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November 18, 2006

Comments

Pofarmer

So, what good will an oil tax do? High prices will solve high prices, either through new supply or alternatives. Just don't restrict access to either new sources of crude, or new alternatives. Industry is much more efficient at developing nad implementing alternatives than some massive beauracracy.

Tom Maguire

So, what good will an oil tax do?

One might argue (I do!) that US policy has shielded the US consumer from the "true" cost of gas/heating oil. Overlooked in the price are externalities such as pollution/carbon dioxide emissions, as well as some portion of our annual defense budget, since we seem to be in an oil-related fight every ten years or so. (NO, it's not "All About Oil", but I don't see US troops in Somalia or Darfur, either).

The transition to a more accurate price of oil will be gruesome - the whole highway system, complete with suburbs, big cars, and no mass transit all revolve around a particular view of gasoline - but we ougt to start now what we should have started thirty years ago.

boris

but we ougt to start now what we should have started thirty years ago

Considering the US economy as a production mechanism for farm products, manufacturing and service to the planet, taxing the outputs makes more sense than taxing the inputs.

Compared to most other parts of the planet, the US is a net consumer of CO2. We convert a huge chunk of it into corn and grain. So it's not strictly fair to just look at emissions.

sbw

TM: Overlooked in the price

... Is the 50 percent or so of the price that is already tax. In the doublespeak of Washington, "Windfalls" fall to big corporations but *never* to government.

I'm in favor of clear speaking that leads to sensible government. What you seem to be proposing is a practical expedient that robs Peter to pay Paul.

Besides, back when Aristotle was talking about political science, the subject studied how to make wise decisions that led to good governance. I may be shouting in the wind, but I prefer efforts that lead to clear compelling arguments. How about some links to back up your assumptions. I'm just learning, you know.

lurker

OT:

Your UN Dollars at work

Imagine a weak USA ambassador instead of Bolton...

Pofarmer

I don't totally disagree Tom.

However, the price of oil is set on the world market. If the price to secure it is higher than that, then, yes, it needs to be figured in. However, to my way of thinking, we're already paying taxes for that, just maybe not a specific fuel tax. If you want to transfer the tax to fuels, and then cut that amount of tax somewhere else, I suppose that could be debated.

The Ethanol industry, and now Biodiesel, has used tax credits to be competitive with the price of fossil fuels. I suppose you could say they don't need as much tax becuause they are domestically produced. And, before somebody gets on some dopey screed about the "true cost" of ethanol, that industry is nowhere near to mature, nor is biodiesel. Enszymes have been announced in the last couple of months that will nearly double the efficiency of fermentation for ethanol, and let us make biodiesel from the leftovers of ethanol production at a lower cost. And, if it really takes off, cellulosic ethanol and biomass coproduction of not only fuels, but also heat and electricity are not far off.

As far as pollution, that's really a local issue. With the upcoming of China and India, the U.S. is going to be a relatively small part of the emmissions picture. Emmissions regulations are already stifling industry and putting us at yet another competitive disadvantage in the world market. Emmissions regulations will add about $10,000 to the cost of a heavy truck over the next two years, plus, they cut the fuel economy and increase operating costs. These regulations also restrain us from using the small, fuel efficient diesels that are used in Europe, South America, and elsewhere. You could be driving a diesel right now that got 50-70 MPG, but they won't meet EPA's emmissions regulations, so your stuck in the mid 20's. Heavy truck mileage has actually gone down in the last 10 years, and heavy equipment fuel usage has gone up, thanks to heavy handed EPA regulations that cost us fuel economy and drive up costs.

Cecil Turner

we ougt to start now what we should have started thirty years ago.

We certainly ought to invest in energy infrastructure . . . but my preference would be for new nukes and starting conversion to hydrogen. And while tax increases would provide an incentive for alternative solutions, I don't think private initiatives will be sufficient.

And, if it really takes off, cellulosic ethanol and biomass coproduction of not only fuels, but also heat and electricity are not far off.

I think this is all great stuff, and worth pursuing, but the bottom line is that it'll have little effect on the disparity between the "energy demand" vs "energy supply" curves. (And that the upward trend in price will likely continue, in the usual cyclic fashion.)

Pofarmer

Don't disagree on the nukes. Also using tar sands, coal liquification, etc. The western U.S. has the largest coal reserves in the world, I beleive. It's just rather inconvenient that Clintoon decreed a lot of them into a park. We need to be looking at more coal scrubbing technologies and use.

There doesn't need to be anything scrubbed from the kit bag.

However, I'm not optimistic about hydrogen. It's hard to store, hard to use, and relatively expensive to produce, in that it takes energy to produce it, and unless it's solar, takes more energy to produce than is in it. My prediction? Hydrogen will be a bust.

Pofarmer

I should make a disclaimer on Biofuels, too. At current production levels, if we converted all the corn and soybeans in the U.S. into fuel, I think that would last be about 13% of current usage. The goal right now is 2%.

However, this doesn't include celluslosic. It also doesn't include home heating from renewable sources like wood pellets,(which I do, blended with corn). It also doesn't include gleaning the western forests for all that biomass that is currently going up in wildfires.

sbw

Po: wood pellets,(which I do, blended with corn)

Po, how efficient are they? Is the pollution output greater than otehr fuels?

Pofarmer

The stove I have is about 85% efficient. There are a lot of different stoves. They are EPA emmissions rated and approved, whatever that means. The stove I have, all that comes out the chimney is a little heat. Once in a while you might see some smoke, but very little, you just notice a little smell and not much else. They are very clean in the house. The cool thing is that you are burning a waste product in the pellets are sawdust left over from other processes. So, how do you measure what you gain vs what you use?

clarice

What, you want inflation and unemployment? If they need to do this to get some relief elsewhere, link it to lifting restrictions on petro development offshore or streamlining the impossible and inpossibly long process for adding new production facilities like nuke plants.

TCO

I disagree with fuels taxes. It is micro-management and government knows best thinking. Let the price be the market price. There are already too high taxes on fuels, well-covering the externalities. And Tom, they're not there because of externalities...they're there because fuel is an inelastic demand good (relatively). Governments LOOOVE taxing inelastic demand. Just open ANWAR and the FLA coast and crap like that. You'd be surprised what a small increase in production can do to crack a cartel. Once the cartel falters, we will be back in the glory days of cheap oil of the 90s.

Pofarmer

TCO

Agreed.

The cost of getting oil out of the ground hasn't increased appreciably in the last 2 year

Cecil Turner

It's hard to store, hard to use, and relatively expensive to produce, in that it takes energy to produce it, and unless it's solar, takes more energy to produce than is in it. My prediction? Hydrogen will be a bust.

Yes, hydrogen (or methanol) is a transfer mechanism, not a source, and there are unavoidable inefficiencies in any method. But it allows using an energy surplus elsewhere to provide for fueling vehicles, which can directly affect both the gasoline crunch and pollution. Not sure if it'll be one of those mechanisms or a new one (e.g., improved battery technology), but something along those lines is necessary if we want to reduce dependence on oil products for transportation.

AT

One might argue (I do!) that US policy has shielded the US consumer from the "true" cost of gas/heating oil.

We're also shielded from the true cost of homes, health care, and charitably giving. Why is that okay?

Paul Zrimsek

The idea that we can make the Middle East a less troublesome place by impoverishing it needs a lot more scrutiny than it usually gets. We may not have troops in Somalia or Darfur but we sure have got them in Afghanistan.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'...won't this be painted (quite accurately) as tax relief for the rich funded by a mass tax on the working man?'

Depends on who imposes it. If Dems do it it'll be ignored or painted as Green.

MayBee

(NO, it's not "All About Oil", but I don't see US troops in Somalia or Darfur, either).

But Sudan has some pretty large oil reserves.
Which is why China on the security council won't let US or UN troops in there.
It's no war, for the oil for the PRC. The US isn't there because we don't have a compelling enough interest, but the oil is there.

Semanticleo

"One might argue (I do!) that US policy has shielded the US consumer from the "true" cost of gas/heating oil."

One might argue that the american public is more than willing to be duped by the politician who promises endless, cheap oil.

When the Feds provide no incentive for business to innovate alternative energy.
(Currently, EXXON invests about $2 million
annually-a whopping 20 basis points) and the american public is satisfied when gas stays
near $2.60 per gallon, nothing WILL be done.

Gas tax, maybe. I prefer to reverse the
strategy of the HedgeFund types who seek to
shift the tax burden from UNearned to earned income. Toss that hot potato back by removing the payroll tax cap currently sitting at $200K. Check your SSI and related deductions. The percentage, by far,
exceeds Fed withholding.

jerry

Just reverse those tax subsidies for the multi-billion/millionaires, and the porky oil companies (I'd throw in farm subsidies too out of personal pique), and all will be well in Mayberry.

clarice

I've watched the government in action and I've watched the market, and I believe that investing a penny of federal dollars in finding alternative energy is a penny wasted. It always gets spent on dubious projects which have become someone's pet. Left to their own devices, petro companies will seek out what is feasible, but with latest estimates of petro reserves now topping 200 some years' worth even with increased world demand, it is not worth a great effort and is likely only to produce more expensive energy than oil and gas.

OTOH instead of these luftmenshen notions, if we actually built new refineries (we haven't built one in about 35 years), new nuclear energy facilities, drilled in ANWR and off the coasts, we would do a great deal more to assure secure supplies of energy at reasonable cost.

Semanticleo

," but with latest estimates of petro reserves now topping 200 some years' worth"

Uh, where the hell are you getting your info?

Semanticleo

"if we actually built new refineries (we haven't built one in about 35 years), new nuclear energy facilities, drilled in ANWR and off the coasts,"

If you're not being paid for writing shit like this, it just increases your folly.

boris

Eeek heresy !!! burn her burn her !!!!

boris

Cleo gets her info from www.clownscience.com

bgates

Raising taxes along with comprehensive immigration reform is a good start to a plan to recapture the Republican majority. To complete the effort, may I suggest as the next Supreme Court nominee: Aaron Sorkin.

clarice

My computer is acting hinky so it will be a while until I locate the article with the 200 plus years estimate.

That the world's reserves are far greater is the contention of Yergin's Cambridge Energy Associates.
http://www.cera.com/aspx/cda/public1/news/pressReleases/pressReleaseDetails.aspx?CID=8444

Also see.http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:kWKus2LfCXgJ:sepwww.stanford.edu/sep/jon/world-oil.dir/lynch/worldoil.html+World+supply+of+oil+200+years&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=2>Plenty of oil

And , no, I don't get paid for this. And yes the U.S. has not built an oil refinery for 25 years.

clarice

***35 years**

clarice

***35 years**

sw

Taxes on refined oil. Crude is imported, gasoling isn't, so what are they trying to stop, imported gasoline.

clarice

Here are 2 examples of hoe new technology and the market work:
Instapundit reports today a cheap method for extracting oil from shale (which we have plenty of) has been developed.

[quote]If true this is huge!

It would cost about $17 to produce a barrel of synthetic oil at the Hom Tov
facility, meaning giant profit margins in a world of $45 to $60 per barrel
crude. Yearly earnings are forecasted to be between $159 million and $350
million, Shahal said.

Oil is now at about $55 a barrel, how much oil shale does the US have?

Oil shale. Extensive deposits — perhaps 2 trillion barrels of hydrocarbons — lie in America's Rocky Mountain West, mostly in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. Difficulties in extracting and refining the hydrocarbon have frustrated earlier efforts. But if oil prices remain at recent levels, oil-shale deposits will become more attractive as conventional deposits in North America play out. Already, the U.S. government has begun to get "expressions of interest" from oil companies about oil-shale deposits on public lands, according to congressional testimony in April by Tom Lonnie, an official with the U.S. Department of the Interior.[/quote]

http://dawnsblood.townhall.com/g/836de9c7-a9b6-489f-b1eb-f1b8b40c9eb9

Pat

I would suggest a simple question on the 1040:

Do you want to payer a higher tax because you believe the government either needs the money or spends it in your best interest?

If so, double your current tax rate and send a check.


Then publish the names of all of those who choose the higher rate so all those liberals can brag about how much money they paid.

clarice

Here's (oops) another example of what govt interference does..
But what one politician can mandate, another can terminate—and therein lies one of the biggest risks for clean energy. American politicians have periodically allowed a tax break for wind generation to expire, for example. This caused the industry to falter several times, before the credit was renewed again (see chart 2). It is due to expire once more next year. In similar fashion, the shares of European clean-energy firms fell this summer, along with the price of permits to emit carbon dioxide within the EU. The price of permits had fallen because European governments had handed out too many of them to polluters, thus flooding the market.

Voters, too, sometimes lose heart. In the recent elections, Californians, normally a reliably green lot, voted against a proposal to tax oil production to fund research into renewables. Yet clean-energy investors are gambling, essentially, that governments and the taxpayers who fund them will continue to spend lavishly on the industry.

A dramatic fall in the oil price will almost certainly prompt governments to tighten purse-strings, since subsidies become relatively more expensive. Developing new, carbon-free technologies will seem less urgent if there is plenty of cheap oil about. When oil prices fell in the 1980s, governments quietly dropped many of the grand plans for energy independence developed during the oil shocks of the 1970s.

http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8168089

If you go wayback --California had the largest photovoltaic energy project in the world. Because the startup costs where greater than those of ordinary production projects, the feds pumped a lot of money into it and Calif I believe gave the company lots of tax credits. As it was nearing profitability, conventional energy prices dipped and the subsidies and breaks vanished---along with the company.

Governments and consumers will always go with what is cheaper...and that is wise because of the multiplier affect energy costs have on the economy.

The Carter era notion of wearing sweaters in cold houses, biking to work and hanging your clothes out to dry ignores the huge loss in productivity that high energy costs exact .


Pat

Its obviusly wrong and evil to put a fuel tax on people who need it to get to their jobs, etc. when you have so much fueld being wasted by unnecessary use.

I would like to see the following taxes:

1. A fuel tax placed on each movie ticket for movies of PG-13 rating and above. Say 5.00 per ticket. These movies aren't necessary and people can choose not to pay.

2. A 10.00 per gallon tax on all private aircraft using over 1,000 gallons of fuel and carry fewer then 12 passengers.
That way if Al Gore wants to jet off to Australia and burn up 10,000 gallons of fuel, he will pay the costs, not the lady that needs to pick up her kids at school.

3. A 2.00 per gallon tax on all luxury limosines, and luxury rental vehicles to include boats, planes, etc. If you live in luxury, pay for it, not the poor African America running a landscaping business.

Semanticleo


The society of petroleum engineers is a good source which has objective science as it's mission, rather than a mere marketplace mentality. Note the difference between 'resources' and 'reserves'.

http://www.spe.org/spe/jsp/basic/0,,1104_1008218_1109511,00.html


"At 2003 consumption levels [2], the remaining reserves represent 44.6 years of oil and 66.2 years of natural gas. Does this mean that the world will be out of fossil fuels in 50 years or so? That theory has been around since the 1970s. In fact, the figures for years of remaining reserves have remained relative constant over the past few decades as the industry has replaced consumption with newly discovered oil and gas deposits and has developed technologies to increase the amount of oil and gas that can be recovered from existing reservoirs."

clarice

"Mere marketplace mentality" HEH!

AS the price of oil (not artificially pumped up by pols but due to market demand)rises, less easily extractable sources..like shale (see above) and oil sands and deep ocean sources can and will be tapped.

And it will be done because people want to make money.

If instead we rely on government, whoever has the most power to direct pork will direct it there regardless of its value.And they will switch it with the tides of political fortune and faddish trends.

I'll pick the market and the pros over the Congressional nitwits everyday of the week.

clarice

Yesterday (I can't remember where) I saw an extraordinary world map showing the areas of poverty in the world. In about a decade the level of world poverty has declined to a miraculous degree..and it was not because of missionaries, NGO's or new generously funded by the World Bank, etc.old style dams and steel mills. It was because of globalization (read marketplace opportunities for the impoverished).

I traveled thru a once poor village of weavers in Rajasthan who were now comfortably middle class, all because some traveling American found them--pressured the Indian govt to set up a postal station so they could ship their product around the world, got them a cell phone and persuaded Vis to let them accept charges.

You can't beat that.

boris

Heavy investment in alternative fuels at this point is foolish. Research and sure things (wind & nuke) are fine but anything the competes with crude is high risk.

It only costs about $5 to pump a barrel of crude. If shale oil tries to come on line at $17 to produce a barrel, the crude based products will simply drop prices and drive it out of the market then go back up.

