Media

Krugman Hates Ethanol!

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From Paul Krugman's NY Times blog:

I'm almost never censored at the Times. However, I was told that I couldn't use the lede I originally wrote for my column following the 2007 State of the Union address, in which Bush made ethanol the centerpiece of his energy strategy: "Before the State of the Union address, there had been hints and hopes that President Bush would offer a serious plan to reduce our dependence on imported oil. Instead, however, he took refuge in alcohol."

Well, anyway—the news on ethanol just keeps getting worse. Bad for the economy, bad for consumers, bad for the planet—what's not to love?

Whole bit here.

reason's Ronald Bailey on ethanol here.

Hat tip: Film critic and blogger extraordinaire Alan Vanneman

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  1. I’m in agreement with Paul Krugman on something?

    …I think my head just exploded.

  2. Well, anyway – the news on ethanol just keeps getting worse. Bad for the economy, bad for consumers, bad for the planet – what’s not to love?

    This is amazing. Since when did the green people start giving a shit whether their policies were detrimental to the ecology? I thought it was all about punishing humans for improving their living conditions. This is because they want to use GM corn isn’t it.

  3. I’m in agreement with Paul Krugman on something?

    There was a time when Krugman wasn’t simply a liberal shill and was actually a respected economist. There was a lot to agree with in those days.

    As for Ethanol…HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Apparently, if you want to beat the Soviets, you must be the Soviets. (Hey, didn’t we already beat the Soviets? Well, one never knows when those commie bastards might resurface, so we have to pull the rug out from under them by wrapping it around ourselves.)

    HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! I’ve never been more proud to be an American.

  4. Krugman only hates ethanol because Bush likes it. But at least he hates that stupid waste of money; I don’t care what his reasons are.

  5. Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds some nuts.

  6. too bad instead of coming to the realization that government should stay out of these things, krugman will say that we need the “right” people in charge to implement the “right” ideas.

  7. Every time some pandering politician talks about ethanol as an answer to our energy independence or greenhouse emissions problems, I want to beat some sense into, and some crap out of, him. Can they really be this stupid? Does it even matter, because the electorate is that stupid?

    I grew up believing that people in general were rational, honest beings. Discovering the reality of the situation was more heartbreaking than finding out there is no Santa Claus.

    Ethanol subsidies are good evidence that some people most politicians don’t learn a damned useful thing in college.

  8. The only people I have heard touting ethanol have been people with their hand in the kitty. I have never heard anyone who was genuinely concerned with the environment talking it up.

  9. Bad for the economy, bad for consumers, bad for the planet – what’s not to love?

    Like that’s ever stopped a government program before.

  10. It’s good to know he hates something other than free enterprise.

  11. My previous should end like this.

    …some people most politicians don’t learn a damned useful thing in college.

  12. So reporters at the NYT have a blog as well as their well-placed opinion piece.

    Kudos to that fine paper for giving a voice to the already voiced.

  13. Now that it’s well over $3.00/gallon for me to fill up my car’s gas tank, I’m ready for some serious energy alternatives. Mr. Fusion, matter-antimatter annihilation drive, Inter-Universe Electron Pump, what have you. Not more of the same, and especially not something run off of some politically charged fuel that isn’t actually a good idea in the first place.

  14. Ethanol is the solution to my sobriety problems!

  15. “Bad for the economy, bad for consumers, bad for the planet”

    Good for corn farmers.

  16. The lefties/environmentalists don’t like nuclear because it is too dangerous. They don’t like coal or oil because of “climate change”. They don’t like windmills because they kill birds. They don’t like dams because they keep rivers from flowing free. We haven’t heard it yet, but they will probably find something to dislike about solar-electric generation, such as the fact that it prevents sunlight from falling on the fragile ecosystem, or maybe the materials used to make the panels can be associated with impotence in whales.

    How long wil it take for people to see the pattern here?

