Tag Archive for: WarOnEnergy

It Apparently Wasn’t the Economy, Stupid!

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Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. H. L. Mencken

The recent results of the mid-term elections have a number of pundits puzzled, including ourselves.

It was felt that the economy would be dominant. Inflation is at the worst levels in 40 years, falling markets are chewing up savings and folks’ 401K plans, there are no eggs at Costco, rents are soaring, and only about 21 days of diesel fuel is left in the country.

Crime is out of control in major cities, and the border is wide open for anyone, terrorist or bricklayer, to come into the country.

The Federal Budget is completely out of whack.

Surely, people are feeling this. It is evident at the meat counter, at the gas pump, and on the electricity bill.  There is no way the media can hide this reality from the American people. These are the conditions for a Red Wave. Or, at least, that is what was thought.

We think the American people are feeling the pain, despite the best effort of the press to hide the problems. But, it seems voters think Russia is the cause and not the Democrats and they were more concerned about abortion and “election denial” and the “taint of Trump” than they were about kitchen table issues thought to be more important.

So, it seems the economy is not the most important issue for voters. What else can one reasonably conclude?

But it is also true, few people, including leading Republicans, understand the budget crisis. If they do, they are so terrified to talk about it because Democrats will portray them as “pushing grandma off a cliff”, if they even bring up the subject in a campaign. We urge you to watch the video by Congressman David Schweikert.

Independents apparently broke heavily for Democrats late in the game. Usually, they are independent for a reason and break late for the challenger. It didn’t happen. Younger, unmarried women also voted heavily for Democrats.

Republicans consistently polled that they are more trusted on the economy. But since the economy did not seem to matter that edge was lost. Did the Republicans blow it because they too got bogged down in peripheral issues? It appears they did.  

Independents voted against Republicans because of the “taint of Trump”, so says the Wall Street Journal in a perceptive analysis of Arizona results. Republicans took Congressional seats 6-3 and took the legislature. But many identified with Trump lost narrowly. Those like Kimberly Lee, not identified with Trump, won handily.

If the Wall Street Journal is correct, that sort of makes our point. The public was turned off on Republicans despite the weak, inflationary-wracked economy. The economy was not paramount after all.

The result is that while the Republicans barely took the House, they won’t be able to do much but hold off additional bad decisions on the economy, and they certainly will not be able to mount a counterattack to reverse many bad decisions by the Democrats. Meanwhile, Biden will be free to use his executive power to wreak havoc. The courts may eventually correct some of that, but it takes too much time to occur to help a declining economy.

We think of the ever-ebullient Larry Kudlow, who advised us that Republicans would do well, and that “the calvary was coming”, to make the economy better.

But the cavalry got mauled badly just as they did at the Fetterman Massacre in 1866. Similarly, Republicans got massacred in Pennsylvania by a truly radical Democrat of the same name, who can barely speak a complete sentence. He will likely destroy the once vibrant energy sector that has employed so many Pennsylvanians. But then again, rural Pennsylvania went all Republican and the rich environmentalists around Philadelphia and the black vote carried the day.

You can’t say in this race, the Republicans ran a poor candidate, certainly compared to the Democrats. One was a brilliant doctor, and the other was brain-damaged. Say what you will about the Democrat Party, it was a stroke of genius to run Fetterman. He was just what the people wanted.

That leads to our concluding thoughts. If indeed people were not concerned enough about the economy, but other things, they are likely to get it “good and hard” as the sage of Baltimore suggested. This is as it should be. Unfortunately, all of us will pay for the mistake.

The reason goes back to Kudlow’s observation, but with a negative twist. The cavalry is not coming and the likelihood now of a serious recession looms.

To be sure, many of the about-to-be-mentioned factors were present before, and they would be difficult to deal with in any case, but now, there is really no chance of reversing the impact of bad Democrat policies. 

And, we would add, the economy has its own complex cycle, independent of politics. But the distortions of the Biden Administration (gunning the money supply 40%), chocking off energy production, and blowing out the deficit, touched off an inflationary burst that the Federal Reserve has to address. We have long felt an economy that had become addicted to cheap money would suffer withdrawal symptoms when the cheap money is withdrawn.

Here are some of the negative factors we currently see:

The increase in interest rates needed to fight inflation causes an immense increase in borrowing costs for our bloated government debt.

Borrowing costs will soon be the blob that eats whatever is left in the 16% of the budget that is “discretionary”, that is the part our leaders actually vote on.

The yield curve is inverted, that is short-term interest rates are higher than long-term rates. This has been a reliable indicator of recession, regardless of politics.

Corporate earnings are now in a downtrend with 75% of the S&P companies announcing downgrades.

Inflation may have come off its peak, but the FED wisely has said one or two data points do not make a trend and that they will keep raising rates, which they should. The old maxim is the FED will keep raising “until something breaks.” We wonder if the crypto disasters we keep seeing are not the leading edge of a liquidity crisis in an over-leveraged economy.

It will be no fun when something big does indeed break. It will be scary.

The rate of change of the money supply is falling fast, and the velocity of money is contracting.

The combination of rising mortgage rates and the housing bubble is making home affordability a serious problem for future demand. According to Charlie Bilello, it now takes $107,000 in income to afford a median-priced home, which is up a whopping 45% in just the past 12 months. The American dream is getting crushed.

The Leading Economic Indicators have now been down for eight months in a row, more than long enough to establish a trend.

According to David Rosenberg, the consumer sentiment number kept by the University of Michigan averages 71 during recessions and hovers around 88 during expansions. The latest number is around 55, the lowest in about 70 years. The consumer is in trouble and consumer spending is 70% of the economy.

