Please Make it Stop

The pandering, that is. First up, the presidential candidates take turns accusing each other of not having a plan for high gas prices, which the accuser of course has a neat solution for that will be painless for the public:

Obama presses on gas prices, Clinton highlights energy bill

INDIANAPOLIS – Democrat Barack Obama on Friday blamed high gasoline prices on Washington and a political establishment, including his rivals for the presidency, that he says hasn’t stood up to oil companies.

Barack, that’s incredibly naive. Why are gas prices high everywhere else? This problem isn’t limited to the U.S., you know. By implying that standing up to “Big Oil” would have made a difference, you show yourself as either incredibly naive, or you are pandering.

“So what have we got to show for all that experience?” Obama asked. “Gas that’s approaching $4 a gallon.”

You should get out more. By world standards, that’s still pretty cheap. I suppose all of those foreign governments are also incompetent for letting prices get out of hand?

Clinton, who is challenging him for the Democratic presidential nomination, derided his promise to take on special interests.

“When it came time to stand up against the oil companies, to stand against Dick Cheney’s energy bill, my opponent voted for it and I voted against it,” the New York senator said at a rally at Indiana University in Bloomington. “And that bill had billions of dollars in giveaways to the oil companies. It was the best bill that the energy companies could buy.”

Ugh!

The 2005 energy bill actually raised taxes on the oil and gas industry by about 300 million over 11 years, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Please don’t insert random facts into the story that would contradict the pandering.

“I’ve been a strong supporter of ethanol,” Obama said, noting that demand for the corn used to make ethanol is driving up food prices. “Corn-based ethanol is a transitional technology.”

At least we know where to point fingers, then. πŸ™‚

Obama’s speech came after Sen. John McCain, the Republican Obama hopes to challenge in the fall, proposed suspending the federal gas tax for the summer driving season. Clinton supports the idea; Obama does not.

Score one for Obama.

Republican Party official and McCain adviser Carly Fiorina disputed Obama’s argument that the average motorist would benefit little from a suspension of the gas tax.

“I think it demonstrates that he doesn’t understand what hardworking Americans are going through,” she told reporters.

I have already addressed this very stupid idea: John McCain’s Bad Idea

In the speech, Obama called for a windfall profits tax on oil companies, with the money used to help consumers pay utility bills. He also said middle-class tax breaks he’s proposed would help families with energy costs.

Can he not see the problem here? How is this ultimately that much different from McCain’s proposal?

“But the truth is, there is no easy answer to our energy crisis β€” and we need a president who is going to be straight with us about that,” Obama said, a reference to his oft-stated contention that Clinton hasn’t been upfront with voters.

At least he is correct that there is no easy answer. He is correct that we need a president who is going to be straight with us. Sadly, it would appear that none of the candidates are going to do that.

But it doesn’t stop there. We have Nancy Pelosi using Earth Day to attack high gas prices:

Pelosi to Bush on Gas Prices: We Cannot Wait to Act

I respectfully ask you again to work with the Congress to allow the Justice Department to pursue oil cartel price-fixing, allow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to investigate and punish price gougers, end taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil and invest those funds in renewable American energy. Lastly, your Administration must use the authority given to it by the Congress to end market manipulation. We cannot wait to act in the face of these prices increases.

Nancy, you may want to consult a history book to see how many times the FTC has done these investigations at taxpayer expense, and what they have found each time.

And the stupidity of this proposal from Pelosi’s letter is just stunning:

The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act – H.R. 2264

This legislation enables the Department of Justice to take legal action against foreign nations for participating in oil cartels that drive up oil prices globally and in the United States. It does so by exempting OPEC and other nations from the provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act when acting in a commercial capacity; by making clear that the so-called β€œAct of State” doctrine does not prevent courts from ruling on antitrust charges brought against foreign governments; and by authorizing the Department of Justice to bring lawsuits in U.S. courts against cartel members. This bill passed the House 345-72. You have threatened to veto this legislation.

Yes, let’s sue OPEC because they won’t sell us oil at the price we want to pay. Then maybe they will countersue because we are charging them too much for corn. Or perhaps they will just say “You know what? We just aren’t going to sell you oil any more.”

Our politicians are pathetic. They offer false solutions to problems they don’t understand. They could put us on the right path, but it would require courage. Yet the phrase “courageous politician” would appear to be an oxymoron.

32 thoughts on “Please Make it Stop”

  1. The time horizon of the politician is the next vote that determines whether they are in office or not. If they don’t make it over that hurdle, the fact that what they are saying makes a subsequent hurdle even higher is of not consequence. And the memory of the voter is what, six months at most? Hence, the future is discounted very heavily.

    Otherwise, the current rapid rise in food prices would actually have an effect on the farmer subsidies in the farm bill. Currently there is little jeopardy in having the public realize that the biggest Welfare Queens drive John Deere’s; that the welfare Cadillacs are rural not urban.

  2. If politicians don’t court the popular vote, they don’t get elected. Therefore isn’t the problem the electorate, not the politicians?

  3. ROBERT– all true for too long.

    last paragraph[pols are pathetic…]. all too true;been going on for years.

    that leads to my conclusion–the citizenry of this country are even more pathetic. we’ve put the fools in office, we accept the drool/pap they spout, we appear to be dead set to do a repeat performance. there is no memory/thought by public in this process.

    is there any connection between voter gripe/dissatisfaction, voter’s VOTE, elected rep’s action, platform of candidate?

    are we brain dead or don’t we care?

    we get what we ask/work for!

    fran

  4. so now you don’t think that “Corn-based ethanol is a transitional technology.”?

    I thought you’d been arguing that for a while – that corn ethanol is bad, and we should move to something else.

  5. Robert – I don’t know how best to email you, so I’m posting here. I know you also believe conservation is essential. Have you happened to hear the news about power in Juneau, AK? It’s not liquid fuel, but energy nonetheless.

    Apparently, an avalanche wiped out the connection to their hydro source on April 16. In the following WEEK, they dropped their power demand by almost 40% (number from here: http://www.kinyradio.com/juneaunews/latest_juneau_news.html search for “51,000”). All it took was a 5x increase in electricity rates…

    Pretty inspiring example, though – Juneau is an American town of about 30,000 people.

    more info:
    the avalanche: http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/041708/loc_269314122.shtml
    http://www.wtop.com/?nid=104&sid=1389285

    the response:
    http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/042408/loc_271769700.shtml
    http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/042308/loc_271344651.shtml

  6. I have faith that our politicians will do absolutely the wrong thing and thus make the situation even worse.

    Thanks a lot, Nancy. I’d hoped it’d be at least a couple more years before the severe shortages start.

  7. The ad that appeared just below this post was “run your car on water,” which seemed appropriate…At first, I thought it was an editorial comment..

  8. The politician’s strategy is to look like they are really doing something by holding hearings, making sound bite speeches to an empty hall and so on to appease the public (the voter).

    But vote getting from the public only happens every every so often while money raising from the movers and shakers behind the scene is a constant process required for political survival! Divide a reasonable estimate of number of fundraising days into the 10’s of millions that a high profile campaign for a house (2 yrs) or senate seat (6 yrs) costs.

    Where does the money come from and where does it go? What is the return on a donors investment? To see what is really going on, follow the money, follow the money!

    Fortunately, the Web makes that a lot easier, with sites such as:
    http://www.followthemoney.org/
    http://www.opensecrets.org/

  9. The ad that appeared just below this post was “run your car on water,” which seemed appropriate…At first, I thought it was an editorial comment..

    I just saw that. I have no control over those ads; the trigger off of key words. But I have gone in and banned specific ads before.

    I can’t click on ads that appear on my blog; that’s against Google policy and could get me banned. Can someone who did click it let me know what the gist is? If not, I will go to someone else’s site, find it, and click on it to see what they are claiming.

    Thanks, RR

  10. so now you don’t think that “Corn-based ethanol is a transitional technology.”?

    I thought you’d been arguing that for a while – that corn ethanol is bad, and we should move to something else.

    I agree that it is transitional in that we need to transition to something else.

    I was more referring to his comments about being a strong supporter of ethanol – which we have always made for corn. If you say that you have been a strong supporter, then you have supported the system we now have in place.

    RR

  11. Robert – I don’t know how best to email you, so I’m posting here. I know you also believe conservation is essential. Have you happened to hear the news about power in Juneau, AK? It’s not liquid fuel, but energy nonetheless.

    Had not heard anything about it; thanks for posting it. It is an interesting case study. I wonder if the response would be generally applicable to the rest of the country?

    RR

  12. ROBERT–

    if i were you i’d look and remove/complain.
    ad gives guidence for insruction book[$], referencing $60 parts to use car battery on water to create[BROWNS GAS??] supposedly use some form of end product with gasoline for better mileage. says may not work on hybrid.

    everyone will do it by 2010. get yours now.

    it’s a long one interspersed with U tube shows.

    tis is my summary after 2 minute review.

    fran

  13. I have a hard time understanding how people can be so gullible as to fall for something like that. I think it can be traced back to the poor job we do with science education, and so you get people who expect simple answers for complex issues.

  14. I try to maintain an optimistic outlook on life, but when it comes to the US govenment and energy policy……
    Not one of our candidates has a serious platform for achieving energy independence…..or even a semi-serious platform, or even a semi-hemi serious platform….
    It is Oil Thug States and our own heavy consumption that pushed prices up….the waa-waa about wanting cheaper gasoline should be answered with, “It will get cheaper when everyone in the country drives a 45 mpg car, and maybe not even then….”
    The best we can hope for is that we get out of Iraq, and that the price mechanism compels consumers to change their behavior…this crop of candidates is not what anyone would call enlightened…..
    What is sad is that I think the American public would respond to a call for energy independemce, especially if it were framed as a huge job machine for Americans, which it would be….
    but we talk about Obama’s flag lapel pins instead…

  15. Just read an article about residents of Utah filling up with compressed natural gas for 63 cents a gallon. Honda is thinking about making the Civic CNG available in Utah. I had hoped my daughters first car would be the Civic CNG. In Louisiana,she’d only pay about $1 per gallon equivalent. I don’t know why Honda won’t sell the damned thing outside California and New York. The other 48 states have been waiting years already.

  16. Anything stopping you from buying a Honda CNG in California or New York and driving it in Louisiana?

  17. I’d need the PHIL device anonymouse. I don’t think they install it in states Honda doesn’t sell the car. I’m fairly sure the local Honda dealership wouldn’t know how to work on it either. They were scratching their heads when it came time to change the PAX tires on my ’05 Odyssey…LOL.

  18. Relative to the water to fuel ad and the HHO nonsense, this has been kicking around for some time and might, at least, be partially traced to a guy named Dennis Lee. Take a look at http://www.picctv.com/nw for the most bizarre stuff that can be imagined. The ad owner is presumably UCSA Dealers Group LLC and it seems to be a front for Dennis Lee. If you also google Dennis Lee, you will find he has been in and out of jail. He also goes around to fundamentalist churches claiming this is God’s fuel or some such nonsense.

    There was a picctv ad in Jan 14, 2008 issue of Newsweek. The website is so misleading, I tried to make a complaint via the BBB, the Colorado and NJ Attorneys General offices, but it is really difficult to trace everything down since company names change and it is hard to find out just what company is doing what. If you open this website, be sure to watch the videos on it. They are truly unbelievable. The HHO stuff is the most egregious crap I have ever seen.

  19. Jerry, glad you dropped by. I am just a bit north of you at the moment; home to see the family for the first time in a while.

    So who is your presidential candidate? I am guessing you are an Obama man? I have gotten to the point that I always seem to get to in these presidential elections: I can only take so much pandering, and then I don’t like anyone. Of course those that don’t pander don’t get elected. So it’s a Catch-22.

    Cheers, Robert

  20. MAURY–

    CNG INFO

    reason for preponderence of ny, calif–fueling stations/maintenance. you might try CLNE web site for info/map[www.cleanenergyfuel.com]. also for user info[parts, etc]–NGVEHICLES–www.ngvamerica.org

    fran

  21. According to the EPA’s fuel economy website:

    The fuel to drive a 2002 Toyota RAV4 (23 MPG) costs 15.2 cents per mile at 3.51 per gallon ($2290 per year).

    The fuel to drive a 2002 Toyota RAV4-EV costs 2.4 cents a mile ($362 per year).

    If the politicians really wanted to do something about fuel costs, they should be promoting EVs.

    If you consider the life of a vehicle to be 150,000 miles, and use the 15,000 miles per year from the EPA website, you get 10 years.

    Over the next 10 years, what do you expect the average price of gasoline to be? $6/gallon? 150,000 miles at 23 MPG is 6522 gallons, which at a $6/gallon average will cost the driver of the gasser $39,130 over the lifetime of the car.

