Mon Apr 29th, 2013 at 08:57:09 PM EST
Remember when real estate was the only sure bet investment? It had real... estate value. You could pass it down to your children. You could live on it, or in it. It had physical size and was tangible. However, its value went up and up and up, far beyond its real affordability. Why? How? Because the banking game had changed and people who were not bankers were throwing money at unsophisticated ordinary citizens and telling them they could afford these homes and the extra demand pushed the price of houses up. When the houses became more expensive they just increased the amount of money they could loan people of a certain income. Prices went even higher and these non-traditional bankers started making loans to people without checking their credit worthiness or doing a check on anything. Volume was the watchword for these brokers. With every loan they made they collected a fee, and they experienced none of the consequences if the loan went bad after. Then they turned around and sold these mortgages in pieces of paper, telling the purchasers that the value of their paper was guaranteed because, even though these were risky investments, they were backed by something of real value, actual houses, which at the time was an unmistakably safe investment. Real estate had only gone down in value twice in the United State's history and that was during the Great Depression and again during the Reagan years associated with the savings and loan crisis. Even though the new bank/brokerage houses were doing the very same things that lead to the Great Depression, in their eyes, the United States was an endless ocean of prosperity, it was like the atmosphere or the seemingly limitless number of fish in the sea, their illegal activity couldn't possibly pollute it or diminish it, at least not to the extent that it would create any real damage to our economy. For them there wasn't any danger of the United States going into anything that remotely looked like a Great Depression; to the new bank/brokerage houses that was like talking about ancient history. Things were different now. We have smart phones and super fast computers; we drive sophisticated cars that run on gasoline. Besides, real estate is real estate and will not go down in value. Unfortunately, we know now that that type of thinking is ludicrous. So use that critical thinking to think about what people are telling you about our money and gold?
The true value of gold is what others are willing to give up or do to get it from you. Gold, just like real estate, only has value when conditions are right to support that value. The value of gold is relative to the value of its importance to what you buy given a particular set of circumstances. Let me give you an example. If I am starving and I will die soon if I don't get food and I have gold in my pocket, I will want to exchange that gold for food real fast. Gold has no value for me in comparison to food. However, if the food supply is limited and the person who has food also needs it to survive, my gold is worthless. It is worthless to both or us because you can't eat it and survive. The decision of whether you will get food at all for your gold depends on either the goodness of the food holder's charity or the timing when the food holder thinks there will be more food. Chances are the food holder will only give you at most a portion of his food for gold, and more likely then not, he or she will want all your gold for an amount of food that will most likely not sustain you. You can substitute anything that has a myth of value for the word gold here, such as jewels, platinum, stocks, bonds, money and even mansions. Let me explain. During the Bataan Death March wealthy people signed over mansions for food only to die anyway. Suddenly faced with dying their mansions weren't that valuable anymore. Back to my point, things only have value relative to their worth during a given circumstance. It is an illusion to thing otherwise. So I am going to ask you, why do you think gold is any different than paper money? When you ask your self this question I want you to remember how real estate was discussed at the beginning of this post?
Paper money is the truest form of exchange under trading goods themselves for goods, or at least it should be. It truly has no value on its own. The value of paper money is in the exchange of goods. For example, socks are worth a buck a pair, let's say, and shoes are worth 10 bucks. You can also say shoes are worth 10 pairs of socks. Money is just a medium of exchange. If you put gold into the equation things get more complicated. Let's say that you purchase wool and knitting needles with 2 bit of gold and you make ten socks. You go to buy shoes but the person isn't willing to sell you his shoes for your 10 socks. He wants gold. He says you have to have ten bits of gold first. So you have to go to someone who has gold to buy gold but the only gold in this economy is the gold you first used to purchase your wool and needles that you used to make socks. You go to him and he wants three pairs of socks for the one bit of gold, because he wants to rent shoes from the guy with the shoes when he goes outside and renting shoes only costs one bit of gold and he plans to go out twice. Now, think of this simple example on a Macro level.
Why is gold valuable? One reason is that it is not a common metal found in abundant quantity. It is scarce compared to the demand for it. Just imagine how valuable gold would be if it was the medium of exchange for the world's economy. Very few people would be capable of possessing it. All the gold in the world would not equal all of the active money being handed over for goods in a single day in the current size of our world's economy. It doesn't take a genius to realize that gold simply doesn't work in a modern economy as it didn't work in my example about the socks.
