More: Is STEM — the last bastion of academic integrity — now in the crosshairs?

October 13, 2022

Old school science prof fired when students protest his “too hard” course.
In a prior post, we reported on a letter signed by over 500 top scientists ringing an alarm bell re: the current direction in math & science education.

In a nutshell, their concerns:

  • Dumbed down courses to accommodate less well prepared and less ambitious students
  • Opposition to “right” answers and established protocols
  • Grade inflation across the grading range
  • Resistance to enforce minimum “passing” standards

Here’s a case on point…

New York University recently fired a professor after students complained that his class was too hard.

The instructor, 84-year-old Maitland Jones Jr., is a legend in his field who literally wrote the book on organic chemistry.

In a petition to the university, the students complained that Jones did not provide opportunities for extra credit and gave out grades in his orgo class that were “not an accurate reflection of the time and effort” that they had put into it.

Let’s unpack that …

> The prof is too “old school” and by implication, just too old to be teaching woke age students

> Grades should consider “time & effort” expended, not just on  subject mastery.

> “Extra credit”  should be allowed when the fundamental course material is not adequately mastered

> “Alternative performance indicators and constraints” should be considered in the grading process (think: “social promotions”)

The bottom line: It’s yourfault, not mine.


So, how did NYU respond to the student’s petition?

NYU granted the students “the opportunity to retroactively withdraw from the class and thus spare their transcripts from the smear of a low (or failing) grade” …  and fired the legendary prof.


Who’s right — the students or the prof?

A bit surprising (to me), based on a quick Goggle-scan of media reports, the popular support leans for the students.

For example, see NY Magazine: “The Whiny Grade-Grubbing NYU Students Have a Point

The essence of the pro-student argument…

> Prof. Jones is, in fact, too damn old.

“It’s not exactly hard to believe that an 84-year-old might not be the most engaging and accessible instructor for students who were born in 2004.” Source

> The pandemic handicapped students’ prior learning and eroded their study skills.

“The pandemic undermined the quality of an entire cohort’s education, and thus, of its academic development.

Ideally, students would be held back to repeat the year that they effectively lost to substandard schooling.

But of course, at universities that charge more than the U.S. median income for a year of instruction, this is not typically viable.” Source

> The performance measurement system is too rigid — too focused on right answers and outdated protocols.

“The story is illustrative of the burgeoning consumer-centric model of the university.

The students’ suggestion that grades should accurately reflect “the time and effort” put into the class, irrespective of whether that time and effort translated into subject mastery, does seem to support the entitlement of a consumer.” Source

> Organic Chemistry is too difficult, too reliant on  memorization skills and largely irrelevant — even for doctors.

“The substance of the organic-chemistry curriculum does not come up all that much in medical training or practice.

So, the subject should not be a precondition for medical training in the United States.” Source


Suffice it too say, it’s probably good that I retired when I did…

Is STEM — the last bastion of academic integrity — now in the crosshairs?

October 11, 2022

Scientists: “Alarmed over recent trends in math education”

It’s oft reported that the U.S. is 25th (or lower) in the world in math & science … and things aren’t getting any better.

Case in point: Previously, we posted study results indicating that K-8 students’ standardized math scores have fallen by about 10% since the pre-pandemic levels.

That’s ringing alarm bells for scientists and mathematicians.

So says a letter boasting about 500 signatories, including:

Four winners of the Fields Medal in math; two winners of the Turing Award in computing; a Nobel laureate in physics and another in chemistry; 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences; and faculty at Stanford, Berkeley, CalTech, MIT and every top U.S. university for hard science.

As the WSJ opines: “When mathematicians, physicists and engineers speak up to defend the integrity of their fields, Americans should pay attention.”


The scientists buy-in to making math more inclusive (i.e. more “welcoming” to women and black / brown minorities) and more relevant (e.g. injecting practicality and social meaning).