While anecdotal data, the fact that Amazon and FedEx are both laying people off, during the time of the year they normally hire temps because of Christmas shopping, suggests shipping demand is way off. If you are making stuff or buying stuff, it has to be shipped. If stuff is not being shipped it is for a good reason…the economy is contracting fast.

The same can be said for container prices which are falling sharply. This indicates a sharp slowdown in international trade.

Home prices have started to decline and homes are the main source of wealth for most of the population. They are highly leveraged contracts as we found out in the last housing crisis. People can walk away from their commitments in most states, sticking taxpayers with the bill.

Existing home sales have been down for nine months, off 28% from last year.

Federal debt has ballooned so much that interest payments will soon be equal to defense expenditures. When you have to borrow money to pay for interest and essentials, you are in real trouble. However, negative trends compound in a welfare state economy. Demands for more spending will soon be heard, while revenue to the government will decline. Deficits will go up even more. The deficit crisis, long ignored, will reach the critical stage.

However marginal the Republican win in the House, fiscal policy will be less stimulative and the Fed will keep monetary policy tight until the inflation fever breaks. The era of easy and cheap money is likely over, for at least a while.

A number of nations centered around the BRICS economy (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are toying with a new payment system that will not use US dollars. Without that demand, the dollar will have to be valued on its fundamentals, and those fundamentals are not that great.

The Green New Deal and ESG have starved capital investment in energy. New alternatives are not comparable and are being brought on too slowly. An energy crisis is likely to unfold in the next few years.

After throwing $80 billion at the Ukraine war, Biden is asking for another $37 billion. How much, how long, and to what end?

We could go on with another ten or so factoids, but hopefully, the point has been made. We are now more likely to have a serious recession and no political relief is likely.

Perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that as the economy gets worse, especially if unemployment starts to rise to a painful level, it successfully focuses the minds of voters. If this happens as is likely, in 2023 and 2024, peripheral issues will take second or third, or tenth place behind the economy.

If we are not in one already, a recession is likely sometime next year. If forced to guess, we would say by next spring.

If things turn as bad as we think they will, Democrats will not be able to dodge responsibility during the next election cycle.

History shows when the economy turns sour, those in power have to take the blame.

The dictum that it is “the economy stupid” will take center stage once again. But to get there, the American people will have to have their attention focused by getting a recession good and hard.

That is nothing we wish for, or voted for because it necessarily involves all of us regardless of party. But, voting has consequences.

 

 

The Coming Diesel Shortage Made Worse by Biden Energy Policies

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Halloween is over. And whether you’re one of those people who can’t stand that Christmas overtakes Thanksgiving, or whether you’ve already hung your stockings with care, from a retail and shipping perspective, the holiday shopping season has already begun.

This happens every year. Yet something else is happening this year that has not happened before.

America is entering a severe diesel shortage – just in time for everyone to start ordering their holiday packages. If there’s no diesel, there’s no fuel for the trucks that bring everything we take for granted to stores and our homes. A severe shortage in diesel could mean an eventual severe shortage in groceries and other goods (or a severe increase in the price of everything else).

The Energy Information Administration reports that inventories for diesel have not been this low since 1982 (which is when they started tracking the data). There are only 25 days of supply left.

Mansfield Energy, a fuel supply and logistics company, announced that this shortage would affect the southeastern United States particularly hard, including Virginia and Maryland.

But why is this happening?

Some would have you believe that the main and only reason is the war in Ukraine. This is only partially correct.

While yes, the war in Ukraine, and the subsequent ban on Russian oil imports, have played a role, it is not the whole story.

President Joe Biden has eliminated new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, killed the Keystone Pipeline, closed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to energy exploration, and pursued myriad regulations to increase the cost of energy and energy production (social cost of carbon, new methane rule, and the Paris Climate Accord to name a few).

All of these policies increase risk and cost to energy companies. It makes it less profitable and secure to invest in new energy development.

Europe, meanwhile, has gone even further on green policies than the United States, and is now reaping the supposed “benefits.” Europe has forced itself to rely on Russian gas to fulfill its own green goals. Now, as winter approaches, it is said wood is the new gold in Europe because it is so valuable for home heating with the gas shortages.

What’s worse, is that the Biden Administration doesn’t seem to have any plan for fixing it. Here’s what White House spokesman John Kirby had to say when asked about it:

“I’ll take the question on the diesel, because I just don’t have the data on that in front me. So let me take that and we’ll get back to you on that, but writ large, the president has been working very, very hard to make sure that we’re, that not only are we ready for fluctuations that could come and of course, the prices are going down and we think that’s important, but that we are also doing what we can to help our European friends and partners who are also going to be facing a long, cold winter. We have doubled our commitment, the commitment he made in March, for natural gas exports to Europe.”

So, the administration’s answer to America’s diesel shortage is to ship natural gas to Europe?

And I’m not sure what Kirby is referring to by “prices are going down.” Diesel prices are up more than $5 per gallon nationwide according to Forbes.

The Biden Administration did not directly cause the coming diesel shortage, but it has done everything in its power to make America very susceptible to any global supply disruption.

Without the Biden Administration’s anti-energy policies, America could have weathered the coming diesel shortage storm.

This article was originally published in the Fairfax County Times.

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This article was published by CFACT and is reproduced with permission.

ESG Financial “Leaders” Live In La-La Land

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This week, I virtually attended “The ESG Leadership Forum 2022” co-hosted by the Wall Street Journal Trust and Nasdaq. Panel discussions covered everything from accelerating the energy transition to how to model climate risks into climate strategy to getting to net-zero with tips on how to “actually deliver” on ESG promises.

