Would you leave Earth to help colonize another planet? This might sound like an absurd question, but, according to many leaders of thought, its one we might have to confront sooner than later. Chris Campbell explores our journey from air to space, and ponders where we’re off to next. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
Over a century ago, a hidden energy war began. The bad guys won. For 100 years, man has been a slave to the energy monopolies. But now, miraculously, the good guys are throwing a punch -- and they’re inviting you to fight the good fight. Even promising riches if you do. Chris Campbell fills you in on the full story. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
Where do great investors come from?I’m not sure what the hurdle rate for greatness is, but Guy Spier has put up impressive results. His Aquamarine Fund has returned 463% since inception in 1997, versus just 167% for the S&P 500 (a broad proxy for the market). Put another way, $1 million invested at inception is […]
Bitcoin has been pretty quiet lately. But that doesn’t mean big things aren’t taking place behind-the-scenes for the digital currency. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell pulls back the curtain and shows you how Bitcoin is quietly slipping into the mainstream. He also shows you why now could be the time to buy now, or forever hold your peace. Read on…
In an odd mix of fate, protesters and corporations are holding hands. They both have one common goal: save the Internet from the evil cable companies. We all have a common hate for them. But what if the cable companies aren’t as evil as once thought? What if there’s an even bigger evil lurking behind them? There is. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. And Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the gang will appear in their first full-length feature film in 35 years.One small company has the license to the Peanuts brand. The cash flow due to this company could be enormous. In late October, […]
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure.There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data.What are seismic data? In essence, they’re collected from […]
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
When the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, they’re not actually printing the money. It enters as digital entries in banks across the country. It’s made the system fast, responsive, and, unfortunately, vulnerable. Now our money is no longer something we hold in our hands, but something that exists on a very susceptible network.
When’s the best time to invest in something? When everyone else is trying to get their money out of it. It might go against conventional thinking, but following the crowd usually makes you miss the real opportunities. At one monetary metal conference recently, the smartest guys in the industry sat down to discuss where these real hidden gems lay.
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
I bet you use different kinds of money all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.In various online accounts, I currently have: some dollars, some pounds, and some euros. I have some air miles from two different credit card companies. I have some supermarket rewards points from three different companies. And I also have some […]
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
Remember that correction we’ve been quietly talking about over the past couple of months?Well, it might be right around the corner. Stocks waited until the last day of the month to nose-dive. The S&P 500 posted its first 2% down day since April — and the Dow wasn’t far behind. Early this morning, futures continue […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. As if recent, past U.S. policy fiascos in Libya, Egypt and Syria were not enough, the wheels are now coming off the proverbial bus in Iraq, site of so much blood and treasure spent in the last decade.Radical Islamist armies are marching toward Baghdad, slicing through Iraqi government troops […]
Health care costs in the U.S. have been rising so steadily for so long that containment barely seems possible. Even optimists don’t dream of cutting the price tag. As its official name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — suggests, Obamacare aims for affordability, not radical reduction.But at a time when we’re all […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
In 1995, American agriculture underwent a profound, dangerous change.In that year, Monsanto and other companies pushed through approval for a handful of genetically modified (GM) organisms. These included canola oil tweaked to improve its flavor, potatoes modified to resist pesticide dousing, and tomatoes gene-spliced to delay ripening.“About half of all the crops planted on American […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
Corn prices are officially through the roof, spiking to record highs. It’s been headed this way through six years of crazy volatility. Now the spike is undeniable. At the same time, crop yields are lower they have been since 1995.
Everyone blames the drought, as if the market can’t normally handle a supply change. The real problem is that the corn market is fundamentally misshaped by government interventions that have made a mess of this and many more markets. The distortions are never contained, but spread and spread.
The implications are quite radical, especially given the food price riots around the world the last time this happened.
It is probably going to hit the U.S. this time. Internationally, some writers are raising the specter of a price-driven famine in parts of the world.
“Corn is the single most important commodity for retail food,” Richard Volpe, an economist for the USDA told the Los Angeles Times. “Corn is either directly or indirectly in about three-quarters of all food consumers buy.”
Fine, then, answer me this, Mr. Government Economist Man: Why is 40% of the corn crop being burned up in our gas tanks? The answer is a Soviet-like, fascist-like, stupid-like government mandate. It is actually relatively new. It came about in 2005 and 2007. It mixes nearly all the gas we can buy with a sticky product now in rather short supply.
Of all the government regulations I’ve looked at in detail over the last 10 years, the ethanol mandate is, by far, the worst. There are no grounds on which it is defensible. None!
Of course, you might just think that it is great to vastly subsidize Illinois farmland and corn growers and ethanol makers, at the expense of everyone else in the planet and for zero savings in energy. In that case, we should agree to disagree.