  17. Maybe people will listen to an economist on the subject, since they won’t listen to any of us engineers who actually work in the energy industry. Or maybe politicians will keep listening to ConAgra and ADM.

    Hmm. I know which way I’m betting.

  18. Well, one good thing about Bush pushing that horrible boondoggle known as ethanol is that we can count on the lefty enviros to oppose it. Hopefully that will be enough to kill it. And malt/barley prices will come down.
    -K

  19. So basically, we need a Mr. Fusion that produces no waste of any kind. Are the Japanese working on this?

  20. MP: Just at the time Krugman wasn’t a liberal shill… I was a young Democrat. I didn’t really gravitate much away from that until the past ten years, the past seven in particular.

  21. WTF? No Santa Claus ? Does ADM know this ?

  22. Pro Lib,
    Let me clue you in on a little secret. Even when gas goes over $6.00/gallon it will still be dirt cheep. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for dilithium crystal development. I just think it’s going to be tough finding something cheaper than gas, even at twice the price. Moving to nuclear power should take some pressure off the price of crude. And I wish they’re were more diesel cars on the market. But we still have it soft, energy wise. OTOH, I’ve heard respectable people saying that solar may soon become viable.

  23. What if we send all of our pollution into a parallel universe?

  24. I think ethanol is great, for drinking that is.

  25. Warren,

    In a relative sense, you are correct, but the effects of $6.00/gallon gas on the economy would be pretty substantial. I think we get serious about real alternatives (not ethanol) well before that point.

  26. I just want to pop in here and say that I hope everyone is aware that if you click on the ad for Liberal Fascism, Reason makes money and Jonah Goldberg’s publisher loses money.

    Just an observation. I’m not saying you should click the ad or anything. Maybe you’re interested, maybe you’re not.

  27. “Pro Libertate | February 22, 2008, 11:43am | #

    What if we send all of our pollution into a parallel universe?”

    I think that an alien race did that exact thing in a Star Trek:TNG episode. The people who lived in the other universer were a bit pissed off, IIRC.

  28. Oy, maybe it was the lunar eclipse, there seems to be a glut of typos today.

  29. OTOH, I’ve heard respectable people saying that solar may soon become viable.

    Warren, I’ve been hearing that too from people whose technical acumen I trust. But the solar guys have a looong track record of promising efficiencies that will finally make them competitive based on some new technology X. X never quite turns out to be ready for prime time. There’s an old joke in the oil industry about oil shale that applies to most alternative energy technologies: Oil shale is the energy source of the future… and always will be.

  30. In a relative sense, you are correct, but the effects of $6.00/gallon gas on the economy would be pretty substantial.

    Ha ha ha, no, it just seems high. After you get use to paying that much you’ll go back to filling your SUV. Seriously, doubling the price of gas will have a negligible effect on the economy.

  31. T,

    Fusion power is 50 years away. As it was in the 1950s and 1980s. Always 50 years away.

  32. I just want to pop in here and say that I hope everyone is aware that if you click on the ad for Liberal Fascism, Reason makes money and Jonah Goldberg’s publisher loses money.

    I clicked on the chick in the fake cop outfit from the atheist ad, but not because of any financial incentives.

  33. Always 50 years away.

    Yeah, the optimism astounds me. We’re almost there! Just give us some more time! We have some really neat lab scale proof of concept stuff! Isn’t it cool? Can we have some more funding?

    I know a lot of guys that follow alt energy, but for the foreseeable future, hydrocarbons are king.

  34. Gasoline is about $8.7 per gallon here (1.55 euro a liter) in Europe. I’ve seen hell, and it ain’t looking pretty.

  35. The problem with developing diesel passenger cars in the US is that one can only refine a certain percentage of diesel and gasoline from a barrel of crude. We use a lot (no really, a lot) of diesel in our shipping industry, since we tend to ship by truck. Shifting gasoline demand to diesel may not be a useful strategy.

