The straight dope

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From: Nate
Subject: New Book; very interesting
So, this was on fresh air the other day. I was impressed. I have a huge problem with government involvement in industrial affairs (or lack of, likewise). For instance, govt subsidization of certain industries prevents alternatives from being seen as “economically feasible” or “sustainable”-like subsidizing the oil industry to make it seem economically feasible while the alternatives appear expensive by comparison. And then there is the lack of regulation of certain industries as well as the diminished funding of governmental regulatory bodies that would prevent industries from continuing to poison people and the environment. All of our conservative politicians who preach small government would like to see all of these regulatory bodies be dissolved. Don’t even get me started on the pharmaceutical industry and our good ol’ FDA. The point is that our governmental regulatory mechanisms are coming under fire because some politicians-and certainly industry officials- would have us believe that regulation would negatively impact our nations industries. This book is evidence to the contrary:

One more thing that annoys me is all this talk about China. One point that this book makes is that China does and will do whatever markets dictate. If they can’t sell it, they won’t make it. The US is a victim of China’s poor manufacturing practices not because we don’t regulate China’s factories, but because we don’t regulate the products that are being sold in our country. If our government says that such-and-such can’t be sold here, then China won’t make it. Anything that China makes will be cheap because they have a huge labor force that works for nothing, it’s not because they make things in a certain way with certain materials. The exact opposite of the previous sentence is the fact of the matter in US industries.

You’re a champ if you read all this stuff.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

5 Replies to “The straight dope”

  1. Nate, et al–

    The oil industry subsidizes itself, just as it has for 150 years, because oil is free. It literally comes up out of the ground. Compared to free, alternatives ARE unfeasible. All this changes when we hit “peak oil” in a decade or two. Then the coal age starts, unless we build a mess of nukes.

    The “free market” guys are assholes, and they know it. A “free market” will NEVER address social cost accounting for things like environmental degradation. Like it or not, we NEED the government to bend these guys over and blook ’em.


  2. Mikey,
    First I link a story to you (I have not read this particular one but it seems to cover the basics of a situation I have read about in several sources) about New Zealand pulling all subsidies from their dairy market only to see it thrive in the following years.

    The next set of sites I’m going to send you concern how not “free” oil is. One is from Rolling Stones so choke on your “liberal bullshit” argument welling up in you right now.…global_warming_a_real_solution

    So put your head back in the sand after reading but don’t call the educated “assholes” for pointing out your ignorance.

  3. Dear Mr. Emiliano–

    Thank you for a thoughtful post. I read all three linked articles in their entirety.

    1) I am not really a fan of agricultural subsidies. There is value in propping up domestic production of critical foodstuffs, but the idea is a little outdated in this globalized age and there are other ways to do it, such as tariffs.

    2) “The federal government subsidizes the oil industry with numerous tax breaks and government protection programs worth billions of dollars annually.” Billions, in an economy worth trillions. That’s about 0.1%. The idea behind propping up the oil industry is to reduce swings in price and stabilize the economy. Does it work? I’m not sure.

    3) “Wal-Mart has installed new, energy-efficient light bulbs in refrigeration units that save the company $12 million a year” What is $12M to Wal-Mart? Good advertising.

    “”We customers have more market power than the oil cartel,” Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. We Americans are fat, lazy greedy pigs. We could collapse the world market for oil by reducing our gasoline consumption by 20%.

    ” A truly free market is the planet’s best friend.” No, no, a thousand times no. A free market will NEVER address the social cost accounting of environmental issues. This MUST be driven from the top down, by the governments.

    “Our deadly carbon dependence is the result not just of subsidies, but of a deliberate criminal effort by the oil companies and auto manufacturers” Here, Mr. Kennedy has gone on an emotional tirade. Deadly, you say? How, exactly? A criminal conspiracy? What’s that, a black helicopter coming over the ridge? This sounds an awful lot like… liberal bullshit.

    Mr. Kennedy means well, and his points about efficiency are well-taken; this is one area where we can CRUSH the Chinese. But biofuels? Using food to run our cars when we can pump it out of the ground? No thanks.

    There is plenty of oil to last five or six hundred years. Instead, we have a race to use up the remaining “free” petro energy (oil then coal). Hear that tinkling sound? It’s the sound of our urine falling on our children’s heads.


  4. Dear Mr. Emiliano-

    Didn’t bother to read all the links you posted. You know how it is. So much beer, so little time.

    But thanks for that link off your site to zen-cart.

    Looks sweet.


  5. John,
    Thanks, I’m pretty new at this stuff but working on it… Just worked on too… Installed a bunch of mods and rewrote some code. Zen-cart is the way to go.


    “I’m not sure.” I’m glad your not sure… Better than a post ago… “The “free market” guys are assholes, and they know it” You make some points. but…

    The oil industry, just like any other industry, has the capabilities to compensate for market swings by itself. Forcing an industry off a government tit is always productive.
    The other thing is and I’m glad you brought it up, but I’m firmly against food to gas projects. This is hardly a solution. I am also behind the Americans need to consume less. The statistics on that are mind numbing. But the sun is just as free and less polluting than the oil being sucked out of the ground, and we don’t even need to pursue territorial wars over it.
    Walmart is on a advertising scheme we all know that… Just listen to what he actually meant. It saves money to save energy. And yes the auto and oil industries are not necessarily criminal by law but they are in an ethical sense. Not liberal bullshit. Ford did buy public transit systems in LA and dismantle them in order to promote car usage… The list of these stories goes on.
    And all your attempts to make statistics look small (“That’s about 0.1%”) you overlook the main one. For every three dollars spent at the pump another ten is given as government subsidies. Ask Jonny if he wants ten dollars for every three he makes on advertising. Ask please. Let me know what he says. Plus “billions of dollars” would go a long way in the research community towards solar panels and alternative fuels. We’d be running on 60-80% efficiency instead of 15-20%…
    Plus I don’t know how you can not be a fan subsidies in one industry but not the other. The same argument you used for Oil Companies (“idea behind propping up the oil industry is to reduce swings in price and stabilize the economy”) is the same used in farming.
    finally I’m done, spent a bit too much time on this already. I’m going to cruise some more blogs drink some more beer and ride Lemmon in the morning.