Friday, September 2, 2011

Compared to What?

Dr. Thomas Sowell says there are three questions that can cut through the fog:
“Much of the self-righteous nonsense that abounds on so many subjects cannot stand up to three questions: (1) Compared to what? (2) At what cost? and (3) What are the hard facts?”
Anyone who has ever bought a car or a house instinctively understands this.  The wife and I wanted a luxury home in the foothills with acreage and a big horse barn, but a little bungalow in a working class neighborhood was all we could afford, so here we are.

Campaign Season is Upon Us


All sides shovel hard facts, some more creatively than others. So after sifting the information, "Compared to what?" is the salient question.  We tend to compare a program or candidate against a mythical ideal that just does not exist in real life.  We're human--we're flawed, so "compared to what?" is the question that must be asked.

Some would criticize me for being an unprincipled ABO (Anybody But Obama), but I compare every GOP candidate to Obama and it's a no-brainer.  If you're talking about a third party you might as well slap an Obama Hope and Change bumper sticker on your car.

Consider the GOP field: 

* Palin has scant experience...
* Bachmann maybe a little more...
* Herman Cain shows the downside of no political experience...
* Jon Huntsman, fresh from working for Obama...
* Ron Paul is neo-nazi flypaper for some reason...
* Rick Santorum can't even get elected in his own state...
* Gary Johnson smokes pot...
* Mitt Romney is a RINO and looks like the manager who fired you...
* Rick Perry has the odor of crony crapitalism on his boots...
* Newt Gingrich is an operatic bloviator in love with big government...

Still, I would pick any one of these candidates over Obama and his gaffmaster sidekick Palooka Joe from Scranton.

Windmills and Choo Choo Trains

Michael Barone employs all three Sowell questions in his article illustrating how the private sector innovates while government spends and vacillates... 
While governments dither and dispute, the private sector discovers.

For years, governments, national and local, have been promoting wind and solar power, to little practical effect. Curiously, the biggest wind power producer is Rick Perry's Texas. But wind power isn't reliable, and both wind and solar cause serious damage to the environment.

In the meantime, the oil and gas industries -- the favorite target of Barack Obama and congressional Democrats -- have developed new techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that have vastly expanded recoverable American energy supplies. (Michael Barone - Intercity Buses )
The hard facts are that government wastes money and gives us crappy, surly service, and at a higher cost than the private sector.  Government stinks in comparison to the private sector.

Barone goes on to explain how entrepreneurs are coming up with efficient bus services tailored to the customer, a concept unheard of in government.  He compares this solution to the hundreds of billions that light rail costs.  Again, examine the facts, weigh the cost, and the comparison is easy.   

It makes too much sense for a statist to understand:  Untethered buses are much cheaper and more efficient than infrastructure-heavy trains.  As a bonus, you can cut down on petroleum usage and save the environment by converting those buses to natural gas.

So which gets us closer to the free market solutions described by Michael Barone?  Voting for Obama, voting for a 3rd party candidate, or voting for whoever gets the GOP nomination?

28 comments:

Speedy G said...

If you're talking about a third party you might as well slap an Obama Hope and Change bumper sticker on your car.

Sorry pal, but if you want me to take time out of my busy schedule to vote, you'd better be offering me something to vote FOR. I'd just as soon NOT have RomneyCare as ObamaCare. And if your going to force ObamaCare down my throat, I'll be damned if I'll help you do it by leveraging my RomneyCare vote.

Speedy G said...

I'm NOT in the military any more. I no longer am FORCED to choose between the lesser of two weevils. I can "choose" whatever weevil" I want. And I won't be held responsible for the actions of any weevil NOT of my own choosing that should happen to get enough idiots to vote for him. When we drag him out into the street to hang him, we'll be looking to do the same to anyone who helped put him there.

Silverfiddle said...

Speedy:

Nobody is forcing you. You're perfectly free to help Obama get reelected.

Z said...

Silverfiddle, you took the words out of my mouth to Speedy. I wonder how many said, in '08 "I'll show my GOP party won't vote!" and, BROTHER, did they show the GOP and AMERICA, and ruined a country in their stubbornness.

Your list of candidates and comments about them are absolutely PERFECT and I"d vote for ANY ONE OF THEM over Obama, too. Sad to say, but that's how much we need him OUT.
"billions in light rail costs"... reminds me again that Amtrak is so broke we're subsidizing, yet Obama wants NEW trains built. (WHAT?)

by the way, I thought Santorum won in his own liberal state against all odds the second to the last election?
Your Mitt Romney "Looks like the mgr who fired you" made me laugh out loud.

most of them seem to describe Obama, too, by the way.

