Electric Cars? Not so Fast! - Maybe it's Time to Rethink Some of Our Preconceived Notions about Reducing Oil Consumption


            Recently I wrote a post on the Keystone XL pipeline.  It took quite a bit of research.  I read quite a few articles written by people on both sides of the issue.  One thing I noticed was that a good percentage of the people who opposed the construction of the pipeline, say that we would be better off decreasing our oil consumption rather than increasing our oil production.  They say it like it is an indisputable fact and a foregone conclusion.  The sentiment is often thrown in at the end of an argument against oil production, consumption, or transport, but is it correct?
            Sometimes an idea gets repeated so often, that we forget to question if it is actually true.  Should we be focused upon reducing our oil consumption?  If so, how?  There are lots of ways to do it, but will we actually be better off if we pursue them?  Let’s look at some of the most common ideas for reducing demand for oil.
Use less – Simple as that.  No need to wait for advancements in technology, nothing to buy, everybody just do their part and use less oil.  There are some problems with that though.  First of all, how do you get people to comply?  Liberals are way ahead of us on that one.  Just tax ‘em.  The liberal cure all for everything. 
Obviously if gas is more expensive, people will use less, but what won’t they be doing because of it?  Joy riding makes up a very small percentage of driving.  If people are in their cars, they’re probably going some place to do something and that something usually involves spending money.  Back when I watched the main stream media, it seemed like every Christmas season they would report doom and gloom for the retailers,  (Of course that was back during the Bush Administration) saying sales were expected to be down one or two percent.  My point here is, one or two percent is a significant amount for some parts of our economy.  Having people cut down on their driving by say, 10 percent or more, can’t help but have a negative influence on consumer spending simply because they would be staying home more.  It could be like having a disappointing Christmas shopping season all year, every year.
Also if we choose to reduce our oil consumption via increasing fuel taxes, it means less money for business to invest and hire people.  Between the drain on economic activity from increased taxes and decreased consumer spending, one must think twice before pulling the “decrease oil consumption lever”.  I’m not saying that it is absolutely not a good idea; I’m just saying that it is not as though it wouldn’t have any negative consequences.
Electric Cars – To be fair, I have to admit my bias here.  I have been against electric cars since the first time I ever heard a set of dual pipes with glass packs when I was about eight years old.  That being said, most everything pro-electric car you ever read or hear comes from people who are equally biased in the other direction, for whatever reason.  Here is the most fair, objective, and unbiased analysis of electric cars that I have ever read. http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/08/mpg-for-electric-cars/ 
I didn’t just put that link there to show that I spent some time doing research.  Click on it and read it!  I guarantee that it will be worth your time.  If you think electric cars are a good idea, there’s a good chance it will change your mind.  If you think electric cars are lame, it will give you all the ammunition you need to win any argument on the subject.
“OK, I read the linked article.” (Some of) you are saying, “What can you possibly add to it?”  Plenty.  That article makes an assessment of electric cars from a mathematical standpoint.  I’m going to point out their real world shortcomings and why for practical matters, they are never going to play any large part in reducing our oil consumption.
There are only two markets for electric cars.  1) The guy who wants to prove to everyone who doesn’t already know, that he is the biggest weenie in town, and 2) Urban and semi-urban fleet vehicles.  Why?
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was a salesman at a Chevrolet dealership.  Those were the final days for carburetors on new vehicles and many customers were buying their first fuel-injected cars.  Although some old school hot-rodders may disagree with me, electronic fuel injection was the best thing that ever happened to passenger cars.  It did what many people considered impossible up until that time.  It increased power, gas mileage, and decreased emissions simultaneously.
A four cylinder fuel-injected car of the early 90’s could out-perform a similarly sized V-6 carbureted model from the early 80’s, and could hold its own against many V-8 from that era, but customers weren’t having it.  Not even a test drive could convince them to step down to a lowly four cylinder.  We sold about 200 cars a month, and the vast majority of cars we sold, with the exception of the smallest models  (Cavalier) were V-6’s and V-8’s.  Most of our customers had a perception of four cylinder engines being weak and not durable, and no factory rated horsepower claims or warranties were going to convince them otherwise. 
What I’m trying to say is that the perception of power was more important in customers minds than any actual horsepower figures, and that is still true today.  When it comes to electric cars, their gasoline-powered counterparts not only have a greater perceived power, they in general, have a greater actual power, much greater.  Now if it was that difficult to convince a customer to switch from a 6 to a 4, imagine how hard it will be to get them to switch from gas to electric.  Nearly impossible.
You might think that perceived power is just a cultural thing and with the passage of time, attitudes will change and sales of electric cars will substantially increase, but I’m here to tell you that they won’t.  While it is true that there are many other criteria used to evaluate automobiles besides horsepower, unfortunately for the electric car, it doesn’t do well in almost any of them.
I mentioned that there is a market for electric cars as fleet service vehicles, but the reasons for this are the same reasons that they are in general, poor choices for passenger cars.  Let’s look at the area where electric vehicles shine the brightest – forklifts.
The indoor warehouse is the ideal place for an electric forklift.  They have zero emissions (which is extra important indoors) and the heavy batteries are actually a benefit.  Forklifts need to be extra heavy in order to counter-balance the loads they lift and carry.  A warehouse environment is also great for electric vehicles because they are out of the weather and floors are level.  There are generally no or very slight inclines, but the biggest reason that electric fork lifts are ideal for indoor warehouse use is a deal-breaker for electric power when it comes to being practical for a passenger car.  What do I mean?
What’s everybody’s favorite time at work?  Quittin’ time!  Just like with the employees, the end of the day means for the electric forklifts it’s time to recharge.  This can take up to eight hours.  We have some forklifts where I work that can recharge in a matter of a couple of hours, but that is really not that big of an advantage.  A business that shuts down every night has 12 hours or more of recharge time available, and a business that runs 24 hours per day must still have to deal with two hour recharge time.  If this means buying an extra truck, the faster recharge time doesn’t give you much of an advantage over the eight-hour recharge time.
My point here is this.  The demands of the family car are nothing like the demands of a forklift which usually operates on a routine schedule.  The time that will be spent charging and using a forklift are known in advance and usually don’t vary much.  Now consider the family car.  One of the most important factors one considers when buying a car besides power is reliability.  Most people equate reliability with not breaking down, but there is more to it than that.  Reliability means being ready for action at a moments notice.  Now imagine that you get that call in the middle of the night – your son’s in jail, your mother’s seriously ill, your sister’s husband left her, or any family emergency – do you really want to have to tell your loved ones that you can’t make it because your electric car is still on the charger?  What if your kid’s sick?  I guess you could wait for your car to charge.  It’s gonna be pretty hard to take her to the hospital on your bike.
An automobile must face a whole host of conditions that the forklift never encounters – steep hills, rough roads, long distances, hours and hours of continuous operation, rain, snow, and worst of all – cold.  A battery loses a significant amount of capacity as temperature decreases which decreases the range of an electric car.  While we are talking about low temperatures, what about heat?  The heater in a gasoline powered uses waste heat from the engines cooling system – essentially free heat, but electric cars don’t produce much waste heat so heating the passenger compartment becomes a problem.
Gas-electric hybrids don’t have many of the problems of pure electric vehicle and are almost ideal for city driving.  Just bear in mind that the fuel economy advantage of hybrids over traditional gasoline powered cars starts to disappear as you do more and more highway driving to the point where they are not worth the additional cost.  When one takes into consideration the added complexity of a hybrid vehicle, it is easy to understand why traditional gasoline powered cars will be the dominant form of private transportation for the foreseeable future.
Yeah, but what about the environment?  Electric cars don’t pollute right?  We could be saving the environment and reducing our oil consumption at the same time.  I’m sorry to disappoint you but electric cars fail there too.  They might be able to reduce our oil consumption, but they won’t reduce our fossil fuel consumption and they are certainly not going to save the environment.  (You didn’t read the linked article did you? Well here’s what I thought was the most important part)

