Laurence Kotlikoff have both been the featured story/guest on Jim Lehrer (PBS) Newshour harping on SS and Medicare and what these unfunded liabilities will mean. No liberal slant either (Peterson was with the FED for years). Just a pragmatic look at the horrendous numbers due to the aging babyboomers becoming eligible. Moyers has also done several shows on this subject, as well as on Peak Energy:

America's Energy Challenge: Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson


I get frustrated every time an inconvenient truth gets dismissed as Liberal whining.

I don't spend a lot of time in the car anymore and missed that -When was it broadcast? If not previous to the last two years or so ,when the deficits started getting REALLY out of hand, my point stands.When the truth is finally painfully obvious to even the ordinary listener who depends on NPR - or RUSH LIMBAUGH for that matter- then both NPR and RUSH will have to start to acknowledge it.

In all the years I lived in town and my very liberal wife KEPT the radio on npr,I never once in those days heard an honest program about for instance communism on npr.

NPr decides what gets broadcast over npr-if it doesn't have a liberal slant , it doesn't get on the air, as a rule.Now I hate to get dogmatic about this, and it is not as bad as it once was, but just LISTEN FOR A WEEK , all day , every day, and keep up with he way every subject is couched.USE a little notebook.I dare ya!

Of course the WSJ does the same thing , excepting an occasional opinion piece.NPR runs some TOKEN conservative programming.It runs some extremely good programming that can be and sometimes is fairly middle of the road, and some great analysis on a regular basis- this is something you will never hear me say about talk radio.

I am sure the programs you allude to are some of that sort.

I am not claiming that NPR is without credibility, or that they are entirely selective in what they broadcast.

As I said before , I listen to npr myself whenever I'm in the car.In the house if I am not reading, I put the BBC on over the net.I probably could put Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh on over the net-I have never tried but I do actually listen to both of them occasionally over am radio in spots and at times when NPR doesn't "come in".Radio reception is very spotty in these mountians and fades in an out as you go over the hills and into the valleys. It's good to know what everybody is saying if you want to understand American politics.

Liberals seem unable to recognize liberalism when it is staring them in the face because OF COURSE they necessarily believe thier views are balanced and middle of the road.Extremism and dogma are by definition only possible for right wingers.

Or else maybe the intellectual dishonesty extends to actually denying the truth of such a simple matter, as is the case lots of politicians-do as you want, deny that you are doing it, and if forced to admit the truth , plead the higher cause.

Somebody a few days back mentioned how well NPR treated the recently departed Buckley.I somehow think they are well aware that in American politics it is traditional do sing the praises of your DEAD ememies, but it has never stopped the left OR the right from doing all possible to put thier enemies in thier PROFESSIONAL graves.

It is accepted practice to put on the mourning suit of bipartisanship at such times.It's good for the old image among the simple minded, costs nothing, and is sop for both wings.

There are sooooo many radio stations just at the click of a mouse today. Beating NPR, or even Rush, over the head is futile.

The best news about what is going on in this country, the USA, is from another country.

I listen to a different station each day, from a different country. Free your mind.

The best news about what is going on in this country, the USA, is from another country.

You know, you're right. I was flipping around the higher numbered channels on the digital dial, which goes from 001 to 999, and somewhere around #259, right next to Abu Dhabi TV, I hit RT - Russian Television. There were two Russian channels, one in Russian and one in English. On the English one, a Russian broadcaster was interviewing an old Russian journalist who had gotten his first job because he was recommended by Joseph Stalin. Now he was living in the US and was independently wealthy from his books, so he didn't give a damn what anybody thought about his opinions.

Q: "Were things better in the West?" A:"Of course they were, anybody who says otherwise is a fool". Q: "Were you censored under the Stalinist regime?" A: "Of course, everybody was". Q: "What did you think about Stalin getting you your first job?" A: "I appreciated it. Stalin was just being a hypocrite after purging my father, but a job was a job". However, you have to realize that people are equally blunt about the US and will not be nice about things they don't like.

What you get from the US media is the same perspective on all channels. When you're back in Kathmandu after trekking in the high Himalayas, you can switch on the TV and get the satellite feed from Al Jazeera, which has a really good English language service, and compare it against BBC World and CNN. It's nice to know what all the other guys are thinking.

The really scary thing is that a lot of people in remote areas of the world are getting better coverage of US news than a lot of Americans. I'm not kidding about that - a lot of US news coverage by US media is really lousy compared to what the foreign journalists are doing.

You make some good points here Rocky.I've got about a dozen foreign newspapers and news magazines bookmarked and I cruise them frequently.


The Moyers thing is on TV (PBS). See the link above.

Thanks, sorry I'm in such a foul mood but I can't seem to help jumpimg in fir the underdogs, and conservatives are definitely the underdogs here.I jump in for the liberals in crackerbarrel discussions at the local country store.

If anyone actually bothered to tabulate the positions I have advocated here, without my name or rhetorical commentary attached, they would actually take me for a populist or maybe even a classical liberal, and very hard to pin down- for instance,you won't find many conservatives who advocate single payer medicine , but I do-not because I think it is necessarily the best system , but more so because it will break the back of the entrenched parasites fetting rich out of miseryt if it is enacted; and because when we get where we are apparently headed now, it will be the only thing that will work and maintain some sort of stability in the health care field.

I don't believe in subsidies, as a general thing, because I think it is clear that they are wasteful of time, talent, and resources and at BEST less than a zero sum game-subsidies must account for a good bit of the excess investment in construction for instance.

But I recognize that given the dimensions of the energy crisis, subsidies are justified in terms of helping get the renewables industries up and running before it's too late.

I support gay and lesbian rights, except for one minor detail-I think the rest of society , having invested a few thousand years in the idea of marriage being a male /female arrangement is entitled to the use of that word-call gay and lesbian arrangements civil unions or anything else as a gesture of goodwill as victory is achieved in every other respect.

I don't like every little detail of my life arranged from Washington,and I am not about to give up my guns, but I recognize the absolute need for zoning,law enforcement, etc.

I could go on for quite a while but I think most here will recognize that I am a REALIST rather than a right wing puppy dog or a left wing weenie.Life ain't that simple.

And since there is some fun to be had in posting provocative comments and jerking the chains of those who occasionally impress me as needing to loosen thier intellectual neckties a bit before they strangle, I JUST DO IT.

Nobody should ever take ME as seriously as they take themselves. ;)

Unless the subject touches on agriculuture or country living, of course.I have been there and done that and know whereof I speak .

I may otherwise post a comment coming from almost any direction if nobody else is covering the ground in that respect.

I got rid of my last tv set sometime before 1980 and haven't watched tv since but I am thinking about getting one now since there are (supposedly ) lots of good programs available these days on cable or satellite and on dvd.

But everytime I find myself in front of one, it is showing utterly mindless drivel, and I am confodent that the the four or five hours most people spend on tv most evenings has been far better spent with my books.Plus the books don't have maddening repetitive advertisements.

Hey, Mac. Don't bother with the TV. There are a lot of programs, sure. But, only a very few good ones.

If you do get one, science channel, discover, national geographic... these are okay. BBC is cool... Bloomberg does the best financial. Forget Faux News, Faux Economic channel, CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC. Weather channel is okay, also. They even have a few good science programs, and once and the very great while will have something in agricultural, as weather impacts it.

Animal planet is hot and cold. Military channels? forget it! At least from my POV. The original networks? all trash. ABC has some good news on their news channel. Better than average. Sports - too many and who cares.

Whatever you do, stay away from Fox and MSNBC. They are playing a game and neither is reliable.

What else is there? Food, the Green Channel (has some good science, from time to time). History... good once and a while, tends to run junk science a lot, though. UFOs, paranormal, dowsing. DOn't know if they have had abiotic oil, but it would not suprise me. They do run climate change denials... and some good science as well on the same topic. You will get a headache trying to make sense of it.

Whatever you decide, try not to take it all too seriously, and enjoy it. The color is great. HD is wonderful!

Have a great weekend... I will be picking your brain about animal husbandry for sustainable organic farming.



I agree with your choices and recs for TV channels, Zaphod, and I'd add that time spent watching Alton Brown's show on The Food Network, which is called "Good Eats" is often time well spent. I learn some science, with his great coverage of food chemistry, it's entertaining, and the recipes are good.

Wow. You guys just covered just about everything I watch. Well, plus the Simpsons. DOH!


I've had the good fortune to follow your posts on numerous subjects for some time, and though I don't aggree with some of your opinions, you strike me as a thoughtful and reflective type, thus someone I should listen to. However, your assertion of NPR being a bastion of liberal thought does not seem to square with the facts. It's not so much as it's a got a liberal viewpoint, but they are really engaged in continuing Business As Usual, in much the same way the current administration (and congress, and the senate, and both political parties) are.
When I remember all the "Rah Rah America, Let's Get Our War Freak On" chanting that was in full bore in the months leading up the Iraq War, NPR was just as complicit as FoxMSNBCCNN. With the completely insane orgy of materialism and greed that passes for the FIRE component of our economy, NPR was flogging it for all it was worth, perhaps not as mindlessly entertaining as that clown Jim Cramer (I watched his show a couple of times, but it gave me a migraine just watching the fast edit cuts and bad music...I can't believe anybody would take investment advice from some freak who cuts up plastic pigs on Tee Vee with a hatchet). And when real estate prices got to insane, crazy levels in this country, with everybody and their brother convinced they had what it took to become the next Donald Trump and become fastastically rich property investors by taking out ridiculous loans they could never hope to pay back,the sage wags at NPR said nary a word of caution about it...indeed, they thought it a perfectly natural phenomena. After all, everybody knows that Real Estate Always Goes Up.
So, I would have to disagree with you strenuously on any sort of liberal bias I see in the MSM, of which NPR is most assuredly a part of. You are quite right in that issues of import (Peak Oil, SS insolvency, carrying capacity of the planet's ecosystem, ect) get short shrift on NPR, but that would be true of The Wasthington Post, NY Times, Wall Street Journal or Investors Business Daily, along with the aforementioned networks. I guess you could say NPR is the Bill Clinton (or Barack Obama) of news in that they like to portray themselves as liberal or even progressive, but they aren't really. When push comes to shove, we've got one political party in this country, The Corporatist Party (the recent Supreme Court ruling merely codifies this formally) with two factions, the Dems and Reps. It's sort of like General Motors: You have a choice of buying a Chevy or a Pontiac, but your money is still going to the same folks. Given the dire financial straights of GM, I think it a reasonable anology for our country at large.

Pete Deer

Pete -

I totally agree with you - there are no bigger cheerleaders out there than NPR for many aspects of BAU - I find their incessant rooting for housing prices to go up, up, up particularly despicable.

As I remember, during the Bush years there were some shenanigans going on with funding for NPR - I think it may have been threats to de-fund NPR if they didn't offer more "diverse" coverage of events. I can't remember the exact circumstances but I do remember quite an uproar over it at the time...


Pete, If you will post more often ,as as well as you did here,I will step aside and allow you to take the lead in dissecting the mess that is our media.

Of course the liberals and the democrats are almost as deeply invested,lacking just a hair, as we say in the country,in the bau model as the republincs and the plutocrats.

And you are right about NPR becoming more mainstream over the last decade.I noticed that myself, and the difference is obvious.

But everybody who has a show is an obvious and generally self described liberal, by American standards.The bias may not always be blatant , but it is always THERE.

Ditto the newspapers such as the NYT from which most others take thier cues.

Social security would have been just fine if the money put into it by hard working people wasn't stolen by the Feds to pay for wars and tax cuts for the super wealthy.

I'm a registered independent and don't pass anyone's litmus test, but I've known all my life that SS was pretty much just a big Ponzi Scheme, and there was no way that I could end up getting as good a deal as my parent's generation got.

I have been operating under the assumption that we'll get some sort of SS payment, for quite a while at least, but in terms of actual purchasing power it will not be anywhere close to being what we were actually promised. I also expect it to erode further as time goes on. I don't know if it will ever go away entirely during my lifetime; it might, but there will be other traumatic things going on besides just that if it gets to that point.

My plan is to use whatever SS benefits I get only to pay for my Medicare plus Medigap plus whatever other medical expenses I might have, and to bank whatever I have left over in inflation-proof investments. I have no illusions, those Medicare and other medical bills are going to be going up at the same time that SS is going to be going down. Eventually, I'm not going to be able to cover all of my medical expenses with my SS money; that's what the inflation-proofed savings are for.

This plan is, of course, premised on being able to live frugal and debt-free, and to have other, multiple streams of income - including some backup plan - to cover non-medical living expenses. Not everyone is fortunate to be in that situation, but that has been the basic plan I've been working towards for a long time now.

This is not a foolproof plan. There is a very real possibility that I could end up with no SS, no Medicare, exhausted savings, and no way to access and pay for medical care. What I am sure of is that I will by no means be the only person in that boat, and in fact my plan will be able to delay my getting into that boat at least a bit longer than will be the case for most old folks. That's about the best that a non-wealthy person can really expect.

This is the reason why birth rates are going to rise in the U.S., when people realize retirement savings, stocks, pensions, and government programs will not care for them they will begin to have families.

when people realize retirement savings, stocks, pensions, and government programs will not care for them they will begin to have families.

Which is, of course, the worst thing they could do, and will make the problem worse!

Not that it will matter for long. And then, their families will die too.


Agriculture isn't going to go away, I don't buy in to catatonic collapse and die-off shortly after Peak Oil. Those without children will find no one to help them though.

I see quite a bit of mutual aid and support within the gay community, more than in the straight community (including children helping parents).

Best Hopes for my gay friends :-)


Gay men in my experience are often real assetts to thier extended families, making considerable contributions to the overall welfare.I suppose the same is true of lesbians, but I don't know enough well enough to say.

The subject of large versus small families and birth rates after a crash is one that I have spent a good bit of time contemplating without being able to reach a conclusion.It was CUSTOMARY at one time in many cultures to have large families, and the fact that good and CHEAP birth control was not available must have played a considerable role.

Nowadays the large family model in richer societies is broken perhaps beyond quick repair.Young couples don't live on farms, women work outside the home, and birth control is cheap (free for the asking in many cases), effective,and convenient.Furthermore it does not interfere with the pleasure or spontaniety of sex.

If I were young again, and facing a tough life, I believe I would opt for a small family , and that most young women will today INSIST on a small family.BBearing lots of children and looking after them is a very tough job , and Momma herself these days is going to feel entitled to a new pair of shoes and a new dress occasionally.

Old age is something a long ways off, so far offf that it does not really exist for most young people.

We know what Nate Hagens has told us about discount rates.Given the culture these days, I am not sure that young people will seriously consider having a house full of kids as old age insurance, given the price to be paid in the near term.

Furthermore most of them will probably believe in the return of good times and old age money in the mailbox.Or else they won't.

I have asked several older folks , as well as some young ones, about this , and the responses are mixed.

I don't have a clue, assuming the birth control remains cheap and available.

If it is not both cheap and available, we will be back to six kids per woman probably.

It's actually catabolic collapse. And, agriculture will continue. Just not intensive monoculture (factor farming).

Numbers will fall because, without ammonia fertilizers, made from natural gas, and without huge tractors, it will not be possible to feed 6.8 Billion (current estimate). So, numbers will come down, one way or another.

And, I do not recommend no kids. Just not many. At least for now. Later, when medical science is reduced to a few natural herbs and some wonderful, but increasingly ineffective antibiotics, plus vaccines, life expectancies will fall a bit. Hopefully we will retain some of our infrastructure and knowledge to make things more comfortable, but don't count on much.

The old way of big families being a substitute for social security will no longer work. That was part of BAU, early in the industrial age. It may become important again, later. When you see America with population 100 Million, or less, then you can think about it.

And, I don't think 'buying in' is going to matter. If it did, I would be in line to do that right now! It is not something that you can buy out of either. It is on the way... if we had begun preparations about 25 years ago, we might have a better life ahead. That would have meant meaningful family planning, limiting families, reducing head count, creating a new energy and transportation infrastructure. In 25 years, it could have been done, 25 years ago. Today, since it would take a significant investment in energy, mostly from fossil fuels, and since we no longer have sufficient fossil fuels left, we need instead to focus on the transportation, and doing what we can about energy. With a bit of luck, we could get those ducks in a row... but it would take far more Political Willpower, and personal sacrifice for the present generation of what passes for leadership today.

Oh, just to clarify, I do not think it will all happen in a few months or years. It is going to be a decades long process. Not until food shortages become acute will the die off be fast, and then not for very long since that will be fast. Mostly, I am afraid, from warfare, insurrection, and anarchy. Civil unrest will be more local in the USA and other developed nations, some areas suffering more than others. When that runs its course, the survivors will know what happened, and begin what we should be doing now. I can only hope some of my children and grandchildren will make it through. And yours. We will need all the optimists we can get!


