Instead, we get THIS insanity

I had my previous post fresh in my mind when I read about this pandering insanity. For those of you too lazy to follow links, here’s the gist:

WASHINGTON, April 25 — President Bush announced a series of short-term steps on Tuesday intended to ease the rise in energy prices, including a suspension of Bushoilgovernment purchases to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a relaxation of environmental rules for the formulation of gasoline and investigations into possible price gouging and price fixing.

This is as bad as when Al Gore got Bill Clinton to loosen up reserves to help him get elected in 2000.

I say "as bad as" because I can’t quite decide which is worse: For a president at war in the Mideast to do this, or for a guy who pretends to care about the environment and sensible energy policy to do it in peacetime. Each action has its own loathsome qualities.

55 thoughts on “Instead, we get THIS insanity

  1. Lee

    I suspect you have no idea what the rules for the formulation of gasoline are. The phrase “relaxing environmental rules” was enough to trigger a Pavlovian reaction.
    A primary reason for the gas price jumps and shortages right now is that the additives mandated by previous government meddlers have now been found to be worse for causing disease than the lead they took out of fuels.
    The idiots at EPA won’t let the stations just pump out their huge tanks to the last few gallons and refill with new (old formulation) gasoline. They have to wash the tanks with detergent, pump that out, and haul it away to a reprocessing center.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Actually, I didn’t even notice the environmental part until about the third time I’d read it, and I shrugged that that.
    What outraged me was the thing THAT THE WHOLE FREAKING POST WAS ABOUT — the Strategic Petroleum reserve.
    You know, Lee, you might want to actually try READING one of my posts before you “react.” For a change. Just for the sheer novelty of it.
    If you can’t figure out the words that I’ve actually written, try following the hypertext links. And then read them. And then think.
    And then, if you STILL want to write about something that has nothing or nearly nothing to do with what the post was about, go off and find a blog where they ARE talking about what interests you. Please.

  3. Lee

    Not contributing to the Strategic Petroleum Preserve will have no effect on fuel supplies or prices, but at least it is a harmless theatrical stunt, not a Really Stupid Act, such as
    price controls,
    hearings on “price gouging”,
    raising fuel mileage standards on vehicles, banning SUVs from downtown and campus….

  4. Herb

    Well, I can’t seem to shut up. But I am with you, Brad. I can’t see why we don’t get it, except that nobody wants to ask somebody else to sacrifice anything. Fossil fuels are a non-renewable source of energy, but we’ve been burning them like they were our divine right. When I’ve been in India, it is even more stifling — diesel rickshaws spewing black exhaust — spend two hours in the open air, and then blow your nose. You’ll get sick looking at it.
    Lee seems to belong to those who say we have a divine right to burn as much as we want.

  5. bud

    This is scary. I actually agree with much of what Lee is saying. Let market forces do their work. Consumers and producers alike will adapt. But for those of you who just purchased a Hummer please don’t complain when gas prices go up $1, $2 or more per gallon; this has been coming for a very long time. And don’t fuss about huge oil company profits. That’s the incentive part of the equation.
    Eventually we will need alternative energy sources. Oil will run out. It’s a phenomenon called Peak Oil. What that means is at some point the production of oil will peak and cannot be increased no matter what we do. Some scientists believe we’re already there. Others say 5-10 years, others 20. Few go much beyond that.
    An Apollo style project to develop new sources of energy may be necessary, but I wouldn’t tinker too much with the pricing mechanism. We could do more harm than good.

  6. Herb

    I didn’t get my point finished, and should have waited to post it. It seems to me that for Lee, the only moral standard is the free market. As I’ve said repeatedly already, there are other standards that should govern human behavior besides just freedom.

  7. kc

    Mr. W, do you have any evidence – any at all – to support your assertion that Al Gore “got” Bill Clinton to release oil from the Reserve? Or are you just letting your irrational Gore-hatred do the talking? (Get it?)
    Unlike Lee, I actually did follow the hypertext link to that BBC article, and it does not support your claim about Gore.

