Thursday, March 04, 2010
One Of The Best Blog Posts I Have Ever Read
Don't miss it. ChicagoBoyz - Why Alternative Power Is and Will Remain Useless
Update: I am not going to post until late tonight or tomorrow, because I don't think anything I could write could be as well worth your time as the post linked above. See also Mark's links here and here as a commentary on the larger problem. More good adjunct reading is Watt's post on the new ad-hoc group to defend climate science; one of the quoted individuals is Paul R Ehrlich:
“Most of our colleagues don’t seem to grasp that we’re not in a gentlepersons’ debate, we’re in a street fight against well-funded, merciless enemies who play by entirely different rules,” Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University researcher, said in one of the e-mails.Ah, yes, more of Paul Ehrlich's wit and wisdom. The man who was so wrong he couldn't be more wrong wants to form a group to explain why everyone who disagrees with him is, um, wrong? The "entirely different rules" he refers to must be those of evidence. No matter how beautiful Paul Ehrlich thinks poverty is, he never seems to want his money flow to be interrupted. The man who advocated forced abortion and infanticide to avoid a tragedy that has not happened is not precisely a source the American public will respect. Come on now, this guy really wants to be governing on Tarsus IV - his own words prove it.
Even economically, it is now an unfortunate reality that our future trajectory largely depends on public policy changes. Therefore it would behoove us to ensure that our public policies are based on very realistic assumptions; the risk of great failure in large-scale changes unless the concept is pre-tested is always quite large. Sadly, all the data we have shows that large-scale "green" power generates little usable power at a great cost, increases the utility bills of businesses and consumers, and depresses economic performance. Thus we have the strange phenomenon of a concept which has already been demonstrated to fail on testing becoming the basis for a policy that must fail. It's not that these power sources don't work as very small portions of the system - it's that they cannot be scaled up to become a large portion of the system. Our failure to recognize this is costing us a tremendous amount of money.
As for the monthly employment report, there is nothing notable about it. It is unlikely that the weather affected it much. The table I am watching is Table A-8 in the household segment. (Table numbering has been changed with the enhanced version of the employment release.) The bottom line is that on a seasonally adjusted basis, private industries lost workers but not very many. Since November, the number of non-governmental workers has remained essentially stable (changes are probably not statistically significant). Since October, that number has dropped. Government employment is quite erratic, probably due to the Census hiring. Moving down to the part-time section, we find that since October, the number of part-time workers due to slack work has dropped by over 10%, or over 700,000 persons. This is an effect of an improving business climate and expanding production runs. Needless to say that is part of the improvement in WIET tax receipts; the rest is primarily due to government hiring and government raises. A look at Table B-2 shows that the effect of the inventory cycle is probably tailing out; drops in average hours for manufacturing (39.9 > 39.5) confirm the general impression generated by other reports.
I just posted an article on my blog that pretty much details what you just said.
Here's the direct link to the article. It's called "Smart People, Dumb Decisions". It's from The Futurist, March-April 2010.
I also shared a humbling experience of my own from the distant past. You might be amused by this story about my adventures to the horse racing track in college. It was very humbling!
The more difficult and important problem is with transportation fuels, and all the obsessiveness with wind & solar has tended to detract attention from this.
When you come down to it, the snow really should have BOOSTED employment figures. Temporary layoffs due to weather do not count as unemployment in either the establishment or the household survey. Plus this month's overall got a kick from Census employment. All the indications going forward are that we are on thin, thin ice.
It's not remarkable to me because the trouble signs are there in the other reports. The question is whether we can sustain any forward momentum at all over the next six months. Anyone who hasn't looked at initial claims and pissed their britches already is practicing rose-glasses economics.
MoM, what does this sentence mean? Is the number stable, or dropping?
Remember, I have (and almost everyone has about this timing) an exit from recession in June. Nine months later, we still aren't adding? In November I posted that I had decided not to worry about initial claims until November. See that post. At this point in the 82 cycle (August 83) initial claims had dropped significantly again. We seem to be deviating significantly from that pattern.
Further, from looking at the part-time data and the establishment data it appears that private employment peaked with the inventory replacement cycle and is now slowly stepping backward.
This was like getting hit in the face with a long-dead fish.
Note that the number given was pretty consistent with the higher levels of initial claims over the period.
By using the gap I am trying to bridge over the inventory cycle and see where we really are. I'm a lot more worried than I was last month because my missing 1/2 percent GDP all showed up in Q4!
The difference (and right now it is subtle) seems to be in the small businesses; at this time then they were adding more, and now they are just lying there croaking weakly.
"This was like getting hit in the face with a long-dead fish."
I thought I could see some hope, but it was dashed by purely anecdotal small business evidence that supports your long-dead fish claim though.
I get my hair cut every 6 weeks. I went today. I always ask how business is doing. I expected to hear that it was improving. I could see it improving for myself over the last year, but I always ask anyway.
He said that if I had asked 2 weeks ago he would have said that it wasn't doing as well. The last 2 weeks were a bit better. However, today was clearly very quiet and he thought so too. The place was pretty much empty. Several workers went home early.
I said I wasn't quite as bearish as I once was, but that might just be for today. The sun was out and it's hard to not be optimistic in the Seattle area, during the winter, when that happens.
He said most people he sees do not seem optimistic. Most don't know what's going to happen next. He asked me how the stock market did today. I said it was up, but the concerning part is that oil was too. Clearly the stock market and oil can't both climb at their current rates forever. Something will break again.
Youy are spot on about the problem of transportation fuels. We can transition many vehicles (bus fleets, utility fleets, etc.) to natural gas, which cuts down on the need to import oil. Hybrids and high MPG diesels will cut fuel usage. If we drilled for our own oil in ANWR, offshore and in off-limits sites on land, we could reduce our oil imports even further. At some point in the next 100 years we will need to find a new transportation fuel such as hydrogen, all electric, or ??? But drilling for our own oil would provide jobs, and help with our balance of payments problems.
Solar may provide some reasonable part of home heating and electricity if the technology keeps improving, but it is more adaptible to small scale residential buildings than to major power production.
Unfortunately, Obama's policies are not realistic and not helping in coping with our energy needs.
I haven't done the math, but I bet we could have electrified every mile of main-line railroad in the U.S. for a fraction of the money spent on the "stimulus."
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