rjm's blog

Tom Reynolds interview on the economics of fracking

Here is the audio from Tom Reynolds' interview on WVBR's Shin Hollow Radio program, July 3, 2011

Nanny State

From the Giz, via Ace:

fireworks map

Didn't I just read somewhere something about confidence in the average free citizen making America absolutely exceptional?

New York is a red state, and I don't mean that in a  good way.

Kids, Ice Cream, Glow Sticks...


time square
   Gathering to view the fireworks at Dryden High School Friday night

Things that make you say, "hmmmm"

From Coyote Blog, via Maggie's Farm:

Wal-Mart’s profit to shareholders is about 3.6% of sales.   This means that for the majority of the country, on the items you buy at Wal-Mart, they are earning less than half of what the government takes in sales tax on the same item.

Corn dogs

Right on the heels of corn being named the New York State Vegetable, Syracuse area Taxpayers for Common Sense Action "watchdog group" buttonholed Rep. Richard Hanna to encourage his stance against ethanol subsidies.   The Post-Standard reports that Hanna spoke briefly with the group.  

Hanna had voted for an amendment  in the House to eliminate subsidies to companies that install blended gasoline and ethanol pumps.  That measure died in the Senate.

Steve Ellis, VP of the Taxpayers group, said that the House has resisted cutting other subsidy programs... read the whole article.

Government needs to get out of the market distortion business of subsidies, be it for corn or other commodities.  On the other hand, it needs to let agricultural landowners free to make money, for example, by leasing their land for gas drilling.  In spite of the tortured logic of NIMBY neighbors, the free market, with full property rights, is the best way to protect agricultural, open land.  Protecting "viewsheds" and other like nonsense is a sure ticket to agricultural bankruptcy.

In the shadow of Frackingstock


Not so epic?

I'm right in the shadow of the "epic" "Frackingstock" , which is taking place right across the Six Mile Creek valley from Redneck Mansion.  A great time for a compendium of stories from our Finger Lakes area colleagues...

There is lots of discussion about today's WSJ piece, The Facts about Fracking which responds to the anti-fracking hysteria with some common sense and perspective.  Read it all, and the comments.

The question for the rest of us is whether we are serious about domestic energy production. All forms of energy have risks and environmental costs, not least wind (noise and dead birds and bats) and solar (vast expanses of land). Yet renewables are nowhere close to supplying enough energy, even with large subsidies, to maintain America's standard of living. The shale gas and oil boom is the result of U.S. business innovation and risk-taking. If we let the fear of undocumented pollution kill this boom, we will deserve our fate as a second-class industrial power.

Lonely Conservative wonders why the public employee unions don't get behind fracking.

In Why They Oppose Fracking, South of 5 and 20 mines the comments to find what is really going on.

Strange bedfellows:  Our Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and State Senator Jim Seward team up (read the comments) to throw bones to the anti-fracking zealots.

Marcellus protestors just don't get it.  Make them ban the use of natural gas where they ban drilling for it.

20 Questions

That game usually starts with "Is it animal? Mineral? Vegetable?"   This is a game our family has played often around the campfire on our family camping trips. (It does take some time for the younger members to grok what it means for something to be mineral or vegetable...)

Our NYS Sentate has been playing the game this year... a bill co-sponsored by our State Senator Jim Seward, and recently passed by the Senate, names the Herkimer Diamond as our official state mineral.  The "diamonds" are quartz crystals with distinctive double points because they grow with little or no contact with their host rocks.

Herkamer diamondHere is a little one which I collected on a trip to the "diamond mine" along the Herkimer River with some of the kids.  The trek to Herkimer is a fond memory for many New York families... we learned some geology and some state history in the diamond mine's surprisingly complete museum.

OK, so most of what we found was in the souvenir shop... but right now I can't name another attractive mineral so identified with New York, so I can probably go along with this designation.  I mean, no one makes earrings from the limestone from Howe's Caverns or from Niagara dolomite.

* * *

Moving onto vegetables is another matter.

The NY State Senate voted 56-6 to name corn the official state vegetable.  News coverage noted that the issue is "still simmering in the Assembly," but the corn had "creamed" onions, the other state vegetable contender.

Now, people that know me will say that I have long contended that corn is the "only necessary vegetable," and would guess that I'd be steamed if corn didn't pop out on top in this race.  But in this case, I'm not so taken.

Yes, corn is important to New York's agricultural economy, but other places are much more identified with corn.

Corn PalaceWhen we were driving and camping across the country a couple of years ago, we stopped in Mitchell, SD at the Corn Palace.  (To be entirely truthful, I drove my family about a day out of our way to go there.) 

