Petroholism Archives

April 27, 2006

Gougers, an endangered species

My favorite bit in the Times piece that JSP mentioned earlier:
Democrats called for a 60-day halt on collecting federal gasoline taxes, which are 18.4 cents a gallon, but they were openly split about the more radical step of imposing a windfall profits tax on major oil companies.
JSP said
God love the best of the elephants, but aren't they still trying to slip big oil some more tarts, even as the nation stands as one and cries "cut their balls off!"
It would seem that as usual, the donks aren't far behind -- and coming up fast on the outside.

May 2, 2006

File under: Long way to go

Do you think 3 dollar a gallon gas is stiff? Try the Brit setup -- up to 7 dollars a gallon. Or, to be precise, the latest recorded nationwide average price per gallon : $6.48.

But here's why I post this -- $4.27 goes as taxes. By contrast, here stateside, average taxes are about 46 cents per gallon.

Yes, $4.27 vs $0.46.

Ahhh. It's good to be the hegemon. Until you have to stop.

May 11, 2006

Shellie shells out

My very favorite Democrat has done it again:

Sheldon Silver, the leader of the Democrat-controlled New York State Assembly and probably the most powerful guy in our state government at the moment, has fulfilled an earlier prediction of mine and actually engineered a driving subsidy -- I should say, of course, yet another driving subsidy, since there are already quite a few. Shellie's coup involves jiggering with the state's gasoline tax. As the New York Daily News explains it:

As prices at the pump have soared, so have the state's revenues because of New York's 4% fuel tax.

Yesterday's move would freeze the tax at the rate paid when gas costs $2 a gallon - meaning a motorist would save 5 cents in taxes on a $3.25 gallon of gas.

There's also a provision for localities to cap their own gas taxes similarly. If they take advantage of it, Shellie just cost the state and towns about $450 million. I'll defer to JSP on the economics of this, but my guess is that most of it will end up in the pockets of some part or other of the petroleum sector.

Ironically, the Republican proposal from a couple of weeks ago, so much mocked by the Dems and their journalistic outriders, actually made a lot more economic and ecological sense. Those awful ole Repubs, you recall, wanted to invade the Federal gas tax revenue trough and cut every household in America a check for $100. No encouragement to drive, you see, but a much-needed bit of help that would mean the most to the people who need it the most.

Of course it was a derisory amount, but even so, it was a step in the right direction. My buddy Charlie Komanoff has long urged a hefty carbon tax that would be entirely refunded to the public through offsetting reductions in regressive taxes -- though I personally think sending 'em a check, on a per-household or per-capita basis, would be even better. It's the best of both worlds: a strong economic disincentive for burning fossil fuel, but at the same time a very considerable amelioration of the pain, most effective and significant at the lower end of the income scale. In fact, people who used less than the average amount of fossil fuel would actually make money out of it! What's not to like?

I will stop impersonating a policy wonk now. We return to our regularly scheduled deprogramming.

May 19, 2006

$80 billion worth of butterfingers

Evidence of the sea change hits big energy in the New York Times today. Imagine 85 Repubs voting to close a loop hole that allows the big oilers to pocket billions that ought to be Uncle's. Nice. But nicer still is this tidbit, buried near the end of the story:
The windfall stemmed in large part from a major error in about 1,000 leases that the Clinton administration signed with energy companies in 1998 and 1999.

To encourage drilling and exploration in water thousands of feet deep, the government offered to let companies avoid the standard royalties, usually 12 percent or 16 percent of sales, for large quantities of the oil and gas they produced.

But the incentives... were supposed to stop as soon as prices for oil climbed above $34 a barrel and prices for natural gas climbed above $4 per thousand cubic feet.

For reasons that are now being investigated, the Interior Department omitted the restriction in 1,000 leases it signed in 1998 and 1999.

"Error," huh? Nice choice of words there. Ooops, there goes what, maybe $80 billion over ten years. What do you want to bet that "error" got somebody a really nice private-sector sinecure?

May 24, 2006

Lucy holds football for Charlie Brown

Some Kosnik is waxing enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton's recent speech on energy policy to the National Press Club, which contained all the usual Wonkus Maximus blather about feebates and sequestration.

