Meanwhile in the Socialist Paradise of Venezuela

Actually this story is about the impacts on one of Venezuela’s neighbors. Pentagon prepares to dispatch hospital ship to Colombia amid refugee crisis.

As a result of a dire economic and health care situation, rising numbers of Venezuelans are joining an exodus that has set off alarms across Latin America. The United Nations said earlier this week that an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans had fled the crisis-torn country as of June, mainly to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

Those refugees have apparently overwhelmed the health care system of Colombia. And other South American countries. Several hundred thousand refugees have escaped from Venezuela, a large number of them are malnourished.

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A Government-mandated Solution and the Problems It Caused

The Law of Unintended Consequences seems to especially love .gov mandates. Biofuels and the Environment: The Second Triennial Report to Congress.

It is a government document, written in the turgid style that only academics can beat.

So the Congress passed (and George W. Bush signed) a law with a wonderful-sounding name, The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. It was supposed to spur an increased production of “clean renewable fuels.” It is the reason that we put corn into our gas tanks. It was supposed to help the environment. Turns out, not so much.

You see the EPA was SURE – so completely positive – that if they required ethanol be used in fuel, that all kinds of alternative sources including “advanced biofuels” would leap to market. Instead, corn and soybeans constitute most of the source for ethanol we burn in out vehicles. They found this out in 2011, and reaffirmed in 2018:

the environmental and resource conservation impacts of biofuel production and use as delineated in Section 204 of EISA were, on balance, negative [That’s from the Executive Summary of the document.]

An increase in the number of acres planted at the expense of habitat, seems to be the one most to the EPA’s dislike (though they hand wave some of it away.)

In the “Future Impacts” section, they are still hopeful that “past performance is no guarantee of the future” as they see some hope that those “advanced biofuels” will finally arrive to save the day, but mostly…

Available data suggest that current trends using corn starch and soybeans as primary biofuel feedstocks, with associated environmental and resource conservation impacts, will continue in the near term.

And as someone said, in the long term, we’re all dead anyway.

The hubris to think you can control the future, control the markets. I don’t know who is more to blame, the EPA or Congress.

The problems identified.

  • Land Use – as habitat is converted to farmland
  • Air Quality – the emissions caused by growing stock, manufacturing and delivering ethanol
  • Water Quality – specifically algae blooms
  • Water Quantity – in irrigation
  • Etc.

The document also touches on the importation of biodiesel and the impacts that can have overseas, but given what is happening in Indonesia, they certainly gloss over it.

So will this law, which was supposed to save the environment, but turns out that it is hurting the environment, be repealed? Of course not. That would be painted as being anti-environment. Besides, those “advanced biofuels” will be here in the blink of an eye, and we’ll all be driving electric vehicles anyway. (And the corn-growers love the fact that the price is higher.) Hat Tip to Legal Insurrection and also to Tuesday Links from Clair Wolfe.

Speaking of Socialist Paradises

Yesterday we had Venezuela. Today we have Nicaragua. Nicaragua is on the path to becoming the next Venezuela.

July 19 happens to mark the 39th anniversary of the victory of the Sandinistas, the left-wing revolutionary movement that overthrew the brutal, U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. Now Ortega, a 72-year-old former Marxist guerrilla, increasingly resembles the tyrant he and his comrades once toppled. Masaya was once a Sandinista hotbed; now it’s seen as a bastion of opposition.

“After returning to power in 2007, [Ortega] sidestepped the constitution to get himself reelected in 2011. He then completed his palace coup by assuming full control of all four branches of government, state institutions, the military, and police,” explained journalist Tim Rogers, a veteran Nicaragua hand. “He banned opposition parties, rewrote the constitution, and turned Nicaragua into his personal fiefdom, which he rules from inside the walls of his stolen compound, a concrete fortress he rarely leaves.”

Where is the outrage at brutal government killing democracy? Oh, that’s right it happened on the Democrats’ watch, and they don’t mind suppressing freedom (First Amendment anyone?) as long as it is the right kind of people doing the suppressing.

Go read the whole thing. The bit from yesterday on Venezuela can be found at this link.

Meanwhile in the Socialist Paradise of Venezuela…

Everything is starting to fail. Video: Maracaibo, the story of Venezuela’s collapse.

Are we surprised that very little of this is in the mainstream press? (Florida newspapers have an opinion piece, about trying to get the Democrats to wake up. I think it is mostly wasted.)