There is another factor, perhaps an even more important one about how money works in our economy that makes using gold not beneficial to the ordinary citizen. The factor is how ordinary people and businesses create added value goods. Money is created in an economy by adding value. For example, clay has little value alone. You or I, if we know where to look for it, can probably get clay for free. However, you take that clay, shape it, glaze it and fire it and it becomes a useable bowl. This is something that has value to a lot of people. Let's say that those people specialize in making spoons, or soup or something else. Let's say you have made more bowls than you need and you want to explore the idea of not using your hands to eat soup out of your bowls. You are willing to exchange a bowl that you made to a person who has made spoons in excess of what they need. You come to an agreement that the bowl is worth four spoons. The value of the clay, plus your know-how and labor now has a measurable value in spoons. Spoons, in this example, become the de facto currency since compared to other goods spoons have a traded value when it comes to bowls. Bowls have an exchange value measured in spoons, thereby creating the "spoon" standard much like the so called "gold" standard. Substitute currency for spoons and now the bowl has an added value over clay of some figure of money. You, the lowly bowl maker has just created money in an economy over the value of nearly valueless clay. This happens almost every time goods or services are exchanged in our economy.
I know it is hard to believe, but you can replace the word "profit" quite comfortably with the words "value added" without messing up the meaning too badly. You purchase bowls in bulk that are priced at a value added over clay, and you sell the bowls in smaller quantities in a nice display at your retail establishment at an added value over bowls purchased in bulk. Every step of the way creates money. In order to deal with the ever-expanding value of raw materials being turned into value added goods you need something that will grow with it, and gold can't do that. In order for gold to keep up with this enormous engine of economies creating money, mining of gold would have to be on a level comparable to how we mine for coal or drill for oil. Gold, like oil and coal is a finite commodity. We probably in a year or two after switching to a gold standard would begin talking about peak gold.
Currency, however, doesn't have these problems. It is just a medium of exchange. The value of goods and services should not be based on the currency, but the value of your goods or services against all goods and services. What makes the value of money go up or down isn't a factor of the money itself, but its supply in the economy. In order for money to not go up or down in value is how close the government agency hits the mark of how much money was created during a particular period. In the United States the agency in charge with matching the production of money so as not to create inflation or deflation is the Federal Reserve.
Our reserve bank tries to keep the amount of money in our economy at the level of the economies creation of money. This is a bit of guesswork and is not an exact science. If they project too low then the value of currency will increase and you have deflation, if they put too much money into the economy the value of currency will decrease and you have inflation. The Federal Reserve adds or detracts money from the economy by printing money and lending it to the banks that circulate it into our economy in the form of loans. If interest rates are high, fewer people get loans and the money supply in the economy drops, if interest rates are low, loans are more affordable and many more people barrow money and increase the money supply.
The Federal Reserve is not a private institution; it is, however, an independent institution wholly owned by the Federal Government and the therefore owned by the citizens of this country. It is independent to free it from politics so that it may concentrate on its mandates. It has two mandates, the first is to keep inflation under control and the second is to keep unemployment low. It makes a profit over its expenses and hands its profits to the US Treasury. This is apposed to the Federal Reserve banks that distribute the money from the Federal Reserve. They own unsalable "shares" in the Federal Reserve, which entitles them to 6% of the Fed's earnings. The Fed and the Federal Reserve Banks make up the entirety of the Federal Reserve system. The Federal Reserve system is necessary because we industrious Americans keep taking things that are worth nothing or of little value and making them more valuable, (i.e. making clay into bowls). We create money in our economy and so the money supply has to increase with that. The Federal Reserve controls interest rates at the bank level by the interest rates it is willing to lend to banks. (Oh, so that is why they report the Federal Reserves interest rates so much on the news.) The interest rates asked for by the Fed are directly linked to two things, the cost of borrowing and the rate of inflation; however, inflation has other factors affecting it as well. Remember that when interest rates are high people and businesses tend to barrow less. This dampens economic growth, but maybe necessary to slow down inflation. If it makes interest rates low then businesses and people tend to barrow more and grow their businesses and employ more people. However, more money flowing to people and businesses tends to increase demand and that causes inflation. Remember the example of the cost of real estate? Banks made credit to people wanting to buy houses really easy and it inflated the prices of homes? Low interest mortgage loans that were too easy to get by nearly everyone, caused housing prices to go up and up, in other words, caused there to be inflation in the housing market. This can happen with an entire economy such as one the size of the United States as well.
Gold doesn't have the capacity to do anything that the Federal Reserve Bank can do to regulate inflation or deflation. Gold doesn't allow money supply to keep up with money creation, which is what happens in a sound economy. Gold is a limited supply commodity that is finite. All the mined gold in the world today would fill up a little over two Olympic sized swimming pools. It won't reach to cover the entirety of the United State's economy and there ain't a prayer that it will cover the worlds economy.
Moving to the gold standard would probably cause a supreme amount of deflation.
