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Deliver Us From Politicians

You know how to muck up the market, get politicians involved.

Sen Arlen Specter (RINO) suggested the government should consider a windfall profits tax on oil companies if they make excessive profits amid rising gasoline prices. Who defines “excessive”? If in good times oil companies don’t make above average profits, how does anyone expect them to take risks to replenish their reserves, especially when it takes new discoveries about ten years to be brought on line? When we had bad times for oil companies and oil service companies, in the middle 80’s, I didn’t hear any politician suggest government help for their excessive losses.

Sen. Carl Levin, (D-MI),

said he thinks gas prices “would come down within a matter of days” if President Bush told oil companies that he was going to support a windfall-profits tax.

Note to Levin: higher prices lead to conservation or less demand, less demand lowers prices; Econ 101.

Kuwait’s oil minister, Sheik Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah, yesterday urged members to offer all their idle oil production capacity to the market as soon as possible to try to lower prices.

“We must do what we can to help the market even if there will be no customers for the extra oil”

That is a rediculous statement. There are always customers for the oil, it is just a question of price. If you produce more oil, you lower the price and that price clears the market. Sheik al-Sabah goes on to say

Current oil prices aren’t related to the fundamentals of supply and demand, he said. The standoff between Iran and Western nations over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program had added $10 to the oil price, he said.

Scratch the surface of a man who knows more than the market or thinks he can maniipulate the market and I’ll show you a socialist. In reality it could be $5 or $9 or $15. No one knows for sure. Think of the unintended consequences. Suppose OPEC can increase production of oil by some significant amount. Who knows if that only depletes reservoirs faster and output falls further faster. Then prices go higher than normally would.

Update: Betsy’s Page has two posts, here and here, about gas prices that echo my misgivings about politicians. Hat tip to Maxedoutmama.

Update:



Guard the Borders Blogburst

By Heidi at Euphoric Reality

Facts are a funny thing. They are conveniently forgotten if they don’t uphold one’s point-of-view, and they’re easily overlooked if they are randomly scattered about. But when solid facts are brought together in one place, the pattern is difficult to ignore. The facts I’m about to provide below are just such a case. People may be able to overlook a single fact, but the weight of their significance cannot be denied when they come together in one place. That is the purpose of this week’s Blogburst – to look at some hard facts.

I think it’s important to study the problems of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas as instructive for the rest of the states. It may be that others can write off the doom of California by saying, “Well, that’s just California, a loony state of fruits and nuts – that would never happen here.” But while California is tipping head-first into ruin, it is highly indicative of the chain of events the rest of us are blindly bumbling through. Arizona and New Mexico have declared official states of emergency because they are completely unable to handle the burden of the influx of illegals into their communities. Texas is not far behind with mass hospital closings, an overwhelmed and declining school system, and a climbing crime rate. Just because one lives in Idaho or Nebraska or Maine does not mean that it won’t happen to you! You’re just a few years behind the curve.

The following 10 facts have been pulled from the LA Times. We’ve posted them all at one time or another at ER or in the Blogburst.

1. L.A. County has 10 million people. 40% of all workers in L.A. County are working for cash and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants, working without a green card.

2. Of the 10 million people in L.A. County, 5.1 million people speak English. 3.9 million speak only primarily Spanish. Of the 14 million people in California, 5.6 million primarily speak other than English.

3. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.

4. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.

5. Over two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers.

6. Nearly 25% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.

7. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.

8. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.

9. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.

10. 21 radio stations in L.A. are Spanish language only.

We need to look at the experience of California as inevitable for the rest of us – if we don’t, we’re only burying our heads in the sand and bequeathing that future to our children! After all, if we keep merrily careening down the road to California, we can’t be dumbfounded when we actually end up in California, can we?!

Here are a few more facts on a national scale:

1. Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops but 36% are on assistance/welfare. More on welfare provided to immigrants.

2. Over 70% of the United States annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration. More on immigration as the primary contributor to our population explosion.

3. The United States receives more immigrants every year than the rest of the world combined.

4. The cost of immigration to the American taxpayer in 1997 was a NET (after subtracting taxes immigrants pay) $70 BILLION a year [Professor Donald Huddle, Rice University].

5. The lifetime fiscal impact (taxes paid minus services used) for the average adult Mexican immigrant is a NEGATIVE.

6. 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.

The problems of illegal immigration are not solely “border state” problems. They impact everyone. California and Texas are the two biggest economic engines in the United States – and they are teetering on bankruptcy on a catastrophic scale. If they go bust, guess who picks up the pieces? Indiana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, West Virginia, and all the rest. Illegal immigration is not – I repeat, NOT – a border state problem. It’s a burden we’re all bearing and a risk we’re all sharing.

