Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gold Standard? Why not something we HAVE already.. Oil!

In a post on Megan McArdle's blog, Why is the Gold Standard Crazythere's plenty of dicussion on the dollar's woes in the international market and how that might have been addressed if we were on the Gold Standard, as Ron Paul proposes.
An interesting throwaway in the comments section got me steaming.
Gold is God's money, he created it and all can access it freely. And he is not making any more.
That's silly. If that's so, let's outlaw trading in gold and let God set his own price for it.
The same can, for practical purposes, be said for diamonds. I mean natural diamonds ARE being made, but no one is waiting around for them.
Anyone want to go on a diamond standard? And of course all gold is not yet found.

It seems to me that using any traded commodity as a backstop presents the same problems. Let's face it, the current PRACTICAL currency backstop is another commodity: OIL.
Everyone who thinks a barrel of oil costs $90 to produce and deliver raise hands. The REAL value is around $25-$30, if I'm not mistaken.

I have a serious question.. when gold and silver were used as currency, what was their actual practical value?
Please name a product that, of necessity, included gold or silver. And no, jewelry and coinage DOESNT COUNT!
I can only think of medical instruments, or containers which needed anticorrosion/antibacterial properties.

The use of those precious metals as actual currency declined at one and the same time as they became necessary in industrial products... in essence, electronics.

Which brings us back to diamonds, considering that world goods production wouldnt suffer a damn bit if all natural diamonds suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke, we could simply fill the void where they were used in production with different processes or replacements that we have manufactured.
Considering DeBeers, Russia and the difficulty in establishing value, no one in their right mind wants to use diamonds as currency.

Yet we are, in effect, using oil as the standard, and letting trading cartels set the price.

Oil is tied to every indicator of productivity and we shun management of it; while, like Russia with its diamonds, we sit on vast reserves.

Or do we shun management of oil?

I sincerely doubt that we would be talking about the currency's financial distress if oil was trading at its true cost: $35. Which is a propitious number. Because, for the longest time, at the end of the Gold Standard, the set value per oz was.... $35.

But it was a false value. In other countries gold was on the commodities market and the price fluctuated accordingly; which made it REALLY difficult to have a real monetary policy when your currency was based on something with only a virtual value on the one hand but was affected by industrial needs {electronics}on the other.

We have the same problem today. The price of oil is a virtual value.

We could produce and deliver enough oil, from our known reserves, to replace our current imported crude at a cost of $35.

Sure, we ARE managing oil.. only in the wrong direction. The inflated price of oil is being addressed by the proponents of 'manmade global warming' theory.
The remedy there is, of course, to make the backstop commodity obsolete, thus reduce price, in favor of increasing "Human Productivity per bbl Used". Sounds sort of similar to the argument for replacing gold as the standard, doesnt it?

This is a strategy, though, that depends on the demonization of the commodity, sort of like saying "Gold is the instrument of the devil" or gold promotes a deadly disease.
In oil's case, that relies on the literal temperature of the globe and tying carbon to it. If we enter another tangible ice age or cooling, all is lost, and oil is still going to be artificially overpriced.

If we simply opened up all our oil ranges and started producing and setting the price at 'cost plus' in the free market, the price of oil would plummet back down to true value.
And VOILA!!! Suddenly the dollar would regain its 'health' and no one is going to be quibbling much about how much of the currency is held in foreign hands.

Sure there would ALWAYS be a hedge built into the value based on perceived future scarcity, but it would be more wisely addressed at maybe ten percent. And, just as in falling sky predictions of 90 years ago, that 'peak point' just keeps getting pushed out.

It wouldnt kill TRUE development of alternatives, either. There are technologies which can address replacing $35 oil. Of course grain ethanol isnt one of them. And it just might not be profitable to slash/burn eco-forest to grow ethanol beets, either.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

And the KELO Keeps Rollin' Along...

via Instapundit:

Drew Carey, in Reason, on
Eminent Domain used against the poor

I guess you dont have to be all that old to recall being taught that Eminent Domain was for PUBLIC PROJECTS, for use by all the community, not to increase tax revenue.

While you're on Reason's Site, check the sidebar for their previous articles on KELO. Especially, read this one.
As suspected, the intellectual liberal elite see nothing wrong with it.

Comfy in My Neo-Con Skin

One good thing about the Ron Paul campaign is that I've faced up to my political niche.

I'm not just basing it on the fact his views are archaic and his remedies, like reverting to the 'Gold Standard', impossible to enact in the real world. Or that his support is drawn primarily from various fringe groups most of which seem to have anti-semitic ties. Or that Pat Buchanan, a 'classic, Big C' Conservative is less odious in his world and domestic views.

I guess it goes back decades to my reflections on how the US might have done better in Indo-China. I shocked a lot of people I know when I said, then, that I believed that emerging countries indeed would work better under socialist-style central planning, while encouraging private enterprise on the personal and local level. I would qualify that, of course, that this should be accomplished under the guidance and advice of some super-national body.

Like the UN.. Yeah, I know. The UN has devolved into the LAST international body you'd want supervising any nation. But it COULD have been an amalgam of the IMF and WTO, couldn't it? Unfortunately there's corruption problems within those groups as well.... but I digress.