Deflation has economic problems that can be just as bad as inflation. If we tried to use gold as our currency, we would have massive deflation. Massive deflation leads to money hording rather than investing and banks can't lend because the value of things are going down. Deflation is mostly associated with depressions.
Just like what happened in the housing market and the supposed incorruptibility of the value of real estate, we have been manipulated in believing the value of certain things such as gold don't go down only to have them change in value dramatically. If you can't remember back 14 or 15 years ago to the end of the 1990s let me remind you, gold had gone down in value to a 22 year low. That means that those who had purchased gold close to their retirement as a sure bet in the late 1970s, for the intervening 22 years of their life, they would have seen their savings drop by 69%. If someone had saved 100 thousand dollars and purchased gold with it in the late 1970s, at the end of the 22 years, provided that they hadn't touched it for living expenses, they would have had only gold worth $31,000 by the end of the 1990s. If they would have kept their money as cash in a bank, they would have been far ahead even while earning relatively low interest on their deposit. I am sure with every drop in the price of gold during those 22 years; investors were told that gold had enduring value, that you can't beat gold as an investment, etc. etc. But the reality was that gold went from a high of over $800 per ounce around 1980 to a low of somewhere around $250 in 1998 and stayed there until 2001. That drop in value would have given us an inflation rate of over 14% a year for 22 years on average. The truth of the matter is that most of that 69% drop occurred in the first 5 years. Most average citizens would have experienced an inflation rate of 50% or more per year. 50% inflation for half a decade would have been devastating to our economy. Given this historical reality anyone can understand why gold doesn't work as a currency anymore.
If we truly are thinking of social and economic justice then think of this. One percent of the wealth of the United States is controlled by 1% of the population. Murphy's golden rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules.
During deep recessions there isn't a lot of economic activity so interest rates come down to encourage companies to barrow and pump that money into the economy. That part of our economy is not working the way it should work. Businesses are holding huge amounts of cash on the sidelines. They don't even need to barrow to do what they may want to do. Growth has stopped and many businesses have gone out of business. Ordinary citizens have gone bankrupt or had their homes foreclosed on or are upside down on their mortgages. The housing market, which would normally be the leader out of a recession, is still in very bad shape with trillions of loaned dollars still at very high risk.
How did we get in this mess? We repealed a very important law called Glass-Steagall. Glass-Steagall prohibited investment houses from entering into the mainline banking business of lending to homeowners and small businesses traditional loans. Allowing investment houses, now often referred to as investment banks, into traditional banking is what created the mortgage crisis and destroyed our economy. It is Wall Street for the last decade and the Republican controlled congress of the Clinton era and not the Federal Reserve that screwed things up.
In conclusion gold simply isn't a good investment right now since it is at economic bubble values, gold won't hold its value over time because investors will abandon it so that they can use the cash from its sale to invest in something else that will be growing in value or is proclaimed to have the ability to retain its value over currency, also, gold won't be a good substitute for US currency because there just isn't enough of it around to make it a practical currency. In order for our economy to work we need a money supply that can grow with the creation of money that happens naturally in a healthy economy. Currency that has no real commodity value such as paper and coin money is an ideal medium of exchange as long as the supply is controlled in the economy the way the Federal Reserve controls the entrance of money into our economy. We as a nation could reduce the swings of inflation and deflation of our currency by instead of only backing the US currency with the full faith and credit of the US government, we instead index the value of the US dollar to the cost of goods commonly traded between countries. This would enhance the dollar as "the" exchange currency by having the US government promise to exchange the US currency with supplies of goods on the index. This would make the Federal Reserve's job a lot easier since heavy swings of inflation and deflation would largely be non-existent. The Federal Reserve would only have to get close to what the money supply should be for that time period, but the index value would be the ultimate arbiter of the value of the currency. In other words sell your gold and invest in yourself and in things with which you have experience.
Tue Oct 9th, 2012 at 12:47:18 PM EST
We can only effectively solve the affects of high priced gasoline in the United States in three ways, either a tremendous increase in domestic output of oil that creates a surplus of oil and requiring that oil to stay here, or reducing our consumption significantly thereby creating an oversupply here in the United States and requiring that oversupply to stay here, or that the we look at possible substitutes or alternatives to oil to moderate demand on oil by providing consumers choices. The first approach, increasing our domestic supply has happened, however, with exports our price dropping excess oil can be shipped overseas where the emerging economies will grow to soak up all of that extra production. The push to reduce demand is also happening. The government's dramatic increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards has pushed new car fuel efficiency dramatically upward thereby reducing the growth of the demand for oil. The recession and the high price of gasoline has also dampened demand significantly and moved consumers to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles and less gasoline. Yet, these two major factors have not had a significant effect on the price of gasoline as of late, which is an example that oil doesn't follow normal economic assumptions. There is greater than good chance that oil prices are dictated and manipulated quite effectively by individuals and groups who control its supply. In this case the third option, which is to find other ways to power our vehicles, may be the only true way to control oil prices. Unlike finding more oil, substitutes have a strong moderating effect on future oil prices because consumers can switch to a substitute if oil prices get too high. Alternatives or substitutes for oil provide for a more effective competition in fuels. International prices can't go up but so high since the height of their price depends on the height of the price of its competing alternatives. Remember if oil becomes more expensive than an alternative then everyone who can will switch to an alternative to save money.