My take: Their issues seem to revolve around:

> “Slow rolling” … the elimination of “tracking” in favor of one-size-fits-all courses that get watered down for the general student population (think: common denominator)

> Performance measurements …  the elimination or diminution of standardized testing … intended to reduce students’ anxiety and potential loss of esteem … at the expense of clear metrics re: achievement and progress, individually and collectively.

> Subjectivity …  minimizing “right” answers … in favor of ones that are “directionally correct” or simply “nice tries”

> Grade inflation … a logical extension when standardized testing and right answers are non grata … “A” grades are tossed around like penny candies …. failing grades become practically extinct.

Weighing in, in absentia, is Albert Einstein:

“One reason why mathematics enjoys special esteem, above all other sciences, is that its laws are absolutely certain and indisputable, while those of other sciences are to some extent debatable and in constant danger of being overthrown by newly discovered facts.”

> Methodology … ditching road-tested protocols and procedural documentation in favor of “many ways to skin a cat” and informal or mental “scratch-padding”.

Again, quoting Einstein:

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of expressed logical ideas.”

> Diminished “higher math” … delaying algebra until high school … and squeezing calculus offerings in high school … reducing students’ preparedness for college and making colleges responsible for skills’ remediation.


The signatories largely dodged the remix of education emphasis away from hard sciences and math towards social and political discourse.

Einstein would be disappointed on that count:

Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever. Albert Einstein

But, the signatories’ did issue a strong warning:

“The erosion of math and science education is threatening America’s prosperity and survival in a competitive world.

Those disciplines are centuries old and arguably even more critical for today’s grand challenges than in the Sputnik era.”


AAA: Gas prices up almost 3.5% in a month …

October 7, 2022

That’s a whopping 50% annualized inflation rate!

AAA reports gas prices every day.

Today’s report pegs a gallon of regular at $3.81 per gallon.

That’s up 3.45% from a month ago … which equates to a 50% annual compound rate.

For reference, today’s price is up 3.73% from a year ago … and up 52% since Biden was inaugurated.

Biden’s answer: squash the U.S. energy producers, cozy up to the Saudi, Iranian and Venezuelan dictators.

Might work…  since “nobody (effs) with a Biden”


A picture is worth a thousand words…

October 6, 2022

During his trip to Florida, Biden yielded the Presidential podium DeSantis…


If only…

Have you been catching more colds this year?

October 5, 2022

Your immune system probably got weaker during covid-induced isolation …. but not to worry.

In a couple of recent friend & family chats, it became evident that more folks are catching more colds more often.

One hypothesis is that the cold-wave is a result of immune systems that weakened during 2 years of covid-confinements.

Might be … but not to worry.

Just follow the late George Carlin’s advice for building (or re-building) a strong immune system.

His prescription for building a strong immune system to battle germ attacks is a bit contrary to current conventional wisdom and CDC guidance.


WARNING: Adult content – profanity-laced, politically-incorrect, totally insensitive to the current COVID situation and likely to offend practically everyone.  Do not play in earshot of children, co-workers or sensitive adults. Hit delete now if you self-classify in that latter group.

In other word, this is classic George Carlin.

click to view (if you dare <= you’ve been warned!)

Are Dems hoping that Ian will be DeSantis’ Katrina?

September 30, 2022

You bet they are … but, so far, DeSantis is rising to the occasion.

Hurricane Ian has been devastating … and the recovery will be a Herculean, multiyear challenge.

That said, I’ve been impressed with the planning and preparations that Florida had put in place (e.g. reportedly 30,000 electrical linemen from 31 states).

So far, Gov. DeSantis has demonstrated strong leadership … his press conferences have been informative and appropriately tempered between “this is catastrophic” and “keep the faith”.

Since the initial recovery actions appear to be on track, Biden, of course, has been awakened to grab a share the spotlight.

But, Joe will be Joe.

For the couple of days before the hurricane hit, Biden wasn’t taking calls from Florida area codes.

When the press started asking why, he connected with DeSantis and signed some EOs to release some recovery money from the Federal coffers.

