Archive for the Environment Category

When a Shutdown’s Not a Shutdown.

Posted in Conservatism, Economy, Environment, Health Care, Media, Politics with tags , , on October 8, 2013 by Cannon

Mark Steyn brilliantly puts the government shutdown crisis in perspective.  To wit:

This week’s “shutdown” of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. “Mandatory spending” (Social Security, Medicare, et al.) is authorized in perpetuity — or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress’s so-called federal budget process. That’s why you’re reading government “shutdown” stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady’s ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.

Nevertheless, just because it’s a phony crisis doesn’t mean it can’t be made even phonier. The perfect symbol of the shutdown-simulacrum so far has been the World War II Memorial. This is an open-air facility on the National Mall — that’s to say, an area of grass with a monument at the center. By comparison with, say, the IRS, the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come “shutdown,” they’re reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site — which oddly enough requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open.

When the Democrats had control of both the House and Senate. as well as the White House, they pushed through the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.  No Republican voted for Obamacare.  If Obamacare were to come before lawmakers today, it certainly would not pass.  Yet, all we hear from supporters of the act is that it is established law, and debate should cease.  It sounds a lot like global warming (a.k.a. climate change).  Carbon’s destroying the environment.  It’s settled science, so shut up.

Do you get the feeling that we’re living in a time where molding perception is far, far more common that facing reality?  The federal government is running record deficits, piling up record debt.  Current entitlements are set to go broke in the years to come.  Just north of 63% of adults are participants in the labor force.  That’s the lowest rate since 1978.  However, we have to enact another huge entitlement we can’t afford because it’s “established law.”  Really?  That’s your best argument?  Obama’s unilaterally handed out exemptions even after the law was “established.”

Democrats are depending on most Americans being ignorant of what’s really going on.  They shutdown elements of the government which are easily highlighted in the media.  Hopefully, turning veterans and other citizens away from “an area of grass with a monument in the center” won’t just reflect negatively on Republicans.  It should reflect negatively on us all.  Some of us are being manipulated while others are willing perpetuators of a narrative that favors bolstering future political support through government programs over solving a fiscal dilemma that will certainly cause massive amounts of pain in the near future.

Using Carbon Taxes as Economic Stimulus

Posted in Economy, Environment, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by Cannon

There are so many things wrong with New York U.S. senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s piece from the Wall Street Journal.  Let’s start at the beginning:

In this turmoil, it may seem hard to imagine a financial market poised to deliver significant growth. However, a rising number of investors and financiers see one in the trading and reduction of carbon. According to financial experts, carbon permits could quickly become the world’s largest commodities market, growing to as much as $3 trillion by 2020 from just over $100 billion today. With thousands of firms and energy producers buying and selling permits to emit carbon, transaction fees for exchanges and clearing alone could top nearly half a billion dollars.

If Congress establishes proper oversight of a carbon market, New York’s financial talent, expertise and institutions are uniquely suited to provide the tools and innovation for a new commodities market of this size. Firms wishing to invest over the long term will need to turn to our financial sector to create the emerging products and provide the capital that would allow them to make green energy investments.

An infrastructure is already beginning to form, as entities like the New York Stock Exchange, J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and the new Green Exchange are developing carbon trading platforms or expanding their environmental trading desks. There are nearly 100 funds already focused on green investments.

So, we’ll create a market to enrich one area of the country by making another area pay up.  Obviously, the senator has a responsibility to her constituents, but robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t my idea of a constructive, long-term solution to the economic woes of New York.  Not to mention the fact it’s unfairness of the highest order.  She’s advocating the utilization government to redistribute wealth in the name of “global warming.”  As I’ve stated before, the “climate change” push has become more of religious movement than a scientific one.  You’ve got to look at the total sum of the fallout the created by enacting policies of this nature, and weigh it against what we know about climate change and man’s contribution.

Ms. Gillibrand continues on:

We must allow the market to provide the ability to customize products. These customized contracts are essential for firms to adapt to the new regulations, hedge risk, and raise capital. New York’s financial industry is already the global leader for existing customized commodity products and would be exceptionally well positioned to provide the legal and financial expertise necessary for these new products.

Some have suggested that we mandate exchange trading of carbon-related derivatives, effectively requiring standardization of all derivatives. In order to trade on an exchange, a derivative contract must be highly standardized. As a result, such a requirement would effectively ban customized derivatives.