The three oil substitutes that need the fewest infrastructure changes for distribution are ethanol, natural gas and electricity. Unfortunately ethanol prices have risen dramatically in recent weeks because of the droughts in western and mid-western states. Making ethanol a real alternative would also added demand to a commodity that is not used to the demand levels of crude oil. Shifting America's motive power to ethanol will probably push prices up much higher and production would be limited by land availability. There are also ethical problems using a food crop to power our vehicles. However, making ethanol from non-food feed stock would be a highly effective alternative to gasoline. Natural gas, on the other hand, has a very strong distribution network already in existence; it is in abundant supply and is far less expensive than gasoline. If vehicles were made to be multi-fuel vehicles, taking both natural gas and any combination of ethanol and gasoline we could be heading down the path of providing the vehicle owner with what the motive fuel arena really needs, which is a lot more choices in fuels. Electricity has the added advantage of being produced from a variety of fuel sources such as natural gas, coal, nuclear, as well as renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power. This variety keeps prices for fuels under control by distributing demand among a wider variety of fuel suppliers.
The ultimate solution to the oil price problem would be a vehicle that can take advantage of all three fuels. This vehicle would be a multi-fuel vehicle capable of taking advantage of gasoline or natural gas, or even liquid petroleum gases such as propane or butane. It would also be a flexible fuel vehicle able to use 100% gasoline all the way to 100% ethanol and any mixture in between. Ideally this vehicle's combustion engine should be reserved to play a backup role as a range extended generator for an electric vehicle similar to the Chevy Volt and the Fisker Karma set up. In this way the owner could easily choose between fuels to the one that allows him or her to keep more of their hard earned income to use for other purposes. It is the other purposes that will spur the economy onward and upward.
All three fuels, ethanol, natural gas and electricity, when combined would provide choices to consumers and provide a moderating force on run-away oil prices. They would do that by competing with each other to provide the lowest price so that each can hold onto a share of the fuel market. There are other reasons for using alternatives to oil such as the lower impact on the environment and lowering our dependence on foreign sources of energy. Still, for strictly economic reasons, alternatives are now a necessary strategic response to preventing future economic hardships caused by oil price increases and volatility.
Sun Sep 30th, 2012 at 06:14:09 PM EST
Energy is found in many, many forms, many of which we name and think of as substances. We often call things like oil, coal and natural gas energy. We call the companies that extract these substances energy companies, but these substances are not energy and the companies that extract these substances are not energy companies. Have you seen a shake-it-up flashlight? Ever walk barefoot on sand that was so hot it burned your feet? Ever watch a sail boat move across a bay? Energy is equal to the movement of your hand, it is equal to sun shine beating on the sand, it is a breeze flowing though the air. Energy is energy and it cannot be created nor can it be destroyed, it is merely converted from one form to another. We don't loose energy as we use energy; energy becomes dispersed. It goes from being directed and useful to being spread out and less useful that is only if it is not contained or recaptured. This energy stuff is hard to understand because we have wrapped language around it that is more metaphor than a correct understanding of energy.
Movement is energy that can be converted into other forms of energy such as the movement of water through a water mill wheel moves the grinding stone to make flour. In a hydroelectric dam that energy is used not to turn a grinding stone but a turbine, which spins a generator to produce electric energy. In much the same way the movement of your hand in a shake-up flashlight accumulates electrons either in a battery or in a capacitor and then the electrons/electricity move through the light circuit and are converted into light. Movement = energy, energy = electricity.
In the hydro-energy cycle the sun heats up water that converts to vapor, vapor becomes less heavy then air and travels up in the atmosphere where its heat energy is dissipated. It eventually condenses back into water and ice around small particles of dust, once heavy enough it returns to earth in the form of rain and snow it collects in the streams and flows down hill by the force of gravity. We capture gravitational energy and covert it to mechanical energy as in the form of a flour-mill or in the turbines that produce electricity.
Let me break for a quick aside. Huge dams don't have to be built to capture this cycle. It is money interests, politics and poor engineering that have given us the gigantic hydroelectric dam. We can do much the same energy capture by making small structures over various places along a river that allow the river to flow freely and yet capture its movement so we can harness the power of the hydro-cycle with minimal impact to the environment and without endangering wildlife and vistas. It is only poor engineering and shortsightedness by those involved that has given rise to the giant hydroelectric dam.
