Category Archives: Business

How Do The Numbers Work?

Sorry, but I just can’t buy this:

PG&E is pledging to buy the power at an agreed-upon rate, comparable to the rate specified in other agreements for renewable-energy purchases, company spokesman Jonathan Marshall said. Neither PG&E nor Solaren would say what that rate was, due to the proprietary nature of the agreement. However, Marshall emphasized that PG&E would make no up-front investment in Solaren’s venture.

“We’ve been very careful not to bear risk in this,” Marshall told

Smart move.

Solaren’s chief executive officer, Gary Spirnak, said the project would be the first real-world application of space solar power, a technology that has been talked about for decades but never turned into reality.

“While a system of this scale and exact configuration has not been built, the underlying technology is very mature and is based on communications satellite technology,” he said in a Q&A posted by PG&E. A study drawn up for the Pentagon came to a similar conclusion in 2007. However, that study also said the cost of satellite-beamed power would likely be significantly higher than market rates, at least at first.

In contrast, Spirnak said Solaren’s system would be “competitive both in terms of performance and cost with other sources of baseload power generation.”

I just can’t see how. Unless there are going to be many satellites, the system has to be in GEO to provide baseload power to any given region on earth. They talk about putting up a 200 MW system with “four or five” “heavy lift” launches (where this is apparently defined as 25 tons).

Suppose the conversion efficiency of the cells is a generous 30%, the DC-MW conversion is 90%, the transmission efficiency is 90% and the MW-AC conversion efficiency is 90% (generous numbers all, I think). That gives an overall efficiency of 22% from sunlight to the grid. The solar constant in space is 1.4kW/m2, so that means you need 650,000 square meters of panels to deliver 200 MW to the grid. Suppose you can build the cells (including necessary structure to maintain stiffness) for half a kilo per square meter. That means that just for the solar panels alone, you have a payload of 325 metric tons. Generously assuming that their payload of 25 tons is to GEO (if it’s to LEO, it’s probably less than ten tons in GEO), that would require over a dozen launches for the solar panels alone.

That doesn’t include the mass of the conversion electronics, basic satellite housekeeping systems (attitude control, etc.) and the transmitting antenna, which has to be huge to get that much power that distance at a safe power density.

So even ignoring the other issues (e.g. regulatory, safety studies, etc.) that Clark mentions, I think this is completely bogus until I see their numbers. And probably even then.

Apples And Oranges

One of my chronically unintelligent commenters posted his fantasies that government health care is much more “efficient” than private health service provision. Here’s an explanation of why that’s nonsensical.

…the comparison between public and private plans is a false comparison. Private insurance and public benefits are not the same business. For all its warts, private insurance tries to manage care. Medicare is mostly about paying the bills presented to it.

Many who favor a public plan as part of comprehensive health-care reform dismiss the administrative “overhead” of private plans as having little or no value. Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D., Calif.), for example, insists that “most private plans are poorly managed.” Contrasting them with the supposedly sleek and efficient Medicare program, he labels commercial insurance “the General Motors of medical care.”

In fact, the administrative expenses of private insurance plans represent money well spent for their members. Here are four reasons…

Whenever you find yourself agreeing the Pete Stark on anything, it’s a pretty good sign that you should rethink your position.

Party Like It’s 1773

Here’s a site that is tracking all of the spending protests tomorrow. And I have to agree with the hilarious irony and stupidity of leftists complaining that these are astroturfed top-down fraud, including at least one in my own comments section. Apparently dissent is only the highest form of patriotism when it’s against George Bush and funded by George Soros.

[Mid-morning update]

Tea Party movement picking up steam. With the usual amusing whine about astroturfing in comments. You’d almost think that these people went to a seminar.

[Update a few minutes later]

The Examiner explains why leftists are upset and (as usual, with accusations of “racism,” “hate,” “lies,” etc.) engaging in projection about top-down protests:

Part of the reason for the mean-spiritedness in some of the attacks from the pro-Obama groups is likely the failure of efforts to turn out large crowds in support of the chief executive’s $787 billion economic stimulus package and $3.6 trillion 2010 federal budget, with its $1 trillion deficit and comparable floods of red ink for a decade thereafter. The recent “New Way Forward” gathering here in D.C., for example, was heralded by organizers as the first of a wave of counter-Tea Party Protests, but barely a dozen people turned out. Similarly, much-publicized efforts to use the 13-million email addresses compiled by the Obama campaign to generate pressure on Congress barely caused a ripple, much less a wave of support for the Obama budget.