In order to deliver 30 kWh to your house to fully charge the Leaf’s 24 kWh battery bank, for example—incorporating the charge efficiency this time, the source of electricity becomes a highly relevant factor. Two-thirds of our electricity comes from fossil fuel plants, typically converting 35% of the fossil fuel thermal energy into electricity. Only 90% of this makes it through the transmission system, on average. If your electricity comes from a fossil fuel plant, the 30 kWh delivered to your house took about 95 kWh of fossil fuel energy. The 73 miles the Leaf travels on a full charge now puts it at an energy efficiency of 130 kWh/100-mi. The MPG equivalent number is 28 MPG. From a carbon-dioxide standpoint, you’d be better off burning the fossil fuel directly in your car.

When a lot of people think of electric cars, they think of windmills and solar energy.  What they should be thinking of is steam-powered locomotives.  Electric cars ultimately use the same source of power (coal) and for the most part, use technology that is only slightly more modern.  They had electric powered cars since the earliest days of the automobile and much of the reasons that they didn’t win out back then are the reasons that they are not going to ever be very popular now or in the near future.
Alternative and renewable energy – Believe it or not, I’m a big fan of alternative and renewable energy.  One of my goals is to one day, build my own wind turbine from scratch.  It’s totally doable.  Check it out. http://otherpower.com/ I don’t have any problem with renewable energy.  I do however; have a problem with the government subsidizing it, or anything else for that matter.  Subsidizing is a bad idea because it prevents us from finding if something can stand on its own.  To be profitable in the free market, should be just as important to a wind farm as how much energy the turbines produce.  If the government wants to help the renewable energy industry, it should tell the people that are trying to stand in the way of it’s development to bug off.  If some form of renewable energy power plant can be built through private investment, a few protestors should not be able to prevent its construction.  I think the private sector should be able to develop renewable energy sources to their maximum potential but even that happens, it will only decrease our oil consumption by a few percent and it’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Should we really be focusing on reducing our oil consumption rather than increasing our oil production?  Not yet, not now.  Reducing oil consumption is a worthy long or mid term goal, but we need to do everything we can to jumpstart our economy now.  Not by some bogus stimulus package, which turns out, to be just a multi-billion dollar government give away, but by real investment that produces real wealth without putting any further burden on the taxpayers.  Nothing has the potential to do that like taking advantage of the resources we have right here at home along with reaping any benefits Canadian oil production may provide us like building the Keystone XL pipeline.


