Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Loch Ness Austerity


I keep reading about austerity, but like the Loch Ness monster I just can't find it.

Here's a graph of federal spending since 2005. The source is the Monthly Treasury Statement put out by the Treasury Department.

I see the big increase in Federal Government spending from 2005 to 2009, and flat-lining since. When economists talk about a multiplier of government spending they are referring to a multiplier on government consumption and investment expenditures, which total about $1.4 trillion for the federal government and $3 trillion for state, local and federal government combined. The shape of the charts are not too dissimilar to the one above.

So austerity means government isn't growing? Really?

Like most discussions on the economy this one suffers from the "all else equal" fallacy. All else equal, if government spending changes, such and such will happen. All else equal, a change in the minimum wage results in x, y and z. All else equal, a change in interest rates causes the following...

All else is never equal. For instance, since the beginning of this year, the S&P 500, a broad measure of the US stock market is up 15%. The total market value of the S&P 500 is about $14 trillion, and the increase has been about $180 billion. Other asset classes have also had strong gains, including housing.  It seems that would be an offset to the LochNessAusterity. And what if the market is up BECAUSE of austerity?

The arguments for and against "austerity" are proxies on you view of government effectiveness. The recent news from the IRS, DoJ and CIA are not supportive of the efficacy of wise men in the government directing a $16 trillion economy.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Please Mother May I State

Walter Russell Mead's article on NYC and Washington DC using arbitrary rules to prevent new service providers from competing is another illustration of how the capricious nanny state stifles job growth and limits consumer choice. 

Permit Me.


I've been interacting with companies large and small for over 20 years now, but the first time I ever heard a company say, "We won't even consider putting a major plant in the US" came about six months ago. When asked why, the response was the permit process is arbitrary. Not that the permit process was long, or arduous, or complex or difficult. It was arbitrary.

I don't blame this on Obama, or the Democrats. This is a bipartisan failing. We scratch our heads and wonder why is this recovery slower than the previous recovery; and why was that recovery slower than the recovery it followed and why was that recovery slower than previous recoveries? In fact, why are the three slowest recoveries post WWII the last three? What has changed, or is changing?

Is it possible it has become too difficult for businesses to expand and ideas to turn into businesses? Is it possible the vast regulatory state has become too arbitrary?

Is the lesson of the IRS one of squelching speech AND an example of an arbitrary regulatory state squelching economic activity?


Richard Epstein and John Cochrane have thoughts along this line.

400 PPM


There's been some todo about 400 ppm (carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) recently. Made the front page of the NY Times. All the Green bloggers wailed and rent their garments. Even made it into the remarks from the President of my daughter's college at her graduation ceremony.

According to the Times:
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
What I find curious about these jeremiads is they (willfully?) ignore the progress that has been made in carbon emissions in the US since 2007. You can't get this from the Times or the Green blogs, but carbon emissions in the US is down, since 2007 by 12%. Lots of reasons. More natural gas, more wind, less consumption. But it's just odd to me the climate crisis mongers never seem to recognize this.

The graph uses data from EIA's April 2013 Energy Monthly. Table 12.1 if you care. It shows carbon emissions in the US from 2001 through 2012 and you can see the impact a recession has, but oddly, emissions have continued to decline even though the economy is in the 4th or 5th year of recovery.

In fact, the entire history of the world is one of moving to fuels that are less carbon intensive. Dung, wood, coal, oil, natural gas are successively less carbon intensive. So why wouldn't a reasonable person applaud the extensive deposits of natural gas in the US, and the substitution it encourages for oil and coal. I think it's partly a zealotry that ignores the benefits of fossil fuels, like keeping us warm in the winter, cool in the summer, providing light at night and mobility to all, you know the small stuff of life, and partly an arrogance that believes the hoi polloi exist for the elites to manage.

Maybe it's also a (willful?) ignorance of science as well. I know I know. The Democrats are the big believers in science. They wrap themselves in SCIENCE as much as a priest wraps himself in the sign of the cross. And the result is remarks like Barbara Boxer's that attribute tornadoes to climate change, despite no consensus on that subject.

Greens ask themselves often why America ignores their warnings. We must be in thrall to Fox News, Big Oil and the Koch Brothers. The simpler answer is we like being warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We like lights at night. We like driving around. And when someone constantly screams the world is ending, and it doesn't we kind of start ignoring them. They become that kid in the grocery store screaming and crying because he isn't getting his way. We ignore that kid. He's a pest.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Are Congressmen Really Stupid, or Do They Just Play it that way on TV


Lots of (faux) outrage in the Senate today as Apple CEO Tim Cook explains to Senators that yes, if you create a law that allows a corporation to lower its tax liability, rational companies will take advantage of that law.

So today we get the spectacle of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body (and I say that with the maximum amount of scorn and sarcasm) discovering that, shockers, laws have consequences; companies have a moral duty to maximize profits, and most companies don't regard taxes as "contributions." Thanks Senators McCain and Levin, for your example of bipartisan idiocy.


Ps I too avoid taxes by, gasp, itemizing deductions and taking full advantage of the mortgage interest deduction, deduction for property taxes paid and deducted my charitable donations. Given Senator McCain thinks of taxes as "contributions," maybe I should deduct my federal contributions as well.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The IRS Spin


In my opinion, the behavior of the IRS is putrid and indefensible. Why anyone tries, like Steve Rattner and the Editorial Board of the NY Times is inexplicable.

First of all, this was not, as Rattner claims, "low-level staffers." The Cincinnati office is responsible for reviewing applications for exemption status. This is not some rogue, low-level, staffers. This supression of certain political opinion was organized by the office in charge of granting exemptions.

This was not, as Rattner claims, a Keystone-cops comedy of errors. This was an enduring, persistent, organized deliberate attempt to stop certain speech. The office deliberately attempted to prevent certain groups from speaking with a campaign of intimidation, threats, delays and leaks. Donor lists were leaked to the media, including Pro Publica, as part of this campaign.

This campaign is not justified because Rattner and the NY Times does not agree with the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United. It is the law.


In response to Government over-reach, Obama promises more government over-reach.


This is from Politico.

>Aware that few substantive bills can receive the bipartisan support needed to pass Congress in the current political climate, White House officials are also turning their attention to narrower policies Mr. Obama can carry out on his own

So the response to the IRS trying to restrict speech and influence elections, the DoJ's attempt to muzzle the press and the attack on a CIA installation in Benghazi, is to try to do more things outside of oversight and participation by the co-equal branch of government.


NT Times Maintains Perfect Record of Being Wrong on the Issues.


When you are out of state, and buy something at a store, maybe a tee-shirt on vacation, does the retailer ask you where you live so it can send sales taxes back to your home state? Of course not. It's absurd. Yet the "Marketplace Fairness Act," will force merchants on the Internet to do exactly that. How is that fair.?


The NY Times, of course, is in favor of the bill.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gun Violence Down. Bloomberg and Obama Applaud the Good News.


The Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report last week, "Firearm Violence, 1993-2011." The report states firearm related homicides have declined 39% from 1993 to 2011 and nonfatal firearm crimes have declined 69% from 1993 to 2011. As you know, upon hearing the news Bloomberg and Obama both hailed the decline. Just kidding.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Do Either One of Them Have A Clue?


Adam Davidson wrote a long piece last week in the Times magazine about Larry Summers and Glen Hubbard, representing them as two ends  in the spectrum of current macroeconomic thought. Times readers however, seem to understand with great clarity that these fabulously successful (and well compensated ) academic economists have much more in common with each other (and with us, alas) than with the vast majority of citizens whose lives their policies and ideas have affected.

From the comments section,

Luboman411  from New York

"So, let me get this straight--the men who were largely responsible for pushing policies that led to deregulation, most egregiously the repeal of Glass-Steagall (Summer, Rubin, Greenspan et al. in the 1990s--the "Committee to Save the World", as infamously written on a "Time Magazine" headline sometime in the late 1990s) and tax-cutting at all costs (Hubbard during George W. Bush administration) are now at it again with solutions to problems they helped create? How is this possible? How are these men not discredited for coming up with models, and then policies, that directly or indirectly blew up the world economy in 2008?...  

Equally credentialed people who more or less studied the economic distortions leading up to the 2008 crisis, and predicted how that impending crisis would unfold--the likes of Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini and Robert Shiller--are never given this much press ink or given such august platforms like the "New York Times Magazine" to explain in detail their pet theories. There is something wrong with a system that keeps lauding people who are brilliant, but whose economic theories utterly failed in the real world, at the expense of people who actually got it right the first time around (and who could conceivably be right the second time around too)."