The huge murals on the outside and inside of the building are all made anew each year out of 275,000 ears of different colored corn.  They have been celebrating corn at the "mother church" since 1892 and at this location since 1921.

I don't think that New York is going to catch up with that level of corn-identification any time soon.

My other problem with corn as a state vegetable is the current political landscape. Corn is intimately tied to government and subsidy.

Feeling the need for an example of government policy run amok? Look no further than the box of cornflakes on your kitchen shelf. In its myriad corn-related interventions, Washington has managed simultaneously to help drive up food prices and add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit, while arguably increasing energy use and harming the environment.


Here is perhaps the most incredible part: Because of the subsidy, ethanol became cheaper than gasoline, and so we sent 397 million gallons of ethanol overseas last year. America is simultaneously importing costly foreign oil and subsidizing the export of its equivalent.

That’s not all. Ethanol packs less punch than gasoline and uses considerable energy in its production process. All told, each gallon of gasoline that is displaced costs the Treasury $1.78 in subsidies and lost tax revenue.

So, a symbol of government overreach, inefficiency and waste as a state symbol?  Well, it might actually be appropriate, but I think we should have gone with the onion.

* * *

Any recent NYS votes on the animal front?  Not going there.

Class Warfare

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton sent out a mailer this week saying "New York can't afford to let its wealthiest receive a special tax break while cutting schools and health care." 

She is quoted in the piece as saying:
"To provide millionaires yet another tax break on the heels of their federal tax cut is not only grossly unfair, it's fiscally unsound."
Amazingly enough, others have said exactly the same thing, in exactly the same words.  Like Nelson Castro and Annette Robinson and ... well, this group doesn't seem very original.
LiftonThis orchestrated campaign asks: is it fair that millionaires pay the same tax rate as people earning $20,000? 
The simple answer is: YES, of course.
Everyone should pay the same tax on every dollar their earn.  Earn twice as much, pay twice the tax.  Earn 200 times as much, pay 200 times as much tax.  
Now this is the place where I would usually say that the left is disincentivizing people from innovation or job creation.  Or that these kinds of policies are sure to drive even more high earners (a.k.a. taxpayers, small business owners, etc.) out of the state.  The thing that's fiscally unsound is stopping people from making taxable income.
But this campaign looks more like it is about trying to create a scapegoat to conceal the fact that spending is out of control.  New York State has made promises it cannot keep.  Pension costs are exploding. School expenses are out of control. And medical entitlements are expanding beyond imagination.
Instead of facing the truth and helping people dial back entitlement expectations, Lifton and this campaign are trying to shift the blame and set people against one another.
One more thing... notice that they focus on trying to increase tax rates instead of eliminating tax breaks.  This allows the ruling elite (both parties, by the way) to be able to steer money (they call it tax breaks, grants, development zones, and other polite words) to their friends and to buy votes, thereby ensuring that they stay in power.  All with your money.

Get Your Chicken Today... update: Done

Update:  Hope you aren't hungry :-)  Thanks to all who came out for chix.

The Dryden Republicans' first chicken barbecue of the season, Saturday, May 28th, at Clark's in Dryden.  First batch of chix is usually ready around 10ish.  Be there or be...hungry.

Schickel Announces for Dryden Supervisor

Bruno Schickel's press release:

Bruno Schickel, a lifelong resident of the Town of Dryden, born and raised on a Ferguson Road dairy farm, announced that he is a candidate for the office of Dryden Town Supervisor

Schickel is a successful local businessman who created and has run Schickel Construction Company since 1985.  The Dryden based Company provides a dozen jobs for our economy.

 Schickel said, “I’ve lived in Dryden my whole life. Now my hometown faces many challenges and opportunities and needs a leader who can accomplish more with our limited resources. That’s why I’m running.”

“Key issues include:

  • More efficient local spending;
  • Lowering the property tax burden;
  • Thoughtful zoning modifications to keep housing affordable while avoiding excess regulations that lower land values;
  • Slow, careful and balanced gas drilling policies that will unite neighbors and friends through thoughtful communication with all town residents; and,
  • Connecting Dryden residents with their neighboring communities by a network of trails on the old railroad track beds.”

“As New York State nears a property tax cap, local government will need to operate more effectively and apply lessons from the private sector.  We need to make Dryden government more efficient.”

“I’m a local employer putting local people to work. My business leadership experience gives me the tools required during this time of financial stress.”

“We need common sense leadership and good communication with all of our friends and neighbors so that we can find the right solution’s to all of our current and future challenges and opportunities.”

SchickeI is eager to hear from fellow citizens about those issues with which they are most concerned.  His phone number is (607) 227-4791.  Give Bruno Schickel a call and talk with him.


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