Then came Biden’s performance at FEMA…

After reading well-scripted remarks from his trusty teleprompter, Biden just couldn’t help himself and started lashing out at oil companies and gas station owners … laying the groundwork for pinning any gas price hikes between now and the election on them.

When asked about his relationship with DeSantis, Biden just called the question irrelevant.

And in a recurring Biden senior moment, he closed by wandering off the stage in the wrong direction.

Note in minute-clip below how the FEMA Administrator tried to shepherd him … but he scampered out of her reach.

And, note how the FEMA Administrator and DHS Director Alejandro Mayorkas chuckle (behind the wanderer’s back)

click to viewimage

Please, Lord, make it Biden versus DeSantis in 2024.

Polling: Focus on Likely voters, “top boxes” and Independents.

September 26, 2022

They are the best predictors…

I’m a fan of the Trafalgar Group’s polls.

Admittedly, Trafalgar leans right, but I like that:

> They screen for “likely voters’ … not the less predictable “registered voters” who may lack voting “enthusiasm”.

> They provide “top box data” … that is, data isolating highly predictive “strong” feelings

Why this is significant?

Many market researchers argue for the ”top box effect”.

That is, they think that the answers given by respondents who feel “strongly” on a question — one way or the other — have higher predictive value than the answers from respondents who may lean in a direction but don’t have particularly strong feelings.

The difference between the scores from respondents who are “strongly favorable’ and those who are “strongly unfavorable” is sometimes referred to as the “net promoter index”.

For more detail, see the HBR classic: The One Number that You Need to Grow.

> They separate responses by party affiliation … providing a way to check the “mix” of Dems, GOPs and Independents … and allows a focused look at independents who are “swing voters” and are less likely to cast party-lemming votes.


OK, so what do Trafalgar’s most recent polls say?

First, let’s dissect Biden’s overall approval numbers:

  • Overall, Biden’s total approval is 15.5 percentage points underwater … 54.8% disapprove to 39.3% approve
  • Only 54% of Biden’s total approvers feel strongly that he is doing a good job, but 92% of his disapprovers are strong disapprovers.
  • So, Biden’s “top box” favorability measure, is underwater by 29.1 percentage points … 50.2% unfavorable to 21.1% favorable



It gets more interesting when we drill down by party identification:

  • Less than half of Democrats (43.7%) strongly approve of the job that Biden is doing (Row 1, Column a)
  • 80% of Republicans disapprove strongly of the job that Biden is doing (Row 6, Column c)
  • Perhaps most important, a majority of Independents (52%) disapprove strongly of the job that Biden is doing (Row 6, Column b) … putting Biden 35.7% underwater on strong approval (Row 10, Column b)


Draw your own conclusions re: election implications.


While we’re at it …

Trafalgar has the GOP up by 5.7 percentage points on the “generic Congressional ballot” (47.2% to 42.2%).

For comparison, the left-leaning WaPo-ABC poll concludes:

In the midterm election ahead, registered voters divide 47-46 percent between the Republican and the Democratic candidate (on the generic Congressional ballot).

A likely voter model has a 51-46 percent Republican-Democratic split (5 percentage point).

So, both a left-leaning and a right-leaning poll agree that — when the metric is likely voters — the GOP lead on the generic Congressional ballot is about 5 points. 

Again, draw your own conclusions re: election implications.

Why aren’t more people upset about Biden’s college loan giveaway?

September 22, 2022

Simple answer: Majority of Americans aren’t getting stuck with the bill.

There are lots of principled reasons for opposing Biden’s student loan giveaway.

Most notably, the Executive Order is unconstitutional (especially now that Biden has publicly declared that the pandemic is over) … the plan is unfair to people who didn’t attend college, who worked to pay their way through college or paid off their loans as previously required … and income tax payers have to pick up the trillion dollar tab.

So why does it appear that the program will actually be enacted?

Why isn’t there more of an uproar?

Well, for openers, about 23 million potential voters benefit from Biden’s largesse and may demonstrate their thanks at the polls in November.

But, 23 million is a relatively small number of beneficiaries.

A bigger number is 100 million.

