Friday, September 15, 2006

On this day
1254 - Marco Polo, Italian explorer was born(d. 1324)
1949 - The television series The Lone Ranger premieres on the ABC.
1959 - Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.
1982 - The first issue of USA Today is published by Gannett.


Any time that OPEC got a little too overzealous in pushing up oil prices back in the 1970’s, the legendary Saudi oil minister Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani was fond of telling his colleagues: Remember, the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.
What he meant was that the Stone Age ended because people invented alternative tools. The oil age is also not going to end because we run out of oil. It will end because the price of oil goes so high that people invent alternatives. Mr. Yamani was warning his colleagues not to get too greedy and stimulate those alternatives.
Too late — oil at $70 a barrel has done just that. One of the most promising of those alternatives is ethanol, an alcohol fuel made from corn, sugar cane or any biomass.

Thomas Friedman, New York Times

Is this just false hope? Yes according to a chemical engineer who visited our Optimist Club last Wednesday. He says biofuels make sense if they are produced from waste products such as Coors operation here in Denver. But there is a net energy loss when biofuels are produced from corn and other crops, according to him.


Consider this: The United States economy is far richer and more productive than it was a generation ago. Statistics on economic growth aside, think of all the technological advances that have made workers more productive over the past generation. In 1973, there were no personal computers, let alone the Internet. Even fax machines were rare, expensive items, and there were no bar-code scanners at checkout counters. Freight containerization was still uncommon. The list goes on and on.

Yet in spite of all this technological progress, which has allowed the average American worker to produce much more, we’re not sure whether there was any rise in the typical worker’s pay. Only those at the upper end of the income distribution saw clear gains — gains that were enormous for the lucky few at the very top.
That’s why the debate over whether the middle class is a bit better off or a bit worse off now than a generation ago misses the point. What we should be debating is why technological and economic progress has done so little for most Americans, and what changes in government policies would spread the benefits of progress more widely.

Paul Krugman, New York Times

I heard Kenneth Boulding say, “The problem is the economists pie chart. There is no pie, just a bunch of damned little tarts.”

The more the government tries to divide the pie evenly, the more problems that are created for the average person. Government at all levels has done a record amount of pie-slicing since 1973. The Great Society is killing the average person. Paul Krugman doesn’t understand this, so he and others keep suggesting more government programs that just dig the hole deeper.

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