Saturday, August 20, 2005

E-85 & E-10 & E-20 = The Ethanol Scam

I don’t mind policy that gets us somewhere. I do mind when political and corporate leaders treat us like we just fell off the pickle truck.

I’m in favor of farmers being able to make a buck. They will get that buck out of my pocket at some level anyway. Subsidies, Disaster Payments, Tax Breaks.

What I resent is when I am expected to believe in a fairy tale and be happy about it. First, I am convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that the production of ethanol for fuel is less than a zero sum game. It takes more energy to produce a like unit of ethanol energy from corn. So, we burn diesel imported from the Middle East and natural gas from Canada to produce a fuel we claim is homegrown. And it costs more to produce in units of energy than it produces. You can do your own research.

Now, that’s pretty harmless. I mean it’s better than just sending mailbox money to buy a new pickup truck for Jr. The farmer has to do actual work to participate in this subsidy. It provides jobs. The ethanol plant hires people. Money flows. Land rents are paid. It’s all good.

The other part of this scam is that burning ethanol in your fuel has equivalency to gasoline. I’m still not just off the pickle truck.

Last week I was in ethanol country. I put on 2300 miles. All flat land interstate driving, all at 75 miles per hour thru Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. The old Buick has a fancy gas mileage computer on it. I reset it after straight and level and after differing fuel formulations. Driving at least a hundred miles straight after each fill. Here are the results:

10% Gasahol 25 MPG ($2.55/gal)
50% Gasahol (half 10% and half E-85) 22 MPG ($2.55 + 1.97/gal)
85% Ethanol Gasoline Mix (E-85) 19 MPG ($1.97/gal)
Pure Gasoline 87 Octane 28MPG ($2.61/gal)
Premium 92 Octane 31MPG ($2.82/gal)

So with that methodology, does burning E-85 make sense? I don’t think so. In fact you get what you pay for. Maybe around town it’s ok. But it’s a false economy. Based on this study I am going to start burning premium on longer trips. It’s the cheapest gasoline I can burn. More btu’s per gallon. And in the long run that’s what you pay for.

I love our President Bush. He’s a wonderful guy with really poor advisors. He has just signed an energy bill to push ethanol percentages in gasoline from 10% to 20% to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It’s really just a farm program.

And my friends you will get poorer mileage for more money.

But until we discover the true production oil substitute crop we will dink around with this.

Pity. Make work policies always flow from the government.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pictures of Northern Gleaner in North Dakota

Here are pictures from the North Dakota excursion I have written about.

This is me in several rows of Silverberry. Eleagnus commutata. The only native Olive Tree or shrub native to North America and it grown in ND.

When I grew up there was a small town village called Silverleaf about 7 miles east of Ellendale. It had dances at it's dancehall.

It was named for this plant which no longer grows there.. Herbicide did it in.

This is me out standing in my field. Well not mine exactly. But it is a nursery in ND near Oakes that I was instrumental in getting started. This grower has done a great job and this will become a substantial property in time. North Dakota should be a nursery growing power. I'm trying to help.

This is my bride. We visited the Buffalo museum in Jamestown. These are some fine ND products. Unfortunately the hat which I would have thought some authentic Indian made in ND (I would have bought it) could only have been made by an Indian if they lived in CHINA. Is it still ok to say Indian in ND??

This is My Granddaughter Shalisa. Lisa with a Sha. They call her sissy. She is funny. I think she likes grandpa. It's hard to get her to smile.

This is Peggy and Sissy. At Speakeasy in Moorhead. They still make the finest Fettuchini in the world. I've seen the world. Trust me.

This is my daughter in law Raquella.

She is married to Tim, our oldest. That is her son, our grandson Brian. Their oldest.

Smart Kid. Rules the roost.

This is Jaxson. He is 2. Wonderful child.
Really knows how to charm. Not sure about Grandpa. Took days to warm him up at all.

So, I'll wait. Maybe by Thanksgiving he'll soften up

This is Brian again and Tim our son.

He fell down.

He'll live.

This last picture is the Holy White Buffalo at Jamestown. White Cloud. I Genuflected. Hope that's OK.


That doesn’t stand for a ship. In a conversation with a Dakota transplant (he’s lived in the state about 20 years and works in industry) during my last trip to the North Country he made some comments that are not mine and which in part validate some of the observations I made in an earlier post. I will withhold his name because he has a job in North Dakota and if it got out who he is he could lose it. I will only report what he said.

In a conversation about some of the difficulties in putting thru some changes to policies in the state which would allow him to expand his business he went off and said. His words in BLUE:

North Dakota is amazing. It’s populated by people who claim to be conservative but who nothing but a bunch of socialists. They hate the idea that someone should ever get ahead. It’s about the money. If someone does well they try their best to drag them back down. They’re like crabs in a bucket. One can crawl right out but if you put three in the bucket the other two will always see to it anyone who tries to get out of the bucket is dragged back down to the other’s level. They are so jealous and backbiting of anyone who tried to do better. Look at the institutions and policies. Do you ever hear of the bank of Kansas? Nope. But we have a bank of North Dakota. Do you know of the Iowa state mill and elevator? Nope. But we got one in North Dakota. The farmers Co-op, the Sugar Factories. All institutions communal in nature ostensibly for the public good but really designed to keep private industry in line.

They all operate just like they did in the old Soviet Union. They have the appearance of a communal good but are run for the good of a kleptocracy of leaders for their own purposes. And worse, the people in the state like it that way. It makes them feel better about themselves. Were so open minded, we’re so creative. No they’re communists.

If real free enterprise ever really came to North Dakota it would shock the system, people might end up in the hospital.

In the end, it’s all about we’ll pretend to work, you pretend to pay us. That’s the essence of most agricultural programs, that’s low wages, that’s disaster payments.

This socialist mentality is so deeply ingrained so that even young people don’t mind being economically underprivileged as long as no one does any better. Sort of like in the USSR, we are all poor and that’s they way it should be. It’s the system. North Dakota will never break out until this mentality is broken.

I may not agree with everything he says but I understand his frustration. This man came to North Dakota as the CEO of a major enterprise. He operates a major operating enterprise exporting product all over the US. The institutional roadblocks and constraints placed on him are unlike what he faces in most of the rest of the USA. North Dakota has to get over its socialist roots. Capitalism actually works. It’s been tried and proven in much of the world. Get off the reservation North Dakota.

Union of Socialist Societies of North Dakota


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

One more flog on the old dead horse

I can’t stop; I must beat this horse once more.


You would be surprised at the number of liberals and conservative who believe my tirades against the antichrist are flawed. See earlier post for antichrist appellations.

I am not alone. Below are several comments and such about a book that was just released about Wal-Mart. It is claimed to be a “Balanced” book. I’ll be the judge of that. But, in any case, he says many of the things I have said. I have been consistent in my criticism. I am not late to the party. If you want to look back thru the last year of writing you will find me conservative, pro life, pro economic development, and anti Wal-Mart.

I plan to buy this books and you should too. If you are too cheap or too poor I will lend you mine. I think it is worthwhile to see and read a well-written diatribe on one of the more evil entities on the earth today. They are the Borg of Retail. - Books - The United States of Wal-Mart
Powell's Books - The United States of Wal-Mart by John Dicker
'Wal-Mart' author says discounts now entitlements - Yahoo! News
The United States of Wal-Mart

If you don't read this or these reviews you only have yourself to hold accountable. You've been warned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

God Given Right

I just returned from North Dakota. Drove across ND after visiting business associates in Bismarck. Then Thru MN, and WI. Not until I began driving thru Illinois did I get away from the left hand lane idiots.

We have a law I love in Illinois. If you drive in the left lane too long and you aren't passing someone you will be pulled over and given a ticket. Hundreds of dollars I hope. In Germany they have the same law.

You should have heard the squawk when this law was placed in effect in IL. The talk radio airwaves were full of, "" It's my God Given Right to drive in the left lane if I want too"". NOT! And, ""all the people who want me out of the way are speeding, I'm driving the speed limit"" . I despise those most of all. Hall monitors of the highway. I have been known to receive occasional governmental memorabilia for exceeding the posted limit a bit. Let the cops do their job and you butt out. The law in IL says, you are not the cops, if someone is coming up behind you fast, get out of the way.

I wish the states of MN, ND and WI would implement this law and put anyone in jail who violates it. On the other hand there would be masses of humanity from those states in jail from my observations. It would cut down on traffic however.

Here's a tip for you GOD GIVEN RIGHT drivers, if someone comes up behind you, move to the right, and if someone passes you on the right it's YOUR FAULT. You''re in the wrong Lane.!!!!!!!!



I checked the Bible thru and thru, trust me on this, it's NOT your God Given Right.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Who Moved?

One of the old saws I use in speachafying is:

A man and a woman are riding in a car.
She says, “We don’t sit side by side in the car and cuddle like we used to when we were dating".
He ponders and responds,
“I didn’t move."

Now is a poignant time in life. I’m in North Dakota, seeing our grandchildren, seeing our parents, driving by and thru very familiar territory with deep roots. I even visited the place in Ellendale destined for me to be buried when I change worlds and leave my carcass behind. Everything in the world is the reason why I should move back to ND.

Like a flowing river, North Dakota is never the same twice. If I step into it’s river today and a year later it’s a different place. Buddism says ""You can never step in the same river twice"".

I have an image of what North Dakota is. It’s a freeze frame of 20 years ago when I left. Two or three times per year it is partially updated by visits.

These visits are more sterile than enlightening. I do have the opportunity to see thru time warp glasses and what I see is not what I wish I would have seen.

Let me mention a few.
I loved Hunting in ND. A column in today (Sunday’s) Fargo Forum by Doug Lier was sadly amusing. I remember just such columns 20 years ago in the Illinois newspapers. Advising hunters to begin contacting landowners for permission to hunt now. No one does. Particularly an out of state hunter. In Illinois it is a lost cause. Pay to hunt is all that is left therefore hunting in Illinois is over. Completely over. Doug’s advice well meaning as it is remains useless.

Hunting in North Dakota is almost beyond repair. Anything short of a revolution will doom hunting to a chosen few landowners and their fiefs who pay homage and sometimes money to hunt. So if I were coming back to North Dakota for outdoor sports, ND moved.

I loved small towns. I have fond memories of visiting these vital villages, their bakeries, local restaurants and shops. Buying the local iteration of sausages. Visiting the local watering holes. This was the stuff of legend. Those days are gone. The small towns are filled with bitter progressively older and older people and occasional white folks way down on the economic totem pole. They are unrecognizable from 20 years ago. The 8 cities left in North Dakota now are homogenous with the rest of America’s shopping strips. I can find all the stores in Fargo or Bismarck in any other medium sized city in America. Nothing new or unique to attract anyone.

I loved the rows and rows of orderly shelterbelts that broke up the horizons and fence lines. They spoke of conservation, protection for animal, man and crop, and they had a British hedgerow feel. Now 20 years later the detritus of what remains of the shelterbelts their fathers and grandfathers planted are piled in sad brown bulldozed scrap piles.

The creeks I skinny-dipped in as a child are now brown and green slime. Fertilizer and watershed silt has made nearly every river I remember as pure mostly into a moving viscous mass.

I had a sense that we North Dakotans were a good God Honoring people. Not perfect but grounded spiritually by Catechism class. At least I felt like North Dakota had an external morality that I could count on. Not any more. In the 20 years I have been away North Dakota moved radically. First Blackjack and Pull Tabs, then casinos, then Lottery, then horse racing. None of this bad in and of itself. But all a slippery ever inclining slope. Now the Fargo Forum Want Ads have open solicitations to prostitution. Between 15 and 25 a day. I counted.

This isn’t the North Dakota I left 20 years ago. Who Moved?

Farming is changed. That’s not a surprise but now Farmers no longer really farm. They maximize mailbox government money and don’t farm by virtue of CRP. I’m not against the program. But the small towns and jobs this program destroyed is now legend. Small grains, oats, flax, rye, wheat, durum, millet, are now replaced by monoculture beans and corn and beans and corn and ………. This I can get in Illinois.

The ELCA (American Lutheran Church) which is nearly the state church of North Dakotans, particularly of Scandinavian descent, is debating marrying homosexuals, ordaining married same sex pastors, all of which I have to ask, ""why are you even talking about this""?
How can this even be an issue? Who moved?

This “open-mindedness” is fuzzy group thinking all thru the political and cultural ranks. Change the Fighting Sioux team name is a politcally correctness demand of the NCAA. Trust me there are few teams anywhere else in America caving as fast as UND. Where is your spine ND? North Dakota has become a western outpost of Minneapolis Liberalism. We made fun of Minneapolis liberal stupidity 20 years ago. Now, the liberal politics of North Dakota are becoming just as ridiculous. All the while because ND votes Democratic in all areas except president they have no political clarity, center or power. I know republicans aren’t perfect. I know they are as corrupt as the rest. But ND politics has become impotent. Try lighting up a smoke in Fargo. Political correctness in the state is beyond belief. The rest of the country isn't even close to as liberal as North Dakota has become. The most read newspaper in North Dakota is way left of the rest of the countries center. WHO MOVED?

If I were to move to anywhere in America it would have to be because I wanted to fit in. I used to fit pretty well in North Dakota; I left for economic opportunity. That doesn’t exist any more either. Very little of what was North Dakota industry and commerce of 20 years ago is owned by North Dakotans. What will they say 20 years from now when the question is asked, “What were they thinking when they put the lock in the last North Dakotan owned business in the state and the last self employed entrepreneur left. When 100 percent of everyone left in the state was on the dole, on the take, in government, or working for an out of state firm”".

That’s a fiefdom. Fiefdom North Dakota.

North Dakota, I miss you, but you moved away, you said you would be here if I wanted to come back. You lied. If I moved to Lancaster Pennsylvania or Midland Texas it’s no less foreign as what you are today. You are not who you were and you're are becoming less and less who you had promised to become.

Where have you Gone North Dakota?