Have any of you gone on to your roof on a sunny day? Were the roof shingles hot? Where did that heat come from? You are right. It came from the sun. We build roofs to protect us from the sun and rain. When the sun hits our roofs it turns sunlight energy into heat energy. That heat energy radiates through the rafters into our attics and ends up heating our houses. We spend energy mostly from burning substances to remove that heat energy from our houses through the use of air conditioners. Instead of fighting energy with more energy and pollution, why not use the roof's surface to make electricity and hot water? Solar panels are one of the more benign ways to capture energy. They capture energy from sunlight and turn it directly into electricity. If not photovoltaic solar panels, we should at least be looking at using the sun's rays to produce hot water. We use hot water everyday. Making hot water would also allow us to heat our homes through radiant floor heating. The sunlight energy is hitting our roofs anyway.
Ever go out in a storm and see the trees whipping around? That movement is a sign that there is energy out there applying force to the branches to move them around. What is making the branches move? Oh, wind, of course. Wind power makes sense since the wind blows trees, leaves and dust around. Why not put it to use generating electricity? Wind has been used for thousands of years as a source of energy. In farms across America windmills on top of towers were how farmers pumped water out of the ground for their livestock. In Ocean City, Maryland the trees are all bent over in one direction because most of the year the wind blows constantly in one direction. Going to the beach in the winter is amazing. All the flags are tattered because of that constant, heavy wind. I looked at the power lines stretched along the highways of the ribbon like islands along the coast coming from some far away power plant where literally tons of coal are burned every day to produce electricity for these sea shore towns, all the while there is wind traveling through and over and around the buildings. Thousands of watts of wind power only being used to provide the flapping motion in flags.
There are other sources of energy that have minimal environmental impact and have gone largely unused such as geothermal, wave action conversion systems, tide conversion systems, systems to take advantage of the steady ocean currents, harnessing the power of the jet stream and ambient temperature conversion systems. WE LITERALLY ARE BATHED IN ENERGY. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said of the force the same can be said of energy, "It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." We don't have to burn a single thing to get useful energy from our surroundings, and converting or capturing all that energy and turning it into electricity, the cleanest and most universally useful form of energy, is a no-brainer. We can convert various naturally accessible energies to electricity and we can use electricity to produce heat, light, radio waves, microwaves, electron beams, motion and on and on.
The solar powered vehicles of the World Solar Challenge run for more than 30 hours during that race at average speeds greater than 60 miles an hour, powered only by sunlight hitting the surface of the vehicles. Thirty hours is only the length of time of the race however, these cars can travel continuously on the power of the sun. (Google: Xof1) What this proves is that we can make vehicles that can get their energy to move from their surroundings alone. This is quite a radical departure from our standard idea for transportation; however, it is one that can help us think of energy in a different way. It used to be that we couldn't think of a vehicle that used anything other than gasoline or diesel. Then came ethanol first as a blend and then with the advent of flexible fuel engines vehicles that can take up to 100% alcohol. We have come to learn that there are vehicles that can be powered by natural gas and liquid petroleum gases like propane. Now we have electric vehicles in the mix. All these things have merged to allow us to think of automobiles as possibly being fueled differently. Electric energy generation can be though of in this way as well, and there is where the connection to electric vehicles changes the entire paradigm. If electricity can come from renewable energy sources and electric cars use that electricity, electric cars are renewable energy vehicles. Yes you can power a car with a wind turbine.
Energy is found in many forms and much of it is convertible into electricity. In our human history we have used biomass (wood in a fire) to keep us warm when it was cold and to cook our food. Then we learned to tame animals and hitched rides on their backs. The grazing that the animals did provided the energy we needed for transportation. We discovered how to use the wind to travel over water with sails and later we harnessed the movement of water and wind for mills to grind grain. There we stood for hundreds of years until we discovered that coal burned especially hot and water expanded tremendously as steam when boiled. With that knowledge we powered the first industrial revolution, then came oil and we got another shot in the arm for industry. Then our tinkering with electricity led us on a different path. Innovations turned away from energy and transformed our world through the advent of the computer and access to information. The usefulness of electricity has proven to be far more world changing than any other form of energy however, we were still generating it just one step up from the caveman burning wood. Our thinking surrounding energy had not changed significantly for over 100 years. However, electric vehicles allow us to think of energy differently. For example, our breaking systems in cars had not evolved that much from pressing a piece of wood against a wheel to get it to stop and we referred to the heat energy given off by friction brakes as waste heat.
