No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

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Archive for the 'Corn-a-hole' Category

July 26, 2010

Monday Hot Read: WSJ’s “Survival of the Fattest”

by @ 16:18. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - National.

Yes, this one is behind the NewsCorp pay wall, but it is worth either getting the online subscription or grabbing a copy of today’s Wall Street Journal (I’ve done the latter) to read this editorial on corn-a-hole, based on the Congressional Budget Office report on subsidies for biofuels. Both the report and the editorial are devastating, and since I want to include the WSJ’s close, I’ll start with the CBO’s numbers, and expand beyond the corn-based ethanol the WSJ focused on because the rest is even more devastating:

  • The producers of corn-based ethanol get $0.73 per “gallon of gasoline-equivalent” of taxpayer subsidy, producers of cellulosic ethanol get $1.62 per “gallon of gasoline-equivalent” of taxpayer subsidy, and producers of biodiesel get $1.08 per “gallon of diesel-equivalent” of taxpayer subsidy.
  • Those direct subsidies are not the only costs taxpayers bear. Figuring the difference in taxes between traditional fuels and biofuels, as well as the difference between the amount of biofuels produced because of the subsidies and the amount that would be produced without the subsidies, it costs taxpayers $1.78 to replace a gallon of gasoline with corn-based ethanol (or 63.8% of the average cost of gas in Milwaukee as of today), $3.00 to replace a gallon of gasoline with cellulosic ethanol (or 107.5% of the average cost of gas in Milwaukee), and $2.55 to replace a gallon of diesel with biodiesel (or 86.1% of the average cost of diesel in Milwaukee).
  • Not counting the the effects of the conversion of land to biodiesel production, the costs of carbon dioxide reduction are far greater than the $26 per metric ton tax the House passed as part of its cap-and-tax proposal: roughly $750 per ton for corn-based ethanol, $275 per ton for cellulosic ethanol and $300 per ton for biodiesel.

I can’t write a close that’s better than the one the WSJ editorial writers did, so I’ll borrow their close (emphasis in the original):

Given these realities, the only mystery is how an industry that produces a fuel that no one would willingly buy has managed to be subsidized over four decades at costs that are higher than anyone ever imagined. But then, maybe it merely illustrates the theory of the politically fittest.

February 10, 2009

How Green Is Your Ethanol?

by @ 5:12. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Energy.

With apologies to the New Christy Minstrels:

Green Green it’s green they say
on the far side of the hill
Green green I’m goin’ away
to where the gas is greener still

a Well I told those Greenies when they said "use the corn!"
Dontcha know it’s a fool’s game you play?
You’ll up food prices, need a huge subsidy
And not supplant one barrel of oil
a-singin"¦.

Remember all those ethanol commercials?   They used to tell us about how efficient it was because we grow it and how much greener it was than using fossil fuels.

We saw the folly of the first “benefit” a year plus ago as ethanol use contributed to a doubling of corn prices which resulted in dramatic increases in all food that contained corn or corn products.   Now we have the University of Minnesota throwing cold water on the latter.

In a study to be fully released later this week, The U of M concludes:

The researchers found that depending on the materials and technology used in production, cellulosic ethanol’s environmental and health costs (19 to 32 cents per gallon) are less than half the costs of gasoline (71 cents per gallon), while corn-based ethanol’s costs (72 to about $1.45 per gallon) range from roughly equal to about double that of gasoline.

Gosh, that’s odd.   I thought gas was the evil, anti green fuel.   Who would have thought that ethanol was a horribly ungreen fuel?   The answer is anyone who would do a little research past seeing the word “green!”   The problem with corn based ethanol has always been in what it takes to grow the corn and turn it into fuel.   Unfortunately, few people want to educate themselves and look only at the core product and what they believe comes out of a tailpipe.   Even the authors of the research see the myopia:

“To understand the environmental and health consequences of biofuels, we must look well beyond the tailpipe to how and    where biofuels are produced. Clearly, upstream emissions matter,” Hill says.

“Green” has become a pixie dust that changes anything it touches into something no longer questionable as to its economic quality or its usefulness.   Putting doggie doodoo into a bag and calling it “green” may make some folks feel good but it has no value to me as a pillow.

H/T Glenn Beck

June 17, 2008

The Next Fuel Shoe To Drop?

by @ 5:19. Filed under Corn-a-hole.

I wrote yesterday about the likelihood of a dramatic increase in corn prices due to the damage done by the floods.

I found this article today, where a commodities analyst is claiming that due to the crop loss from the flood, corn could go to $16/bushel.

What????? It wasn’t that long ago that corn at $4/bushel was nearly laughable. Today, corn futures have moved to over $7.90/bushel.

Well, I got to thinking….we use some of this corn to make ethanol. Most states require an ethanol blend for automobile fuel. What’s the impact of increasing corn costs going to be on our fuel costs?

To date, the financial impact of adding ethanol to the fuel has been a benefit to consumers. Even today, ethanol sells (OK, I’m not mucking this with all the subsidies it gets that we pay for via other taxes…let’s just keep this simple) for under $2.90/gallon. The easy math says that if your average fuel is around $4/gallon and ethanol is less than that, then blending the ethanol is having some impact of bringing the total price down on a gallon of fuel.

Now let me scare you:

Look at what has happened to the price of corn futures in the past month:
In less than two weeks, the price of corn has moved up 18%. With corn a major ingredient of ethanol, these price increases should have an impact on the price of ethanol….and they have.   Just look:

During that same two weeks ethanol futures have increased 13%. But corn is only at $7.90, what happens if it goes to $16/bushel? A quick back of the envelope says that $16 corn would easily translate to $5 ethanol.

Hmmmmm, now unless our fuel cost per gallon exceeds $5/gallon, the ethanol additive will actually increase the overall cost per gallon!

One more reason to shelve ethanol: Acts of God (read that floods, hail, drought, etc.) have a much more dramatic effect on agriculture than on drilling or mining.

Drill here, drill now, pay less!