This sounds a lot like credit default swaps for “mortgage backed securities” to me.  The notion that further government regulation of securities will ensure we don’t embark on a similar situation as the mortgage crisis is laughable.  Especially considering that government, through Fannie and Freddie, helped establish a market for the troubled bundled mortgages. I’m comfortable in theorizing that if trading had been done with standardized credit default swap contracts backed by a clearing house like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, our financial system wouldn’t have experienced the tumultuous times it’s experienced over the last couple of years.  The CME’s track record speaks for itself.

One serious error – “cap and trade” – compounded by another – government encouragement of non-standardized financial products.  One can only hope that Senator Gillibrand fails in enacting the entirety of this terrible policy.

Correction: Instead of trading mortgage backed securities at an exchange, I should have said that credit default swaps, which are basically insurance on the MBS’s, should be traded in a standardized manner on an exchange like the CME as opposed to having the government try and further regulate a vast array of differently structured contracts.  The correction has been made in the body of the post.  I apologize.

Global Warming Takes a Break

Posted in Environment with tags , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by Cannon

From BBC News:

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

It turns out that the oceans have a lot to do with worldwide temperatures.  The article goes on:

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.

But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.

These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.

So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.

Professor Easterbrook says: “The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling.”

Professor Easterbrook of Western Washington University doesn’t include himself among the global warming “sceptics”.  He believes that overall global temperature is rising, but that periods of cooling will be included in the process.  Some (these folks would be among the “sceptics” the article references) also believe  that the sun has far more influence on temperatures than what global warming advocates claim.  I’ll let everyone read the article and decide where they come down on the issue.  It is a pretty concise look at some issues affecting the climate, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Personally, I’m skeptical.  At the least, I’d like to know a lot more about so called climate change before committing vast resources toward fighting the battle.  What’s most worrisome is that many advocates of action against carbon emmissions approach the topic with a religious vigor.  It’s as if we must fast forward through the exploration and debate process, because Al Gore put out a movie predicting dire consequences.  I mean, Gore won’t even publicly debate any of these “sceptics.”  The truth remains that some – Gore included –  are making money off of global warming, and some (i.e. PG&E) stand to receive a ton of subsidies if draconian “cap and trade” policies are established.

Agriculture and Carbon Emissions

Posted in Economy, Environment with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by Cannon

As a person involved in agricultural production, this push – in this case by New Zealand’s minister of trade – hits close to home.  So, take my natural bias into consideration.  There is so little evidence that CO2, a substance which occurs naturally in the environment, generated by humans will have a significant impact on the world.  I know what Al Gore says, but I’m not convinced.  Many conservatives have conceded that greenhouse gas emissions deserve attention though I’m not part of this group.  What we’re talking about here is diverting resources in order to curb the production of a naturally occurring element.  The costs associated with such an endeavor will likely be steep.  Will reducing CO2 emissions by 10%, 25%, or even 50% help to stop temperatures from rising?  Is the climate even measurably changing?  If it is getting warmer, or cooler, are humans to blame?  I don’t believe these questions have been adequately answered.  There are still respected scientists who don’t buy in to the climate change scenario as laid out by the Gorites.

The above linked op-ed really doesn’t lay out a tangible plan, but puts forth an idea for a “Global Alliance” to address the “carbon footprint” created by ag production.  First off, I don’t like global alliances.  I don’t get to vote on leaders of New Zealand, or any other country outside the U.S., so I don’t care for these people affecting domestic policies beyond presenting information.  We’ve already got plenty of useless, corruption-ridden global bodies.  Why do we need another one to inhibit economic and personal freedoms?  Secondly, I’m not sure what the current carbon situation will mean for the future.  What I do know is that decreased food production and increased food prices will lead to disastrous consequences for many people around the world.  I realize that Mr. Groser is looking for the best of both worlds, but cutting down on emissions sounds a lot like increased production costs to me.  If we depend on the heavy hand of government to cram some “reform” down our collective throat, the end product will most certainly be fraught with negative consequences.  Consequences which could be dangerous for a world population that is always expanding.

Let’s make sure we know what we’re preventing before we decide to tinker with the food supply.  Hunger and starvation are the devils that we know.  Carbon-induced climate change is the devil that may not exist.