Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Take That, OPEC!

It seems that no matter what the Saudi's do, they cannot halt production enough to have any significant effect on oil prices in a time when the entire world's economy is in a downturn. Today in the WSJ:
Global economic woes continue to trump OPEC actions amid signs of weakening energy demand in almost every corner of the world. Reports of rising crude stocks and falling retail sales in the U.S. drove oil prices down again Wednesday, with U.S. benchmark crude settling at $37.28 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 1.3% from Tuesday.
Oil production is at its lowest point since 2003. That means that about 7.7 million barrels of black gold are being produced each day. And no matter how much they cut production, the price of oil continues to fall. It's already fallen 70% since July. Keep in mind that OPEC produces about 40% of the world's daily oil supply, so it would seem reasonable that a sharp drop in supply would make the cost of oil increase dramatically. But alas, young grasshopper, most economic principles contain a certain little premise that goes like this: Everything else being equal...or holding all other factors constant... This is precisely why oil prices are so unpredictable. There are too many factors involved. It's impossible to even account for some of these political factors in some economic model with traditional line graphs that pit supply against demand. The good news is that I filled up my car today for under $20. Take that, OPEC!

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

I wasn't going to post for two weeks, but this opinion piece in The Telegraph was perfect to post on my blog. David Frum explains some realities about the price of oil and a war in Iraq. He also explains why a war with Iraq couldn't be about oil.
I'm still looking for writing partners to form a group-written blog. If you know of any bloggers looking to shut down a blog or cut down on blogging time, let me know.

I just received an e-mail from a blogger in the process of shutting down his blog. I asked him if he would like to form a group-written blog with me. He decided that not only was he spending too much time writing his blog, but he also thought he was spending too much time in the blogosphere. I think that I need to think about that too.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

I appreciate the help I'm getting from other bloggers publicizing my request. I have one writer, Skip Oliva at The Intellectual Passivist, interested in merging blogs. I'm still searching for more bloggers, so if you consider yourself a free marketer, small-l libertarian, or capitalist, send me an e-mail. If you despise socialism in all its form, send me an e-mail. Also, if you have a successful blog and you're willing to take on other writers, send me an e-mail.

Some good candidates for a group-written blog include:
1. Economists, or someone very knowledgeable of economics.
2. Students and educators interested in writing about left-wing political indoctrination at universities and public schools.
3. People who mind paying high taxes.
4. Consumers who mind paying more for products because of laws, regulation, and tariffs.
5. People who mind government intrusiveness.
6. People who like to goof on wealthy entertainers that pretend to hate capitalism and wealthy people.
7. Current bloggers simply interested in posting links to news articles, commentary, and other bloggers.
8. Business owners.
9. Non-Americans.
10. Current bloggers who write intelligent original content and get a link at InstaPundit every so often.

I'll keep updating my progress here in forming a group-written blog.


Friday, October 18, 2002

I have been writing The Sabertooth Journal for two months now. I am unable to devote enough time to maintain a consistently high quality and quantity of writing that meets my standards. I would like to take on additional writers or combine The Sabertooth Journal with another blog or blogs. If you are a free marketer who currently has a blog or would like to write for a blog, send me an e-mail if you would like to form a group-written blog. Current bloggers not interested in this offer can do me a big favor by publicizing my request on your blogs.
I will be taking a two-week hiatus from writing The Sabertooth Journal. I will return the first weekend of November. Visit the blogs I have linked to on the left-hand side.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

After reading others commenting on how left-wing non-religious people have taken over formerly mainstream churches in America and abroad, I looked into the political policies of the nearby Episcopal church in Santa Monica, California. The church has a newsletter with editorial and opinions that it posts on its public website.

On the website, the rector gives his convoluted definition of a "just war," which has 10 criteria that have nothing to do with religion. The associate pastor explains why church members should support a Santa Monica living wage ballot initiative that according to the most basic economics would lead to widespread unemployment. But best of all, the rector gives a socialist rant on why capitalism, Republicans, and the founding principles of America are evil.

I encourage readers to read the essay in its entire stupidity, but some the rector's best quotes are:
The American Experience, since its inception, has been shaped by an essential contradiction: the need to protect the privileges of the elite coupled with a fear of the masses in tension with the professed ideals of democracy and the proclamation of the ideology of equality. The men of means who crafted our foundational documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights) and thus who shaped our National Identity were men who were themselves formed by an 18th century English culture of hierarchal and hereditary aristocracy dependent on a "neo-feudal" exploitation of the lower classes.