Dave K from Cleveland

Larry Summers has been frequently wrong (or disingenuous) about the consequences of his policies, most notably about the effects of the free trade agreements that were the hallmarks of his tenure at Treasury. It turned out that Ross Perot was essentially right about the purpose of those agreements: Move manufacturing overseas. Summers also was a complete failure as president of Harvard.

Hubbard, on the other hand, is advocating the cruel idea that we should cut back on taking care of our elderly just so we can keep taxes low for Wall St. These people, whether they admit it or not, are selling out their own parents or grandparents for cash. Social Security isn't just abstract numbers, it's making it possible for our elderly to not be begging on the streets or dropping dead of starvation and exposure.

Might I cast a vote for "None of the above"?"

I'm with Dave K. If these guys are the best we can do, we're in whole lot of trouble. Which of course, we are.


The Human Face of the Great Recession


Here are a few passages from the comments section of the article on increased suicide rates among baby boomers in the wake of the Great Recession. There are 967 comments,

From Jen D in New Jersey

 "My brother committed suicide last July. He had just turned 60. He lost his IT job in the Great Recession in 2008. Despite hundreds of resumes being sent out, and a lifetime of IT experience, he got few interviews and no job offers. He spent down his 401(k) and when he died the only thing he owned was a beat-up car. We later found out he had a lot of credit card debt, with which he had tried to keep himself afloat. After four years of no job offers, unemployment running out, having no health insurance, etc., his dignity was shot. He had lost hope of ever working again. How I wish he had not committed suicide; how I would give anything and everything to have him back. I consider him one of the casualties of the Recession and when I read of the fat bonuses the banksters award themselves, I shake with rage that they have continued to prosper while people like my brother lost all hope and people like me lost a loved one."

From Leilani Karp in Los Angeles

"I don't dare think about it. I'm all my kids have (husband is dead, bless his memory). I have been called for many, many interviews-- my keying speed and experience look really good-- but I don't get even the courtesy of rejection letters. We have run through the college CDs and are living on my husband's 401(k), which makes us ineligible for SNAP or Medicaid, or maybe it's just my fault that I could not bear to fill out the applications which ask for your car's VIN and for copies of your bank statements and any cash in the house, etc. I know that safeguards are necessary to keep out the cheaters, but the process seemed too humiliating and I gave up. When the 401(k) money is gone, then I will have to try again. I don't know how to navigate "the system" and the other system that I thought I knew, where you demonstrated your skills, proved your work ethic, earned certificates and degrees, then applied and got hired-- that system is apparently gone. I do not know what we are going to do."

Yes I often have considered the value of my life insurance policy, the opportunity to give my wife a "nest-egg" to go back to school..and the awareness that my Social Security benefits, will go a lot further for one than two. Additionally ,my wife has a much much stronger family safety net than I.

I weigh all of this against the lifelong grief I would saddle upon her. Always wondering if there was something she could have done or said. Or why I never told her how I was feeling.

I am (at 60) in a very lucrative "medical contractor" job,w/o benefits,w/o insurance. In 2010 I had less than 12 weeks of work and fell below the Federal poverty level, as Scrooge-ish as it is.. Two years later we are back on our feet,for the moment.

In someways it's mostly our love that keeps me going..because I have the means and the willingness to trade my used up pointless life, to try and get my wife a fresh start.

It's only the hurt that it would cause her,which makes me feel so selfish, that kept me going in 2010.

From Ridem in Wyoming

"Yes I often have considered the value of my life insurance policy, the opportunity to give my wife a "nest-egg" to go back to school..and the awareness that my Social Security benefits, will go a lot further for one than two. Additionally ,my wife has a much much stronger family safety net than I.

I weigh all of this against the lifelong grief I would saddle upon her. Always wondering if there was something she could have done or said. Or why I never told her how I was feeling.

I am (at 60) in a very lucrative "medical contractor" job,w/o benefits,w/o insurance. In 2010 I had less than 12 weeks of work and fell below the Federal poverty level, as Scrooge-ish as it is.. Two years later we are back on our feet,for the moment.

In someways it's mostly our love that keeps me going..because I have the means and the willingness to trade my used up pointless life, to try and get my wife a fresh start.

It's only the hurt that it would cause her,which makes me feel so selfish, that kept me going in 2010."

From Lee in Houston, TX

My uncle committed suicide in December. He was in his fifties and his mother, my grandmother, had passed away two months before. He had spent the last six years taking care of her as her health slowly declined. He did this full time and was unable to work. As a result he had no job and felt no one would hire him and he gave up.

