If one stands back and examines the issues objectively, those who worship at the altar of environmentalism have some ideas that are worth considering. The problem is that those who worship at the altar of environmentalism aren't much interested in taking that step back to examine their ideas objectively.

For example, consider the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which requires that gasoline and diesel fuel contain ethanol. Ram-rodded through Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007, RFS requires the transportation fuel that's sold in the U.S. to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The idea was that U.S. transportation should rely less on fossile fuels.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with that idea in theory. However, wouldn't it make sense to subject that idea to some rigorous field testing before making it a federal law, just to see if the idea works as well as to identify any potential unintended, negative consequences the idea might spawn in practice?

Not if it's an idea being promulgated from the pulpits of those who worship at the altar of environnmentalism.

According to an article in the Daily Signal, with the USA 7 years into the RFS, it's possible to take a step back and assess objectively some facts associated with the theory as it's been implemented in practice:
  • Regular gasoline is more energy-efficient than ethanol, thus consumers are required to use more fuel. That wasn't supposed to happen.
  • Ethanol is derived from corn. To no one's surprise, RFS has increased the demand for corn, thus raising the price of corn as much as 68%. That means the price of corn for humans and animals has risen as well, making it more expensive for the poor and starving across the globe to purchase meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. That wasn't supposed to happen.
  • The original RFS targets, at best, end up being the product of some very "fuzzy" or bad math. Today, there is more ethanol than there is demand for it because RFS guarantees there will be a market for ethanol whether consumers use it or not. That wasn't supposed to happen.

As embarassing as these facts are, those who worship at the altar of environmentalism don't much care. Why? They believe continue to believe their idea is theoretically sound. Insofar as they are concerned, the problem is that the market has erred by not embracing their idea wholeheartedly in practice.

So, then, let's ask the following question: Who wins from this collossal failure?

Two prominent enemies of those who worship at the altar of environmentalism: Agribusiness--the corn growers--and big oil--the ethanol refiners and producers.

Why won't those who worship at the altar of environmentalism allow their ideas to be tested before legislating them? The reason is that they're ideologues who won't allow their theology and the dogmas it shapes to be tested by reason out of fear that their ideas may be demonstrated to be fraudulent...even if that means they will promote global hunger and enrich the two of the greedy capitalists groups they most detest.

Sounds to The Motley Monk like "winning by losing."

Let the discussion begin...

To read the article in the Daily Signal,click on the following link:
"The Ethanol Mandate Proves the Government Is a Poor Central Planner."
The Motley Monk has posted a recipe for his very good lemon-basil pesto. Served with pasta and sharp parmesan cheese, it makes for a great meal in itself. For carnivores, it's great topped with sliced roasted chicken breast or lightly seared salmon. The lemon-basil pesto also makes for a great side dish.

To access the recipe, click on the following link:
TMM's very good "Lemon-Basil Pesto"...

Remember the Solyndra debacle, where $535M of taxpayer $$$s went down the drain in a failed effort to fulfill President Obama's dream of "renewable" energy?

It just so happens that the Solyndra debacle was peanuts compared to the Ivanpah solar project, according to a Reason.com report.

Ever heard of the Ivanpah project?

Travel ~50 miles northwest of Needles, California, which is where the town of Ivanpah is located. Today, the town features 377-megawatt, net solar complex built between 2010 and 2013. The facility utilizes mirrors to focus the power of the sun upon solar receivers placed atop power towers. It's quite the "green" operation that, at its inception, was touted as going to be capable of:
  • generating enough electricty to serve 140k+ homes in California during peak hours; and,
  • reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400k tons/year.

All for the asking price of $1.6B in federal loan guarantees...with overuns that drove the total cost of completion to $2.2B. Don't ever forget: The term "federal loan guarantees" really means "the nation's taxpayers are on the hook." And, it this case, it's also "crony socialism."

Ivanpah began operating in December 2013. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the plant is producing only 25% of the energy expected.

Don't worry about the why's. (Weather is cited.) No, worry more about what that failure means in terms of cash flow (it's negative). How will the company be able to pay back its federally guaranteed loans back? (The fact: It can't).

Now, consider the nation's deficit. Recall how the U.S. Congress just keeps funding more and more programs that add to the deficit and how the Federal Reserve keeps printing more and more money to fund it to the point that the nation now has an $18T deficit? Yes, to anyone who does the math, this is a Ponzi scheme that ultimately means the nation will go bankrupt or enchain its citizens with prohibitively high taxes. In other words, socialism with the patina of democratic freedom.

But, Ivanpah's management has learned its lesson well and has taken a cue from the Congress by asking for yet another federal grant--this one to the tune of $539M, what Solyndra cost the nation's taxpayers--to continue paying off its debt. So, it might be asked, what's another $539M that the federal goverment doesn't have, especially since it's for renewable energy in California?

Considering all of this, the delicious irony is how Ivanpah's management is going to make up for that 75% deficit in energy generation. According to the Reason.com report, they've decided to use natural gas.

