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A Slow Death for the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline?

March 2, 2014 in Economics

By Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger

Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

If recent reports are accurate, President Barack Obama will make a final decision on the beleaguered Keystone XL pipeline “in a couple of months,” but don’t hold your breath. A recent ruling in a Nebraska court and a still-open public comment period at the State Department promise lengthy delays. The “couple of months” refrain has been used before. While the president could very well make a decision, he has no reason to, as he is setting the board in a way that he doesn’t have to touch Keystone for the rest of his presidency.

While he hasn’t moved to counter the bad publicity heaped on the pipeline, the president has cut the permitting time for natural gas export facilities. In this way, he is keeping both job creation proponents and environmental protectionists happy, allowing him to vacillate on Keystone without ever having to face the negatives that will come with any decision.

The president’s strategic play — straight out of his Climate Action Plan — runs afoul of the science and economic benefits behind the pipeline, but is a winner when it comes to the politics.

The expansion of natural gas has a greater, more diverse and more widespread economic impact than Keystone XL. Estimates of permanent jobs once the pipeline is up and running are only in the low hundreds.

Expanding domestic natural gas production, on the other hand, is a boost to mining operators, transporters and refiners, and it supports a build-out of infrastructure along the way — with the money primarily changing hands in the United States. Speeding up natural gas permitting then is a perfect way to quiet the jobs lobby. From an environmental standpoint, the preference for “clean” natural gas over so-called “dirty” oil from the Canadian tar sands fits perfectly with the president’s continued push for measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But since China annually increases its carbon dioxide emissions by many more times than we could ever hope to reduce ours, the math and science behind the president’s efforts proves them to be ineffective. But this takes a backseat to the appearance of at least “doing something” about climate change.

When it comes to Keystone XL, facts don’t seem to matter – what is dictating policy is environmental alarmism.”

On a recent trip to Indonesia, Secretary of State John Kerry called the dangers of a changing climate “perhaps the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Remembering Mr. Libertarian on his birthday

March 2, 2014 in Economics

By Gary Galles

March 2 marks the birth of Murray Rothbard. Given his importance to the cause of liberty (The website said he “mounted the most comprehensive intellectual challenge ever attempted against the legitimacy of government. During a career that spanned more than 40 years, he explained why private individuals, private companies and other voluntary associations can do whatever needs to be done”), it is worth marking the occasion by remembering a few of Mr. Libertarian’s words.

 There can be no truly moral choice unless that choice is made in freedom; similarly, there can be no really firmly grounded and consistent defense of freedom unless that defense is rooted in moral principle.

The State, by its very nature, must violate the generally accepted moral laws to which most people adhere.

[The] essential activities of the State necessarily constitute criminal aggression and depredation of the just rights of private property of its subjects.

I define anarchist [society] as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of any individual. Anarchists oppose the State because it has its very being in such aggression…

Of all the numerous forms that governments have taken over the centuries, of all the concepts and institutions that have been tried, none has succeeded in keeping the State in check.

Since the State necessarily lives by the compulsory confiscation of private capital, and since its expansion necessarily involves ever-greater incursions on private individuals and private enterprise…the state is profoundly and inherently anti-capitalist.

All of the services commonly thought to require the State—from the coining of money to police protection to the development of law in defense of the rights of person and property—can be and have been supplied far more efficiently and certainly more morally by private persons. The State is in no sense required by the nature of man; quite the contrary.

In a truly free society, a society where individual rights of person and property are maintained, the State, then, would necessarily cease to exist. Its myriad of invasive and aggressive activities, its vast depredations on the rights of person and property, would then disappear. At the same time, those genuine services which it does manage badly to perform would be thrown open to free competition, and to voluntarily chosen payments by individual consumers.

The libertarian creed, finally, offers the fulfillment of the best of the American past along with the promise of a far better future… libertarians are squarely …read more


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Academic Papers Filled With Nonsense–Literally

March 2, 2014 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

Apparently, it does not take much Artificial Intelligence to flummox academic scientists.

In 2005, three MIT graduate students developed a simple computer program that generates gobbledygook texts. They then added their names to one of them and submitted it as paper to an academic conference. It was quickly accepted. The heroic hoaxsters then offered the nonsense-generating program, SCIgen,  free for download–and evidently scientists have been making widespread use of it ever since. Two weeks ago  Nature reported that the German academic publisher Springer published 16 papers created by SCIgen.  100 more nonsense papers generated by the program were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

Now befuddled conference organizers and referees–the experts designated to spot nonsense in their own academic specialties–can breathe a sigh of relief. A French researcher has created a program to help them identify papers authored by SCIgen and made it free to download. But such relief may be short lived. One of the creators of SCIgen, Maxwell Krohn, foresees an “arms race” in which ever more sophisticated computers programs are able to spew out better and better fake papers that other computer programs are created to ferret out. Nevertheless, Krohn does not regret his creation in the least, declaring:

I’m psyched, it’s so great. These papers are so funny, you read them and can’t help but laugh. They are total bull*$%&. And I don’t see this going away.

HT to Lew Rockwell.

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A Bit More on Pete Seeger

March 2, 2014 in Economics

By Hunt Tooley


Lew Rockwell suggested that St. Peter may have had some problems determining which side Folk Singer Pete Seeger was on when he made it to the Pearly Gates on January 27th (’14) (or maybe the dating system is different in Heaven).

A bit more on that.  Seeger was eulogized last month in the press as a kind of banjo-toting civil libertarian. And if you take a look at his Wikipedia entry, you find that he worked for “isolationism” during World War II.

Well, Wikipedia, not quite. He worked for Moscow before, during, and after World War II.  And not to put too fine a point on it, for Stalin. It’s just that during the nearly two years of the Dream Team of Totalitarians (otherwise called the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact), Communists worldwide dutifully followed the Great Leader in extolling the Führer and in trying to keep the US out of war on the side of Britain.  And Pete was among those dutiful Communists.

The day the Pact ended (June 22nd, 1941) with the jump-off of Operation Barbarossa, Seeger ceased his “isolationism,” as Wikipedia would call it.

Within the blogosphere, many have pointed out that Seeger may have been one of the last supporters of Hitler AND Stalin AND Mao AND Ho Chi Minh. If he wrote any songs in support of Pol Pot, I don’t know about it.

His “recanting” of his Stalinism came a bit late, decades after even the Soviet Communist Party Line demanded that loyal Communists denounce Stalin (that would be from February 1956 on). Hence, in this instance, Seeger was well to the Totalitarian side of Khrushchev and, frankly, all the subsequent Soviet leaders. And then afterwards, there was Budapest, Prague, etc.  Well, and the fall of the Soviet Union and the flood of evidence of the killings, torture, and what not.

But in 2007 he got around to a vague kind of “recantation,” when he said to an interviewer:  ”I think you’re right – I should have asked to see the gulags when I was in the USSR.”  This is a recantation?

I don’t know about calling him a “civil libertarian.”  But I do suggest to some future biographer a working subtitle:   “Stalinist with a Banjo.”

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