When the easy to pump crude starts to run out and production goes above $20, then the alternatives can survive a competitive cahllange. Those prices are still far below what the market is willing to pay so bottom line ... it's not going to run out.

boris

anything that competes with crude is high risk

clarice

Correct, boris, the laws of economics are inexorable.

And so are the effects of taxes on energy production:

"The windfall profits tax signed by Jimmy Carter in 1980 proved a disaster. The Congressional Research Service found it took in only $80 billion — a fraction of the $393 billion expected by its architects. Milton Friedman, who died Thursday, joined more than 200 other economists in a letter to elected officials warning that "a windfall profits tax can be predicted to result in a diminution of domestic energy production, an increase in American dependence on foreign oil, and a reduction in the overall supplies available to consumers."

Reasoned analysis doesn't always get through to the right people, though. Policymakers in France and Switzerland, for instance, have called for a global carbon tax on countries that burn too much oil.

CERA's Yergin points out that each time there have been fears of oil running out, "technology and the opening of new frontier areas have banished the specter of decline." He concludes that "there's no reason to think that technology is finished this time."

That is unless tax-crazed politicians step in to finish it."


http://www.investors.com/editorial/editorialcontent.asp?secid=1501&status=article&id=248572948699416

Terrye

Most of the people I know who voted against Hostettler here in Indiana were pissed about gas prices.

They were not pissed about Mexicans and they do not call Bush elPresidente, they were pissed about Hostettler's socalled association with big oil.

This part of the country is rural, that means people have to drive. There is no way around that. Can not take the bus or car pool, they have to fill her up.

So leave it alone.

Terrye

Coal production is way up. This is coal country around here and these mines are really going. Demand is way up.

Semanticleo

"Ill pick the market and the pros......"

Including the ones who duped you on 200 years?

Tom Maguire

One might argue that the american public is more than willing to be duped by the politician who promises endless, cheap oil.

I have to agree - maybe there ought to be a statute of limitations after which we stop blaming Washington and invoke the "people get the government they deserve" argument. And I suppose thirty years is past it.

The idea that we can make the Middle East a less troublesome place by impoverishing it needs a lot more scrutiny than it usually gets. We may not have troops in Somalia or Darfur but we sure have got them in Afghanistan.

Good point.

It only costs about $5 to pump a barrel of crude. If shale oil tries to come on line at $17 to produce a barrel, the crude based products will simply drop prices and drive it out of the market then go back up.

Well, we will bankrupt higher cost producers like Russia, but the ultimate low cost producer (Saudi Arabia) will be pumping oil for centuries. Of course, their "cost" ought to be adjusted for political instability.

Raising taxes along with comprehensive immigration reform is a good start to a plan to recapture the Republican majority. To complete the effort, may I suggest as the next Supreme Court nominee: Aaron Sorkin.

I sense skepticism. Raising the gasoline tax while cutting the payroll tax does not have to be a full suicide for Reps, although I would guess that urban blue areas would be winners (who drives in NYC?) and rural red would see red.

On shale oil - I saw the Instapundit article, but has anyone attempted to find other commentary on that process?

clarice

I don't think I was duped, but I admit I cannot find the article.

I am always suspicious of straight line doomsday predictions..In 1970 I heard the world was about to freeze and we were down to the last drop of recoverable oil.

Now, it appears we will not hit peak conventionally recoverable peak production for about 15 years after which we should have a long plateau before the production dips..And by that time, I am certain technology will find cheaper ways to recover it from now unconventional sources (like $17 barrel shale).

You ignore the vested interest doomsayers and govt funded groups have in keeping you pessimistic and persuading you to turn over your money for them to figure out solutions--often intolerable ones, I might say and unproductive.

But if you like straight line projections--go look up expert opinion in the 1800's when similar geniuses were prophesying that the number of horse drawn carriages would bury NYC in dung. (They couldn't imagine the invention of the auto.)

clarice

Tom M--Here is the original article on the new oil shale process:
http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=31531

Semanticleo

"often intolerable ones"

You mean like giving up the single occupant
automobile ride? Having bigger, faster and more consumptive tar-makers is the marketplace response to public demand, and no politician
dares rock that boat. Your delusion is the most egregious, being informed and all.

Pofarmer

cleo

I don't know where you are from. But for a good many of us, the single occupant car ride is the norm, and will never be the exception. I suggest you get over it. If prices dictate, things will change. You cannot legislate it, just like you can't magically legislate alternative fuels. The marketplace determined that oil was the fuel of choice. When the marketplace dictates, it will be something else. Politicians don't have some crystal ball to tell them what the successful fuel of the future will be. Why waste public dollars to replace what private enterprise will ultimately do?

clarice

Higher prices; rationing; long lines at gas stations; cars so lightweight they are hazardous to passengers;monitoring individual car's mileage and taxing by the mile;limiting family choices re where to live and work by making transportation costs higher; reducing productivity since public transport makes it hard to achieve as much in shorter time for most families (You know--drop the kids off at school on the way to work and pick up groceries on the way home),

Semanticleo

"Why waste public dollars to replace what private enterprise will ultimately do?"

Clarice already said it is not economically
feasible. When do you expect it become so?

Pofarmer

Just because govt might mandate something does not make it economically feasible. When alternative are feasible, they will become available. It's that damn lack of a crystal ball thing again.

Semanticleo

"When alternative are feasible, they will become available.'

My crystal ball says it better be soon.

boris

Of course, their "cost" ought to be adjusted for political instability.

Sheesh! and where does that end?

As long as pumped crude is cheap, it rules. If the downside is that the supply will eventually run out, it ceases to rule. That's it. So what?

Alternatives are available in virtually inexausatble supply at prices the market is willing to pay. What part of that is hard to understand?