Omigosh! Isn't that heresy to those who worship at the altar of environmentalism? Their "green" dream of "hope and change" that's up and running in the Mojave Desert--a solar power generation station--can't perform as promised. Now, Ivanpah's management has not only asked for more "green" from the federal government but will also be using more natural gas extracted from Mother Earth?

Yet, not so much as a peep is to be heard from the stormy petrels. They must be too busy burying all of the protected birds that are being slaughtered by their "green" dream of "hope and change" that's been made incarnate those wind farms.

Let the discussion begin...

To read the Reason.com study, click on the following link:
"Solar Plant Wants to Pay Off Massive Government Loan with Massive Government Grant."
Even though education is a reserved right--meaning it's "reserved" to the states because education is not enumerated in the U.S. Constitution--the federal government can dictate to the states how they are to run their public schools if those states accept federal taxpayers' $$$s for their public schools.

Accepting those $$$s means states must comply with federal regulations, even if those reguluations aren't in the best interests of educating young people.

For example, consider that since 2006, federal regulations have allowed public school districts to provide programs based upon gender. In turn, voluntary, single-sex classes as well as schools aimed at providing a more appropriate learning climate to parents who want that option for their children have emerged, especially in the nation's inner cities. Research suggests that single-sex schooling is effective for some students.

But, the usual cast of characters--in the form of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)--has been agitating since 2006 against the option. During the past 8 years, the ACLU has sued schools in 4 states and filed 10 complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Division. Their argument? Single-sex programs and schools don't provide "equal eduational options."

According to TheHill.com, federal regulators have issued new guidance concerning the use of single-sex classrooms in public school systems across the nation, making it more difficult for school districts receiving taxpayers' federal $$$s to offer single-sex education. The new rules require those co-ed public schools to identify their objectives in offering single-sex classes and not to rely on gender stereotypes. Programs must also be evaluated every two years to ensure compliance with the regulations.

The new regulations suggest that those federal regulators have never taught young people and are clueless about what's required to educate them. Instead, those federal regulators likely attended law school and now they want to regulate to conduct of those who do teach young people and know what it takes to educate them.

So much for caring about what male and female students need and what's best to meet those needs, educationally speaking. Instead, those federal regulators want unisex schools simply because they've determined that's what's best for young people in this gender-neutral, politically correct climate.

Let the discussion begin...

To read the article in TheHill.com, click on the following link:
"Feds target 'sex stereotypes' in US classrooms." 
The Motley Monk has posted a commentary over at The American Catholic titled "So much for freedom of speech in U.S. Catholic higher education…"

In that post, The Motley Monk follows up on the story of the Marquette University professor who called out a colleague for proscribing free speech in her classroom and now has been suspended pending an investigation by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Motley Monk can't invent stuff like this!

Check it out...

To access The Motley Monk's post at The American Catholic, click on the following link:http://the-american-catholic.com/2014/12/19/so-much-for-freedom-of-speech-in-u-s-catholic-higher-education/

The folks over at FinancesOnline.com have been examining the phenomenon of customers abandoning shopping carts while shopping online.  Ever done that?

Likely so, as a recent PayPal study found that even though 86% of Americans will purchase at least 1 Christmas gift online this year, 68% of all online customers abandon their carts before making a purchase...that's $3 trillion in sales lost!

It seems that trust is an issue, as 63% of potential customers leave websites due to reasons having to do with trust. The findings: 
  • 85% of clients read 10+reviews before they can trust a business;
  • 48% of clients identify trustmarks as the most important factor in the decision-making process; and,
  • "star ratings" are extremely important, as a client's willingness to do business drops by ~50% if a product has 2 stars instead of 3.

Check out the infographic below for all of the findings. While the content is primarily aimed at online retailers to improve their sales, the information is pretty interesting for those who shop online.

How trust seals can help you gain customer's trust and increase your sales
Brought to you by: financesonline Author: Alex Hillsberg

Let the discussion begin...

For additional information not contained on the infographic, click on the following link: http://bit.ly/132FhRG
A Washington Post article reporst that making pennies and nickels isn't worth the cost. How so? It costs the U.S. Mint 170% more (1.7 cents) to produce a penny than it's worth and160% more (8 cents) to produce a nickel.

The cost of producing the penines and nickels began rising in 2006 with the rise in copper prices. With the recent decline in commodities, costs have declined. Yet, it still costs more to make the two coins than they're worth.

In 2013, the U.S. Mint lost $105M producing the coins. Eliminating pennies and nickels would save taxpayers $100M/year. Any guess concerning who's left on the hook to pay that bill as it adds to the nation's deficit? Yep: The U.S. taxpayers.

An alternative would be to change the metal composition of the coins; however, doing so would require vending machines to be upgraded across the country. That is estimated to cost billions of $$$s...which, of course, would be passed on to consumers.

Some other factoids from the U.S Mint report:
  • It costs 5.4 cents to make a $1 bill.
  • It costs 8.95 cents to make a quarter.
  • It costs 3.91 cents to make a dime.

These factoids remind The Motley Monk of the adage his Dad taught him as a youngster: "It takes $$$s to make $$$s!" 