My mistake on catabolic, that was a strange typo I made. I'm not convinced life expectancies will drop if you make it through the initial problems, there will still be advancements in medical sciences. Scientists are still playing with nanotech and other things. We can have beneficial black swan events, they all don't need to be bad. I don't buy the U.S. population collapsing that much, even in WWII populations were not devastated to that degree. I believe P.O. will largely be an economic and transportation issue, not the catalyst that sends us back to some quasi 1910 lifestyle. I bet we'll still have computers and they will be even faster than they are today.

My son is a techie... he says they are working on organic computers. I don't understand all of that, and I believe that there will be some electric power, even after the crash. Not as much... maybe interrupted every now and then, perhaps frequently for a while. We do need to set up a new electrical infrastructure - and transportation. Maybe we have sufficient fossil fuels for that, but I am not sanguine about it.

Hope you are right... I am preparing my family for the worst, that way they will prosper either way. If they survive, that is.

Are you holed up behind thick walls? My plan involves distance from urban centers, and lack of fuel and knowhow by the rowdies.

Good lucy to ya, Floridian.

Have a nice day.


I'm not that close to any major urban centers, I plan to move out of here in a few years. I'm tired of living in one giant never ending stretch of homes and businesses and having no real long term job prospects here. I plan to move to New England where I have family. I'm sure the urban areas will be a mess, but I'm pretty well prepared for any civil unrest. I'm looking at installing burglar bars on some downstairs windows in my garage, just in case.

I actually like "catatonic collapse" better, considering I think the "writer" associated with the term to be a pretentious windbag.

I hesitate to make predictions, but my personality is declinist. I do expect that the decline will be uneven, both in ways of life (high tech eBikes + reduced medical care) and nations.

Sweden and the other Nordic social democracies are likely to see changes, but no real decline in their quality of life, just details in the way that they live it.

The USA may (depending on choices yet to be made) be the Argentina of the 2020s, the 2030s and 2040s. A series of failures, inequities and declines. A 3rd World nation by every measure except military power. The worst affected of the current OECD nations.

Best Hopes for Canada,


I dunno, Alan. I think Britain will have it worse. Or maybe it comes down to how we measure "worst" -- depth of GDP crash, number of hungry people, or residual per-capita energy and income say for the middle 80%?

I tend to think quality of life will be a function of a nation's resources and the ratio of the top few percent to the bottom few percent -- too much inequality will cause strife, and that's where we're headed now I fear.

The UK may give the USA a run for their money. Fewer resources, but they are a member of the EU. And they have a bit more national self discipline (once they get going).

The saving grace of the Nordic socialists may be conservative values (also shared by the conservative Swiss).

Be prepared is more than a Boy Scout motto.

Disciplined, willing to "sacrifice" consumption today for future benefits.

Doing the "right thing" simply because it is the right thing to do.


While California cannot enact a nickel gas tax with financial disaster looming.

I wish I could articulate a bit better tonight what I am trying to say.

Best Hopes for Change,


Let me give an example.

In 1998, the people of Switzerland voted to spend 31 billion Swiss francs (= to USA voters approving $1 trillion) to improve their already excellent rail system. Completion in 20 years (from memory)

Many goals from such a massive investment, but #1 was shifting freight from trucks to (hydro) electric rail.

This will *NOT* buy complete immunity for the Swiss from post-Peak Oil, but it will be better with these improvements than without.
The French are due to complete electrification of their railroads by 2025, and to build a tram line in every town of 100,000 or larger. 1,500 km of new tram lines this decade. Plus more TGV lines, bicycles, etc.


We can have beneficial black swan events, they all don't need to be bad.

True, but I sure as heck wouldn't want to base public policy on the the chance of that being the case. I'm not too happy about the odds.

Since the extended family went away with the downtowns & inner cities (all part of the increased social isolation coupled with the white flight to Suburbia), one cannot rely upon their children for significant support during their old age.

The children will have their own nuclear families and they will come first, or their own consumption will drive excuses for not doing much for Mom and Dad.

The world created in the USA post-WW II (especially those changes advocated by conservatives) have severed the extended family bonds, or at least severely weakened them.

Unless you raise your children right, and are lucky, they will not support you during your old age.

Best Hopes for caring and compassion,


These changes will only come about due to possible structural changes in the future, historically families have been able to support each other due to them not moving very far away.

It is cultural attitudes, *FAR* more than distance.

In my observations, raise your kids to be bleeding heart liberals, for they are the ones who will step up to the plate and make the sacrifices. See Greenish (here on TOD) for one example.

It is the conservative Republican siblings that cannot find the time, but can find excuses.

With the exceptions of LDS (Mormons) families.


Best Hopes for Populating your own Planet.



My five kids look after one another, after a childhood and adolescence of competing for turf, fighting, and rebelling against school and parental authority. Amazing to see them so close. I make no claim on them, since their mother and I separated in their teen years. I'm glad for their friendship.

My old age support is the young man I met after my wife and and I split. We've been together 27 years this month, and we have a circle of gay friends for emotional support. So I guess we're advertisements both for family, and for the families people construct for themselves.

The thing is, we do need other people. Too bad the church story is breaking down just when people need to be gathering in community for self-help. Even Kunstler, no fan of faith, sees a role for something like church in his vision of the near future in upstate New York.

My parents live in an over-55 condo community. They tell me that all of their neighbors complain about their children being states away, rarely seeing them, and having to cope without them. I'm one of the few who lives nearby and actually helps out my parents.

Having children is no guarantee that they will actually be around to be of any help for you when you need them. They will have lives of their own, after all.

Why Be Libertarians?

Why be libertarian, anyway? By this we mean, what's the point of the whole thing? Why engage in a deep and lifelong commitment to the principle and the goal of individual liberty? For such a commitment, in our largely unfree world, means inevitably a radical disagreement with, and alienation from, the status quo, an alienation which equally inevitably imposes many sacrifices in money and prestige. When life is short and the moment of victory far in the future, why go through all this?

It is our view that a flourishing libertarian movement, a lifelong dedication to liberty can only be grounded on a passion for justice. Here must be the mainspring of our drive, the armor that will sustain us in all the storms ahead, not the search for a quick buck, the playing of intellectual games or the cool calculation of general economic gains. And, to have a passion for justice, one must have a theory of what justice and injustice are – in short, a set of ethical principles of justice and injustice, which cannot be provided by utilitarian economics.

Free Market Libertarians don't oppose all taxes and fees. We only oppose Personal Income Tax, which happens to be completely immoral and unconstitutional. There are other types of taxes which would be more than sufficient for a limited government to operate.

If you don't like dry parks, then privatize them. Let there be an open bid for a private company to manage the parks and charge an entry fee. This way it will be more efficient.

Can't afford enough cops? Let people carry their weapons to defend themselves. Decriminalize drugs to drive crime out of this lucrative business. Less crime means less need for cops.

I hope Colorado Springs moves to Libertarianism and actually implements the philosophy of Mises & Rothbardian Free Market economics, which will make the city truely sustainable.

"Can't afford enough cops? Let people carry their weapons to defend themselves."

In other words, 'The Wild West will rise again! Yeehaw!'

We're a social animal, and we form groups that create rules of conduct. I think Libertarians are largely offended by the suggestion that anyone else, or 'the group' can create a rule that they have to live by.

Why have agreements and common understandings, when we can all just have guns instead?

Clerk at 'Bloodbath and Beyond';
"I'm sorry, Mr. Simpson, but there's a three day waiting period for purchasing a Handgun in this state.."

"... But I'm angry NOW!!"

I happen to enjoy Libertarian views... but your statement on Income Taxes is absurd, and would take about 20 pages or so to discuss. So I won't do it here, except to say that Income Tax for common activities is a must. Sales tax won't cut it, since the richest few spend such a small portion of their wealth. Would you prefer a tax on personal property? Illinois had that and found it unworkable. Assets were taxed on a given date. On that date, amazingly, the richest few transferred their stocks, bonds and other items of value for 'reregistration.' Thus, only the poor people were taxed. VAT? Well, it is passed along as cost of goods sold, so who pays for that? The people who must purchase items... the poor. Rich, again, avoid it by hoarding wealth. Want to see what happens when wealth is hoarded? Check out Spain. They had all the gold in the world (figuratively speaking) and hoarded it. To no avail.

No... the only real measure is income. Corporation should be taxed at the highest personal tax rate, and when they pass along the income they pass along the tax payments in a w-2 or similar document. So that, if you, as a shareholder, pay tax at a 18% or 25% rate, you get cfredit for payment on the dividend at 38%. Any net income retained by the corporation is taxed at highest personal tax rate. That way corporate taxes are not doubled. Sort of like C-Corps do today. Oh... I think laws should be changed so that shareholders are personally liable for corporate crimes, negligence, etc., if the corporation goes belly up. That is called personal responsibility. Strange concept for our corporate masters, isn't it.

Also... how about mandatory tax assessment for each spending bill passed. For instance, based on last year's GDP, net income, or whatever, the spending for this year is assessed. Pay as you go. Set, maybe 3 tax rates, maximum. No loopholes. Income less expenses of earning it. No special favors for homeowners. Deductions for loans for business purposes, yes. For personal purposes, no. When a bill is passed that spends money, it is added to the 'pot,' and there is automatically a tax passed for that bill. That way you don't get Republican Senators passing spending bills and claiming that they do not pass taxing bills. Recognizes that all bills that spend tax, eventually. It just does it in real time. Figure out paydown of debt over 50 years; that is a base item that must be done.

I know it would hurt the banks nopt to be able to loan the money to the US treasury, but that would be phased out over 50 years... they could live with it.

Any way, many items could be taxed directly in a special way. For instance, compute the impact of cigarettes on public health. Tax cigarettes what it costs in public health benefits for the damage they cause. Same with coal emissions, etc. Highways should be tollways, or most of them at least. Pay as you go. People who don't benefit would not have to pay. Police... income tax. Public health? I don't know. I think it is something that should NOT be done by people who make more money if they hurt people (by not providing health care). I know there is a strange fear about that in people's minds, but if doctors were paid well, and med school was free (paid by taxes, which is not really the same thing, but to the participants who qualify it would be no fees charged, or fees deferred and repaid from service in national medical care programs, etc. They could still practice privately, say as plastic surgeons, or bariatrics, etc.), it should be doeable. I would even suggest that, along with water, gas and power should be public, but local, and paid through use taxes. Anything that is necessary for life should be public. Otherwise, you have groups allowed to make you an "offer you cannnot refuse." Sort of strains the logic of free markets, doesn't it!?

Anyway, one day I might do that extended article, or even a 150-200 page book on the subject of Libertarian/Progressive economics. I do NOT want to see 'everyone" carrying a piece! Most people would not be able to use it, and those who were sociopathic enough to do so would become the bully lords of the world!

If you have hefty income taxes, you discourage people from earning those marginal dollars. I'm squarely there already -- each added dollar not only carries the highest marginal tax rate but indexes out all sorts of deductions. It's just not worth the work to make the extra dollars, and I don't make that much money.

The rich do spend a lot more than poor people in absolute dollars. But they also make most of their money via investments rather than salary, and they have control over wealth more than income. Maybe a small monthly "wealth tax" for property/investments over $1M would be less regressive, and provide incentive for the middle-class to work hard and save, and rich to spend versus save?

Perhaps the better solution is for the gov't to simply spend a lot less, and for people to expect a lot less that they don't work to pay for.

I would be willing to listen to that. We need to have people sit down and discuss these things. There are options, none of them pleasant, but we need to deal with some of these problems. If we don't they will just get worse!


Perhaps the better solution is for the gov't to simply spend a lot less, and for people to expect a lot less that they don't work to pay for.

No, no, no!

It would violate all the 'entitlement' that I was brought up to expect :)

Are you f-ing kidding? 38% marginal rate (add 2 percent for medicare?) is nothing.

Even when the marginal rate was 90%, back in the 50s, people still earned at that level.

And, if the top rate starts in the seven digit range? You gotta be kidding.

Plus, it is possible to rate the taxes based on present anticipated national income, compared to projected spending. and using a 3-tiered rating you can come up with something that is quite fair and equitable.

And, it recognizes implicitly that rich people place more demands on and get more utility from the commons than poor people. The drive more, have more stuff to steal (so they take more police), are the ones who demand longer prison terms (increasing the cost of "justice"), attend megachurches that pay no tax on their property, and demand fire and police protection, purchase more goods (using more natural resources), and demand military spending be high to combat 'terror.' They should pay a high rate. NOt that I advocate 90% - unless national spending gets that high. What I really want is a pay as you go system, taxing people as you spend their money, so there is a clear causal connection. That way, every one will know why their taxes are high. If we want to get our tax rates way high, we can do it... we just need to be honest about it! And, we need to get serious about taking down the deficit and decreasing spending that is not needed. I would say start with the military. Bring home the troops. From Japan, from Germany, from Iraq, from Afghanistan, from everywhere. Decide how many we need to protect our shores, and keep them here. That way the money gets spent in our neck of the woods, not out in the Eurozone, or the far East somewhere.

Next. have a good close look at our penal codes. Victimless crimes, what I call "feel good" crimes, should not be crimes at all. How many people are marginalized today from the year they decided to take off and do dope?

Big government regulatory agencies seem inefficient. Set up clear laws that protect our citizens. Then, let our citizens do the enforcement. If you engage in monopolistic behavior that is illegal, the little guy sues you. You lose, you pay his bill, and you disgorge. At certain levels, maybe it becomes criminal. Then the enforcement is the US District Attorney, or the State DA/State's Attorney, etc. Make all the officers criminally responsible. All corporate criminals. If found guilty, they lose everything. No jail time, though. But they become homeless and penniless. NO trust accounts. No homestead protection. No exempt retirement. Nothing. They get poor, sudden and complete. Spouse also. Make giving them aid a crime as well... you help them, you join them. The stuff those folks lose goes to the winners, or to the state. Give 'em food stamps and public assistance, and let them live in the projects! Yeah! Cabrini Green for all of them! Oh... and a felony record, with notice to all what they are. Greedy bastards! Maybe they should lose their vote as well. Yeah.

But I am doing a rant... need to calm down.

::deep breath::

What I really wanted to say, the point I wanted to make is that our tax rates are extremely low. Rich people enjoy all sorts of breaks... they get most of their income in ways that are taxed at the lowest rates... 10%. Much exempted from payment by special interest laws. They have 'Alaska Trusts' to keep in in the family forever (IMO we need to make them illegal everywhere. Pass a National Rule Against Perpetuities! By Constitutional Amendment if need by, but we need to get it done, and quickly.) Corporations have been declared people - but under the Rule of Dodge vs. Ford, they cannot be good people. They must, by law, be greedy! And, today, a 38% marginal income tax rate is laughable. They don't pay that much. They are amused that we think the marginal rate is high. It is not discouraging... it does not make me want to earn less than I do... and we pay a high rate. Much of my income is from my business, and considering that I pay both parts of ss and medicare, I am taxed as high as anyone on my next dollar. And, I am happy to pay it! I wish I could make more, so I could pay more!

Anyone who does not like our tax rate, I suggest they just go somewhere else and pay the tax rate there... oh, and still earn what they earn here. At least we are still working - and getting some pension benefits - and, yes, social security... but I am still working! I have grandchildren to support, and to put through school. It will be a good long time before I even consider stopping, if I do. I am buying some land for when that happens, and then I plan on doing some citizen farming. Maybe not enough to sell, but I hope to grow what we eat, plus a little for the kids. Hard work? I don't know much else. Maybe a bit of golf? So... life is not that bad right now. I am enjoying it. I am not excited by what I see coming, and while I know our country is great, I still want it to be better. More fair. I want more to share in the common good. I have enough... more would be nice, but not at the expense of someone else starving, or living without hope.

Many years ago, I lived in the Detroit Michigan area. Not long after the riots that burned out so much. I was able to drive out of downtown, on Grand Avenue, up to and past 8 Mile Road. I was impressed. I tried to imagine a black person living in Detroit, driving that route, and seeing the sudden, dramatic change as he entered Southfield. It was like the part of Wizzard of Oz where Dorothy lands in Oz and the film goes from black and white to color. That dramatic. That stark. It must be extremely depressing to grow up, to be a young adult, seeing that landscape every day, and having little or no hope. It would drive me crazy! If paying a bit more tax to support a well thought out program to bring hope, say through serious educational reforms, to those kids. I would do that. America should do that. We are better than we have become! Greed is NOT good! Greed is evil! The economics that promote greed, that encourage it, are evil. That is why I rile against the neocons, and even against Bill Clinton, since he was part of the cabal of greed that changed us, distorted us, made us purveyors of evil.

When Michelle Obama said that, for the first time she felt pride in being an American, I could understand that. I knew what it was, in the 40s and 50s, to be an American. Even in the early 60s, I could walk in Europe with my head held high. People liked us... they respected us... and now we have become, what? More and more, we have become what we fought against. It makes me sick. It is a travesty, and an offense to the wonderful people who helped Europe to end fascism.