  8. kc

    Could be. Anybody else have any thoughts on that? And I do mean ANYBODY else?
    Even little ol’ pseudonymous me? I must grudgingly agree with you re Lee – it was obvious to ME after reading your post that you weren’t complaining about Bush’s pollution solution, but about the SPR.

  9. Brad Warthen

    kc, I first met Al Gore in 1978, and got to know him fairly well in the early 80s. I always liked him, despite his awkwardness and tendency to be a bit supercilious. I gigged him about that back then. He wasn’t crazy about it (although his staff liked the part about the stiffness, because they thought someone needed to tell him — little did they know how famous he would become for it), but HE didn’t think I hated him. I don’t see how he could. Although critical, I was pretty supportive of him.
    I lost touch with him after I left Tennessee in 1985.
    When he ran with Bill Clinton in 92, I thought the ticket was upside-down, as Al seemed to have more substance. I later came to amend that view: Clinton was at least as smart, and certainly more politically talented.
    In fact, my respect for Mr. Gore did decline over the next eight years. What happened to him was the same thing that had happened to the senior George Bush under Reagan. I had respected Mr. Bush (whom I also first met in 1978, as I think of it) quite a bit in 1980. I was stunned that Republicans would choose someone like Reagan over a man with Bush’s relative qualifications (and, I would add, moderation).
    But eight years of subordinating himself and his values to Reagan, and Reaganism, diminished him. I think the same thing happened to Al Gore. Although Bill Clinton started as a moderate, and often returned to that theme, he was adept at getting the left to eat out of his hand. Al, not being adept at anything having to do with human interaction, tried to do the same, but much more clumsily. It was truly painful, and ultimately irritating, to watch.
    (High point of the Clinton-Gore years? The deficit reduction act of 1993, which passed without a single Republican vote. Low point? When Bill Clinton later apologized to a bunch of fat cats for having raised their taxes. He lost my respect permanently when he did that. He was so desperate for everyone’s approval that he couldn’t even stand up for the best and bravest thing he had done in office.)
    Hate him? Of course not. I don’t even dislike him. But I’m disappointed in him.
    Did he “get” Bill Clinton to do that, in the sense of begging, or nagging, or coercing, or holding his breath and saying, you OWE me? I don’t know. Did he even ask? (Did he HAVE to ask?) I suppose only the two of them know.
    Does that matter? Sure, in the sense that I could have worded it better. If I had obsessed about it, the way I do with stuff for the paper, I might have thought of the point you raise and written, “when Bill Clinton dipped into the reserves to help the Gore campaign.” Which would have been good enough for me. Of course, if you were so inclined, you could then complain that no one could possibly know exactly why Clinton did that.
    But how far do you have to leap to conclude that? Certainly no farther than one would have to leap to say (correctly, as I did above) that George Bush is pandering now.
    I do know that Al Gore didn’t denounce the move (unless you have evidence to the contrary, but I’ve never seen any), and he should have. The poor guy was SO desperate to be president by that time.
    And why “grudgingly agree?” Why not just “agree?” I think I’ve even agreed with Lee once or twice, and I didn’t begrudge it. In fact, I find it all the more enjoyable to find points of agreement where they are rare. One gets tired of being irritated by people. At least, I do.

  10. Nathan

    Well, I will say that the post confused me because I couldn’t connect the Reserve with environmental policy, so I assumed you were talking about the regulations as well.
    That said, I take issue with the insane idea that raising gas taxes will decrease consumption. Most of the gas used is by people who are driving back and forth to work or school. Those people can’t cut back thier driving. Public transportation is only available in major metro areas and carpooling just doesn’t make sense to many. Most people are stuck with the car they have for a while, so you can’t expect high gas prices to suddenly get people to switch to hybrids. Overall, the only benefit in higher taxes will be that the government can grow. (And that is not really a benefit, of course). Gas is not like tomatoes or Pepsi or candy. People can’t just change habits on a dime. For the government to raise taxes now would be a mistake that would harm millions of families.