Speakers earned an “A+” in leadership lingo and managerial theory, but a big “F” in reality. There was a creative high point where win-win was reimagined as wind-wind to describe one company’s “winning” approach to wind energy. (Get it?) In their defense, it is winning from the C-suite perspective. These companies are guaranteed to reap the benefits of government-backed dividends promised by President Biden through trillions of mismanaged taxpayer dollars. 

In reality, however, we the taxpayers will be stuck with the consequences of the ESG movement, and, most notably, the “path to net-zero,” which is both damaging and delusional. It is behind efforts to shutter reliable and affordable energy—mainly coal, oil, and natural gas—and replace it with less reliable, more expensive alternatives. The arbitrary deadlines to reach this goal are forcing the early closure of energy sources without adequately replacing them. As a result, our degraded energy grid now regularly delivers blackouts and brownouts, especially during heat waves and cold snaps when we the regular people consume it the most. This isn’t because of climate change. It can be attributed to poor planning and blind allegiance to ESG principles that constantly overpromise and underdeliver.  

As Team Biden implements its whole-of-the-government effort to shutter U.S. oil and natural gas, ESG investing is maximizing its effect. Government-mandated red tape, coupled with leasing bans, has increased operating costs. At the same time, ESG investors are limiting access to the very capital these companies need to upgrade, expand, and ultimately keep up. The resulting oil market imbalance of suppressed supply is the leading reasonfor the high costs we pay at the pump. The strained natural gas supply, which accounts for 37% of electricity production, has led to the largest 12-month increase in over 40 years and is why one in six families is now behind on utility bills. 

Adding insult to injury, this will have no impact on the climate. Some reports found that a net-zero U.S. would reduce temperatures by only 0.137 degrees in 2100. Recall that a warming temperature is the purported key driver of the change these financial gurus are fighting. 

The real problem is that these ESG elites are in charge of trillions of dollars of investments and their decisions—even the damaging and delusional ones—have a broad reach. They should not be celebrated, but rather held to account—starting with the fire-fire approach. (See what I did there?)

That is fighting fire with fire. Leading this is Strive Asset Management, a company that offers investors the ability to partake in good old-fashioned planning, where maximizing value takes precedence. Strive CEO Vivek Ramaswamyeven has the audacity to let those that reap the benefits of his fund’s returns use their own money to be the change in the world they want to be.

Americans are starting to wake up to the ESG fraud. To find out more about ESG, what it is, and how states are starting to rightfully push back, check out our comprehensive communications kit on ESG Investing.

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This article was published at Independent Women’s Forum, and is reproduced with permission.

The West Might Lose The New Cold War With Its Self-Defeating Energy Policy

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In today’s new Cold War, the West is losing its economic advantage because of its self-defeating energy policies to address ‘climate change.’

 

Three significant events this year indicate that we are already in a new Cold War. In early February, China and Russia established an unofficial strategic alliance by announcing “a friendship of no limits” while denouncing the Western democracies. Shortly after, Russia invaded Ukraine. After some initial hesitation and delays, the United States and its Western allies worked together to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia while providing Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid.

A new iron curtain has descended from the Baltic to the South China Sea. One side is a coalition of autocracies led by China and Russia, with illiberal regimes such as Iran and North Korea playing the supporting role. The other side we call the West, led by the United States, including liberal democracies in Europe, South Korea, and Japan. Will the West win this new Cold War?

The West claimed the victory of the last Cold War against Communism not only because of the superiority of liberal democratic values but also because of the economic strengths of the free market, which had created a higher standard of living and enormous wealth. It’s self-evident that freedom and prosperity go hand in hand. In contrast to the economic success of the West were widespread poverty and hunger in Communist countries. People in these countries either fled to the West or demanded political change at home through protests. It’s fair to say that the Berlin Wall fell, and the West won the Cold War, mainly because of its economic advantages over Communist regimes.

In today’s new Cold War, however, the West is losing its economic advantage because of its self-defeating energy policies driven by a cult-like devotion to addressing “climate change.” Aiming to slow down global warming (although our planet only warmed 1 degree Celsius since the late 19th century) and bring the greenhouse emissions back to the pre-industrial revolution level, liberal elites have decided to rapidly replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. They refuse to admit that despite many technological advancements, renewable energy is not reliable because the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow on demand. According to Lars Schernikau, an energy economist, “practically every windmill or solar panel requires either a backup or storage.”

The United States and Europe’s ill-advised energy policies have little effect on global warming or greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, they have made the West vulnerable in this new Cold War for three reasons.

1. The West Has Inflicted Economic Pain and Lower Standard of Living

The West’s anti-carbon energy policies resulted in energy shortages and high energy prices long before Russia invaded Ukraine. Since food security depends on energy, high energy prices led to food inflation and shortages. Higher prices of food and energy are the main drivers of rising inflation in Europe and the U.S. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated these problems and crystallized how foolish the West’s energy policies are.

For the first time in decades, people in the West must embrace economic pain and a lower standard of living that was familiar to those of us who used to live in Communist countries. Today in Germany, people face a “cost of living crisis,” with shortages of necessities such as cooking oil, flour, and toilet paper. Some local authorities have already limited hot water and traffic lights. Others warned they might have to turn off floodlights in soccer stadiums to conserve energy, something unthinkable for a soccer-crazy nation. But it’s the coming winter that may be most dreadful. If Russia cuts off the natural gas supply, pundits in Germany predict an economic recession and “major civil disorder, a winter of cold showers and extra jumpers.”

Other European nations aren’t faring any better. The continent is on the verge of an energy-driven recession. Fed up with rising fuel prices and local governments’ insistence on their unrealistic “green” policies, Dutch farmers staged protests in the Netherlands. Now similar protests led by farmers have spread to Germany, Italy, Spain, and Poland.

