Monthly Archives: October 2016

The price of petrol is very low in the US, the good news and the not so good news

Chapter 28 The price of petrol is very low in the US, the good news and the not so good news

Historically the price of fuel in this country has been very low compared with other countries.  Prices we pay are about ½ the average for Europe and even less when compared to the Scandinavians. There are several countries where prices are lower, but in almost all of these cases the price is subsidized by that government. Current prices (2015) average $2.30 with a range of $2.09 – $3.10 (California). Price where I live is $2.17. In 1963 the price was $.30 per gallon. If you apply the CPI to that the $.30, compounded annually to 2015 it calculates to $2.39. Gas is less expensive today!

Our ability to produce oil and maintain low fuel costs allows us a competitive advantage in the world economy. If we view energy production in the short term our strategy of focusing of additional fossil fuel exploration and production seems valid, but what about the future. Have you asked yourself why the prices in other countries are so high? For certain some of the reason is that they are not producers, but is that the entire reason?

Source: http://taxpolicycenter.org/publications/url.cfm?ID=1000845

“While part of that difference in prices is due to relatively low U.S. pretax gas prices, pretax price differentials are small compared to the total price differential. Pretax prices vary from $1.51 in the United Kingdom to $2.23 in Norway. Thus, the price differential between the United States and the rest of the world can be attributed almost entirely to differential taxation.”

So what, you ask? How long do we expect our supply of gas and oil to last? My research indicates a range, depending on which scientific group is doing the analysis. The most pessimistic view says 2050; the most optimistic indication is 2070. Currently the US derives 86.4% of its energy from fossil fuels. This same rate for the world in total is just under 81%. At the same time there are several European countries that were this number is less than 50% and in France it is 20%. Taxing an energy resource with a limited supply actually makes sense to me, as long as a substantial portion of the revenue is dedicated to developing alternatives.

One promising energy source that is the most abundant element in the Universe is Hydrogen. It galls me that we are letting Japan and Korea take the lead in developing this alternative energy technology. While the focus is currently on supplying energy for vehicles, it has potential applications for the generation of electricity to the grid. There are challenges in terms of the cost and infrastructure required, but in long term it may prove to be economically viable. The side benefit it that it clean!

I am convinced that this issue may be one of the most critical to the welfare of our next generation.

We are so smart, aren’t we? (Our changing knowledge base)

Chapter 27 We are so smart, aren’t we?  (Our changing knowledge base)

Why we “think” we are so smart

I suppose that every generation, since the dark ages, views their existence as being at the peak of civilization and with good reason. We have progressed in many ways since those times. However, I suspect that the residents of Rome during the hay day of the Empire felt the same enthusiasm for the state of their civilization. We now know that times can change sand so can the level of civilization. I’m sure we think we have far surpassed the achievements of the Greeks & Romans, and in technological terms this is probably true. In terms of architecture and engineering there are still structures about which we are still “scratching” heads. There are many examples, but one is the quality of the concrete that they used. Much of it is still structurally sound after thousands of years and yet we have sidewalks that are crumbling after fifty!

During my formative years (50s & 60s) I was so happy to have been born during “modern” times and gave little thought to progress. Looking back it seems that those days were a bit “dark” compared to today. The rate of progress and change is accelerating. Many accepted physician practices of only 100 years ago seem like voodoo now. And yet, those seeking help with their ailments put their faith in these practices. I wonder what our view will be 50 years from now when we glance back in time. There has been more technological, transportation, information availability & communication advancement in the last 50 years than in thousands of years prior. There is every reason to believe that we will continue to advance significantly and perhaps at an accelerated rate in these areas in the next 50. Are we smart now or will we be smart then?

There is substantial evidence that earlier civilizations new that the earth was round and that we were part of both a solar system and a galaxy. A few examples                                  are: The Mayans, the Sumerians, the Egyptians and the Greeks (there were more).

As recently at the 15th century the accepted dogma was that the earth was flat and the center of the universe. So which civilization was wiser?

At the risk of antagonizing my Creationist friends, their view that the universe is only about 6,500 years old was the accepted dogma only a few hundred years ago. Despite scientific evidence to the contrary there is still a significant portion of the population in our country that holds to that “belief”. Because it says this in the Torah it must be true. Keep in mind that the Old Testament was strictly an “oral tradition” for over 3,000 years and was first penned by Moses in 1313 BCE.

Historians that view other oral traditions that are submitted to paper at a later date consider these as myths or legends. I find this interesting. Sumerian cuneiform was scripted as early as 3,900 BCE and speaks of a history which goes back tens of thousands of years (if not even more). There are Egyptian Hieroglyphs that date prior to the written version of the bible. They speak of much earlier times and the many gods that influenced their civilization. Myths or Legends?

“Even the smartest of us don’t know much”

 

Review of major belief systems – The Good, the not so good & the ugly

26 f) Review of major belief systems – The Good, the not so good & the ugly

The Good: Churches & Denominations of each have accomplished a great deal of good overall. Espousing moral & ethical behavior is indeed laudable. Living our lives using the behavior of Jesus, Gandhi or Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha) as examples would resolve all of our issues. Some denominations encourage their faithful to assist others that are less fortunate and organize to accomplish this. If we had an inventory list of the good that has been accomplished by churches it would be impressive.

The not so good: Unfortunately there have numerous denominations that have taken the organization of a faith based dogma to an extreme. Fringe interpretation of so called “scriptures” by over-zealous true believers does not further the cause of harmony among humanity. Everyone is entitled to buy-in to whichever system of beliefs that they find acceptable, regardless of how over the top it appears to the rest of us. However, when those same persons decide to impose their beliefs on others then I object. There are literally thousands of religious sects/denominations. Who among us is so wise to pick out the true belief system? If I was born in Pakistan there is little doubt that I would have been programed in Islam and no doubt I would have been a zealot. If a current Islam resident of Pakistan was raised here there is a high degree of probability that he would be raised in one of the Christian based faiths. Think about it, please.

The ugly: There is an excellent reason that our Constitution espouses the separation of church and state. How many wars and terrorist attacks are based on different faith based views where a country (or significant portion of a country)? In fact the primary reason for armed conflict is to further the cause of a country or group to gain power and territory. It should surprise no one that religious belief systems have been used in this regard. The Torah is full of examples of conflict that were essentially based on different beliefs. Constantine recognized the value of controlling a belief system to further his political and economic ambitions. The Crusade was a faith based conflict. The inquisition tortured and murdered thousands in the name of God. Over time literally hundreds of millions of people have been murdered in the name of whichever “god” this or that group was championing.