June 10, 2008

Law of unintended consequences, burnt food edition

by @ 16:14. Filed under Corn-a-hole.

In today’s editorial on the status of slave labor as compiled by the State Department, the editors of The Wall Street Journal noted that the “successful” Brazilian sugar-to-ethanol program comes at a terrible price; a growing use of slave labor in the sugar cane plantations.

Is it any end to the drive to waste our food supply at all costs on transportation?

May 12, 2008

A Growing Image Problem

by @ 5:00. Filed under Corn-a-hole.

It would certainly be easy to write a post with this title about Barack Obama and his Wright problem.   However, that’s not what I have in mind today.   The image problem today belongs to ethanol and its “Wright problem,” rising food prices.

I noted here  a Rasmussen Reports poll that showed 54% of those polled believed that the “push for alternative energy sources,” (read that: Ethanol) is impacting food prices. It appears that in spite of the impacts of public education the populace is beginning to figure out that 2+2 does in fact equal 4 and there is a growing unease with burning our food for fuel.

“Oh but that’s a national poll and barely over 50%,” you say. “It’s just some nasty group paying a polling company to get the desired results,” you say.

Wrong you are, “Increasing Cost of Tortillas Boy.”

In a story yesterday, the Star and Sickle picks up the story of increasing debate over ethanol and does something I rarely see them do on a topic that is loaded with Eco-sensitivities…they actually reported information!

Amongst other issues the author addresses:

  • The difference in energy efficiency between ethanol and oil based “gas.”
  • That many people wouldn’t buy ethanol if it wasn’t subsidized and priced $.50 a gallon below gas.
  • That the growth of ethanol is largely driven by subsidies from both Federal and State levels and not by any market demand.

OK, they did counter the above by finding a corn grower who claimed that corn’s doubling in price was not driven by an imbalance of supply and demand but rather due to increased fuel costs.   Really?   Corn is up 100% and fuel is up around 50% so this guy has figured out how a one  percent increase in fuel translates into a two percent increase in corn?   OK, it’s still the Star and Sickle.  

Minnesota is the fifth largest agricultural producing state.   It is the fourth largest corn producing state and the fourth largest ethanol producing state.   Suffice to say that corn is an important part of Minnesota’s economy and more than just farmers have ties to the success of corn in the state.

Attached to the online version of the Star and Sickle article was a poll.   The question was “Do you think ethanol is responsible for higher food prices?”   You could respond:

  • No
  • Maybe a little
  • Yes, very
  • It’s too soon to tell

Granted it’s an Internet poll but as of 9 PM last evening, 79% of the respondents said that ethanol had some effect on higher food prices.   63% said ethanol had a very large impact on rising food prices.

If you can get that kind of response in an eco-sensitive, corn economy state like Minnesota, it’s clear that ethanol has a serious and growing  image problem.  

 

April 24, 2008

Re: Nero Fiddles

by @ 9:00. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - National.

That is a real head-slapper, Shoebox. I originally was going to just do this as a comment, but there’s simply too much to say, partly because Matt Lewis pointed to something in today’s Wall Street Journal that causes me to radically extend the time frame that the Neroes have been fiddling.

Before I get to the fresh material, I do have to comment on the Pelosi (lack of) plan:

- Filing lawsuits against OPEC acting as a Cartel"¦.

It’s not a new idea. I took a whack at it back when Herb Kohl (D-Nobody’s Senator) introduced it as a bill last year, and those words still stand. Do note who voted for it in the Senate; 2/3rds of the Three Nominating Stooges voted for it (McCain wasn’t around).

- Continuing to chase gouging Bogeymen"¦
– Chasing more gouging Bogeymen"¦.

Bogeymen is precisely the right term. I’ve lost count of how many times “Big Oil” has been exonerated in those witch hunts.

Forcing renewable energy into the marketplace…

I’ve taken so many whacks at the bad effects of “renewable” energy mandates, I’ve lost count.

That serves as the launching point into the fresh material. Back in 2000, then-Illinois state Senator Barack Obama pushed through a sales-tax holiday on gasoline sold in Illinois. The WSJ article failed to state why this was an issue back then. In 2000, Chicago and Milwaukee were the only two areas selling a particular formula of reformulated gas. The spring of 2000 saw a convergence of that and three factors that drove gas prices up above $2/gallon when the average price was $1.52/gallon:

– A switchover between the winter and summer blends of that extra-special Algore Memorial RFG, which included, going into 2000, the only widespread use of ethanol.
– The extended shutdown of one of the two refineries that made said RFG.
– A brand-new mandate by California that MBTE be replaced by ethanol.

Ed Morrissey also notes that these factors were never addressed. Hence, we are where we are.

I will say that the gas sales tax holiday indeed worked in reducing gas prices for the summer of 2000. The prices in northeast Illinois were, for a time, significantly lower than that in southeast Wisconsin, and were roughly the national average. Because the Illinois Legislature made it a statewide holiday, prices downstate were close to the lowest in the nation. However, once again, Ed notes that it was and is a temporary fix.

February 10, 2008

Sen. Jeff Plale’s response to SB 380 (and I presume AB 682)

by @ 14:54. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

Once again, my state senator stands athwart the rush to corn-a-hole, but not nearly as strongly as in the past, and indeed the last portion of the letter is troubling to me. Once again, since this is in the form of paper and ink (or maybe toner), I’ll be transcribing his response to my registered opposition to SB 380 (sent before I knew they had the companion bill in the Assembly):

I received your correspondence regarding a propsed ethanol mandate for Wisconsin, Senate Bill 380. Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns. Constitutent input is an integral part of the legislative process.

Mandating ethanol percentages in gasoline is not good policy. Use of green fuels is a step in the right direction yet more work is needed on production and use of such fuels. Producing corn based fuel is an energy intensive process that results in a product that most vehicles do not burn efficiently, ultimately resulting in increased gasoline usage. Premature widespread use of such fuels may have unintended negative consequences. While increasing energy efficiency and decreasing dependence on foreign oil are both of great importance, we must proceed with caution. There are more effective means by which to address Wisconsin’s fuel needs.