    That and we have a lot of trouble passing diesel emission legislation for passenger cars in the US. The Volkswagon TDI engines (45 mpg) came off of the market in 2006 because they couldn’t pass 2007 emission standards and the 2010 standards will be even more strict. We won’t have any diesel passenger cars without serious emissions devices which in turn, will equate to more cost per consumer. Even the light-mid duty truck engines have some work by 2010.

  36. Hey, that’s wrong. Fusion is always twenty years away.

  37. My above comment directed to Warren

  38. In a relative sense, you are correct, but the effects of $6.00/gallon gas on the economy would be pretty substantial. I think we get serious about real alternatives (not ethanol) well before that point.

    Anyone think there’s any chance that sustained high energy prices would lead to denser development, elimination of zoning regs requiring minimum lot sizes/parking spaces/usage restrictions, and higher transportation efficiency (more practical public transit options and more efficient and smaller vehicles for around-towning)?

    Then again, if you’re a liberal, you probably want all these things right? But somehow there’s also this silly urge to protect people from “high gas prices” by “doing something” to keep it affordable.

    It’s silly to me that the religious right wants to force everyone to abide by their beliefs when their virtue is realized out of personally choosing to do as Jesus teaches.

    It’s just as silly that environmentalists/density and public transit fetishists want to ensure that everyone has the prosperity to pollute, consume, live far apart, etc, and actually do a lot to prevent market conditions that would create the conditions they desire.

  39. Now that it’s well over $3.00/gallon for me to fill up my car’s gas tank, I’m ready for some serious energy alternatives.

    Check out this awesome video of Dr. Robert Broussard touting the awesomeness of the fact that he and his underfunded team were able to prove the viability of
    a fusion process that converts hydrogen and boron directly into electricity producing helium as the only waste product. Most of this work was funded by the Department of Defense, the details of which have been under seal… until now.

    The video is over an hour long, and I don’t pretend to be smart enough to understand everything, but there is pretty good Q&A at around 1H 24M into it, and it seems like really exciting stuff.

  40. Reinmoose,

    It’s because they haven’t the slightest fucking clue about basic fucking economics. It’s silly that you give them as much credit.

  41. highnumber said it best:

    “The only people I have heard touting ethanol have been people with their hand in the kitty. I have never heard anyone who was genuinely concerned with the environment talking it up.”

    It’s all about the corn. And who profits from it..no serious alternative fuel person i know likes it.

    I’m not that opposed to nuclear power, as long as they don’t build it on a fault (grew up with a very early nuclear power plant that had that issue) and they have ample water supplies (downstream of Atlanta in a drought isn’t so great). And if they can be built without government subsidies (see…nuclear is dandy until the cost hits you..see WWPPS, ring a bell?).

    Solar seems to be getting closer ti economic viability (at least on an individual basis..and nothing wrong with that and should be the libertarian model instead of a massive grid that when it fails impacts entire regions of the country.)

    Wind power is dandy (yeah, some have complained about the birds, but then some complain about anything..see the Right and the HPV vaccination..see how that works? )

    Growing up under the wing of the Bonneville Power Authority and the damned Columbia, I can not complain since I have enjoyed the bounty, but the salmon runs are a real issue. Working to fix that is something that is being done..sometimes successfully, sometimes as a big clusterfuck. Salmon might not be a big deal to you all, but it is also an industry to which I belong, so I have an economic interest and a personal one. Salmon Nation and all that.

    So, rxc, while I hate to beak up your dandy roll of generalisations, you should back off on the “wacko enviros” bit (yours was just the most extreme).

    Now I learned to think this way on my Reagan loving momma’s knee (though she was very disappointed in Watts). Living in Oregon where even the sainted McCall (Republican) was an enviromentalist…

    I agree that gas at 6.00 will still be cheap, if we want to continue to drive. It may not feel like it to commuters, but welcome to the 21st century.