Americans have been enduring economic pain too. A survey shows that rising gas and food prices have forced two-thirds of Americans to cut back on restaurants, movies, and entertainment, and to drive less. More than 4 in 10 Americans spent less on groceries. Some families have resorted to switching off lights and air conditioning due to the cost of energy. The survey also shows that the majority of Americans has a pessimistic outlook of our nation’s economy, expecting a recession.

The West cannot win the new Cold War when its green policies lead to economic suffering and political instability at home.

2. The West’s Energy Policies Have Empowered and Enriched Adversaries

Europe’s dependency on Russia’s oil and natural gas has enriched Russian President Vladimir Putin. Without money earned from energy exports to build his war chest, Putin probably would have had to think twice before he invaded Ukraine. After the European Union (EU) imposed economic sanctions on Russia after the invasion, Putin showed how he could use energy to retaliate. Russia reportedly reduced the flow of natural gas through Nord Stream (offshore natural gas pipelines run under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany) to about 40 percent of its capacity in recent months. Then it shut down the pipelines for ten days in the name of annual maintenance, when Europe was in the middle of a heat wave. Putin eventually turned the pipelines back on but “warned of possible new capacity shortfalls because of Western sanctions.” French President Emmanuel Macron finally acknowledged that energy has become “a weapon of the war.”

Anticipating the coming winter heating season, the EU urged members to cut back natural gas consumption by at least 15 percent over the next eight months and start to ration energy usage, prioritizing “essential industries.” That means both businesses and homes should expect rolling blackouts, which I was used to when growing up in Communist China. The prospect of no heat in winter may force some EU nations to give up economic sanctions on Russia in exchange for energy. A divided Europe is a win for Putin. If the EU can’t maintain a united front on sanctioning Russia, Putin will win his war in Ukraine. The EU has no one else but itself to blame for this outcome because previous U.S. administrations warned about it for years. But leaders such as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to listen.

While the EU’s green energy policies were enriching Putin’s Russia, in the U.S., the Democrats’ “green” energy has enriched Communist China. U.S. government subsidies for solar panels and electric vehicles have gone to China, since that country dominates the global supply chains of critical components and materials. A rich and powerful China has helped Russia mitigate the effects of Western economic sanctions by purchasing Russia’s agricultural and energy exports. Even more troublesome, China’s “clean” energy producers have been accused of causing environmental pollution and exploiting forced Uyghur laborers.

The West cannot win the new Cold War when it looks to adversaries for energy solutions.

3. The West Faces Difficulties Building a Broader Coalition

When the West led a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 35 countries abstained or voted no. In another vote to expel Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, 58 countries abstained. Some of these “abstainers” are ideologically aligned with Russia. Others refused to join the West’s condemnation due to their economic needs. Their top concerns are food and energy security, not climate change. They are unconvinced that the West’s “green” energy policies worked when they see the once affluent West is now suffering economic pain and instability. They also witnessed how countries such as Sri Lanka collapsed economically and politically after adopting the West’s green policies. Unlike foolhardy climate alarmists in the West, leaders in these countries know that they need affordable fossil fuels, food, and fertilizer exports from Russia, and economic investment from China to keep their people happy and maintain stability. Driven by these practical economic reasons, many nations chose not to take sides. Not surprisingly, the West is having difficulty building a broader and stronger coalition against Russia.

The liberals in the West need to face the reality that not only does the world primarily run on fossil fuels, but energy has also become a powerful weapon in this new Cold War. The West cannot win this new Cold War with its self-defeating anti-carbon energy policies.

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This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

Democrats’ Disastrous, Capricious Energy Policy

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Democrats have spent decades warning that the United States must stop using the most efficient and affordable energy sources or it will be consumed by heat waves, fireballs, and cataclysmic weather events.

Every flood, every hurricane—every natural event, really—is now blamed on climate change. We have burdened our children with an irrational dread over their future. Then again, many in The Cult of Malthus won’t even have children.

So, why, if we’re on the precipice of this apocalypse if saving the planet trumps every other concern, is President Joe Biden begging everyone to drill? On the days Democrats aren’t blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for rising gas prices (a cost the president not long ago argued was worth paying for “freedom”), they’re blaming oil companies for profiteering.

As the national average hit $5.01 last Wednesday (nearly $2 higher than a year earlier), Biden sent letters to refining companies threatening to once again abuse his executive powers if they do not immediately alleviate high prices—a political appeal to the imaginary “greedflation.”

Biden, who promised a 100% “clean-energy economy” with “net-zero emissions” in a couple of decades, now demands energy companies, already at utilization rates above 90%, invest tens of billions more in new drilling infrastructure, when everyone knows that tomorrow when prices recede, Democrats are going to go right back to passing laws and regulations that undercut their business.

Today, Democrats demand CEOs spend more; tomorrow, they will promise to “hold oil executives accountable” and drag them in front of congressional committees where they will be scolded by economically illiterate windbags.

That future is baked into today’s price. Because Democrats’ energy policy is a schizophrenic mess, oscillating from puerile to pernicious. You can’t spend decades working to undercut production and campaign on the promise of destroying industry and then demand it turn on a dime when it’s politically convenient.

Democrats will argue that this is a unique emergency as prices have spiked to historic highs. Guess what? Energy prices will always be at historic highs when you create shortages, which is exactly what progressives have been advocating we do for years.

Virtually every left-wing energy proposal in the past two decades, if not longer, has been designed to create false scarcity, either through fabricated marketplaces and stringent regulations or by putting caps on production. This is what they wanted.  

“No more drilling on federal lands,” Biden promised during the 2020 presidential campaign. “No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends, No. 1.”