Legislation mandating ethanol will benefit a very small portion of the population, and this is not the average taxpayer. Special interest groups would reap the benefit of passing SB 380. If and when automobiles are manufactured with systems designed to run on ethanol based fuels we can revisit this issue.

As the fight against blogal warming gains greater momentum the state of Wisconsin is joining a number of other states in stepping up to the plate. Much effort is being put forth by Governor Doyle’s Task Force on Global Warming. Public and private citizens alike are working diligently to formulate public policy that will most efficiently and effectively reduce Wisconsin’s contribution to global warming. The additional concern for our dependence on foreign oil and energy efficiency policy addressing global warming will address this issue in kind. There are a number of innovative policies in the works that will have far reaching positive impact without the negative consequences of mandating use of ethanol.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you have further questions or concerns withing state government. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

February 9, 2008

The corn-a-hole crowd is going with Plan B

by @ 10:21. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

Everybody knew about SB380, which we sent packing. What nobody knew about, at least until yesterday, is the Assembly has a companion bill, AB682. Pete found out about this yesterday, and Owen reports that it’s almost out of the Assembly’s Committee on Biofuels and Sustainable Energy, with final exit from there being taken up on Wednesday in the form of an executive session.

Time to start calling the Assembly, especially the members of that committee (I’ll have those members tomorrow; I’m on the laptop from DAD-WI).

February 4, 2008

Olsen versus Olsen

by @ 11:18. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

The Cheddarsphere’s Blogfather obtained a copy of an e-mail exchange between Paul Olsen (yes, the brother of Sen. Luther Olsen, both of the Olsen family distillery infamy) and Luther’s chief of staff Heather Smith over Luther’s decision to once again recuse himself from the corn-a-hole debate after initially being a cosponsor, partly because it went onto the state’s e-mail system and thus is a public record, but mostly because it went out to upwards of 40 people legitimately. What is quite telling is a portion of Smith’s response…

…There are a huge number of people in southeast Wisconsin – not just talk radio, but certainly including them, who are looking for a reason to take out Luther, and make him the next Mary Panzer. Bob can tell you this easily – there are a ton of the “true conservatives” (who also are the ethanol-haters) from down there who have pledged to defeat any republican who would dare to vote for this….

So they start by ginning up support in the moneyed Milwaukee market which HATES ethanol. Whatever. If it’s only Milwaukee people, you can probably withstand the storm, because you can assume your constituents are OK. But, and clearly you don’t realize this, Luther’s constituents heard this, and reacted. And not 3-4-5-10 people. We got dozens of
calls and emails just yesterday alone. From constituents. Not from just people who hate ethanol, although there were a few of those. But from people who think that Luther is dirty. That he’s deceitful. That you are. That he’s pulling a fast one on everyone, so that you and he benefit. These are the people Luther asks permission from every few years to keep his job.

There were not a hundred calls, or ten, or EVEN ONE CALL from a constituent who wanted to tell Luther, “Heck yeah, vote for this, it’s great!” We got a memo from a “special interest group” and the DNR, and heaven knows the DNR should always be listened to.

As a Milwaukee-area ethanol-hater (no need for the scare quotes when it’s burned; put it into a glass and I rather like ethanol), I will work to oust those that want to burn our food. ‘Tis good to hear the folks of Olsen’s district have risen up, and also good that he has listened to them.

As an aside, I don’t exactly buy Smith’s contention that it’s dead. The last time we whacked this, it started in the Assembly, and she’s using the Assembly’s lack of a companion bill as “proof” that it’s well and truly dead. My outside-the-Beltway view is that the corn-a-hole folks thought that they’d try where they failed last time (namely, the Senate), and take for granted they still had the support of the Assembly and Jim Doyle. Given the last attempt went through the Assembly with more than half the ‘Rats (20 of 39) then supporting it, and the leadership in the Assembly now supported it then, it cannot be assumed that the Assembly won’t touch it.

January 31, 2008

SB380 – Sent back to committee for now

by @ 17:32. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

The corn-a-hole lobby and the bipartian P-I-G are still searching for two votes for passage of SB380 according to Mark Belling. Therefore, they sent it back to committee looking to flip 2 to the dark side.

Do not let that happen. Keep on calling and e-mailing your state Senator; tell them “NO!” to a forced replacement of almost every single gasoline engine in the state.

Revisions/extensions (5:43 pm 1/31/2008) – My Anti-ethanol rant page has been rewritten.

Speaking of stopping, the horrid corn-a-hole bill is up in the Senate TODAY!

by @ 10:15. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

Revisions/extensions (9:42 am 1/31/2008) – This will be up at the top of the blog until the Senate is done with it (originally posted at 7:43 am 1/31/2008); look for fresher posts below. Also, just as a reminder of how important you the citizen can be, I went back into the NRE archives and found my thanks to, among others, the 17 Senators that killed the previous attempt.

My Senator, Jeff Plale, has an e-mail waiting for him urging him to repeat his rejection of this mandate. Does your Senator have a fresh reminder? If not, make it happen now, they’ll be in session in under 1 1/2 hours.

Revisions/extensions part 2 (5:52 pm 1/31/2008) – They’re two votes short, so they sent it back to committee for a vote hunt, and will bring it back immediately should they find 2 votes. Since they’re going to keep up the skeer, we’re going to have to keep up the skeer. Also, I got too fancy in my math in the second half of the article (thanks for the gentle reminder, Dad29).

Charlie’s all over this attempt to drive Wisconsin-based Briggs & Stratton and Harley Davidson out of Wisconsin’s marketplace for the benefit of the corn-a-hole lobby by eventually requiring 25% of all fuel in Wisconsin come from “renewable” sources in the form of Senate Bill 380. The bipartisan P-I-G fast-tracked this, passed a couple of meaningless amendments, and it’s on the floor of the Senate today.