I Hate This F--king Thing!!!

Time to get a new computer.  I don’t care how much ammo costs.  I’m gonna pump a whole box of shells into this piece of shit.  The only problem is, I am a computer idiot and I’m sure that it will take me a few days to get everything up and running.  I plan on doing it this weekend, so if there is any interruption in posts, you’ll know why.

Every Day Should be Memorial Day

            Thanks to all the people who served and defended our country, died on the battlefield or have since passed on.  Because of your service and selfless devotion to our country, I live in a place and time where I am able to enjoy more freedom, comfort, and prosperity than 99 percent of the people who have ever lived on this planet.  You have my utmost respect and I am eternally grateful.

The Keystone XL Pipeline

            There’s a lot of talk going on about the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline these days because the House of Representatives just passed a bill to speed up approval for the project.  Like with so many other issues, the majority of people are so uninformed that they either have no opinion on it at all or even worse, formed their opinions based upon what they hear in the mainstream media.
             The KXL has been the subject of debate for quite some time and that debate will intensify as the pipeline moves closer to a reality.  Much of the opposition comes from two types of people - leftie commies who can’t stand the idea of any person or company trying to make a buck, and those who claim to be environmentalists.  The second group is actually a subset of the first, and the commies should be commended for at least being honest with themselves and everyone else about what they are.  The “environmentalists” have earned an extra helping of my disdain for trying to hide their true motives and in the process, giving the label that they’ve attached to themselves a bad name.
The arguments against the KXL that I have read about range from legitimate concerns, to exaggerations, to outright lies.  Let’s take a look at some of them.  First of all, there is the broadest most general criticism:
The KXL (and any other type of fossil fuel production, transport, and usage) is bad for the environment. – Compared to what?  Like it or not, the use of fossil fuels is the basis of wealth production for all developed nations.  They play a major role in virtually everything produced or transported.  Without them, urban life would be impossible.  Fossil fuels are actually environmentally friendly compared to trying to sustain the current world population without them.  Heating with natural gas or oil pollutes less than traditional methods of heating with wood, not to mention that it saves trees.  Don’t believe me?  Check the web for stories about environmental conditions in third world countries.  Many of them have cut down a huge percentage of their trees for a source of charcoal, the fuel they use for cooking, not heating.  By the end of the middle ages, much of the forests of Europe had been cut down, as a source of building materials and fuel, and the population was only a fraction of what it is today.  Simply put – eliminating the use of fossil fuels equals environmental destruction and the end of anything resembling life, as we know it.
Now let’s look at some specific criticisms of the KXL:
The KXL threatens the environment, specifically contamination of the water supply due to the ever-present danger of spills. – This is actually a legitimate concern and it must be addressed.  Opponents of the KXL often site the Keystone 1 pipeline had a dozen spills in less than one year, and another pipeline incident that spilled one million gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  The tar sands oil is more abrasive than other types of crude oil, and pipelines that carry it are more subject to spills.
The tar sands oil is worse for the environment than other types of crude oil. – This is because refining it produces more CO2 than refining other types of crude.  But in order to agree with this, one has to agree with the man-made global warming theory.  Former NASA scientist, James Hansen (Wasn’t he the creator of the Muppets?  Isn’t he dead?) said that it would be “game over” for the climate if development of the tar sands is not stopped.  Aren’t those NASA guys the ones who faked climate data in order to support the man-made global warming theory?  What credibility do they have? http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2011/05/13/NASA-Gets-Caught-Faking-Climate-Change-Data-AGAIN  

The KXL will cost jobs. – Huh?  That’s what they say.  Check this out. http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/keystonexl.html 
Cornell University Report: Permanent U.S. Jobs Could Be "As Few As 50." A report by the Cornell University Global Labor Institute stated that the pipeline "will create no more than 2,500-4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years, according to TransCanada's own data supplied to the State Department." It estimated that "the new permanent US pipeline jobs in the US number as few as 50." The report also argued that the Perryman Group study ignored the negative consequences of the pipeline, which could lead to more jobs lost than would be created:
The industry-generated jobs data are highly questionable and ultimately misleading. But this is only part of the problem. These industry-generated data attempt only to tell the positive side of the KXL jobs story. There is evidence to suggest that the effects of KXL construction could very well lead to more jobs being lost than are created. In this section, we show four ways that jobs can be destroyed or prevented by KXL -- higher petroleum prices, environmental damage such as spills, the impact of emissions on health and climate instability, and the chilling effect KXL approval could have on the emerging green economy.
Put simply, KXL's job creation potential is relatively small, and could be completely outweighed by the project's potential to destroy jobs through rising fuel costs, spill damage and clean up operations, air pollution and increased GHG emissions. [Cornell University Global Labor Institute, September 2011]