She got one specific, real-world question about something she could do now, and she dodged it:

QUESTION: Regarding fuel economy standards, do you favor making SUVs follow the same CAFE standards as passenger cars? And do you support Congressman Boehlert's bill to raise the CAFE standards to 33 miles per gallon for all vehicles?

CLINTON: Well, I have the greatest respect for Congressman Boehlert. We're going to miss him when he retires at the end of this year. He has studied this issue, and he comes down sort of in the middle of where a lot of people are. Some want to go to a higher MPG; others not so ambitious.

I think we can stage this in a way that is not disruptive to the economy, and by giving the right incentives and support to the car companies, manage this over the next 10 to 15 years.

The poor Kos diarist, of course, greeted this classic Clintonian performance as if it were the Second Coming. I was pleased, however, to see that most of the Kosnik comments on the diary declined to share the diarist's Candide-like optimism. These folks aren't all fools by any means. Now if they could just get over the Democratic Party....

August 28, 2006

Twisting in the wind

The American people need to declare war on on their own big energy corporations.

Okay, the donks aren't there yet, or anywhere close, but wouldn't it be wonderful if this Apollo Alliance actually went somehwere?

My soul is not a very deep shade of green, but after this 500 billion dollar Mesopotamian tango, the big oilers need a serious bashing. What better pay back then a savagely ruthless alternative energy policy?

I see that effing Cheney strung up for this, by the boys from Exxon and company -- strung up, say, on one of those giant high-tech wind towers. I invite you to imagine him up there, turning round and round and round, as the voiceover of Big Carbon intones:

"You failed us, Dick -- your war, your absurdly generous tax cuts, and this is the blowback we get for it all. You cocky fool -- you made all this happen, this tower and its million clones to come. This is what your failure has led to. So spin, baby, spin, till the devil takes you."

August 30, 2006

Cheap gas, that's the ticket

Political mastermind Chris Weigant admiringly reports:
... the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently sent out a memo urging ... candidates to ...

"Demonstrate your dedication to fighting for middleclass families by clearly explaining how you will work to keep down the price of gas if elected to Congress. Hold an event at a gas station or other logical location where you call for a real commitment to bringing down gas prices and pledge that, as a member of Congress, you will fight for families in your district, not the oil and gas executives for which this Republican Congress has fought so hard." This is a brilliant tactic which should be repeated immediately nationwide. The upcoming Labor Day weekend would be the perfect time to stage these events. Not everybody pays attention to politics, but almost everybody buys gas. And nobody's happy with the current price.

There we go; the Dems are going to be The Party Of Cheap Gasoline. I must remember this one the next time some Sierra Club pwog tells me that the Democrats will be better for "the environment."

December 8, 2006

Crackpot Stakhanovites...

... was the learned tag that the esteemed J Alva Scruggs gave to this snippet:

Congress faces longer hours

WASHINGTON -- Forget the minimum wage. Or outsourcing jobs overseas. The labor issue most on the minds of members of Congress is their own: They will have to work five days a week starting in January.

The horror.

I have to admit that a more homespun reference came to my mind -- was it Mark Twain who said that "No man’s life or liberty are safe while the Legislature is in session”? And now it's going to be five days a week instead of three -- Oh Jayzus, shure we're doomed altogether.

June 8, 2007

Up from the ground comes a-bubblin' crude

Hadn't heard recently from Mr Y, my cookie-pushing Deep Throat in Foggy Bottom. I was starting to wonder whether he'd been renditioned somewhere, but don't he call me just as I'm conducting a dream interview with an oddly still-blooming Shana Alexander.

"Big Oil still rocks the occ, Paine! Shit, does it get any better -- those greedy fucking tar monkeys can't let go of the raisins in the jar. But they're trapped by the small neck, with a full fist. Can't get it out, but won't drop the caper and get themselves the fuck out either!"

Y is of course gabbling all about the pending -- ever-pending, in fact -- draft oil law for Iraq that would allow big TNC energy a nice Assyrian share of the country's oil.