To be reminded that five groups of "Americans" were not represented at the Constitutional Convention--Indians, slaves, indentured servants, women, and men without property--is not simply a matter of retrospective political correctness masked as historical critique. Rather, it is to observe that in being both excluded from the table and from the creative imaginations of those who were there, the interest of the majority of "Americans" were neither represented nor protected. This essential "design flaw" has been played out in 200+ years of American history, as a struggle to live up to the ideals of democracy and equality in the context of an economic and political system which conspires to protect corporate wealth and power and the privileges of the elite. The issue is not conservative/liberal or Republican/Democrat but one of basic paradigmatic understanding about how the world works.

Franklin Roosevelt (President from 1933-1945) did much to try to "save capitalism from the capitalist" by progressively taxing the rich. The top rate was between 91% and 94%. This tax scheme remained in place until the 1960's, it should be recalled. By 1970, the income gap had narrowed substantially, with the top 1% owning barely 20% of the wealth.

Accelerating during the Reagan/Bush revolution, the gap between rich and poor is nearing record highs again. In 1999, the top 1% owned a third of the wealth of the nation. The top fifth of all the American populations now earns 11 times more than the bottom fifth - the largest gap in the Industrial World. President Bush's efforts to repeal the mischaracterized "death tax" (a tax designed to prevent the transfer of wealth of the richest Americans to their heirs and thus prevent the establishment of an American Aristocracy similar to England) threatens to further accelerate the development of a "plutocracy," which Kevin Phillips defines as the "fusion of money and government, or a "rule by the rich."

Our American tradition, with its profession of equality for all, compels us to question a system which increasingly functions to protect the priviledge of the few to the detriment of the many. Most egregious of all is an increasingly regressive tax system for the richest individuals and corporations (including off-shore tax dodges) which provides few resources to clean up the environment, improve public education, repair and rebuild aging and decaying infrastructures in our cities, fight debilitating diseases, provide universal health care for all citizens including a prescription drug plan for seniors, adequate childcare for the working poor, long term care for the aged, insure jobs for all who are able to work, transition homes for the homeless, better mental health care and hope for the world's poor in greater charity overseas. The militarization of the U.S. economy, which continues to involve us in curiously timed foreign wars which distract us from the critical needs at home, must be reversed. Anyone recall "the peace dividend?"

I could write an entire essay on what's wrong with the rector's rant, but let me limit it to just a few points. The rector clearly is oblivious to economics and how wealth is created. He likes to blame capitalism and America's capitalist culture for the existance of the poor, but he's making the typical socialist mistake of failing to understand that everyone, including the poor, is wealthier and better off under capitalism. He gave the typical capitalism is greed routine, and he refuses to acknowledge that the entire basis of socialism is greed. The greed of expecting and taking what others have earned. Even worse, this immoral theft is backed by the coercive power of government.

The rector goes out his way to blame Republicans for everything, while cheering on Democrats. He makes a gross accusation by calling war preparation for the Middle East "curiously timed foreign wars which distract us from the critical needs at home." How original! He cites a 1999 statistic on the distribution of wealth, but blames Reagan and Bush, not Clinton who had been president for six years. He even congratulates Franklin D. Roosevelt for creating destructive income taxes with marginal rates over 90%.

But I think that the worst part is the rector uses his phony religious and moral authority to demand political actions. There's a huge difference between giving a sermon on helping the poor and demanding that the coercive power of government enforce these so-called morals of his. The rector fails to see the connection between religious freedom and economic freedom. If Americans shouldn't be free to spend and earn their money as they like, then maybe Americans shouldn't be free to pick and choose their religion as they like. The wealth created by economic freedoms are what support his and all American churches. Destroy the system that creates the wealth, and his church will simply go out of business. Unlike Europe, failing churches in America cannot be propped up by tax dollars.

The rector thinks that he's coming off as intelligent and visionary by telling us to "think outside the box." In reality, his diatribe is just one socialist cliche after another--not intelligent or original. And to use the church and bible to justify his socialism has destroyed his credibility and moral authority. It's no wonder membership at these "liberal" churches has been consistently decreasing.
Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal gives a fisking to an editorial by William E. Swing, Episcopal Squishop of California, and Alan Jones, Dean of San Francisco's Grace Episcopal Cathedral who write:
Intervention in Iraq may become necessary but not without the United Nations, not without factoring in the possibility of unintended consequences, and not without further conversations with Muslim countries, lest the divide of hatred grows larger. Initiating war against a sovereign country where no triggering event warrants such action establishes a precedent that could invite chaos among nations in the future. A pre-emptive strike that initiates a war is not in keeping with the history of our country; nor is it even in conformity with a religious understanding of a "just" war. To go to war now would require nothing less than the consensus of the world's nations.