  11. Uncle Elmer

    Brad, I would call the Bush move dumber. Why? Only because it obviously made no real impact when Clinton did it, and we all know what to call it when you repeat the same action but expect a different outcome… And for the sake of argument I’m going to say dumb=loathsome, because he’s a President after all, and it’s really disappointing to see dumb things being done in the name of leadership. So there you go, Bush was more loathsome.
    As far as the sacrifice aspect is concerned (re Herb’s post) I agree with Herb. I’m a Christian; if there has to be a sacrifice to resolve this issue let it fall on me not my children. But I also don’t think these kind of “sacrifices” (as in Keyserling’s post) are ultimately harmful, as tney have repeatedly pushed us to new technologies that do things better than we were before. Witness the natural rubber shortage that led to the development of much safer synthetics; the whale oil shortage that helped push to petroleum..the list is really pretty long.
    The coffee shortage that led to Postum was pretty much a drag though, that wasn’t much of an advance…

  12. Mary Rosh

    Cutting through Warthen’s obfuscation, he hates Gore because he is jealous of him. Warthen does not understand that the reason Gore has been so successful is through talent and integrity, while Warthen’s failure as a human being results from his stupidity, laziness and dishonesty. Warthen feels that he is somehow “owed” the success that eludes him, and blames others for his failures. The more successful the others are, the greater his hatred.
    As to Warthen’s main point, the fact is that there was nothing the matter with releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an attempt to moderate gasoline prices. There would not be anything the matter with such an act today, although I wonder how successful it would be.
    Warthen’s limited intellect has room for 3 or 4 idées fixes, and one of them is the idea that we should immediately and drastically reduce oil consumption, and that this should be forced on the public one way or another. The question this raises, what happens if we do this, what effect will it have on people’s lives, is something that he does not have the capacity to consider, so he ignores it.
    This is one of the reasons men such as Clinton and Gore have made such successes of their lives, while Warthen’s life has lurched from one embarrassment to another. Clinton and Gore have the capacity to think through their ideas. Warthen does not.
    Warthen, for example, wants gasoline taxes at European levels. He brings forward this idea and thinks the analysis is over. He doesn’t ask the question that immediately springs to mind, which is:
    Ummmmm, so like, what’s the transit like in Europe compared to here?
    The fact is that many, many, many people don’t have a lot of choice about how much to drive. Lots of cities don’t have decent transit, or don’t have transit at all. Lots of people can’t afford homes very near their work, so they have to drive fairly long distances, or very long distances.
    As he has done with the war in Iraq, Warthen spouts a platitude and thinks the analysis is over. “Democracy is good,” “We should reduce oil consumption,” whatever platitude fits in with the idée fixe that is the focus of his momentary obssession.
    Not for Warthen the dealing with questions such as, “how much can people afford to spend on gasoline,” what substitutes for oil can be found AND WHEN can they be put into widespread use, what overall energy strategy ACHIEVES THE BEST RESULT FOR AMERICA.
    Because the issue isn’t about using more or less oil, or achieving higher or lower oil prices. It’s about achieving the best result for America.
    I don’t know what the right energy strategy is. I do know that Clinton and Gore had better ideas for energy policy than Bush and Cheney. And I know that even Bush and Cheney have better ideas for energy policy than does Warthen.

  13. Herb

    Wow, I am impressed (?) with the ability of some to psychoanalyze somebody else on the basis of the person’s writing on a few issues.
    Mary, I don’t get it. If you don’t know what the right energy policy is, then on what basis do you judge Clinton and Gore’s energy policy as over against Bush and Cheney’s? What standard are you using?

  14. Dave

    Here is a beaut especially for all of you leftist Democrat let’s stop (nuclear, coal mining, oil drilling) any kind of rational energy development in North America, but who also squeal like a stuck pig over the high gas prices that they all dearly love.