So... when your tax bill comes, I would hope that you think about this. What should we be doing that we are not? How can we reduce stupid programs, wasteful spending, and excess, and how can we become more what we have been in the past? Who are we cheating when we ask for tax reductions? Repeal the Estate Tax? NO! Raise it... lower exemptions, reduced exclusions. Let the dead pay more so the living can keep more of what they are earning, in real time. Radical? No! American! Once it was even Christian.

Sorry for the long rant, Paleocon. I have had a bad week, and your griping about tax rates that are low sort of set me off. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and that my direst fears for the near future are not realized. I still like your wealth tax suggestion, and want to work with my liberal and conservative friends to help find a way to, perhaps, mend our nation. If they don't get together soon, we will need to form that new party. I will vote for you if your platform includes the wealth tax, and a serious national discussion.

Best for the future!


Actually, we can agree on almost everything you wrote, especially on the "pay as you go" part -- that's always my first place to start. We can argue about the priority of what gets spent, but let's agree that we spend what we have and no more. If we want more, we swallow hard and tax more. If we want lower taxes, we cut spending. Sounds so simple!

There is a wide gap between a "privileged" lifestyle earning most of their income from investment income (with little taxation) and a professional income that comes from a salary. On the latter I struggle mightily to cover all my expenses and cherish every deduction. On the former, many can control a vast fortune and yet pay very little in taxes. Of course the goal should be to encourage everyone to save and invest for themselves but not create vast inequity.

Really, I think that's the key point -- if you have multi-generational, institutionalized wealth on one side and perpetually institutionalized poor at the bottom, the ratio between them is a measure of your societal dysfunction.

I think we'd still have the same arguments if the top 10% was making $150K and the bottom 10% made $15K, but if everybody had jobs and opportunity the rancor would be less. It's when we have a small but significant of billionaires and a large base worth less than zero that we are facing unrest.

Thanks for you candor. Good weekend to you too!

You are right on! Thank you. There are days I need to vent... like today. Bad week.

I am doing my taxes this weekend, so...



I support income taxes and don't understand why income from any form, wages, interest and dividends, capital gains, is not taxed at the same marginal rate. Income is income. To me its just a lot of sturm and drang, ever 4-8 years these rates get bumped up or pushed down and adjusted here for this group and nudged there for that group, always with the cry of this will help the economy and be more fair.

To all that I say bullshit. Pick a rate or two, apply it to all sorts of income and adjust those rates as needed for whatever level of spending is occuring over a 5 or ten year average. Rate X on the 1st $$$$$ amount of income and Rate Y on anything above, or 3 rates or whatever. Your taxes should take less than 1 hour to compute on 1 side of a single sheet of paper. How much waste and inefficiency is there in all of the households and businesses in figuring and complying with the gazillion pages of tax codes at the city, state and federal levels. Perhaps that time and effort could be used to more productive purposes.

Get rid of all the various deductions and rebates and loopholes etc, etc., including on homes and children -sorry no favorites here. Let investment and purchase decisions be based on the real economics over time, not some short term tax benefit that will be changed again when the next admin or congress gets into office.

Continue with excise taxes such as on fuel closer to the EU model (higher in graduated steps over time) to encourage wiser use of the depleting and more expensive resource, and new alternaives, bulld more bicycle lanes as roads are repaved.

I am sure I am missing something, this is off the top of my head and my blood is starting to rise as I glance over at my table with my tax forms which I need to start working on.

Of course this will not allow the politicians to distribute favors and then what would they do with all their time?
Why they might have time to reflect on history and current trends in society and get educated on life here in these United States and the ROW, and work on taking a long term view and plan strategically instead of getting prepped by their staffers and lobbyists for their next soundbite opportunity.

If you factor in estate taxes after FICA and other things, the real tax rate in this country is very high. You basically pay taxes on that money when you earn it and then the government steals it to give away when you die. Besides, what would the higher tax rates be spent on? Education - will the world need a bunch of liberal arts majors 20 years from now? Would it be used to pay the Chinese to ship jobs back after they move? I guess with PO they won't be able to flee overseas as Globalism will probably die but then I'm not sure where they'll be getting the tax money from in the U.S. as too many are out of work even today. The problems in this country are structural, a service economy does not work for everyone, mass immigration keeps wages down for the less educated, the good jobs simply do not exist anymore.

Okay, tell me how the government "steals" it from YOU after you die?

After you die, you're dead. If you owed any debts at the time, those get paid. Anything left over, well it's fair game as far as I'm concerned.

How about, like I said elsewhere, the IRS lets your kiddies buy anything they want from your estate by paying the tax on it, at a favorable interest rate, over time? I mean, I would be glad to purchase a business, say a farm or a small manufacturing plant of some sort, for 45% of the value, at US Bond rates, over 25 or 30 years. As it is, if I want to make that purchase, I need to put up about 20% or so down, prove that I don't need to borrow the money, and pay Libor plus 3, rated at 10 years, balloon in 5. And, I pay full value... But then, I'm not rich. I can afford it. You rich guys, now. You need the breaks, don't you?

Oh, it is SOOOOO confiscatory!!! Boo Hoo. Go to Europe. Go live in Africa. Find somewhere that you will get a better break than you do he3re, where your tax rate will be lower and your income higher! When you do please tell me about it. Until then, quitcherbellyaching! You rich people don't have anything to complain about! Certainly not taxes!

::Breathe, Craig. Breathe::

I get so tired of hearing this crap! Your taxes are NOT too high. You live in a great country! We do need education, including liberal arts education. More than that, we need engineers in particular (Thanks, Westexas!), so yes, we spend it on education. We spend it on common infrastructure such as transportation, power, water and the like. We use it to maintain a standing army (conscripted, not professional), and to provide a judicial system, a system of laws, police and so forth.

Get over it, Floridian. I am doing my taxes tomorrow (spent the day, today, between posting here, collecting receipts, checks, etc. Getting ready, that is. It will take me most of tomorrow and Sunday. Don't like doing it, but I don't mind having to pay the taxes. I think I mostly get my money's worth, other than the stupid, stupid war that W lied us in to. He's the second Pres to do that in my lifetime. First one was LBJ! Hate 'em both with a similar passion. But, this is a democracy, and we seem to have voted in a few programs that I do and a few that I do not like. Being a member of the body politic, I have an obligation of support, and yes, loyalty, to the country. Paying taxes is part of citizenship. If you are so inclined, you might read the Bible and see what Jesus said about that. Now there was a neat guy, if he existed. Only time he got mad, he chased the bankers out of the temple! Think about that one. ...

I'm done.


The problem with taxing the rich is the definition of "rich" seems to decrease as time goes on. First it's only the people with beach house mansions, then it gets to me. I don't need to basically use my biological fitness to raise other people's children in the form of taxes. The U.S. WAS great, it gets worse as each day goes on. Look at how our percentage of world GDP has dropped since the 50s. The American Century is over. We could fix things with protective tariffs, but Peak Oil is likely to break the back of globalism anyways.

I'm ruled by oligarchs and wannabe gangsters at every level of government. My county commissioners are all from Chicago and regularly wind up in prison, my property value goes down and they jack up the rates. My representative doesn't even live in my district, he lives on the other side of the country. This is a Republic, not a Democracy. The only thing people are interested in this country is money. There is no common heritage, no common cultural, there is not even a national language. This whole country is turning into one giant, failed social experiment.

In the past century of inflation, it doesn't help at all that entitlements are almost universally indexed to inflation, yet tax brackets aren't. That's why the AMT is such a big deal. Many middle-class workers are hitting the "taxes on the rich" from a few decades back.

Cities had parks before they had federal funding and income taxes.

The only "fair" tax is a sales tax or a use fee, because you can choose to incur it or avoid it -- no money, don't do it!

Of course such taxes can be regressive if not properly structured.

I think income taxes are less onerous than property taxes though -- if you lose your job you can avoid income taxes, but nothing buy cash keeps you from losing your home.

Unfortunately I suspect we'll see new fees based on revenue or production rather than "income" though -- such as VATs. Then the gov't can get a slice even if you're losing money, and their volatility will be less.

Nothing is perfect, and increasingly hard decisions will have to be made.

The thing about VAT, though: almost all other nations of any note have it. When we try to sell our exports to them, they get taxes. When they sell their exports to us, they get a rebate on their VAT from their home government, and we don't tax them.

Any wonder why the US runs a perpetual trade deficit?

We are SO stupid.

I hate to be blunt but hard core libertarians have thier heads up thier backsides even father than hard core left and right wingers.

But there is a certain amount of food for thought in the hard core libertarian position.I am not in favor of everybody packing, but I have lived in a subset of our society where the ony rational thing is to ASSUME everybody is, and it was not nearly as violent as other places I have visited or lived, such as New York City in the eghties or Washington DC or downtown Richmond, Va.

And one thing is for sure in such a place as the pistol packing hills of a few decades back-robbery , rape, house breaking,assualt,car theft, and similar activities are not conducive to long life and good health.

It is true that quite a few people di get shot, on a per capita basis, but it is also true that most of them actually needed shooting.It helped keep the population down and the community sustainable in more ways than one.Lawyers, jailers, judges and cops are not primary producers, and the fewer they are in number, if there is no true need of them, the better.The hundred oor so deputies that patrol most counties in the East these days ARE necessary, within the current scheme, but they burn thru a lot of cars, gas, health care, and pensions provided by rural folks who used to just shoot the occasional burglar or cow thief.

The ABC agents made drinking alcohol more expensive but not safer-if moonshine were not forced into the black market, nobody would dare make it in a lead soldered car radiator for fear of his life upon a customer going blind and his brother taking care of business.

I am most certainly not advocating a return to such a society-I'm simply pointing out that such societies worked, and worked better, than is generally acknowledged.

I live in ...them thar hills, and everyone I know packs, at least a pistol. Sometimes it's on the person, but always in the pickup. Everyone has guns at home, and at least one of them is loaded. On the mountain I carry a 1911 Colt.

We have no crime rate. We have 4 Deputies for the county, including the Sheriff. They give speeding tickets to the tourists.

Funny thing is we all get along swell.

Best from the Fremont

Fremont/mac -- Just a reality check from my perspective: One of the scariest things I can imagine is a nervous/untrained individual thinking they can defend themselves with a firearm if they are threatened. Equally scary is not having a firearm handy to protect me and mine. Long ago the Houston PD made it very clear (unofficially, of course): they are there to investigate crime...not prevent it. I may have missed it but in my 30 years in Houston I have not seen one case where HPD directly prevented someone from being killed/raped/hurt. And that's not a dis on our cops. They do the best they can. But they are not our body guards. But it's real simple: if you're attacked in your home, business, car, etc, it is expected that you defend yourself. It's almost statistically impossible for a cop to be at hand to do it.

Thus many folks here are armed...especially since concealed carry permits have become very easy to acquire. And that does make be cautious. I worry about getting shot by an honest but jumpy citizen. We have a lot of folks here proficient with a weapon. But not nearly that many emotionally prepared to use deadly force. A lot of folks know it ain't like the movies. But many don't. But the bad guys in Houston also have a strong track record: they will just as readily shoot you without offering the option to turn over whatever they are after. Compared to D.C. Houston is very safe...especially if you don't stupidly put yourself in a dangerous setting. I can't imagine what might be the constant fear some of those folks face.

Many law enforcement officers only practice with their gun a few times a year when they are required to qualify with it. I don't know if I'd consider them "trained".

I hear ya Rock.

For a while I was worried that the concealed carry laws would not last because enough idiots who totally lack judgement , or else scumbags without court records, would use thier pieces in panic, error, or planned robbery.

I have been very pleasantly suprised at just how well the lawabiding carrying public has handled this responsibility.

Your point about the man being there to investigate crimes, rather than prevent them , cannot be overemphasized.

In my younger days,I looked pretty tough, being usually dressed roughly , big, muscular,streetwise/self confident and so forth, and never worried about getting assualted or robbed-I went where I pleased and didn't look worth robbing.

Nowadays I am very grateful that I can legally carry as I do sometimes have business in unsafe places and am now too old and fat to even run away.

LOL mac. I know exactly what you mean. With my knees shot I can't get away from trouble like I once could. Now I just try real hard to avoid risky situations. But when I do have to stop for gas in a bad area at 2 AM it's comforting to feel that weight under my belt. Always hidden but readily available.

Your sales tax, if applied to what are considered "necessaries," would be extremely regressive. Again, it is an "offer you cannot refuse." Anything that is necessary to life and health, including shelter, food, basic levels of heat (in the North) and cooling (in the South), medical care, and basic clothing. Also, of course, basic education. Public education was originally set up, in the Northwest Ordinances, for the purpose of enabling citizen farmers to read and write enough to cast an intelligent vote! These should not be taxed. Anything else... have at it! It is optional, and no one can extort people since people can say, "No."

Public safety cannot be outsourced to private providers. Nor can common items like water and transportation, since they are paramount to survival.

These things are sometimes referred to as the "commons." d

We need public discussions and understanding, without faux news distortions.

Good luck to us all.

Have a nice day.


You expect children to be carrying loaded handguns? Grannies with palsy?

Guns are great.
They can help control speeding vehicles and OUIs, they could help to get kittens out of trees, solve domestic disputes.. they're GREAT at clarifying for a Judge or a City Council the origins of a dispute, or guide traffic around a construction zone, there's just no end to what a Free Market gun can do for us!


Where I live the police are generally regarded as ineffective and corrupt and sometimes straight forward criminal. Its like they are not there. The lack of effective law enforcement has (in my opinion) a negative effect on quality of life.

Most people here do not go out alone after dark, and will not go out after midnight at all. Sleepover parties aren't just for kids. Road trips are done by bus or in convoy so that you aren't stranded on the highway. All inter-city busses have metal detectors and frisk you and take your picture while you get on. (If you're a woman and want on the bus, you let the man frisk you) People get robbed on the bus anyways.

Most parking lots have security guards. If you carry cash you carry some in your pocket to give to the robbers, some in your shoe and some in your underwear. If you carry credit or debit cards you know how to cancel them fast. Laptops and cameras are carried wrapped in a towel inside a cheap old bag and people plan to lose their expensive phones frequently. I dont wear any jewlery at all.

I have heard some stories of people fighting off a robber or running away, but have never heard of someone successfully using a gun to defend themselves. I have also heard of people dying when resisting robbery. I peed myself the other day when I was walking home at dusk, and a teenage boy pretended to pull out a gun when we passed each other on the sidewalk. He thought I was going to rob him and I thought he was going to kidnap me. It was a simple case of mistaken identity, but very unnerving. I am still thanking my lucky stars that he had a black cellphone in a holster not a gun.

Private security guards are more decorative than useful unless someone is willing to pay them and train them well enough that they will risk their life. I think that the amount that we spend on security and loose in productivity is well above what it would cost to maintain a decent police force.

Where the h*ll do you live? I think its time to move!

My guess would be South Africa.

Best Hopes for the World Cup,


Caracas, Venezuela. I still see many reasons to continue living here. I really love my job. People here have much more freedom than where I came from. I learn object lessons in reduced energy lifestyles all the time. You can eat fresh mangoes off the trees. People genuinely know haw to smile and be happy (I'm learning).

I also truly believe that the security problems are a temporary thing. Its that there is a constant dichotomy between one system and another, and somehow crime prevention/law enforcement slipped into the void between. I am pleased to say that they do seem to deal firmly with corrupt bank CEOs, and the chaos caused by unenforced liquor and traffic laws is entirely inconsequential.

Even though I travel around the countryside by myself extensively and nothing bad has happened to me so far. I think the worst crime happens to the people who have conspicuous wealth, insufficient means to defend it, and who refuse to recognize that disparity as fuel for the fire.

Where I live the police are generally regarded as ineffective and corrupt and sometimes straight forward criminal. Its like they are not there. The lack of effective law enforcement has (in my opinion) a negative effect on quality of life.

Similar sentiments exist here and the poorer you are the worse an opinion you tend to have. Where I live, the public image of the police force just this Friday received a major body blow. The front page newspaper headline; Monster ammo find in Mountain View. As it turns out, a police sergeant who was apparently in a key post at the police armory was held in this bust. It is quite difficult to get a permit to own/carry a gun here and possession of an unlicensed firearm or ammunition can get you in very serious trouble with the law. The sales of guns and ammo are supposed to be very tightly controlled so, it is really ironic that a black market gun and ammo operation was going on with the involvement of a policeman who had access to the police armory and that some of the contraband was apparently from the armory.

I have more to say about the state of law and order in Jamaica but I will include that in a reply to another post in a similar vein by OFM.

Alan from the islands

True jokuhl. They can also be usefull to hold a drug crazed idiot at bay after he just stabbed your neighbor's pregnant wife. Fortunately she survived with no serious injury and the idiot was coherent enough to realize he would have died had he not dropped the knife and lay on the ground. The cops agreed how lucky he was...when they got there about 15 minutes later.