Johnson's response:
This paragraph is yet another reason why no one with intelligence takes the Episcopal Church seriously anymore. We are not to go to war unless there is a "triggering event." 3,000 people died in the last "triggering event" involving the United States. According to Jones and the Swinger, the United States is to wait until the next "triggering event" before we even think about doing anything military. 3,000 more people incinerated, a small nuke set off somewhere, some major city's hospitals swamped by anthrax or smallpox cases, say. While we're burying the bodies, we are to have "further conversations with Muslim countries, lest the divide of hatred grows larger" and we are to go get the permission of the United Nations before we start shooting anything.

Donald Sensing at One Hand Clapping writes about the neo-Marxist politicization of Western Christian theology.
The neo-Marxist politicization of Western Christian theology is not total, but it's very deep. These are men and women who have allowed themselves to be propagandized by postmodern dialectics and, like the leftists Rosenbaum describes, see no redeeming virtues in Western civilization, especially America. They have no theology, not really, they have only left-wing political philosophy (and not even a well-done philosophy) that they have dressed up in God talk and called theology.

Plus he has some links to further reading.
John Ray writes at Frontpage Magazine that only churches that have lost their traditional Christian values have become Leftist.
An important result of their replacing traditional Christian faith by Leftist amorality is that the mainstream churches now seem to feel that they have no authority to offer moral guidance of any kind. For instance, rather than oppose or condemn the undoubtedly evil Saddam Hussein (who himself says that from his point of view Hitler was too weak), they are more likely to ask their congregations to “pray for peace”! If such responses were to become common in the population at large, this would surely be a serious erosion of the values that underlie Western civilization and perhaps even of the values that underlie any civilization. So perhaps we should hope that the decay into irrelevancy of the mainstream churches will continue apace.
Yahoo! simply can't resist putting environmentalist propoganda on its front page. Today it's "Study: Snows of Kilimanjaro melting."

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would give an update on the new law in California mandating paid leave for employees under certain situations. I was going to post readers comments and link to other opinions and analysis of the law. Unfortunately, the interest in this law is pretty low. I only received one response from a reader. I couldn't find any bloggers commenting on it. And a web search of articles critiquing the law were all written before the law was passed.

I'm shocked at the disinterest in the story. I truly believe a critical line has been crossed in the creation of a truly socialist welfare state. This could very well be the start of European-like low productivity and high employment cause by unreasonable labor costs. My only hope is that the California system goes broke or taxes are raised to outrageous levels before this type of thing catches on in other states, or even worse at the federal level.
My wonderful hometown of Milwaukee recently made the national news with a mob-beating death of a man by a group of children. Eleven of the 14 people charged so far in the beating death are minors age 17 or younger, including one 10-year old child.

I was pleasantly surprised that the blame for this is overwhelming directed at the children and their irresponsible parents. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asks "Where Were the Parents?"

Milwaukee radio talk show host, author of the great A Nation of Victims, and now blogger Charles Sykes writes that the usual suspects are out calling the children "victims," but a "debate has broken out in the black community over the issue of personal responsibility versus finger-pointing; and it includes some remarkably blunt truth-telling." (Thanks to The American Mind for the link.)

But I am a little disappointed that there isn't some blame and finger pointing at a very likely culprit: the welfare state. When daddy is no longer necessary because he has been replaced by welfare, this is what you get. Not just a bunch of professional leeches and a culture of learned helplessness and laziness, but you get a bunch of criminals. Taxpayers not only pay for a lifetime of prison for these degenerates, but taxpayers also pay for the creation of these monster with the welfare state. I don't believe in the welfare state on moral and philosophical grounds, but economically speaking, the welfare state appears to have a very low payoff. Could the outcome possibly any worse if the welfare state didn't exist? Could America possibly have anymore people unwilling to care for themselves and their children? The answer of course is no. The welfare state creates an economic incentive to live like this.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides these demographics of the neighborhood where the crime took place, but the newspaper failed to provide the demographics in a useful manner. What would be very useful to know is what percent of households headed by single mothers with children are on public assistance. And what percent of children charged with this crime are on or have ever been on public assistance. Some of the backgrounds published on the parents show they had fathers around and mothers with jobs, but I suspect the welfare state has created these situations and certainly plays a huge role in inner-city culture.
John Hawkins at Right Wing News has two good overviews of problems with the left's arguments against war in the Middle East. The first essay is "The Quick and Dirty Leftist's Guide to Arguing Against the War on Terrorism." The second essay is "Ok Smart Guys -- What's Your Solution?"
I get tired of listening to politicians, pundits, and the media talk about America's dependency on Middle East oil. There's no such thing. Not because some people like to argue America only gets a small percentage of its oil from the Middle East, but because oil is a commodity sold with a world-market price. Whether or not America gets its oil from the Middle East, America wants the Middle East to pump as much oil as possible, because the greater the supply of oil, the cheaper oil is everywhere, regardless of the source. It simply doesn't matter where America gets its oil.