Regenerative braking is part of that out of the box thinking that is opened up when we think of powering our vehicles with electricity rather than through internal combustion. Before stopping a car meant converting momentum energy into heat energy and transferring it to the air, now it means taking momentum energy and converting it into electric energy to slow down and storing that electricity in batteries and then using that energy captured through regenerative braking now in the batteries to over come inertia, which then deposits the energy in momentum energy again. When I look at the Metro rail trains around Washington, DC the most evident feature of their undercarriage is their huge disk brakes. When the all-electric trains slow down to stop at a station, part of the sound that you hear is the braking noise from those monstrous disk brakes. I look at those disks and think what an absolute waste. The Metro trains using regenerative brakes could help power the trains going up hill with the trains trying to maintain a controlled speed while going down hill. The engineers who designed those trains just don't get it.
To get it you need to think of energy in a different way. For example, the idea of one central location providing the energy needs for a wide area, especially by using fossil fuels, when we think about it, should seem ludicrous. Nikola Tesla made the big electric power plant possible with AC power originally to move the energy harnessed from Niagara Falls to Albany, New York, but energy is abundant and all around us. We don't need to do it that way anymore. The water movement in your pipes when you are taking a shower has energy in its motion sufficient if captured to power a clock. We see the heat of the day move Mercury up the thermometer, ambient heat turned into the motion energy of an expanding metal fluid. That expanding metal could push a piston that would turn a crank that would turn a gear that would spin a turbine that could produce electricity. When you start thinking out of the box like this, you discover that the number of ways to produce electricity from the energy around us are innumerable.
To solve the power plant problem we need to arrive at a more distributed or self generated form of energy generation. This new way of thinking of and capturing energy can be for all of us. It is only a matter of investment, smart design and strong political action.
Even if we don't fully move to renewable and distributed energy production, when it comes to our personal vehicles, we can make a difference. Trying to wring out greater efficiencies, and lower and lower pollution standards out of millions of internal combustion engine cars on the road is ridiculous. As internal combustion engine cars get older they become less efficient and pollute more and more. It is infinitely easier to regulate and convert a single power plant then millions of power plants on our roads and highways. Electric cars, even when being powered by coal in a power plant are far more efficient then gasoline powered cars.
The renewable electricity that I purchase for my home also powers my Volt. The energy I put into my car when going up hill comes back to me when I am going down hill. The energy I put into getting up to speed comes back to me when I am braking with regenerative brakes. Energy is momentum. An object in motion remains in motion. Energy is potential as a rock high on a mountain about to be cut loose and travel down the mountain with great force and speed. Energy is the movement of wind. Energy is heat on a hot day, the movement of waves, the tide coming up and going down, the warmth that you feel when you hug your loved ones. Energy is sunlight knocking electrons around on a solar cell and those electrons traveling down the attached wire into a car battery where it can be used later to move the car through an electric motor. If we concentrate on what energy really is we can find energy enough for all we wish to do with it without ever having to burn, pollute, fight wars for, or pay extortionist prices to get at it. All we need to do is think of energy in a different way.
Sat Jun 9th, 2012 at 10:52:53 PM EST
National Plug In Day which will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2012, is an unprecedented nationwide observance drawing global attention to the environmental, economic and other benefits of plug-in electric vehicles through simultaneous events staged in cities nationwide.
Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association are teaming up to plan for this effort, which will sound the bell through plug-in parades, tailpipe-free tailgate parties, test-drives and other grassroots activities.
The goal of National Plug In Day is to get owners of plug-in cars together with the general public. The general public can then talk to the owners of these vehicles and hear what the cars are like to live with in the real world. We are hoping that this will motivate more members of the public to consider a plug in vehicle for themselves the next time they are thinking of purchasing a new vehicle.
It is my hope that this year's event move from being solely United States observance to being an event that includes many more cities in the U.S. and many international one as well. To make this happen we need organizers everywhere. The Sierra Club is offering assistance to what they call "City Captains." City captains will be the point of contact for organizing the National Plug In Day event in a particular city.
Below the fold is an Email with contact information to get started.
Tue Jan 17th, 2012 at 09:22:25 PM EST
Is the Tea Party Real? The reason that I ask this question is because I was doing research on the Web to get a better understanding of who and what the Tea Party was and what it stands for and found things that seemed inconsistent. For one, according to a Gallup poll conducted on April 5, 2010, the "Tea Partiers Are Fairly Mainstream in Their Demographics." This seemed odd to me because the rhetoric that I heard coming from those said by the media to be most associated with the Tea Party, namely Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Dick Armey, many times expressed that particular segments of the US population were the sources of our ills.
Thu Dec 15th, 2011 at 02:16:36 PM EST
[Somebody] on Occupy Wall St.'s facebook page found this survey on foxnews.com that asks:
Do 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters represent your views about the nation's economic problems?