What, the federal mandate, as odious as it is to the driving public, is not enough for the corn-a-hole lobby? Historically-high prices for corn is not enough? I believe you know the phrase I have for them, and the last part is “…and the combine you rode in on.”

Related to that, Marcus Aurelius has some numbers in his great corn squeezings experiment. While he didn’t provide a specific mileage for driving with regular E0 gas (he’s outside the Algore/Whitman Memorial E10 RFG mandate hell I have to deal with), and the estimated price for E85 in Appleton (based on his calculation on cost per mile, it’s $2.31/gallon) is a heck of a lot lower than it is in Milwaukee (I semi-regularily pass one station that offers E85; it was going for $2.60/gallon during that time frame and now it’s up to $2.85/gallon), I have enough to start running with. Given his rough estimate of mileage on E0 of 15-17 mph, I’ll assume that, just before he began this experiment just before Christmas, he was getting about 14 mpg with his flex-fuel Chevy Suburban. He got 11.1 mpg with 3 fill-ups on E85, and though most of his driving was what the EPA would consider “city” and in and out of 4WD, he did have an extended highway run.

That, my friends, is about a 27% drop in fuel mileage from E0. Given my historic estimate of a 5% drop in fuel mileage between E0 and Algore/Whitman E10, that’s about a 19% drop between that and E85. For one to break even, E85 would need to be about 21% 27% cheaper than regular gas and about 17% 19% cheaper than Algore/Whitman E10. Given E0 gas went for about $3/gallon during that time frame, and Algore/Whitman E10 went for about $2.85 in that time frame, E85 would need to go for about $2.36/gallon during that time frame to be as cost-efficient at the pump as either E0 or Algore/Whitman E10 $2.19/gallon to be as cost-efficient at the pump as E0 and $2.30/gallon to be as cost-efficient at the pump as Algore/Whitman E10 during that time frame. It didn’t even get close to that in the Milwaukee area. Hell, it didn’t even get there for Marcus.

January 16, 2008

The corn-a-hole whores are back

by @ 15:26. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

(H/T – Mark Belling)

As the title says, they’re back, and they’re worse than ever. Not only will Senate Bill 380 require that a significant portion of fuel sold in Wisconsin be made from overpriced corn, which has already started to ripple price increases through the entire food chain, but starting in 2015, permanently park most of the vehicles currently on the road by mandating that percentage of corn-a-hole be higher than what the fuel systems in those vehicles can handle.

Especially egregious is the role that Luther Olsen (RepubicRAT), whose brother is in the process of making his fortune in the ethanol business, is playing.

I’ll just hit “publish” now before I start unleasing an AoS-worthy string of expletives.

Revisions/extensions (2:49 pm 1/17/2008) – Allow me to continue with a further rant brought up from the comments….

(Current engines) “can” (be modified to run on E25, E85, E100, et al), but how much is that going to run me? $500? $1000? Why should I have to pay to retrofit my 2004 Subaru (or 2009 non-flex-fuel Chevy, or 2002 Saturn, or…you get the idea) just so I can keep my car on the road while burning more fuel?

Why should I be forced to buy a new lawn mower, or a new snow blower, or a new chainsaw, or a new boat engine (assuming, of course, they’ll be able to handle E25; many of those already have problems handling E10)?

I’m (barely) able to afford this “upgrade”. What about those that can’t? Are we going to tell them, “Tough luck. Hop on that bus so we can throw more money down that rat hole. Oh, and relearn the ‘joys’ of push mowers and shoveling.”? Are we going to force those that can pay for the “upgrade” to pay twice, thrice, and even more so the poor can stay in the 21st Century? Oh hell no.

July 30, 2007

More playing with food

by @ 11:36. Filed under Business, Corn-a-hole.

I picked this one up on the tail end of The Wall Street Journal This Morning (good bumper music on that radio show, even if it is a bit early for most). The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required for the full story) reports on a company called LS9 that claims that it can turn sugar into “bio-crude” by using engineered microbes. The big benefit over turning that sugar into ethanol is that the “bio-crude” does not contain oxygen and thus can enter the existing petroleum infrastructure. Of course, given that there is still a fascination with oxygenated fuels despite mounting evidence that they do no net enviromental good, and that while the infrastructure for corn-a-hole is growing, the overtaxed infrastructure for petroleum is at best stagnant, that’s not exactly as big a positive as one can hope for.

LS9 also claims in a Technology Review (by MIT, yes THAT MIT) article that they’ll soon be able to customize said “bio-crude” into any number of specific hydrocarbons, thus potentially cutting out refineries entirely.

A couple of quick questions:

– Given that they’re still playing with food, how is that going to stem the looming worldwide food crisis as we keep on diverting more and more food to fuel?
– How efficient is it, really?
– Even if it is efficient in the lab, can it be scaled up to production (with or without regard to the first question)?
– Why the focus on food, when we’ve got proven, if not exactly efficient, technology to turn coal into crude and plenty of coal that the envirowhackos don’t want burned?

May 24, 2007

The bi-partisan PIG plan to “reduce” the price of gas

How to increase the cost of gasoline while appearing to be in favor of reducing it in 4 easy steps:

Step 1 – Slap a 2.5% tax on every gallon of gas sold in Wisconsin. I’ve already exploded that one, but I bring it up again because the WMC took a look at what Jim “Craps” Doyle figured gas prices will be in Wisconsin ($2.70/gallon) and said that it would add 7 cents/gallon. They’re closer, but at an average of $3.50/gallon, it would be 9 cents/gallon.

Step 2 (with a hat tip to Sean Hackbarth) – Sue OPEC, as most of the House, including the entire Wisconsin delegation voted to do yesterday. The only way to get any sort of judgement against OPEC (side note; the “C” stands for “Cartel”) is to sue domestically because the international courts the Left is so fond of would properly laugh us out of there, and the only way to enforce that judgement is to invade and occupy each and every member of OPEC (not that I would necessarily be against that). Talk about your “blood for oil”.