Not No. 2. No. 1.

“No more—no new fracking,” the president also said.

Blue states across the country have either banned fracking or are in the process of banning fracking projects.

And, on the first day of his presidency, Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement—an accord he is now working hard to break—revoking permits for Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline that was going to carry approximately 800,000 barrels of oil a day into the United States (also baked into the price).

Biden signed a slew of executive orders prioritizing climate change over energy production, halting oil and natural gas leases on all public lands. When a court blocked him, the Biden administration appealed the decision, even as indications of an energy spike were clear.

Rather than threatening price controls, the president should just rescind all his executive orders.

Of course, until some new technology is devised, implementing any policy that resembles the Green New Deal—the plan Biden says is the “framework” for his own efforts on “environmental justice”—would hold approximately the same economic consequences as having coronavirus economic shutdowns for 30 years straight. That’s merely if we followed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommendations on carbon emissions.

Last year, with inflation already looming, Biden preached that it was a “moral imperative” to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and 100% by 2050. That’s a policy that will have us fondly reminiscing about $5 a gallon.

Energy policy can’t be capriciously implemented and then abandoned every time the Democrats’ poll numbers flail. This is just a little taste of the Green New Deal. There is no sentient being that could accept the notion that Democrats are the party that is in favor of abundant fossil fuels.

Hopefully, the price—even in small measure—for Democrats’ green policies is so politically severe that they will moderate. Because we all have unattainable dreams.

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This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

A World Turned Upside Down

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

When Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown, the band played a tune called “The World Turned Upside Down”. We could use some of that music today.

As I quietly celebrate a new national holiday called “Juneteenth”. I am grateful for the opportunity to have another chance to feel guilty about something. Another reminder that we are all racists never does any harm, does it? A holiday is a great time to feel bad, or at least sad. I always feel terrible at Thanksgiving about what we have done to turkeys.

The prices of Bitcoins and all the rest of the crypto-nonsense are hurtling down the drain, yet the business media pretends these are just stocks seeking to “find a bottom”. How about zero? Nevertheless, some “expert” just trotted out a poll showing that 70% believe that Bitcoins are “trustworthy”. What does that even mean? People can be trustworthy; fantasies, not so much.

Another report shows the price of jet fuel up 128% in the last year. Airlines are about to jack up prices again. Yet everyone seems ready to fly somewhere, even though incomes are lagging further and further behind inflation. My guess is that credit card defaults will soon be spiking.

The airlines have canceled tens of thousands of flights this weekend, citing staffing problems. The Administration’s Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttijug, is threatening to fine the airlines if they don’t hire more people. Maybe they should train some of those homeless people to fly. Many of them already take self-activated trips every day. Pistol Pete neglected to mention that the main reason for the cancellations was the short-staffing of the Government’s own air traffic controllers. All those kids playing video games should make ideal air traffic controllers.

The Secretary has been touting the excellence of AMTRAK. Yet, when he had a flight between DC and NYC canceled, he drove instead. I wonder why?

Based on the latest statistics, it appears we will have a new record: over 2 million illegals coming to the U.S. this year. Now the Administration is planning to bus them further from the border, giving large cities an opportunity to host more people who committed a crime getting here and no one knows how many more beforehand. Their major contribution seems to be that they keep our supply of fentanyl growing.

A decision on overturning Roe v Wade is due any day now. It seems clear that the case was wrongly decided on legal grounds many years ago. Each State will now get to decide what they want. A lot of misery is coming, but as long as the lawyers have won, we should all be happy. Who better to make moral decisions than lawyers? Politicians?

The price of a barrel of oil has come down from the stratosphere. Don’t celebrate just yet. The price of gasoline has little to do with Russia and the war. Years of reducing investment in exploration for new sources have guaranteed a supply deficiency for years to come. Even the Saudis don’t have an inexhaustible supply. We do, but we don’t want to continue to depend on our own supply. Some think it better to be dependent on foreign supply. The Germans believed it a good idea to depend on Russian gas and now look at the mess they are in.

The President says the fault is the greedy oil companies. Having never actually been in business himself, he apparently does not know that companies make investment decisions based on expected profitability. Who in his right mind would make a decision to invest when the President of the U.S. is determined to put you out of business and continually issues Executive Orders aimed at facilitating your demise? In fact, Biden is so determined to kill the U.S. oil industry that he goes begging to our enemies to please pump more oil in order to keep the price down. The only logical conclusion is that he sees the destruction of hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs in the U.S. as an unavoidable consequence of making us the leader in the attempt to halt climate change.

His own spending binge caused the current bout of inflation, the worst since Jimmy Carter’s feckless presidency. Spending has to be financed, and since we could not find the money elsewhere, it fell to the Treasury and the Fed to just print the money. Flooding the country with too much money is what causes inflation, not greedy oil companies.

Biden’s answer is to combat climate change and inflation by stimulating the development of electric vehicles, and wind and solar power. As always, the question is how all this change will be financed and how major practical problems will be solved. He promises to put charging stations every 50 miles along the nation’s highways, apparently unaware that there are long stretches in the West that have no way to bring electric power to run the charging stations. And let’s not forget that his Transportation Secretary wants to tear down parts of the Interstate Highway System because they bulldozed black neighborhoods when they were constructed in the 1950s.

We are told that inflation will soon subside, even though it keeps increasing. It will be interesting to see what the Social Security benefits increase will be for 2023. One thing is sure. The number will be manipulated downward using technical esoterica in justification. It won’t be the first time, nor the last. The Social Security System simply can’t raise benefits by 8% without the Fed having to print more money.

