July 31, 2017

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (073117)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.



  1. Looks like we have recovered to 2006 levels of gasoline consumption:


    However, 4 week average diesel fuel or distillate has definitely not recovered:


    Why? Is this a result of shifting from brick and mortar retail stores to internet orders and deliveries? Anecdotally, this would seem the case.

    Are internet based businesses on the whole more energy efficient than the traditional retail model? This is a major disruption economically. I guess on the upside this reduces the need for oil imports meaning more money is recycled domestically. On the downside, the reduction of retail jobs replaced by fewer warehouse “fulfillment center” jobs, which are highly susceptible to automation.

    Which brings us to the big issue, will small business formation pick up to the pre-Great Recession levels of 2006 to sop up all the low hanging fruit of low and semi-skilled employables?

    This trend kills the case for H1B and H2B visas, one hopes the politicians in Washington will see the writing on the wall here and start planning for significant reductions needed for the work force. But then politicians are dumb as a box of rocks, Paul Ryan chief among them.

    Comment by dscott — July 31, 2017 @ 7:47 am

  2. Great points. I’d say you’re right about Amazon’s use of USPS and especially gas-oriented UPS replacing a lot of deliveries done by diesel-driven trucks.

    Small biz formation is another matter. Not at all convinced that people growing small businesses are more inclined to hire people instead of contracting out or just standing pat. IIRC, the new Labor Secretary isn’t nearly as good as the guy from Hardee’s/Carl’s would have been. I believe the NLRB is still Obama-stacked, and the IRS will probably go after the employer/contractor distinction really hard now that its harassment of Tea Party/conservative groups has been curbed.

    Comment by Tom — July 31, 2017 @ 8:09 am

  3. Russia has decreed a reduction in US diplomatic staff by 755 people.

    The good news is the State Department’s payroll will “hopefully” decrease by something close to that number. I suspect the diplomatic corps bureaucrats have long padded the payroll to the benefit of their class. Or at least redeploy these people to some more useful function in other countries that long needed an adjustment due to reality. Bureaucracies seldom change unless forced to do so.

    Comment by dscott — July 31, 2017 @ 9:05 am

  4. New Report Exposes Thousands of Illegal Votes from 2016 Election


    …The Institute compared the lists using an “extremely conservative matching approach that sought only to identify two votes cast in the same legal name.” It found that 8,471 votes in 2016 were “highly likely” duplicates.

    Extrapolating this to all 50 states would likely produce, with “high-confidence,” around 45,000 duplicate votes…

    …The Institute also found more than 15,000 voters registered at prohibited addresses “such as post office boxes, UPS stores, federal post offices, and public buildings.” In some cases, more than 100 voters “were registered to the same UPS store locations.”

    They also found voters whose registered addresses were “gas stations, vacant lots, abandoned mill buildings, basketball courts, parks, warehouses, and office buildings.”

    The Institute tried to bring some of these problems to the attention of Rhode Island election officials as part of their test case. They provided officials with a list of 225 voters who “were registered using prohibited addresses.”

    But Rhode Island refused to do anything about the problem beyond sending a letter to the voters. If a voter did not respond, the state refused to take any further action…

    …The Government Accountability Institute points out that the quality of the voter registration data in some states is very poor, with missing and obviously incorrect information. The Institute found 45,880 votes cast by individuals whose dates of birth were more than 115 years before the election.

    Several hundred votes were cast by individuals whose registration birthdates “indicated they were under 18 years old at the time of the election,” although some of these were through provisional ballots…

    So from a mere computer list matching technique we have at least 91,000 fraudulent votes discovered by people with zero law enforcement resources. Imagine what would happen if the appropriate law enforcement agencies got serious about finding and prosecuting???

    Which brings us to States like Rhode Island. It is obvious that State officials are involved in a scheme of padding the voter rolls with straw voters. No competent or concerned State Official would stonewall, sit on their hands over this finding. This response should draw the immediate attention of the DOJ to criminal misconduct of State Elections employees. Will they open a probe into Rhode Island elections fraud??? Time will tell.

    Whether or not there are millions of fraudulent votes as claimed by Trump, it is irrelevant unless the DOJ and FBI investigate and prosecute. We know from Rhode Island’s misfeasance in acting on known fraud, the mindset may indeed be covering up millions. That is a direct threat to “representation” and as such is a national security issue. IF a corrupt political party can purchase votes, then a foreign power could do exactly the same as their Dollars are just as green given the corrupt practices of State Officials and that is the real issue of voter integrity.

    Comment by dscott — July 31, 2017 @ 9:44 am

  5. The ethanol scam is a price fixing scheme used by big business to limit competition and reap profits:

    Biofuel justifications are illusory


    …Ethanol sales also involve the complexities – and sometimes fraudulent practices – of buying and selling Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs: certificates and credits for ethanol. Large integrated oil companies blend more gasoline than they refine, so they collect more RINs than they need, allowing them to hoard RINs and drive up the prices they charge to independent refiners that must buy these RINs to comply with the law. Large retail businesses like Cumberland Farms, Sheetz, Wawa and Walmart blend fuel and collect RINs, but have no RFS obligation; they use RINs as subsidies and their large volumes to command lower prices from refiners, and thereby gain an unfair advantage over small gas station owners.

    The net result is that small mom-and-pop gas stations are squeezed hard and often driven out of business. Small refiners, and those on the East Coast that don’t have large wholesale and retail businesses are forced to buy pricey RINs from integrated oil company competitors, which puts those smaller outfits at a disadvantage and threatens their ability to stay in business. That means steel and refinery jobs and employee benefits are at risk. All told, the RFS presents a lot of problems for illusory benefits…

    Well, we know what the FTC, SEC, DOJ and FBI weren’t up to for the last 8 years. Obama officials clearly turned a blind eye like they did in so many other instances to criminal behavior.

    Comment by dscott — July 31, 2017 @ 10:39 am

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