    Castro could drill off Florida coast U.S. lawmakers aren’t the only ones who, because of spiraling oil and gas prices and an unstable commodities market, have been studying the possibility of producing more domestic energy. Fidel Castro has also taken an interest, and his ambitions will, in a surprisingly short period of time, bring the Cuban drilling program much closer to the Florida coast.
    Who can blame him? Castro has for years looked for new opportunities to develop his economy in the face of our trade embargo. He could only expect to rely on Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s oil and gas giveaway for so long. So, with the intention of claiming billions of dollars in new revenues and reducing his country’s dependence on foreign energy, Castro has taken to the high seas in an effort to acquire and produce as much oil and gas as he can.
    But there’s a rub: Cuba has neither the capacity nor the technical capability to produce this energy by itself. Castro has called in contractors from Canada, Spain, Norway — even China — to do it for him.
    And not only has Cuba convened its own little United Nations to help get at vital and abundant supplies of offshore energy, it has chosen tracts of real estate in the Gulf of Mexico as close as 45 miles from Florida. Forty-five miles is just a bit farther than the distance between the University of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
    Imagine what Castro is thinking as we spend our time quarreling over whether we should produce American energy 100, 150 or 250 miles from the Florida coast while he makes arrangements to set up shop hundreds of miles closer. He must love that we’ve allowed emotion to win out over reason, facts to be dwarfed by fear and our nation’s energy policy to be driven by unreasonable environmental concerns.
    JOHN E. PETERSON, representative, 5th Congressional District, Penn.

    So, now that you have read that, how many of you are now ready to start buying oil from Fidel Castro? I know Mary won’t find a problem with it. How bout the rest of this crowd?

  15. Herb

    Nathan is right, too. We’ve been fleeing to suburbia for decades, the whole expansion fueled by cheap energy. I don’t criticize anyone else, I live in suburbia, with the advantage, at least at present, of working out of my home. I can walk and do a lot of my shopping (I don’t do clothes shopping; I have a nice wife who brings it home and says, “try this”) — but my lazy self doesn’t always do it. Human nature needs some motivations to develop innovative ideas; we have been pampered in this country far too long, but methinks that is changing.

  16. David

    Requiring automakers to engineer and make vehicles that get increasingly better gasoline mileage than the present would be a great step. That has been done but the government hasn’t been aggressive enough.
    Oh sure, they would fuss and complain but if they don’t want to comply – tell them they have 2 years to shut the doors of the company. Somehow me thinks they will comply.
    The reserve talk by the President was just a political stunt – nothing more.

  17. kc

    My goodness, Mr. W, you protest too much.
    The “Gore-hatred” crack was a joke. It sounds as if you didn’t appreciate being accused of hating Gore . . . I hope you’ll keep that in mind the next time you’re inclined to accuse any and all opponents of the Iraq war of being motivated by Bush-hatred.
    It’s good that you like Gore, or at least don’t dislike him. I shudder to think what you must say about the people you DO dislike.
    Did he “get” Bill Clinton to do that, in the sense of begging, or nagging, or coercing, or holding his breath and saying, you OWE me? I don’t know. Did he even ask? (Did he HAVE to ask?) I suppose only the two of them know.
    Thank you for conceding – albeit grudgingly – that your original statement was baseless.
    When Bill Clinton later apologized to a bunch of fat cats for having raised their taxes. He lost my respect permanently when he did that.
    Ahhh. So THAT was the straw, eh? I don’t understand why that would offend your sense of moral probity more than, say, a president’s insisting on cutting taxes while the country is at war.

  18. Herb

    Not sure if the health care thread is really being followed much now, so I’ll post this here. Brad, I just read the latest U. S. News article on the nation’s preparedness for avian flu (and other disasters). Gives me the willies (I’ve got little grandkids). I think you need to holler about that, as well. It is the natural follow-up to health care issues. And an example, I might add, of Paul’s point that the nation’s health cannot be left up to the free market boys. Unless we don’t care about the weak and vulnerable.
    Oh, and Mort Zuckermans editorial is right up the right alley on taxes.

  19. Mark Whittington

    I think Brad’s proposed gas tax is a terrible idea. So as to speak on behalf of the liberals and social democrats in my small circle, I feel that I can safely assert that no one among my associates would agree with increasing gas taxes. It’s important to remember that Brad’s neo-conservative/neo-liberal ideology is at odds with both modern liberalism and social democracy (and conservatism for that matter). Rationing gasoline is an equally bad idea. As always, Brad’s ideas reflect the anti democratic spirit of the Chamber of Commerce and big money.