Maybe. I am not even sure what they want.
No. They have no idea how jobs are created or how a free-enterprise system works.
Yes. These folks are right about corporate greed and what's happening to the little guy.
Other (post a comment).
[Somebody] asks us to
"FLOOD IT!!! SPREAD IT EVERYWHERE; YOU CAN RE-VOTE."
I agree. I think this site needs a good old fashioned cause blitz. Click on the logo below and it will take you to the survey.
Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 07:16:03 PM EST
I was trying to think of ways that we could remember the basic tenets of the Occupy movement so that when people ask what we stand for we can more easily recall them. In this way we don't spend time arguing over the things that are being yelled at us (lazy, socialist, get a job, bums, etc.) and keep the conversation about what is really important.
What I thought we could use to help us is our hands as we do with our hand signals together with some easy to remember mnemonic devises. My idea started with the convenient fact that we all have ten fingers. This can be the beginning reminding ourselves first that we have ten basic tenets.
Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:40:52 AM EST
We the people of the Occupy movement state the following obvious truths, that we are all equal under the law, that as humans we have certain rights that are incorporated into our very being. Among these are the right to live, the right to be free from restriction of movement, the right to speak freely and the right to pursue what ever it is that we believe will add to our happiness as long as it does not harm others. We here and now affirm that because of these rights governments derive their permission to govern from the people, and that people to protect these rights create governments. When any form of government acts against these rights it is the privilege of the people to change their government to a new government that affirms the commitment to preserving these basic rights.
Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 05:15:23 PM EST
Gold doesn't have the capacity to do anything that the Federal Reserve Bank can do to regulate inflation or deflation. Gold doesn't allow money supply to keep up with money creation, which is what happens in a sound economy. Gold is a limited supply commodity that is finite.
Fri Feb 11th, 2011 at 07:26:21 AM EST
There comes a time in every society for the people to rise to a station to which the laws of nature intended them. This elevated station is based on the following obvious truths, that we are all equal under the law, that as humans we have certain rights that are incorporated into our person. Among these are the right to life, the right to be free from restriction of movement, the right to speak freely and the right to pursue what ever it is that we believe will add to our happiness. We here and now affirm that because of these rights governments derive their permission to govern from the people and that governments are created by people to protect these rights. When any form of government acts against these rights, it is the privilege of the people to change its government to a new government that affirms its commitment to preserving these basic rights.
Sun Nov 28th, 2010 at 03:35:16 PM EST
I want to be able to see the trailer for "Revenge of the Electric Car," but I can't see it until there are 10,000 hits of the Face Book page for the movie. So I need your help. Please click on the link http://www.facebook.com/revengeoftheelectriccar go to the top of the page and click that you like the page. If a mere 3,000 something of you do that I can see the trailer.
Sat Apr 24th, 2010 at 01:49:38 PM EST
If you think that going green in transportation is like doing acupuncture you're wrong. If you think driving clean is like tasting nasty medicine you're wrong again. If you think by going to an electric vehicle you can say good-bye to tinkering in your garage with your hot rod, you are wrong one more time. I bet you didn't think you would ever be happy about being wrong about anything. Let me tell you, you're going to be happy about being wrong about this.
For the last 9 years the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington, DC, together with the National Electric Drag Racing Association have been putting together a show in Hagerstown, Maryland of what insaniac, electric gear heads, scientists and engineering departments can put together in their garages.
Sun Aug 16th, 2009 at 08:57:26 PM EST
In part one of this series we looked at a possible reason why Mr. Pickens abandoned his plans for the worlds biggest wind farm. It explored a possible connection between water pipelines Mr. Pickens wants to build and legislation he pushed to allow water pipelines to follow power line tracks. The idea being, his wind farm was only a device to get his pipe line built over the objections of land owners and environmentalists.
With this blog we are going to explore the other side of the Pickens plan, the natural gas part. Remember that the Pickens' Plan is predicated on the notion of moving the nation's natural gas away from the steady utility industry into the volatile transportation sector, while wind energy moves into the utility segment vacated by natural gas.
Sun Aug 9th, 2009 at 03:34:42 PM EST
Maybe I am the only person in the world to not be surprised by the announcement of July 8th by T. Boone Pickens when he announced that he would "temporarily" put his plans to build the world's biggest wind farm on hold. I also wasn't surprised that he quickly followed that announcement by doing the only logical thing one does when one puts something "temporarily" on hold. He proceeded to announce that he was shopping for buyers of his $2 billion worth of wind turbines that he had already put on order. Because not having any wind assets in the pipeline is the quickest way to get back to providing wind power once your "temporary" hiatus is over. Having followed T. Boone Pickens' wily ways in the oil markets have made me suspicious of his wind power aspirations. So I looked into it.