Step 3 (with a hat tip to Peter) – Just as oil companies begin to think about finally expanding refining capacity in a meaningful fashion, threaten to mandate a fivefold increase in the use of corn-a-hole in a bid to meet President Bush’s irresponsible call to reduce gasoline consumption 20% over 10 years and threaten to make that mandatory, which has the (un)intended consequence of having those oil companies drop plans for expanding refining capacity. Never mind that a 20% drop is impossible, especially with millions of fresh illegal aliens pouring across the border seeking to cash in on the next coming amnesty. Never mind that this country simply cannot increase corn-a-hole production fivefold (the best it can do is a doubling, and that’s already in the works).

Step 4 (from the same New York Times article linked to above) – Threaten federal penalties (on top of state ones) for price gouging, while ignoring market reality. Gee, price controls worked SOOOOOO well in the 1970s </sarcasm>.

What’s missing? Incentives to increase domestic production for one. Any effort to reduce the 47 (or is it more now?) flavors of Algore/Whitman Memorial RFG for another.

February 12, 2007

Craps thinks taxes in the rest of America are too low too

by @ 7:25. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin, Taxes.

On top of massive increases in the cigarette tax, car registration tax and driver’s licenses taxes, his push to end the QEO, and plans to essentially end the “limits” of the Craps Tax Anti-Freeze by allowing municipalities to raise taxes 4% annually, Jim “Craps” Doyle (WEAC/Potawatomi-For Sale) now wants to pay for his $1.1 billion raid on the transportation fund to pay off WEAC by slapping a 2.5% tax on each barrel of oil used in Wisconsin (with corn-a-hole and “junk” diesel, of course, exempt because ADM has bought Craps) and forcing them to not pass the increased taxes on to Wisconsin residents pass it on to the rest of the country.

Economics 101 – Corporations ultimately do not pay taxes. Each and every penny eventually gets paid by the consumer. Even if Craps can con his packed State Supreme Court into saying he can “force” the oil companies to not pass it along to the Wisconsin consumers, they will pass it along to the rest of the country.

I wonder if KY Jelly is also exempt; as the Asian Badger has been saying, we’re going to need it.

January 20, 2007

Today’s signs the end of the world, or at least conservatism, is nigh

Item #1 – Hitlery (or if you prefer, Hiliary) Rotten Von Der Schlikmeister has tossed Old Crusty Black Pantsuit into the Presidential ring. The game is now afoot. Unlike Allahpundit, who called the timing an “amateur mistake”, I declare it a masterpiece. One of the most-watched weekends of the (mostly-)liberal Sunday morning talk shows, made so because those liberals without fax machines need their pre-State of the Union Address marching orders, now gets dominated by Hiliary, and the hosts “Meet the Press”, “Face the Nation”, “This Week”, and “Late Edition” won’t have to temper their genuflection before her with any criticisms from Limbaugh and the weekday Fox News crew.

Item #2 (with a H/T to Kate) – It sure looks like we’re about to get a massive tax increase from yet another President Bush. Take a gander at this line from this week’s Presidential radio address (the last one before his State of the Union Address)

Americans are fortunate to have the best health care system in the world. The government has an important role to play in our system. We have an obligation to provide care for the most vulnerable members of our society — the elderly, the disabled, and poor children and their parents. We are meeting this responsibility through Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. We must strengthen these vital programs so that they are around when future generations need them.

It even comes with Jefe’s own “read my lips” moment:

We must address these rising costs, so that more Americans can afford basic health insurance. And we need to do it without creating a new Federal entitlement program or raising taxes.

Item #3 – Investor’s Business Daily is reporting that a tax hike in the form of a cap on tax breaks for employer-provided health care is just one of the hard turns to the left that is expected to be announced on Tuesday night. He will also announce that, unlike Jim Ott (a major hat-tip to Josh Schroeder for getting that exclusive), he doesn’t want to lose his AMS certification, that making his 2001 and 2003 temporary tax cuts permanent are off the table, and that corn-a-hole will get a fresh massive federal influx.

September 30, 2006

Gas prices – beyond the pump part 2

by @ 17:56. Filed under Corn-a-hole.

I’m not the only one that noticed that gas prices are suddenly much more expensive out-state. Aaron checks in with a review of gas prices between here and Iron Mountain, Michigan. Seems that, once he left the Algore/Whitman Memorial Corn-A-Hole RFG behind, he ran into an average price of $2.50/gallon; until he crossed the Menomonee River into the UP. There, he found multiple stations at $2.14/gallon.

Meanwhile, I mentioned that I filled up in East Troy at the Road Ranger on Hwy 20 and I-43 with some non-Corn-A-Hole non-RFG (otherwise known as good old regular unleaded gas). I paid $2.30 a gallon (rounded up to the nearest penny). Meanwhile, around my neck of the woods (just sothwest of Mitchell Field), it’s $2.19/gallon. Can’t blame the lack of competition; there’s also a Shell and a BP on that corner (the latter, IIRC, laces their gas with corn-a-hole but not the RFG), while there’s a multitude of gas stations in my neck of the woods. Can’t blame the lack of freshness; cash diesel was $2.54/gallon there, and $2.53-$2.58 here.

September 27, 2006

Gas prices – beyond the pump

by @ 7:56. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

Unless you’ve been in a cave the last month or are buying diesel, you’ve noticed that the bottom has fallen out of gas prices. For you out-staters, I’ve got some bad news for you; the Milwaukee area is now boasting the lowest average price in the state. According to MilwaukeeGasPrices.com, the average price of regular unleaded in Milwaukee is at $2.276 per gallon, while its sister sites are reporting average prices at $2.345/gallon in the Madison area and $2.330/gallon in Wisconsin outside of the Milwaukee and Madison areas. ‘Tis very interesting, since I’ve noted time and again that prices in Milwaukee have historically been and, as recently as last month, were higher than the rest of the state.