Really?  A pipeline that crosses our nation north to south will only need 50 people to look after it?  Notice that they admit that the KXL will definitely produce thousands of construction jobs, but the job losses they mention are only potential, and depend upon worst-case scenarios in order to occur.  They also fail to mention all of the non-construction jobs the KXL will produce, like the manufacturing jobs needed to produce the materials and equipment needed for the project - one more reason not to place too much confidence in the people at our Universities.  It has been shown time and time again that professors can say the most outrageous things without facing any consequences.
  If you want an accurate estimate of the amount of jobs that will be created by any project, listen to what those who are directly involved in hiring the people to do the work are saying.  They must present a realistic business plan to their investors and creditors.  Their livelihood depends upon their credibility and accuracy.
Proponents of the KXL say it will create tens of thousands of jobs.  Who’s right?  Thousands of construction jobs would definitely be created with the KXL, but those jobs are temporary. About two years, I have read.  A temporary increase in jobs is better than nothing, and local economies will certainly receive a boost as the pipeline construction moves through.  Although temporary, the economic activity created by the construction of the pipeline will create wealth, and that will certainly contribute to the creation of long-term jobs.  Construction jobs by their very nature are temporary.  Eventually, a project gets finished.  Supporting the KXL and other projects like it in the future, will help insure that construction and construction related industries thrive and keep people on their payrolls.
All the oil is just going to China anyway, so building the KXL will not lower gas prices in the U.S. and will not shield us from Middle East volatility – This seems to be true and to make matters worse, building the KXL could actually raise fuel prices in the Midwest because it will provide Canada with a world market for their oil instead of having the U.S. as their only customer.  More from: http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/02/14/5-myths-about-keystone-xl-debunked/192668
[The Keystone XL pipeline] would not endow the United States with "energy security" in the sense that most Americans understand the phrase and that many pipeline advocates wield it. It would not significantly lower oil prices. In fact, when it comes to oil, America will be affected by global events for decades, and that's assuming the right policies are in place.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) underscored that point in a report it released last week. "The extensive network of pipelines, shipping and other options for transporting oil around the world means that a single world oil price prevails," the CBO pointed out. "Disruptions related to oil production that occur anywhere in the world raise the price of oil for every consumer of oil, regardless of the amount of oil imported or exported by that consumer's country."
If the United States imported every barrel it burned from Canada -- or even unearthed it from American soil -- a revolution in Libya, production quotas in Saudi Arabia or riots in Nigeria would still affect American consumers. Unless, as Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Post's Brad Plumer pointed out, America were to take the extraordinary step of removing itself from the world oil market entirely, which could lead to its own price spikes and ignite a trade war.
With enhanced domestic and Canadian production, the country would achieve a certain energy independence: If the world oil market were to collapse because of a global war or another catastrophe, America would maintain access to its energy resources, though they could be much more expensive. But producing more oil here or north of the border would never mean, as Newt Gingrich put it in February, that the United States could "no longer worry about the Persian Gulf."
In fact, the best way to insulate Americans from oil-price volatility and other drawbacks of oil use would be to use less oil. The price would still move around, but it would matter less. Such an approach would also help achieve the most important energy priority: slowing climate change. [Washington Post, 5/13/12]

The important thing to take from this is that the KXL will not make us independent from Mideast oil, but it could, if we had to be.  The KXL could make us much less vulnerable if a major war were to occur in the Middle East.  Plus OPEC will be much less likely to do something like a repeat of the 1973 oil embargo if they know we have a substantial alternative supplier.  Also, any increase in world supply can’t help but put downward pressure on oil prices.
The ironic thing is that one of the chief motivators of increased oil production and the need to build pipelines to transport oil are policies endorsed by the vary same people that oppose the KXL.  What do I mean?   Liberal policies that increase government spending lead to government debt.  Since we have reached the point where we cannot increase taxes anymore without having a negative effect on the economy and tax revenue, the government must look to other means of generating revenue.  Both the U.S. and Canada have huge oil reserves and the potential tax revenue from increased oil production will prove to be irresistible for them.
The general public may say they are concerned about the negative environmental consequences of oil production, but when it comes to a choice of paying off government debt themselves, taking a cut in government services, or increasing government revenue through taxing increased oil production, they will take the last option every time.
There is only one good reason for not increasing oil production here in North America -  any oil that we don’t pump today will still be there tomorrow.  The anti-oil nuts have been telling us for years that there is only enough oil in the Middle East to supply the world for another decade.  They’re probably wrong about that like they have been wrong about so many other things, but maybe we should take them at their word.  Maybe we should let the Arabs pump their oil fields dry.  Then we’d be holding all the cards in the world oil game, and we could start turning the screws on them.
The anti-KXL people say that it makes more sense to decrease our oil consumption than to increase oil production.  That ain’t gonna happen and I’ll tell you why in one of my next posts.  It seems to me that the KXL would be a net benefit to the U.S. if two criteria are met. 1) Environmental concerns are properly addressed by sane people. (Experts on oil pipelines, not environmentalist wackos)  2) The U.S. demands the right of first refusal on any sale of oil that flows through it in addition to whatever compensation we may be receiving.

Either the Public Education System Failed You, or You Just Weren't Paying Attention - Lucky for You, You Have Me


            Here’s an op-ed piece that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  My first instinct was to ignore it, but then I thought that if the paper figured that it was worth printing, there must be even more people out there without even the slightest clue about anything dealing with business or economics than I thought.  Let’s see if I can help out little Stephanie and other (extremely) low information people out by explaining some of the realities of economics and life to her.  Here’s what she wrote:
Fast-food workers deserve a fair wage
By Stephanie Sanders
May 20, 2013
A lot of people have been asking me why I went on strike Wednesday. I have a simple answer: because I'm not a teen anymore.
I work at McDonald's, and I hear a lot of people talk about how fast-food jobs are for teenagers. Well, I'm not a teenager. I'm 33 years old. And I work with a lot of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are working to pay their rent and put food on the table.
I worked fast food as a teen to make a few extra bucks for clothes and a cellphone. My job didn't pay me enough to support myself, but I didn't need to support myself. I thought I'd go on to get a "grown-up" job, one that would pay all my bills and not have to choose between food and keeping the lights on.
I did get that "grown-up" job, selling skin products at a brand-name skin care store. I got to use my people skills — working with customers to figure out which products were best for their skin. The more I listened to and connected with customers, the more I sold. I was good at my job. I ended up being a top salesperson.
I made $16.50 an hour plus some commission. I felt good knowing that I was helping the company be profitable and helping myself. I made enough in base salary to be able to afford a roof over my head, food on the table and decent clothes. And if I worked really hard and made a lot of sales, I got more money, too.
I had that job for 61/2 years. Then the economy crashed, and people didn't have money to spend on face lotions anymore. At first, I thought I'd get another decent-paying job in a month or two. I had good sales experience and great references.
I couldn't find another decent sales job, no matter how hard I tried. So I finally did something I never thought I'd do. I got another fast-food job.
I make $7.25 an hour, less than half of what I made in my last job. That's OK if you're 16 and you want to buy a phone or sneakers, but it's not OK if you're supporting yourself. Even though I serve food at my job, I can't afford to buy enough food. I have to rely on food stamps. I'd go hungry without them.
When I went on strike last week, I was in a crowd of other workers who are struggling just like me. Most of us are older and have rent and bills to pay. Some of us have kids. All of us have to make hard choices between food and medicine, lights and rent. We all worry about going hungry or ending up homeless.
We don't make enough money to take care of ourselves or to help our neighborhoods. If we had a few extra dollars in our pockets, we'd spend it and help create jobs and help get the economy going again.
It gets to me. I was a pretty happy person when I worked at the skin care store, but now I have panic attacks. I went on strike last week because I can't stand the stress of trying to live on minimum wage. Worrying about the future is the hardest part, because at $7.25, I don't have a future.
Stephanie Sanders is a McDonald's worker and a member of the Milwaukee Workers Organizing Committee, fast-food workers who have joined together to seek fair pay and the right to form a union.

            Well, Stephanie, where do I begin?  To start with, your answer as to why you went on strike is incorrect.  No one goes on strike simply because they are “not a teen anymore.”  The reason most people go on strike is because they feel they deserve more pay and/or better working conditions, which you later admit was your reason.  “I want more money.” should have been the response that you gave to the people who questioned why you went on strike, but even that’s not the real reason you went on strike.
            Everyone wants more money, but not everyone goes on strike.  The real reason that you went on strike is because you are ignorant and naïve.  This might sound kind of harsh, but you’re 33 so you should be able to handle it, if you can’t you will never deserve anything more than minimum wage, no matter where you work. 
            The first thing that you must learn is that employers are not obligated to pay anyone according to their needs.  They pay according to the labor market in their particular area.  Why?  Because they will either attract too few quality workers if they pay to little or if they pay their workers too much relative to the local labor market, their competitors will drive them out of business.  If you really want to make $15/hr. in fast food, move to the oilfields of North Dakota.  I read that Subway is paying their workers that much out there.
            Second, you seem to imply that you deserve more per hour than a teenager.  If both you and a seventeen year old have the same amount of relevant experience, why should you be paid more?  That hardly seems fair.  I noticed that it mentions that you are part of a pro-union group.  Aren’t unions supposed to be about fairness?
            You then go on to mention that you made more at your previous job and it would seem by what you have written, that you worked hard and were pretty proud of what you accomplished there.  Now, if you and your union buddies somehow managed to get the fast food industry to pay $15/hr. for entry-level position flipping burgers, wouldn’t that make anyone who put the time and effort into something like your previous position look foolish?  Don’t you feel that your previous position required more knowledge and skill than some “teenager job”?
            The way I see it, you’ve got three options. 1) You can stay where you are.  If you are as good as you say you are, you will receive promotions and substantial pay raises rather quickly.  2) You can go to North Dakota.  (But bear in mind the cost of living is much higher there.)  3) This is the best one.  If you are as good as you say you are in sales, find that type of job.  I know that things are tough out there, but sales is always one of the fields with the most opportunity.  I’m sure you heard it before – “In sales, what you’re really selling is yourself.”  If you did well in your previous position, I’m sure you can “sell yourself” to a prospective employer and then, plenty of clients thereafter and make a comfortable living.

Worse than Watergate? - Absolutely!