I found a good primer on oil economics in regards to war in the Middle East in an interview with economist and historian Daniel Yergin. It isn't complete, but it's a quick read.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

I'm not receiving enough hits per day on this blog. I typically get around 90 hits per weekday, when I'm not getting any traffic from a more well-known and popular blog. I update this blog practically everyday, and I answer all of my e-mail. I do that for you, my loyal readers.

So go tell your family, friends, and co-workers to read The Sabertooth Journal. When you read something you like, link to it on your blog. If you don't have a blog, send e-mails to other blogs to read and link to what you liked. Feature The Sabertooth Journal as the "Site of the Day" on your blog. Send me e-mails with original free-market comments, so I can cut and paste them on to The Sabertooth Journal. And read The Sabertooth Journal everyday.
PepsiCo is still limiting distribution to convenience store sizes like 20-ounce and 1-liter plastic bottles, like how PepsiCo originally introduced Mountain Dew Code Red. I have never noticed Pepsi Blue across the street at the 7-11 I frequent, so I finally bought a bottle of Pepsi Blue in the town of Needles, California, near the Arizona border a few weeks ago.

Pepsi Blue is absolute crap. It has a terrible berry flavor, and PepsiCo should be embarrassed that they make such a product. This is the type of product I might expect from Shasta or some other cheap bargain brand of soda. Pepsi Blue is a product that destroys brand equity, and PepsiCo should seriously consider taking the Pepsi name off the product, before consumers start associating the Pepsi brand with cheap, phony-tasting soft drinks. If it weren't for the sugar, I would have to give this product zero stars. Pepsi Blue: 1/2 star out of 4 stars. To learn more about Pepsi Blue, read the Pepsi Blue blog. The blog is not written or hosted by PepsiCo.

Vanilla Coke on the other hand is heaven sent. I'm already a loyal customer. This is the type of product that makes me proud to be an American. Vanilla Coke: 4 stars out of 4 stars. Enjoy the Vanilla Coke blog, too. The blog is not written or hosted by Coca-Cola.

Here's a fun fact you may not know. Cola does not have a noticeable flavor. Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola are not cola-flavored drinks; you're tasting other flavors when you drink them. I read an article a few years ago, where a publication had professional tasters drink and describe the flavors of both Coke and Pepsi. It was determined that Coke has a vanilla flavor, and Pepsi has a citrus flavor.
Kmart is testing a new logo, replacing its red and blue sign with gray and lime green in an updated style. I think Kmart's logo is the least of the bankrupt retailer's concerns. There's no word if Kmart intends to keep items in stock, pick up the junk in its aisles, and prevent customers without shirts from entering the store.

I can only recall being in a Kmart once in the last ten years. There's a Kmart across the street from the Los Angeles Farmers Market on 3rd Street. The one time I ran into the Kmart, after breakfast at the Farmers Market, I found the place to be filthy and in disarray.
Here's some stupidity from the right. I received an e-mail asking me to contribute to the great cause of a "woman's right to know" about the risks of abortion.

Come to think of it, this is a good idea. The government should provide citizens with information, so consumers can make intelligent decisions. The government should do this with every product or service in America. If there is one thing in life I can count on, it is the government providing me with essential and critical information in an unbiased, non-political, and intelligent manner so I can make correct economic and life decisions. God knows that if it weren't for the government providing me information on goods and services, I would never have the ability to search out and learn critical information necessary for making intelligent purchasing decisions on my own.

Can't the right learn from the follies of the left. If they truly wanted something to go away, why would they create more government bureaucracy staffed by lifetime government employees? The government employees in the "Woman's Right to Know" bureaucracy will have a vested interest in ensuring that abortion remains legal. Outlaw abortion, and they're out of a job.
Terrorists from the hate-America crowd destroyed two military recruiting vehicles and vandalized recruiting offices with the terroristic threat "Pre-emptive Attack" in San Jose on Monday.

The motive behind the arson remained unclear, though some officials privately acknowledged the graffiti could mean it was a reaction to plans being made to wage war against Iraq. President Bush has argued that a pre-emptive strike is justified because Iraq has been trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction and has denied access to weapons inspectors.

``It's hard to know what this means,'' said Marti McKee, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. ``Maybe there's a political motive for this,'' she said. ``Maybe somebody has a grudge. It's hard to speculate.''

Yep, sounds like the ATF all right. Good thing they're on the job.

I'm curious in whose name was this done. (Not In Our Name.) Are these terrorists trying to stifle dissent to the anti-war agenda? What brought on this bellicosity? Shouldn't people be free from this type of coercion? Won't this create a "cycle of violence"?

The best part of this terrorist act is these left-wing kooks just told us pre-emptive attacks are legitimate.