The Pilgrims: Communists! (But not for long.)

It’s one of the ironies of American history that when the Pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth rock they promptly set about creating a communist society.  Of course, they were soon starving to death.

Among Bradford’s many insights it’s amazing that he saw so clearly how collectivism failed not only as an economic system but that even among godly men “it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them.” And it shocks me to my core when he writes that to make the collectivist system work would have required “great tyranny and oppression.” Can you imagine how much pain the twentieth century could have avoided if Bradford’s insights been more widely recognized?

via Thanksgiving Lessons — Marginal Revolution.

The Disastrous Failure of Corn-Based Ethanol

In the United States, almost all ethanol is made from corn. This means that the sugars in the corn must be fermented, distilled, and dehydrated in order to produce ethanol fuel (ethyl alcohol).

A major downside of producing corn ethanol is the amount of energy required: Ethanol made from corn returns only 25% more energy than is consumed to make it. …

Basic chemistry dictates that gallon for gallon, burning ethanol produces only 2/3 as much energy as burning gasoline. …

This means that the efficiency of E15, measured in miles per gallon, can never exceed 95% of the efficiency of regular gasoline. In actuality, it tends to be far lower. …

Ethanol releases 19% more carbon dioxide than gasoline. For those who believe that human-produced carbon dioxide plays a role in global climate change, this is not a good statistic.

… Given the 21 pounds of corn required to produce one gallon of ethanol, that’s almost 2500 gallons of water used, not including water in the distillation stage. So when filling their gas tanks, most Americans now indirectly consume over 2500 gallons of water. …

A careful look into the ethanol question in the US leaves one wondering why this trillion dollar industry even exists. Is it attributable to Crony Capitalism?

“Is it attributable to corny capitalism?” Yes. Thanks, Al Gore. Via Blighted harvest: The American corn ethanol disaster | Washington Times Communities.

60% Say “Cut Everything”

An overwhelming majority not seen in 39 years wants every federal government program to have its budget cut. Every single one of them. No exceptions. Just cut the spending already.

The Rasmussen Poll asked: “Should spending cuts be considered in every federal government program?”

60% said yes.

Let me put that in perspective. Ronald Reagan received only 58.8% of the vote in 1984 when he carried 49 states.

I say 10% across the board, including Defense, Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security. And a *real* cut, not a reduction-in-increase: if you got $1000 this year, you get $900 next year. (Unfortunately, revenues probably would have to stay as they are, at least until we convert to the Fair Tax. Via 60%: Cut everything « Don Surber.

Russian “Wet Work” Better Than US “Targeted Drone Attacks”

It is the mark of a more competent intelligence service.  To infiltrate an enemy safe area and kill a man with a pistol — or in a manner that looks like an accident — is the mark of a highly competent clandestine service.  How many members of the Haqqani network could we kill this way, if we wanted to do it?  Could we walk a man into their compound, pop them, and walk him out again before the body was found?  Arrange an accident?  Refuse to comment on the operation to the press?  Keep the documents from leaking?

Call it a bit of professional acknowledgement, if not strictly appreciation. Via BLACKFIVE: Wet Work is Better.

Fraudulent Science? Never; We’re Scientists!

A well-known psychologist in the Netherlands whose work has been published widely in professional journals falsified data and made up entire experiments, an investigating committee has found. Experts say the case exposes deep flaws in the way science is done in a field, psychology, that has only recently earned a fragile respectability.

Via Noted Dutch Psychologist, Stapel, Accused of Research Fraud – NYTimes.com.

College has been oversold

Educated people have higher wages and lower unemployment rates than the less educated so why are college students at Occupy Wall Street protests around the country demanding forgiveness for crushing student debt? The sluggish economy is tough on everyone but the students are also learning a hard lesson, going to college is not enough. You also have to study the right subjects. And American students are not studying the fields with the greatest economic potential.

Emphasis mine. Via College has been oversold — Marginal Revolution.