So, what’s changed in the last month? Could the price of ethanol, mandated at a 10% level in Milwaukee-area gas but not in most other areas of the state, have fallen below that of gasoline? Nope. While the Chicago Board of Trade no longer updates the futures price for ethanol on a real-time basis, their most-recent chartbook showed October 2006 ethanol futures settled at $1.87/gallon on 9/13. Meanwhile, October 2006 regular unleaded gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled at approximately $1.56/gallon on that date (the approximation is because I had to take that off of a less-than-precise graph rather than the chart provided by CBOT). Nope, it’s not the corn-a-hole.

If it’s not the corn-a-hole prices, could it be that the reformulated gas, also mandated in the Milwaukee area but not in other areas of the state, suddenly became cheaper than regular gas? While the trading price of the special blend used in Milwaukee (and Chicago) is not available publicly, NYMEX does have a futures market for the version of reformulated gas used in New York and New Jersey (I do note that this does not include the costs of either acquiring or mixing in the corn-a-hole). With the October 2006 reformulated gasoline settling at approximately $1.61/gallon on 9/13, we can also rule that out.

Why, then, is gasoline $0.05 to $0.07 per gallon cheaper in Milwaukee, if our special blend of gas and the ethanol we’re forced to burn are both more expensive than the gasoline available to the rest of the state? The answer is that Jim Doyle issued an executive order in early August that those stations and only those stations that sold ethanol-blended gasoline be exempted from Wisconsin’s minimum markup law, which mandates a hefty markup in the price of gasoline at both the terminal and retail levels. This would be the same person who, when the issue of repealing the minimum markup law came up in the Legislature (killed by outstate RINOs and ‘Rats), claimed that its repeal wouldn’t have any impact. Really? By my math, it’s had at least a $0.10/gallon impact here in Milwaukee, where it is no longer enforced.

You out-staters, don’t forget to “thank” Doyle on November 7 for artificially inflating your gas prices so he could try to buy a few extra votes in Milwaukee – vote Mark Green.

August 11, 2006

Craps protects ADM – again

by @ 12:35. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

(H/Ts – Charlie and Dennis York as I try to catch up on the news of the week)

Shortly after his Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection threatened to apply Wisconsin’s gasoline Minimum Markup Law (the one that mandates a station charge the higher of 9.18% above the average terminal price or 6% above what the station paid) to a chain of stations selling E-85 gasoline, Gov. Jim “Craps” Doyle (WEAC/Potawatomi-For Sale) ordered that the state no longer harass those selling corn-a-hole-blended fuels (which appears to apply to both E-85 and E-10). A few random observations:

From the original Duluth News Tribune story via Charlie:

Wisconsin Consumer Protection investigators launched a probe into Badger’s fuel prices and found E-85 selling for just over $2 a gallon.

Based on a formula, the investigators said the price should have been $1 more.

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Isn’t that what I’ve been saying for a while? CBOT no longer provides live quotes for corn-a-hole online (gee, I wonder if I had something to do with that :-) , but their latest weekly chartbook (as of the close of business last Wednesday) had ethanol futures settling above $2.50/gallon through the October contracts. By comparison, gasoline futures settled yesterday under $2/gallon on NYMEX, while reformulated gas (the more-plentiful East Coast version at least) futures settled just over $2/gallon (depending on the month, $.04-$.12/gallon over the good stuff).

From Craps’ press release (linked above):

The minimum markup law, passed in the 1930s, sets a minimum price at which motor fuels can be sold in Wisconsin, but makes no distinction between fuel derived from petroleum and fuel derived from ethanol. Governor Doyle said this has the effect of artificially inflating the cost of ethanol blended fuels such as E-85 and E-10. Ethanol is selling wholesale at $1.37 a gallon (accounting for a federal ethanol tax credit), while the price of petroleum is $2.60.

Like Dennis, I have a few questions:

  1. How much more of a tax break is Big Corn-A-Hole (i.e. ADM) getting than Big Oil? Hint, Big Corn-A-Hole gets better than a 50% tax break.
  2. Why did the Legislature in the 1930s and governors up until The Bought-And-Paid-For One not make a distinction between corn-a-hole fuel and petrol? Could it be that until Craps came along, Big Corn-A-Hole couldn’t find somebody who could be bought so easily?
  3. How much would it cost me to have the speed limit raised to, say 110, so it doesn’t take me 5 1/2 hours to get from Superior to Milwaukee?

Of course, what else should I expect from the guy who threatened Big Oil if they ever passed on the true costs of reformulated gas (which then and now contains corn-a-hole) to only those who are forced to buy it? Should I have expected any different from the guy who felt the state Constitution didn’t apply to him when it came time to pay off the Potawatomi and the Ho-Chunk (who bought the biggest position change from him)?

May 12, 2006

A gas question for out-staters, especially liberal out-staters

by @ 14:17. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

What is wrong with this picture?

  • Regular unleaded gasoline (HU) futures for June delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 1 pm CDT – $2.1950/gallon
  • Reformulated unleaded gasoline (RBOB) futures for June delivery on NYMEX as of 1 pm CDT (not quite the same blend as is required in southeast Wisconsin, but it is more plentiful than the special Milwaukee/Chicago blend) – $2.4450/gallon
  • Ethanol futures for June delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade as of 1 pm CDT – $2.810/gallon (it is important to note that ethanol, where it is required, is added at the terminal and is not part of either of the blends of gasoline traded on NYMEX)
  • Average pump price of regular unleaded gas in Madison (no reformulated or ethanol requirement) from MadisonGasPrices.com as of 1:30 pm CDT – $2.891/gallon
  • Average pump price of regular unleaded gas in Milwaukee (both reformulated and 10% ethanol requirements) from MilwaukeeGasPrices.com as of 1:30 pm CDT – $2.910/gallon

A couple of hints for you who have had a public-school “education”:

  • The trading-price premium for reformulated gasoline over regular gasoline – $0.2500/gallon
  • The effective trading-price premium for ethanol-laced reformulated gasoline mandated in southeast Wisconsin ($2.4896/gallon at 90% RBOB, 10% ethanol) over non-ethanol-laced regular gas available elsewhere in the state – $0.2946/gallon (side note for those stuck on corn-a-hole; mandating 10% ethanol on regular gas would add $0.0696/gallon to its effective trading price, making that $2.2565/gallon)
  • The pump-price premium for the ethanol-laced reformulated gasoline sold in Milwaukee over (mostly) non-ethanol-laced regular gasoline sold in Madison – $0.019/gallon

That might be something you want to ask Gov. Jim Doyle about. Back in 2000, when he was Attorney General, his repsonse to a similar inflation of reformulated gasoline prices was to threaten to sue any member of Big Oil that didn’t spread the pain across the entire state. You might also want to ask current AG Peg Lautenschlager about this. It sure looks like she’s continuing the Doyle policies.