I don’t recall much debate in 2005 and 2007 when these draconian, civilization-attacking laws were imposed in the name of the environment and security. If a debate took place, it sure blew right past me. Organizations like the Institute for Energy Research and newsletters like The Daily Reckoning were trying to draw people’s attention to what was taking place, but most people figured this was just some wonky and forgettable concern.
Kate Incontrera spoke the truth in the The Daily Reckoning, July 16, 2007: “One of the obvious side effects of the ethanol craze is that the price of corn has risen 73% in the past year — but that isn’t the only food whose price is on the rise… And because animal feed with corn in it is more expensive, that cost trickles down to chicken, beef, eggs, cheese and — making soda-chugging Americans cringe — high fructose corn syrup.”
Also, from 2006, Greg Guenthner predicted everything that was coming down the road. It is worth your time to have a look at this report, just to demonstrate that some people had their eyes on the trends that matter.
The more you look at this, the more you see that this is halfway to the realization of the freakiest dream of the Rousseauian left: the abolition of the internal-combustion engine as we know it. It is a sledgehammer to the whole idea of market-provided energy. And paradoxically, it represents the worst of crony capitalism: an outright subsidy to agribusiness.
Looking this up and examining the history, it appears that government has been trying to put corn in our gas tanks for decades, even back to the 1960s. There were tax breaks, subsidies, lofty national goals, smiley stickers for executives who publicly backed this nonsense, but none of it took. Finally, our masters brought out the brass knuckles and everyone shaped up, culminating in a coercive mandate imposed six years ago.
Now we are stuck with this de facto mandate that we have to put corn in our gas tanks, all based on the kooky idea that fossil fuels are just too primitive, that we have to mix our gas with a movie-theater treat to make it truly clean and efficient.
But clean and efficient are two things that ethanol is not. The reason your edger and weed whacker don’t fire up in the spring months is most likely due to the presence of corn in the tiny gas tanks. The fuel mixture does not stay stable over time and tends to gum up engines. This is why the store shelves are filled with gas-tank additives of all sorts that did not used to exist. The whole point is to correct for the mess that ethanol makes.
Of course, there is a huge industry out there dedicated to debunking the idea that there is anything the matter with ethanol. But here’s the problem: People who make the pro-ethanol argument are either 1) the same people who think we ought to turn our toilets into composting pits or 2) speaking for industries highly dependent on the many forms of ethanol subsidies, so they have every incentive to deny the obvious for as long as possible.
But ask people who depend on a stable and reliable fuel for their livelihoods, and sometimes their lives. Talk to any boaters. You don’t have to know any. Head over to any boaters’ forums and see what they say. They go out of their way to find the few gas stations that actually sell ethanol-free gasoline, mainly because they can’t afford to take risks that come with bad gas and bad engines. They find stations that sell no ethanol gas, like those listed at pure-gas.org.
Another fact: Though people have thought for centuries that corn is a decent fuel, it took the mandates to force it into cars. Why? Because consumers knew better. Manufacturers knew better. The petroleum industry knew better. Government and the corn industry had a different idea and gave it to us all good and hard.
Nor is it efficient. As even Paul Krugman admits, “Even on optimistic estimates, producing a gallon of ethanol from corn uses most of the energy the gallon contains.” We also have to add the huge expenditure associated with fuel additives, engine fixes, lawn mower replacements and the vast frustration that comes with the regulatory wrecking of the internal-combustion engine.
Now let’s look at what’s happened to crops since 2005. The percentage of crops devoted to corn have gone from 24% in 1999 to 30% today. Meanwhile, the crops devoted to soybeans, hay and wheat have all gone down, thereby increasing feed costs for ranchers and consumers. Again, this is not the market talking. This is not what any actual market players are pushing. This all results from government mandates.
Meanwhile, the price index of Illinois farmland has tripled in the same period. Even though every price signal would otherwise indicate to farmers to plant less corn, they plant more. And even though land values all over the U.S. went into a major bust in 2008 and following, Illinois farmland goes up and up. This is a result of government intervention, building artificiality into the system and creating unpredictable distortions.
It almost seems hard to believe. It’s a scandal that government has degraded home appliances, indoor plumbing, paint, cosmetics, gas cans and so much else. Yet the ethanol nonsense might be the worst of all, because it represents a fundamental attack on the technology and literal fuel of modernity itself. As you look back at it, it’s been going on a very long time, from the initial ban on lead fuels, and now look where we are.
In the name of efficiency and “clean fuels,” the government is shutting down the technology essential to life as we know it. And the spillover effects are everywhere, affecting nearly everything we eat. As usual, all these regulations are premised on the supposition that conditions will never change and that the state can take the existing world and pound it into its preferred shape. But the existing world as the state knows it is always a world of the past. Introduce one change and the whole model blows up.
That is what is happening with ethanol right now. The mandate is causing vast distortions and crazy costs for everything and everything. The scandal is how little we know or care. Maybe famine will make the difference?