Thursday, November 30, 2006

Subsidies For Hybrid Cars: Unfair At Any Price?

I've been hearing about the folks at Toyota who have had a bang up success with their environmentally friendly and high priced Prius automobile.

Maybe what you didn't know is that you, me, and every other taxpayer in this country is subsidizing the folks who can afford this, to the tune of $3,600 per least until this month, when Toyota reached the 60,000 unit cap and the credit fell to a mere $1,510. They're complaining bitterly in Washington, so we hear.

I know, I know, you're thinking "What in the heck does this have to do with agriculture, anyway?" Well, because it costs you and me money and it's transferring that money to people who don't need it as much as some folks I know, that's what it has to do with the general subject.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm all for green products, and saving on the oil bill and the balance of payments is a good thing for the country. But when K**** W*****, a friend of ours who, between herself and her husband is knocking down around a hundred grand a year, and who went from a Porsche to a Dodge Stealth to a Prius gets a $3,600 kickback that comes out of the wallets of less wealthy folks, I've got a problem.

While I'm struggling to keep current with student loans I'll never pay off in my life, and folks I've met in my practice are scuffling at construction jobs trying to keep some old pile of junk car going so they can feed and clothe the kids and stay out of jail, let alone drop $20,000 on a Prius because they want to make a fashion statement, well, our pockets are being picked to underwrite this.

Did I get a break for rebuilding the engine in my 1987 pickup truck to keep it out of the landfill for a few more years? Hell, no. Do I get a check for riding a bicycle? Not bloody likely. Do the folks on the poor side of town that I have to labor to keep out of jail get anything from this beyond less money in their tax return? Not a chance.

Am I angry? Yes. I'm angry as hell about having my wallet skimmed to underwrite this nonsense.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Politics, Canadian Style

I've recently come across a blog published by a Canadian who was tired of listening to the crap that comes out of the radio and teevee and the papers and decided to speak with her own voice.

It's Small Dead Animals and it is well worth a bookmark for those of you who take an interest in political affairs north of the worlds longest undefended border. I've done so and you can link to it over on the blogroll.

Australian Wheat Board Payoff Scandal Thickens

This one's tought to get a handle on for Americans and for the most part we're oblivious to what's going on in the world beyond our borders....imagine if the CIA or the Mafia represented all American farmers who sell wheat. Well, that's essentially what you've got in Australia and Canada....a government trading monopoly in wheat. And we know what happens with government trading monopolies through the past history of the Soviet Union. The farmer gets hosed on both ends of the transaction.

Well, if that rings your bell, it's what we've got going on with recent probes into the Australian Wheat Board's antics in corrupting the UN's Oil For Food program in Iraq. It's been determined that some $222 million USD or more was funneled to Saddam and his goons through a phony Jordanian trucking company.

Stay tuned....this is getting interesting.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the official website for the inquiry.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm Glad He Said It, Not Us.

India's finance minister Chidambaram yesterday castigated oil producing countries for the high price of oil that's been experienced this year, particularly in his neck of the woods.

Interestingly enough, the minister criticized developed countries for raising environmental concerns over energy usage. The minister also complains that India could have reached a 9-9.5 per cent growth rate, save for the high price of oil.

All of which is very nice, of your growth strategy is predicated on continued cheap oil. Maybe he doesn't realize it, but that's a sucker's game. Bitching about the ability of speculators in the oil market or any other market, for that matter, to swing prices is a play for the grandstand that midwestern farmers know pretty well.

Here we're experiencing just as much pain from high oil prices as India is, and we're also having to deal with the consequences of high corn prices in the farm belt. It's not easy, but you get busy and think ahead when times are good, and you invest in alternatives.

Here, we don't call what India's got going on growth-we call that cancer.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A burrito by any other name

It was widely reported today that the courts at Massachusetts, having gravely considered the issue and giving all due deference to the submissions of learned counsel, have concluded that a burrito is not, in fact, a sandwich.

Seems that the Panera folks had a lease in a shopping center that precluded another 'sandwich shop' from opening in the same area. Qdoba, a chain operation, opened a burrito shop. Panera sued to prevent Qdoba from bringing the detestable spawn of Satan himself anywhere near their turf.

The court concluded that a burrito was not, in fact, a sandwich as that is known, partially because a sandwich has two sides and a burrito has sort of a Mobius strip thang going on.

The entire subject goes to show what sort of legerdemain the twin effects of not enough legal precision and too damn many lawyers can produce.