Just one incident and it doesn't prove anything. Except, of course, both she and the idiot survived the incident because someone with a fairly even temperment was armed. And to be honest it could have been worse...the husband wanted me to give him my pistol so he could kill the idiot. Like I said above: not everyone should have access to a firearm. I've seldom seen perfect solutions. But a simple question for you: had he attacked someone you cared about would you have wanted an armed neighbor next door? And yes, it did affect me but not until the next morning. Just decided I wanted to stay in bed all day and listen to the oldies radio station.

::deep breath::

Second Amendment rights. I support them. I made my living while in college by selling guns in several towns.

Most people don't know how to handle them. I cannot count the number of times I pushed gun barrels away from me when customers pointed them at me. First rule: all guns are loaded. Second rule: never point a gun at someone unless you really want to kill them. Third rule: See rule 1.

Having said that, we are not really talking about "carry laws" here. We are talking about serious civil unrest, where armed idiots are rampaging and looting is going on. If about 20 armed morons are coming at you, having a gun might make you think you should stay and shoot it out. That could be bad. And, it elevates the level of conflict.

OTOH, if between a rock and a hard place... the morons are coming and you cannot leave, having a piece might be fine. If you have the mentality that allows you to shoot the bloody thing. Seems to me I heard that during WWII, only one in five or so actually shot their weapons during a battle. It takes a certain callousness to point a gun at someone and pull the trigger. So... you might instead decide to yell or something. And die.

Hence my earlier remark that, if we are without an organized constabulary of some sort, and everyone is carrying, it will be the sociopaths who win. They will not hesitate. Eventually, as happened in the "wild west" the citizens will hire one of the sociopaths and pay them for protection. Police! My hope is that we do not have the sort of breakdown the leads to this type of anarchical behavior. That would seem to infer that we should have an armed police and a court system at the least. Classic Libertarians allow for this, and a small army (some, like me, want the army to be conscripted. Professional armies have a way of transferring their loyalty to their colonels instead of the civilian body politic.).

Glad you didn't shoot the moron, anyway. I've seen good people lose thier lives in a stupid moment of drugged moronity. Full disclosure: my youngest son died in just that way.

Good luck carrying. Hope you don't ever meet a faster gun.


In those nightmare scenarios, you and your neighbors had better have already organized yourselves into a militia. If it is "everyone for themselves", then you simply do not want to hang around someplace where you are going to be greatly outnumbered, no matter how many guns and how much ammo you might have. We are not talking movies here, this is real life. One vs. one, you've got a chance, but one vs. many, forget it. Get out of Dodge while you can.

Very sad Craig. Statistics don't really hit home until you're connected to it. Even if it's just a name and unseen face on TOD. I used to do weapons training and I've turned down probably as many wanna be gunslingers as I've trained. And always for the same reason: lack of emotional maturity.

I was responding more to day-to-day life and not that potential Mad Max future. Just a guess as to how Texas might look in such a nightmare: a mix of fairly safe communities and absolute deadly environs. Take my town home complex. It would take just a handful of us on a rotating basis to keep it secure. As you might know, it's not so much the weapon that protects you but the potential of you having a weapon. From my experience with bad guys the last thing they want is a gunfight. They would rather go down the road and find someone unarmed. And those would be the communities at great risk. The ones without the ability to arm themselves but more importantly an inability to act collectively.

Anybody who wants to lok thru a stack of old NRA magazines at the library will find that they run a page every issue filled with short descriptions of encounters wherein armed citizens have thrwarted a robbery or assualt because they were able to put thier hands on a gun quickly.

I know personally of several incidents of this nature from talking to the people involved in them , and can honestly say that on a couple of occasions I think I would have been in some pretty deep doodoo if I hadn't been armed.

The fact that I was, and obviously,prevented any trouble.

A good friend from my days in the Fan district adjacent to VCU in Richmond was robbed on the street within a block or two of my house of his wallet and leather jacket.Sometime later I was approached on the street by a group of four young men whom I have no doubt planned on robbing me and concieveably might have had worse plans for my cute little artist.

You simply would not believe how fast thier demeanor changed when I pulled out my little 32 Beretta along with a hankerchief from my coat pocket and held the gun in one hand while I blew my nose with the other.Whatever business had brought them to a halt close in front of us after maneuvering into our path suddenly lost all its urgency as they realized they were late for supper or something.

At that time I was carrying illegally and I made a point of getting off the street right away.That kind of riffraff has been known to actually call the cops on thier victims.

On another occasion I had an irate and obviously stoned out of his gourd idiot show up at my door with a carload of friends with a mattock handle after I told his wife on the phone her job was on the line if she left my bedridden Mom alone for reasons she would not divulge other than that she needed to leave.My guess, from the state her husband was in , is that he had scored some coke or meth and she was not intending to miss the pary if she could hepl it.We hired her specifically so both my Dad and I could go to work that day.

(Good help is hard to find but we were unaware the the WIFE having a drug problem.)

Fortunately I heard the car pull up and went to the door in time to see him getting out with his club.My double barrel rabbit gun sits always handy in the corner by that door and the sight of the business end of it calmed him and his friends right down.

Personally I don't believe I should have to give up my right to walk from our apartment to a nieghborhood restaurant on a nice summer evening for dinner and a drink with my wife, or the santicity of my home, because some wimp afraid to defend himself wants to bring me down to his level of fear and servility.

We are a group of people here gathered together in large part to discuss the large "what ifs" of the future.

I think maybe those opposed to the personal right to own and carry guns should think for while about how many "Unthinkable Things" have taken place , how many unintended consequences of well intentioned laws pop up so that we would all have been better off perhaps had a gven law never been passed.

When things go wrong and the unthinkable happens again, and the police state is on the rise, or civil authority collapses, a gun will be a very precious thing.

All the baloney about the bad guys not having them if lawabiding citizens have none is foolish and niave in the extreme.Four young men with a club , or the guy twice your size and half your age who lives across the street, can have thier way with you without a gun as easily as you can take a fork away from a two year old.

And if ts is in tf,your local cops may actually turn out to be your worst enemies.We are very fortunate to have an honest Va state police force and local county sheriff's dept here where I live , but anyone who reads widely will be aware that govt corruption in general and police corruption in particular is a very seriuos problem in many American cities and more than a few counties.

My little artist lost all her European cousins in the Holocaust.The German police either did nothing, played along, or actively participated in the round up and extermination.Cops were card carrying Nazis in actual fact in many , many cases.

In many countries, police corruption is the norm rather than the exception.

If there is a general collapse I suggest that counting on honest and impartial law enforcement, or for that matter ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT, is a very poor bet.Such enforcement axs might actually exist will be very limited and the cHance of bad guys gettng away with mayhem will be very good-unless theuy have reason TO BE AFRAID.

Very cogent analysis OFM. One of the problems faced by business and law enforcement in my neck of the woods is the rise of a culture of extortion. Local strong arm men visit businesses in their communities and seek to extract protection money either in the form of support for local community enterprises, basic schools (kindergarten), sports clubs or charities or just as blatant fees to protect against robbery and arson. The more organized and respected (feared) "community leaders" do quite well at their "crime prevention" and their constituents and paying customers are free to operate very safely in their domains.

This system works mostly in the inner city areas and their environs where "community leaders" have a large cadre of unemployed youth with the appropriate outlook on life to provide a team of willing lieutenants and foot soldiers to carry out their enforcement and provide incentives (can you say, arson and robbery?) for local businesses to participate in community funding schemes. In these communities disputes are settled by the individuals or gangs involved or by the local "community leader". Body counts can get quite high and the most lethal activities are carried out by the youngest ones. The police are virtually useless in these communities, since, in the traditional legal system the wheels of justice grind very slowly and witnesses are often killed in the process since the police can hardly offer protection in these enclaves. On the other hand community leaders enforce a type of jungle justice where, the laws are simple and justice is swift and penalties are harsh and dispatched ruthlessly (death for rape or if the "don" gets tired of hearing complaints about you). A sobering glimpse of what post peak "law enforcement" might look like.

One of the reasons that this is a problem for local law enforcement is that some of their members may have been the genesis of the problem. Rogue cops had as practice of approaching business owners for assistance (money to encourage informants) in obtaining information and evidence. No doubt, the community leaders caught on to this and decided to cut out the middle man. At the same time a very bad example has been set by local traffic cops. in the past 15-20 years, I can't remember ever being stopped by traffic cops during the day or cops on patrol at night who are not trying to shakedown everybody they stop, at least in the city where I live . I am convinced that, if I just carried around enough money, I could flout every traffic law on the books and get away with it, as long as I did not get involved in any traffic accident. I think it must be really frustrating experience to be a good, honest cop in this country.

From my scant knowledge of history (I've become far more interested in history as a sudy of how we ended up where we are as a civilization), these types of arrangements are a throwback to medieval times and it seems that as we slide down the downslope we risk heading back into something that resembles these "ancient" arrangements in one form or another.

Alan from the islands

Free Market Libertarians don't oppose all taxes and fees. We only oppose Personal Income Tax, which happens to be completely immoral and unconstitutional.

WTF? You never heard of the 16th amendment?


It's amusing that conservatives are simultaneously self-appointed 'experts' on what is constitutional and at the same time completely ignorant of what the US Constitution actually says.

Recently I've met quite a few folks who describe themselves as Libertarians, including a few folks who are hooked into the Tea Party Movement. What I've noticed is that they all have previously or continue to vote Republican. The conclusion that I've drawn from talking to these people is that a Libertarian is a Republican who figured out, far too late, that George W Bush was a moron, and now they're really angry they bought into him and his Neoconfederacy of Dunces.

Pete Deer

Afte reading Mish's blog a bit I tried to fiqure out what the NYS budget and debt. is yesterday. Very confusing to me. I don't have a clue. Probably -$8 Bil. or so.
I think only a few USA states that are not in debt.

And then there is Minnesota. Facing a $1+ billion shortfall in the current biennium and $5 to $6 billion in the following 2 year biennium.
Legislature just went into session. First order of business? Decide whether to pass the Republican $800 million bonding bill or the $1 billion Democrat bonding bill. Apparently the legislators think the surest way to get out of debt is to borrow more money?
Of course, they won't have to try to figure out how to repay it. Their children and grandchildren will have that privilege.
Lets see, a billion dollars in bonding debt every year with 20 year payback at 5% interest means we have 20 billion dollars at 5% year or close to $1 billion every year in interest (without any principal payments)? As long as the kids and grand kids are going to pay it, who cares?
I want Jesse Ventura back for Governor?

Our esteemed governor here in Texas recently boasted about our balanced budget, but he neglected to mention that it was only balanced because of federal stimulus money.

On yesterday's news: it seems that NJ will take in only 88% of the revenue that the state needs to run this year. The new governor refuses to raise taxes.

PA is a bit more mysterious to me.

More on the subject from Archdruid Greer:


What Greer http://www.energybulletin.net/51428 >says is pretty disturbing:

Friends of mine in a couple of midwestern states have mentioned that the steady trickle of refugees from the Chicago slums into their communities has taken a sharp turn up. . .

Fast forward to the middle of 2009. Around then, facing budget deficits second only to California, the state of Illinois quietly stopped paying its social service providers. In theory, the money is still allocated; in practice, it’s been more than six months since Illinois preschools, senior centers, food banks, and the like have received a check from the state for the services they provide, and many of them are on the verge of going broke. Subsidized rent has apparently taken an equivalent hit. Believers in free-market economics have been insisting for years that the end of rent subsidies would let the free market reduce rents to a level that people could afford, but I don’t recommend holding your breath; this is the same free market, remember, that gave the United States some of the world’s worst slums in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The actual effects have been instructive. Squeezed between sharply contracting benefits and a sharply contracting job market, many of Chicago’s poor are hitting the road, heading in any direction that offers more options. Forget the survivalist fantasy of violent hordes pouring out of the inner cities to ravage everything in their path; today’s slum residents are instead becoming the Okies of the Great Recession. In the process, part of business as usual in the United States is coming to an end.

Also from the article:

I wonder how many local governments in neighboring states have drawn up plans for dealing with the tide of economic refugees once California can no longer pay for its welfare system, and the poor of Los Angeles and other California cities join those of Chicago on the road?”

From what I have read, many towns in the Thirties refused to allow migrants to stop in their communities. They told them to keep moving:

In the late 1980s/early 1990s, the Alberta government cut back drastically on welfare payments because of the oil slump. The result was a flood of people moving to British Columbia where the benfits were higher.

God help you if you are a single, unemployed, physically-fit man in Alberta today because no one else will. There is support for families and handicapped but nothing for able-bodied men down on their luck.

We really need a new CCC. It was custom-designed just for those single, unemployed, physically-fit men. Got them off of the highways and railroads, and did all of them a world of good. They ended up doing some mighty fine work, too - IMHO the US got its money's worth out of that program, far more so than can be said for most government programs.

My grandfather was in the CCC. He sent most of his money back home to his widowed mother and younger brother. His family had been farming in Texas, and after his father died, the landlord kicked his family out, saying a woman with two teen sons couldn't bring in enough crops. (He may very well have given them a year to try and they proved inadequate.) My grandfather had some nice group photos of all the young men in his camp. I don't know if he was deliriously happy doing it, but he always said his mother would have starved without his CCC money. Not much of safety net in those days.

At least they weren't hanging around neighborhoods knocking up the local teens and contributing to the growth of organized crime. I too have admired the work done by the CCCP, which endures throughout the nation to this day.

The Bible says both "he who does not work shall not eat" and "the poor you will have with you always". I have zero problem with work programs, but I have a lot of issues with perpetual cash entitlements. You can't gift everybody rich, and there is no dishonor in working hard for your proverbial dinner.

In our rich recent past we could afford a broad welfare state. I think where we're going it can't continue. That safety net was basic, but it was robust. The one we have now is complex, and frail.

How do you feel about the rich pay less tax than the poor or even no tax at all? What about not taxing inheritance, protecting 'trust fund kids' from hard work? 70% of rich people get that way from inheritence.

'He who does not work shall not eat' applies more to the upper crust than the poor fighting to survive.

Give and it shall be given unto you!--Luke 6:38

Pay your taxes, you rich conservative deadbeats.

The rich pay far more, nearly 50% of this country pay no federal income tax. The only fair way to tax is a flat income tax.

Yes, the rich conservatives definition of "fair".

Although I liked the founder of the Hunt's idea of democracy. One vote for every $100,000 in net worth. It would keep the riff raff out of the polling places.


I think that is too much, but universal suffrage has too many issues, especially because people can vote themselves benefits after a while. Only landed people should be able to vote.

Go back to England, Tory!

We fought that war in the 1700s... and we won. You lost then. You will not get a replay. And, you cannot "buy out of it." Sorry.

Eat gold and die!


Ah yes, democracy *IS* overrated, I agree.


The rich use far more of the resources, benefit more from the infrastructure, and demand more from the government than the poor. And, they get it, because they own Congress, the Executive Branch and the Judiciary! Worse, the corporations control it.

An 85% marginal rate above $1 Million in income would be good for the country!

If you would have trouble living on 20 times what most families make, you are in real trouble. And I have a feeling that is the case.


Resource use could be taxed via some sort of consumption tax, that would be fair. Confiscatory tax rates would simply discourage people from trying to get rich themselves.

That makes no sense at all. Taxes are, by definition, confiscatory. They take money from the taxpayer. Any tax rate is, by your argument, confiscatory.

And, why are you so interested in "getting rich?" How about getting healthy? Or wise?

For many Americans, what they are interested in is "getting a job."

Good luck with the confiscation, and all. Enjoy.


Craig, if the tax laws still allowed deductions for Intangible Drilling and Development Costs, unlimited, that would help solve our energy crises. Right now, about the only good tax shelter is a deferral shelter using livestock on feed. You deduct the cost of feed in the year it was purchased, if you are an individual on the cash basis, and pay tax on your gain when you sell the cattle off feed. Ah, the good old days of drilling programs.

If you had a 50% risk of a dry hole or a marginal producer, and an 85% marginal tax, deduction of IDDC's and depletion on successful wells, well, with that a guy could get rich. Not off the oil, off the people buying the tax shelters, of course. The "investors" might do better than break even, but probably not much. Still, if you were to drill a dry hole with $100,000 expenditure for your interest, and deduct the loss against income taxed at 85%, the dry hole cost you $15,000 and the government $85,000.

That is why it would be good for the country. We can drill up a bunch of tax dollars in a hurry, find something, although it might be marginal, provide domestic production and all of the investors will be happy. So, by the way will a bunch of little pissant oil operators (like me) who eventually end up with those overpriceed wells with overpriced equipment and well built roads so the investors can go see "their well." My pumpers wish for those days, too. Those roads are a lot easier on their trucks.

Most seriously, Craig, when Nixon insisted that we pay our bills with taxes (he was delusional, you know) he got Congress (deluded them, too) into passing a tax law which imposed a 10% surtax, all that at a time when the top marginal tax rate was 70%. So, what we had then was very close to what you are proposing, except that the 70% was on incomes much lower than $1 Million.

