Thursday, August 6, 2009

The rate of decline of Petroleum Imports into the U.S. has accelerated to negative 8.1% for 2009 from this point in 2008.  This could be the second year in a row of 8% import declines, right about where Jeffrey Brown said.  For the first time in months, total U.S. inventories declined.

I want to remind you that the 8.1% is accurate, while the 6.1% decline in total supply is not.  Ethanol supply has increased significantly year over year, about 270k bpd.  Ethanol is NOT petroleum.

Notice that tax collections are down over 22% year over year, but GDP was only down 1% in Q2?  Believe that?  Well, sort of... if you take the government spending out of the picture, the decline was about 8%.  Since the government cannot keep that up next year, if the productive part of the economy does not grow, that 7% difference will have to be accepted at some Quarter in the future.  Of course, the Feds hope that by then the consumer will have taken back over.



This is a truly sad story in the Washington Post about a working class family that has gone broke. It was emailed to me by a reader.  One who clearly does not agree with my take on personal responsibility and reliance.

Read it. Commiserate.  Empathize.  Sympathize.  Then... ANALYZE.

Flat broke - yet there is enough money for cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, and to over eat. They went and got food from a church charity, but did not start a garden.  The "man" of the house sneaks off to the local bar and quaffs 7 beers and then DRIVES home, worried only about getting pulled over by the police - not killing somebody's kids in an accident.  He feels entitled to do this. His excuse? This release prevents him from winding up "in a bell tower with a high powered rifle".

Look, I ain't casting the first stone here (and I refuse to be the hypocrite like our friendly folks in Law Enforcement or Judiciary).  I have sinned PLENTY in my life... we all have.  If you are a lucky, you grow up without any baggage from it.  But you are SUPPOSED to grow up (I have literally seen half dozen of my childhood BEST FRIENDS buried from alcohol and drug abuse before the age of 40), the only thing worse than getting old is NOT getting old.  I don't drink, smoke, or gamble (and I don't have any "prescriptions"), and I wouldn't have it at gun point... and not because it ain't fun (like I said, I sinned enough when I was young)... Being a parent means setting examples and parameters to live by, preparing for a rainy day, and not being a f^%#^%%$! danger to other people's kids!  That means not getting arrested for drunk driving, not killing somebody else while drunk, not speeding or driving like a maniac (disclosure:  I had speeding ticket 3 years ago, my first in 25 years or so, and hopefully my last) not wasting money on cigarettes or alcohol, etc...

There is a cycle going on here, and cycles are made to be broken. 

I want to leave you with this excellent article by J.R. Nyquist.  If you have children, you might want to frame this on your fridge.  If you are one of the "depressed adults who need constant affirmation" feel free to send me an email excoriating me.

I give you Mr. J.R. Nyquist:

The Power of Negative Thinking

"The magic word is “no.” Despite what you may have heard, the power of the word “no” outstrips the power of “yes.” The word “no” has greater utility, avoids unsuspecting troubles and protects against severe injury and death. When a toddler is about to stick a fork in a light socket, the word “no” saves the child from electrocution. When that famous daredevil says he can jump the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle the appropriate reaction is, “No, you mustn’t.” The power of negative thinking is in keeping with sobriety and respectable conduct. If you want to be a drug addict, “Just say no.” If you don’t want higher taxes, vote “no” on nearly every proposition. And if you don’t want socialism then your watchword is, “No we can’t!”

I ought to write a book on the power of negative thinking. Chapter 1 should be titled “The Awful Damaging Consequences of Yes.” Ask yourself a simple question: Is a “yes”-man noble? Do you want to live without discretion or judgment? Is it right to accommodate everyone? Our permissive society is all about “yes,” so that yes has become sinister. Opening the flood-gates of yes has deformed our society. In the delicate balance of yes and no, we have tipped too far in the direction of yes and are becoming a nation of neurotics and weirdoes. Man is limited and fragile. He is not all-knowing or all-powerful. In fact, we all need to be reminded of our limitations. Think of the damage caused when we say “yes” to our appetites, our whims, our momentary urges. If you are 500 pounds, you’ve been saying “yes” when you should be saying “no.” If your credit cards are maxed, it is because you live in a world of “yes” when your world should be about “no.”

Chapter 2 should be titled, “Shut Up and Sit Still.” Every fool has an opinion without knowledge, an impulse without a plan, a readiness to plunge headlong into God-knows-what. The first lesson of discipline is to be quiet and think; to show self-restraint. Impulsiveness is the essence of the self-destructive life based on “yes.” Follow every impulse and you won’t get far. Stop yourself and you just might save yourself. And who on earth can possibly stop you? The fact is: You’re the only one who has the power of self-stopping. So shut up and sit still.

Chapter 3 should be titled “The Virtue of Guilt.” If you haven’t done anything bad in recent weeks or months, consider what you presently have in mind. You are wicked by nature, so you are guilty by nature. Therefore, it is appropriate to feel guilty. Don’t let yourself off the hook. Don’t be slipshod and weak. Suck in your gut and make a new start. Guilt is the stick across your back sent to make you better. Is guilt unpleasant? It’s supposed to be, and it better be. Feel guilty often, and have plenty of regrets. People who have no regrets are dangerous. They will suck you in and suck you down.

Chapter 4 should be titled “You’re Not So Special.” For two generations we’ve been telling children that they are special. Now we have an emerging generation of depressed adults who need constant affirmation. The demanding, impertinent and entitled individual is a weak and emotionally unstable neurotic who clings to false optimism because truth and reality are too frightening and difficult. One ought to ask: What makes all these “special” people so special? There’s nothing special about a narcissistic crybaby, and nobody likes self-pity, blubbering or whining.

Chapter 5 should be titled “How Fear and Worry Can Save You.” That’s right. Fear is good, because there are bad people and scary countries with leaders who want to anthrax you. Fear is basic to survival. Those who fear nothing are not long for this world. As for worrying, the worrier displays a caring attitude. If you really care, then you cannot help worrying. It is those who do not care about anything that never worry. For they have nothing to worry about, being detached and emotionally separated from the concerns of the whole human race. If someone tells you to stop worrying and live in the present, remind him that living in the present is for children and animals. It is not for adults.

Chapter 6 should be titled “Why Suffering is Good.” The answer is simple: Comfort is enervating while suffering hardens and strengthens. As a famous fitness guru once said, “No pain, no gain.” Those who are always feeling good never learn or grow. The best education comes in the wake of failure. If a man lives entirely without failure he cannot be called “fortunate”; for he has not learned life’s real lesson, which is loss. The more we live, the more we lose. As time advances we lose our youth, our health and eventually our lives. The cult of “winning” and “avoidance of suffering” is unnatural and guarantees a maladjusted attitude.

Chapter 7 should be “Realize What an Idiot You Really Are.” The ancient dictum “Know thyself” is the distilled essence of philosophy. And to know yourself is to know that idiocy has no bottom. It is fathomless and without limit. There is no stupidity that cannot ensnare you, no folly that cannot suck you in. As Dirty Harry famously said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” The more clever you seem to yourself, the more likely you are nearing some hard object about to strike you upside the head."

End of the J.R. Nyquist's The Power of Negative Thinking


Over the next decade, energy shortages are going to leave MANY, MANY people in the position that the family from the Washington Post article are in.  It does not have to be you, and you will do yourself and society a far greater service by making arrangements NOW to avoid this outcome for you and yours.

Good Luck.

Libertariananimal (at) gmail (dot) com


Donal Lang said...

Good post, but contradictory. i liked Nyquist's article, but there's a time and place for both negative and positive. Yes, negative reminds you of your limitations and that can be timely, but sometimes we succeed despite our limitations by ignoring, suppressing our self-knowledge, maybe even hiding it from others. Which successful person hasn't overpromised, 'bitten off more than they can chew' and worked it out afterwards?

The WP article is a good example of someone who's been told by parents, school and friends not to try too hard and leave it all to 'The System' to look after you. Yes, he's lazy and maybe stupid and I have little sympathy for him, but the State has been working damned hard for an aquiescent population for the last 50 years and this is the result. He's waiting to be rescued, told what to do next like a good citizen, but The State isn't looking in his direction. Its no wonder he feels let down by his version of the American Dream.

I wonder how far the conditioning goes? I wonder at what point will he (or maybe his son) decide enough is enough, and go out hunting for a banker or two?

Greg T. Jeffers said...


It was MEANT to be contrary, or at least throught provoking...

I don't agree with EVERYTHING in Nyquist's article - he probably doesn't either. There is a difference in biting off more than one can chew in the process of STRIVING, and doing something dangerously foolish or irresponsible...

The WP article, I thought, was presented exquisitely - especially the "blue light from the T.V." covering the 2 obese, unmotivated, substance abusing, depressives sitting on their couch.

Very telling is fact that is man has had thousands of hours of technical training - mostly on petro fueled stuff - and can find no work. So much for the Admin's re-ededucating and retraining the work force.

WHat it will do is keep people busy, and in debt. Those are the single agenda of our 2 headed/one party system.

Publius said...

Recommended listening, Dmitri Orlov interview

Anonymous said...

I saw this over a Jim Rawles site first thing this morning. He was quite angry in his post regarding the story. After I read it got just as mad. These people are wallowing in thier own self pity. I want to wap the dude upside the head with a 2x4 thats been soakin in motor oil for thre years and is guaranteed not to split splinter OR crack.....


Greg T. Jeffers said...


The problem is that we now have MILLIONS of people like this. They believed in the system, they made no other contingencies, and now the system has "failed" them.

Perhaps it has failed them... but it does them, and all of the others in the same predicament, little good to assign blame. Believe me, I feel for their children. I am sure that when this couple was young, their parents were lacking in significant ways. Hence the "cycle" I mentioned.

OK? But what do WE do now? What should policy be to change these people... back to contributing, contented and happy members of society? Free healthcare and extended unemployment benefits?

Remember, the wife refused a job because it paid less than unemployment... how does this disincentive harm society? It certainly harms her... she might have learned something at the job, made an important connection, had less time on her hands to consume alcohol, tobacco, and food...

There is a REASON they are in this predicament. A root cause. The Left can see the root cause of crime - poverty - all too clearly (and I agree with them). Why can't they see what the root cause of poverty is?

Stephen B. said...

Wow, I don't know what's more pathetic, the lousy situation this family created for themselves, or how the Post writer, Paul Schwartzman, insults the collective intelligence of his readers, by the way he poses this family's dilemma as some kind of unsolvable problem, visited upon them by circumstance.