Friday, November 28, 2014

Welcome to the oil war

No, not a war in the Middle East.

I'm talking what appears to be a pricing war being waged by key OPEC players to undermine America's higher cost shale drillers.

For months, the price of oil has been tumbling, and it appears to be falling far faster than any real drop in global demand. It can be argued that producers like Saudi Arabia are targeting intentional damage to U.S. producers. Think short term pain for long term gain.

Reuters quotes oil analyst Iain Armstrong: "It is a question of who blinks first - OPEC or the U.S. shale producers. The longer the oil price stays at these levels the greater chance a U.S. shale producer will go under. But it will take time."

Conventional wisdom has been lower oil prices will bring an American economic upturn.

Not necessarily. Not this time.

Cars and trucks are more efficient. So consumer savings from cheaper gasoline aren't as significant as in the past. And any cost savings are likely to be eaten up by higher prices for other forms of energy, or for other necessities. Health insurance costs are rising. Residential property values are rebounding, likely meaning higher property tax burdens for families.

We also have to factor lost of jobs in the American oil patch. We have more jobs there now, that's more jobs at risk. If OPEC intentionally under-prices what U.S. drillers can match, job losses and other economic hits to the U.S. economy could be significant. Railroads are already starting to see impact.

A decline in oil production, brought on by under-pricing competitors, could mean a significant hit to U.S. GDP.

Was a time, the U.S. government would have taken steps to defend against price dumping by an aggressive foreign competitor. But the Obama adminsitration probably isn't all that interested in defending U.S. shale drillers. Fact is, the Obama team may have goals that are quite the opposite.

Update: From CNBC, more widespread potential economic badness from falling oil prices

Black Friday. Then and now

Great mash-up on YouTube.

Black Friday 1983 constrasted with more contemporary video.

Society's behavioral decline, when it happens over a span of decades, is mostly imperceptible on a year to year basis. But over the longer window, it can be pretty dramatic.

Too bad mainstream media won't pull from their archives, and do their own now-versus-then Black Friday mash-ups.  But I suspect they're too afraid of push back from both viewers, and perhaps more on-point, Black Friday advertisers.

If you're thinking about giving a gun at Christmas...

Is re-gifting a legacy firearm among the options you'll consider?

What's hot on Black Friday?

Forget the iPods or cheap TVs.

Black Friday is America's top gun buying day. Apparently this sparks some fretting at the Washington Post.

The Post notes that some gun purchases are allowed to go through without a full background check because the FBI fails to complete a relative handful of checks in a timely manner.

It's true. Sometimes Black Friday sales overwhelm the background check system.

The Post doesn't mention that the vast majority of unqualified buyers who are caught lying on required federal purchase forms are never prosecuted.

Last year, noted:
The Justice Department has never placed a high priority on pursuing perjury charges from background checks. There are about 70,000 denials for gun purchases a year. Under Bush, 15/100th of 1 percent of the cases were prosecuted. Under Obama, 8/100th of 1 percent of the cases were prosecuted.
Progressive politicians may fret we need more gun control to keep guns out of the what they say are the wrong hands.

But it seems foolish to argue for tougher regulation when government refuses to enforce laws already on the books.


Easy Bomb Transaction?

Dare I say the system needs fixing?

If you like electricity, you can keep your electricity...

And, if you like your factory, you can keep your factory.


Maybe not. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Outside agitator, indeed

What do the Battle for Seattle, Occupy Wall Street, and Ferguson, Missouri all have in common?

Connect the dots. What's happening in Ferguson is about more than Mike Brown.

The dead are easily exploited.

Poor Joe

With Obama and Holder hoggin' all the headlines, you know Joe's gotta feel left out.

Meanwhile, to the south...

Venezuela's Maduro tries to blame the rich for socialism's repeated failures. 

Thanksgiving Day political ad

Understanding the times.

An ad from a group called Conservative War Chest:

I wish every congressman and senator in DC would have to view this. And then have to justify their complicities in the madman's fundamental transformation.

Boehner's gonna stay

Forget the earlier talk. Any Republican will to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House has apparently collapsed.

I missed this at the time, but a voice vote in earlier this month only saw two or three House Republicans voicing objections to a third Boehner term as speaker.

At least one of the dissenters was from Georgia.

The Hill notes:
Rep.-elect Jody Hice (R-Ga.) confirmed in an interview that he was one of the members who voted no. A conservative talk-radio host, Hice had pledged during the campaign to vote against Boehner. 
"Throughout the district, I heard over and over and over they wanted new leadership," Hice said of his constituents.
But even Hice says he may not vote against Boehner when the official 'on the record' vote rolls around in January 2015.

If you thought the conservative wave that hit the polls November 4th would lead to a resurgence in Republican conservatism, think again. Another election has come and gone where the conservative vote was taken for granted, and now that campaigning's over, the party leadership returns to its muddling middler ways.

Giving thanks this Thanksgiving Day

"It is a beautiful sight - that of a great and free people thus voluntarily setting apart one day in the year for the public recognition of their dependence upon God, and the free, full utterance of their gratitude to Him for their many national and personal blessings." - Charles Burgess, writing in The Divine Goodness As Seen In Our National History, 1853

Will you honor the day, and give thanks as intended, or be seduced by early Black Friday sales vending cheap stuff from China?