  42. Forgot the link :
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1996321846673788606

    I also wanted to add that I believe Dr Broussard has passed away since this video

  43. There’s an old joke in the oil industry about oil shale that applies to most alternative energy technologies: Oil shale is the energy source of the future… and always will be.

    Wait, I thought the Canadians were getting a lot of their current oil production from shale. I thought all that shale and tar sands oil was the cause of the appreciation of the Canadian dollar. Am I completely wrong about this?

  44. Re zoning. I’ve thought for a while if I had Warren Buffet amounts of money sitting around I’d buy up slums and inner suburbs around cities. 2-3 hour commutes with $10 gas isn’t going to be all that viable, I think. Or maybe the Yugo will make a comeback.

  45. Fluffy – your thinking of oil sands. Shale is a not particularly viable at the moment US thing.

  46. The problem with developing diesel passenger cars in the US is that

    General Motors single-handedly demolished the market for diesel engined passenger cars in the late seventies. Only after everyone who drove, saw, or listened to a GM (Cadillac Seville, anyone?) diesel has died will large numbers of diesel passenger cars be sold in this country.

  47. It’s because they haven’t the slightest fucking clue about basic fucking economics. It’s silly that you give them as much credit.

    I think some of them do have the slightest clue, but I think they’re trained to reject it as “worshiping the free market” or whatever, and being scared of the bad things that might happen as a result of not being in some superficial form of “control.”

    Others, though, have no fucking clue about anything. It just makes me that much angrier whenever I hear about how everyone needs to go to college, yet there are millions of college educated clueless twits out there. What a terrible waste of money.

  48. Fluffy – your thinking of oil sands. Shale is a not particularly viable at the moment US thing.

    Exactly. Two different things. The state of Colorado is basically oil shale. Shell thinks they can get useful production out of oil shale at prices above 30 or 40 bucks a barrel, IIRC. I’ve been involved on the periphery of the project, and from what I’ve seen, I think somebody at Shell is bogarting the good stuff. They claim the energy balance is right, but I has some doubts.

  49. Reinmoose,

    Some concerns are short-term, and some are long-term. It’s reallly that simple.

  50. Understood, but I’m not talking about easing into something, and I’m not talking about you.

    We’re looking at people who can see negative consequences of butting-out, but not negative consequences of remaining butted-in. I think it comes from the mentality of needing to “do something” about a problem, and the relationship of good intentions with positive and negative outcomes.

  51. Bhh,

    I’ve thought for a while if I had Warren Buffet amounts of money sitting around I’d buy up slums and inner suburbs around cities.

    You are stealing my idea. There is an old area of Louisville that is mostly slums that I would tear down, put in middle/upper middle class housing that would be between a .5 and 1.25 mile (depending on the end of the neighborhood) bike ride to the heart of downtown. It also has some riverfront property for the really high end housing.

    I have no idea if it would be profitable, but I think it would be. I guess it depends how much you have to pay to buy up the current crappy housing.

  52. Following up on my previous post, I searched for houses for sale on a random street in the neighborhood I mentioned. 3 properties, built in 1900 or 1901, ranging form 759-1100 sq feet, with lot sizes of either 25×90 or 30×90. Asking prices went from 23k to 39.9k (the smallest house had the largest asking price). So, assuming that is average, for each three properties I could get an empty lot (after tearing down) of about 80×90 for about 100k. Seems pricy for a lot. Not sure if there is any profit to be made building McMansions with a lot cost that high.

  53. Krugman cites statistics that show producing and delivering a gallon of ethanol uses up .75 gallon of oil. Somewhere (maybe in FFF’s publication) the claim that it was actually more than a gallon of oil. Anyone know what the real situation is?

  54. I like the way Krugman throws out “lede.” As if he’s Jimmy Breslin or something.

  55. Not sure if there is any profit to be made building McMansions with a lot cost that high.

    In the right neighborhood, you bet your ass there is. There are whole areas of Dallas that have seen exactly this happen – block after block.