Sun Apr 5th, 2009 at 05:32:13 PM EST
On April 3, 2009 at 1:31 PM, the Spirit of DC, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) became the first vehicle of its kind to have visited all 48 states of the contiguous United States of America. "The Spirit of DC became an All American," says "EV Jerry" Asher, the driver and co-chair of the effort. The history making record was set after Asher and the Spirit of DC crossed over the Georgia/Alabama line while on US 78. This is the beginning of the end for the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle All Around America (PHEV3A) Team that is made up mainly from members of the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington, DC (EVA/DC).
Tue Jan 6th, 2009 at 08:39:25 AM EST
Picking the Winners
Just because it's green and a good idea, isn't a guarantee it will succeed reaching the marketplace, much less reach commercialization, writes Joseph Lado in an article for EVWorld.com
The picture above is of Apollo 15's astronaut James Irwin with the first lunar rover on the Mare Imbrium. It has been nearly 40 years since man drove an electric vehicle on the moon, much less mined it for Helium 3.
Wed Mar 26th, 2008 at 08:39:19 AM EST
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) meets tomorrow. Their plan is to weaken the laws that govern pollution from automobiles. In particular they plan to reduce the number of Zero Emission Vehicles that were originally required by the law popularly known as the Zero Emissions Mandate or ZEV Mandate. In a show of public will we need anyone available from San Francisco to Reno to come to the rally and let CARB know that Zero Emission Vehicles, with out any dictates to which technology will get us them, should be in large numbers on the road. Plug-in hybrids should be encouraged as well as pure electric vehicles that use batteries and if the automakers want to make fuel cell vehicles sooner rather than later in large numbers they are certainly welcome to do so. The point is, we need those vehicles on the road now, so CARB shouldn't be working to limit the numbers of vehicles in the near future. Be there to show your support for clean air that comes from having cleaner cars.
Plug in America Press Conference and Rally
Date: Wednesday - March 26, 2008
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Where: California EPA Building
..........1001 I Street
Mon Feb 25th, 2008 at 12:55:39 PM EST
About three years ago when traveling though the Midwest I happened upon a conversation that struck me very odd. The discussion going on was about the mortgage crisis. The point of the conversation was clear, Midwesterners, the salt of the earth, the no need for government help kinds of people, or as I like to put it, the responsible Americans, were talking about walking away from their home loans and being in essence irresponsible. That conversation didn't compute well in my head so I probed a little. I asked why? Why would these people known for their practicality born out of surviving extreme harsh winters walk away from loans and houses that they had called home? The answer was simple and direct. They were walking away from their homes because they simply couldn't afford the loans that they had taken out. It was either eat or pay everything to the mortgage and eating is kind of vital to life. The stigma of bankruptcy still runs deep in these parts. The pain they felt added creases to their faces that previously weren't there. They were walking away because that was their only choice. I came to the conclusion that something had gone terribly wrong. This disturbed me so much that I tried desperately to put it out of my head.
Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 10:45:16 PM EST
The following interview was published by Venster, a Shell Oil Co. Dutch-language magazine produced for circulation internally with in the company. The interview is with Shell Oil Company's CEO, Jeroen van der Veer, and was translated into English by Rembrandt Koppelaar, president of ASPO-NL and contributing Editor to the Oil Drum: Europe. I acquired the interview from a Blog post to the European Tribune that had added commentary by Jerome a Paris. For this Blog I am not using Paris' commentary but have removed his and added my own. I have rewritten some of the translation to correct some of the improperly written English. I made sure that none of my changes had any affect on the meaning of the translation.
The purpose of this post is to point out a very disturbing trend in oil pricing. There has been much speculation in the media and in the blog sphere that the price of oil today reflects a shortening of supply directly attributed to peak-oil having been reached. The interview with Jeroen van der Veer indicates something radically different is going on. My speculation is that he is right and that the consequences could be dire if unheeded.
Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:21:05 AM EST
The belief that uniform benefit could be had by pure unregulated capitalistic economies died more than a century ago when people realized that pure market economies failed to produce a benefit to society as a whole. This wasn't a change in thinking from capitalism to socialism as it is often debated now days, but rather a realization that unbridled capitalism exacerbated the conditions that brought about Communism. The great majority of the nation, liberal and conservative, business man and laborer, came to the same conclusion, that being in a fully capitalist society government plays an important roll. That roll is primarily to keep the playing field fair and even so that basic economic principles that benefit man kind can take hold. What had occurred during this time period was that forces gaming the system, chiefly monopolists, took over the open capitalist markets and closed them to the detriment of a great majority of the citizenry.