    We’re in this predicament because corporate America controls almost all aspects of American life (including the government). Exxon Mobile moved into the top slot in market capitalization with a $36 billion profit for last year. When one considers that Exxon Mobile’s market cap hovers around $370 billion, then he can see that the before mentioned profit is quite extraordinary. Big oil companies are fixing the market to maximize profit since there has been no serious political force to stop them from doing so. Free markets necessarily lead to monopolies and price fixing, and when nearly the entire political system has been bought off via de-facto corporate campaign contributions, there is little hope for relief. The spike in energy prices is just a symptom of a much larger problem. The combination of privatization, deregulation, Globalization, outsourcing, off-shoring, regressive taxation, and the resulting wealth inequality associated with these policies is polishing off what remains of the middle class. When corporations such as Exxon Mobile control the fuel that you buy, and corporations such as Microsoft ,General Electric, Clear Channel, Gannett, News Corp., and Viacom control the news and the opinion makers that you watch, and when Time Warner, Westinghouse, and AT&T control the medium through which you receive your information, and when the Chamber of Commerce controls your local paper, and when all of these corporations and corporate sponsored organizations are controlled by a wealthy group of investors who pump the political system full of cash for favors, then what should we expect? Of course you and I are at a tremendous disadvantage. Of course we are going to pay through the nose for everything. Of course we are going to pick up the tax burden. Of course private capital is going to raid public capital. Of course we are screwed. Are you ready to start un-electing our corporate servants? I am. I’m beyond ready.

  20. bud

    Poor Al Gore. He was right about so much and he still gets kicked around. I believe he would have made a great president. 9-11 might have been prevented, Osama may have been captured. Energy policy could have been much more sane. None of these things can be known for sure. But one thing is a lead pipe cinch. Environmental policy would be far more rational than what exists now.
    But back to energy. This is without a doubt the single greatest challenge we face today. Fortunately our economic system is perfect to meet the challenge. Sure, there are many people that cannot cut back. But most of us can. We can plan trips better, drive smaller cars. Walk, ride a bike. Turn down the thermostat in summer, down in winter. For those few among us that cannot do any more and have to choose between gasoline and food we need to make some choices as a society. Do we help these folks out yet allow market forces to work? Or, do we force ham-handed government regulations on all of us. Yes, this is difficult and will require sacrifice but we’ve largely brought it on ourselves with our excessive lifestyles.
    Here’s the “Bud” plan. First, increase the gas tax to fund an Apollo style project to develop alternative energy sources. Second, eliminate subsidies to the big oil companies. They certainly don’t need any help. Both these policies would cause gasoline prices to rise, giving us a head start on the inevitable. Third, create a voucher program to help those most in need to acquire the gasoline they truly need for necessary driving. This would be a limited program designed to cover essential driving. Could the government mess this up? Sure, but the alternative is much worse. Finally, and most important, sit back and let the market forces work. People will cut back and alternatives will come out of the wood work.
    Oil prices are sure to rise. Government officials should stop this blame game nonsense. Every president since Jimmy Carter has ignored this impending, and predictable, crisis and its finally coming back to roost.

  21. Lee

    It would be hilarious to hear those who cannot change the tire on a bicycle calling for “laws to force engineers to design better cars”, but the tragedy is there are so many people just that ignorant. Why not pass laws requiring doctors to cure 99% of cancer patients, and deliver no babies with birth defects?

  22. David

    Well Lee because engineers can design more fuel efficient cars. I don’t know of any physicians that have a 99% cure rate rate for cancer.
    I happen to believe that General Motors and Ford hire some dang smart engineers. I happen to believe that they can- with some work- with some intelligence- figure it out.
    I’d also love to see the government make them do it if they won’t do it on their own (which they don’t seem to be willing to do since they fight increased efficiency standards every chance they get).
    and if it costs you a few hundred more bucks for a new car – well you are smart guy – you can come up with it or choose not to buy a new car.