BTW, our moth boy on the Hill, Dennis the K, playing his usual hapless Mad-Magazine Cassandra, yelped all about this for time umpteen from the floor of the house last month:

Except for three scant lines, the entire 33 page "Hydrocarbon Law," is about creating a complex legal structure to facilitate the privatization of Iraqi oil. As such, it in imperative that all of us carefully read the Iraqi Parliament's bill because the Congress is on the record in promoting oil privatization.

This war is about oil.

We must not be party to the Administration's blatant attempt to set the stage for multinational oil companies to take over Iraq's oil resources.

Where can this all go? Here's Mr Y's take: "So long as the oil isn't getting pumped by anyone else, and the crude price stays over 50 bucks, its still win/win for big energy. "

July 3, 2008

Ignore that man behind the curtain

When does peak oil become an Oiler, Inc. win-win?

When it's an artefact of discovery policy -- when there's more oil, but its still unproven or at least not yet exploited. Speculators and even producers can't beat the effect of undiscovered oil on long run expected demand and supply.

If you have substitutes that have high fixed costs and long lead times, you can deter their entry into a market by a price cycle that dips below the alternative products' long-run break-even price fairly often, but can stay near or even above it for prolonged periods.

Hence the infamous glut-to-scarcity act of big oil in the late 90's -- low prices, low low low drilling for new pools. It seems unlikely that the future demand cycle at least ten years out was completely beyond the range of Houston tower telescopes. But it's always smart to underestimate demand growth in times of supply slack. It's a really cool mechanism to deter sustainable alternatives -- at least, alternatives that would need to cover their costs: i.e. market-based ventures.

In a world where the state steals and never builds; where it taxes to punish and exploit, not to induce optimizing changes in choice -- hell, isn't it obvious? You greens are playing right into their con, and their periodic massive earth-wide windfalls.

Watch: when they're good and ready -- when wind sun and tide are ready to ramp up the alternatives -- discovery and new levels of recovery will explode; prices per barrel of crude tumble; sustainable green earth-friendly alternatives -- languish.

July 11, 2008

Pwogs: people should drive more

One almost thinks it must be a spoof. The punch line as usual is at the end:

Beverly Hills activists plan a rally at city's priciest gas station

Who says it's all silicone and shopping in Beverly Hills? Local residents are planning a rally for "an oil-free president" tonight at the "famous" 76 filling station across from City Hall. Here's the invite:

Even this wealthy enclave is not immune to the effects of the rising price of oil and gas. The high cost of fuel is affecting all Americans wealthy and poor. We want to make sure the world knows that Beverly Hills residents are fed up with gas prices and want a president in the White House who will bring the cost of gas down.
It's one of many similar events being held nationwide, organized by

May 1, 2010

Spill, baby, spill

When our Exalted Boy Emperor and Nobel Peace Laureate, George W. Obama, caved in to the “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd and proposed the opening of large areas of the Atlantic and Alaksan coasts and the Gulf Of Mexico for oil drilling, you could’ve knocked over your average Liberal or Pwogwessive with a feather. They were shocked — shocked — to hear that The One was proposing to allow offshore oil drilling with a plan very nearly identical to that Evil Rethuglican, George W. Bush.

The really sad part is, of course, that your average Liberal or Pwogwessive will still — like your classic abused spouse — feel as if they’ve got noplace else to go and, as per usual, trudge off to the polls to pull a lever for the Democrats later this year, and in ‘12 and, also as per usual, once again feign shock and surprise when they come in for more abuse and betrayal from George W. Obama and the Democrats.

May 19, 2010

We're Here To Help

I try to avoid actively prescriptive solutions to the day's issues, but the British Petroleum suggestion box publicity stunt tugs at my heart strings. I feel for them. I want to help cap the gusher that's destroying huge swathes of coastline and devastating the ocean ecosystem. I also want to help them shed other, equally relevant negative externalities.

Two birds. One stone. Use the BP board of directions and the management to cap the gusher. Stuff them all into the pipe. There's no need to for perfect precision—although that would help. Just keep stuffing them down into it and hope for the best.