    Let’s say that electricity rates in the US rise to be as high as California’s as the US begins to solve its greenhouse gas emission problem. Where I live, there is a E-9 rate schedule for EV drivers who charge at night. The summer rates run from 5.0 cents per kWh to 19.9 cents per kWh depending upon usage. The winter rates run from 5.8 cents per kWh to 19.9 cents per kWh. The 150,000 miles of driving will take 45,300 kWh, costing $2265 to $9015.

  22. ROBERT–

    your comment on science education–“drive car on water” ad.

    the education problem goes well beyond science. for the majority of our[USA] population there is a deficiency in all disciplines. in fact, i’d call it a corruption of intellectual curiosity and integrity–a sympton of many successful societies.

    might this be behind the “pathetic” nature of POLITICIANS in your blog and the nonchalant/don’t care attitude of the voting public?

    fran

  23. Good, Roger. The true nature of politicians is slowly sinking in. You’re a rational mind so, painful as it may, this reflection will take you to its logical conclusion, which is Libertarianism.

    Your “letter to your kid” about how you must prepare to be self reliant, also points in that encouraging direction.

  24. “Our politicians are pathetic. They offer false solutions to problems they don’t understand.”

    Of course they are.

    They are pandering for votes from a population that — for the most part — is equally clueless.

  25. The fuel to drive a 2002 Toyota RAV4 (23 MPG) costs 15.2 cents per mile at 3.51 per gallon ($2290 per year).

    The fuel to drive a 2002 Toyota RAV4-EV costs 2.4 cents a mile ($362 per year).

    Unfortunately the RAV4-EV had a $20k gas tank (battery pack). Amortize that over 150k miles and you’re back to 15 cents/mile. The RAV4-EV was also crippled in terms of range and performance vs. its gasoline cousin.

    I agree we should aggressively electrify our fleet. I favor PHEVs, which are cheaper and not crippled. Electrifying not only solves a huge economic problem for the US (600b/year blown on oil imports), it offers a way to use cheap, clean fuels such as wind.

  26. doggydogworld said, “Unfortunately the RAV4-EV had a $20k gas tank (battery pack). Amortize that over 150k miles and you’re back to 15 cents/mile. The RAV4-EV was also crippled in terms of range and performance vs. its gasoline cousin.

    The cost of a 27kWh battery pack is today more like $13,500 (LiFePO4 batteries are $500/kWh). The cost of a LiCo pack is only $270/kWh, but LiCo has safety and lifetime issues (LiFePO4 does not). However, the addition of manganese may solve LiCo’s problem.

    Moreover, the standard industrial “learning curve” would bring down costs further if these vehicles were deployed. Given the $30,000 to $37,000 fuel cost delta, $13,500 is a good deal, even if you had to lease it at 6% per year for 12 years.

    I agree with you however that PHEVs are the right first step.

  27. (LiFePO4 batteries are $500/kWh)

    Earl, do you have a source for $500/kWh? I try to follow battery prices. I’ve seen some low-grade LiFePO4 for cheap but these won’t last the life of the car. Long-life LiFePO4 such as A123 currently cost more. A123 says they’ll eventually get the price down, and the Chevy Volt program kind of requires it, but I’d still like to get some hard evidence.

    I’m less sanguine about large-scale automotive battery production lowering costs. Will economies of scale beat out resource depletion? There’s plenty of lithium around, but the cheap stuff they extract from salars is pretty limited. Then again, LiFePO4 should eventually beat LiCoO2 on cost.

    Toshiba’s SCiB also looks good, but not cheap either.

  28. doggydogworld said, “Earl, do you have a source for $500/kWh?” Send me an email (my address is not hard to find, but I’m not going to post it). I know someone who claims to have the exclusive rights to import several Chinese battery products into the US. He has built his own LiFePO4 motorcycle at Lightning Motors, but that is really a hobby (he’s an investment guru during the week).

    doggydogworld said, “I’m less sanguine about large-scale automotive battery production lowering costs.” First, LiIon batteries have been decreasing in price something like (this is from memory) 10% per year for many years. You could look for one of Tom Gage’s presentations for details. I think that’s an indication of what the learning curve can do.

    As far as Li resource depletion, I believe China has just opened up new production. They supposedly have decent quantities in the ground, but I don’t know the details.

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