Friday, May 16, 2008

I Made Under $ 750,000 Last Year, Where's My Check?

I have stayed away from politics on the blog as I feel that I don't need to intentionally alienate any readers, but some things bear mentioning. Looking at my IP tracking, I may be about to infuriate at least some readers in the midwest. So be it, this needs mentioning.

Yesterday the Farm Bill passed the House, and today it passed the Senate. For those unfamiliar with the 2007 Farm Bill, it is the $289,000,000,000 cherry on top of the government sundae of spending.

People can bitch about government spending here and there all they want, but when the government allows subsidy payments to individuals with incomes up to $750,000 a year (married incomes of up to 1.5 million dollars) it somehow strikes me as the rich getting richer. Isn't that what so many people are bitching about? Economic stimulus checks are arriving now. I'm wondering where mine is, as I am positive I made less than three quarters of a million dollars last year.

Then there is the ethanol debate. I just can't stand behind the idea of burning food... We have seen rises across the board in food prices and yet somehow we need to be giving refiners (those people that everyone likes to bitch about having record profits) a 45¢ a gallon tax credit for blending food corn based ethanol into our gasoline. I know that the subsidy exists to keep US farmers in the business of growing corn, but at a time of record grain prices (and shortages in other categories, the big two in my world being barley and hops) is this still necessary?
And then we end up with anomalies. Case in point, a recent article in the W.S.J. pointed out that some refiners have been switching to Brazilian ethanol due to it's lower cost even though it is hit with a 54¢ a gallon tariff. Brazilian ethanol is made primarily from sugar cane, and their economy is immensely dependant upon the export of ethanol. That said, the entire country of Brazil only produces 4.3 billion gallons of the fuel. The US produces only 7 billion gallons of ethanol. The 2007 Farm Bill mandates that refiners blend 9 billion gallons of ethanol this year alone, with an average increase of about half a million gallons a year over the next fourteen years.

The increase can be made up in their production of Cellulosic Ethanol. CE is produced from non-food items such as sawgrass, wood chips, sawdust, etc... The production of CE at least has the potential to alleviate the need to burn US foodstocks to run our automobiles, but it is still being researched and there are currently only two major CE projects, one of which is not expected to come completely online until 2011. The Farm Bill provides a significant research subsidy to increase the production of CE, and it damn well better. The bill requires that an additional 21 billion gallons of CE be blended into the US fuel supply in 14 years. (A total US ethanol dependancy of 36 billion gallons.) For some reason I think we aren't going to be able to pull that one off...

And then there is the food aid. The fact that this spending is thrown into a bunch of government pork is laughable and probably one of the few reasons that the damn thing passes with enough votes to override a veto. It's hard to tell the poorest people in a congressional district why you voted against their children's school lunch program...

Monday, May 12, 2008

I Get By

So I managed to live through my Mother's visit, Cinco de Mayo, and the last week of work before my vacation.

Now I am sitting in Florida, having already been to the beach (surfing, but the waves were so small), just trading stocks and enjoying the hell out of myself. I think that I am going to have a hard time leaving here... It's about eleven million degrees, but I guess that it's really easy to get used to and right now I couldn't give a damn. It's nice and sunny, the rain hasn't materialized, and even if it does I do not care. I am having a great time on vacation... (Who knew this was possible?)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

It's The End Of The World As I Know It

So I guess it isn't that bad, but my mother is coming to visit, and while I do love the woman dearly, the thought of here staying at my house for a few days drives me insane. I do not know why...

I guess it's because I have to "behave" while she's here.

No going out drinking with friends, and coming in the front door at 3:00AM (there goes my Sunday Rock Band party, and I am not kidding). No bringing home random women (yeah, that doesn't happen when she's not here, so I guess it's not much of a concern).

And then there's the real draw back.

No being at work all hours of the day. I've got someone at home waiting for me, and while the woman lived in Seattle for six years, I feel obligated to entertain. I am sure that during the day she will be visiting old friends and seeing the sights, but she's also here to see her son. That's me. That means that I have to be there. And while I'd like to think that I can show her around the office and our operation, I can't keep her occupied for long.

Oh shit... Door bell...