From the AP, sure to be an environmentalist’s wet dream:
High gas prices have driven a Warren County farmer and his sons to hitch a tractor rake to a pair of mules to gather hay from their fields. T.R. Raymond bought Dolly and Molly at the Dixon mule sale last year. Son Danny Raymond trained them and also modified the tractor rake so the mules could pull it.
T.R. Raymond says the mules are slower than a petroleum-powered tractor, but there are benefits.
“This fuel’s so high, you can’t afford it,” he said. “We can feed these mules cheaper than we can buy fuel. That’s the truth.”
And Danny Raymond says he just likes using the mules around the farm.
“We’ve been using them quite a bit,” he said.
Brother Robert Raymond added, “It’s the way of the future.”
Way of the future? Does this mean we should all switch from petroleum to alternative mules? Just make sure you understand the mule industry’s “planned obsolescence” strategy. You need to replace the mules every time they stop fogging a mirror.
I guess the Amish would be laughing their heads off over this… They’ve been using alternative mules for generations. But since they’re not typically connected to the internet (oh, the electricity they save!), I don’t think we need to worry about their reaction.
Hat Tip: Billy Beck
With record-high corn prices, and plenty of subsidy money floating around, an interesting thing is happening. Less farmers are growing corn!
Why? Because the inputs used in growing corn are rising in price even more quickly:
The amount of corn planted in the U.S. is expected to dip this year. Rice acreage in California, which sells as much as half its crop overseas, is predicted to increase by only a small amount. Instead, farmers are planting cheaper-to-grow wheat and soy.
They say the reason is simple. The cost of planting some crops is rising as fast as their prices, and sometimes faster, leaving little incentive to increase production of some foods that remain in high demand around the world.
Farmers typically plant their crops once a year and not all of them cost the same to produce. Both corn and rice, for example, require more fertilizer to grow and fuel for farmers to tend than other crops. As the prices of those supplies rise faster than the prices of some commodities, farmers are shying away from some expensive crops.
This, of course, came as a bit of a shock to me. I never realized that corn was so resource-intensive to grow. So much so that the cost of growing corn makes it barely sustainable, even with the subsidies and record prices caused by high demand.
But that raises another question. If corn is a very resource-intensive crop for us to grow, why in hell would we want to use it as a fuel source?!
In an earlier post, I discussed the economic damage that “energy independence” would cause to U.S. consumers. In a recent conversation in meatspace, I ran into someone who acknowledged this problem, but argued that the price is “worth it” because when we trade with people who make oil, those people use the wealth to do all sort of bad things, like funding Al Queda. This argument has some merit; I certainly wouldn’t buy bread from a guy who would use the money to fund attacks on his neighbors.
Let’s examine this problem using the infamous Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland California as an example. This bakery is the cash cow for a gang that is involved in all sorts of criminal activity, ranging from auto-theft to destroying the stocks of alcohol stores since the bakers religiously disapprove of drinking.
If we take the proponents of energy independence’s approach to this matter, we would be calling for the city of Oakland, through a web of subsidies and taxes, to encourage the development of industries providing alternatives to bread. We would demand that they subsidize spaghetti shops, encourage people to bake their own bread, and tax bread use. We would seek to make bread more expensive for all so that people will consume less bread and stop buying bread from the bakery.
Instead of focusing on this particular bakery, instead of calling for a boycott of that particular bakery, we would seek to deprive all bakers of their livelihoods, make food more expensive for all including those who are desperately poor and have difficulty affording food. This is taking a sledgehammer to swat a fly and very immoral to boot!
But by trying to use violence to change the behavior of their countrymen, especially in a manner so ineffective to achieving their stated goals, the politicians calling for energy independence are crossing the line. People would rightly laugh if the Mayor of Oakland tried to eliminate bread from the city of Oakland as a means of ending the Your Black Muslim Bakery’s rein of terror. People should do the same to politicians calling for “energy independence” as a means of depriving Al Queda of its operating funds.
I found this little gem on reason.tv. On April 16, 2008 a group called Ad Hoc National Network to Stop Evictions and Foreclosures held a protest in Washington D.C.
What were they protesting? As the name of the organization suggests, Ad Hoc was advocating a freeze on all evictions in the U.S. Many of the Ad Hoc supporters wanted to go well beyond this, however. Some called for cancelling of all student loan debt, others called for “free” electricity, “free” healthcare, and “free” education. Still others ranted and raved about every real and imagined sin of the U.S. government (I half expected to see Rev. Wright in the video somewhere).
But don’t bother labeling these people as Marxists or Socialists; at least a few of the protesters who were interviewed readily embraced these philosophies and described themselves as such.
Why is this important? Isn’t this just a small group of extremists?
I wish that were the case. While most people we run into in our daily lives don’t call themselves Marxists or Socialists (they are probably clueless about these philosophies), many of them are calling for some of these very things. Supporters of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ralph Nader (who’s policy proposals are unsafe at any speed), and Mike Gravel (the faux libertarian) each support the Ad Hoc agenda, at least to some extent because their candidates support this agenda to some extent.
John McCain isn’t exactly someone who comes to my mind as a staunch defender of Capitalism either. McCain embraces this so-called “national greatness” philosophy where the individual should be willing to sacrifice himself for the “common good” of the country. McCain also criticized the Bush tax cuts as a tax cut for the rich* and pointed out that Mitt Romney’s background in business “chasing profits” was not as honorable as his lifetime service to his country.
One thing I can say about the Ad Hoc people, as insanely naïve as they are; at least they are honest about who they are. The same cannot be said about the top three candidates running for president.
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Glenn Beck on CNN wrote a nice little piece about the hypocrisy of “environmentalists” and why we shouldn’t be demonizing “Big Oil” for working for profit. Worth a quick read.