Maracaibo is the second-largest city in Venezuela. Its residents face soaring inflation, widespread poverty and shortages. Under Hugo Chavez, Venezuela based its economy on oil exports. But the fall in oil prices led to a crippling economic crisis. Most people can no longer afford to buy food and the fishermen of Lake Maracaibo resort to smuggling to sell their meagre catch in neighbouring Colombia

Don’t expect the kids protesting in Washington, or Bernie Sanders or the new Democratic candidate in NYC to mention Venezuela anytime. And if anyone is brash enough to bring it up, they will tell you that isn’t Socialism.

Color Me Shocked – A .gov With Little Financial Accountability

Because “responsibility” is a conservative value. Or something. San Francisco continues to spend big in fight against homelessness — but is it working?.

(The WTF?! is inspired by the shear amount of money – which looks to be wasted.)

Between $245 million and $271 million in recent years, with next year’s budget set at about $280 million. That is JUST for homelessness, not for the whole of the city.

The article says the math comes out to $37,300 for each of the city’s homeless residents.

City supervisor hopeful Nick Josefowitz, however, said he believes San Francisco shouldn’t “invest a single public dollar without knowing if it is doing any good.”

“Despite decades of well-intentioned bills, spending efforts, or guiding plans, the same tragic scene continues day after day and year after year,” he wrote in an April article on Medium. “Indeed, in recent years the situation has become so much worse. Yet too often City Hall is still making decisions on homelessness based on folk wisdom rather than hard evidence.”

Because we scream “Do Something!” (The Left loves government action more than the Right, but it isn’t a Leftist monopoly.) And then we are surprised that the government is doing the wrong thing, or doing stupid things, or just throwing the money away.

A similar complaint the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board made years earlier – that the city isn’t doing enough to track their efforts.

“That a city can spend $241 million a year on programs and still confront such human misery suggests those dollars are not being spent with anything close to optimal effectiveness,” the board wrote in 2016. “Eight city departments and 76 private and nonprofit organizations draw from those funds in 400 contracts, yet the degree of accountability is highly suspect.”

You would think for $37,000 per person, you would be able to do something reasonable. But then again it is the government. (Hat tip to Chicks on the Right.)

Germany Doesn’t Have Enough Guns to Supply Their Military

Remember this when the folks at NATO are appalled by President Trump. Germany’s neglected soldiers forced to use broomstick as a gun.

Do you need more than the headline? German soldiers are forced to play “Lets Pretend” and use broomsticks, because there are not enough rifles in inventory. (Or for tank units, I’m guessing machine pistols or automatic carbines.)

German military shortcomings have became a national laughing stock, with reports of one tank unit forced to use a broomstick as a gun and all six submarines out of service for repairs. Auditors say the true picture is even worse.

Dire shortages of weapons, spare parts and personnel were not properly declared to the Bundestag, the federal audit office said.

The rest is behind the London Times’ paywall, but basically the headline covers the situation.

So when NATO goes on about how “Trump is being mean” remember that for decades, American Presidents have been willing to ignore the fact that the members of NATO have been shirking their responsibility to their own people. Why is it more important for the USA to defend Germany than it is for Germany to defend Germany?

The Machinery of Modern Life Begins to Fail in Europe

Well that might be an overstatement… But in light of the previous post, I decided to actually publish this – which has been languishing in the drafts folder for a short while.

We take for granted our ability to travel where we will, whenever we want. That isn’t working out so well in Europe these days. Jump in German flight delays stokes fears of travel chaos

According to passenger rights portal EUclaim, 15,571 flights were cancelled across Germany between January and June of this year. A further 3,778 took off more than three hours late. For the same period last year, the same figures were 8,826 and 2,268, respectively.

Now this isn’t all the fault of the greedy or incompetent airlines. While some delays are airline specific, the European Air Traffic Control system is falling apart. The organization that oversees all European Air Traffic (Eurocontrol) expects a 53% increase in delays this year.

A French senate report this week said the country’s air traffic control was responsible for a third of all aviation delays in Europe, according to Le Parisien newspaper. Separately, a 2016 report from PwC found that air traffic control strikes had reduced EU GDP by €10.4 billion ($12.1 billion) between 2010 and 2015 through aviation, tourism and freight losses.

There was a push to forbid air traffic controllers from striking, but that wouldn’t be fair to the workers. So European air traffic is a mess.

And just to throw a monkey wrench into the works, the pilots of Ryanair (a large, discount airline) are going to be on strike.

Add it all together and In June, only 50-60% of the flights were on time. (In the US that number is more like 75 to 80%, still not great, but which would you prefer.)

There are other examples of course. Germany is experiencing a deterioration of their electric grid, as the switch out nuclear and coal for “renewables.” Has driven the costs up as well. (Though Australia might be the poster child for too much solar power.)