Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Friday, April 25, 2008


According to a column appearing in our local newspaper earlier this week, environmental activists are finally reaching the conclusion that ethanol is not the answer to our energy problems. The article cited facts which those of us around the oil industry during the Arab Oil Embargo in the early 1970s tried to explain to people back then, to wit: the production of ethanol consumes more energy than it saves; when blended into conventional gasoline ethanol leads to overall greater fuel consumption because of its lower energy (btu) content; the energy to produce ethanol is mostly electrical which comes from fossil fuel electricity generation plants, thus adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Ignored pretty much during the embargo period is what has happened to our food economy as a result of diverting corn from the food chain to manufacture ethanol. Farmers increased corn production to feed ethanol production plants and the price of corn on the commodities market has risen steadily along with the cost of corn products. The South American Rainforest is being stripped to allow for more ethanol plant feedstock (sugar in this case) production, further reducing the capacity of the forest to absorb and convert CO2 to oxygen. Ethanol was not the answer in the 1970s and it sure as hell isn't the answer today. You can add ethanol to the pile of nonsense that includes the engine that runs on water; the one that runs on air; the carburetor than gives you 100 miles per gallon; etc. ad nauseum.

I have never understood why people will believe what environmental whackos have to say and ignore totally scientific evidence to the contrary. Another case in point is the current to-do over plastics. Again, it starts with the environmental extremists who are scaring the heck out of some people by cautioning against the use of plastic containers in the storage and preparation of food. The building block for most plastic food containers is polyethylene. Polypropylene is also used in many plastic materials. Both are manufactured from highly refined light ends fractions of petroleum. The basis of current warnings is the presence of bisphenol (BPA) which apparently leaches out from plastic liners in baby formula bottles when heated and plastic containers for other liquids and foods. BPA has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, behavorial and reproductive problems by some researchers, findings that have been disputed by others. Still, the environmental folks seem to have won the day, as Canada has now banned the use of BPA and Platex, Nalgen and Wal-Mart have discontinued its use in baby products.

What bothers me about the BPA case is two-fold: first, the diametrically opposed findings of the different scientific groups involved; second, the environmental extremist agenda aimed at ridding the world of non-biodegradeable plastics. Is their agenda driving their position in the BPA case ?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Independents, Liberals, Libertarians, Progressives, Collectivists, Communists, Conservatives, Socialists, Fascists, Democrats and Republicans

While most elections in this country are fought between people registered as Democrats and Republicans, the actual political philosophies of members of both parties vary widely. The full political spectrum runs from the extreme Left to the extreme Right. Left of center are found communists, socialists, liberals and progressives. Right of center are found conservatives. libertarians and fascists. Spreading over the middle of the spectrum are found independents and collectivists.

On the Left

Communism sprung from Marx and Engells and got its first major foothold in Russia as a result of the 1917 Revolution. In the communist system, there are no private property rights. Everyone works for the state and the state owns everything. Agricultural and manufactured goods are rationed to the people. In my opinion, communism is a very harsh system that offers very little incentive for the majority of its citizens except the elite few at the top of the pecking order. It was a very dismal life for the vast majority of people who lived in the Soviet Union prior to the changes that began under Gorbachev and the breakup of the USSR.

Socialism ostensibly derives from the Judao-Christian concept of "to each ording to his needs; from each according to his ability". It is a softer version of communism in that limited private enterprise is allowed so long as it remains within the concept noted above. Socialism is the end result of the creation of dependence on the government and the collateral distruction of individualism. Much of Europe has travelled the road to that end by creating a majority class dependent on government for health care, education, government subsidized housing and food programs, and other welfare schemes. Heavy taxation is required to pay for such programs, again tending to stifle the incentive to succeed in life. The USA has been moving in that direction and that must be stopped.

The distinction between liberal and progressive has so far escaped me except that liberals no longer like to be called by that title, preferring instead the term progressive. No matter, these folks base a lot of their rhetoric and actions on what "feels" good to them which tends toward a reliance on government to solve all social problems, thus socialism. There are many dangerous tentacles associated with modern-day liberalism. Take feminism, for example. The feminist movement came close to destroying the masculinity of America, leaving behind a generation of wimps. Anyone in their right mind supports equal pay for equal work and the rise of competent women in the corporate and political world, but a huge price has been paid in terms of family values. Some are hellbent on further distruction of the traditional family by supporting same-sex marriages and legalized marijuana. Right in the middle of all of it is the ACLU and its endless list of causes they want to force down our throats ranging from removal of God from public schools, courthouses and other public venues to affirmative action and all manner of equal employment opportunity issues. Many if not most liberals hate the U.S. Military and refuse to accept the fact that freedom is not free and must be defended by each new generation of Americans else it will be lost.

The Right Side

Over on the right side of the spectrum, conservatives generally believe in minimal government and reliance on the private sector to solve social problems. Libertarians believe in as little government as possible and oppose taxes for anything beyond those that are needed for law enforcement, fire protection and our common defense. Fascism and totalitarianism walk together, and are based in a belief in absolute government control of people and their lives.

Independents present themselves as above the fray, not interested in down and dirty politics. They say they vote based on the persons and issues involved and what seems fair and reasonable. I suspect that some independents are simply fence sitters who have difficulty making up their minds.

Collectivists are power hungry people who believe they are best equipped to lead and control the masses. They are elitist and are present in every political party known to man.

Happy Chandler, a very estute Kentucky Democrat politician and former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, was asked one time how the nation would vote if one morning we woke to find there no longer existed a Democrat or Republican Party. Without hesitation, he said "2 to 1 conservative." Conservatives believe the best government is one that governs least, a government that adheres to the meaning and intent of the Constitution of the United States of America. In that sense, conservatives can be likened to their cousins, the libertarians. The essential difference between conservatives and libertarians is one of attitude. Conservatives are politically pragmatic, willing to compromise on issues of great importance. Libertarians stick hard and fast to conservative principles and resist compromise with a passion. To them, compromise is a weakness. Both groups abhor government waste and excessive taxation. They would prefer a flat tax or consumption tax compared to the current "rob the rich to give to the poor" system. In either case, there is an underlying belief in self-reliance and personal responsibility for one's actions.

We got our bellies full of fascists in World War II in the form of the Nazis in Germany and the party ruled by Mussolini in Italy. We are still fighting that ilk in places like Venezuela and a number of African nations. Totalitarianism in any form is evil and certainly counter-productive for all but the small minority of people at the top of the order. Virtually any form of government can evolve into totalitarianism once elitists are allowed to take command, even in a democratic republic like ours.

With all of the above in mind, a look at the upcoming general election takes on a very serious tone. Both Obama and Clinton concern me greatly because they would take us ever closer to socialism at best, to outright collectivism at worst. Moreover, I honestly believe Obama could be a "Manchurian" candidate, his handlers including Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Minister Farakhan. Hillary is an angry hater of men and the U.S. Military and could very well destroy the latter just as her husband treid to do in the 90's. McCain clearly demonstrated his love of America throughout his Naval career and realizes we must continue to be willing to defend and pay for our freedom. He will stand by our military and become an outstanding President in the process.