I laugh when various experts come on TV to debate the “possibility” of a recession. Open your eyes, guys! We are already in one. All the talk of “soft landings” is pure balderdash. Inflation will moderate eventually but forget quickly. I frequently eat lunch with a friend at Otro Café, a local restaurant that serves the best tacos in Phoenix. Like many men, we always have the same thing. For a long time, the price of our lunch for two was $35. This past week it was $48. Same meal, same tax, same % tip. That is a 37% increase. I could quote similar increases in other restaurants, One restaurant’s takeout price was $48 during COVID, $60 now. Same meal. This can’t continue. Demand destruction is just around the corner.

Suppose that prices just stay high. If the public won’t support higher prices, and they just stay the same, isn’t that a lower rate of inflation? Yes. If only…!  In reality, wages have fallen quite a bit in relation to inflation. Workers need to catch up, and the sudden interest in unionization in places like Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks suggests that workers feel the need for unions to make them whole again. Of course, increasing wages means pressure to increase prices in order to keep the business going. And so, inflation does not just go away.

In the long sweep of history, there are two facts that we need to keep in mind as we lurch from one insanity to another.

We have been fortunate to have lived our lives in a relatively small number of years when the climate of planet Earth has been exceptionally favorable to life, agriculture, and to prosperity. Continuance is not an inevitability. But neither is our ability to materially change geophysical realities. Climate change is real, but it is not man’s fault, nor can we do as much to change what we don’t like as we would like to think. Exaggeration of facts is not the way to sound responses.

Empires have frequently risen and fallen. Ours is not necessarily immortal. With enough arrogance and stupidity, we could actually hasten the fall of the most productive and free world power the world has ever known. There is always “another side” in a debate. When the major objective of politics is the annihilation of opposition, the final outcome may well be the annihilation of all. Neither Republicans nor Democrats seem to recognize that at this time.

Record High Diesel Prices Threaten Domino Effect To Other Goods

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Record high diesel fuel prices are yet another driver of rising costs for Americans, and those costs could get even higher this year.

Diesel gas prices hit another record high Thursday at $5.79 per gallon, according to AAA. That is a spike from $5.57 a month ago and much higher than the average of $3.22 the same time last year.

Diesel gas prices have continued to hit new records this week even as regular gas has leveled out, at least for the last couple of days.

Those higher prices are one of several factors raising costs for businesses, costs that are often passed down to consumers.

Food prices have soared in recent months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 10.1% increase in the food index in the previous twelve months, “the first increase of 10 percent or more since the period ending March 1981.”

Food prices have been hit hard by Russian President Valdimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine since Ukraine is a major exporter for food and chemicals used in fertilizer, but several other factors have played a part, including inflation. BLS’ producer price index rose 10.8% in the past 12 months, and consumer prices are rising at the fastest pace in four decades.

Many of the food production costs that are hitting farmers now will not be felt by consumers until the crops are harvested and sent to market later on.

“We have not yet begun to see the cost of Biden’s war on energy, on food prices because we have not yet harvested,” Turner said. “It’s only late spring, and we are still eating last year’s wheat. Wait until late summer and early fall and we will see painfully high prices across the board, and we are woefully unprepared.

Diesel, though, is used to transporting all kinds of goods, not just food. Right now, businesses are paying more than ever to transport via diesel trucks while the market also deals with a truck driver shortage.

Those higher costs are one more supply chain issue facing the U.S. economy right now as prices on all kinds of goods rise.

Experts say higher energy costs will only make that worse if they remain elevated for an extended period of time.

“By the economics textbook, higher costs work themselves up through the supply side of the market and raise prices,” said Roger Cryan, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, as previously reported by The Center Square. “The prices are especially high right now because of the sudden lack of access to Black Sea grain, but if these energy prices stay high in the long run then they will entirely work their way into food prices.”

Biden has taken heavy criticism for his energy policies from detractors who point to his policies that held back oil leases and pipeline development.

Biden has tried to deflect those critiques, pointing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which disrupted global oil markets. 

“Biden has got a case that there is a Russia shock, but the other side has also got a case that if the United States were producing more, the Russia shock wouldn’t be such a big deal,” said Desmond Lachman, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute.

*****
This article was published by The Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

Here’s How Gas Prices Rank Around the Country

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Gas prices have hit record highs day after day in recent weeks, breaking the $5 mark over the weekend for the first time ever.

Those higher prices have put many Americans in a bind as they also deal with the highest inflation in decades.

The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas hit a record-high $5.01 Monday, up from $4.43 a month ago and much higher than the price of $3.08 this time last year.

All 50 states around the country have seen major price hikes, though some more than others.

With average prices varying by state, here is the breakdown, from highest to lowest, of the regular gas price for every state in the nation.