People want to talk about how money isn't important, well it is important when you're facing the loss of your house, being kicked out on the street, living homeless in the last years of your life when you've spent all your life having a roof over your head and food on your table. The people in this article claim they don't know why suicide rates have risen but the answer is obvious: people are losing hope because our government continues to destroy everything for their own interests.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Science Is (And Isn't)


This question remains a central thread in our conversation together, and the more we talk about it, the more I understand that my belief in science is exactly that, a belief. It's a central organizing principle for much of what I do. It's what I decided to become, or at least tried to become, as a research physician.

Somewhere along the way it's become clear to me that such a belief includes a series of assumptions that are not universally accepted (to say the least). It isn't accepted by all, for instance, that scientists are dispassionate, objective observers of their environment, or that they are men and women of good will, or that they leave their own personal beliefs behind when they apply their trade, or that they are readily willing to alter their conclusions when facts or observations demand otherwise. And it shouldn't be, since  the history of science is full characters who failed those tests on all counts.

But even if those assumptions are not justified, it is in the very nature of science to overcome them. Science isn't dependent upon the the beliefs of a particular group or the received wisdom of a particular era. It is inherently open to scrutiny and correction. It is revealed and interpreted by humans, but it  isn't the product of human endeavor in the way that art, or history, or technology is. The internal temperature of the sun, or the age of the Earth, or the energy produced by mitochondrial respiration, or the suicide rate of baby boomers  are facts to determined, not assumed, or presumed, or fantasied about. They can be miscalculated, and they may change, but they are out there, and someone will always be trying to figure them out.

Just because the question of whether the Earth is warming (and its corollary question, whether CO2 emissions produced by human activity),  is particularly difficult, doesn't mean that it can't, and won't, be answered. And it will be answered despite the bizarre, relentless, vicious attacks of those whose cosmology is incapable of tolerating any alternative to itself. Beliefs come and go. Science is indestructible.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Science is Settled?


I was speaking to a doctor the other day about weight control and he said that after all this time, the science is not settled about weight control. Turns out the body is incredibly good at storing calories and tries its damnedest to hang onto calories.

Well it seems to me if the science is not settled on weight control, how could it possibly be settled on climate change. Don't get me wrong. I believe there is a greenhouse effect. I believe climate changes due to that and I believe man has an impact. But leaping from those beliefs to the prescription we need a hydrocarbon starvation diet is a bit much.

I would imagine the feedback loops from carbon are much more complex than the models suggest. Like the human body is really good at hanging onto calories, maybe the Earth is much better at adapting to climate change than we have contemplated.

As luck would have it, a note arrived in my inbox this morning, from Judith Curry's Climate Etc. blog. Norwegian research institutie, SINTEF has published a report, "Consensus and Controversy," which states, among other things,

Based on the present review of this debate there are several conclusions to be drawn. The first and simplest one is that considered as an empirical statement, the assertion that “doubt has been eliminated” on AGW is plainly false. Although as documented the level of agreement in the scientific literature that AGW is occurring is quite extensive, the magnitude of dissent, questioning and contrarian perspectives and positions in both scientific discourse and public opinion on the question of AGW evidently contradicts such a proclamation.
I think the Greens do themselves a great disservice by making some of their ludicrous assertions, like the science is settled or their completely fabricated claims about hydraulic fracturing. It is a zealotry not conducive to rational argument.


Bad Intelligence


One of the many fascinating items from the "Photography and the American Civil War," exhibit at the Met was the faulty Union intelligence McClellan relied on, and probably exaggerated, to believe Lee had many more troops than in fact he did at Antietam. This was a justification by McClellan for the caution he showed in a battle where he vastly outnumbered Lee.

I don't know why Intelligence assessments seemingly have such a talismanic impact on policy makers, given their long history of being spectacularly wrong. That is certainly unfair characterization since I have no knowledge of all the times the Intel has been right.

But it seems to me President Obama wanting to be sure of intelligence assessments before taking action in Syria is a good idea.

On that front the most amusing comments come from Obama's supporters, like Cokie Roberts on This week. It is really a shame, she says, we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan because now the American people are antagonistic to wars in the Middle East, limiting Obama's ability to project power. An alternate version of that complaint is "Damn George bush for going to war, because now Obama can't." Cokie Roberts and the knee jerk supporters of Obama are always good for a laugh.


Monday, May 6, 2013

National Consensus on Gun Control?