At any rate, OTHER than how I feel about the above anomaly to anyone who considers himself basically conservative, I dont think it is me that has changed so much as the Republican Party and the libertarian and Conservative segments of the party.

I believe in social safety nets but not in entitlements.. like S-CHIP expansion.

I believe the US should avoid ANY international agreements that restrict its global influence, differing with SOME Neo-Cons on Law of the Sea Treaty.
But if we did what Ron Paul advocates, the result of that withdrawal to isolationism would only result in some other power, most likely China or Russia stepping in to fill the void. Does ANYONE want that?

And I believe in 'Nation-Building'. Which has been disparaged by the left as the US attempting to build hegemony by installing governments in its likeness. Of course they KNOW that's not the case from practical review of actual events.
Even the original vision of a 'new Iraq' built on their existing power bases.

REAL politics insists that we have to work closely with governments such as Saudi Arabia which has an absolutely odious human rights record.

REAL politics has us keeping former -and possibly future- enemies, like China, close with trade ties when possible.

And you know what? If our foreign interventions really resulted in hatred in those subject states, then the average guy in Viet Nam would hate us.

And, as many returning GI's and folks like Megan McArdle have found, that is simply not the case.

But the interesting conundrum on why it is the citizenry of our former and current allies seem to 'hate us' more than those of our former and current enemies is grist for a whole other post.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

To Never be Spit on Again!

Via Instapundit:

Gifts of Thanks for the Troops

... the military is much smaller now than during World War II, leading some analysts to posit that a rift exists between soldiers and citizens and that those making sacrifices on the battle front are disconnected from the society whose freedoms they defend. The American people are oblivious to the war, they claim, as well as to the men and women who are fighting it. Some have even suggested that the only way to close the gap is to return to conscription.

But these observers of the social scene have never served in Iraq.

Those of us overseas know that "support the troops" is more than a slogan. Here we are besieged by what my master sergeant calls "paper love," the cards, letters, posters and other gestures of support sent by people across America. The paper love is often accompanied by packages of snacks and comfort items. Some mail comes from family members, but even more is sent by private citizens and troop support organizations. The war has inspired a remarkable level of civic involvement that goes largely unnoticed -- except by those of us in the field or recovering stateside.

Read the comments, though. Evidently because Major Elizabeth Robbins, US Army, wrote this and it was printed in the Washington Post, some could not resist applying their views as to the war.

I swear to you Elizabeth, that if ever again, our soldiers and sailors in uniform are accosted and spit upon as they were after Viet Nam, there will likely be some witness that will take umbrage at it and beat that sniveling bastard into the ground, at pain of arrest and conviction for assault.

We are proud of our military and the job they have done as their duty, whether or not they personally agreed on the justification for the war.

And they can be proud of their sacrifices, as we are of them.. and the families of the fallen who have sacrificed in their own right.

Friday, November 02, 2007

'ex-Liberal in Hollywood' is Back..

And with a vengeance!

Moonbat Articulates DNC Plan

I missed him.

Climate Change and Terror - both 'spooks in the night'

Effete Intellectual Posturings on 'Politics of Fear'

Climate Change and the ‘Politics of Fear’

In The NY Times, by Sewell Chan:

Is the environmental movement, like the war on terror, premised on a “politics of fear”? In other words, does it try to unify people by scaring them with threats to their basic survival?

That was the provocative thesis advanced by Alex Gourevitch, a doctoral candidate in political theory at Columbia University, at a panel discussion on Tuesday evening at the New York Public Library. He was confronted by vigorous dissent from his fellow panelists and from some members of the audience.

The panel discussion was organized by n+1, a political and literary journal published twice a year, begun in 2004. A. O. Scott, a film critic for The Times, wrote in 2005 that the journal “is explicitly and without embarrassment devoted to the idea that thought can advance.”
Pretty much gives you the whole idea.

First, since the Terrorists we 'fear' have already demonstrated their intent and abilities, while we have yet to walk down Broadway with waves lapping at our ankles, they ARENT QUITE the same thing.

While the speaker on which the article is based is endeavoring to 'advance thought' those of us who ALREADY think without help from our better, more informed intellectuals have pretty much solved those problems.

I fear Islamo-terrorists about as much as I fear a mugger on the East Side of Columbus. In other words, I know he exists without someone explaining it but I will still go there if needed while remaining vigilant. If I warn someone else that they should be careful when in the same locale, am I then 'playing on their fears'?

If I am SEEN that way then am I advancing the politics of fear?


What I ALSO dont 'fear' is global warming, whether or not it's man enhanced. For one thing, I have less hubris for my species than that. Dinosaurs did not contribute to species extinction when they ruled the earth... and we have far less influence on flora and fauna. Taking nothing away from those who are ever-vigilant.. they certainly DO point out the possibilities for the rest of us.

What MOST of us venal pedestrian types do, however, is try to make lemonade out of the possible deluge of lemons. While the wonks sit and talk and warn of impending doom, the engineers and marketers are out there warding it off. Already the reaction of the market .. based on corporate greed, dontcha know.. has resulted in advancing adoption of high efficiency transportion, heating and lighting.

Maybe THAT'S the answer to the crisis in the State Department... fire those sissies who wont go Danger Close in Iraq and get some risk takers in there.

But I guess the REAL Question is: Can thought advance without a Doctoral Dissertation?