At some point in the not too distant future stored electricity will be used for most day to day travel needs. Perhaps there's no way to know whether that happens first or shale oil becomes immune to competition from cheap crude when it starts to run out. Mox nix, they're both going to happen.

Pofarmer

Correct, Boris, and nobody has a clue what the final mix will be.

They just came out with a new battery in cordless tools,(Lithium Ion?) that is supposed to last 3 times as long as conventional batteries and perform as well for a given voltage. Nobody mandated this change. It's breakthroughs like this fueled by demand that make alternative feasible, not becuase somebody legislated it.

boris

No crystal ball needed.

The future event that makes alternative fuel economically viable is when cheap crude starts to run out and prices irrevocably rise above some crossover point. When crude costs over $20 a barrel to produce the alternatives can survive competition and will come on line.

New technology can lower that crossover point, but is not necessary. The crossover is already within the range the market is willing to pay.

billy missle

Off topic..Sorry folks
Still issues in blog-land about water-boarding as torture..
Ok, Ok after Michigan scored a touchdown in the first minutes of the game..My little brother ( ND Alum ) offered to pull out the water-board from the closet.
So at half-time..speaking of gitmo torture..
For the 100th time..My Take...Posted at Seixon..
Well Steve-o
McCain says it's torture also..I'm with John on this..I've said this a hundred times...
1. ) Questioning- Approved techniques only. water boarding is a red herring..just show some humanity during questioning..Like what you could expect from the Chicago police dept..I Shutter at the thought..But these guys ARE criminals.
2.) Truth Drugs ( why not? The left wing LOVES drugs)
3.) Military Trial ( way overdue )
4.) Death by hanging ( way, way overdue )
5.) The innocent released with some compensation package. Mistakes can be made in the fog of war.
( Although the whole notion that I'm innocent just because I drove UBL around..like Al Capone's wheel man was a Saint too. )
And one last thought..If the Gov't doesn't have the political will to perform the above steps..
Close Gitmo and send the terrorists to Texas..Case closed.

Posted by: billy missle at November 18, 2006 06:33 PM

I promise I won't bring this up again Tom.
Unless OSU takes a lose today...Then it's me and the water-board all over again..
Kind Regards

Pat

This is HUGE BS. The environmentalists care the LEAST about the environment. And HOV lanes absolutely prove it.

Environmentalist use HOV lanes to make themselves FEEL GOOD, not to reduce pollution. Everywhere you go you seen HOV lanes barely occupied but for some Hybrids and people on vacation. Meanwhile the big SUVs and gas guzzlers are forced to sit in traffic.

The Hybrids should be sitting in traffic and the SUVs should have SUVV lanes so they burn less fuel. They key isn't how many people are in the car, but getting it to its destination faster.

But the environmentalists prefer to have a few Hybrids going fast while SUVs and gas guzzlers sit in traffic.

MaidMarion

OT...and maybe it's been covered already...

According to the Weekly Standard, the Iraq Study Group has a VIP'r on its panel:

Raymond Close, listed on the Iraq Study Group's website as a "freelance analyst," is actually a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which, in July 2003, called for Vice President Dick Cheney's resignation for an alleged conspiracy to distort intelligence, which they said had been uncovered by none other than Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The following summer, Close posited that "Bush and the neocons" had fabricated the charge "that the evil Iranian mullahs inspired and instigated the radical Shia Islamist insurgency." To Close, the problem was not Iranian training and supply of money and sophisticated explosives to terrorists, but rather neoconservatism.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/850ulqxz.asp

PeterUK

Pofarmer,
Dont underestimate the Luddite tendencies of the Greens. the power station purpose built to burn sewage pellets,manufactured in a purpose built unit,has come under fire for not conforming to the EU Waste Incineration Directive.
The greens will not be happy until we are all using solar powered birchbark computers.

lurker

MaidMarion, that's not so good.

I just got 3 of Robert Spencer's books. Boy, living under Shar'ia law is very scary.

lurker

What a great post from Victor Davis Hanson!!

Politics and War, Then and Now

ntelligence failures? After the WMD fiasco we can now understand the failures to anticipate Pearl Harbor or know the magnitude of exactly what was going on in the death camps. Poorly armored humvees brought us back to thin skinned Shermans and the disastrous day-light, unescorted B-17 raids of 1942-3.

And the UN—that postwar liberal, Western notion of collective security and governance—seems hopelessly naive, given the illiberal nature of the non-Western states in the General Assembly and Security Council. Then there was the constant looking back to Pearl Harbor after 9/11—and wondering what would it take to truly anger the American people when we lost more on September 11, 2001 than on December 7, 1941, and on the home soil of the continental United States, right in the heart of our two greatest cities.

Finally, we all evoked the generational differences. To me it was summed up when Democrats alleged that “We took our eye off Afghanistan by going into Iraq”. My Lord!—this is a country that fought Italy, Japan, and Germany all at once, and was in an inferno on Okinawa while racing eastward past the Rhine, while bombing Berlin, while slogging up through Italy, while igniting the Japanese mainland. Our ancestors apparently had quite a lot more eyeballs than did their lesser sons and daughters.

roanoke

We airlifted the African Union troops, Aussies have forward ground control operators in there and if we had the troops to spare....but the troops are kind of "busy".


I think the airlift cost plenty on top of the funds we had already donated to the area.

I stopped following the story when Condi was manhandled there.

But we didn't do anything in Rwanda and we weren't having near the comparative ops-tempo.

I do kind of hate the line of argument-Kosovo we did that because Serbia had huge coal reserves-right?

We do have to get off our dependence on oil but I'd rather do that with positive incentives.

Also ya it's kind of about the oil. One of the concerns is that if the Middle East has nuclear proliferation the capability falls into the hands of sub-state actors.

Saudi Arabia has a large percentage of the world's oil -I can't remember the percentage but-if their fields were nuked the global economy would come to an end within 24 to 48 hours.{Or so the hypothesis goes...}

You'd think someone else besides us would become interested in the stability of the region like....oh say-

China.

billy missle

Pat:
I will admit that nothing and I mean nothing,
Can drive (pun) you crazier than sitting in rush-hour traffic in the Bay area and seeing the diamond lanes completely empty.
Blood pressure..1000/800. :)
Is it a left-wing conspiracy? mmmm. Just Cal-Trans doing thier thing I suppose.
You know the old Cal-trans joke..Why They laid off thousands? They found a shovel that could stand-up on its own.

Noel

"I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible."--Milton Friedman

Any tax increase, even in a swap, would be POLITICAL SUICIDE for Republicans.

Read my pixels--No New Taxes!

narciso

Raymond Close, one of the keystones of the Saudi lobby, post 9/11; coming from the objective position as an executive for King
Saud's National Chemical Industries; it was
in that capacity that he visited Afghanistan
various times in the late 70s and 1980s, a
really nonpartisan source. He was station chief at the start of the Wahabbi "Dale Carnegie' phase, funding madrassas from
Peshawar to Pickadilly, when the likes
of Clinton mentor Fulbright, ex Kennedy
confidant Fred Dutton, were the major
retainers of the Sauds. when the likes of GeorgeTown's CSIS was being weaned on Saudi
funds for its Middle East endowments,(re Emerson's prophetic yet often ignored
American House of Saud) was a key player in William Simon) was a key player in lining up Olayan's bloc of shares in Citibank, when BCCI; under their Bert Lance and William Olmsted were probing their way into the US, When Getty Oil was venturing further into Arabia, the fruits of which would fuel Gavin Newsom's early political aspirations.

lurker

And Gavin Newsom is currently the major of San Fransisco?

happyfeet

Taxes suck. Any prospective energy policy which is buttressed by national security arguments that does not include drilling our own damn oil is not serious. The idea of cutting money to states that support terrorism - Friedman's nonsense - relies on the belief that, in response to a US policy to cut their revenues and thereby introduce a greater risk of social instability, Arab states will look to cut funds to the Islamic radicals that are the greatest potential source of social instability.

Two ideas that can shape a rational policy that don't get discussed much:

1. On the petroleum front, forget the egalitarian nonsense of spreading the pain (and as regressively as possible). Petroleum consumption is an aggregation of 80/20 problems. To illustrate, the brilliant corporation Time Warner, who this week are shilling the environmental pablum called "Happy Feet," subsidize employees who buy hybrids. They subsidize a product for which there is a waiting list. Brilliant. How hard would it be to run employee addresses through geolocation software and only subsidize the 20% of employees with the longest commutes? On a larger scale, do we not have the technology to identify the 20% of employers whose employees' average commutes are in the top quintile for that region? I think in many cases if this were merely pointed out, satellite offices could be explored and any number of creative solutions could be applied in each individual case.

2. In terms of electrical consumption, here's a thought: Outlaw contracts in which the Lessor agrees to pick up utilities costs - i.e. - get rid of all-bills-paid and ensure that consumers actually see an electric bill every month. I bet you'd see a lot fewer lights on in highrises late at night, and an extraordinary uptick in purchases of energy-star monitors and other equipment.

Sorry this post is so long, but energy policy discussions have gotten really really stale of late, and magic bullet taxes are really really gay.

PeterUK

Sometime in 2500 BC there was,no doubt concern about the supply of goo quality flints becoming a scarcity,when along came this cool new material bronze,only to be superceded by iron.
In the early 19th century to biggest problem was what to do with the horse dung and the old buggy whips,nobody cared about oil,it couldn't be fed to horses, except for lamps and lubricants,even then whale oil was prefered,there was no great demand.Coal water and wind were the prefered means to drive industry.
If someone living in the 18th century were asked about automotive transport,they would be incredulous,even now power is measured in horse power.A similar question put to someone from the 1920s concerning computers with silicon chips having more computing power than a room full of mathematicians,would brought utter disbelief.Mobile phones,television,jet aircraft,ant-biotics,plastics,all have changed our lives,yet these things would have been incomprehensible only a short time ago when viewed in historical terms.
We are not the end point,simply a way station on a path to who knows where.
Centuries into the future archaeologists will be examining our works,saying,"Yes amazing isn't it? They used to do that,still they were quite advanced for their time".
To quote,"Predictions about the future will always be wrong".

happyfeet

But Peter, good quality flints *have* become scarce. I fear for the future.

Hold me.

Bob

If higher Fuel Taxes were the answer then Europe would be a success story, when it come s to using alternative energy... all it's done is hurt their economies, while giving their politicians more money to pay for cradle to grave benefits.

You can't cheat the economics of Oil versus other fuels just like you can't cheat on BTU efficiency. A BTU is a BTU... see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermodynamics>Newtons 2nd law of Thermodynamics. Our job is to find the more efficient, which will always be the more economic... well eventually.

As long as oil stays above $50, alternatives will have an economical toehold, and that will be good for all of us. A gas engine is terribly inefficient at about 30%, compared to an electric motor, which is over 90%. Just like an incandescent light bulb which produces more heat than light, a gas engine produces more heat than MPG. It's the BTUs baby... The faster new technologies take over the better we will be. Electrics with new Lithium Ion Batteries, has finally made this a reality, which we didn't have in up until a few years back. This is one of many technology advances that will change forever this argument. Oil may be a sunset resource.

Now If you let the "free markets" decide, we'll get their faster. If you introduce artificial pressures, such as government taxes, we'll be taking the long way. There is enough incentive in a truly free market, to let the better of competing technologies win the day... just keep the freek'n government (taxes)out of it! Of course if higher taxes were only directed at true R&D, then I'd be for it, however as we've all learned the government can't seem to keep that promise... again see Europe for the results!

happyfeet

But if we "get there faster" won't what's left of the "sunset resource" become awfully cheap for developing economies? Which is fine I guess, but it does mean the whobal glorming pimps aren't going away - they'll probably start demanding that the US pay to lithium ionize the whole damn world. And so we're back to taxes.

Bob

happyfeet... Unfortunately that was another law of Physics that Newton described but never published... the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics states, that if it "moves" the government can and will tax it.

This proves even further, that the government plays in a different universe, it ignores "all" laws of physics and or common sense. So they decided to even tax you when your not moving or more commonly known as dead... and created estate taxes.

Sue

You mean like giving up the single occupant
automobile ride?

This was already discussed where I live. In the 70s, under Carter. Our school had a serious debate about whether to bring back the hitching post (okay, it wasn't all that serious, but we kids thought it was great!). Get real, Leo. I either drive, single occupancy, to work or I take the horse and buggy. There is no alternative. And unless you live in a city that offers mass transit (I don't) you will continue to see single car occupancy.

It really pisses me off to listen to people like Al Gore and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. preach to me about global warming...while they are polluting more than I ever will.

barrydauphin

Tom,

I'm not sure how taxpayers are shielded from the "true" price of oil, since taxes pay for defense as well as polution control.

I'm sure that Robert Byrd could figure out some intriguing projects for the proceeds from the oil tax---maybe the Bobby Byrd West Virginia Spelunker's Association Complex and Theme Park, America's carbon tax at work for West Virginia!

Harold

So, you advocate a tax hike to get people to act in a way you prefer, and to assure that "real costs" are paid? Can you spell Dimocrat?

Pofarmer

Happyfeet

To go on with your geolocation thoughts.

Where I live there are two fairly major, well, large towns by most folks standards I suppose, about 40 miles apart. There is a 4 lane highway between them with folks packed on it both morning and evening, going to their respective jobs, both ways. Am I to beleive, that skills are so specialized, that all these people going from A to B, and B to A, aren't somewhat interchangeable? Anyway, it just always amused me at the huge numbers of people going each way, when there were obviously plenty of jobs in each place, just apparently not what the particular individuals wanted.

clarice

Even if you could assure that the tax revenues would only go to energy R & D, the decisions would be made poorly--by bureaucrats accountable to partisan politicians. I prefer leaving it to pros and the marketplace.

billy missle

If higher Fuel Taxes were the answer then Europe would be a success story, when it come s to using alternative energy...
-Bob
Well Bob I'm not so sure..Go ahead and chime in here PeterUK.
I am amazed during my trips to Europe about how effecient thier auto industry is.
Everywhere you look there are small cars that get great mileage.. and if you live in Holland and want to drive an SUV then you pay a road tax of a couple hundred bucks a month..Thus few SUV's. Now don't get me wrong..I hate taxes cause I'm in a high bracket..But I think the Europeans are onto something here..If you insist on wasting gas driving an SUV then baby, you pay for it. I know, I know somewhat simplistic thinking on such a complex issue but It seems to work pretty good in Europe..Maybe It's just me but I love all the different small effecient automobiles there..

Semanticleo

"Even if you could assure that the tax revenues would only go to energy R & D, the decisions would be made poorly-"

It all breaks down to 'unit cost'.

Most here don't remember when transistors
were new technology. A simple AM portable
radio in 1961 cost $23 dollars. Adjusted for
inflation, that's approx. $350 in 2007.

A bureaucracy insituted the contract with
Japan to mass produce transistors and the
revolution in electronics began.

It takes a bureaucracy to make the development of alternative energy get off the ground. You can wait for a T.A. Edison
to come along and shoulder the burden of
R&D or you can order your government to do it. Could the waste that ensues be worse than the waste and graft that is the Iraq debacle?

Jane

I prefer leaving it to pros and the marketplace.

Me too although I might support a gas tax that went directly toward funding social security.

Sue

Maybe It's just me but I love all the different small effecient automobiles there..

Aren't the taxes imposed for road usage, not gasoline taxes?

Bob

"Most here don't remember when transistors
were new technology. A simple AM portable
radio in 1961 cost $23 dollars. Adjusted for
inflation, that's approx. $350 in 2007.

A bureaucracy insituted the contract with
Japan to mass produce transistors and the
revolution in electronics began."

Yeah semi antic... you were hoping nobody would remember... this way you could go ahead and make such shit up. That has got to be one of the most stupid things you've ever said.

So to try and save yourself from being a total moron, please point to the Japanese bureaucracy that forced them to make transistors cheaper. If you knew anything about anything you'd have realized what a load of shit you dropped!

The truth is that Sony had to ask the Japanese government for permission to license the technology from Western Electric... that's the only thing a bureaucracy in Japan ever did!

If your too dumb to know something, you should try and use the Internet for something other than being a pest!

Bob

billy missle... your right, there may be a higher percentage of smaller cars in Europe, and their countryside may be better off as well. But I was only talking about improving the technology. If I were to be critical, the Europeans did the easy thing by going smaller... but they haven't really pushed new technology to do it.

sbw

Too many want to tax A to put the collected funds toward the unrelated B. Where are the warning flags?