Needless to say this doesn't preclude other methods or, for that matter, other pursuits (well said, Mr. Davis).

May 29, 2010

Junk shot

Our own Mike Flugennock, inspired by a recent post from Al:

October 6, 2010

Mad doctors

Not really a topic for this blog, except insofar as it offers some insight into the ways in which manifest pseudo-science, supported on the public teat, is a vital part of the ideological apparatus. An old pal recently passed this along to me:

New Study Identifies Risk Factors That Lead to Bicycling Injuries in City Traffic The streets of New York City can be dangerous for bicyclists, but they can be especially risky for young adult male bicyclists who don’t wear helmets, have too much to drink, or are listening to music through earphones, a group of investigators from New York City’s Bellevue Hospital reported ....

This study [was] commissioned by the State of New York....

Danger, Will Robinson!
87 percent were men and 96 percent were over age 18; 13 percent were intoxicated; five percent were listening to music. Despite helmet laws, only 24 percent of the injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.
Well, when the State of New York pays you to come up with some numbers, you come up with some numbers. Never mind that the numbers are meaningless.

The problem, of course, is the missing denominator. The Nine Doctors who signed this brain- dead document report that 13% of injured cyclists in New York are listening to music.

Well, that's nice to know. But it tells you nothing about music as a risk factor(*).

If 13% of the cyclists who made it home safe and sound were also listening to music, then music isn't a risk factor at all. If 20% of the safe and sound cyclists were listening to music, then music makes you safer.

You see the problem? 87% of injured cyclists were male? Well, what percentage of cyclists in general are male? 80%? 90%? Without knowing these background numbers, the stats which the long-suffering taxpayers of New York paid these Dr Feelbads to accumulate are, bluntly, dogshit. They mean nothing. Less than nothing; they darken counsel by words without wisdom, as Jehovah observed in one of His testy moments.

There are a few cases where the denominator actually is provided, and the conclusions are, shall we say, unsurprising:

New York City mandates helmets on all working cyclists—the latter typified by the bicycle delivery persons weaving through Midtown traffic. Forty-one percent of the study subjects sustained injuries on the job, but only about one-third of those working cyclists (32 percent) were wearing helmets. “I don’t think the New York City laws are being enforced,” Dr. Frangos said.
Well, duuhh. We could all tell the good Doctor about a number of other laws that aren't being enforced, some of them rather consequential -- when, I wonder, was the last time a New York cop wrote a driver a ticket for failure to yield to a pedestrian? Much less a cyclist?

Frangos' conclusion is accurate though banal; note however that his stats say nothing about the efficacy of helmets, or about "risk factors." He's just discovered the stop-the-presses news that New York cops don't "enforce" Mickey Mouse laws like the one about helmets; rather, they use these law to harass people they don't like.

Some results have a certain, no doubt unintended, drollery:

Eighteen percent of the injured cyclists were using a bike lane and 17 percent collided with a vehicle door.
Hmmm. Same number, roughly. Maybe bike lanes are a risk factor? Maybe they put you in the Door Zone? Why... why... Stop the striping!
The investigators [are] seeking a state grant that would have practitioners speak to community groups to reinforce bicycle safety measures and prevent further traumatic injuries to bicyclists.
I bet they are seeking yet another grant, extracted from my pocket, for dogshit science, and I bet they get it. Propaganda is always well-funded by the public purse.
Coauthors with Drs. Frangos and Ayoung-Chee are George Foltin, MD; Ronald J. Simon, MD, FACS; Deborah Levine, MD; Omar Bholat, MD, FACS; Dekeya Slaughter-Larkem; Steven S. Schumacher, MD, FACS; and H. Leon Pachter, MD, FACS.
Dr Slaughter? Please. Too good to be true. But I wouldn't go to any of these doctors -- not Pachter, not Foltin, not even Ayoung-Chee -- for a runny nose. I don't know what they teach in med school these days, but clearly, elementary arithmetic is no longer required.


(*) Now, if they were listening to Vivaldi....

About Petroholism

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the Petroholism category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Peaceniks for war is the previous category.

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