Revisions/extensions (5:30 pm 5/12) – If Tommy Thompson jumps into the governor’s race, you might want to ask Mr. “Stick it to ‘em” about this too. While Thompson did try (and fail) to get southeast Wisconsin out of the RFG mandate while he was still in Madison, he didn’t exactly try to dissuade Craps from his threats to persecute Big Oil if they didn’t spread the pain.

March 10, 2006

Jeff Wagner nails Craps for clueless drunkenness

by @ 8:56. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

It’s been a while since I highlighted Wagner on the Web, but Jeff just blows up Jim “Craps” Doyle’s (WEAC/ADM/Potawatomi-For Sale) claim that the near-death-blow to AB15, the bad-gas bill, was entirely the work of a couple of talk-show hosts. I don’t think Charlie’s, Jeff’s and Mark’s reach extends to the likes of Tim Carpenter, Dave Hansen and Carol Roessler, all of whom cited a massive constituent opposition to corn-a-hole.

Fortunately, we will be able to tell Craps he has no clothes soon in the way that truly matters. Unless my calendar is lying to me, there’s 242 days until the election. While Scott Walker is by far preferable to Mark Green, not least because Green also supports a corn-a-hole mandate, either Pubbie would make a better governor than Craps.

Unlike Jeff, however, I am one of those who opposes ethanol on the merits. We simply can’t grow enough corn to create enough corn-a-hole to replace gas. Even if we could, at the questionable maximum of E10 for unmodified engines (just ask owners of late-model GM cars, older-model cars of any type, boats, snowblowers, motorcycles, lawnmowers, et al), corn-a-hole gas simply can’t come close to matching the economics or physics of good gas. Indeed, the physics are so bad that we would be using more oil and natural gas, all bought from foreign sources because we import gobs of both oil and natural gas because many of the same weenies won’t let us explore and exploit in this country, to create the ethanol than we would save by replacing 10% of gasoline with corn-a-hole.

March 9, 2006

Death-to-corn-a-hole thanks

by @ 21:04. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin, The Blog.

Now that I’ve had a few hours to let the scope of our near-total victory over AB15 (the bad-gas bill), as well as some celebratory ethanol, sink in, it’s time to thank some of the people that helped drive it into the coffin known as “indefinite postponement”.

  • First, we have the 17 Senators that voted for the postponement -
    • Roger Breske (D-Town of Elderon in the northeast part of the state)
    • Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), who believed his constituents and his gas gauge rather than ADM
    • Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay)
    • Alberta Darling (R-River Hills)
    • Mike Ellis (R-Neenah)
    • Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), though this is VERY qualified – more in a bit
    • Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend)
    • Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), who believed his constituents and the prices of gasoline in his district instead of ADM
    • Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield)
    • Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn)
    • Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin)
    • Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan)
    • Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee), my Senator
    • Tom Reynolds (R-West Allis), glad he saw that his vote was needed
    • Carol Roessler (R-Oshkosh), who took a VERY long time to finally come down on the right side
    • Cathy Stepp (R-Sturtevant), our first convert in the Senate
    • Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha)

    Yes, at least one of these people really wanted to pass AB15, and a few more did a lot of hemming-and-hawing, but for the moment, it’s the result that matters.

  • Everybody who called their Senator to oppose AB15. We got no less than 4 Senators to come down against AB15 – Stepp, Carpenter, Hansen and Roessler – after they either announced support or didn’t announce either way.
  • The talk radio trifecta of Charlie Sykes, Mark Belling and Jeff Wagner. It sure is good to have a 50,000-watt antenna to amplify your voice.
  • The Cheddarsphere. I can’t thank James enough for being our whip on this issue, Jib for staying on top of the ethanol price spike, and countless others for bringing the message to the electron universe.
  • Scott Walker, who once again jumped into this with both feet.
  • A back-handed thanks to Rep. Stephen Freese (ADM-Hazel Green) and the 5 members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Insurance who unwittingly gave us Fitzgerald when they decided to act like ‘Rats and kowtow to the Sierra Club. Without this, Fitzie would have been vote #16 in favor of corn-a-hole, and I’d bet the farm that Luther Olsen would have ignored his self-imposed abstention to be vote #17 to enrich the family business.

Nice to know I’m still under the Craps radar

by @ 17:42. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

(H/T – Charlie)

Quote from Jim “Craps” Doyle (WEAC/ADM/Potawatomi-For Sale) – “Outside of a couple of talk radio hosts in Milwaukee, ethanol has strong support in Wisconsin -and for good reason.”

To which I retort, “Outside of a minority of Senators, a shrinking majority of Assemblymen, a bought-and-paid-for governor, and ADM lobbyists, ethanol has weak support in Wisconsin – because the people realize that it is bad fuel that doesn’t do what ADM claims it does.”

Corn-a-hole “postponed indefinitely”

by @ 13:38. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

By a vote of 17-15, AB15 has been “postponed indefinitely”. While this isn’t a stake-through-the-heart killing, it’s dead until the end of April at the earliest.