Larry

3. A 2.00 per gallon tax on all luxury limosines, and luxury rental vehicles to include boats, planes, etc. If you live in luxury, pay for it, not the poor African America running a landscaping business.
Posted by: Pat | November 18, 2006 at 09:58 AM

15 or so years ago, the law of unintended consequences reared its ugly head when excise taxes on luxury items were increased to punish the wealthy. Thousands of jobs were lost in luxury item production, mainly the boat industry, IIRC.

When we talk about tax cuts for the rich, can we please try to include these facts? 1) Tax revenues are up sharply since the '03 cuts. 2) The "rich" are paying a larger share of taxes than pre-cut.
I don't understand the $200k ceiling on SSI and have no objection to raising or eliminating it. Voila! SS funding solved!

boris

higher percentage of smaller cars in Europe

The population density or Europe is like having the entire population of the US squeezed into Texas. As much time as US folk spend on the road smaller cars would result in much higher death rate from accidents.

Here there is probably a factor of 20 times more road miles per capita. That means we spend a lot more money on roads for much less quality. It's not apples to apples, more like grapes to pumpkins.

Semanticleo

"less resources are available at any given time to work on the efficiencies"

That's why you have to begin the refit asap.
Otherwise there is no source of energy for
the total transition to alternatives.

And, there is no misunderstanding the NaBob.

Semanticleo

How did my comment precede happyfeet?

boris

have to begin the refit asap

Nope.

Waste of money, waste of time.

There is plenty of pump crude available at higher retrieval costs. The transition time does not have to be short. It will go faster and more efficiently when the market naturally provides the capital for the transition.

happyfeet

Semanticleo - I think you misunderstand Bob's argument. Markets produce efficiencies vis-a-vis energy use *without* a faux imperative of using an "alternative" energy source developed by taxing productive economic activity. So you end up doubling down, by consuming available r&d resources and directing them to the end of "alternative" energy development, less resources are available at any given time to work on the efficiencies. And because liberals are involved, the inefficiencies in resource allocation tend to compound rapidly: In California for example, an effort to encourage greater use of solar panels in new homes foundered because Al Gore's ardent acolytes insisted on requiring *union* labor to install the panels, with the end result that the added costs outstripped the incentives that they were trying to create. Liberals and energy policy. Not exactly peanut butter and chocolate.

happyfeet

Semanticleo, that was a neat trick. One question: If the goal of energy policy is towards the end of a "total transition to alternatives," then, well, they won't be alternatives anymore will they? I think Bob still has a good point with his "follow the BTUs" argument. Increases in efficiency of the use of a commodity as the value of that commodity increases is as close to a verity as we get these days.

I suspect what underpins your "faster, please" transition is the realization that we have only a narrow window in which to demolish our extractive industries before the "global warming" house of cards collapses. After all, your unit cost argument should apply equally as well to the proliferation of unified design nuclear reactors... and that's a bullet aimed squarely at the CO2 fetishists.

Larry

But....But...If we remove all the CO2, what will all those poor little (green) plants breathe?

Pofarmer

Somehow, I don't think cleo has ever had a basic economics class.

Price goes up, use goes down, alternatives become available. The alternatives are there to transition to when price becomes a factor. It's not a lack of alternatives, there are plenty of them. Use oil till it's not the cheapest alternative, then switch. It doesn't make sense to do it any sooner than you have to. And, who's to say that some of these alternatives won't have hidden and unforseen costs? Better to go slowly than ramp up all at once and then have the whole shebang disentigrate. Afterall, that's how the current structure came about.

happyfeet

Sacrifices must be made, Larry.

happyfeet

Pofarmer - another facet of the macroeconomics involved arises when we take a look at the extent to which states are feeling more and more comfortable with jumping into the energy policy arena, whether it be under the guise of controlling emissions or merely to raise barriers to LNG terminals, refineries, nuclear plants and other necessary infrastructure. California just made a solid effort to plant a jackboot on the throat of oil production in the state, which fortunately failed.

Specifically, state governments seem completely incognizant of the fact that in many cases, a sizable percentage of the state's energy bill expatriates money from the local economy. Money spent on gasoline flows overseas and into multinational coffers, in many states, much of the money spent on electricity goes to utilities residing in states that are net exporters of electricity.

Solid analyses along these lines would be a huge blow to California-style zaniness, but if anyone is taking a close look at this, I haven't seen it published anywhere.

Pofarmer

another facet of the macroeconomics involved arises when we take a look at the extent to which states are feeling more and more comfortable with jumping into the energy policy arena, whether it be under the guise of controlling emissions or merely to raise barriers to LNG terminals, refineries, nuclear plants and other necessary infrastructure.

Interestingly enough, I was a researcher on a pilot project using biodiesel in the early 90's. One of our goals was getting the fuels emmissions certified. It's a huge process, and expense. Each individual blend must be certified in each engine at a cost of about 6 million dollars a pop, so it adds up quickly. One day, out of nowhere, we noticed a new emmissions regulation that just so happened to hit one of the sore spots that biofuels have, which happens to be NOx emmissions. Diesels already have very low levels compared to gasoline engines, so it was a little surprising to see the standard set so low. Well, low and behold, one of the oil companies proposed the standard, and, of course, got the politicians to approve it. The same has happened with Ethanol, the same will happen with about anything else. It's not just the oil companies fault. I blame the spineless, faceless beauracrats and the phoney politicians more.

Pofarmer

Should have stated. It's eye opening to see the politics of all this from the inside, which is why I'm against politicians being involved any more than absolutely neccessary.

happyfeet

Pofarmer - was the new emissions regulation promulgated by the federal government or by the states (ie., California)?

Pofarmer

Feds.

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