Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the tag “unintended consequences”

Continuing human suffering in Venezuela due to government policies

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Just in case you think I’ve been too hard in my description of the devastation in Venezuela or I’ve been too blunt in laying blame for the suffering at the feet of socialism, just check out Prof. Mark Perry’s column:  Venezuelan apocalypse: Some updates on the epic failure of socialism in oil-rich Venezuela.

Keep in mind this human suffering is taking place in a country that has more proven oil reserves that Saudi Arabia.

Here are a few tidbits from the article:

5/4 – Pan Am Post – Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons at Food Runs Out – Yes, cats, dogs, and even pigeons are disappearing. As I’ve said before, it is a sign of a famine-in-progress when dogs and cats start to disappear from the streets.

5/15 – BBC News – Venezuela crisis: Maduro threatens seizure of closed factories.

I must quote the professor: Read more…

This is what the lack of freedom looks like

The cost of freedom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The cost of freedom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This freedom stuff is not just some abstract concept. The lack of economic, political, or religious freedom is ugly and painful.

If you want to see what the lack of economic and political freedom looks like, consider Venezuela today.

5/20 – Yahoo News – Venezuela, where a hamburger is officially $170 – That hamburger priced at 1,700 bolivars is US$170 at the official exchange rate. At black market exchange rates it is about a buck and a half.

Article reports that the middle class is sliding into  poverty. Keep in mind people are essentially paid at the official exchange rate.

Stores that sell anything other than food are closed. Article says nobody is buying anything other than food.

What is going on in Venezuela?

5/28 – New York Times – Venezuela Drifts Into New territory: Hunger, Blackouts and Government Shutdown – The New York Times notices the devastation afflicting the people of Venezuela.

Government offices are only open two half-days each week.

Article says protests at empty grocery stores are turning violent.

The bottler producing Coca-cola products cannot find sugar so it is halting production.

Other suffering this article doesn’t mention:

No toilet paper on the grocery store shelf and no international phone service.

The country’s largest beer producer can’t get enough foreign currency to buy hops so it has stopped making beer.

Water is rationed.

Electricity is only available sometimes and randomly at that.

Infants are dying in hospitals because of lack of medicine and respirators.

Back to the NYT article.

When water is on, people are gathering some in spare buckets for use later. The water (when available) is brownish and is making members of one quoted family sick. Many people say either lack of washing or the water itself is causing illness.

What is the cause of this suffering?

Read more…

More news on the environmental and ecological damage caused by unreliable renewables.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

FWS proposes to allow 4,200 incidental takings (that means killing them) of the above bird each year. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The bad news just keeps rolling in on how much damage is caused by wind and solar power. An update on the proposal to allow wind projects to kill off a bunch of eagles, more followup on an Ivanpah tower starting itself on fire, and negative electricity prices in Germany.

5/15 – Robert Bryce at Wall Street Journal – An Ill Wind: Open Season on Bald Eagles / Sacrificing 4,200 of the birds a year for green energy sounds fine to regulators.

Proposed rule will extend to 30 years from 5 years the amount of time that wind farm operators are allowed to kill eagles. This will allow taking out up to 4,200 bald eagles a year out of the estimated 72,400 living in the US today.

Read more…

Explanations for the collapsing Venezuelan economy that avoid the actual cause – 7

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

As the level of massive, avoidable, preventable, yet fully predictable suffering expands without end, we see two new explanations for the suffering.

5/18 – Daily Mail – No electricity, no antibiotics, no beds, no soap: A devastating look inside Venezuela’s crisis-hit hospitals where 7 babies die a day, bleeding patients lie strewn on the floor, and doctors try to operate without tools. Hospitals have minimal electricity, no soap, no antibiotics, no gloves, no x-rays.

Even The Guardian is seeing horrid problems in the socialist paradise.  Yes, The Guardian!

5/18 – The Guardian – Venezuelans on the food and economic crisis blighting their daily lives / Food shortages and soaring black market prices are making life a misery for  people across the country  – One person says that essentially every grocery store in Caracas has hundreds of people in line every day.

One woman says she has not been able to buy milk, sugar, or corn flour in about the last five months. Toilet paper, soap, and deodorant are very difficult to find as well, she said.

Article tells of supply trucks on their way to a grocery store being looted. There are 107 episodes of looting reported so far in 2016.

Article says many people are spending all their time trying to find food in the stores.

Update:  5/20 – Fortune – Coke Has Suspended All Production in Venezuela – The lack of sugar has led Coca-Cola FENSA to suspend production of all products in Venezuela. Article says this is the largest individual bottler in the world.

This follows the Polar Group, the largest beverage and food company in the country shutting down production of beer a month ago.

What caused this horrible humanitarian disaster? Here are two new explanations.

We finally know what caused all the suffering

1.It’s the fault of the political opposition

Aha! The Associated Press finally explains the cause of the economic collapse. It is the fault of the opposition political party creating a political standoff. They made this mess, not the current government.

Read more…

Venezuela continues slide into chaos – 6

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Things are bad and likely to get far worse for the people living in Venezuela. More reports of looting are appearing in news stories. Read between the lines on the comment from a mayor who says that dogs and cats are disappearing from the streets.

5/14 – Zero Hedge – Scenes From the Venezuela Apocalypse: “Countless Wounded” After 5,000 Loot Supermarket Looking for Food – Opening photo shows over 100 soldiers (by my count) holding back a huge crowd on a street.

Article reports on several specific stores being looted with comments there have been many more in the last two weeks. There is so little food and when available it is expensive. More people are slipping into severe hunger. Widespread looting is the expected next step in the collapse of the country.

The mayor of Chacao in Caracas said the cats and dogs in the city are disappearing. Pigeons as well. That is traditionally a sign of famine.

5/13 – Reuters – U.S. concern grows over possible Venezuela meltdown – officialsRead more…

Ongoing deterioration in the Venezuelan economy and increased suffering – 5

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The level of suffering is increasing and the economy continues collapsing in Venezuela.

A few articles to describe this live demonstration of the glorious success of socialism:

  • Food becoming scarcer.
  • Soldiers stealing goats so they have something to eat.
  • Hard core socialists blame the suffering on everything but socialism.
  • A better description of the cause. Also, comments that looting and rioting has started to appear.

5/2 – Business Insider – “We want out of this agony’: What it’s like to eat in a country that’s on the verge of collapse – Food is getting even more scarce in Venezuela. You have to stand in line for many hours in order to buy a few items that are on the shelf. Oh, there is little on the shelves.

Poor people are skipping meals because they can’t afford what little can be found, and what little they can afford comes with the additional price of standing in line all day.

5/4 – CNBC – How bad is it in Venezuela?  Soldiers are stealing goats – Six soldiers were arrested over the weekend by local police for stealing goats.

Why rip off goats?

Read more…

More disruption from unstable renewable energy

Unreliable energy. Notice turbines are facing many different directions as indicator of low, irregular output. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Unreliable energy near Palm Springs, CA. Notice turbines are facing many different directions as indicator of low, irregular output. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Renewable energy sources are unreliable because the output is variable and unpredictable. They also require massive subsidies to underwrite installation and production. Here are a few articles I’ve noted that describe the economic and environmental damage from unreliables.


3/26/16 – Wall Street Journal – Solar-Panel Installers Face Clouded Future / Solar-power incentives for homeowners shrinking as local utilities pressure state regulators – Let’s go through the economics again.

Residential solar power only works because of massive subsidies. Federal taxpayers must provide subsidies through federal tax credits, state taxpayers must provide subsidies through state incentives, and electricity users must provide subsidies through net-metering. If any subsidy goes away, the economics of residential solar collapse.

Article makes the point one more time: unreliable renewables only with heavy subsidies. When Nevada announced plans to cut back the massive cross-subsidy from other consumers, solar installers closed up shop in the state.

Here’s why. Look at the payment given to solar-customers for electricity their site produces but doesn’t use:

Read more…

Ongoing deterioration in the Venezuelan economy – 4

The soon-to-be condition of working light bulb in Venezuela. Photo by James Ulvog.

The soon-to-be condition of working light bulbs in Venezuela. Photo by James Ulvog.

One old joke and two new ones:

  • What did socialists use before candles? Electricity.
  • Before tree leaves? Toilet paper.
  • Before the telegraph? Telephone and email.

Was planning to hold on to this post for a while, but the bad news is piling up too fast. Need to print this while it is still of readable length.

Bonus question for the day: What economic system is in place in Venezuela that is producing these results?

4/15 – Yahoo News – In Venezuela, no toilet paper and now lousy phone service The government distributes dollars as it wishes. It has not provided enough dollars to telephone companies and cable companies for them in turn to pay their providers. As a result several international telecoms have cut off long-distance services to the country. In addition vendors providing cable channels are cutting their services because they haven’t been paid.

As a result, telephone service is deteriorating and the number of channels available on cable TV is dropping.

Read more…

Instead of reading about hyperinflation and economic collapse in history, you can watch it play out live. Tune in to Venezuela. – 1

ten trillion Zimbabwe dollars. Not the largest currency in circulation, but close.