Ducky's here said...

z, name one nation that doesn't subsidize it's rail network. That's part of having a balanced transportation network.

AMTRAK is a success in the Northeast and could be in other areas.

Of course it isn't of the kind of efficient value we find in the largely useless military but unless you think paying to guard the oil pipelines in Colombia is a vital expenditure.

Ducky's here said...

He compares this solution to the hundreds of billions that light rail costs.

--------

I assume the Barone takes into account the subsidized road network buses use. They certainly don't cover their expenses in taxes.

This Barone sounds like a real heavy thinker.

Subsidies are a critical element of transportation systems. Learn it.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: Could you break that down for us? I thought gas taxes paid for roads?

Also roads have much wider use to society than a narrow passenger choo choo train.

Amtrack a success? Only a liberal statist could make such an economically ignorant comment. It is successes like Amtrack that has us teetering on the brink of financial destruction. A few more progressive "successes" like than one and we'll be finished as a nation.

Ducky's here said...

First off Silverfiddle I live in the Northeast and the AMTRAK northeast corridor runs at a profit.

Why go through screening at Logan, take an uncomfortable flight to NYC and face a cab ride when the train takes you right into midtown?

I also ride the Downeaster which could well be expanded.

You're in Colorado. Do they even have subways?

The taxes buses and trucks pay do not cover their wear and tear to the roadway and they are the primary culprits.

Finntann said...

GO BIG J!

Silverfiddle said...

@ Ducky: First off Silverfiddle I live in the Northeast and the AMTRAK northeast corridor runs at a profit.

Then they are not subsidized and I have no problem with them.

conservativesonfire said...

I can't argue with the logic of your anyone but Obama argument. It is a sad commentary, however, that we haven't been able to put up a better slate to candidates. It does scream that we must not let up in our efforts to elect as many conservative Congressmen and Senators as we possibly can. In that way we can improve upon a mediocre President.

Speedy G said...

duckmeister,

Not even the editors of SLATE Magazine believe the preposterous statement that AMTRAK's NE corridor operates at a profit.

You've been listening to "government accountants" for too long, where financial increases "less than anticipated" are called "cuts", and NE corridor "profits" don't account for the billions it takes to maintain the tracks in the NE corridor, only the "equipment" that runs atop them.

btw - you can't construe negative "inaction" of not voting as "positive" assistance. If you could, we'd need to arrest 99.99% of the Left tomorrow for "aiding and abetting" terrorism.

Divine Theatre said...

Election laws are the problem. Ballot Access laws are the problem. It's too much trouble to run as a third party candidate.
I ran as a Libertarian for Illinois State Senate in 1996, not because I thought I would win but because we decided to challenge the constitutionality of ballot access laws.
Further, did you know that as a third party candidate one is required to garner 10 times the number of petition signatures? If the dems require 200 signatures to gain ballot access the Libertarians are required to have 2,000.
Illinois State Board of Elections ultimately told us "the people in power make the laws." We lost ballot access and no one was surprised.
Right Wing. Left Wing. Same bird. I am voting Libertarian til I die.

Anonymous said...

" ...[G]overnment wastes money and gives us crappy, surly service, and at a higher cost than the private sector. Government stinks in comparison to the private sector.

True! True! True!

And as Keats said:

"... [T]hat is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

~ John Keats - Ode on a Grecian Urn (1820)

Don't forget Keats equated Beauty with Truth and vice versa.

Truth, of course, is a synonym for God in the realm of metaphysics.

Ultimately the quality of our thinking -- and our aspirations -- determines all. A faulty premise cannot help but lead to a false, unrewarding and destructive conclusion

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
Which made Heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved.
Behold He that keepeth Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The sun shall not smite thee by day
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil.
He shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve
Thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth
And even forever more."


Lift your thoughts above the fray. There's no salvation to be found in the dust and dung that litters the road beneath our feet.

~ FreeThinke

PS: If you think by "Israel" the psalmist is talking about that little sliver of much-disputed land on the shores of the Mediterranean, you're mistaken. "Israel" in this context is a symbol for a state of consciousness that is in tune with God's will. Put very simply "Israel" exists where anyone consistently practices The Golden Rule. I could be in a dungeon, a coal mine, on the ski slopes, in a funicular suspended over a chasm in the Alps, in a rice paddy in southeast Asia, a mud hut on the banks of the Irawaddy, a ghat on the Ghanges, a battlefield in Afganistan or a Park Avenue Penthouse. In the realm of metaphysics Israel is a SPIRITUAL place not a physical one. - FT

Z said...

I don't believe that Amtrak is successful anywhere.
And whether you're correct or not about rail being subsidized (which I doubt), I'd really like to know why you think it's a good idea for Obama to dream up more rail that needs to be subsidized, too. If we can't fill the trains we HAVE and at least have them sustain themselves, only liberals would want to BUILD MORE we can subsidize. man

Conservativesonfire: That we can't get better candidates to run will keep you from voting, thereby electing O again?

Silverfiddle said...

FreeThinke: The ancients equated wisdom with beauty as well...

Z: Notice I mentioned natural gas-powered buses (a vastly cheaper alternative to trains) and it went right past Ducky.

So it's not about solutions with progressives, it's really about grand government programs.

Speedy G said...

Natural gas is carbon... a black fuel, not a "green" one. The Left has to have "green hydrogen". Anything less, is a compromise. As Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, don't Conservatives want their children to be able to breath?

We all have our "Holy Grails"...

Speedy G said...

...some want to heal the world with it. Some only want the power, prestige and respect that comes from being seen as the one doing the healing.

So it's not about solutions with progressives, it's really about grand government programs.

No, it's about the power, prestige and respect that comes with only riding unicorns. Anything less, is just a horse.

Speedy G said...

...and we all know what horse flatulence (and worse) means for the environment. More Carbon.

Z said...

silverfiddle; great point.
It's AGENDA, not SOLUTIONS, isn't it. AGENDA AGENDA. in the guise of PC and KINDNESS! (kindness like my salvdoran friend who says his friends are losing their homes and are homeless because they were told to buy without downpayments0

I substitute taught a high school class today; The English/Journalism teacher had a handout for the kids to study : NATE SILVER on JOURNALISM.
"FOX IS LIKE MSNBC"....really? REALLY? MSNBC, which RARELY has the Conservative side represented and, when it DOES, has Pat Buchanan (war hater) during the Iraq war and Joe ("you think HE's a CONSERVATIVE?") Scarborough as their tokens. FOX has that repulsively dismissive Bob Beckel, Shep Smith, Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers, "OVER THE LIB TOP" Caroline Heldman, ALAN COLMES (the GHOUL), etc....and this JERK in the handout equates FOX with MSNBC? :-) and the high schoolers need to think this?!
THEN, there was a book I'd have TRASHED before I'd pass it around (THE WONDERFUL PRES FDR!!!) (academics STILL think he was a wonderful president???!!!!! :=)
anyway, when I handed out the Nate "maybe someday YOU can work for the NY Times" Handout, I said "Don't forget, this guy is A journalist, not THE journalist..this isn't the GOSPEL OF JOURNALISM ACCORDING TO NATE SILVER!" Heh heh... clandestine lobbying for fairness, compliments of Mrs. Z, the new sub :-)

Jersey McJones said...

I won't get into the childish irresponisbility that is voting for some of these current GOP loons over Obama, but you have some serious problems with facts here.

To say that oil and gas drilling is environmentally safer (or safer in any way) than solar and wind power is to lie. But hey, we're talking Michael Barone here, a man who can't go a few seconds without lying any time.

"The hard facts are that government wastes money and gives us crappy, surly service, and at a higher cost than the private sector. Government stinks in comparison to the private sector."

That simply isn't true. Our government, crafted by our forebearers and Founders, run by fellow Americans like you and me, does a lot of good things, and does them well. Sure, not everything. But it's slander on the American people and the American nation to say what you said there.

It's all well and fine when the private sector can find ways to make money by providing a service. But it can't always do that.

Just because something is profitable, that does not mean it's necessary. And just because something is necessary, that does not mean it's profitable.

Once you guys get that FACT OF LIFE, you'll see the flaw in your hard-line, irresponisibly rigid ideology.

JMJ

Anonymous said...

"I don't believe that Amtrak is successful anywhere."

Doesn't that depend on what your definition of success might be?

To the people who use Amtrak regularly and like it it's a great success.

I, personally, had to use Amtrak ten years ago. It was the last time I did, and the last time I ever shall. Immediately after 911 all planes were grounded. I happened to be eleven-hundred miles from home, and had no choice but to use Amtrak. It cost me nearly six-hundred busks to sit in an un-air-conditioned car with a gaggle of loud, vulgar, poorly-dressed, refugees who, apparently, had never heard of the the word "deodorant" much less used any. The toilets were stopped up. There was no toilet paper. The food was not only vastly overpriced, it was vile. The service was worse. The tracks were in such bad repair, the train could no move faster than 15-20 mph for much of the journey, or we might have been derailed.

After TWENTY-SEVEN HOURS of pure torture, I realized that America the Beautiful had become a Turd World Country.

Some Success!

If I won an all-expense-paid, Six-Month Grand Tour of Europe with first-class accommodations, I'd turn the ticket in for whatever hard cash I could get for it and stay home.

You can tell me I'm letting the terrorists win and all that, but I'll be God-damned to Hell before I'll allow any petty official fondle my genitals or force me to remove my shoes in the interests of "Public Safety."

Z says it's all about the "agenda." Well, what is The Agenda?

The Agenda is to turn The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave into a Nazi-esque or Stalin-esque dictatorship -- a stalag, a gulag, a Bergen-Belsen.

"They" want to grind you down to the level of helpless, groveling serfdom -- nothing more -- nothing less.

It's as though we've all been caught in a very powerful whirlpool, and no matter what we do all we can expect is to get sucked deeper and deeper down into the Slough of Despond -- the tar pits of history.

All any of can do is keep our own thoughts clear, hold onto principled, virtuous, caring, affectionate behavior until they finally smash our faces in with their rifle butts, and leave our bullet-riddle remains to rot.

Our once-great Civilization is in the midst of its degenerate phase. We will soon go the way of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Czarist Russia, and the British Empire.

It doesn't matter -- as long as we maintain our personal integrity. It's just the natural order of things.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Z,

Are you forced by law to teach that biased, agenda-driven bilge on the syllabus? I wonder what would happen if you discarded the Marxian material and substituted carefully researched facts about our Constitution and The Federalist Papers instead?

If you need the money, I suppose you have to go along with the gag? Thats where the rubber meets the road.

Most of us are forced to compromise our integrity, kowtow to people we'd prefer not to know socially, and support policies we detest in order to make a living.

Ask SilverFiddle what life is like in the military? I know darned well it's not all pious patriotism, brass bands, flags flying proudly in the breeze, and bright, clean, smartly uniformed men marching on full-dress parade before cheering throngs every day.

Only the Theoreticians who dwell in the Ivory Towers of Academe -- and retired old curmudgeons like me -- can afford the luxury of thinking and doing only what we feel appropriate for our needs.

Money does buy a large measure of independence. That's why "they" want to take as much of it away from us as possible -- to force us to be dependent on "them."

It's a game as old as organized society.

""In general the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other."

~ Voltaire (1694-1778)

Notice he doesn't say which class plays what role. That's because it doesn't matter. A certain amount of government may be necessary, but we must never forget that government, even at its best, is a necessary evil.


~ FreeThinke

98ZJUSMC said...

Just because something is profitable, that does not mean it's necessary. And just because something is necessary, that does not mean it's profitable.

Wow. A whole bucketful of inane in that. Congrats.

Silverfiddle said...

Thank you Jersey. It's thinking like that that will keep us mired in failure.

Barone didn't say petroleum was safer, he said wind and solar damage the environment, which they do. There is no such thing as a pristine energy source, and if you drive a vehicle and have wires and pipes bringing conveniences to your home you have no right to be indignant or self-righteous about the trade-offs of energy.

Silverfiddle said...

@ FreeThinke:
Money does buy a large measure of independence. That's why "they" want to take as much of it away from us as possible -- to force us to be dependent on "them."

It's a game as old as organized society.


Amen to that brother. Continually erode the value of our currency and the workaday person trying to save for the future never gets ahead.

Z: A most excellent point on Fox news. They have an awesome (and irritating) lineup of liberals who know how to argue their point of view.

Fox's superstar, Bill O'Reilly, is a faux centrist struggling nightly to keep the rubes thinking he's one of us.

Morons Spouting Nothing But Crap doesn't even come close to that.

Speedy G said...

To say that oil and gas drilling is environmentally safer (or safer in any way) than solar and wind power is to lie.

How so?

According to the American Wind Energy Association, each megawatt of installed wind power capacity results in the killing of between one and six birds per year. At the end of 2008, the US had about 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines. By 2030, environmental and lobby groups are pushing for the US to be producing 20% of its electricity from wind. Meeting that goal, according to the Department of Energy, will require the US to have about 300,000 megawatts of wind capacity, a 12-fold increase over 2008 levels. If that target is achieved, it will likely mean the killing of at least 300,000 birds per year by wind turbines.

That doesn't even include the bats killed...

Divine Theatre said...

Ducky,
From Robert Bryce,the managing editor of Energy Tribune.
" Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that U.S. wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry's trade association, each megawatt of installed wind-power results in the killing of between one and six birds per year. At the end of 2008, the U.S. had about 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines.
A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont."