In the Least Surprising News of the Day, Democratic Mayor of Chicago to Raise Taxes

Because you can’t cut expenses. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot: ‘No question’ city will need more tax money from residents.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday said there’s “no question” residents will need to pay more in taxes or fees to plug a looming city budget shortfall estimated at more than $700 million.

Sales tax is over 10 percent in Chicago, or it was the last time I was there. And the city lot wanted to charge me $21 per hour park next to the Art Institute.

And to be fair, a lot of things – mostly pensions – she can’t cut, not without declaring bankruptcy.

Emmanuel raised property taxes $588 million, and also raised water/sewer bills $233 million. The middle class is (once again) abandoning Chicago, for the somewhat lower tax suburbs at least.

So will squeezing harder actually result in any net revenue? When the wealthy start to leave, then the city will enter a financial free-fall.

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Electric Cars, Cold Weather, and Emergencies

Three things that do not do well together. An electric car can’t fully replace a gas-powered car in my world.

So recently I was at a graduation party for the son of a friend. (It was more like 2 parties, one of high-school kids, one of adults.) One of the neighbors had recently purchased a Tesla, and so someone else came up with a Tesla-cold-weather-driving story. After enjoying the schadenfreude, I went on a search for info about Tesla’s performance in cold weather.

Here’s the situation. You are driving to see family. Your young child develops a medical emergency. So you need to divert from your intended destination to an urgent care, then to the local hospital, and then to a regional hospital. Now for part of that time, the kid was traveling by ambulance, but that isn’t the point. The point is, sometimes plans, destinations, and expected driving distances need to change. Without regard for the nearest charging station.

Here’s the meat of the issue.

We can breathlessly talk about driving range, but neither that nor more chargers would have erased my anxiety—the anxiety of a parent who can’t spare extra minutes because his kid needs to get to the hospital.

Other situations where driving distance is an issue… Evacuation ahead of a hurricane in Florida. Evacuation ahead of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California. I’m sure you can think of others, while playing along on the home version of “Situations where charging time can be deadly.”

The whole thing is well written, and not terribly long. I encourage you to go read the whole thing. Here is the detailed account of what happened to that family at Christmas, driving to see family.

After further discussion and tests at Allen Hospital, it was clear Seth had intussusception—his intestines had folded onto themselves, and nobody could do the more complicated procedure on a toddler at the small-town hospital. I immediately wanted to go north, back to Minneapolis to get him care from doctors we knew and trusted, or at least head north and go to The Mayo Clinic. From that point, that would’ve asked an electric car to cover at least 339 miles, or at most 446 miles in the dead of Iowa winter. Waterloo, Iowa, isn’t far and has electric-car charging, but waiting at a Level 2 charger to charge over hours, at a trickle, wasn’t an option when every minute counts.

Even in Deep Blue Los Angeles, People Are Beginning To Say “Enough!”

That is, “Enough with the taxes, already.” A shrug from voters to struggling L.A. schools, and have a nice summer, kids.

The LA Times is heartbroken that given a choice, taxpayers who already feel overburdened don’t want to pay more in taxes. Isn’t it the Democratic Way to collect more taxes? Not that any problems are ever solved…

A new levy of some kind has failed. Measure EE it was called. Here are some of the comments the reporter has heard.

The district administration is inept, they carped. The union is corrupt and teacher benefits are bloated. Taxes are already too high. Parents are derelict. More money wouldn’t make a difference. Illegal immigration is bankrupting the district.

The last one is telling. Can it really be that in the Liberal Bastion, of LA in the heart of The People’s Republic of California, that voters are finally seeing the impact of illegal immigration? (I’m sure the LA Times will be labeling all of them Racist Trump-supporters in the next day or two.)

The Economy Under Obama

He was either batting 0 or 1000, depending on what the goal was. MEASURING PERFORMANCE: New Data Shows Absolute Economic Destruction During Obama Years.

His eight years did more to destroy America than any of past presidents, be they Democrat or Republican.

Look and study these few charts:

Yes, click thru and study the charts. Student loans, workforce participation, government debt, food stamps, and more.

While the graphs are fascinating, there isn’t much detail in that post. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Obamanomics, Revisited (Updated). Where Hondo, at This Ain’t Hell…, does a deep dive into the data. (There are links to the source, at St. Louis Fed’s Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) site.

So, what’s my take overall? The original GP article is a mixed bag. Its charts are all over the board – some are spot on, while others are accurate as far as they go but fail to tell the whole story. Some are misleading, and one may be flat-out inaccurate. And none cover the entire prior Administration; some cover barely half of it.

Nonetheless, many if not most of the conclusions implied in the GP article are IMO valid. That’s true even though there’s nowhere near enough data presented in the GP article to support its claims.

Anyway, if you’re interested in hardcore economic statistics (isn’t everyone?) I can recommend the second article. The first is good to, but rigor is the word of the day. I am sick to death of the 21st Century’s focus on FEELINGS.

“consumers are barely aware of what it would mean to stop using the herbicide.”

That’s an understatement. Defending glyphosate: A ‘Roundup’ of German agribusiness sentiments.

I always say that people who’ve never seen a combine harvester in real life, have no idea of the scale of modern agriculture, and no appreciation for the history of what life was like before it was mechanized, and chemistry was applied can solve all the problems with modern agriculture while drinking their soy-latte.