            I’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching the Benghazi and IRS scandals unfold.  I suppose that it was inevitable that comparisons to Watergate would be drawn.  Not surprisingly the right claims that these scandals are “worse than Watergate” and the left insists that these “minor scandals” don’t even come close to what they consider utmost abuse of presidential power.
            Who’s right?  Well first of all you have to understand each side’s motivations.  On the surface it just simply seems like the right wants to take Obama down and left wants to protect him, but there’s more to it than that.
            First of all we must understand what Watergate was.  In the simplest terms it was some of Nixon’s subordinates breaking into Democratic national headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in 1972 and the attempted cover-up of the crime.  The subsequent investigation into the matter uncovered various crimes including interfering with an FBI investigation, extortion, bribery, wiretapping, burglary, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and perjury. 
Nixon got what he deserved.  Watergate was bad for him, but how bad was Watergate for us?  People often complain about money in politics, and rightly so.  Whenever there are large sums of money involved, corruption is always lurking nearby, so it’s safe to assume that the political parties are always, and have always been spying on each other.  Watergate may have shaken naïve people’s confidence in government and our leaders, but I think that that’s a good thing.  We are better off for it.
Watergate only directly affected the people involved.  Contrary to what leftie writers would have you believe, the only effect Watergate had on most people was chronic fatigue brought on by endless news stories concerning it.  Life went on for us pretty much as normal.  (As normal as life in the mid-‘70’s could be.)   The main inconvenience was the preempting or regularly scheduled TV programs with the Watergate hearings.
The Benghazi and IRS scandals are both much worse than Watergate.  The problem is that there is a good chance that most people will never know.  The press had it out for Nixon from the beginning, and no one probably would have even heard of Watergate if it weren’t for their relentless pursuit of the story.  What we have here today is the exact opposite.  The mainstream media is in the tank for Obama and has to be dragged kicking and screaming to cover any story where Obama may not look good.  Paul Waldman, writing for CNN has described Solyndra and Fast and Furious as “nothing burgers”, both of which in my opinion are worse than Watergate.  Did Watergate cost the U.S. taxpayers half a billion dollars?  Did anyone die at Watergate?
Yes, both Benghazi and the IRS scandals are worse than Watergate.  They affect all American citizens directly, not just the people immediately involved.  Benghazi has weakened our international stature.  It has caused our allies to lose confidence in us and has emboldened our enemies.  It shows that we have leadership unwilling to protect American lives abroad if doing so might go against their current narrative.  Knowing this, people cannot help but feel less secure here at home.
The IRS scandal has reduced trust in, and increased people’s contempt for an already unpopular government agency.  It also can’t help but make people fear government retribution if they dare to speak out against it.  Nixon was going after his political adversaries using his own people.  One thing we can be sure of: although we know it was wrong, things like that had been happening since the early days of our country, and have not stopped with Watergate.  Obama was going after individual citizens and small groups of people he had never met using a governmental agency.  That’s Soviet style stuff that those people targeted by the IRS are most concerned with.  
When Nixon got caught, he and his buddies went down, Ford became president and we all kept on truckin’.  If Obama gets what he deserves, can we really afford the chaos of the IRS going down with him?  Many of us want tax reform, but we know we can’t afford an uncontrolled break down of our federal revenue agency.
             Obama has only three years left and cannot be reelected.  It seems to me what many leftie writers are trying to protect is not Obama, but Watergate, or more accurately the concept of Watergate being the greatest of all evils.  Nixon was a Republican and the mere mention of Watergate casts a dark shadow on the Republican Party, and the left just loves to mention it.  You can’t watch any documentary about the 70’s, even ones that have nothing to do with politics without hearing about Watergate and seeing Nixon leaving on Marine One.
            Watergate has been a weapon in the liberal arsenal for almost forty years.  If the public comes to accept that there have been things worse than Watergate, then that weapon will be rendered permanently insignificant.

Why the Beatles are the Greatest Band in History (Even though I like AC/DC a lot more)

Authors note: I wrote this piece a few weeks ago and never posted it.  I showed it to a friend and he liked it and said that I should post it.  Let me know what you think and maybe if enough people like it, I will post some more weird stuff like this.
            To celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary Jay-Z and Beyonce uh, uh, (I guess her last name must be Z), visited Cuba.  My wife and I just celebrated our sixteenth anniversary, and every year I’ve wished that we could go to Cuba. (I mean, who doesn’t?)  We were a little short of cash and time so we had to settle for a Friday night fish fry.  I’m so envious. (Not jealous, oh yeah, I’m not envious either.)
            In order to make a point and stay on the celebrity theme here, I’m going to say that even Stevie Wonder can see through this one.  If you were a rich celebrity, why would you go to go to some shithole country like Cuba for your anniversary?  Most wives would pissed off if their husbands bought them a washing machine for an anniversary present even if they had been saying that they needed a new one for months.  Imagine if you told your wife that you were going to spend as much money as going to the Bahamas only you were going to take her somewhere really crappy.  You probably wouldn’t have to worry about what to do for your next anniversary.
            There was an earthquake in Haiti a few years back and some celebrities went there to at least symbolically lend a hand.  Even for those whose main intention was to garner publicity, their effort had at least some degree of nobility.  Haiti has still not fully recovered.  If they wanted to help out some poor people in the Caribbean, they could have gone there, but this Cuba thing is so not that.
            Celebrities have it a lot tougher now days.  It’s a constant struggle for any artist to remain relevant.  Music in particular, has been divided up into so many genres and subgenres that being number one in any particular category does automatically make someone a household word.  There are about, as many country music fans know whom Jay-Z is, as rap fans that know who Joe Diffie is.  Back in the 1960’s, my grandparents did not like or listen to the Beatles but they definitely knew who they were and so did everyone else. 
Back then, what dominated the radio airwaves was the general category called pop music.  It was made up mostly of rock, but included R&B, soul, country, and any songs from other genres that were popular enough to crossover.  Any band or artist that was good (or lucky) enough to consistently be in the top ten on the pop music charts was guaranteed to have worldwide fame.  Aside from actually purchasing a single, LP, or 8-track tape, about the only way to hear music, was to listen to the radio where someone else chose what you heard.  The cool (or lame) thing about it was that people were exposed to all types of music besides just the type that they considered their favorite.
            Today we can download only the songs we want, and ignore the rest, and we can listen to programs and even channels that not only concentrate on one genre, some are even limited to a single artist or band.  No more hearing Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun” immediately following Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”.  Most people feel that all of this is an improvement, but it pretty much insures that no band will ever as popular as the Beatles.  An increasing number of genres and number of people that only listen to one genre necessarily decreases the audience size for each.   
Imagine how many people became Beatles fans simply because the Fab Four’s songs were playing in the background during the best times of their lives.  They’d have a much harder time today.  They would probably only be heard on satellite radio and relegated to some subgenre like “British Light Rock”. 
This is not to say that the Beatles don’t deserve credit for their popularity.  The number of hits they had speaks for itself.  They were able to change with the times and still produce hits, all of their members went on to have successful solo careers, and they remain popular to this day.  You can count the number of bands that can say that about themselves on one hand, even after you had that accident with the table saw.
Now what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, Jay and Beyonce Z.  Was this just a publicity stunt?  If so it was a pretty lame one.  Both of these people are on top of their game right now, more popular than ever.  This Cuba thing however, isn’t going to affect their popularity one way or another.  The majority of their fans could not find Cuba on a map, never heard of Fidel Castro, have no knowledge of U.S.-Cuba relations, and wouldn’t care if they did.  The majority of people who might be bothered by Jay-Z and Beyonce’s Cuba visit don’t listen to their music anyway.
It has been reported that adoring fans swarmed them.  Since they are both products of American culture, I’m surprised that the Cuban fans weren’t accused of being counter-revolutionaries and arrested or shot on sight.
Maybe they are trying to emulate other great statesmen like Dennis Rodman and Sean Penn. (Maybe I’ll write about these two idiots in the future.)  This whole thing was just a way for them and their leftie buddies to stick it to those who have traditional American values understand the importance of standing up for their principles.  Too bad for the Z couple and their leftie friends, music industry is now way it is, and this whole thing will quickly be forgotten.  Mr. and Mrs. Z may be on top in their respective genres, but neither one will ever be anything like the Beatles.    