  23. David

    One more thought- you sound like the electrician working on a building that fell 30 feet because he couldn’t (wouldn’t) take the time to figure out how to erect the scaffold safely.
    The guy could go in to an electrical panel, diagnose an electrical problem, trace it, repair it and test it but apparently figuing out a safe way to set up his scaffold was too difficult.

  24. Herb

    Bud, that was good. I liked what you wrote. Let’s hang together, or we hang separately. Either way, we’re going to hang.

  25. Herb

    Oh, and another thing. We Americans tend to be a bit like “Chicken LIttle” when things get tight. Am I the only one who get the feeling that everything is a bit over-dramatized?
    Gee whiz, our parents and grandparents went through the Great Depression; lived without anywhere near as many cars, and a lot didn’t have indoor plumbing or a bathroom. Now you’d think we are all going to die next week. We don’t look like we’re starving. If we’re going to die, it’s probably from obesity. Or the bird flu.
    Sure, the environmental thing may be really bad news. But watching NBC last night, you’d think the end is on us, and we should all carry a gun and shoot ourselves in the head when things get a little difficult. Of course, that’s what I get for watching Brian Williams. My own fault.

  26. Lee

    I happen to have been a consulting engineer who has worked for quite a few automobile companies, and engineering firms, including Porsche and Lexus. The tradeoffs in reducing fuel consumption are too long to list here, but simple enough to teach to every high school student.
    As always, an uniformed person has to be really arrogant to formulate laws and regulations forcing engineers to design vehicles contrary to what the market demands.

  27. Dave

    Al Gore to me never had any good ideas about the environment but I always knew he had to be a super dancer. The computer people I work with are constantly talking about Al Gore Rhythm. Visit Rhythm Science!

  28. Dave

    Here is a great article on alternative fuels from Popular Mechanics, May, 06: One excerpt here about corn. As the President said, we still have to eat some of it.

    Outlook: Hopeful–to a point. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, 95 ethanol refineries produced more than 4.3 billion gal. of ethanol in 2005. An additional 40 new or expanded refineries slated to come on line in the next 18 months will increase that to 6.3 billion gal. That sounds like a lot–and it is–but it represents just over 3 percent of our annual consumption of more than 200 billion gal. of gasoline and diesel.
    One acre of corn can produce 300 gal. of ethanol per growing season. So, in order to replace that 200 billion gal. of petroleum products, American farmers would need to dedicate 675 million acres, or 71 percent of the nation’s 938 million acres of farmland, to growing feedstock. Clearly, ethanol alone won’t kick our fossil fuel dependence–unless we want to replace our oil imports with food imports

    Visit How Far Can You Drive on a Bushel of Corn?!

  29. BLSaiken

    Economics indicates that sudden rises in price are one of the best spurs to making technological advances more desirable to any company. However, our human nature tends to reject any sudden rises in the price of an essential commodity such as petroleum. Also, an article I read several days ago in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL spoke about the sense of loss that many commuters in Chicagoland feel now that freeway construction has forced them to switch over to commuter trains. Releasing any oil from the SPR is probably not a smart idea (now or in 2000), as the present situation is a bind, not an emergency. But our political system rewards those who make the short-term pain go away and punishes those who think beyond the next year or two. We mostly have ourselves to blame.

  30. David

    Congratulations Lee.
    But I don’t buy a word of your posts.
    I happen to believe GM and FORD can hire smart enough engineers to raise fuel standards in cars.
    If we can design space trips to Saturn, we can make a truck get better gas mileage.
    Sorry, just don’t except all of your typical excuses.

  31. Lee

    When you have no basic understanding of the thermodymanic cycle in a four-cycle engine, all you have is your faith in environmental dogma. Public education leaves a lot of demi-citizens in that state, thinking they have a political right to vote on business and technical issues they don’t comprehend.
    If engineers could be forced to design these wonder cars, Stalin would have had them do so 70 years ago.
    If these mythical cars are so easy to design, why would GM not offer them, and wipe out Toyota and Honda?