That’s the number of people who haven’t paid any income taxes in the past couple of years.

According to a Tax Policy Center analysis of IRS data, in 2021, only 43% of Americans paid any Federal income taxes.

Conversely, a majority — 57% — paid no Federal income taxes.

Tax Policy Center

So, except for fairness principles — why should the 57% get worked up over a tax payer funded program?

They won’t be paying the bill…

It’s somebody else’s problem.

It’s as simple as that!

WSJ: Closed captions are cool now…

September 20, 2022

Just ask anyone under 40.

A year or two ago, I was watching a movie with my teenaged granddaughter.

She turned on “closed captions” to “hear” the dialogue more clearly.

Holy cow …  I didn’t know you could do that.

And, I assumed that only some of us seniors had trouble understanding TV dialogue.

Now, as the WSJ puts it:

Closed captions—which display text in the same language as the original audio—have been crucial for a long time for many people with hearing loss.

They’re now a must-have for plenty of people without hearing loss, too, helping them better understand the audio or allowing them to multitask.

More specifically:

In a May survey of about 1,200 Americans:

70% of adult Gen Z respondents (ages 18 to 25) and 53% of millennials (26 to 41) said they watch content with text most of the time.

That’s compared with slightly more than a third of older respondents Source

Among the reasons “legitimizing” captions (beyond hearing loss) are:

  • Separate dialogue from background noise and music
  • “Decipher” accents or muttered dialogue.
  • Avoid disturbing others (at home or at work)
  • “Enjoy” discrepancies between the captions and the voiced dialogue
  • Facilitate multi-tasking (e.g. carrying on a conversation while watching a show)

Bottom line: Captions can add to a viewing experience whether you’re young or old … and are now “de-stigmatized” for aging hearing loss deniers”.

Right on!

Inflation: The micro view…

September 16, 2022

Topline: Overall CPI up 8.3% …  there’s devil in the details … and a couple of bright spots.

Here are some of the essentials that we all face day-to-day:

> Food at home is up 13.5%food at employee sites is up 23.7% <= another arrow in the quiver of employees who want to keep working from home

> Gasoline may be down about a buck from the mid-summer peak price ($5 per gallon) … but they’re still up $1.66 (68%) from Biden’s inauguration day ($2.42) and up 26% from a year ago. Source

> Electricity is up almost 15% from a year ago … as we head to the winter heating season.

> Housing is up 6% from a year ago. This is a component worth watching as appreciated values get reelected in lease renewal rental rates.

> New vehicles (cars & trucks) are up 10.1%used cars are up 7.8% … motor vehicle repair costs are up over 10% … and, oh yeah, the average EV now costs over $60,000

> Vet services (and pet food) are up over 10%




On the bright (err, “not so dreary”) side:

> Heathcare inflation has been relatively tame (up about 5%) … with “physician service” prices essentially flat year to year.



And, a few more not-so-bad inflation trends that are underappreciated:

> Underwear, alcoholic beverages and cable TV are only up about 3% year to year.


Bottom line: if you want to mitigate inflationary pressures, the formula is obvious:  watch more cable TV, in your underwear, while slammin’ your favorite adult beverage.

If that doesn’t work, find some solace knowing eventually the inflationary pain will (pardon the pun) die away;

>Funeral services are only going up 2.6%.



Inflation: The macro view…

September 15, 2022

Bottom line: Sorry, Joe, it’s not zero!

Here’s the big picture:



Diving into the numbers:

> When Biden was inaugurated, the CPI was 262.2 … in August, it was 295.6 … that’s a 12.7% increase over Biden’s 20 month term … on an annualized basis, that’s a 7.22% APR

> In comparison: When Trump was inaugurated, the CPI was 243.6 … when he left office in Jan. 2021, it was 262.2 … that’s a 7.6% increase over Trump’s 4 year term … on an annualized basis, that’s a 1.85% APR

> Cutting the numbers a different way: From Trump’s inauguration to Aug. 2022, the CPI increased 21.3% … 1/3 of the increase occurred during Trump’s run (at 1.85% APR , which the Fed targets for the U.S. long term rate) … and 2/3s of the increase has hit during Biden’s reign (at a 7.22% APR)



Think about this:

> If inflation had continued at Trump’s APR 1.85% APR), the CPI would be about 270 today … we’d be seeing prices about 10% lower than they are today.


