Daily Archives: 01/01/2011

From Next Big Future: John Tierney officially has won his peak oil bet with Matthew Simmons


From Next Big Future comes this this.

Matthew Simmons expected the price of oil, about $65 a barrel in 2005, to more than triple in the next five years, even after adjusting for inflation. He offered to bet $5,000 that the average price of oil over the course of 2010 would be at least $200 a barrel in 2005 dollars.
Matthew Simmons, champion of peak oil and malthusians lost the bet to John Tierney.

Just as Mr. Simmons predicted, oil prices did soar well beyond $65. With the global economy booming in the summer of 2008, the price of a barrel of oil reached $145. American foreign-policy experts called for policies to secure access to this increasingly scarce resource; environmentalists advocated crash programs to reduce dependence on fossil fuels; companies producing power from wind and other alternative energies rushed to expand capacity.

When the global recession hit in the fall of 2008, the price plummeted below $50, but at the end of that year Mr. Simmons was quoted in The Baltimore Sun sounding confident. When Jay Hancock, a Sun financial columnist, asked if he was having any second thoughts about the wager, Mr. Simmons replied: “God, no. We bet on the average price in 2010. That’s an eternity from now.”

The past year the price has rebounded, but the average for 2010 has been just under $80, which is the equivalent of about $71 in 2005 dollars — a little higher than the $65 at the time of our bet, but far below the $200 threshold set by Mr. Simmons.

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John Tierney officially has won his peak oil bet with Matthew Simmons
noreply@blogger.com (bw)
Sat, 01 Jan 2011 06:26:32 GMT

December 31, Working

December 31, Working

Originally uploaded by rebelxtned

What a vast expanse is the God’s Pacific.

Could the Wall Street Journal on Net Neutrality actually discuss Net Neutrality, not Socialism?

Attacks from the right these days seem so often to never really address the merits of what is being proposed.  Instead either the motive, backgrounds, or associations of the proponents are attacked.  A good example of this was Wall Street Journal regarding net neutrality issue.

I think this is an inherently difficult topic, and I think you can make a case for or against neutrality.  It’s a harmless sounding idea, but it seems to suggest not charging those who use a service the most for the volume of their use.  The current practice of fixed internet access charge doesn’t past cost for heavy bandwidth use to those who use such as Netflix.  Here’s a primer on the subject that advocates net neutrality.  Here’s a strong condemnation of the net neutrality as a policy.

So you would think a Wall Street Journal columnist would first outline the question and then make a case for an answer, but that seems to be hard for the Fox owned paper.

Instead you find this:

Yet President Obama, long an ardent backer of net neutrality, is ignoring both Congress and adverse court rulings, especially by a federal appeals court in April that the agency doesn’t have the power to enforce net neutrality. He is seeking to impose his will on the Internet through the executive branch. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school friend of Mr. Obama, has worked closely with the White House on the issue. Official visitor logs show he’s had at least 11 personal meetings with the president.

The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney’s agenda? "At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies," he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. "But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."

In the entire article on Net Neutrality, you never find the subject really defined.  Instead you walk away knowing that a member of “liberal lobby”, who gives interviews to socialist websites supports it.  In fairness the paper has other coverage of the subject, so perhaps ignoring the merits can be explained by that, but notably the article quoted above is one of the most popular in the paper, but the accompanying coverage is not as popular.

So people are making judgment about this complicated subject based largely on associations and feared motives.  Maybe that’s inevitable, but you’d think a major newspaper could do better.

Interestingly in researching this I find that net neutrality has been compared to the old fairness doctrine.  Read the following:

Fairness Doc

By association of net neutrality with the fairness doctrine the right fears are stoked.  Since Obama was elected, talk radio especially has insisted that the fairness doctrine was coming back and that talk radio was threatened by that.  As far as I know nothing along this line has happened or appears eminent.  So again the merits of the issue are ignored.

Communal Ownership

In this time of conservative revival with a vengeance, I see communal experiments casually dismissed as almost always miserable failures.  Is this true?  Usually when socialism is dismissed as a failure the Soviet Union is at least alluded to.  Is that fair?

Clearly the Soviet Union was a pretty spectacular flameout for “to each according to his needs”.  It was neither very fair or very effective or efficient.  That said the blanket nature of the dismissals of each and every departure from private ownership has always seemed a little to smug.

The new issue of Region Focus from the Richmond Federal Reserve bank has some insight on this.  It finds that many attempts at communal ownership have not been permanent.  However, it concludes with this:

How long will they last, these communities, cooperatives,
collectives, and eco-villages? It doesn’t matter, says Tim
Miller, a professor of religion at the University of Kansas
who is working on an encyclopedia of utopian communities.
“It’s not longevity, it’s what does society learn from the
experiment?” That’s a good question — the same one that
feeds the urge to reinvent society, an urge that apparently
never dies. While Robert Owen’s communities failed, his
influence and image survive; there’s even a campaign on
Facebook to use his picture on Scottish bank notes.