The Excuse Generation
The root of our problems is our excuses

Today's Excuses

Thursday October 18

Excuses for the high price of gasoline

Continuing on my theme from Tuesday, I will present some more questions from readers asking what the excuse is for high gas prices, and our seeming lack of “energy independence”.

Once again, I am using an article that appeared on Tuesday 10/16/2012 on

(link here:

In regards to high gas prices, a reader asked “Why isn’t all the petroleum product from our domestic drilling and refining kept for domestic consumption ?”

First, a quick fact, then an answer: the price of oil is determined on the world market, and anyone with oil to sell can easily sell it for the day’s world-market price, or very close to it.  In reality, NO ONE with oil to sell would take less money for it in order to “[keep it] for domestic consumption” – if YOU found oil on your property today, and the price of oil was $90 a barrel, would YOU sell it for less to “[keep it] for domestic consumption” ?  No, you wouldn’t !   This is why “[keeping oil] for domestic consumption” wouldn’t lower the price of gasoline. 

While we’re  talking about energy, let’s talk about the popular myth of “clean coal”.

“Clean coal” does not exist.  When coal is burned to generate electricity, it releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as well as toxic heavy metals like mercury and arsenic.   These pollutants then find their way into our soil, our groundwater, and our seas – this is scientific fact, not political posturing.  The current plan for clean coal involves a fantastical exercise whereby carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants is captured, liquefied, and somehow injected back into the ground, where it will be safely “sequestered”.  Of course, this plan exists only on paper, as the logistics and physical infrastructure necessary to make this happen is beyond what any power company wants to attempt or even finance. 

The facts that I have discussed regarding gasoline prices and clean coal are pretty basic, and they have been in the realm of public knowledge for many years now.  So, why do politicians continue to try to sell us this bill of goods ?  Where are the visionary leaders who gave us nuclear power, the Interstate Highway System, satellite communications, the Internet, and GPS ?  There were no excuses then, so why are we hearing excuses now ? 


Tuesday October 16th

Today, I am going to combine my Politician’s Excuses post with some questions for our politicians-of-the-moment, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.  Basically, I want to know what the excuse is for certain things that aren’t getting done. 

As inspiration, I am using an article appearing today (Tuesday 10/16/2012) on

 (link here:

 I will address some of these reader questions myself,  as there is no acceptable government solution to some problems, regardless of whether you are President Obama or President Romney.   I will also pose questions directly to President Obama as to things that aren’t getting done, and I will pose questions to Governor Romney as to the validity of his ideas/solutions. 

A reader referenced in the above-mentioned article asks both candidates what they will do in their first 30 days in office to help lower prices on “gasoline, groceries, and all other products” – what would you suggest: have the President interfere with the workings of our free-market system to implement socialist price controls ?  How would the producers of those goods feel about that ?  Why is it that so many people seem to be about “free markets” and “less Government regulation” until gas hits $4 a gallon in their neighborhood, then they want the government to “DO SOMETHING !”   

Having Government regulations in place is like having a fire department in place in your town: you can’t object to paying for the fire department, and then watch the fire department go away, and then complain that the fire department didn’t put out the fire at your house.  This happened to some good folks in a small township in Tennessee, and the result wasn’t pretty.

In reality, there is little a President can do to influence the price of any goods sold on the free market – there are many market forces that combine to raise or lower prices of common goods.  Example: when George W. Bush came into office in January of 2001, the average price of crude oil was $23 a barrel – when he left office in January of 2009, crude oil was $53 a barrel .  Did President Bush want crude oil to go up in price ?  Did he have any direct control over the price of crude oil ?  The answer to both questions is no, but it is safe to say that starting a war in 2003 in the Middle East and leaving it unfinished when he left office in 2009 didn’t help the price of oil go down. 

Another reader from the above-mentioned article, in regard to fixing Social Security, asks “why don’t [we] just remove the cap on taxable earnings and everybody pays into it no matter how much they make.  This is a tax on the middle class with a cap of $106,000”. 

 This is a fair question – I used to ask this question myself.  Then, I found out why there is a cap on taxable earnings: because if there was no cap on taxable earnings (and there had not been), the Social Security Administration would be mailing a check to Warren Buffett every month for approximately $100,000, resulting in an annual income of over $1.2 million from Social Security for one of the world’s richest men. 

 Huh ?  Why would that happen ?  The reasoning is simple: the amount of income subject to Social Security tax is capped because the amount you receive when you retire is capped – in 2012, the maximum benefit you could collect from Social Security is $2,513 per month, or $30,156 per year.

 Warren Buffet’s Social Security check is capped every month because his benefit is capped.  If there had been no cap at all during all of the years he worked becoming one of the world’s richest men, then he would be entitled to a payout proportionally based on what he paid in.  Granted, this is an extreme example, but it would only take a few of these $100k per month payout stories to have the people poised on the steps of the Capitol building with pitchforks and unkind words for their elected representatives.  As it is, I’m pretty sure they’re getting enough unkind words.

 Let’s keep in mind a fundamental truth about Social Security: it was never designed to be enough to live comfortably on.  When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted Social Security in 1935, he envisioned it as one leg of a three-legged (metaphorical) stool to provide an individual with income in retirement – the other two “legs” were supposed to be provided by the individual in the form of a company pension and personal savings.   So, while I’m sure there are people today who are trying to subsist on Social Security alone (and struggling to do so), we need to review the original promise made by the Federal government to its citizens, and realize that no Presidential candidate can promise or provide the other two “legs” necessary to support an individual in retirement.

 I realize that I haven’t  come up  with any questions for our Presidential candidates yet, but I have to stop  now to get ready for the debate.  Check back tomorrow night !          

(scroll down for any excuses you may have missed)




Older Excuses

How many times have you seen someone driving badly because they were talking/texting on their cell phone while they were driving ?  Are these people relaying launch codes for nuclear missiles ?  Are they surgeons talking someone through a transplant procedure ?  No, they're not !  They're probably just being self-important idiots !

Now, someone tell me what this self-important idiot was up to with her cell phone: according to the Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, a woman "was texting on her phone at the same time she tried to toss a cigarette butt over the cliff edge", when apparently she slipped off of the cliff and fell 60 feet onto the rocks below.  To make it even more exciting, she landed 10 feet from the incoming tide.

I've never been to Alaska, but it looks to be a largely pristine and naturally beautiful place - so, let's thank Texting Woman for dirtying the place up.  Then, let's try to figure out what was so urgent that Texting Woman was distracted from the pristine natural beauty - did she get the nuclear launch codes off in time to save the world ?  Was the
transplant surgery a success ? 

The answers are: 1) no, and 2) no !   Texting Woman was simply a member of The Excuse Generation - she had an Urgent Electronic Excuse for falling off the cliff !

Before I forget, thanks to the firefighters from the Bayside and Kodiak Fire Departments for rescuing Texting Woman.  Clearly, those folks don't make excuses - they get the job done.

Now, let's send Texting Woman the bill for her rescue - I'm not kidding.





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