We are way past the point of half-way measures and temporary fixes. As a nation, we must demand a definitive, decisive, no-nonsense solution. We cannot be placated by smarmy speeches from self-interested politicians, or fooled by spin semantics (“it’s a guest worker program – not amnesty”), or lulled into apathy by the drone of our everyday lives.

We cannot leave this crisis to our children. Do something! Get out of your comfort zone and get involved. There are bigger issues at stake than the price of lettuce! The time is critical. And it’s NOW.

_________________________________

This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we’re going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the war on terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our Blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name and url to euphoricrealitynet at gmail dot com.

Update: Two changes have been made to the original post:

“only” has been changed to “primarily” and

links have been added to the sources for statistics quoted in the blogburst.

Crude Oil and our Vulnerability

A couple of thoughts:

Whether you admit it or not, we are at war and most of the American people don’t admit it.The idea that we import over 60% of our oil from countries like these

February, 2006, Crude Oil Imports (Top 15 Countries)

(Thousand Barrels per Day)MEXICO————–1,774
SAUDI ARABIA——1,418
NIGERIA————–1,342
VENEZUELA———-1,175
ANGOLA————–464
IRAQ——————-444
ECUADOR————-222
BRAZIL—————-164
ALGERIA————–163
KUWAIT————–152
COLOMBIA———–108
CHAD——————77
EQUATORIAL GUINEA–73

makes us extremly vulnerable to cutoffs of oil. Why we allow environmentalists to dictate where we can drill for oil is beyond me. We currently make parts of Montana and Wtoming and Utah off limits, offshore California and the Gulf og Mexico offlimits and the North Alaskan coast, where you and I will never go, offlimits. Imagine the money that our enemies or countries with opposing interests are accumilating. That gives them leverage over our interests. China, for example, currently owns over $850 Billion of our treasuries.

2004 UPDATE: US Imports total about 61% of consumption: 13.12 million barrels per day in July 2004, out of total consumption of 21.4 million barrels per day. At the end of 2005, US production was at the lowest point since the late 1940s (4.86 million b/d) and imports accounted for 67% of total consumption.

During WWI, I quoted Steve Forbes who wrote

To help mobilize for the war effort, Washington seized railroads, as well as the telephone and telegraph industries. War boards were established that gave Washington huge powers over the private sector – allocating raw materials, setting prices and wages, closing and opening plants, and controlling the prices, production, and distribution of food – all in the name of boosting wartime production.

Bernard Lewis wrote in The Crisis of Islam

Islamic tradition maintains a double standard when it comes to matters of war and peace. “It was perfectly legitimate for Muslims to conquer and rule Europe,” noted Lewis. “It was a crime and a sin for Europeans to conquer and rule Muslims.” In other words, international moral norms do not apply to Islamic states because it is lawful for Muslims to begin an aggressive war against infidels. From a Western point of view, Islamic notions of war and peace are unsettling.

That means all our talk and diplomacy is not a solution. Jeffrey R. Nyquist asks what is the solution and answers:

There is no solution. There is only a problem that worsens over time. Everything the U.S. and Israel might do would only deepen the crisis. Those in the Islamic world who hate the U.S. will grow in strength. The threat to Western energy supplies will increase day to day. The intractability of the Iranians and others will blossom. Given all this, an economically damaging outcome is assured. The parties to this dispute aren’t going to kiss and make up.

Again, it is time to wake up!

Islam Iran oil

Update:


The SATIRICAL POLITICAL BELIEFS ASSESSMENT TEST

I got a note from Donald J. Hagen asking me if I would publicize his SATIRICAL POLITICAL BELIEFS ASSESSMENT TEST. Based on your answers you can decide (or help your friends decide)

if You’re an Archconservative, Leftwing Wacko,
Antigovernment Libertine or a Commie Sympathizer

I took a look at many of the question and my answers put me in either the Archconservative or Antigovernment Libertine category.

It’s a long test that you may find humorous, so here goes:
http://www.geocities.com/donaldjhagen/humoroustest.html

Update:


Ominous USD Developments

For the USD there were some ominous developments.

First, the weekly close of the USD against a basket of currencies is the lowest close in 2006. The USD closed the week at 87.77. Next support occurs at the Sept. 2005 low of 86.25. We are breaking down out of a weekly head and shoulder chart pattern, so I expect the September low to be broken, and a target of 83.00 would be the result.(see chart)

Second, the precious metals were on fire this week, with Gold gaining $35.70 to $632.20 and Oil gaining $5.85 to $75.17. It is interesting to note that the first Oil high of $70.85 came in the week of Sept. 2nd, 2005, the week that the USD bottomed and Gold broke out and began it run from $450 to its high this week. That could mean that both Oil and Gold are now in gear for much higher price as the USD moves lower. Its like passengers on the Titanic seeking the safety of the lifeboats.

Third, Le Metropole Cafe, the best source for news about gold, reported Friday

Sweden’s central bank said it had slashed its dollar holdings almost in half.The Riksbank revealed that it had cut the proportion of dollars in its reserves from 37 to 20 per cent, as well as selling off all its holdings of yen, which previously amounted to 8 per cent of its reserves

The choice to replace the USD is

the most liquid alternative, the euro,” said Chris Turner, head of FX strategy research at ING Financial Markets, who reiterated its view that the euro will return to $1.35 by the end of the year.

Fourth, from Reuters

The overall message that markets will take away from finance officials from the Group of Seven rich nations who met on Friday is quite simple: The dollar will decline.

The G7 also said

greater flexibility in China’s yuan is needed to allow “necessary appreciations.” (emphasis added)

Do you remember Meg Richards? Here’s what she said again:

Usually investors buy gold when they’re worried – about inflation, the value of the dollar, the stability of the markets or geopolitical events. But in the face of low inflation, stable bond yields and a stronger-than-expected dollar, gold has surged to 25-year highs, closing at $595.30 Thursday before retreating to $588.85 on Friday.

Where’s the strong dollar now? It wasn’t there and investors outside the US know it and we’ve been getting Spin!

USD Gold Oil Finance

Where would you invest $10,000?

The WSJ has a poll,

If you had $10,000 to invest, what would you buy?

At this time there have been 6462 votes cast and this is how it breaks down:

Stocks – 3919 votes (61%)
Bonds – 607 votes (9%)
Gold – 558 votes (9%)
Real Estate – 425 votes (7%)
Savings – 953 votes (15%)

Yesterday Gold made a high of $644 and fell during the day to $606 and closed at $619.60. Today Gold closed at $632.50 +$12.90. I don’t worry about the volatility and won’t be concerned about my investment in Gold until the majority of the people in a WSJ poll are putting that extra $10,000 into Gold. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the ride. Someday the price of gold and the DJIA will trade places with gold selling higher.

Gold Finance

Newmont President Pierre Lassonde Speaks

If you pay attention to anyone, choose Newmont President Pierre Lassonde. He runs one of the largest gold mining companies in the world and over time has been the most tuned in gold mining executives. Lassonde predicted Thursday that $850 gold price of the 1980s could be challenged during the next 18 months. From MineWeb, during a conference call discussing Newmont’s first quarter results, Lassonde not only predicted where gold would trade, but he said

…he wouldn’t even consider hedging because he anticipates “an exponential increase in the gold price.”…new investment products, such as the Gold ETF, commodity funds with gold components and the Kilo Bar market in India and Europe are “all growing at double-digit rates.”

told analysts that in 16 months the gold ETF has shot up from a value of zero dollars to $9 billion. Commodity funds, which were valued at a total of $10 billion two years ago, are forecast to hit the $140 billion mark at the end of this year.

he does not see geopolitical factors, such as the controversy stemming from Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons, ultimately having a long-term effect on gold price

worries about the U.S. and the economy play “a much bigger role” in sending gold prices higher.

the dollar is forecast to fall 30% on a Trade-Exchange basis because of the current account deficit. (emphasis added)

Pierre Lassonde Gold USD

Global Warming is a Hoax!

My sister-in-law says the “majority” of scientists agree that we are experiencing global warming and that man and his CO2 production are responsible. I argue, and it gets quite heated, that there may or may not be global warming and if there is, then it would be taking place even if there were no humans on the planet. You can see there is not much room for compromise.

I argue for every scientist you come up with that “proves” global warming, I can come up with a scientist that “proves” the opposite. Then, we are left with my scientist is better than your scientist, yada, yada, yada.

“My scientist” has just come up with some news that may be startling to some, but not to me: Scientists cool outlook on global warming

Using temperature readings from the past 100 years, 1,000 computer simulations and the evidence left in ancient tree rings, Duke University scientists announced yesterday that “the magnitude of future global warming will likely fall well short of current highest predictions.”[…]

“Our reconstruction supports a lot of variability in the past,” said research director Gabriele Hegerl of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.