A Day in My Life - How Government Affects Me

A Day in My Life – How Government Affects Me

            I went to renew my commercial driver’s license with haz mat endorsement yesterday, and so begins my tale of woe.  Last time I had to renew my license, I figured I could just wing it, and take the test without any studying.  I just missed passing by one question, so I had to retake the exam.  Live and learn.  This time I studied for a few hours the night before.  I felt I was ready and expected the whole thing to be over with in about an hour since I had been through this before and I knew what to expect.  Boy, was I wrong.
            Things started going wrong when I got to the Beloit, WI DMV and I realized that I forgot my birth certificate.  I wanted to get this over with that day so I immediately went back home and got it.  Once I got back, I took my exam and passed with flying colors.  I felt great and figured that the process was almost over.  Then the DMV employee checks my renewal forms and looks over my birth certificate as if it were a forgery even though it is obvious that it is an original from 1962.  At that point he took my picture, gave me a number, and told me to sit and wait for my number to be called.
            An hour later, my number is called and I approach the counter.  The DMV employee at the counter examines my forms and looks at my birth certificate.  She tells me that my birth certificate is not valid for the renewal of a CDL with a haz mat endorsement.  I told her that it was my original birth certificate and has worked for me every time I ever needed it since I was born, including when I originally got my CDL and every renewal since.  She said that it wasn’t certified.  I said, “Of course it is, it’s a birth certificate, that’s where the “certi” in the word certificate comes from.  She said that the laws have been changed and one now needs a certified birth certificate to get or renew a CDL with a haz mat endorsement.
            I felt like saying, “Then how come Obama was able to become president without any birth certificate?” but I figured I’d just better keep that to myself.  I knew that I wasn’t going to win since I have a 0-15 record with my battles with the DMV, so I asked her what I had to do to get a certified birth certificate.  She hands me a sheet of paper that has information on the state of Wisconsin Department of Vital Records and tells me to call them.  I call them and get a automated message directing me to visit their website. 
            At that point, I go back home and visit their website.  It tells me that I can receive a certified birth certificate in two hours, if I go to their building in Madison.  I could also do this whole thing by mail but that takes about a month, and I didn’t want to risk not getting it before my license expires, plus I just wanted to get this over with.  I then, drive to Madison and apply for my certified birth certificate and pay my twenty dollars.  They told me I could have it in about two hours if I waited, or they could just mail it to me and I would receive it next week.  Since I didn’t have enough time to make it back to the DMV before they closed, I chose the latter option.
            The end result: I am twenty dollars plus the cost of driving to Madison and back poorer, I wasted almost an entire day off, and I’m still not done with this crap.  I still need to finish up at the DMV and I go back to Madison to get fingerprinted for my haz mat endorsement.  That fingerprinting thing every time you renew is so stupid.  Fingerprints don’t change.  That’s the whole point of using them for identification.
            On top of everything, when I get home, my wife shows me that she now needs to take a test to renew her cosmetology license.  Having a license to be a hairdresser is getting to be just as big a pain in the ass as having a CDL.
            My point of all this is to show how much of an intrusion government is in our lives, how little they care about how they inconvenience us, and how little common sense governments have.  First of all, the reasoning I was given for needing the certified birth certificate had something to do with national security since 9-11.  This whole thing is so stupid.  I can almost see being stricter on new applicants, but if you are simply renewing a license, that means that you have gone years abiding by the rules and is more proof than anything that you are the person you say you are.  Second, how does me going to Madison, filling out a form, and paying twenty bucks do anything to increase security?  All they did there was have me fill out a form and glance at my drivers license, they didn’t even look at my original birth certificate.  I already mentioned how stupid I thought the fingerprinting at every renewal was and if I remember correctly that cost something like $120. (I could be wrong about that. I’ll let you know when I do it.)  It’s not just the money, it’s a big pain in the ass.
            The government doesn’t ever care if they are a pain in our asses, and they don’t have to because they have no competition.  There is no one else out there that can try to provide the same services cheaper with greater customer satisfaction.  A two-hour turn around time on a birth certificate seems fast when talking about a government organization but what did they have to do?  Type a few things into a computer and hit print – that’s it.  And why does it cost twenty dollars?  There was about five minutes labor involved.  Private businesses can do much more complicated things more quickly and for less money.  Here’s another thing – if the State of Wisconsin Vital Records department cannot find a record, they won’t refund your money.  Private business doing that, saying, “We failed, but we’re still keeping your money.” is the exception.  With government, it is the rule.
            Now there are reasons that governments have the rules and laws that they do.  The problem is that so often they are not very good ones.  Government has the ability to recognize that a problem exists, but they have a disconnect when it comes to solutions.  Too often governments address a problem by simply taking action and they don’t properly examine if the action will effectively solve the problem.  They’re like an inexperienced mechanic attempting to repair a car simply by replacing or adding parts without first properly diagnosing the problem and determining an effective solution.  This doesn’t happen near as often in the private sector because it unnecessarily wastes time and money and creates dissatisfied customers – three things that governments are not concerned with.
            Now I know a number of truck drivers and hairdressers and I never heard of any of them promoting any of the things I have mentioned here.  Haz mat testing is a good idea but the certified birth certificate and re-finger printing thing is a crock.  These things are supposed to increase national security and diminish the threat of terrorism, but look at how incompetent the government was at preventing the Boston Marathon bombers.  It seems like there were a whole lot more red flags with those guys than with me trying to renew my CDL. 
The “continuing education” for cosmetologists is a solution looking for a problem.  It’s like the certified pest control applicators license they came up with about ten years ago here in Wisconsin.  In order for a lawn service to apply weed ‘n feed or other pesticides to your lawn, the applicator needs to be licensed.  A homeowner on the other hand, can apply anything they can buy without a license.  Now who do you think would be more knowledgeable about pesticides?   I suspect that many of these license requirements are pushed through because larger companies want to force smaller independent operators out of business and because governments view them as another source of revenue.
            Anyway next week, I hope to have this whole CDL renewal behind me.  Now it’s time for my wife to start studying.  Ha Ha!  She’s been a licensed cosmetologist since 1980, you’d think she’d know all she needs to know by now.  No big deal.  All she’s got to do is waste a few hours of her time studying and taking the test and send the government some more of her money and she’ll be fine.

Hey, Obama! We're Rejecting You!


            The other day Barack Obama gave a commencement address to the graduating class of Ohio State University. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/05/05/obama_to_ohio_state_grads_reject_voices_that_warn_about_government_tyranny.html. 
            He told the graduates that they should reject the voices that warn of government tyranny.  I did not have much respect for Obama to begin with, but somehow he manages to make me lose more respect for him all the time.  Just wait for the Benghazi hearings.
            Hey Barry!  What are you saying?  Am I supposed to reject what I’ve been told by my father and other people I respect since as early as I can remember?  Am I supposed to reject the writings of the great men who founded this country?  I don’t think so! 
            People can get into debates about policy and get mired down arguing about the theoretical and the hypothetical, but this is different.  This is a man making statements that show that he either doesn’t understand or doesn’t agree with the principles that this country was founded upon.
            Anyone with any understanding knows that it is a natural tendency of government to grow and become more intrusive with the passage of time, even if the people in government have the best of intentions.  Every year we see more and more regulations and more restrictions on our freedom.  This is what these voices are warning us about Barry!  Not some Antichrist politician taking control in one fell swoop, (although Obama sure has given that a hell of a try) but the incremental gnawing away of our rights and freedoms at a pace slow enough that most people don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late. 
            Well Barry, we conservatives know it’s happening and are going to do everything in our power to stop it!  WE’RE REJECTING YOU!