It’s easy to understand why they’d be both frightened, and angry. And apparently part of that mind set consists of having one’s sense of irony excised at birth.

[Late morning update]

Speaking of which, Iowahawk has dug up an old script from that old favorite, the Mary Hamsher Moore Show:

MARY: I … I’m sorry Mr. Soros.

LOU: Whatever. Say Mary… you’re all over that internet thing. What do you know about these Tea Party protests?

MARY: I don’t know. I guess it’s just a bunch of retarded wingnuts whining or something. I don’t think they’re anything worth worrying about.

LOU: Nothing worth worrying about? There are 300 of those stupid protests scheduled for Tuesday! If they end up screwing up the next stimulus bill, I’m never going to short the currency markets. I need you to get to the bottom of this.

MARY: Bottom of it?

LOU: Come on Mary, don’t be naive. We both know the money and professional staff and layers of front organizations it takes to build an authentic grassroots movement. Geez, just look at the good cash I’ve wasted on this dump. There’s just gotta be some sort of conspiracy going on behind that Tea Party crap… like…

MARY: … like Fox News?

LOU: Now you’re thinking! I need you to get out there and spread that meme, and start up some counter protests…

…Mary is leading a massive national anti-anti-tax rally of six protesters

MARY (into bullhorn): One two three four, America needs a New Way For. Ward.

PROTESTERS: One two three four, America needs a New Way For. Ward.

MARY(into bullhorn): Nine ten six five, Tea Baggers are just a bunch of phony populist Faux News wingnuts who are pissed off because they’re not the ones stealing.

PROTESTERS: Nine, seven… thirteen….

MARY (clapping): Come on everybody, that’s the spirit! Take one of these preprinted picket signs and official chant sheet. I printed off 20,000 so there should be enough for everyone. Hey, where are you going?

KID PROTESTER: This protest blows. You said there would be free XBox 360s, not these lame Gameboys. Come on mom, I want to go home.

MOTHER PROTESTER: I’m sorry Mary, I know I said we’d stay until the cameras showed up, but it’s cold and you know how fidgety kids get.

KID PROTESTER 2: Mommy, the funny-tooth loud lady is scary.

RHODA MADOW (holding bullhorn battery): Do something Mary! You’re losing them!

MARY: Wait! Wait! Please, don’t leave! This is real grassroots activism in action! Come on, we can’t let the Tea Baggers out-organize us!

PROTESTER 1: Tea Baggers? Lady, we’re getting drowned out by the friggin’ UFO protesters.

Just demonstrating the will of the people. And don’t miss the commercial.


The Plan Continues

Jonathan Macey:

To socialize the American economy, it is not necessary to nationalize every business in the United States. All it requires is to put the corporations that control the finances of all of the companies in the economy under government control. And that is what is happening now.

…The initial forceful injection of capital into hundreds of financial institutions…is the first step in an ongoing process to socialize American finance. When this process is complete, every company in the U.S. that needs capital will first have to curry favor with some federal agency or politician. Solid business plans and prospects for growth and profitability will be far less important than diversity plans and political connections.

Apparently, members of Congress liked the special treatment that Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd received in getting his mortgage through Countrywide.

Tar. Feathers.

The End Of The Depression

There was one other anniversary that I forgot to mention yesterday. Sixty-four years ago, Franklin Roosevelt breathed his last, and with his departure from this world, so ended his war on the free market, and the economic depression that he had so nurtured for a dozen long years. It was not mere coincidence that the post-war economic growth was so large — there was no FDR to continue to hinder it with his whimsical and arbitrary tinkering. RIP to both.

What The Tea Parties Are About

This is both an interesting, and scary graph. The most important thing to me is not just the sheer magnitude of the Obama deficits, but the respective trends of both administrations.

