Carbon Begone:

This week I have been fascinated to watch the struggles of the managers of the endowment  funds of  Oxford University and other various learned bodies to deal with the matter of disinvestment of shares in companies that deal in Carbon and it’s related forms such as petroleum products.

Apparently counsel for these  huge investment trusts (the Harvard Endowment Fund is one of he largest in the world) believe that by selling their shares in the likes of Exxon and Shell they are making a statement, that hence forth all matters related to the use of carbon are bad, in the sense that Carbon promotes Global warming.

My rant has nothing to do with the efficacy of climate change, or the reasons for a matter that has been going on for twelve thousand years. Much safer to leave this to others more qualified. What concerns me is the way forward and how we choose to deal with this thorny issue. As opposed to theoretics  this is a matter that will affect just about everybody on the face of the earth and sooner rather than later.

Whatever we decide, assuming it is ‘we’ turning our back and ignoring the problem is not the answer. In the grand scheme of things the Exxon’s and the Shell’s are not going away any time soon because we need them. Likewise it would be unrealistic to expect these Goliath’s  to promote policy that will destroy a business model that has served them well, for so long (the leopard and his spots argument)

As a libertarian I am not in favor of taxes, carbon or otherwise. Experience has shown that taxation to promote social or causes unrelated to the expense of governing do not work.  However well-intentioned (Warren Buffet excluded) it is human nature to avoid taxes and to let others do the lifting. Besides taxation is grossly inefficient  and only  serves to promote more government and more inefficiency.

What is needed is leadership that will change the way we view the problem. Instead of a threat why not a challenge? Instead of a tax why not an incentive? and above all else why not innovation?

The history of the Industrialized world tells us that we ignore innovation at our peril.  It took less that fifty years to covert the world to steam and a lot less that this to convert  from coal to oil. Then came the turbine or jet engine in less than twenty years, Once the dogs of invention are let loose change driven by human intervention will occur.

I suspect and hope  we maybe  on the cusp of such refreshing change. The fuel cell and the Tesla  Battery are but a glimpse of what will surely follow if we give it a chance.

It is not necessary to throw money at the problem as had been done with wind energy to effect political correctness. A lot less money spent by clever people will produce much better results. Edison did not invent the light bulb because of a tax on candles, although I am sure it was tried. He did it because he was intensely curious and there was an acute need for a new source of light.

 

It’s Simple, Stupid:

 Readers and others have asked my why I rant so much against the elite. The quick answer might be that I am stupid, as well I might be. But somehow I take comfort in the almost certainty that I am not alone in my misery. Left alone I stumble around and figure it out as apparently ninety percent of others do.  

In truth ninety-nine percent of us are still very simple beings. We react to a  few major stimuli; fear and greed being two of the most prominent. Others might be pleasure, pride, hubris laziness, and boredom in equal measure. 

In the age of ‘instant everything’ life is complicated enough. Why do we need so many others. hell-bent on making it even more complicated? Rather than muck about with sociology  here in the form of my continuing  rant are two examples.

A  current hot button  issue is why are wage earners not spending the savings dividend from falling oil prices. In its stead they are paying down debt or saving what should be a significant budget item. The answer is not complicated, as the pundits would have us believe. Rather it is simple namely fear; fear that the great recession of 08 is not over but is merely taking a breather; fear that they could be  made redundant by destructive technology; and the certainty fear that the governing elite are handling the truth recklessly by misstating the rising cost of living. 

This last item annoys me to no end, and reminds me of the truism that ‘figures don’t lie but liars do figure’ Why is it that the clever ones, the statisticians hidden away in the bowels of institutional buildings, feel constrained to produce figures designed to make a relatively simple matter complicated.?

We do not have housewives any more, a good thing you say, but if we did they as the managers of the household budget would know full well that the figures put out by governments, at all levels,  concerning the cost of living are a crock. Same for retired people on fixed incomes. I hope we don’t all look this stupid.

Then we have the matter of security; a matter driven largely by irrational fear. Morning night and noon we are bombarded by the specialists, another deadly form of the elite, telling us that if we do hand over the conduct of our lives to government in its’ various forms we are doomed; the terrifying loss of our freedom be damned. Truth be known that our ninety percent know full well,  institutions that failed to stop twenty young men with box cutters from nearly bringing the strongest nation on earth to its knees are not the answer.

Small wonder that pundits , such as David Brooks of the New York Times wonder out loud why it is that, we the stupid ones, have so little trust in our governing institutions. The saying “Fool me once, shame on you fool me twice shame on me” comes to mind.

In the meantime forgive me if I rant on.

 

War on Wars:

This week we witnessed the seventieth anniversary of V.E. Day (Victory in Europe by the allied forces over Germany) A long time ago for all but the few who now remain.

Someone I know well, remarked to the effect that this was the last War where there actually was a victory in the real sense that there was also a looser and a peace treaty.  There where victory parades and immense  celebrations and as the end for tyrannical despots neared and the gloomy skies became blue again. 

In the seventy intervening years we have had real wars and phony wars, but no victories.  To name a few, first we had the Korean shindig and the falling dominos  a brutal contest that was a push with North Korea, and we now witnessing once, more how this ended up.  

Then we had Vietnam,another civil war, between North and South that America managed to convert into a communist  dominos contest at enormous cost in lives and money.  America ultimately declared victory and retreated home in ignominy.  (Definitely not a victory).

Then thanks to Linden Johnson we had the first phony war, the War on Poverty. Just why it was called a war no one seems to know but typical of all wars it cost billions of dollars with no clear victory.  

Then came the first Gulf War, or was it merely a military exercise for the Industrial Military Complex?. Whatever, it might have been, it  had to be done all over again in the Second Gulf War that was, despite the “Mission Accomplished” comment by the American President, at best, a push.

In between all of this someone started the phony  War on Drugs, that requires an enormous leap of faith to call anything other than a defeat, but we will leave it as an ongoing push.. 

Finally we come to the N.A.T.O War in Afghanistan that has morphed into something else that we seem to have lost track of. Was it the War on Terror? or was it Alquieda? Whatever it was it was, is no longer and we now have I.S.I.S. (no doubt another neverendum.)  

It seems to me the common theme in this continuing insanity is the need for a boogeymen, that could  take almost any form,  to justify the expenditure of insane amounts of money. We  are not allowed to know how much since it is redacted from published data, but a  loose count might be a trillion dollars a year for North America and Europe combined.

So lets take a wild guess. How many boogeymen are there out there? Do we only count the real bad guys or do we include the foot soldiers, the idiots that ride around in old Jeeps waving their guns, and the peddlers for the drug cartels. Or how about the latest incarnation the Home Grown kind of lunatic.? According to the ruling knobs  there might be a few thousand of these.

By any count the mathematics of this equation will not work.  There just are not enough bad guys to justify anything close to the expenditures involved. So there must be something else afoot.

My very uneducated guess would be that it all has to do with the concept of rule by fear. It is so much easier this way, Scare the hell out of everyone and then convince them that the ruling class is on their case. This way there is no need to justify the horrendous mistakes made in the name of doing the common good.

Will it ever end? Not for A while yet. Certainly not until the mass paranoia of 9/11 dissipates, and judging by the experience of Pearl Harbor this could  take a while.