Gas Prices State Ranking

State Current Price Price One Month Ago Price One Year Ago
1. California $6.44 $5.87 $4.23
2. Nevada $5.66 $5.14 $3.66
3. Alaska $5.57 $4.82 $3.37
4. Illinois $5.56 $4.81 $3.35
5. Washington $5.55 $4.92 $3.62
6. Oregon $5.54 $4.90 $3.47
7. Hawaii $5.53 $5.31 $3.97
8. Arizona $5.32 $4.72 $3.12
9. Indiana $5.22 $4.41 $3.05
10. Michigan $5.22 $4.35 $3.17
11. Idaho $5.10 $4.50 $3.29
12. Maine $5.08 $4.46 $3.06
13. Pennsylvania $5.07 $4.58 $3.18
14. New Jersey $5.06 $4.50 $3.07
15. Ohio $5.05 $4.29 $3.03
16. Massachusetts $5.05 $4.48 $2.95
17. Vermont $5.05 $4.48 $2.99
18. New York $5.04 $4.68 $3.11
19. Rhode Island $5.02 $4.46 $2.97
20. Maryland $5.02 $4.41 $2.99
21. Utah $5.02 $4.48 $3.37
22. New Hampshire $5.00 $4.40 $2.94
23. Delaware $4.99 $4.40 $2.97
24. Connecticut $4.98 $4.40 $3.09
25. Wisconsin $4.92 $4.20 $2.92
26. West Virginia $4.91 $4.24 $3.00
27. Montana $4.91 $4.27 $2.96
28. Florida $4.89 $4.47 $2.97
29. Colorado $4.88 $4.12 $3.22
30. Virginia $4.86 $4.27 $2.93
31. New Mexico $4.83 $4.28 $2.97
32. Kentucky $4.80 $4.22 $2.91
33. North Dakota $4.77 $4.11 $2.89
34. Minnesota $4.76 $4.10 $2.86
35. Wyoming $4.76 $4.24 $3.14
36. Nebraska $4.76 $4.09 $2.91
37. Iowa $4.74 $4.13 $2.87
38. South Dakota $4.72 $4.14 $2.93
39. Missouri $4.68 $4.03 $2.76
40. North Carolina $4.67 $4.21 $2.88
41. Kansas $4.66 $3.99 $2.85
42. Texas $4.66 $4.11 $2.76
43. Tennessee $4.64 $4.17 $2.88
44. Oklahoma $4.64 $4.00 $2.75
45. Alabama $4.63 $4.14 $2.82
46. South Carolina $4.61 $4.13 $2.80
47. Louisiana $4.55 $4.09 $2.72
48. Arkansas $4.54 $4.01 $2.77
49. Mississippi $4.52 $4.02 $2.72
50. Georgia $4.48 $3.95 $2.91

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This article was published by The Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

Davos Reminds: Other Countries Aren’t Committing Economic Suicide For Climate Change

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In very many WEFs past, lots of countries have made lots of climate change pledges and promises. They then moved on as if they never said anything – and kept doing what they had always been doing.

The world’s globalist billionaire “leaders” recently gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) – to discuss murdering economics:

“One-third of the roughly 270 WEF panel discussions in Davos will focus on climate change or its effects, with extreme weather, efforts to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and finding new, cleaner sources of energy on the agenda.”

Of course, the world’s globalist billionaire “leaders” are all members of the “Do As I Say – Not As I Do” Club.

Just How Much CO2 Did Woke Elites Spew Flying Private Jets To Davos?:

“Overall, roughly 1,500 private jets flew to and from airports near Davos for the WEF annual meeting in 2019, according to an analysis from Air Charter Service, The Guardian reported at the time. The firm didn’t conduct a similar analysis for this year’s conference, a spokesperson told TheDCNF.”

Get that?  When the number of private jets flying in to discuss “climate change” is an embarrassment?  Stop counting the private jets.

At Davos, Are Leaders’ Private Jets and Limos Actually Hurting Climate-Change Efforts?

Gee, ya think?

If you still take these globalists seriously – about anything?  You’re either not paying attention – or are irretrievably stupid.

In very many WEFs past, lots of countries have made lots of climate change pledges and promises.  They then moved on as if they never said anything – and kept doing what they had always been doing.

And as is always the case when people get away with things?  These countries are attempting to get away with bigger and more brazen things.

Having faced zero consequences for lying about doing climate change things?

Not a Single G20 Country Is in Line with the Paris Agreement on Climate, Analysis Shows

Nations now increasingly don’t even bother to lie.  To wit: China, Russia, and India are the three biggest “emitters” not named the US….

Cop26: China, India and Russia Must ‘Do More’ to Tackle Climate Crisis

Except….

China, Russia, India, Worlds Top 3 Methane Emitters, Won’t Pledge to Cut Emissions

China, India, and Russia Aren’t Interested in Updating Their Emissions Targets Before 2025

And they tell lies so biliously preposterous – they are utterly unenforceable even if they weren’t lying.

India Targets 2070 for Net-Zero Emissions

China’s Contentious Path to Net-Zero by 2060

Russia Aims to Reach Net Zero Emissions by 2060

Just about none of the globalist fat cats (emphasis on “fat”) bearing witness to these Davos climate “pledges” will be alive in 2060 when they first begin coming due.  If any of these nations actually intended on adhering to them – which they absolutely do not.

India, China, Russia Kill Climate Deal

These international climate “pledges” aren’t worth the very many dead trees on which they’re printed.  They are nothing but gassy, sound-good soundbites.

Because these countries wish not to commit economic suicide.  And I certainly don’t blame them.

But exceedingly awful president Joe Biden is rigorously determined to commit US economic suicide on our behalf.

Biden Commits to Cutting U.S. Emissions in Half by 2030

That means the US economy doesn’t grow – it shrinks by about 50%.  In eight years.  And as I’m sure you’ve noticed – what with the heinously horrendous economy in which we all are mired?  Biden isn’t just saying these things – he’s actually doing them.

Video of the Day: Joe Biden Promises No More Drilling for Oil – Period

Joe Biden Just Promised No Coal Power Plants Will Ever Be Built In America

No empty economic suicide pledges from Biden.  Like, say, from China, Russia and India.

China Is Investing in Its Domestic Oil and Gas Industry

Russian Oil Production Is Rebounding and Will Keep Rising

India Continues to Buy More Oil from Russia Despite the Western Pressure

India Looks To Buy More Iranian Oil

China Tells Mines to Produce ’As Much Coal as Possible’

China Needs Russian Coal. Moscow Needs New Customers

In Russia, Coal Is Still King. And The Government Wants Even More

India Ramps Up Coal Production

So as but a tiny salve to our under-climate-siege economy?  Let’s tax the imports from these climate liars.