Now I’m not an apologist for Monsanto, but you can’t just drop the use of Roundup and expect that nothing else will change. The linked article talks in part about the raising of sugar beets in Germany, and the use of glyphosate.

Critics of the herbicide in Brandenburg are quick to demand that weeds be removed mechanically, but Peters says they usually fail to mention the downsides of such an approach.

“Yes, another cultivation strategy would indeed be to remove the weeds mechanically with tractor-driven plows,” Peters admits. “But that would cost a lot more energy and increase the use of diesel enormously and our CO2 emissions respectively. Food products would become more expensive,” he notes. “And using plows extensively would harm our fields as it would worsen our already existing wind erosion problems.”

So does the Left want to reduce the use of diesel? Of course they are going to try and mandate the elimination of diesel as well. I hope everyone reading this is prepared to grow all of your own food if they do. Again, they’ve never seen a combine harvester, or a full size Deere tractor, or any other bit of Ag machinery up close.

Some statistics on life before agriculture was mechanized.

  • In 1790 farmers made up about 90% of the population. Agriculture was labor intensive.
  • In 1860 farmers made up 58% the working population. Several machines – McCormick’s Reaper in particular – had been introduced.
  • In 1900 farmers made up 38% of the labor force.
  • 1930: Farmers made up 21% of labor force. After the Dust Bowl, better conservation methods were introduced. (see quote above re: wind erosion.) Also the tractor (as we know it) came into widespread use in the 1930s.
  • In 1950 Farmers made up 12.2% of the labor force. The 1950s saw chemical revolution. Fertilizers had been available since before the Civil War, but now became cheap. Also herbicides and pesticides came into use.
  • 1980: Farmers made up 3.4% of labor force

There are more statistics, about hours of labor for 100 bushels of wheat, etc. over the years at that link.

So how far back to you want to turn the clock?

A Company Not Interested in Politics?

I didn’t think that was permitted in the 21st Century. Dunkin Donuts Blasts Starbucks’ Politics: We Just Want to Sell You Coffee.

A company NOT engaging in politics is verboten. First, it’s Dunkin’. Next thing you know, it’s Tim Horton’s ignoring the Green New Deal in favor of a new green tea donut. Then Krispy Kreme will get involved by not getting involved.

Dunkin’ (a company that should still be called Dunkin’ Donuts) has doubled down on the idea that politics is necessary for coffee.

I stopped going to Starbucks a while back, and I don’t miss it. I live in the middle of nowhere, and I can find better alternatives. People who brew better coffee. People who roast their own.

Tesla and SolarCity

The Tesla fanboys were so sure that this merger was going to change the face of power generation. Didn’t really work out that way. MIT Technology Review: Tesla’s trumpeted solar shingles are a flop.

But then I’ve always believed that Tesla (and Musk) were “all hat and no cattle” when it came to solar. For a couple of reasons.

The first is tied up with the reality of what has happened since the merger.

In the more than two years since Tesla acquired SolarCity, its overall solar installations have plummeted by more than 76%.

A Tesla spokesperson told Reuters it’s “actively installing” the Solar Roof product in eight states but declined to discuss its purchases from Panasonic or provide overall installation numbers.

At least they seem to have learned the lesson from the SEC: Don’t embellish the truth.

Those numbers aren’t really a surprise, given the state of SolarCity before the merger. Elon Musk just kicked his shareholders in the teeth. (This is from Business Insider in 2016.)

Now, in case you haven’t been following the SolarCity story, it’s the company that, a few minutes before this deal was announced, Goldman Sachs said was the “worst positioned” for growth in its sector.

So why would someone with no real experience in a business-turnaround capacity, buy such a company? It may only be a coincidence…

It’s also a company that is helmed by Elon Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive. Go figure.

Though the stock was down 60% in the year before the merger was announced. Maybe he thought it looked cheap.

Back to the MIT article linked at the top. It looks like Tesla won’t meet the employment numbers it committed to at its “gigafactory” to avoid the penalties inherent in that deal. Though they have another year to get there.

Last year, Tesla ended its months-old retail partnership with Home Depot, and shuttered a number of solar installation facilities. It’s reportedly cut thousands of workers in its solar division since the acquisition. The team also faced difficulties with the appearance and performance of the Solar Roof tiles.

A Bloomberg article late last year said Tesla was operating just one production line at the Buffalo factory, rather than the multiple lines that were supposed to be running at that stage.

And then there is the little issue of actually having a product to sell.

The team also faced difficulties with the appearance and performance of the Solar Roof tiles.

The other reason I always thought Tesla’s move into solar was a joke? (This is not covered in either article.) Musk talked about using his very expensive, lightweight lithium-ion battery technology in homes and businesses. In your phone you want a light battery. In a car you also want to reduce weight. In a building that doesn’t move, why is weight an issue? (Hint: It’s NOT.) In a building that doesn’t move, the issues are cost, life-span, and durability. Long-lasting, cheap batteries, that don’t have a tendency to catch on fire are most desirable. Most homes that rely on solar get by with good old-fashioned lead acid batteries. (Invest in the automatic watering setup!) Want to take a step up? Then there are Nickel-iron batteries. There are also Lithium-iron batteries, which are not lightweight, and not sold by Tesla, that some industrial applications use for backup. (Think cellphone towers in remote locations.) None of those examples move, so weight – critical in applications that specify lithium ion batteries – is basically ignored.