Note that the Bush deficit was decreasing every year until 2008, when it got hammered by the TARP (at least I’m assuming that’s the cause, though it could also be a result of the slowing economy throughout the year, not to mention Congressional spending increases under the Democrats starting in late 2007). Note also that this was happening despite the evil Bush “tax cuts” (which obviously weren’t really tax cuts — they were just tax rate cuts that actually were reducing the deficit, despite the out-of-control spending by the Republican Congress).

In contrast note that the Obama plan is ever-increasing deficits after 2012, whether you believe administration or CBO projections. And though they decrease in the near term, they never get as low as the worst Bush deficit before they start to sky rocket in the teens. This, simply put, is fiscal insanity. And increasing taxes on “the rich” (as they’d surely love to do if they could get away with it) isn’t an option. There simply isn’t enough money there, and if there were, it would tank the economy even more, with even larger deficits from reduced tax receipts and automatic increases in non-discretionary wealth transfers. Also, estimate the integral under the curve. That’s an accumulating debt, with an ever-increasing proportion of the deficit going to interest, particularly when people become reluctant to loan money to a budding Weimar at low rates.

People who will be protesting on Wednesday won’t be protesting against a party. They’ll be protesting against a government completely out of control. But unfortunately for the Democrats and the left, they will be seen as the much larger part of the problem, because the Republicans are now at least giving lip service to reduced spending and reduced government. But they’re going to have to work very hard to live down their spending spree of the “compassionate conservative” (read, “progressive lite”) Bush years.

[Evening update]

“Liberal doughboys afraid of tea parties.”

Liberal bloggers and media groups can’t get the Tea Party phenomenon out of their heads. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, to them. Ordinary people getting together to protest against the liberal establishment. There is a cognitive disconnect. There must be a plot; the vast right-wing conspiracy at work.

So true to form, Media Matters sounded the horn that this was not a real protest, it’s a Fox News segment. Kind of a made for T.V. reality show, with a cast of tens of thousands. Think Progress joined in with “Spontaneous Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests.”

And the netroot blogosphere heard the call. FireDogLake proprietor Jane Hamsher posted “What Part of ‘FNC TAX DAY TEA PARTIES’ Don’t You Understand?” Hamsher also promoted “citizen-organized protests” which were unlike the “Fox-organized” Tea Parties; I guess she didn’t catch the irony of promoting counter-protests to protest other people promoting protests. Anyway, almost no one showed up for the counter-protests.

Gee, I think I have one of those in comments.

[Monday morning update]

More tea-party panic:

What’s the big deal? ACORN, MoveOn, and Soros get to pull puppet strings year after year, and that’s ok. But God forbid Fox News puts so much as its imprimatur on Tea Parties! No way! That’s too sinister, too insidious; and makes the whole movement illegitimate and inauthentic. Whatever…

Jane Hamsher and Oliver Willis are probably asking “Who the hell are this Tea Party bunch? Where did they come from?” I’ll tell you who they are, Jane and Oliver. They’re your worst nightmare: they’re small-governmenters first and party-loyalists second.

And we’re not laughing with you, Jane and Oliver. We’re laughing at you.


[Update a few minutes later]

More on Crazy Jane and the other panicked and paranoid leftists (like my commenter):

She’s implying because freedomworks listed the Texas Tea parties and Dick Armey is part of freedomworks that the Tea Parties, Houston in particular, are being organized by “Corporate lobbyists”. Houston Tea Party has never spoken with Freedomworks or Dick Armey, though we do know that Freedomworks has offered legal advice to different Tea parties, we’ve not sought it. None of that should imply they are running the show unless you go to the point of just making stuff up.

The “Corporate lobbyist” line is a laugh. Felicia is a local Mother of two who worked with some local grassroots groups like Raging Elephants. I was someone who was trying to be apolitical the past 4 years until I took a good look at was going on, and I was laid off last week and currently unemployed. There are other organizers and volunteers with us. None of them come close to the description “Corporate Lobbyist”.