Ten trillion Zimbabwe dollars. Not the largest currency in circulation, but close. Tragedy of hyperinflation is playing out again, this time in Venezuela.

The hyperinflation in Zimbabwe resulted in a ten trillion Zim note being worth four cents in American dollars. That would be:

  • Zim$10,000,000,000,000  =  US$.04

When that level of financial devastation happens, it is the result of government policy. Usually socialists pull it off, but German also did so before WWII.

Previous posts:


If you are so interested, you can now watch the sad story as it plays out in Venezuela.

2/3 – Wall Street Journal – Inflation-Wrought Venezuela Orders Bank Notes by the Planeload – Usually governments deal with out-of-control inflation by adding two or three zeros to the currency. Instead of the largest bill in circulation being a 100 unit note, the next run of currency is for a 10,000 unit note. In six months or a year there will be a 500,000 or 1,000,000 note in circulation.

Article says the Venezuelan government isn’t doing that because to do so would acknowledge the astronomical inflation. As the saying goes, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

Instead of acknowledging that inflation is running out of control, the government of Venezuela is flooding the economy with the same denomination note. In the last several months of 2014, the article says there were three dozen flights of 747s into the country hauling nothing but currency. Over 30 cargo holds filled with currency.

Read more…

Intentional federal policies extended Great Depression by seven years

Hunger sculpture at FRR Memorial in Washington DC. How much earlier could hunger have ended with different policies? Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

Hunger sculpture at FDR Memorial in Washington DC. A monument to the man whose policies added extra years to the Depression yet who rarely gets credit for the unnecessary suffering. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

An extra seven years.

That is the conclusion two economists published back in 2004: intentional policies from FDR added seven years of suffering for the country.

Yes, that analysis was published back in 2004. Sometimes it takes me a while to catch up on the news.

On 8/10/04 the UCLA Newsroom published FDR’s policies prolonged Depression by seven years, UCLA economists calculate.


The cause of extending the Great Depression, according to the economists, was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) which protected industries from antitrust prosecution in return for adopting collective bargaining agreements. The result was unions drove up wages beyond where the market would have set them, companies were intentionally not prosecuted for collusion, thus companies cooperated in setting prices, which in turn drove up prices to consumers. As a result consumers had much more difficulty affording stuff and therefore actually bought less stuff, which further contracted the economy.

(cross-post from my other blog, Freedom is Moral.)

Read more…

Unintended consequences – Conflict mineral edition

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The Frank-Dodd Act of 2010 requires companies to report whether there are any conflict minerals in their supply chain. This would include any gold, tin, tantalum, or tungsten originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The feel-good intention is to hurt militia groups funding their violence by selling those minerals.

The completely foreseeable yet unintended consequences are to hurt poor people, slightly inconvenience the militia warlords, and impose huge costs on American businesses. Oh, and starting next year, generate huge fees to CPAs.

Here’s a quick tour of articles to make my point. First some background:

Read more…

News from around the Bakken – 7/27

Mancamp near Ray, ND. Photo by James Ulvog

Mancamp near Ray, ND. Photo by James Ulvog

Williston city and Williams County are working to cut back mancamp housing, which will have the expected unintended consequence of putting upward pressure on housing prices. The new airport in Williston is moving forward. Biggest news is indication that newest wells aren’t seeing production deplete as rapidly as in the past. Read more…

What “we” have been doing to reduce poverty for the last fifty years doesn’t seem to have done much good.

If you want to know why I’ve been reading a lot on developmental economics in the last few years, check out these amazingly depressing statistics –

Poverty in the United States:

  • 14.7% – portion of Americans living below the official poverty in 1966, right after our “war on poverty” started
  • 14.5% – portion of Americans living below the poverty level in 2013

Poverty around the world:

  • 2.6 billion – number of people living on less than two dollars a day in 1981
  • 2.2 billion – number of people living below that level in 2011

Read more…

More on the immorality of ethanol

I have a backlog of energy articles. That allows me to group comments together. Today’s focus: the morality of ethanol assessed based on the damage it causes.

12/17/14 – CBS Minnesota – U of M Study Finds Ethanol Worse for Air Quality Than Gasoline – When measured at the tailpipe, ethanol-laden gasoline measures about the same as regular gasoline. Study from the University of Minnesota says that when you count all of the inputs to grow corn and turn it into ethanol it is far worse for the environment than plain gasoline.

The point?

Read more…

Reusable shopping bags are so dangerous they require a warning label

Got a free reusable shopping bag today from the pharmacy where I shop.

Scan your card to get a handful of coupons and they give you a free reusable bag.

I have described the dangers of reusable bags previously.

This bag came with a warning label. It said: Read more…

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