Advocates for additional gun control love to trot out some number, 90%(?), of Americans want background checks on guns. The language is usually imprecise and I'd bet the poll question is ambiguous, or at least different than what is being represented as having 90% support.

But so what. 90% support it. We don't have national plebiscites so it seems to me it's not the most relevant number.

We have votes by district and votes by state. Those are the counts that matter. Advocates of additional gun control may not like that way of voting, to which I can only respond, "Bummer. "


Saturday, May 4, 2013

America the Extreme

Here's a random sampling of Democratic/Leftists views of the Republicans:

The NY Times Tim Egan in a piece titled, "House of Un-Representatives,"
just look at how different this Republican House is from the country they are supposed to represent. It’s almost like a parallel government, sitting in for some fantasy nation created in talk-radio land.
According to Egan, gerrymandering, bigotry, money and Christianity are to blame for Representative Louie Gohmert, one of "the most off-plumb member of Congress." Egan asserts
we have an insular, aggressively ignorant House of Representatives that is not at all representative of the public will, let alone the makeup of the country.
Aggressively ignorant. Well.

Here's E.J. Dionne from the Washington Post
What Obama said is true to every detail. He really is dealing with a novel situation. The GOP has moved far to the right. The Senate no longer operates on the basis of majority rule. The strong presidents with whom Obama is often compared, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, did not face these obstacles. In his heyday, LBJ had huge Democratic congressional majorities. The Gipper could always count on winning votes from conservative Southern Democrats who had joined Republicans regularly for many years before he took office. Obama has every right to be frustrated: When Republicans obstruct, he takes the blame.
Charles Blow from the NY Times
It’s the compromise-resistant form of conservatism in this country that has fed on Obama’s very existence: an illogical, immutable opposition to him. In short, Obama leads an army amassed against him.
You get the picture. If I threw in Citizen's United, the Koch Brothers and War on Women, or Gays I would have the complete Democratic Party playbook. Life sucks because that damn extreme Republican Party won't vote how we do, won't believe what we believe. It's extreme!

I don't think the Republicans are any more extreme or kooky than Democrats like Jerrold Nadler, Alan Grayson, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Maxine Waters, who has the added feature of being a criminal.

But let's say, just for fun, the Republican Party is extreme, or as Joe Biden liked to say, "Not your father's Republican Party." That would suggest the party is simply doing what representative democracies do, represent. The "Republicans are Extreme" view won't really admit what they imply, that America itself is extreme, because that would mean the people, or at least a large portion of the people, accept "extremism" and reject "progressive" thought. So instead they find bogeymen: Citizen's United, the Koch Brothers, gerrymandering. 

I'm not convinced. Gerrymandering has been with us since, well, Elbridge Gerry in 1812. Even if the Republicans won by gerrymandering, how was it they were able to do that? How did the Republicans get the power to gerrymander? By winning a majority of the seats in the State's Houses and Senates and Governorships. Isn't that the refutation to the assertion the power of the Republicans is illegitimately held?

Besides, look at Connecticut, or California. Are the Democrats really saying the it's representative for there to be zero Republicans in the Connecticut Congressional delegation despite winning 33% of the votes, or that Republicans should hold15 of California's 53 seats, 28% of the total, despite winning 38% of the votes. But it's probably worse in California since recent voting law changes make many districts a race between two Democrats. Yea, that's right in 7 districts it was Democrat v Democrat, while that was the case in only three districts for the Republicans.

No, I think the Republican Party is the way it is, is because America is the way it is. The Republicans are representing, like it should. So if the Republicans are extreme, and aggressively ignorant,  and obstructionist, and unwilling to compromise and illogical and immutably opposed to Obama, I would posit that's because their constituents want them to be that way.

The Democrats have many options. They can continue to avoid the truth: Many Americans disagree with their position. It can continue to charge the Republicans, and by the transitive property, much of America of extremism and ignorance. It can try to convince America of its position. It can compromise. I'm sure there are more. But it seems to me the Democrats are taking the tactic most likely to result in their dreaded gridlock.

Work Hours

In 2002 I was standing on the train platform, waiting for the train to take me to Grand Central, when I overheard someone say, in disgust, "this train is always late." Thus began "Mussolini", my database of trips I have taken to and from Grand Central. Turns out, the overheard commuter was wrong, that particular train was mostly on time, not always late.

I now have over 10 years of commute records, which I've re-organized to show my arrival time (blue) at Grand Central and departure time (red) from Grand Central since September 2002.