The roll (they’re much faster than the US Senate) –

AYE (vote to indefinitely postpone) – Breske, Carpenter, Cowles, Darling, Ellis, Fitzgerald, Grothman, Hansen, Kanavas, Kedzie, Lazich, Leibham, Plale, Reynolds, Roessler, Stepp and Wirch

NAY (vote to not indefinitely postpone) – Brown, Coggs, Decker, Erpenbach, Harsdorf, Jauch, Kapanke, Lasee, Lassa, Miller, Risser, Robson, Schultz, Taylor, Zien

Not voting – Olsen (whose brother stood to get millions from the mandate)

Senate is back in session

by @ 11:49. Filed under Corn-a-hole, Politics - Wisconsin.

This will be updated as I catch tidbits of the debate, available here in real-time. Warning; this contains strong language because of the asshats in the Senate. I am not responsible if your work’s filters declares NRE a porn site.

Interesting bit from Scott Fitzgerald – he’s just raised a point of order that AB15 has not been refered to the Joint Finance Committee. Sgt. Schultz is claiming it doesn’t have to be, using the “it’s done all the time” defense.

And add Robert Jauch (D-ADM) in the drunk category. He just announced that he supports AB15 on the floor, and wants the vote today. Erpenbach (D-ADM) wants more time to convince his fellow Senators to get drunk, while Harsdorf (R-ADM) continues the ADM lies and wants the vote now.

Brown (R-ADM) is making the ridiculous claim that it just a “change in the formula” and not a mandate. Hey dipshit, what part of “shall require” is not a mandate? He’s also praising Minnesota’s push for an E20 mandate (never mind that no auto manufacturer will honor a warranty if E20 is used).

Decker (D-ADM) is declaring war on us. Well FUCK YOU, Decker! You work for us, we don’t work for you, you dumbfuck. You’ll be sending more of our money out to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Brazil, not to a handful of your constituents.

Sgt. Schultz (RD-ADM) is praising Jim “Craps” Doyle (WEAC/ADM/Potawatomi-For Sale). Just join the Rats already, Dale.

Zien (R-ADM) has lost his mind. Now, is it just me or are the only Senators being allowed to speak on this move are the ones that are drunk with ADM cash?

Back to Fitzgerald (R-ADM) – the bill is flawed and needs work. He wants a guarantee that the DNR won’t pull the plug a month after it starts. Well, fuck you too, Fitzie. The Glorious Guards Shock Army will steamroll you.

The chair rules that the issue of sending it to Joint Finance is valid. Harsdorf (R-ADM) doesn’t give a flying fuck that we’re $4,000/year less per capita than Minnesota. There may be a couple of plants hiring a couple people, but when everyone will be paying $0.10-$0.30 per gallon MORE because of your stupid mandate, that’ll take another huge chunk out of that paycheck. Speaking of environmental impacts, when the Sierra Club only signed on after getting a guarantee that the DNR would clamp down even harder on business, corn-a-hole is NOT environmentally-good.

Finally, a non-drunk Senator, Alberta Darling (R-not drunk). It’s all about the mandates. How convenient that Sgt. Schultz had his cronies pull the plug on the web feed. Was it something I said? If so, I’m sorry I didn’t say it sooner.

How fucking convenient; the stream came back just as Kapanke (R-ADM) jumped to the floor. We missed Darling and Lazich (turncoat-but not drunk).

Kedzie (R-definitely not drunk) railing against the subsidies (71 cents/gallon total). Notes that the complaints against E10 is statewide. Asks why we need the mandate if corn-a-hole is growing as fast as the drunk crowd says it is (Chris asks the same thing). Wonders why the drunk crowd doesn’t want an educated voter (well duh, then the asshats can’t pull shit like this).

Jauch saying, “What’s one more mandate?” Well, jackass, it’s the straw that’s breaking our backs. Sorry about crashing your little tea party, but when you want to fuck us over, we’re going to crash your little tea party, you twit. Once again, you work for us, we don’t work for you.

Tim Carpenter (D-moment of clarity) – “If it looks like a mandate, walks like a mandate, it’s a mandate”. Welcome to the party, and thank you for believing your gas gauge. Calls to his office – 100s against, none for that he can recall.

Hansen (D-not drunk) – E10 in his district – $2.45/gallon. E0 – $2.31-2.39/gallon. That’s got to hurt. Once again, his constituents are complaining about corn-a-hole, both the mandate and the mileage loss.

Harsdorf again – claiming that we don’t have a choice at the pump. Well, in Milwaukee, she’s right. I don’t have a choice; I’m stuck with corn-a-hole unless I make a 64-mile round trip to East Troy. However, she wasn’t listening to Hansen. No part of his district has an E10 mandate, yet there are stations that offer E10. As for “choice” with AB15, Shelia, don’t be surprised when your bosses (namely, us) vote with our pocketbook and pay an extra 8-10 cents from what E0 regular for midgrade rather than pay that extra 8-10 cents for E10 regular. She also has no concept of economics.

Carol Roessler (R-almost drunk) has a hard time deciding between the vast majority of her constituents and the ADM cash. She finally came down against.

Erpenbach again – See my latest comments to Harsdorf. Not everybody is as rich as you and can afford new “E-friendly” motors (maybe we should cut your pay). I prefer to be “left behind” on a dying bad fuel, and even if the other 49 states are stupid enough to mandate corn-a-hole, what’s to prevent ADM from having their corn-a-hole plants in Wisconsin? Oh, that’s right, taxes. In fact, I prefer “Big Oil” to tell me what they’re providing rather than you and your fellow dumbshits tell me what they’re going to provide me.

Brown again – Question for this drunk RepublicRAT – when we do reject E10 regular in favor of E0 mid-grade, will you then push the mandate up to the mid-grade, and then when we head to E0 premium, will you then push the mandate there? You might want to fix that tin foil hat; I don’t think “Big Oil” is fixing the price of corn-a-hole.

Jauch again – demanding to be heard. Do you have any comment on what felon Chuck “Upchuckwalla” Chvala did to the Pubbies when he had the majority chair?

Voting on sending it to Joint Finance NOW (1:34 pm). POSTPONED INDEFINITELY 17-15.

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