Sunday, December 11, 2016

December, 2016, Part 5, Political Class Insanity: Cow Farts in California, Clinton Corruption, Biofuels Are Carbon Intensive, and More

It has been almost a month since Donald Trump has been elected which means at some point in the future we may run out of material to talk about. With the demise of the Obama administration, eight years worth of wasteful and excessive spending for nothing in return, foreign affairs blunders, Obama Care disasters, and assorted other administration and government blunders and screwups might end with the onset of a new administration. Trump may usher in a new paradigm of government actions that are limited, effective, cost efficient, and protective of the Constitution. If so, then this blog would run out of material to discuss and would have to be shut down.

But I doubt it. Even if Trump is truly a different type of President, he is still fighting over 500 embedded and entrenched politicians in Congress and thousands and thousands of government bureaucrats who will not go peacefully into the night for the good of the country. I wish him well and hopefully he can fix at least some of the myriad of problems the American political class creates everyday but until then, enjoy the latest political class insanity from Washington and beyond:

1) Let’s start today with some quick hitters of insanity from the January, 2017 issue of Reason magazine:
  • Metric Giles works at the Community Stabilization Project in St. Paul, Minnesota. As he looked out his office window he was faced with the site of a vacant abandoned church property that was overwhelmed with trash. He got a few friends got together to improve the lot and neighborhood by cleaning up the trash and planting a garden after he got permission to do so from the church. Nice effort, right? Not according to the state government which claimed that the church no longer owned the property due to foreclosure and forced Mr. Giles to rip out the garden. Pathetic.
  • The former director of the Federal Veterans Crisis Line, Greg Hughes, says that more than one third of the calls into this suicide prevention line go unanswered, mostly because of the poor work habits of those manning the suicide prevention lines. One of the prime reasons for the poor performance is that the employees on the lines leave before their work shifts are over. Thus, years after Obama promised to clean up the dysfunctional Veterans Department, it is still dysfunctional with lord knows how many veterans went through with their suicidal thoughts because a Federal employee skipped out early.
  • Lee Miller of Port Orange, Florida got highly distressed when he found that all of the funds in his checking and savings bank accounts had been drained empty. In a panic, he contacted his bank and eventually found out that without telling him the Social Security Administration (SSA) had drained the accounts since the SSA thought he had died back in 2012. The SSA finally acknowledged their mistake but would not return Mr. Miller’s money until he sent them a letter telling them that he is still alive. 
Too much government that usually means too many hassles in innocent Americans’ lives.

2) Staying with the latest issue of Reason magazine, consider their analysis of whether or not the use of corn ethanol has reduced the carbon footprint of American drivers. Recall that the American political class decided it would be a good idea to dilute the gasoline used in American cars with corn ethanol or other biodiesel fuels to reduce the amount of carbon being thrown out into the atmosphere relative to the potential myth called “global warming.” 

But as often is the case, usually when politicians get involved in a problem situation, the solution they come up with makes the original problem worse:
  • An analysis by the University of Michigan Energy Institute found that between 2006 and 2013 the use of corn ethanol took 49 teragrams of carbon out of the atmosphere.
  • But the production of ethanol and other biofuels put 132 teragrams of carbon back into the atmosphere between 2006 and 2013.
  • Thus, the use of ethanol and other biofuels actually INCREASED the amount of carbon the country put into the atmosphere by 83 teragrams.
  • The study calculated that if you compared a car operated on 100% corn ethanol to the same car model that operated 100% on gasoline, the ethanol car would emit 27% more carbon than the gasoline operated car when allfactors are considered.
Just another example where politicians make a bad situation worse when the act on that situation.

3) We have mostly stayed out of the Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump contest since there was so much insanity going on that it was impossible to keep up with all of it. But let’s take a quick look at an aspect of the election that continually cropped up, the crime and corruption that Bill and HIllary Clinton incurred under the cover of their supposed charity, the Clinton Foundation. The following facts were reported from various sources and summarized in the November 11, 2016 issue of The Week magazine:
  • Wikileaks uncovered and released a 13 page memo from Douglas Band, a former aide to Bill Clinton and an important player in Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.
  • The memo discussed the reality that how he worked for “Bill Clinton, Inc.” by leveraging his consulting firm with the Clinton Foundation to garner financial and other favors for the Clintons while she was Secretary of State.
  • Band discussed how he lined up $50 million worth of work for Bill Clinton including $900,000 in speeches to financial giant UBS and an amazing $3.5 million a year for Bill to be “honorary chairman” of Laureate International Universities.
  • Band bragged about shaking down large corporations such as Coca Cola, UBS, Dow Chemical and others for large donations to the Clinton Foundation which were linked to getting the Clintons robust speaking engagements, vacations, travel, and other perks.
  • It appears that people, companies or other entities that contributed to the Foundation or who gave favors to Bill Clinton got special access to the Hillary Clinton State Department.
  • For example, after Coca Cola donated more than $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, the company successfully got the State Department to intervene in a tax dispute the company was having with Pakistan which later dropped the tax on Coke.
  • Dow Chemical got similar help from the State Department in a dispute with the government of India.
  • We have previously reported how after doggedly trying to get Ericcson of Sweden to stop selling telecommunications equipment to dictator controlled countries around the world, the Clinton State Department dropped their efforts after Ericcson paid Bill clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars for a speech he gave at the company’s Swedish headquarters.
And to think that Hillary Clinton almost was able to bring this type and this magnitude of corruption into the White House. This is how the Clintons got so rich so quick. Not by hard work but by trading their positions of trust and government prominence and favors for anyone who would make them wealthier. Pathetic.

4) We have often pointed out the insanity of the Obama administration when it comes to regulations. This Presidency has put in place thousands and thousands of new regulations that have probably had a very restricting and depressing impact on economic growth. What always amazed us why this President thinks he is so smart that he needs to put in place so many regulations that the previous 40 or so Presidents somehow missed.

And as Obama’s days in the White House dwindle down, he seems to think that there are more needed regulations that he and every other President missed so far. According to Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller:
  • Thanksgiving week the Obama administration passed 21 new major regulations that will cost the economy another $5 billion.
  • There are another 1,019 regulations that are pending prior to Obama’s departure from the Presidency.
  • According to the article, “Federal agencies recently shattered a regulatory record, publishing 527 pages worth of rules in just one day. The Federal Register already has 81,640 pages — more than any other year. Regulations cost the economy nearly $1.9 trillion every year, according to experts.”
  • This regulatory cost comes out to about $618 for every man, woman and child in the country. 
  • Not surprisingly, Obama Care is one of the most worst regulations when it comes to wasting time and resources with the legislation, so far costing the economy $51 billion and a whopping 172 million annual paperwork hours to comply.
  • Dodd-Frank is also a major hassle, already costing the country $36.5 billion and 75 million annual paperwork hours.
  • These are monetary resources and hours that business owners cannot use to build their businesses and expand the economy.
No wonder the economy is so sluggish, when you have to comply with over 81,000 pages of regulations there is not much more time to grow and expand business and economic activity.

5) One last piece of insanity and this really “smells.” According to various news reports: 
  • California recently passed a law that demands that California cows become less….flatulent.
  • Yes, if you are a cow in California, you must fart less, causing less methane to go into the air and contribute to global warming, according to state government legislation signed in September to regulate greenhouse gas from livestock operations in California starting in 2024.
  • According to Fox 5 television on California: “Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.” 
  • Not surprisingly, California dairy farmers are against this stupidity since it will make their lives more complicated (more government bureaucracy) and more expensive (they will need to get more expensive and different cow feed) in order to comply with the new regulations: "It just makes it more challenging. We're continuing to lose dairies. Dairies are moving out of state to places where these costs don't exist," said Paul Sousa, director of environmental services for Western United Dairymen.
  • Furthermore, "We think it's very foolish for the state of California to be taking this position," said Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager for the Milk Producers Council. "A single state like California is not going to make a meaningful impact on the climate."
  • While the legislation sets aside $50 million to help the state’s dairy farmers make the changes they need to do, the dairy farmers claim that amount is far too little to help the state’s 1,500 dairy farmers.
Unbelievable, the state and its political class is actually enacting legislation to regulate cow farts or the more polite term, “bovine entric fermentation.” And how much can this insanity actually help reduce the state’s cow from contributing to global warming? According to an article by Eric Boehm writing for Reason magazine on the topic:
  • Livestock accounts for about 15% of the world’s greenhouse gases which means that California’s cow represent a very small portion of that livestock greenhouse gas emissions.
  • And according to the article, California is not even the biggest livestock state in the country.
  • And the goal is to reduce the state’s cow farts and associated methane gas output by 40%.
  • So, if California accounts for 1% of the world’s livestock methane production, than this effort would reduce methane production by a measly .4%.
  • And this measly .4% assumes that California dairy farmers do not move their dairy business out of state to avoid this law or that California dairy farmers go out of business because of the costs and hassles of the legislation and that their market slack is picked up by other states’ dairy farmers that do not have to worry about cow fart regulations.
So while China, India, and the rest of the world are planning on bringing over 2,400 coal burning power plants on line, whose incremental carbon footprint would make any California cow methane reductions a rounding error, state politicians in California continue to live in a fantasy world and under the potential myth of global warming: "If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming," said Ryan McCarthy, a science adviser for the California Air Resources Board. Maybe someone should tell Mr. McCarthy that global warming has been at a standstill for the past twenty years or so.

That will do it for today’s insanity with cow fart regulations kind of summing up how out of control the country’s political class is today. One last set of insanity tomorrow for this month.

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