Austerity and Stimulus

I try not to read Krugman too much. He's mendacious to his core and nasty to boot. There's probably some amount of jealously I and others have; after all he gets paid the big bucks and is widely read.

So it's always fun to see the economic community take him to task.

Here's Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution.

 In the 1990s growth was strong even while “austerity” was increasing (falling red line). More recently, we have seen a big increase in austerity according to Krugman and his measure but although there has been no boom, growth has remained modest. As Justin Wolfers tweeted this morning with the strong jobs report, “the recovery has been remarkably persistent, and resilient,” albeit not rapid. Scott Sumner argues that this is bye, bye Keynesian multiplier as monetary policy stands triumphant (also here) which is one possible interpretation.

Jim Pethakoukis adds:
I see it like Tabarrok. I have done a few charts like these and have found the economy holding up pretty well. Here is a twist: I took the Krugman austerity data (red line) and compared it against private-sector GDP (blue line). Even as spending collapses, private-sector GDP bends a bit but does not break.

Here's a longer view and compares Government (total federal, state and local) consumption expenditures and gross investment, the thing that in theory gets multiplied, against total nonfarm payrolls.

 Causality looks like it goes from employment to government spending, which makes sense since state and local government spending is driven by the economy, not visa versa.

None of this "proves" anything. Government spending is one element that has an impact on the economy and this is impacted by the economy. There are a whole bunch of other factors that have an impact on the economy and that are impacted by the economy as well: monetary policy, taxes, regulation, "confidence." etc.

That is why I'm highly skeptical of the Democrat's claims that all we need is a little stimulus and the Republican's claims is all we need is a little tax reform. The economy is a complex system and one thing politicians should have learned, but haven't, is you can't move a dial and flip a switch and presto things are better.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Radio Lab has a story about a pre-mature baby and her parents. The child was born one day shy of 24 weeks.

The child is near death from the moment of life. But finally, after months in the hospital the nurses, who won't us the word "home" because it is bad luck, tell the parents to think about buying a car seat. The memories of my children flood my mind when I hear that line.

We bought our first car as a couple a few months before our first child was born. And we brought every child home in the same car seat, in the same car. We still have that car. I would no more let go of that car than I would let go of any of my children.

The child shouldn't have survived. She shouldn't have survived birth, or surgery, or the months in the ICU.

And the parents never gave up, even though at times it seemed like they would. But they didn't.

There were moments they saw as signs. I believe they were signs. The baby grabs her father's finger. She opens her eyes just after a surgeon decides to not operate, resulting in the surgeon changing her mind. She responds to the sound of her father reading her a story.

The nurses, the doctors, the parents, and the narrator of the story all point out these are just twitches and physiological reactions. But they all believe they are signs as well. Signs the baby wants to live.

The story touched me. We brought our second child, our only son, home from the hospital in that same car seat in that same car 17 years ago.

It's easy now to blame myself for not seeing the signs of his struggle as he was growing up. It is painful to look back and ask why I ignored the signs I did see.

We have had many ups and downs with him as he struggles, fights, to tame or control, or learn to live with his emotions. Sometimes I feel like giving up, thinking he will never get better. And then he will give me a sign. He'll grab my finger, or open his eyes, or respond to my voice. And I realize he hasn't given up. I won't either.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It will be a long long long time before the world runs out of oil. If ever.

This is a chart from the Energy Tomorrow blog. It shows the most recent US Geologic Survey of oil reserves in North Dakota. Oil & Gas production is one of the biggest economic success stories of the past decade. And you know what, the US is doing this with one hand tied behind its back since much of the East and West Coasts are off-limits, California has shale oil that is thought to dwarf North Dakota's and much of Alaska is also forbidden territory.

Every decade or so someone tries to scare the world with the idea of peak oil. The idea has been around as long as oil, and always wrong.

The thing about oil is, when prices go up, more is found. $100 per barrel oil encourages greedy people to find oil with hydraulic fracturing or mine oil sands.

The other thing about oil is, when prices go up, demand goes down.

So it will be a long long long long log time, if ever, before the world runs out of oil. If oil prices go up, more is found and less is consumed. The only thing that can mess this up is bad policy decisions.

God bless the poor folks at Climate Progress. They keep trying to convince us, or themselves, that oil is running out, or too expensive, or too dangerous or makes too much money, or too little money or something. This is there latest.