Let the discussion begin...

To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:
"It cost 1.7 cents to make a penny this year, and 8 cents to make a nickel."

Florida's 13-year-old Tuition Tax Credit Scholarship (TTCS) program continues to come under assault by the bosses of the Florida Education Association (FEA) and their allies, including the Florida School Boards Association, the PTA, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In August 2014, the FEA and its allies filed two lawsuits challenging TTCS:
  • The first suit claimed that the scholarship violates the "no aid" and the "uniform public schools" clauses of the Florida Constitution. How so? The scholarship allows students to pay tuition at private schools, some of which are religiously affiliated.
  • The second lawsuit argued that the expansion of the scholarship program by lawmakers in June 2014 violated legislative procedure. How so? The expansion didn't pass as a standalone measure; instead, the legislation included a variety of education-related topics and, worse yet, one of which was Florida’s first education savings account program. In September 2014, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Charles Francis dismissed this lawsuit finding that the unions did not have standing to challenge the law.

The union bosses might have been down, but they aren't
 out. They continue to attack the TTCS option by opposing parents of scholarship students' motion to intervene and the state’s motion to dismiss.

But, Leon County Circuit Court Judge George S. Reynolds III would have none of this. Last week, Judge Reynolds granted the parents of the economically disadvantaged children served by TTCS the right to intervene on behalf of their children's scholarships, which are awarded through the corporate tuition tax credit scholarship program. To wit:
  • Over the past 13 years, TTCS has made it possible for ~400k Florida students to attend the school of choice.
  • In 2013,  businesses contributed $357.8M to non-profit groups providing scholarships to ~68.8k children to attend a private school of choice.
  • Eligible children are from households with incomes of no more that 185% of the federal poverty During the 2016-2017 school year, the expanded TTCS will allow children of families at 260% of the federal poverty line (that's $62k+ for a household of 4) to be eligible for partial scholarships.
  • According to Step Up for Students, the non-profit administering the scholarships, 54% of TTCS students are from single-parent households having an average household income of $24k+.

The beauty of TTCS is that private corporate donations—not public funds—fund the scholarships. In turn, those corporations receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to non-profits that administer the scholarship. Yes, it is a round-about way to fund school choice, but it is legal.

With the evidence mounting that these students are achieving better in their schools of choice, one wonders if the union bosses and their allies are interested primarily in providing youth—and low-income youth, in particular
--the best education possible?

The answer, evidenced in their all-out efforts to stop TTCS from succeeding, is a resounding "No!"

Shame on them.

Let the discussion begin....

Pundits oftentimes get caught up in the heat of the moment and seize upon “micro-trends” to promote their particular point of view or ideology. Those snapshots may correctly depict the present-day reality, but they may also distort the truth. Sometimes, it’s better to take a step back and examine the “macro-trends” to assess what may be the larger truth.

Consider the current national unemployment data and the horrifying snapshot they depict not only about unemployment, in general, but also the pervasive and widespread disinterest on the part of Americans in seeking employment, in specific. While those data correctly depict the present reality—the micro-trend—what about the larger truth—the macro-trend?

According to the New York Times, the past 5 decades have featured the number of males between the ages of 25 and 54 who are not working increasing by a factor of 300%. That’s 16% of that demographic. In addition:
  • 85% of unemployed men in this demographic do not have a bachelor's degree; and, 
  • 34% have criminal records.

Three factors seem to be influencing those men who are not seeking work:
  1. the increased availability of disability benefits (a micro-trend);
  2. the drop in marriage rates and birth rates, meaning there are fewer children for which to provide (a macro-trend); and,
  3. technology and foreign competition has reduced the number of high-paying, low-skilled jobs that many men would have taken in years past (a macro-trend).

Moreover, among the 30M unemployed Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 who are able and anxious to find work—both males and females—67% want a full-time job and 19% want a part-time job. That said, many of those 30M unemployed are not so anxious to find work:
  • 34% desire to hold a full-time job;
  • 23% desire a part-time job;
  • 20% "will want a job in the future"; and,
  • 12% don't want a job now or in the future.

These are micro-trends—the present reality--extend the larger macro-trend—the truth about employment in the United States.

What is that larger truth? America's prime workforce—the 25 to 54 year old demographic, both male and female, but males more so—have become increasingly unproductive. Living off of various federal entitlements, this macro-trend, now supported by the micro-trend data, portends a future where the federal government will have to dole out increasingly enormous sums of taxpayer $$$s to those not only who are not anxious to find work but also to all of those who will be moving into the 55- to 70- year-old demographic and have grown comfortable living on the federal dole.

Guess who's going to have to come up with those taxpayer $$$s to foot the bill? Today's youth—who are fewer and fewer in number over the past 5 decades, thanks to the widespread availability of birth control, abortafacients, and abortion--who are absolutley clueless about what's going to be demanded of them. Don't forget Jonathan Gruber's correct assessment about the economic knowledge of the vast majority of the American people.

Is the Protestant work ethic dead in the United States?

Let the discussion begin…

To read the New York Times article, click on the following link:
"The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind."