Montag, August 20, 2007

Someone whose eyes have opened...

Hat tip to Dr. Sanity.

Here are three links to read. They are a sweeping, damning indictment of political correctness and the sheer idiocy and futility of that particular breed of stupidity known as liberalism.

Oh, and the author is a leftist. In the Guardian as well.

For the leftist utopia to take place would require that people have the wisdom of the ages and the patience of saints: reality is a tad different. Were that the human costs be not so great and so devastating.

The corollary of being overly protective of "rights" is a glass bottle, broken and shoved into a 16-year old girl's face, disfiguring her for life. The corollary of "understanding" the problems of the poor means a 50% increase in crime, with 70% being unreported, with only 9% of robberies leading to a conviction and not even 5% of rapes.

Think of that for a moment: in the UK, not even 5% of the clearest crime against women are ever prosecuted to the point where the rapist is put behind bars.

This is worse than the worst of New York liberal's attempt to destroy the life of the average New Yorker by being soft on crime and oh-so-understanding, which led to apathy and indifference to crime, of withdrawal from society in order to avoid the deprivations of the lawless, of abandoning the commons to the most common criminal.

How can anyone seriously consider themselves a socialist when you can so clearly see how terribly, terribly things have gone wrong? How can anyone take the limousine liberals seriously?

The truly terrible thing is that things will have to get worse before they can get better: people will either start killing off the criminals themselves or they will give power to those who will do it for them.

This sort of social development leads not to the development of a better society, but to its destruction.

Read. The. Links.

Mittwoch, August 08, 2007

The Real Costs of Going Green...

There is a letter to the Editor in Today's FAZ - unfortunately behind their pay firewall - that covers the real costs of going Green in terms of what the Germans are doing with wind energy. It's from Thomas Heinzow, from the University of Hamburg, Research Department for Sustainable Ecological Development (Forschungsstelle Nachhaltige Umweltentwicklung).

I did find this, but it's only in German: I'll lay out the argument here, but won't do a translation.

Basically, energy policy in Germany, put into place by the Greens during their kingmaker role in their coalition with the SPD under Schröder, is a massive swindle that costs German consumers of electricity no less than around 90 billion Euros.

That's right, ninety billion Euros.

Germany is in the process of installing 45'000 MW of wind energy equipment, with 25'000 MW planned for the North Sea windfarms and 20'000 MW on land. The cost per KW - not MW - is €5'800 for land and €6'600 for sea; this is €58'000 and €66'000 per MW. Now, the real usage rate for land - empirical evidence, not guesswork - is that an average of 9'400 MW will be available at any given time from the North Sea, and around 3'000 MW from land installations, which is, what, an efficiency of 37,6% for sea and 15% for land.

Given the 20-year cycle of the machinery and necessary maintenance and repairs, the depreciation rate is between 6% and 9%.

All of this, calculated reflecting all appropriate parameters, you have a cost of avoiding carbon dioxide by using wind power of between €300 and €400/ton of carbon dioxide.

The same effect can be achieved by cleaning up coal and other fossil fuel energy users of around €40/ton.

Now, the windpark equipment has to be manufactured: given this, the construction needed, etc., and you get an additional carbon footprint of 30 mn tonnes over the life of the system - 20 years - and the need to subsidize the windpark operators with around €6mn/year.

All told, the installation of the windparks will cost around €90 bn. Who pays?

The German consumer of electricity pays, as the subsidies for wind energy are paid for by increasing the KWh price of electricity.

The only way that you get a break-even in comparison to coal, for instance, is if you make coal five times more expensive than it is today.

Now, this is not some back-of-the-envelope study: they got the data for windflows for the years 2000-2004 for the region where the windparks will be located in order to model the expected fluctuations in energy production; they were able to determine what sort of energy generation would be necessary to ensure that the base energy for the net would always be guaranteed (if you don't do this, you get blackouts when the wind power drops below what is needed for the net); they were able to calculate energy production from windparks to every 15 minutes (!) during each and every day of the year and so on. Serious study, in other words.

From their conclusion, my translation and summation:

The windparks can generate maximum of 26 GW, with extreme volatility of plus/minus 12GW/15 min and an average volatility of plus/minus 5GW/15 min. This volatility exceeds the technical limits for the existing electrical energy transportation system, and requires the acquisition of fast-reaction basis energy systems (must react within a 15 minute time period!), based either on gas turbines or pumped-reserviour water systems. This means that windpark energy generation, given the extreme costs and lack of real reduction of energy productions's carbon footprint, is not an appropriate energy policy, given that actual reduction via cleaning up current energy production mixes cost between €15 and €40/ton, instead of the price of between €300 and €420/ton for windparks. Energy from windparks can first become economically viable if other energy costs increase by 4 or 5 fold from current levels.

Investment in windparks would make sense only if current energy generation was running at maximum efficiency with optimum emission scrubbing equipment, as the ecological impact would then have greater effect. By failing to invest in this solution, the ecological impact of windfarms is severely reduced and makes little or no economic or ecological sense. The investment in windpower at the cost of increasing efficiencies means that the political goals of the project will not be adequately met and that the opportunity costs of the project are so great that any potential ecological benefits are largely lost.


That's why they call economics the dismal science. It pokes massive holes in pie-in-the-sky ideas.

The problem here is that the German consumers are paying for this ecological idiocy. I wonder how much money the windpark operators and machinery makers paid the Greens in Germany to get this on the table? The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

PS: this isn't a study done by an energy company, it's one that actually takes an objective look at how to realistically reduce the carbon footprint. They're right: putting up the windfarms is a massively bad idea. But hey, it's only taxpayer money, and we'll get the stupid consumers to pay in any case.


Dienstag, August 07, 2007

If you don't understand this, then there is no hope for you...

I've posted here on what I've called the Culture of Deception.

This is the WSJ online underscores my thesis, that Anti-Americanism is by far less the result of American policies as much more the result of concerted action aimed at isolating the US and making US foreign policy as difficult as possible.

It's not that the world hates us: it doesn't. The world is filed with countries who keep their citizens, by one way or another, under control (not necessarily police states: look at Brazilian overregulation of businesses, for example, or Italian taxation policies), while the US remains the land of opportunity.

Not guarantee, but opportunity. There are simply too many success stories to deny this: it's not the mythical dishwasher-to-millionaire story, but rather the ambitious immigrant who ends up with the two-car garage and kids in college. The American middle-class life style is the most subversive, the most dangerous life style in the world to those who seek to control and manipulate.

That's what drives Anti-Americanism today, after the collapse of the facade of communism and its inevitability of history. It's always been about control and manipulation, always: be it Chavez in Venezuala, Castro in Cuba, or Putin in Russia. The mindset of the old KGB and its modern-day successors and wanna-bes lives on.

The real tragedy is that you have an entire generation of politicians in the US who also subscribe to this, people who have betrayed their own history and see the world as something to be controlled and manipulated to prevent opportunity, preferring instead to inculcate ignorance and systematic denial of what makes America great.

They're called Democrats.

Here are two quotes from someone who knows what the story really is, from the link given above:

Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community during the years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe. At home, they deified their own ruler--as to a certain extent still holds true in Russia. Abroad, they asserted that a fish starts smelling from the head, and they did everything in their power to make the head of the Free World stink.


Unfortunately, partisans today have taken a page from the old Soviet playbook. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for example, Bush critics continued our mud-slinging at America's commander in chief. One speaker, Martin O'Malley, now governor of Maryland, had earlier in the summer stated he was more worried about the actions of the Bush administration than about al Qaeda. On another occasion, retired four-star general Wesley Clark gave Michael Moore a platform to denounce the American commander in chief as a "deserter." And visitors to the national chairman of the Democratic Party had to step across a doormat depicting the American president surrounded by the words, "Give Bush the Boot."

Now, the point is this: that the war in Iraq is America's war, not that of Bush or the "Neocons". Ignore this at your peril: if you do not understand that, then there is no hope for you.

Oh, and a PS: that the Left wants to inculcate ignorance is the only way to understand modern education, with its emphasis on feel-good issues and a lack of training in hard sciences and reasoning.

Freitag, August 03, 2007

Utter Stupidity, or German Politicians...

Sorry for the paucity of blogging, been back at work and have been furiously writing up a storm there, not much time left for this.

But this came up today in the Handelsblatt (roughly speaking, the German equivalent of the WSJ).

The Ministry of Finances is planning on introducing a new tax: for German companies investing overseas, they will be taxed on the profits that should result from moving operations out-of-country or should result from expanding operations out-of-country instead of in Germany.

You read that right: if a German company decides to open up operations elsewhere, they should be punitively taxed for doing that instead of doing it in Germany.

The mind boggles.

Not only that, but this is a deliberate thing: the goal is to prevent German companies from doing their R&D in Germany and then opening up operations in, say, Poland, in order to maximize their profits. The taxes are designed to make this unattractive: we're not talking any sort of punitive taxes as punishment, but rather to tax German companies so heavily that they will find it cheaper to produce elsewhere...

But they've forgotten something: that countries where German companies operate, say Poland, tax profits as well: the German proposition is that the companies involved pay their taxes in Germany instead and then use those tax liabilities to compensate for the local tax liabilities.


Me, I want some of what these folks are smoking.

First of all: the idea that the tax authorities in, say, the US will accept that a German company operating in the US will avoid paying US taxes because they pay German taxes is not merely fantasy, it can only be explained as a drug-induced hallucination.

Second of all: the reason that German companies produce out-of-country is not merely that you can hire productive labor elsewhere for less (indeed this is the case...), but more critically it's the way that being a player in global markets works successfully. If you want to be a big international player in your field, then you don't make widgets in Germany and then export them: rather you become the local widget maker that happens to be owned by Germans and that can produce the best damn widgets for that country.

Third of all: this is not a tax on current profits, but rather a tax on expected future profits. If they were to tax German companies on repatriated profits after local authorities taxed them, fine: that's what they do now. But noooooo, this is to punish companies for behaving like they actually want to make money and satsify their client's needs.

The best thing that could happen to Germany would be to fire half of the bureaucrats and to massively downsize government. No one can tell me that a country whose Bureau of Labor spends more money, time and employees on managing itself rather than finding unemployed people new jobs can't slim down.

This idiocy, this utter stupidity, can be clearly laid at the feet of the German socialists, by the way: the Finance Minister in charge is Peer Steinbrück from the SPD, the German socialist party.

This is the kind of stupidity that starts economic and financial crises, the modern-day equivalent of Smoot-Hawley or similar idiocies.

Of course the trade groups and associations are up in arms about this, and there is little chance that it will actually come to this.

But it does serve as a reminder of why Big Government - and oh boy do the Germans loooooove Big Government - is A Bad Thing.