Much as I did not like "Tricky Dick," he was not a bad President. Except for the stupid, stupid war. Of course, Johnson started us down the road to perdition, trying to have guns and butter. Nixon's mistake was continuing with the war LBJ lied us in to.

He was absolutely correct about his tax proposal. Of course, the incomes need to be adjusted for inflation, much of it during the 70s, courtesy of LBJ and RMN. One thing you will have to say... back then the politicians worked together. There was some real bipartisanship, especially when the nation needed it. If those were the good old days, that was what was good about them. I knew George P Schultz and Casper Weinberger when they worked, later, at Bechtel. They were pretty good people...

Back in the 60s, I was a tax accountant at a big bank. Did 1041s for Trusts, and a few 1040s for customers who asked us to do them. I remember figuring the depletion on the oil holdings of one of them who was in the top 3 or 4 wealthiest Americans at that time. They ended up paying about 10 to 12 percent income tax, if you figured all of their income without the special deductions, depletions, credits and the like. And, they got full Social Security payments. Bad as they complained about it, they took it, eh?

Those depletion allowances helped when there was oil in abundance. Today, we would be financing a lot and not getting much back, since the US passed peak in 1970. Sure wish something simple like a big depletion deduction would lead to a lot of oil production. I know South Texas pretty well, and some of my friends work down there on the small, "dinkers." My daughter and her husband work in recovery and well workovers. I believe they will be working down there for many years, bringing in the last drops of oil at EROEI above 2 or 3. We'll keep having and using oil for a good long time. The problem is that there won't be enough, and it will be very expensive. More so all the time.

You brought back some good memories... and one or two sad ones. Thanks for the trip.

Have a good weekend.


Innumerate idiocy.

It's true that the top 50% pay 96% of the income tax collected but that doesn't mean they don't pay taxes.
The US government collected 2.5 trillion dollars in taxes from 150 million tax payers or on average $16,667 per tax payer.

A single person making $40k per year pays about $4.5k a year in fed income taxes. A single person making $200K pays $46k per year in fed income taxes.

The whole idea of taxation is to raise money for the government not to be fair to rich people.

Since the rich have all the money they should pay all the taxes.

Let's say 90% of the people make $40k and 10% of the people make $200k, calculate the true flat tax rate;

(40k x 90% + 200k x 10%)x T = $16667 or a 30% flat tax rate.
The taxes paid by the poor would explode under a flat tax and the rich would pay about the same.

Rich people make money off the economy which runs off the spending of the 'masses'--it is in their interest not to bankrupt them in the interest of 'fairness'.

As usual, you're playing a game of 20 questions with presumed answers. Obviously, any "fair" system would expect EVERY able-bodied person to do something productive, and provide freebies to NOBODY of sound body and mind, rich or poor, while taking reasonable care of the infirm and unable.

"Giving" is different than "having taken from you". Giving is a virtue, and a blessing to both parties. Taking from one to grant to another benefits neither party much....except perhaps the third-party bureaucracy in the middle.

Why do you think I don't "pay my taxes"? What does "rich" or "under-taxed" mean to you? Is "wealthy" a measure of dollar worth, or cash flow, or lifestyle?

My key point is that makes little sense to discourage those who can work from working hard, those who can learn from educating themselves, and those who can save and share from saving and sharing. The manner of taxation is a powerful social tool, and I wonder if taxation should be based less on how much you earn and more on how you earn it. Isn't there more social value from a $25K schoolteacher than a $150K celebrity hair-stylist? More from an efficiency engineer than a hedge fund manager?

Obviously, any "fair" system would expect EVERY able-bodied person to do something productive, and provide freebies to NOBODY of sound body and mind, rich or poor, while taking reasonable care of the infirm and unable.

You are drinking the koolade now. The rich have set out this boogy monster of the lazy poor, who will not go to work. I submit that there are not very many who would not work for a fair wage. That means, they work 40 hrs or so a week. With the level of productivity, we should be on a 20 hr week by now, except for the need to exploit labor to enrich the upper class. Of course, I recognize that this is drinking the koolade provided by the left. There is truth in both, and not a little b.s. The left is closer, though, to truth. Continuing, they work 40 hrs and get paid sufficient to support their families. Wife, 2 kiddies, pay rent, medical expenses, clothing, food, utilities, and transportation. Plus, maybe a little vacation or recreation. Bowling, a night out with the girls, maybe some fishing from time to time. Not lap of luxery, but basic comfort. Might be nice if they can afford a tv.

Now, I do not say we should "give" anybody anything. However, if we want decent kids, moms should not work (or dads... one parent should be home with their offspring, teaching, going to PTA and Indian Chiefs, etc.), so single earners should be able to support their families. If the wealthy can do it, they can afford to pay their workers sufficiently to do it as well.

Your postulate implies that there are people who expect "freebies," and that they are the working poor. I submit that the freebies consist of the passed along, inherited wealth that the top few "expect" should go to their kids. Like their kids deserve it more than anyone else. So... I say extend the inheritance tax, raise it, lower exclusions, get the dead to pay and give the living a break.

Family business, family farm? Let the kids purchase them by paying the estate tax, over an extended period, at a preferential interest rate. I mean, that should be enough of a lift up for them, shouldn't it? Who gets the freebies, Paleocon? Not the poor, that's for sure!!! No. The entitlement mentality is in the greedy rich! They expect, and get, the freebies!!!

So, give me a break. Pay your taxes... they aren't that high. Besides, if there is one agency you don't want coming down on you it is the IRS. Those guys can take your house, your money, your retirement. They have powers no one should have! And, they are not afraid to use them.

What you (and I) need to do is to work to get spending down... and debt payments are becoming such a huge part of spending that we need to figure out how to do it without destroying the country. For most of the past 28 years, "conservatives" have tried to "starve the beast" by running up debt to force the end of entitlement programs, and in particular to end Social Security. Today, more than ever, they are close. It was not necessary... and in the long run it will ruin everything. They, in their insane Greed, and their unreasoning hatred of everything that had to do with FDR, have broken our nation. They are not patriots. They are not smart. They are Greedy. And, as you might know by now, I believe that Greed is Not Good. EVER. Greed IS evil. Always! We do have values in America. They have been lost in Greed. We need to find them before we get to the serious downslope in our economy. We have become totally fractous, and in our Greed we say it is good. We need comity in America. I have seen enmity between family members, between neighbors, and between what should be collegues. At every level we are now divided, and we are divided by Greed.

Recall for a moment the words of Abraham Lincoln, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." When the division between rich and poor becomes so great, that division becomes an impediment to survival itself. When some decide, out of Greed, that they are special and do not have to pay taxes, when some decide that they should earn 300 or 400 times what they pay their workers, these are serious divisions. They are becoming worse, not better, today.

I guess I am touchy today. It galls me when people complain about things and they are not bad at all. I have watched, not silently as you can imagine, during 29 years now as Greed is Good has destroyed what we were. I served in the Air Force, and was proud to do so. I believed in what America stood for... but I do not believe in what it stands for today. America is not, cannot be all about Greed. And yet it seems that it is, and it is that Greed, that blind obeisance to the bottom line, to this quarter's balance sheet, to lowering cost at the expense of American labor, that brought us to this Great Recession, soon to be Depression. And it is that same Greed and entitlement mentality that prevents the message of Peak Oil and of Climate Change from being received. It conflicts with the Greedy, and as Dick Cheny said, they can alter reality. It has prevented any development of sustainable energy, and continues to do so. Some times I just want to scream. So I write these rants, instead.

So... cheat on your taxes, drive your Hummers, and try to justify it by giving to your megachurches, America.

Have a nice life... what is left of it.

Good luck keeping your communities gated.


First, I always pay my taxes, and I always take my deductions. I would prefer alternative taxing mechanisms, but that's not the point being argued most above. No gated community here, and I'm the sort who'd prefer a few acres on gravel to the curbed subdivision I'm in now. Do I really sound like I'm independently wealthy instead of living for my paycheck?

I see the freeloaders at both sides of the spectrum, and the problem with both is a multi-genenational institutionalized system. As you point out, IF the poor had a 'decent wage' and prospects, they could do what we all did -- get a start at something menial, finish school, get a better job, buckle down and get a promotion or two, and start a family.

With the system we have now the welfare poor have more rules than they have help. They live where they can get a place -- usually inconvenient and dangerous in systemic ways. How many of you have told your kids to pick their friends carefully, yet these kids "friends" will often be older and in gangs. The system denies them a car (usually) while not providing transportation -- another problem of the car economy. Any of us can drive to the next town for a better job, or move to be closer to it. If you don't have the option to drive or move, how do you get the job?

When you crush ambition and the spirit of self-sufficiency, you buy into the entitlement mindset. Now we're smack in the middle of the rich discussion too, with the wealthy expecting continued largesse based on their influence. The jet-set rich are few in number compared to the poor, but they probably tie up more resources while setting very poor examples.

For a family business I think there has to be a middle ground. Often the kids work there much of their lives, and the value maintains through the employees as well. Probably a more collective view where employees vest in some ownership over time and the kids get shares earlier, and then buy out the rest (with estate taxes due) at hand-over. Maybe a million or two passes "free", and then the rest has to be "bought". Every shop needs a single, buck-stops-here "boss", but they don't need a single owner.

This was when many of the local vagrancy laws went into effect. If you didn't have some money in your pocket you were run out of town. Many of these laws are still on the books. During my "hobo" time in the early '70s, the rule was to always have a few bucks stashed away so you wouldn't be declared a vagrant.

I live in the Land of Lincoln and when I try to bring this up to my neighbors or colleagues, they are simply not interested or aware of what is happening and has been happening since 1818 to varying degrees.

When I was teaching school in the 90's and a member of the teachers pension system, I watched year after year as the state legislature did not contribute any money (this when tax receipts were growing strongly) or a small fraction to the teachers and municipal retirements. I want to say it was like $27 or $30 billion underfunded in the early 90's and that number kept getting bigger and bigger each year. It became a small part of the reason why I left teaching.

Another example is the big tobacco settlement in the late 90's - early naughts.. States got 10's of billions and what did Illinois decide to do with this windfall? Why they rebated it to homeowners, I think I got $50.

I think the state credit rating is at or near junk and the budget deficit for next year in many billions, on a per capita basis we are right up there with California and New Jersey, so my neighbor from Minnesota a few posts up, I wish we had your budget problems. No worries, we can continue to pretend and extend until some new technology (Fairy Godmother) comes and waves their wand and all are predicaments become a simple problem that will be solved. Hooray!

That's just the easy stuff. They ain't seen nothin' yet! The real pain is still to come.

Observer -- Perhaps the recent experience of Houston with the Katrina refugees can serve as a model. Depending on whose numbers you believe we've had 100,000 to 300,000 folks permanently relocate to Houston. I recall some bad incidents reported early on with some apartment complexes and some social services but nothing very dramatic. Most problems sounded to be more of a bother than serious stuff. I do recall a few news stories expressing wonder how our Astrodome was so much more capable of handling the crowd than was the Superdome. It seemed the simple answer was that we had already done trial runs in case we had the same hurricane impact that New Orleans had endured.

A side story: some N.O. politicians are lobbying to let those former N.O. residents who have been living here for over two years be counted as still residing in N.O. even though virtually none plan to relocate back. A SERIOUS MATTER: SOME ARE PREDICTING THAT TEXAS WILL PICK UP AN ADDITIONAL SEAT IN CONGRESS IN PART DUE TO THE REFUGEES.

I'll second that. Houston really has been able to absorb the Katrina refugees pretty well. The murder rate spiked for a few months, but seems to be back down again: the Houston police seem to be better at getting their man than the NO police, and it took a while for them to learn that.

My only personal complaint about the NO refugees is the one who rear-ended me when I was stopped at a red light, about a year after Katrina. He had a Louisiana driver license with a New Orleans address, a car registered in his name in Texas, and a forged proof-of-insurance.

But I have been run into five times since I have lived in Houston. Two of the others didn't have insurance (I'm assuming the one who didn't stop didn't have insurance), and the three who did stop were white male Texans. So while I'm not happy with the young man who ran into me, the fact that he was a Katrina refugee has nothing to do with that.

I wonder, though, how much of this is just grandstanding by politicians safeguarding expensive, expendable pet projects - sweetheart rental deals on stadiums for obscenely overpaid steroidally remanufactured ballplayers, that sort of thing. It reminds me of years ago when the New York City ferries department cut service in half in response to a 1% budget cut. And if we set aside political exaggeration, how much can they really save, in the perspective of the overall budget, by taking out the trash cans in the parks? Most cities have too many and too-bright street lights, but even so, how much can they really save by cutting one-third of them?

George Ure ( http://urbansurvival.com/week.htm ) has this claim today:

Confidential sources now tell us that both China and India are about to unveil new electrical devices which will break the grip of the global energy & power cartels with breakthrough technology that bends the rules of physics in new and game-changing ways.

One device, due out from China shortly is described as a "battery charger" which will support a fixed 2 KW load on a continuous basis. Yep - that unit which has an anticipated price point in the $2,000 (USD range/current exchange rates) also features a projected lifespan of 50-years and is a zero emissions device.

Amazing if true. But having waited for stirling powered CHiP systems - I'll take a 'wait and see' approach. Besides, it might be powered by the souls of dead babies or something...

Whats amazing about a battery charger??

It seems that this charger can pull electrons out of the environment. Supply one unit of charge to the unit and as it returns to a stable state it sucks several more units of electrical charge out of the environment to be shipped to a battery bank. Free energy from the environement and clean. If it works, I hope there are plenty of rare earth metals to expand its production.

So it's a perpetual motion machine?

I guess it could be perpetual until the supply of free environmental electrons are exhausted (think tapping the charges that create lightning before they can discharge). There's a wealth of electrical charge in the environment but until now there have not been any tools that could tap reliably and send it to a battery.

I'm still investigating this. I welcome any contributions that would clarify the modus operandi of these over-unity devices.

A fool and his money...

I welcome any contributions that would clarify the modus operandi of these over-unity devices.

The claim is whatever these things are, they have IP protection - aka patents. So one should be able to dig about with that.

I guess it could be perpetual until the supply of free environmental electrons are exhausted (think tapping the charges that create lightning before they can discharge).

I cannot stop laughing. What would we do without a little comic relief once in awhile?

One good thing about this device, if they build enough of them, is that it might pull enough free environmental electrons out of the air that lightning will be a thing of the past. I was not aware that "free environmental electrons" was what caused lightning but I guess we can learn something new every day if we read enough blogs. Or will that cause us to "unlearn" a lot of things?

I am reminded of a story I heard o "Car Talk". A young woman, about to take a serious exam, had heard that if you listen to classical music it could raise your IQ. So she turned the radio to Public Radio in order to listen to some classical music. She got "Car Talk" instead. Now she is really pissed because "Car Talk" lowered her IQ several points.

Ron P.

We won't just get all that pre-lightning energy to save our way of life; there will be the added bonus of millions of extra tonnes of bio-fuel from the trees that would otherwise have burned in lightning-strike caused forest fires.


When can I invest my life savings?

When can I invest my life savings?

You might want to work on a plan to expand your life savings rate - the claimed pricepoint is $2000 for a 2000 watt device. $1 a watt, same as in DOE-what-price-we-want-to-see-solar-panels-at town.

Add in Chinese forever batteries and you are set.


Some cells that were 50 years old still produce 100% of their rated capacity!

Unlike Mr Ure's "battery charger", those batteries exist and are pretty durable. They can survive prolonged overcharging and complete discharge too.

But they're not very efficient, at about 65% round-trip charge-discharge. They're also heavy and they don't work in the cold.

As things were BPO (before Peak Oil), no manufacturer wanted to sell a battery that lasts a few decades - you'd only make one sale per application.

Edison cells (that's right - they were commercialised by the Steve Jobs of the Steam Age) may become more popular as 'catabolic collapse' progresses. I expect, as a general theme, that durability and ease of manufacture will become more important than maximising performance.

And, just to prove that, as a "Doomer" I can rain on anyone's parade, consider that lightening serves to fix nitrogen. It is a natural fertilizer. If we pull all the lightening out of the air, we will starve!!!



Crap. I was just on the point of finishing my Perpetual Motion Charging Device, but if can get another $100,000 in seed money, I might be able to beat these guys to the market. If you would like to invest in my project, send me an email at jb@afoolandhismoneyaresoonparted.com

Hey Ron,

I think lightning is caused by a difference in charge between atmospheric molecules and charges on the ground. I've admitted that I don't have enough knowledge to evaluate this innovation. If you have any better information, provide it. Your heckling only reveals your arrogance.

Dopamine, all perpetual motion machines deserves to be heckled. And you are correct; I am totally arrogant when it comes to all free energy machines, or energy from the ether, or energy from free electrons in the air or any other such stupid nonsense.

But then it is funny, especially if it comes from a grown man or woman. Errr... you are a grown person aren’t you? Perhaps I should have asked what grade you are in?

Ron P.