If my sister-in-law were to read my blog, she would most likely say, “I see you are now quoting a story from the Washington Times. You know that’s a Moonie paper don’t you? Hmmmm! Is this Hegerl a PhD? I don’t see any mention of doctor. You know, she is only looking at the past 100 years, how can you make any forecasts based just on the last 100 years?”

Duke University Global Warming Environment

BTW, I deliberately decided on the headline. I want to infuriate as many people as possible, including my sister-in-law.

Update: After I posted this piece I came across a column from Accuracy in Media that takes 60 Minutes to task for their biased reporting about global warming in the story regarding James Hansen, a top NASA scientist who claimed he was being censored by the Bush Administration.


They Did It! They Extended the Tax in Multnomah County!

From KOIN TV, Legislators

…designated $42.2 million in excess lottery revenues to K-12 schools statewide for the 2006-2007 school year and gave the Portland school board authority to exercise a gap authority and raise about $48 million for Portland Public Schools by raising its district operating tax rate up to $5.27 per $1,000 of assessed value over the next three years

From KGW TV and KATU TV Legislators voted to

— Allow Portland Public Schools to restore an expired property tax, expected to raise $15 million for the district.

Multnomah County voters passed a tax to raise money for schools. The tax expires this year leaving a $50 Million hole in the budget. Oregon political leaders would not authorize a vote to either extend the law or ask for new taxing authority. Why? Because this liberal county would not pass a measure to cover the gap. More than 55% of the liberals in the county would not vote for it, a county that went for Kerry by 73%. The residents of Multnomah County voted for the tax in 2003, because we were told it was a stop gap measure and it would give the school board time to solve the funding problem.

How dare the Legislature vote to extend this expiring law, specifically ignoring the vote in 2003.

Getting My CDL

Blogging has been a little light the past two weeks. I have decided to get my Class B, CDL to drive a school bus.

I first had to go to the DMV after two days of study and pass four tests totaling over 100 questions. I passed! Then I had to get a physical. I passed! Then I had to go back to DMV and get my permit to drive 84 passenger school buses. This week I am learning to drive these big things.

To drive a bus, you first need to pre-check your bus. Before it ever leaves the yard it must meet certain standards. For example, when I sit down in the driver’s seat, I turn the engine on and make sure all the gauges are in their normal zones, that the battery is holding a charge, that oil pressure is normal and the airbrake tanks are fully charged and the the governor on air pressure is working. Then, I turn off the engine and check the air brakes again, I see if the pressure falls and when it falls to about 60 PSI, does the alarm sound? Then when the pressure falls to about 20 PSI does the emergency brake pop on. Assuming that all is ok, then the engine is started and I need to see if pressure in the tanks builds back up to between 85 and 100 in 45 seconds. Then, I put the bus in drive, foot on the service brake, release the emergency brake and step on the gas. The bus should not move forward. Then we do a rolling 5 MPH start and press on the brake. Does the bus stop? There are many more things to check. It is like a pilot going through his checklist with his copilot.

Then I need to find my reference points, so I know where my bus is in relation to the center line, the fog line, six inches from the curb, a foot from the curb and three feet from the curb. Then I find my reference point for backing. I cannot see anthing directly behind my bus for about 100 feet. If I have to back up to a wall, or a fence, or your Mercedes, I need to have a reference point that tells me to stop when I’m a foot away.

Because the bus is long, and 1/3 of the bus is past the rear wheels, I need to know how to make right and left turns, keeping my rear tires a certain distance from the curb. If I start out at three feet from the curb, when I make the turn I want to stay three feet away with my rear wheels. If I am a foot from the curb, more of my bus must pass the point of the curve before I start turning. I am continuously checking my mirrors. I have seven mirrors to monitor; a flat rear view mirror, two flat side view mirrors, two convex side view mirrors, and two convex crossover mirrors that show me what is directly in my blind spot in front of my bumper.

What has been the hardest thing? I haven’t been able to remember the sequence of moving forward. It’s close the door, foot on the brake, shift to drive and then release the emergency brake. When I stop it’s foot on the brake, shift to neutral, pull the emergency brake, open the door. I hope I got that last sequence right.

So far, all the driving has been in a parking lot and in the yard. Tomorrow we take to the streets!

This has given me a whole new appreciation for those professional drivers driving big rigs and big buses. With everything going on, there are still the passengers to get to and from school safely. I thought I was an excellent driver. Not! In just two weeks I am a better driver.

What has been the best thing? My instructor laid out a slalom in front of the bus. I had to maneuver the bus around the cones, right turns and left turns to the end of the course. Then, I had to back-it, back through the same course and park it back between a gate of two cones. I thought no way! My instructor showed me it was possible and then I did it. Wahooo!

Update:


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