Book: “Future Energy”

I read the book Future Energy: How the new oil industry will change people, politics and portfolios. The author is Bill Paul.

It was ok. His idea was to explain various opportunities and identifies specific companies to “watch” (presumably, potential investments).

He believes that “well meaning but misguided people” should stop tring to get Americans to drive less. But then goes on to support the idea of TGR (Tradable Gasoline Rights) which is really just a a government imposed free-market solution to make gasoline more expensive. Which would, of course, lessen demand. He also fully supports the notion that imported oil carries hidden costs and is detrimental to our foreign policy. He quotes Milton Copulos’s testimony before the senate foreign relations committee at length in Appendix B: Primer on Why Gasoline’s True Cost in 2006 was more than $11 a gallon. I should point out that these figures only take into account the externalites surrounding the military, and makes no allowance for any of the many other social costs of gasoline consumption / automobile use (mayhem, pollution, free parking, etc.).

The whole TGR thing is very interesting, but logistically horrendously complex. It was laid out in a WSJ op-ed piece by Martin Feldstein who is a Harvard Economics prof.

Jevon’s Paradox

(also sometimes spelled / misspelled? Jeavon).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
In economics, the Jevons Paradox is an observation made by William Stanley Jevons, who stated that as technological improvements increase the efficiency with which a resource is used, total consumption of that resource may increase, rather than decrease…

Thus it is a dangerous folly to simply improve efficiency, think hybrid gasoline powered cars. Many, unfortunately including most policymakers, constantly harp on “technical improvements” as a way out of our energy problems. We know that this will likely increase demand. Chalk it up as another victory for the law of unintended consequences.

See also, Pigovian tax.

Gas Taxes (again), or WSJ duplicity

This is fairly typical of the duplicty in WSJ editorials. They denounce the Democratic leadership for not calling for a large gas tax. But apparently Republicans get a pass, even though they were the leadership before 2006 for many years (12, was it?). They also don’t really endorse the gas tax, they merely assert (correctly) that higher priced fuel would lessen demand — so they can have it both ways it seems. Continue reading Gas Taxes (again), or WSJ duplicity

Off duty uninsured DPS officer

UPDATE2, Feb 24, 2009: Aguilera was found guilty at trial. Sentencing is scheduled for April 24. Here is a wild picture of the wreck — the motorcycle is impaled upright in the grill of Aguilera’s car… was speed a factor?

UPDATE1: The Aguilera case is going to trial. You can see the wheels of justice slowly grinding via the superior court’s website.The crash occurred May 2007; it’s now Feb 2009. It appears that the case being brought was solely due to the alchohol content (which fits the pattern — in the mind of the county attorney’s office there is never any criminal culpability outside the context of alcohol ).

In October 2007, news reports said Aguilera had a 0.057 BAC four hours after the crash. He was indicted on aggravated assault (and not DUI). The assault charges are far more serious:

Thomas said Tuesday said he believes the aggravated assault charges will stick, and even if Aguilera’s blood alcohol level would have been above the legal limit, Thomas said his office likely wouldn’t have asked for charges of a misdemeanor DUI.


Interesting points:An off-duty DPS officer, in his uninsured vehicle is accused of causing the wreck. This case is moving pretty quickly — the crash occurred May 4th 2007, 2 months ago. The link to DUI is hinted at, but results still not in (not unusual) — if other cases are any guide, the DUI status of Aguilera will determine whether or not criminal charges (aggravated assault?) are brought.

Continue reading Off duty uninsured DPS officer

Actual time served

The story Statistics prove Hilton is getting a raw deal  shows the seamy underbelly of American penal system. Because convicted car-criminals aren’t considered dangerous, they usually end up serving absurdly short amount of time — even for a serious offense like driving without a license while on probation for DUI! Hilton eventually served the full 23 days — but we are told that the “normal” amount of time actually served for similarly situated (but non-celebrity) individuals is 4 days. With FOUR TIMES the number of folks being killed on the highways as by “old fashioned” murderers (roughly 40,000 versus 10,000 per year in the US) perhaps it is time to rethink the notion of who is more dangerous.

The Los Angeles Times analysed two million jail releases and identified 1,500 cases since July 2002 that involved defendants arrested for drink driving and then sentenced to jail after violating their probation by driving without a licence.
Around 60 per cent left jail after four days…

Continue reading Actual time served

Pigovian tax

Definition from wikipedia

A pigovian tax is a tax levied to correct the negative externalities of a market activity. For instance, a Pigovian tax may be levied on producers who pollute the environment to encourage them to reduce pollution, and to provide revenue which may be used to counteract the negative effects of the pollution.

The best answer to America’s “problem” with energy, and with private automobiles in particular is to simply tax (mainly fuel) to compensate for the negative externalities. Pollution, mayhem, free parking, noise — all of these have a cost which is not being paid for by their users.

See Mankiw’s ( past chairman, Council of Economic Advisers in the George W. Bush administration)  The Pigou Club Manifesto.

Money collected via such taxes would best be used to lower payroll taxes — or to lower taxes on wages and/or investment generally, as Holman Jenkins points out in his column…

Continue reading Pigovian tax

2006 Fatality Stats – preliminary

[ U P D A T E : final stats ]

NHTSA’s preliminary Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data for 2006 (a.k.a. highway traffic fatalities):

  2006 2005
alcohol-related 17,941 17,525
drunk 13,990 13,613
pedestrian 4,768 4,881
motorcyclist not yet available 4,553
pedalcyclist not yet available 784
total 43,300 43,443
     
All other transportation(e.g planes, trains)   2,193

(Figures released May 25, 2007; updated table with 2005 numbers June 16, 2007)

Continue reading 2006 Fatality Stats – preliminary

Cycling, traffic safety, traffic justice, and legal topics; energy, transit and transportion economics