Trump Trade Principles to Mitigate the Climate Alarmists and Their Many Taxes:

“We have been artificially, dramatically increasing the cost of our energy – while no other country really has.

“Which is a de facto subsidy.  By every other country – for every product, they export to us.

“Because everything they do – is cheaper than everything we do.  Everything they make – is cheaper than everything we make.

“How should we rectify this idiocy?  How do we get to global ‘climate change’ even?

The ‘Border Adjustment Tax’: Great Tax Reform – That Gets Us Great Trade Reform

Border Carbon Tax: DC Can Do Better – When It Chooses to Do So

Build Back Never: Let’s Carbon Tax Them – Not US:

“‘What Is a Carbon Border Tax and What Does It Mean for Trade?:

“‘A carbon border adjustment tax is a duty on imports based on the amount of carbon emissions resulting from the production of the product in question. As a price on carbon, it discourages emissions. As a trade-related measure, it affects production and exports.’

“The US imposing a carbon tax on US – will export lots and LOTS of companies and jobs.  Taxing them and not US – will do exactly the opposite:

“‘Instead of taxing exports and not imports, we’d be taxing imports and not exports. Instead of reading about corporate inversions and outsourcing, we’d be reading about jobs and firms moving into the U.S. to take advantage of the favorable tax rules here.’”

Yes, please.

At the very least, it would help to mitigate the egregious “climate change” damage Biden is unilaterally doing to the US.

*****

This article was published by The Heartland Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Why Expand Your Business If the Government Will Soon Close It Down?

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Progressives seem to be confused about inflation. Inflation is an increase in the supply of money and credit at a rate faster than the rise in the production of goods and services. It is monetary on the one hand and a supply issue on the other.

Therefore, the solution lies in restricting money growth to a level approximate to that of economic growth and allowing natural market forces to increase supply. Wherever there are legal bottlenecks to production and distribution, such as taxes, laws that serve as barriers to entry for competitors, import restrictions, and above all senseless regulations; government can play an active role in getting out of the way of production.

It is said the answer to high prices, is high prices. That is true if the government gets out of the way. High prices cause consumers to restrict demand while higher profits in the affected sectors attract capital and create more supply.

At the centerpiece of the worst inflation in 40 years, is the cost of oil and natural gas.

Insofar as the supply issues are concerned, Progressives and their sock puppet President Biden seems to understand that the drop in global supply has something to do with the increase in prices. But when asked if we can do anything to increase supply, they stare off into space as if the power supply to their brain has been generated by a windmill, and the wind just quit blowing.  The only increase in supply they can conceive of is if the extra supply comes from Iran or Venezuela as opposed to West Texas.

Just this week, Secretary of Treasury Yellen turned her attention away from abortion and gun control long enough to state that the Administration has done all it can do about rising oil prices.

Really?

What if Progressives allowed all that gas in the Marcellus shale, which can be pumped in Pennsylvania but is forbidden in New York, was allowed to be developed?  What if the great oil production that once came from California was permitted to grow?  What if the reserves in Alaska could be tapped? What about all the opportunities offshore and on Federal land?

In short, America has plenty of both existing and new oil and gas geography to be developed, but environmental fanatics will not permit it to be developed. For years, their strategy has been to remove available land with energy resources off the market and elsewhere harass development with endless regulations and lawsuits.

And now, the government explicitly has set goals to phase out oil and gas usage by 2030.

Meanwhile, the ESG movement does everything it can to make energy companies a pariah and starve them of capital. If you don’t have money, you can’t expand.

Put yourselves in the shoes of an oil or gas company executive. Prices are rising, profits are good, but the government intends to put you out of business in about 8 years. Why would you make substantial investments in projects that have a usable life of 30 to 50 years, knowing full well your business will be shutting down in just a few more years? 

A more rational response is to recover what you can under the circumstances. Use your profits to buy back stock, benefiting management and your loyal shareholders that have stayed with you through this constant attack from the government and distributing dividends to your shareholders as well. But these strategies while rational, do not produce an ounce of new energy.

You wouldn’t and that is why in the present situation rising prices will not do their magic, that is, call forward new production to alleviate the shortages.

This crisis in the short term has been aggravated by Putin. But the guilty parties are homegrown, the environmental movement and their allies in the Democrat party.

This energy crisis is wholly artificial, designed to drive the economy away from inexpensive oil and gas and towards the new Green nirvana of solar and wind. They want fossil fuels to be expensive so that their forced alternatives look better. They don’t want a level playing field where one energy source competes against the other. They want to cram their ideas down our throats because of the hubris of their movement. They think among all the variables that cause the climate to change over time, they alone can change the climate of the earth over the next 100 years.

If you can’t afford to drive to work or feed your family, you are just collateral damage necessary to achieve their greater goal.

What is even more insane is that they seem pleased if the oil and gas are produced elsewhere, as if the earth’s atmosphere can tell the difference between Alaskan oil and Venezuelan.

This push from the top down to change our energy system is aggravating the inflationary problems touched off by wild deficit-financed spending and a Federal Reserve Board that has gone out of its way to remove any restraint on the legislative and executive branches of government. Combined with the environmental movement, that has locked us into devastating inflation that will be hard to escape.

Unfortunately, market forces will not be unleashed to help alleviate the problem. There simply is no incentive under the circumstances to make new long-term investments in the sector.

Why invest in more hydrocarbon production if they are simply going to put you out of business?

Only one other solution exists. We must vote out of office those who grovel to the environmental movement and encourage all forms of energy development. If we don’t, our standard of living, and national security, will be in grave jeopardy. Then we need a program of fiscal responsibility and monetary restraint coupled with massive deregulation of American business.