Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Green Energy Fiasco

From the Heritage Foundation, a list of “green energy” companies that have gone under.
1. Abound Solar

Government’s Bad Bet: $ 790.3 million

2. Solyndra

Government’s Bad Bet: $570 million

3. A123 Systems

Government’s Bad Bet: $377.1 million

4. Ener1 (EnerDel, subsidiary)

Government’s Bad Bet: $182.8 million

5. Range Fuels

Government’s Bad Bet: $162.3 million

6. Azure Dynamics

Government’s Bad Bet: $119.1 million

7. Energy Conversion Devices (subsidiary, United Solar Ovanic)

Government’s Bad Bet: $110.3 million

8. Evergreen Solar, Inc.

Government’s Bad Bet: $84.9 million

9. Beacon Power

Government’s Bad Bet: $77.4 million

10. Raser Technologies

Government’s Bad Bet: $33 million

11. Nordic Windpower

Government’s Bad Bet: $24.6 million

12. SpectraWatt

Government’s Bad Bet: $20.5 million

13. Konarka Technologies

Government’s Bad Bet: $13.6 million (Heritage’s calculations), $20 million according to Konarka’s website

14. Satcon Technology Corporation

Government’s Bad Bet: $17 million

15. Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Co.

Government’s Bad Bet: $10.8 million

16. Stirling Energy Systems, Inc.

Government’s Bad Bet: $10.5 million

17. Thompson River Power, LLC

Government’s Bad Bet: $6.5 million

18. Cardinal Fasteners and Specialty Co., Inc.

Government’s Bad Bet: $480,000

19. Mountain Plaza, Inc.

Government’s Bad Bet: $424,000

20. ReVolt Technology

Government’s Bad Bet: $10 million
Now, a bit about details:
These numbers do not reflect the amount of government funding the company necessarily received or used—these are amounts the government was willing to risk. These figures do offer estimations of assistance provided by local, state and/or federal governments. This assistance could have been promised to the companies in a variety of ways, including tax credits, loans, loan guarantees, grants, and other forms of financial incentives and support. The numbers below are the best calculations possible given the incomplete, at times even inconsistent, information from the government and other sources.

Additionally, during bankruptcy proceedings, these companies could very well be purchased by another company and be brought back to life. However, their tombstone in the Green Graveyard will remain as a reminder of the darker days.
The problem here is not that green energy is forever and always a losing proposition. It’s that when politicians get to spend other people’s money, they lack the normal market incentives to spend it wisely.

It goes to things that sound good. It goes to political cronies. It goes to promote an ideological agenda.

If a given project can’t hack it in the market, that’s a signal that it’s not economically viable. Throwing taxpayer money at it isn’t going to make it viable.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Public Opinion on Gun Control: Not What You Think

If you listen to the anti-gun people in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, you might think that there is an overwhelming public consensus for the policies the liberals favor.

But if fact, as a new Gallup Poll shows, the picture is much more complex.

It is true that a clear majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, or at least say they do if asked that question.

The striking thing here, however, is that support for stricter gun laws has declined sharply since the early 1990s. True, Sandy Hook caused an uptick. But there have been mass shootings before, and any uptick was temporary.

But what about the most commonly mentioned kind of “stricter gun law,” a ban on assault weapons?

Strikingly, Gallup finds a bare majority opposed to an assault weapons ban.

Of course, if you asked the question differently, you might get a different answer. If you said “military-style weapons” you could probably get a majority favoring a ban. But Gallup did use a relatively straightforward question.

Asked about some more modest gun control proposals, majorities were in favor. Gallup showed an overwhelming majority in favor of background checks, including checks at gun shows. Gun shows are exempted under current policy, and for reasons that were good ones at the time: there was no way to process such a check in a timely fashion. But technology should have alleviated that problem — or at least it will if government makes the appropriate data available over the Internet.

A clear majority also favor a ban on large capacity magazines.

None of Gallup’s questions tap the intensity of opinion on these issues. But there clearly is a huge asymmetry of intensity, with pro-gun people being highly intense. The anti-gun people are split between relatively apolitical people who don’t care much, and liberals who are highly political, but are concerned with pretty much every issue under the sun.

Another striking thing in the Gallup poll was the fact that support for a ban on handguns has been dropping over the last two decades, and is at an extremely low point.

So what is going on here?

The public is not necessarily terribly sophisticated in terms of policy. Nuts wanting to get guns can use straw buyers or buy on the black market (or steal weapons) and thus evade background checks. Large capacity magazines would also likely be available on the black market even if banned, and it doesn’t take long to switch out a low-capacity magazine and keep shooting.

The guys who have engaged in mass shootings have been intelligent schemers. Deranged, but intelligent, and capable of mounting elaborate operations. These sorts of people would have both the smarts and the motivation to evade pretty much any gun law.

But it does appear the public increasingly “gets” the Second Amendment. It opposes anything that would excessively burden the right of ordinary law-abiding Americans to have the kinds of guns that ordinary law-abiding Americans have.

And there isn’t even a majority to ban military-style weapons that law abiding gun buffs own, and enjoy shooting.

And the trend of opinion over time favors gun rights.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Stereotyping: Liberal Version

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Head Start: Another Failed Government Program

Rigorous studies of government programs are rare, but sometimes they happen.

A key requirement is that there be both an “experimental” group, that gets the “treatment” of the program, and a “control” group that doesn’t.

And the two groups have to be comparable. The one and only sure way of making them comparable is to randomly assign subjects to the experimental and the control groups.

This was done in a study of the federal Head Start program, and a definitive evaluation was recently released. Released, we might note, after much delay.

You’ll shortly be able to figure out the reason for the delay.

These studies get pretty long and elaborate, but they usually have an Executive Summary giving the bottom line on the findings. Here is the bottom line on Head Start:
In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children.
It’s common for any government program to be promoted as “for the children.” But to be “for the children,” it has to really help children.

If it doesn’t, it’s merely for the politicians and bureaucrats.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Politically Incorrect to Call a Beauty Queen . . . Beautiful

The BCS college championship game was such a blowout that the only interesting storyline has to be something other than the game, and ESPN announcer Brent Musburger provided it.
(NEWSER) – If you haven’t heard the name Katherine Webb today, you missed a lesson in instant celebrity-making. Webb, also known as Miss Alabama, is the girlfriend of Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron, whose team won the BCS title last night. But Webb’s celebrity turn began early in the game when ESPN cameras found her:

Brent Musburger: “Wow, I’m telling you quarterbacks: You get all the good-looking women,” the 73-year-old announcer said. “What a beautiful woman. Wow!” The cameras went back to her again and again as her Twitter following grew.

ESPN: “We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”

Webb: “It was kind of nice,” she tells AP. “I didn’t look at it as creepy at all. For a woman to be called beautiful, I don’t see how that’s an issue.”

Twitter: As of this evening, the 23-year-old Webb had more than 180,000 followers. She had a few hundred before the game.
So the politically correct prudes found Musburger’s comment “went too far,” but the woman who was the object of the comment — the only person in the world with any standing to be offended — didn’t mind being called beautiful.

So she’s not only drop-dead gorgeous, she’s a very sensible lady.

Feminists, eat your hearts out.

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Monday, January 07, 2013

Don’t Use the “M-Word” — It’s Offensive

Just say that certain people are “abnormally small.”

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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Egyptian Leader Mohamed Morsi on the Jews and Israel



Chilling.

Does being in power moderate a former firebrand and anti-Semite? We can hope. And aside from genuine moderation, we can hope that the massive aid Egypt gets from the U.S. will temper the position of the Morsi government.

But still, chilling.

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