This is not my invention and I've made no claims about it. I've only read about "energy from the ether" for a couple of years. I don't believe in perpetual motion and figured that it must be obtaining energy from the environment. Wait and see what the Indians and Chinese bring to the market. Sorry to have offended your delicate sensiblities.

Brought to market? Dopamine nothing will ever be brought to market. They may solicit investors but nothing beyond that. The only way you can obtain energy from the environment is from fossil fuels or agriculture. You cannot stick up an antenna and obtain energy from the environment. Nikola Tesla had the same idea about 100 years ago. However that was in the early days of the physics of magnetism and such. He thought there was magnetic energy passing through the universe and was simply there for the taking. Nowadays they know better. If there was any such energy we would have found out about it then, or a few years thereafter. It simply doesn't exist. We can measure how much magnetic energy there is in empty space for God's sake. Physicists are not that stupid.

And, the idea that there might be enough free electrons floating around in free space, that could be picked up by simply sticking an antenna into the air... and charge a battery with the results... is beyond the pale.

Ron P.

Actually, when the earth's magnetic field shifts (such as during a solar storm) a SMALL amount of power could be inducted. And once every 500 years or so, a large amount of power.



First, you tell me that you don't believe in magical non-depleting oil fields, and now you are not going to send me a check for $100K?

Its a sad day in America

FWIW, there was a great deal of discussion on Timebomb2000 a number of years ago about the Static Charger. The principle of operation was that a wire was strung which picked up a static charge from the air. The static charge was then run through a spark coil backwards and then electricity was picked up from where the usual DC energizing juice came in. The pulses of electricity were then used to charge a battery.

I never heard if anyone tried to build one...I almost did out of interest.


When is the last time you grabbed a wire coat hanger and got a shock? Never, huh? Have you ever seen a battery charger that required you to shuffle your feet on the carpet and touch the charger? Nope. Do you really think putting the 2 together will yield something?

Static charges may be high voltage, but the charge is VERY small and not really useful from an energy source perspective.

Over-unity doesn't really exist. Any evidence is anecdotal, and stems from a mis-understanding of basic electrical theory or outright lies. Ignorance and thieves. Nearly all of the 'over-unity' machines can be traced to a mis-understanding of AC power, or how AC power meters work in the presence of non-sinusoidal inputs and inductive/capacitive loads. Sometimes I feel bad for the people that feel they created something interesting, but these people never try to explain their finding or discover where they went wrong. They arrogantly claim to have bent the rules of physics and created a new science.

Over-unity doesn't really exist.

Until its lubed up by the tears of babies and its taking the 21 grams and making electrial power of course it doesn't exist.

I'm not willing to dismiss the claims, I'm just not willing to believe the claims without actual proof. If one is 'tapping power from the aether' science can explain....even if I can't follow the laplase transforms.

I'll believe when I can take and exchange money for the goods and the goods work as advertised. Such a policy works for almost any transaction of money for goods.

The neat part of this claim is its multinational and 'due shortly'. I like it when the rumors are provided with a time window. Still ordering more solar PV rather than wait.

(I was hoping the true believers would have more details and posted 'em.)

Ah! The magic "Seventh Ray". If true, we would see Chinese PV production drop to zero. I found a picture of this thing:


My "Mr. Fusion" should arrive next week.

It seems that this charger can pull electrons out of the environment.

Or the souls of dead babies.

(kidding aside - assuming such majik is true - I have to ponder what the knock off effect of such technology would be? Would living next to one act like a super anti-oxidant or cause mutations like an eyeball in the forehead coming into existence and opening?)

If it works, I hope there are plenty of rare earth metals to expand its production.

Not Rare Earths, it obviously depends on unobtanium. Why else would be go to the vast expense of invading planet Pandora?

It seems that this charger can pull electrons out of the environment.

They all do. It takes 1 Kwh worth of energy to collect a little less than 1 Kwh of the little guys from the environment and send them marching down the wire.

No, no. It's got Maxwell's Demon on a treadmill.


It must be something like this (from Wikipedia):

An electron avalanche is a process in which a number of free electrons in a medium (usually a gas) are subjected to strong acceleration by an electric field, ionizing the medium's atoms by collision (called impact ionization), thereby forming "new" electrons to undergo the same process in successive cycles. Electron avalanches are essential to the dielectric breakdown process within gases. The process can culminate in corona discharges, streamers, leaders, or in a spark or continuous arc that completely bridges the gap.

A plasma begins with a rare natural 'background' ionization event of a neutral air molecule, perhaps as the result of photoexcitation or background radiation. If this event occurs within an area that has a high potential gradient, the positively charged ion will be strongly attracted toward, or repelled away from, an electrode depending on its polarity, whereas the electron will be accelerated in the opposite direction. Because of the huge mass difference, electrons are accelerated to a much higher velocity than ions.

High-velocity electrons often collide with neutral atoms inelastically, sometimes ionizing them. In a chain-reaction — or an 'electron avalanche' — additional electrons recently separated from their positive ions by the strong potential gradient, cause a large cloud of electrons and positive ions to be momentarily generated by just a single initial electron. However, free electrons are easily captured by neutral oxygen or water vapor molecules (so-called electronegative gases), forming negative ions. In air at STP, free electrons exist for only about 11 nanoseconds before being captured. Captured electrons are effectively removed from play — they can no longer contribute to the avalanche process. If electrons are being created at a rate greater than they are being lost to capture, their number rapidly multiplies, a process characterized by exponential growth.

For charging batteries from the air: forget about it.

Does this charger need to be next to a high tension power line to get these extra electrons?

You're just so, well, ignorant. Obviously, what you do is the following: watch the ground squirrels for the signs of impending thunderstorms, then you puff up your balloon, and finally attach your gizmo to the balloon which you float up into the big black thunderhead using a copper wire attached to your left hand. Another copper wire runs from your right hand through your recharger to your bank of batteries.

Life off the grid.

Does anyone know where I send my life savings to invest in this baby?

Historically there have been a few cases in the UK of "free energy machines" powering part of a house or barn. Strangely they always seemed to be located next to somewhere like this :-)

BBC Daventry (historical)

Yeah, I recall seeing a photograph of a person holding a florescent tube over their head while standing under a high voltage transmission line. The tube was brightly lit by the stray electromagnetic field...

E. Swanson

Border fence plagued by glitches, long delays

An ambitious, $6.7 billion government project to secure nearly the entire Mexican border with a "virtual fence" of cameras, ground sensors and radar is in jeopardy after a string of technical glitches and delays.

Having spent $672 million so far with little to show for it, Washington has ordered a reassessment of the whole idea. The outlook became gloomier this week when President Barack Obama proposed cutting $189 million from the venture.

Ultimately, the project could be scaled back dramatically, with the government installing virtual fences along a few segments of the nation's 2,000-mile southern boundary but dropping plans for any further expansion, officials said.

This is the plan for keeping the Mexicans out, the we have talked about before. Some think there may be a connection between the US desire for the fence, and the dropping oil production in Mexico leading to more internal pressures in Mexico.

That fence actually seems pretty cool, if the motion detecting stuff does indeed work it could probably work better than an actual fence with no electronic stuff. But if Mexico were to totally collapse, electronics aren't going to keep a few million from crossing if they want to.

If we are going to be living in an era of declining energy availability, a high tech device that depends on a continuous flow of electricity would seem to be at risk of failing, if it did get completed. But with so many other calls on both printed money and physical resources, it is hard to see this project being given high enough priority to get the funding it needs for completion.

If the energy is not available for border security, I think we'd have much more serious problems to contend with such as keeping the lights on and tap water flowing. If those things go there won't be any need for border security as there'd be nothing to protect, the Southwest would become one giant FEMA camp.

Gail -

The pros and cons of such a border fence notwithstanding, it would appear that the energy consumption of such a fence is almost irrelevant. We are talking about running a large array of lights, sensors, and communications equipment. I strongly suspect that the entire energy consumption of such a system would probably be on the level of a large office building, if not less.

And being this is in the Southwest, it would be an ideal application for solar PV power.

Funding? Are you forgetting that this is the federal government at work here? We are already 'funding' Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan, et al, to the tune of well over a billion dollars a week. An extra 6 or $7 billion spread over several years is chump change for the defense/national security apparatus. But of course the deciding factor will be the power and clout of the Congress people to whose district the associated pork will be flowing.

(I hope the people designing this fence had the foresight to make it work equally well in both directions, for who knows .... if things get bad enough here it the states, it may have to be used to prevent Americans from sneaking into Mexico.)

The typical Mexican is probably more prepared for an expensive-energy/entropic future than the typical American is. I have a feeling that people from other countries aren't going to want to be hanging out with Americans when TSHTF. Isn't the net Mexican migration pattern already changing due to the U.S. recession?

Yes, the net migration pattern has changed, because construction jobs have collapsed and ICE policing is expanding as real 'murkins fight for the remaining work.
Those South of the border may be better equipped to live without excess energy, but how prepared are they to live without adequate water?

Another program axed is NAIS. Thank god for small favors.


I don't see how they ever got the reported 37% voluntary compliance. The program was privacy nightmare, put many small producers out with its cost, and would do little of the purported benefits. It gave everyone, US or otherwise, access to a farm's most basic information, and officials nearly unlimited intrusion rights.

All I ever saw was a method where the stockyards could circumvent responsibility for their disease outbreaks back to the little guy.

If defunded that doesn't undo the law.

For there to be a reason for a happy dance the law would have to be revoked.

I'm sure the law can still be used as a club VS whomever is desired.

NAIS has been an issue for a while. Some states have tried to sneak it in via backdoor laws. If they ever tried to enforce this sort of thing around here, blood would flow. There's no way it could work without bringing in the National Guard. One thing about farmers around here, they're all armed and they know how to shoot straight. They (the Govt.) haven't even been successful shutting down the cock fights.

Nice sentiment, heard around here too. But foolish. Real enforcement isn't so much at the farm, although certainly this is permitted by the proposal. It's at the market, at the livestock auctions, where you can't sell your production. Sale yards would not risk buying untagged stock. You would grudgingly comply, or go out of business. Quite simple.

It may not be a time for outright rejoicing, but this Bush Administration proposal seems truly dead, and that the onus is shifting to the states. It remains to be seen if a new one won't be resurrected down the line.


With razor thin margins, and limited sale venues, the USDA has considerable power to enforce its regs. Most farm commodity producers cannot survive without strict adherence to regs, or risk losing the grain subsidies or other bennies.

Instant View: Jobless rate falls to 9.7 percent in January

Employers unexpectedly cut 20,000 in January, but the unemployment rate surprisingly fell to a five-month low of 9.7 percent, suggesting some labor market improvement starting to take root.

KEY POINTS: * The Labor Department said the economy shed 150,000 jobs in December, compared to 85,000 previously reported, but November was revised to a gain of 64,000, up from 4,000. Annual benchmark revisions to payrolls data showed the economy has purged 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007. * Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls gaining 5,000 and the unemployment rate to edge up to 10.1 percent. Median estimates from the top 20 forecasters expected payrolls to be unchanged last month. * A sharp increase in the number of people giving up looking for work helped to depress the jobless rate. The number of 'discouraged job seekers' rose to 1.1 million in January from 734,000 a year ago.

This result seems to being viewed positively, even though a lot of discourage workers (who went back to school, or took early retirement, or just stopped looking) influenced the numbers.

The U3 unemployment numbers include temporary workers, the Census has been hiring quite a few people. These people are counted as employed, even though it's only temporary.

The tax preparers are hiring short term temps as well.

I took this from Politico a few minutes ago:

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent in January -- breaking below the 10 percent mark from December -- but the economy still lost 20,000 jobs, a sign that the economy is still struggling to create jobs.

Same story, of course. The magic numbers show we can lose jobs and decrease unemployment, all at the same time. And, call it "recovery."

I guess my bank account is recovering, on that theory. Maybe my banker will tell me my balance rose when I withdraw $20,000 more than I put in last month. Somehow, I don't think he will let me spend any of that 'money.' But, the government is spending the 'recovery' reduction in unemployment numbers... as propaganda, at least, in their effort to 'talk us out of the Great Recession.'

Of course, I was laid off yesterday, so I must have a job now. It only stands to reason.


This is on CNN right now:

But, at the same time, the Labor Department revised its previous estimates for the number of jobs that have been lost over the past 25 months. What they found wasn't pretty.

Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost 1.4 million more jobs than previously believed. The adjustments also showed losses for 2009 alone came to 4.8 million jobs, more than 600,000 additional lost jobs than previously estimated.

"We're coming out of a very, very steep downturn," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "The revisions show that we have a really big hole to come out of."

The revision came about because the government had been dramatically underestimating the number of businesses that were closing due to the recession.

Wonder where those November stats will end up in real life. No... on second thought, don't tell me.

Have a nice day!


In case anyone hasn't noticed, the "adjustments" ALWAYS end up making the initially released stats look much worse.

If this were a purely random world, one would expect that to happen no more than 50% of the time. This seems to me to be conclusive evidence that the initial stats are indeed being diddled for political propaganda purposes, and thus are not to be trusted.

The world isn't purely random though, Observer. Not in the sense of being symmetrical, anyway.

Economic stats have a sawtooth pattern, where the numbers crawl up slowly in the "good times", and plummet suddenly when a recession hits.

The need for adjustments comes from the use of moving averages in the estimation procedure. MAs work reasonably well for infinitesimal changes on the upslope, but not well at all for the step change on the edge of the tooth.

Not to be trusted, yes. But there's no conspiracy, just ... mmm ... 'unsophistication'.

the initial stats are indeed being diddled for political propaganda purposes, and thus are not to be trusted.

I think the problem is that the "adjustments" are "diddled" as well, and reality is so much worse! I mean, do you know anyone who believes that unemployment would go down when job losses exceeded new jobs? Or that there is any sort of real recovery? Who makes this stuff up, anyhow? Tim Geithner? Oh... sorry. It IS Tim Geithner!


The Shell/Total/Nigeria story is exactly the sort of thing that we would have expected on the basis of Gail's writings. The oil is in the ground, the long-term profit potential is there, BUT...

When credit availability dries up and stock prices decline, everybody becomes averse to risk, fearing a cash crunch. This is the time that company tactics turn to stock buy-backs and other circle-the-wagons defensive actions.

It also gives credence to claims that PO is strictly an artifact of above-ground problems like militants or a lack of Western experts, when in fact a more holistic view would hold that the global economic decline is itself at least triggered by if not caused by PO.

I think that NIgeria is a case history of can happen when an oil exporting country tries to maximize net oil exports without fully meeting domestic demand.

My first thought on reading that excerpt: the Chinese will be rubbing their hands with glee, saying "more oil! And we're probably the only bidder!"

I don't expect China to succeed in Africa to any greater extent than the West has, but the Chinese seem to think differently at present.

China has learned from the USA (pre-GWB & even Vietnam) that being a good guy has it's advantages.

China is funding what looks like (to me) twenty land grant colleges/ag research stations around Africa. The good will from that will endure. And this is just one of several initiatives.


The Africans understand that China wants their resources, but they also see that China is bringing more than a checkbook (which funds are often stolen).

For non-Americans, one out of 16 sections of land sold in the USA was devoted to establishing a "cow college" that had taught agriculture and did local experiments on growing. Known as land grant. With the notable exemption of Texas A&M, this 150 year old program has been seen as a great success, a foundation to American technology in many areas and a foundation to creating a middle class.



Best Hopes for Doing Well by Doing Good,


China may even figure out a way to make sure that some of those revenues actually get spent on improving peoples lives. Likely cheaper than rebuilding pipelines and pumping stations. Make the little guy in Nigeria your friend, let him earn some income, and sell him cheap stuff "Made in China".

Link up top: Argentina oil and gas output falls

Argentina's oil and gas production fell last year compared with the previous year, marking the third consecutive decline since 2006.

Actually it is the eighth consecutive year of decline! Argentina crude oil peaked in 1998 at 847,000 barrels per day. Crude production dropped for two years but then increased to 802,000 bp/d in 2001. Production has declined every year since. For the first nine months of 2009 they have averaged 629,000 bp/d.

"Argentina hasn't reached its own 'peak oil or peak gas,'" Montamat said. "Argentina has potential. We can discover new reserves but we first need new policies, including long-term rules, a new hydrocarbons law and pricing that favors investment."

Well if a decline of almost 26 percent since 1998 does not spell peak oil then I don't know what does. And their decline seems to be increasing. It is declining at a rate of over 5 percent per year for the first nine months of 2009.

Argentina rig count peaked at 98 in November of 2007. Their rig count in November of 09 stood at 63. Apparently what they have been doing with all those rigs was drilling new wells in old fields. It doesn't seem to be working any more. Now they are crying; "We need to discover new reserves!" Yeah right, doesn't everyone?

Ron P.

As usual, I suppose there is no mention in the news item about net oil exports.

Of the exporting countries that we studied for our ASPO presentation on net oil exports, Argentina is the median case for oil exporting countries that showed a production peak in 2004 or earlier. Their 10 year (1998-2008) total liquids production decline rate was 1.5%/year, and their net export decline rate was 7.6%/year (EIA).

Net oil exports from Argentina (EIA):

This is disturbingly close to linear in its descent, like the Mexican net exports graph. If it doesn't trend toward a positive 2nd derivative in the next year or so, it looks like it'll touch zero by 2013.

Unlike production, which may take a good long time to reach zero, exports can do it in short order, given a rising domestic, or even steady, domestic consumption. Faster with rising consumption, of course. Coal works the same way, and natural gas (more of a local thing, but the same impact)

Hubbert's curve is not as harsh as reality in this way. Even Saudi Arabia uses some of their own oil and Russia their own gas. Even though the Saudis do import refined products. Eventually we will all be left with what is present, locally. At which time we had better be prepared to provide our energy needs in some other way. Water power in the Northeast, wind in the midwest, solar in the deserts, and Geothermal in the Pacific West.

Awareness and preparation are important. That is what TOD is all about. And, being a support group for the few who are listening.


EIA chart for the Pacific Northwest power generation shows 82% Hydropower and 1% Geothermal

http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1604/MR1604.pdf (pdf warning, chart is page 22)

My ultility is 99%+ hydropower. Have been talkng with them on the solar thing and of course they love their dam. They are looking at selling surpluses south. If ever an area was suited to electrifcation of transport it would seem to be here and a better use of the local resource IMHO.

Agree on the look-at-what-is-avalable-locally thing. BTW

What utility would that be? Something in southern Oregon perhaps? Even OR is only 65% renewable, and PGE still gets 24% of their juice from the Boardman coal fired plant, which they plan on modernizing. As a % of OR's total PGE account for a quite sizable chunk of the state's total, since they provide for the most populous region.

EIA Renewable Energy- State Renewable Electricity Profiles

Pend Oreille Power A small outfit in eastern Wash. 8500 customers. They share a section of the PDO river with Seattle City Power and Light. If you saw the movie The Postman you saw their dam. From your chart capacity and genration for renewables in Wa. is right at 80%.

Understood that first link was a bit dated and not taking it as gospel. Why I said shows instead of is. Basically the percent of Geothermal thing.

'If it looks like a duck ...'

From the Energy Export Databrowser:

Argentine Oil production (the gray hump) looks very much like it is past peak. Poke around the databrowser and you'll see a few nations with major ups and downs in production (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Russia) but they always have huge extenuating circumstances. Argentine production has evolved much more steadily and their 1999-2002 economic crisis is seen more in its effects on consumption than on production. Argentine oil production is, by any reasonable definition of the phrase, 'past peak'.

Natural gas production, on the other hand, is not so obviously in terminal decline. The recent setback could be overcome and a new annual high could be reached. We'll know that in a few years.

But, as westexas constantly reminds, it is the net export picture that we should be paying attention to. Argentina is obviously past their net export peak in both oil and natural gas. The implication, of course, being less money coming in and more money going out. Soon they'll end up entirely in the red like the rest of the OECD members.

What about other sources of energy? Let's take a look at their total energy picture from the perspective of both consumption and production:

(Note: The scales are not identical.)

You don't have to be an expert to see from these charts that:

  1. Argentine oil production is past peak.
  2. Indigenous production of energy in Argentina is past peak.
  3. Consumption of energy in Argentina, after turning down with the 1999-2002 economic crisis, has come roaring back.

Anyone who states that "Argentina hasn't reached its own 'peak oil'" is either a fool or a liar. (Or perhaps both.)

Happy Exploring,

-- Jon

"Crude oil futures plunged 5% Thursday as jitters over a rise in weekly U.S. jobless claims and euro-zone debt led investors to flee riskier assets and move into the safe-haven of the dollar."

I have always been baffled as to why the US$ is considered a safe haven, when gold is the only true such haven.

Disclaimer: I have been using my oil royalties to buy gold over the past year and now have 141 Maple Leafs. These are for the long-term, so I'm not concerned about the current panic.

Oil is not a safe haven right now, down $2 in ten minutes.


make that $3 in 15

George Soros was quoted as saying gold is a "superbubble." Recent gold prices over $35 a gram. Gold bugs were buying mining stock and funding gold exploration drilling.

Markets are falling fast again right now as well.

Extreme volitility is a characteristic expected from the peak oil phenomena. As well as the 'undulating plateau.' I think we are seeing both at the moment. Supply and demand are almost equal, and any variation serves to send price off in either direction.

Monday should be very interesting. The manic moronic money mavens just don't know what to do! Where to put their ill gotten gains. USDs (treasuries), Gold, Oil, real estate - not on this planet!. Certainly not Euros today, nor Yen. China does not trade its money... what is that about? I am confused, uncertain, and I guess it's a good thing I'm broke or I would be extremely worried about my money. No debt to speak of... but no real assets right now. The wife has some, and she's mostly in dollars right now (money markets). I've told her to get into gold... she won't listen. Says you can't eat gold! I told her I thought dollars had little gustatory appeal, but she says, "No."

We live in difficult times.

Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.


Just to update in real time, the interest rates on 10 yr Treasuries has dropped, meaning that the money is all going there, again. I guess the theory must be that, if the US Gov't falls, nothing else will be worse a tinker's damn.


Dale, where exactly in Calgary are you located?

"Dale, where exactly in Calgary are you located?"

Not saying, but to answer the obvious implication of your question, my Maple Leafs are in a safe-deposit box and the oil wells are somewhere in west-central Alberta. Any burglar who breaks into my house will be in for a terrible disappointment.

sorry, Dale, the dollar is the only true safe haven. I didn't say that, the Saudis did.

Good to see the Wall Street Journal finally make the dollar/crude connection. They are right; the declining price of crude in dollars makes the dollar a more valuable commodity. As it increases in value it becomes more scarce because people take it out of circulation; they hoard it. Doing so drives the price of oil even lower which in turns makes the dollar even more valuable.

The dollar/crude relationship is really killing the euro. There is nowhere for the euro to hide. If the ECB bails out Greece and Co., the value of the euro will be compromised even more than it is now. It's a matter of supply and demand. If the ECB doesn't bail out Creece there is a risk for a redux of the South Asian currency/capital flow crisis of the 1990's. A deflationary collapse of Greece or Spain would bring commerce to a halt in the entire continent. At the same time, a Euro devaluation means the cost of fuel in Europe will become very high. Ironically, the same outcome occurs if Greece or Spain defaults. Investors will dump euros to flee to the dollar safe haven. In either case, fuel in Eurolandia will become increasingly expensive. The Eurozone will have to - or want to - buy more and more dollars, amplifying the vicious cycle of dollar scarcity and hardness even more. The Europeans cannot win.

The great European powers waited too long, they should have bailed out Greece and Spain last year, when it would have cost little and could have been done quietly. Now, dollar liquidity is disappearing fast.

Bernanke will re- institute the recently ended dollar swap lines with the ECb and Euro banks as liquidity evaporates. It is hard to see where this will have much effect as the dollars will be captured by euro finance, just as Wall Street finance has been capturing dollars created by the Fed in the US.

Wait until you see what the new hard dollar does to the Chinese economy! China has been floating along spewing growth lies by virtue of flows of hot US dollars. The days of free and easy dollars are over, baby!

Unfortunately, the dollar reserves held by China are an asset she cannot use! Her dollar reserves are (a) phantom and (b) useless everywhere except America ... and Saudi Arabia! If China spends dollars overseas - but not in the US - she will (a) run out of dollars eventually and (b( increase the real cost of crude oil. Why? Even if China dumps all its dollars on the crude market it cannot change the dollar/crude peg in the longer term. China would probably have to bid up the price of crude over $100 a barrel. What would happen when the reserve dollars are gone?

The deflationary effects of the new Hard Dollar haven't really been felt in the US, yet. Keep your pants on. Fuel will be cheaper. Nobody will be able to afford it because no one will have any money!

The same thing that is taking place right now happened during 1930- 31. Then, countries tried to support the various currency pegs to gold, which was the de facto international reserve currency. These pegs shackled the great economies together in golden, non- productive fetters. At the height of the crises, the world's productive energies were spent speculating/arbitraging in gold and currencies. There was little other productive activity except in re- arming Japan. It was only when countries abandoned the gold pegs and devalued against gold did commerce improve.

The rule of thumb is: any increase in the value of currency takes place at the expense of the commerce that the currency leverages. As currencies lose intrinsic value, the value of commerce increases. The relationship in inverse. As commerce increases, the value of the currencies used decreases. Declining currencies have usually been an artifact of progress. More commerce means more currency created/lent into existence. Strong currencies are a curse. We are living the consequences of a hard and hardening currency right now. All gold bugs please pay attention, you are getting - almost - what you wished for. I guarantee that you - and your friends and family - won't like it.

Right now, the dollar has to decouple from gold ... excuse me ... crude oil. Good luck on that, mate!

From article above:

How Nigeria is sabotaging the global oil market

Shell and Total currently produce around 10% of Nigeria's oil and gas. If they leave, there will be a vacuum of talent and expertise.
With those companies gone, Nigerian oil production will collapse before the paint dries on the new company logos.

Is their expertise also involved in the 90% oil and gas production from Nigeria ?

Han -- IMHO it doesn't matter what percent they contribute with respect to expertise. I can recruit 10 of our smartest TODers and run the entire Nigerian oil business. RDS, ExxonMobil et al supply management and capital. These days most of the physical effort is supplied by consultants and service companies. Companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger do most of the actual heavy lifting not only overseas but even in U.S. Deep Water plays. As I've mentioned before, a DW GOM well I was on two years ago had 140 souls on board. On any given day there were just 2-4 company employees on board. All the rest were consultants but mostly service company hands to whom the work was subcontracted. The real message in the story IMHO wasn't that RDS et all were pulling their "expertise" out. They're pulling their money out. Halliburton would be more than happy to take over 100% of all operations in Nigeria. But they won't invest $1 in the effort. They don't tend to do that even in low risk stable areas.

In Vietnam oil exports peaked in 2001 at 178,000 bod. Oil production peaked in 2004 at 403,000 bod. 2008 oil exports were about 33,000 bod. Natural gas production has dropped precipitously. Coal exports from Vietnam were up over 600% since 2000; coal consumption doubled in the same amount of time.

Vietnam auto sales were up about 7% in 2009.

Since Leanan sometimes posts things of Denninger, I'll post a link, too.

Robert Reich failed home economics class.

Robert Reich said (among other things):

To see the big picture you need to keep your eye on three big things. The first is the extent of government spending needed to offset the continued reluctance of consumers and businesses to spend.

Denninger comes back with some observations:

It's not reluctance. It's inability. That's usually what happens when your general mantra is "I can't be out of money - I still have checks left!" and then try the same trick with your credit card only to have it come back "REALLY DECLINED."

All government borrowing and spending does in that case is make the ultimate deleveraging (across the entire economy) WORSE.

Of course those who pray at the Keynesian altar (or for that matter, virtually all the other altars when it comes to economics) don't have "D" (debt) anywhere in their economic calculations and pronouncements.

Their error is primary - they believe in "MV = PQ", but think "M" is the money supply. It's not - it's the credit supply, but for each dollar of credit there is one of debt, and when the ability to carry that debt reaches its limit you have hit the economic wall and "P", "Q" or both must CONTRACT.

Of course, if you have peak oil and other resource limits entering the equation, the chance of paying back the debt with interest is even less than Denninger realizes.

Just received from Energy & Capital:

The Oil Export Crisis Has Unofficially Arrived
By Chris Nelder | Friday, February 5th, 2010
Last March, my study of the effect of peak oil on U.S. imports had brought Mexico to the forefront. As our #3 source of imports, the crashing of its supergiant Cantarell field had put the future of our oil supply in serious jeopardy.

The possibility that Mexico's oil and gas exports to the U.S. could go to zero within seven years looked very real.

As I explained in that piece, rising domestic consumption coupled with declining supply puts an ever-tightening squeeze on imports. I have found no evidence that policymakers are paying any attention to this critically important dynamic, but it is the very point of the peak oil spear.

Were it not for the market meltdown and recession, it would have pierced our vital organs. Instead we felt a pinprick. Hardly anybody realized what it really was, and most ran off on a wild goose chase for evil oil speculators.

Now Venezuela has appeared on my radar for similar reasons... only this time, we're really going to feel it.

Have a nice day!


To crash or not to crash. That is the question for China:


It could happen. But comparisons betwen China and Poland have to take into account the difference in income distributions. China has an extremely unequal income distribution - even worse than the USA's. Poland's is more moderate. Poland also has a social security safety net, so Poles feel less need to save.

The point is that once the average income rises to the point where a car is affordable, in Poland there are many people on about that level of income, and they'll buy cars. In China, cars will still be out of reach for most people, and besides, the Chinese are saving their money for their old age.

(Check out that, uh, demographic chart! I was going to call it a "population pyramid", but I guess that name no longer applies.)

China is well capable of ramping up production to 50 million cars per year. And it's well capable of delivering them from the factories to villages all around the country, and calling that "sales".

But quite a few cars will end up as chicken coops.

Poland also has a social security safety net, so Poles feel less need to save.

Does anyone else get a creepy chill when they hear such things? It seems to me that when you rely on "ss," you are relying on the gov't to save for you. Think Social Security Trust Fund.

Then, the Gov't takes the money they are 'saving' for our old age, and blows it on military toys, wars, etc. Not a very prudent group up there, IMO.

Of course, they need to have a few wars to keep a million or so folks employed, knock a few more off, and - oh, yes - secure foreign oil.


No one has made the obvious comment about the wind farms and radar.

The problem is wind farms create "cones of silence" above them, making it difficult for primary radar systems to detect airplanes when they fly over them, Seifert explained. Planes with transponders can communicate with air traffic control towers, but smaller planes don't all have transponders.

It won't matter when the planes are all grounded with no fuel left! So, who cares? Go ahead and do the wind thingies. They are more important, if decidedly short-lived,


I have looked high and low for the answer to a very simple, yet critical question regarding our economic collapse. The question is "What would the banks have reported for 4th Quarter, 2007 earnings had FASB Rule 157, Modification of Mark to Market Accounting not been implemented in November, 2007"?

The importance of this question is two-fold. First, the market top occurred the same month this rule was implemented. Second, this change is forcing our entire country to be priced at "liquidation" value.

My guess is we will come out of this crisis someday. However, this rule will once again rear its ugly head when our next recession kicks in. This rule creates a classic downward spiral that we've all watched play out over the last two years. First, as people lose jobs (which is characteristic of any recession) there are fewer people in the consumer markets of housing, autos, etc. Because the market is weak the banks must immediately begin marking down assets to the current "market price" which leads to an ever depressing private sector. The only cure, more government bailouts, over and over again.

Most people on this forum are highly intelligent, diverse and certainly logical. Your answers would be most welcome. I would also be curious to know if anyone has NOT heard of FASB 157.


FASB Rule 157 was, as I understand it, designed to help unsophisticated investors understand what the real values of certain investment options were. It covers 3 levels. First level is publicly traded stocks and bonds. Easy enough, and they should already have been fairly transparent. Level 2 would be private equity ventures, and some derivatives. This was the main body of difficulty that the rule wanted to deal with, as I understand it. The third level, which included the sub-prime mortgage market included those well hidden assets that the gamblers in charge of investment houses loved so well. Once it became clear, from the forced disclosures, that the assets backing the loans were very shakey, to say the least, things fell apart quickly.

Had Rule 157 not been in place, IMO we would have had the same results, but it would have taken somewhat longer, and been quite a bit more severe.

As far as government bailouts, they were unneeded, and pointless. In the long run they will be counterproductive and may even be dangerous. Again that is my opinion. I may be wrong.

And, I believe that we are not yet finished with the subprime meltdown or the real estate crash.

For those who wonder, FASB is the Financial Accounting Standards Board. It is advised by the FASAC, and is part of a private foundation, not a governmental institution. The FASB is a group of people who are CEOs, CFOs, and senior partners in large accounting firms. The whole thing is part of the FAF, the Financial Accounting Foundation.

These are also the people who determine the GAAP standards. They report to no one...


They report to no one, but they succumb to pressure on occasion. From the way I here it, mark-to-market only applies to a limited set of securities, and little has been done to collapse off-balance-sheet equities and the abuses of over-the-counter derivatives, and the bulk of home-loan and business-loan securities.

When you hear about un-foreclosed properties after a year of missed payments and vast numbers of foreclosed properties not being offered for sale, it is pretty likely that "mark to market" isn't being applied except where it has to be.

If mark-to-market had been followed for all securities all the time, and with full visibility and reconciliation on a daily basis like stock markets, many of these bubbles could not be blows as big for as long.

Investors SHOULD know when the companies are under-water in equity and surviving by the skin of their bloated-fees teeth on cash-flow. Banks SHOULD NOT be allowed to gamble federally-insured accounts in nebulous investments.