And no, this woman is nuts, Fox News is not organizing the Tea Parties, they’re just jumping on board (like a lot of people are trying to). But she’s seeing Dick Armey and Fox News as the boogeymen in the closet…

So… I’ve had my LMAO moment for the day. How about you? 🙂

Edit: More on this silliness:

If we’re being organized by “corporate lobbyists” then where the heck is my check?

Yeah, me too. How do I get in on this hot “corporate lobbyist” action?

The President’s Distractions

Thoughts from Mark Steyn:

Only a week ago, the North Korean missile test was an “annoying distraction” from Barack Obama’s call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pledge that America would lead the way in disarming. And only a couple of days earlier the president insisted Iraq was a “distraction” — from what, I forget: The cooing press coverage of Michelle’s wardrobe? No doubt when the Iranians nuke Israel, that, too, will be an unwelcome distraction from the administration’s plans for federally subsidized daycare, just as Pearl Harbor was an annoying distraction from the New Deal, and the First World War was an annoying distraction from the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s dinner plans.

…Er, okay. So the North Korean test is a “distraction,” the Iranian nuclear program is a “distraction,” and the seizure of a U.S.-flagged vessel in international waters is a “distraction.” Maybe it would be easier just to have the official State Department maps reprinted with the Rest of the World relabeled “Distractions.” Oh, to be sure, you could still have occasional oases of presidential photo-opportunities — Buckingham Palace, that square in Prague — but with the land beyond the edge of the Queen’s gardens ominously marked “Here be distractions . . . ”

As it happens, Somali piracy is not a distraction, but a glimpse of the world the day after tomorrow. In my book America Alone, I quote Robert D. Kaplan referring to the lawless fringes of the map as “Indian Territory.” It’s a droll jest but a misleading one, since the very phrase presumes that the badlands will one day be brought within the bounds of the ordered world. In fact, a lot of today’s badlands were relatively ordered not so long ago, and many of them are getting badder and badder by the day.

As I’ve noted in the past, the main thing that finally saved the economy from Roosevelt’s tinkering was the “distraction” of World War II, and then his death. It recovered nicely after the war, once the economic sage of Hyde Park could no longer prevent it. I hope that the current president finds lots of distractions from his own plans for the economy.

A New Nominee For Car Czar

Iowahawk nominates himself:

As such, I realize the industry is not suffering from a lack of law professors — it is suffering from a lack of imagination. They gave us cup holders and electric seat warmers when we wanted angel fur and bubble tops. They pushed micro-clown cars and hybrids when the market was rife for chromed 8-deuce Chrysler Hemis. Well, Bucko, all that outmoded thinking is going to end during the reign of Czar Dave. Saving the American auto industry is going to be a big job, but I won’t be doing it alone. I have already appointed my own shadow Council of Automotive Advisors, a select group of successful auto manufacturers whose qualifications appear after the jump. Many are close personal friends of mine, and I can attest to their patriotism, integrity, ingenuity, and wonderful lack of law degrees.

Why not? We could do worse. And almost certainly will.

And as you can see, his advisory council is without peer. I particularly like the discreet tasteful town car to get him to important meetings in our nation’s capital.


More projection from a leftist:

Just a few days ago in a meeting with American CEOs of American banks, President Obama’s tone and attitude were rife with the arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision he had just criticized in Europe. A participant in the meeting told Politico that when the CEOs tried to explain that the nature, complexities, and competition of the finance and banking industries required that they continue retention bonuses for their employees, the president became impatient. He interrupted them and said, “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that. My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

The imagery behind Obama’s threat couldn’t be more obvious: comply with my demands or I will make sure you are harassed, intimidated, and run out of town on a rail. He made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. Don Corleone couldn’t have said it better.

We can not forget, however, that it was Barack Obama himself along with his fellow Democrats who agitated this mob-like frenzy about the banks, the CEOs, and the bonuses. It was Obama who said the bonuses were an “outrage” and a “violation of our fundamental values.” Democrat Barney Frank hauled AIG’s CEO in front of the House Financial Services Committee and interrogated him, demanding to know why he approved the hundreds of millions of dollars of bonuses. Conveniently, Congressman Frank failed to mention that the approval was inside the very stimulus bill Obama championed and the Democrats overwhelmingly voted for.

Funny, that.