Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Ideal and Stimulus We Can't Pay For

It takes approximately three gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol

Atheism and idealism are sometimes questioned as to their compatibility. Why that is I'm not certain, except that idealism in these times is going by the wayside in the minds of many Americans, who don't see any idealism in what's going on in D.C.

Idealism that is not based on the facts of reality and on what is possible, cannot be, and is in fact contradictory of, "idealism." There is nothing about atheism that is contradictory of idealism. In fact, "hard atheism" which denies the physics necessary for the existence of a god is quite ideal, based in solid science, and is epistemologically sound.

What is neither sound nor ideal is eethanol. It takes approximately three gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol, roughly the same amount as it takes to make one gallon of gasoline. So not only is the use of corn for ethanol contributing to excessive corn-food costs, it makes the cost of almost everything go up. Farmers quit producing wheat because the corn is subsidised, so the price of wheat products go up. But the price of corn goes up, also, because it is used in so many non-food items, including automobiles.

Now we find out that in Idaho the aquifer has been diminished by one hundred feet, and it will take decades for nature to replenish it--if we stop mining it now.

"Environmental Defense released a report that tries to calculate the impact that biofuel plants (ones that produce corn ethanol) might have on the massive water source. The report, called "Potential Impacts of Biofuels Expansion on Natural Resources: A Case Study of the Ogallala Aquifer Region," says that pumping too much more water out of the ground for ethanol "could cause Depression-style dust bowls." New ethanol plants in the area would use up an extra 2.6 billion gallons of water a year and another 120 billion gallons would be needed to grow the corn."

There are ways of producing bio fuels that are better than what the government has been paying for in its attempt to make the markets change to meet government demands.

"The large aquifers of our country are being depleted by agriculture. Water shortages have been predicted to be more damaging to our civilization than fuel shortages. It would be a mistake to deplete our reservoir of fresh water to supply fuels. Biofuelstock plants should ideally be adapted to the rainfall patterns of environment were they are grown other than irrigation to get the plants established. In dryland farming use of perennial crops and non-till methods are especially important for retaining moisture in the soil." What should Biofuel agriculture look like?

We all know the government cannot cause the markets to swing in any direction except in the direction of the buyers--or metaphorically into the tank, where the entire economy is right now.

But at least we could stop raising the price of food, stop using our water resources, and let the markets act freely as markets do best--oops, I forgot about the $800b we just signed on for.

But did you know we have to borrow all of that money? We generally borrow from Japan, but Stuart Varney of Fox News stated today that Japan is in a traditional depression now, according to the latest Japanese economic indicators. They don't have a dime to spare. So where will it come from?

Who knows? "I don't want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic troubles," Obama said before signing the legislation. The biggest share of the stimulus package, says the President's new website, is $288B for tax relief. That means $288B the government won't be getting from us to spend on us.

But exactly half of that, $144B, will be given to states and localities for relief. How will the government give it to the states if we don't give it to the government? Some localities in California are already threatening not to pay their own tax bills to the state because the state isn't refunding tax money it doesn't have, so that means the local tax payers can't pay local taxes which are owed to the state for the purpose of giving it back to the taxpayers.

Next, $111B goes to "Infrastructure and Science." There is no word yet on how much will go for science that tells the President how to "go green" at the expense of our grocery costs, water aquifer levels, and the relative expense and relative inefficiency of wind farms.

Centrica [ ] said it was "revisiting the economics of wind farms given rising raw material and credit costs...[and] has yet to approve investment for three more farms that it plans to build in the North Sea.
"The costs of building offshore wind are at a very high level," a Centrica spokesman told Reuters.

But this is what Obama wants, and apparently what Obama wants, Obama gets. After all, he got the stimulus package before Congress could read it for 48 hours, as Obama promised, so that the President himself could read it for 96 hours before signing it.

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