You are forgetting, they are owned by the banks. Like the Federal Reserve, this is a bank-owned enterprise. No surprise that they would not require banks to disclose much.

We need a major post on GAAP, and the role the FASB and FAF play in it. As well as a comparison with Federal Reserve Bank, and how the discount window operates to create money by magic.


Thanks for the feedback!

I do believe this issue is quite complicated with many unintended consequences. For example, its been reported that banks had to write down loans on their books even though these loans were cash flow positive. Its also been reported that many real estate sales in the past year have been made at less than the cost of construction. I guess my thought is that if banks had used a rolling 5 year average for cash flowing asset values as opposed to a "snap shot" the collapse may have not been so quick, so severe. What got my interest was the moves of Bank of America. August 2007 Bank of America raised their dividend 20%. Three months later they were on life support. No CEO wants to cut their dividend unless circumstances demand it. Based on their actions, the future looked very bright in the summer of 2007 when they posted earnings of $1.28 per share. By the 4th quarter earnings had dropped 95% due largerly to write-downs, not actual cash losses. If the economy does recover, my guess is that these banks will begin to write-up values and will post record earnings!

If that day does materialize, then we have badly misjudged the unintended consequences of this regulatory change. From where I sit, it looks to me like we the tax payers ponied up billions of dollars in bank bailouts when, in fact, I don't believe they needed the cash. While this was going on, and this is the real point to my post, China has been using their cash to buy up resources around the world. Again, unintended consequences.

Case in point, my girlfriend spent her career as a VP at a software company. She saved an incredible amount of cash over the years. Recently she stepped down to start a new company. Her income took a serious hit, but her assets are amazing. She recently tried to refinance her house which apparaised at a significant premium to her cost. The bank, a TARP recipient turned her down. They said "your assets mean nothing to us, just your cash flow". Frustrated, she wrote a check and paid off the house.

I'm not saying that we didn't have a terrible housing problem, we certainly did. The fundamental question is whether the problem was a few billion dollars of false housing inflation or the trillions of dollars we have thrown at this. I'm just trying to figure out whether the banks had the ability to fund their own losses. I know I've always had to fund my Accounts Receivable losses. I never got a bailout from the government, although I was able to deduct the losses from my taxable income. Why couldn't the banks do the same?

Each of us has taken a hit to our balance sheets. So have the banks. The difference, TARP was used to shore up their balance sheets until market fundamentals improved. Now they are taking HUGE bonuses. Sorry for the long post, but the math just doesn't add up.

It doesn't add up because it is NOT math. It is economics. And, economics has 'borrowed' math from non related fields, and applied it in strange ways, with little order, no rules, and an agenda. Today, the Austrians and the Chicagoans rule. They are the ones who insist on BAU and believe in abiotic oil, magic miracle money, and think they can change reality by wishing it.

Won't work. Never has... never will. And, they will drag most of us down to depredation before they are done, b/c we still allow money to do what ever it wants.

Enjoy the next year or so... more or less. Things get interesting starting Monday.


It doesn't add up because it is NOT math. It is economics. And, economics has 'borrowed' math from non related fields, and applied it in strange ways, with little order, no rules, and an agenda. Today, the Austrians and the Chicagoans rule. They are the ones who insist on BAU and believe in abiotic oil, magic miracle money, and think they can change reality by wishing it.

Won't work. Never has... never will. And, they will drag most of us down to depredation before they are done, b/c we still allow money to do what ever it wants.

Enjoy the next year or so... more or less. Things get interesting starting Monday.


You are blaming the black swan who landed on the end of the stick for causing the fall of the tightrope walker, when you should be asking why were the banks were way up there on the wire in such high winds and with lots of birds about.

Because the market is weak the banks must immediately begin marking down assets to the current "market price" which leads to an ever depressing private sector.

With reasonable limits on leverage and reasonable asset to load ratios, this isn't a problem. It becomes a problem when there are no rules to force proper accounting of the risks on the books.

My guess is we will come out of this crisis someday.

You've been a member here for a few hours. I suggest you spend a lot more time reading about peak oil and resource constraints and the impact on our growth or else economy. In short, growth is dead, else isn't determined [1], but recovery is clearly not happening with current resource and population trends.

[1] As no one seems to have a crystal ball

[1] But the list of probablilties/possibilities is a pretty long one.

I would also suggest the commenter look up the impossibility of solving game theoretic problems.


I just find it interesting that two rules by the SEC were imposed during the second half of calendar year 2007. The first was the repeal of the Uptick Rule on July 6, 2007. The second, Modification to Mark to Market Accounting in November 2007. The Uptick Rule was put on the books in 1938 and served us well for many decades. Mark to Market Accounting will always have its poster kids such as Enron. While I fundamentally believe in the intended purpose, I can't help but question the unintended consequences.

For example, I have debated with the local newspaper business editor the need for an Uptick Rule. He actually published an article stating HIS reasons for why this was not necessary. The two reasons quoted were:

1) The SEC determined we didn't need it (this AFTER Maddoff by the way)
2) There are always Upticks in the market

I suggested he have his research staff count the number of Upticks we had the week of 9/11. Unreal how small the world looks to some people.

Final point, the stock market bottomed, at least temporarily, on March 9, 2009. That same day Barney Frank called FASB and the SEC to the Hill and told them they had 3 weeks to come to a temporary fix to Mark to Market Accounting. The market soared. As for the Uptick Rule, the SEC will probably not do the correct thing and simply reinstate the rule. But watch the SEC over the next few weeks as they will propose some version of short sale restrictions.

Not sure where this takes us, other than the fact that both these rules changes seem destined to be reversed.

One could say that the system needs a lot of changes, yet one could also say that the entire system needs to be scrapped, that it is too far gone to be functional. You will find many here on TOD that would say that our systems are in the process of scrapping themselves. IMHO this is correct. It is hubris to insist that we can fix things, as they are too far out of balance. Can you say "overshoot"? Better circle your wagons. Head for the exits. Hunker down. Disinvest......

Gosh, News from Oslo reaches TOD:

The Oslo City Council will now consider building a major joint tunnel which will lead all railway and subway lines under the centre of the capital. This was decided at the Council's meeting on Wednesday.

The point is that only 30 years ago a new tunnel was made to connect the western and eastern rail lines, as well as the Subway. These tracks are now full, and more are needed. Oslo has toll roads leading into the city from all sides, and it successfully limits car-based traffic. The challenge is that new projects are paid by the toll income, so we cannot be too succesful.

Anyway, Oslo is probably better prepared for P-O than many other places. Still, the social-democratic lead national government prioritizes district roads/bridges/tunnels to collect votes for re-election instead of systematically building a national infrastructure that is P-O resilient.

The entire national fortune, made through oil and gas exports, is placed in stock and bond funds, meant to take care of the elderly in the future. WTSHTF all of that may go down the drain, or into someone elses pockets. I have written off my state pension altogether....

Political stupidity never ceases to surprise me. And I am one...

I'm surprised that Norway hasn't used more of its sovereign fund to build a better rail system. Instead the money is rotting away in some bank accounts to become worthless at some point because of future hyperinflation. Norway is a low density, mountainous country, which makes building higher-speed rail lines very expensive. But the Swiss are doing it without the benefit of domestic oil supplies. So why is Norway not building more electrified rail lines? It is certainly not because of lack of money.

Thanks, Frugal:

So why is Norway not building more electrified rail lines? It is certainly not because of lack of money.

I keep asking my fellow party member the same all the time. The key strategy is "not to spend the money at home, since it will lead to higher prices (the curse of wealth) and make us less competitive." I keep saying: why not regard it as an INVESTMENT, and use foreign entrepreneurs in the process. Then they keep lecturing me on the above again.
Like I said, I started with politics to see if it is as bad as I thought, and it is.
..and our party is liberal and environmentally oriented....

The DC metro area is on track for another top ten record setting snow storm this winter with predictions of 20-30 inches. This is after the largest December snow storm on record Dec. 19, 2009. This storm is likely to put this winter close to the second snowiest winter on record before February 7th. Local government snow removal budgets were miscalculated. I do not believe a global warming disaster is imminent.

Supermarkets 'ransacked' as snow storm smacks Washington


doesn't take much ...

What happens when the diesel truck doesn't arrive ??

The are calling it "Snowpocalypse."




And it's heavy, wet snow, the kind that breaks things.

The snow around here certainly was wet. We had about 6.5 inches, then another layer of sleet/freezing rain on top. I happen to be the local snow plow owner/operator for our 1 mile stretch of private gravel road. I tried to push the road clear enough such that a freexe later tonight would not produce one solid mass. I'm not an expert operator, since we only get to plow the road a couple of times a year, but this time, it was rather difficult. Since dark, when I finished my one and a half lane wide cut, there's been some further accumulation of sleet. It must be really bad further north in Virginia...

E. Swanson

The snow is falling sideways, the cars are being covered, snow was blown into the mesh of my window sceen. It appears like Pt. Barrow out there. I suppose there are better things to spend money on than trying to fool around with the earth's heating and cooling. They want to take down my power grid, replace it with more expensive power, bill me trillions, and tell me they cleaned up my air. I need food, water, clothing, shelter, electricity, transport, fuel. The air was clean enough to begin with.

I presume from you comment that you have never lived in a city with a smog problem, such as LA, Denver, NYC or Atlanta, etc. We all need shelter and transport, but filling those needs do not require McMansions in low density developments and 4x4 SUV's for everybody...

E. Swanson

One winter the smoke from my neighbor's chimney stung my eyes, but I did not cry, nor did I freeze.

They work in the city and live in the country and that adds to the traffic and the smog. They might vote you out if you try to take away their right to drive. More likely to complain about not gettting a raise if they find out 'so and so' got a raise and they did'nt. Not many smog fatalities in the area; more likely to die from getting fat.

DC is the fattest city in the nation.

In China hunger happened for some, they are not as worried about smog, but more worried about the consequences of no smog.

Hypochondriachs bought bottled water because they though it was pure. Then they found out the plastic might cause cancer. They need refineries and plastic to bottle their "pure spring water." That is going to require alot of carbon. The ecopeople might stick to trying to harpoon whale boats and driving out to the wilderness to try to get close to nature. Unless they can ride bicycles to there they will be polluters their own selves.

Of course you don't, because you have already decided not to. But reality is what happens whether you believe in it or not.

Don't think global warming - think global climate change. Bizarre extremes. Snow where it shouldn't be. No snow where it should be. Etc.

What about a climate change disaster? In his newest book, "Storms of my Grandchildren" subtitled "The truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity", James Hansen relates that his greatest regret was that he started referring to climate change as global warming - the sword cuts both ways. The climate fluctuations are readily discussed, very understandibly and concisely. Hansen is a really good communicator, and should have started that phase of his passion much, much earlier.

Yes, we can rest easy in the calm prognostications of television meteorologists and ignore all the hyperbole of climate scientists. Those scientists are only in it for the money anyway, while the TV station's only mission is to inform people.

This snow storm is a weather event determined by AGW. Any given weather event would not have happened. Other weather events would have happened but we will never know what those might have been since we only have one planet to experiment with.

Everybody who crashes their car on the ice and snow can blame AGW.

While I am fully aware of AGW and agree that the Earth appears to be warming, I can not blame any individual storm on AGW. This winter, we may be seeing the impact of the El Nino winds, which pushed the tops off the storms in the Gulf of Mexico last summer (preventing hurricane formation) and which are still pushing the warm wet air northward from the Gulf, which turns into snow and ice as the air reaches higher latitudes.

Or, we may also be experiencing the early impact of a possible reduction in the Thermohaline Circulation in the Nordic Seas. There's also been a strong flow of cold air over these waters, which has put up a "wall" that opposed the usual flow over the North Atlantic from the southwest. Europe has experienced rather cold weather of late. Fun to watch on satellite images, but assigning an exact cause and effect is beyond me...

E. Swanson

Ha ... one more person confusing climate & weather.

If It’s That Warm, How Come It’s So Damned Cold?
by James Hansen, Reto Ruedy, Makiko Sato, and Ken Lo


And just to offset your cold feet


SEATTLE -- The National Weather Service says last month was the warmest January on record in Seattle, an average of 47 degrees.

That was about a half-degree warmer than the old record set in 2006. Seattle records go back to 1891.

In answer to the question, Why does adding heat make it colder? I like to refer to a gas powered refrigerator, like those in campers. A flame on one end causes heat to flow through the system, making the other end cold. The total heat increases, but in some places it goes down.


Re: Why does adding heat make it colder? I like to refer to a gas powered refrigerator, like those in campers.

Nice try but no cigar. The correct answer is that local random variations in temperature can vastly exceed the hypothetical long-term increase in the global average. The trend line gets lost in the grass, so to speak.

Local random variations? You mean chance? I don't think chance is the driving factor, though it may be a factor. The weather is kind of like a mobile. You can't move one part without affecting every other piece of the mobile one way or another. The butterfly effect, you know. Adding heat to one part of the system causes migrations of heat throughout the rest of it. Some may result in increases in heat and some in decreases.

The weathey may be 'chaotic' but that is not the same as random.

Anyway, it was just an example of something that gets colder when you add heat to it.


Local random variations, chance, chaotic systems, the drunkard's walk, whatever you want to call it.

At this point in time, the Pacific Northwest is warm mainly because of el Niño-Southern Oscillation, and the Eastern US is cold primarily because of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Both of these climatic phenomena can be regionally much bigger than any anthropomorphic global warming phenomenon.

solar power too expensive, not enough bang for the buck. grid tied.
just think 22 inches of snow on your panels, then the grid goes out, then next day the sun comes out. you ant got no solar power. HAH-HAH!
but i got my "cat" stove cranking. it puts out 28,000 BTU's. much more than my 3KW PV system.

ITANAGAR: In a very rare phenomenon on Indian soil, volcano-like eruptions have triggered large-scale forest fires that are threatening vast tracts of forests in Arunachal Pradesh.

HUMBOLDT COUNTY-- An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 rattled the coast of Northern California.


Few Remain as 1962 Pa. Coal Town Fire Still Burns
Pa. wants last Centralia holdouts gone as town's coal mine fire, ignited in 1962, smolders on

say...i understand burning coal in place makes methane. why aith "they" dong that in PA?

PLEASE! everyone, dont forget your stone knives and bearskins because you will need them after the great die off, 99% of current population gone.

peak water. when did it occur? in 2010 when fracking became widespread.
this link from above:
Marcellus Coalition Posts Facts on Flowback Water Treatment

"The industry currently treats or recycles all of its flowback water. Recycling accounts for approximately 60 percent of the water used to complete Marcellus Shale wells, with greater percentages predicted for the future. There are more than a dozen approved water treatment facilities available to treat flowback water, with plans for additional capacity in the future.

i clicked through. it was just a P.R. fluff piece. so 40% of the chemical solution is not reclaimed. where does that go? when the water is treated are the chemicals recovered so they can be used again? arent those chemicals refined from oil stock?

remember that unleaded fuel ingredient? the smallest leak rendered wells unsuitable for consumption. and what about rocket fuel residue
that is admitted to be everywhere in the usa, even in mothers' milk?

is your lifestyle reduced when you have to drink tainted well water?

maybe this is how the great die off will happen. 99% reduction of current population numbers. no one gets out of here alive.

"it's all good"

I've been thinking about the US dollar's improbable strength and the recent "peak demand" claims being made by the IEA and ME oil experts. Just before the dollar's recent turnaround, I'd heard rumors of a dollar crisis. Story was, our creditors were making demands. Is it possible the US agreed to a self-imposed import quota in exchange for our creditor's support?

How did this "peak demand" thing get started? Isn't it just another way of saying we're on a quota? I've heard a number of explanations for our demand peak (more efficient vehicle mix, etc.) but I just don't buy it. The real reason we're using less oil is the recession, but that won't last forever ... so what gives? Were we forced to limit our oil imports in order to retain the dollar's reserve status?

Artep, the Peak Demand bit is annoying because it demonstrates the failure by these institutional leaders to admit that economic factors, such as high oil prices stemming from peak plateau oil production starting in 05 and the subsequent ongoing recession, was a major factor for reduced demand.

They want to act like demand just naturally peaked due entirely to technilogical advancements and altruistic reasons. This illogical reasoning provides them with an out for their failure to have anticipated peak oil, or to even admit its existence now. Claiming Peak Demand buys them time in hopes that world oil production will increase to a new historical high and let them off the hook.

As far as being on a quota, I have no idea. Haven't heard that take on it before.


Japanese ask: Is US backlash behind Toyota woes?

I think the Americans are going overboard," said Hiroyuki Komiya, 40, a Tokyo restaurant employee. "Maybe it's Japan-bashing because the trouble at Toyota, which has the world's No. 1 share, is a big opportunity for its American rivals."

I was wondering when the Japanese would catch up to the American media bashing of Toyota in a bid to bring it down to where our US car companies can better compete. The other shoe has fallen. The Japanese finally figured it out - good for them.