  32. David

    Never said they were easy. I said it could be done.
    We use to hear a similiar story about safety issues with cars out of Detroit and other places – too expensive, too much trouble, can’t be done properly on an assembly line, etc – excuses one after the other.
    If the Feds said Ford had to shut down the company by 2010 if they didn’t make the Ford F-150 get 10 more miles per gallon with relatively the same weight and torque as currently produced – they would get it done. Those folks up there in Yankee land are smart-uns.

  33. Lee

    The problem is that you have no idea how it can be done. You just believe it, like the urban myths about cars running on water.
    I built a car that got 67 MPG back in 1984, with a friend, as his commuter vehicle. It held 2 passengers, was not very comfortable, was noisy, and I would not want to wreck it.
    America already traded off safety and vehicle longevity for a little extra mileage. The energy consumed to produce these new cars is often far greater than the fuel savings. If I prefer to drive a Cadillac at 25 mpg and survive a wreck with a 30 mpg econobox, that is my choice, not yours, not a bureaucrat, not a legislator.
    Pick a car that you think is a model of efficiency, and we’ll compare it in an apples-to-apples test with a Yukon or something the fruitcakes hate. It won’t do as well as the greenies want to “believe”.

  34. Lee

    PS: We haven’t gotten a man to Mars yet, much less Saturn. That robot vehicle on Mars cost a lot more than a Honda Civic, and it is broken down right now, dragging one wheel.

  35. Mary Rosh

    Lee adds more evidence that he’s crazy, when he “proves” through economic analysis that it is impossible to improve fuel efficiency in cars through government regulation. This is similar to the economic analysis John Tierney performed in a column of his in 1999. He “proved” through economic analysis that the Triangle Shirtwaist fire couldn’t have happened, because he found, through economic analysis, that the mobility of workers enabled workers to choose a safer workplace.
    The problem with Tierney’s analysis, and with Lee’s analysis, is that they produce results contrary to observation. The observers on the streets of New York could see that the Triangle Shirtwaist fire DID happen. Similarly, when the CAFE standards were implemented, observation told us that average fuel economy DID improve.
    And we get even more proof that Lee is crazy, with this gem:
    “America already traded off safety and vehicle longevity for a little extra mileage.”
    Once again, observation tells us that cars are safer, and last longer, and get better mileage than they ever were in the past.
    And in response to this:
    “If these mythical cars are so easy to design, why would GM not offer them, and wipe out Toyota and Honda?”
    I can only say:
    If these cars are so hard to build, why were Honda and Toyota able to offer them, and wipe out GM?
    It’s ironic that Lee moans about government regulation. Just ask him about farm subisidies, which produce absolutely nothing except a population of shiftless, worthless parasites. He will immediately drop (for the moment) all his economic analysis and loud protestations, and leap to the defense of taking tax money from productive citizens and paying it to freeloaders who pretend they’re businessmen.

  36. Lee

    Go away, Mary. “Farm subsidies” is just a slogan to you city dwellers, used as a derogatory term because you don’t like anyone but your own little tribe. I oppose all subsidies, but I know about what I criticize.
    I oppose government meddling in automobile design because the bureaucrats are incapable of making better decisions than the automobile engineers, their management and the customers.

  37. Lee

    PS: Honda hasn’t offered better MPG in relation to cargo.
    Honda just announced it is ceasing temporarily production of its hybrid vehicles due to lack of customer demand.

  38. David

    I don’t know how to build a lot of things but I can see that they work and use them.
    Not everyone knows everything about football but people still enjoy the game.
    Cars are safer now than at anytime in the past when all factors are considered. The insurance intitute of America repeatedly confirms this year after year after year.
    Honda’s problems might be a reflection on quality of their hybrids.
    Hybrid sales are up this year.
    Bob Carter, general manager of Toyota’s Lexus luxury division, said Lexus’ hybrid models have been well received by customers.
    “Long term, we see hybrids as being an optional powertrain available throughout our model line,” Carter said. “There is no decline in hybrid demand.”

  39. Mary Rosh

    Just as I said, let anyone voice the least criticism of the practice of taking tax money from productive citizens to subsidize so-called “businessmen” who are incapable of making a living producing products the public is willing to buy, at prices they’re willing to pay, and all Lee’s vaunted “libertarianism” washes away like chalk drawings in a rainstorem.

  40. Lee

    Without huge subsidies to farmers and ethanol refiners, it would cost between $4.00 and $6.00 a gallon.
    Hydrogen fuel costs the equivalent of $30.00 a gallon gasoline, in term of its BTU.
    Most of the environmental technology pipe dreams are just temporary jobs programs, subsidized by taxpayers.

  41. Lee

    A lot of football fans think they could coach and play the game better than those on the field… ueing the same sort of delusion as those who “just know” that GM and Ford could build a 100 mpg car that everyone would buy.

  42. Dave

    Well, Popular Mechanics indicated we would have to give up about 3/4 of our farmland to switch to food base fuels. Will you ever hear that one in the “mainstream” media. I see it was ignored on this thread too. How surprising when it’s more fun to demagogue about Big Oil.

  43. Lee

    That article you cited lays it out pretty well . I cited it last week, and no one responded because, I suspect, they haven’t read it, or anything else factual and technical about alternative fuels.
    Thanks to the media, most people don’t realize that President Bush increased alternative energy research ten-fold in his first term. I think most of those programs are junk, but the liberals pretend they are the ones who want them, then then vote against funding.

  44. Dave

    Lee, it really is amazing to watch Turban Durbin moan and whine on Cavuto about punishing the American companies that produce the energy we use while that fathead sits in his pompous Senate seat and votes against every single attempt to explore and collect energy on this continent. The latest liberal funny is Killer Ted Kennedy fighting the wind farms off of Cape Cod. He is also a typical liberal environmentalist. Despoil Africa anyway you want but never in my back yard.

  45. Lee

    Exxon makes 5 cents a gallon on gasoline with is taxed at 40 to 60 cents a gallon.
    If 5 cents profit is too much, what are the taxes?

  46. David

    I have no particular issue with Exxon or others.
    I do find it funny to read a true believers on the “free market” defend an oil company. If you know anything about the oil industry over the last 50 years, they are about as far removed from the “free market’ process as it comes.

  47. Dave

    David, Do you think it’s the free market people who have successfully restricted the oil companies from drilling in North America for new oil, building refineries, building nuclear plants, and so on? Think about that.

  48. David

    Dave I don’t. But that wasn’t what I was talking about.
    I was talking about how odd it is to see people hold up the free market (and I believe in it most of the time myself) and mention oil companies when many of those same oil companies have done about as much to curb the free market when it didn’t suit their interests as any business in the country.

  49. Dave

    David, that is true but big oil has only done what we see ALL large companies do, i.e. act in their own self interest. Microsoft does the same thing, IBM did the same things, ATT the same, and the list is endless. Companies approach daily business as if they were in a war and they all want to win. So the line gets crossed at some point by most of them. So then they pay fines, agree to settlements etc. to rectify their misdeeds. I don’t support those occurences at all but no company is exempt from it. Demonizing big oil is the silly demagoging that we are hearing now. Let’s forget that and let them get on with what they do best, make energy. However, we know we have many politicians who will block any attempt to get new energy, even Wind Farms off of Cape Cod.

  50. BLSaiken

    Those who state that oil companies make only a small profit per gallon aren’t stating the full case. The profit figures (4-8%) are only for the retailing portion of their business. Vertically integrated oil companies (i.e., ExxonMobil) also make profit on extraction of reserves, refining, and transportation. BUSINESS WEEK covered this topic in last week’s issue.

  51. Lee

    Our Senator Lindsay Graham is sponsoring a bill to temporarily remove the 18-cent per gallon federal fuels tax at the pump, and charge it to the oil companies, “in order to lower prices and increase supply.”
    What makes him think the new 18 cents of cost would not be passed on to the consumer in a higher wholesale price?
    I know. He didn’t think.

  52. Lee

    The latest reports of Exxon show
    $339.28 Billion total sales
    73.55 Billion profits before taxes
    36.67 Billion net profits after taxes.


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