    Hell, in Highland Park (Dallas’s extremely wealthy suburb), people are spending millions to buy mansions to tear down to build bigger mansions.

  56. Or maybe the Yugo will make a comeback.

    I am extremely comfortable predicting that the Yugo will never make comeback. I’m fairly confident that the US will never see an auto that craptacular marketed again.

  57. Hell, in Highland Park (Dallas’s extremely wealthy suburb), people are spending millions to buy mansions to tear down to build bigger mansions.

    Likewise in Winter Park, FL.

  58. The state of Colorado is basically oil shale. Shell thinks they can get useful production out of oil shale

    Have you been house-hunting in Parachute?

  59. I am extremely comfortable predicting that the Yugo will never make comeback. I’m fairly confident that the US will never see an auto that craptacular marketed again.

    Wait until Tata tries to sell in the US.

    As far as the buying inner city property goes, please buy all of it in Detroit and just do something – anything – with it. Thanks.

  60. Have you been house-hunting in Parachute?

    No. It snows there. I refuse to live any place with regular snowfall.

  61. Wait until Tata tries to sell in the US.

    I’ll bet right now that the Tata is a better car than the Yugo. I’ve never driven one, but the Yugo was so fucking deathtrap horrible the Indians would need mass lobotomies to produce anything comparable.

  62. As far as the buying inner city property goes, please buy all of it in Detroit and just do something – anything – with it. Thanks.

    DDP – Are you from here? Bulldozing the east side and allowing nature to reclaim it would be a huge improvement.

  63. “So, rxc, while I hate to beak up your dandy roll of generalisations, you should back off on the “wacko enviros” bit (yours was just the most extreme). ”

    What did I say that was “extreme”? I thought that I was being factual, until maybe I mentioned whale impotence, but considering that the “hormone disruption” issue revolved on the size of alligator penises, I don’t think that the possibility of whale impotence is “extreme”. What DO environmentalists think about nuclear power other than it is too dangerous?

    How is this statement “extreme”?

    This sort of comment by you is part of the strategy – to try to cast the other side as extreme. It is a standard Gramscian tactic. It works quite well for people who do not see what is going on.

  64. Krugman is broken clock that is right twice a day. (Iraq, ethanol)

  65. DDP – Are you from here? Bulldozing the east side and allowing nature to reclaim it would be a huge improvement.

    Born and raised for a short time. I live in the burbs, officially. But I’m in Europe for the time being..

    I don’t know if bulldozing would help. Maybe. The situation is dire.

  66. Energy Independence Now!

    No more Oil Wars!

    Stop funding the terrorists!

    Drill in Anwar.

    Build more nuclear power plants

    Use More coal.

    Use more natural gas

    Turn trash into energy

    Double the efficiency of windmills and solar cells.

    If France can do nuclear power so can we.

    If Brazil can do biomass/ethanol power so can we.

    If Australia can do LNG power so can we.

    Domestically produced energy will end recession and spur the economy.

  67. I found the solution to all our energy problems! We burn the naturally occurring, carbon-neutral bullshit that spews from the mouths of elected officials.

  68. Warren, I’ve been hearing that too from people whose technical acumen I trust. But the solar guys have a looong track record of promising efficiencies that will finally make them competitive based on some new technology X. X never quite turns out to be ready for prime time. There’s an old joke in the oil industry about oil shale that applies to most alternative energy technologies: Oil shale is the energy source of the future… and always will be.

    T, first a question: What do you think of the oil sands potential up in Canada? I know they are already producing oil, but it seems to me the difficulties associated with oil sands will make these projects forever marginal.

    I know a fair amount about photovoltaics. I don’t think PV will be an economical alternative to grid power until grid power costs about $1.00 per kWh in today’s dollars.

  69. Personally, I think the greatest energy inroads we are going to make will be via conservation: LED lights, super-insulated refrigerators, construction optimized to use little energy, etc.

  70. When are you guys gonna start quoting Keith Olbermann?

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