Ask yourself a variant of Ronald Reagan’s “cut to the chase” question:

Are your pantry, wallet, IRA, 401K, 529s better off today than they were 20 months ago?

Reality bites!

September 14, 2022

This may be the picture that memorializes the Biden presidency.



If only CNN had also included an insert that read “Inflation 8.3%


P.S. Note the network: CNN … which switched away from Biden’s “Malarkey Moment” soon after the split-screen aired.

Ouch: Georgetown rates near the bottom on free speech…

September 13, 2022

Ranked #200 among 203 universities rated.

Each year, FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education publishes a “comprehensive comparison of the student experience of free speech on their campuses.”

Schools are evaluated along 7 measures of “the free speech climate on the schools’ campus”:

  • Openness to discussing challenging topics on campus;
  • Tolerance for allowing controversial Liberal speakers on campus;
  • Tolerance for allowing controversial Conservative speakers on campus;
  • Administrative Support, which is students’ perception about whether their college protects or punishes free speech;
  • Comfort Expressing Ideas, which measures whether students have ever withheld their ideas due to how the expression would be received;
  • Protest Acceptability, which is how accepting students are of controversial protest activity on campus;
  • Speech Code Policies, scores colleges’ written policies and how well they uphold fundamental principles of free speech and academic freedom.

These 7 measures are combined into an overall score and schools are ranked.


The 2022 Results

First, the best of the best:


  • My b-school alma mater, the University of Chicago — which is hardly considered a conservative enclave — bagged the top ranking for freedom speech.
  • Four of the Top 5 are midwestern schools … the 5th (MSU) is southern.


At the other end of the spectrum:

My beloved Georgetown ranked #200 on the list. “out-worsed” only by Columbia (“abysmal”), Penn and RPI.


GU’s ranking is disappointing but understandable given the university’s close ties (physically, philosophically, financially) to the liberal DC political establishment.

As one survey respondent put it:

“A lot of people at Georgetown are very liberal and outright shame you if you deviate from there views even slightly. I am a registered Democrat so I am liberal, but people can’t even respect the smallest viewpoint variation.”

Factoid: FIRE estimates (based on students’ self-classification) that GU’s ratio of liberal to conservative students is 3.3 to 1.



Top & Bottom 25



Which football conference’s schools rank highest on freedom of speech?

FIRE offers a complete interactive list of the freedom of speech rankings.

For fun, click on the “Conference” filter to see which conference gets the best freedom of speech rankings.

Spoiler Alert: It’s not the Ivy League

Is grade inflation hitting babies & toddlers, too?

September 12, 2022

CDC has revised the developmental milestone checklist for children … uh-oh.

Yep, the CDC is at work again.

Now, their guidance takes form in the CDC’s Revised developmental milestone checklist which alerts parents (and doctors) to warning signs of children’s developmental delays.

Sounds innocuous enough, right?

But, according to Parent’s magazine, “experts are raising the alarm that the new changes may cause more harm than good.”


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “The revised developmental milestones are written in family-friendly language and identify the behaviors that 75% or more of children can be expected to exhibit at a certain age based on data, developmental resources and clinician experience.”

Family-friendly language sounds like a good thing, right?

What’s the rub?

The 75% threshold.

The old standard flagged kids who were in the 50th percentile and below.

Said differently kids in the bottom half used to be flagged for “clinical evaluation” to determine whether they were really behind on their development or just appeared to be.

The old (tougher) standard made sense because “The earlier a child is identified with a developmental delay the better, as treatment as well as learning interventions can begin”. AAP

But, apparently, that standard was causing parents too much stress.

Too many kids were flagged as behind in their development.

The answer: relax the standards … i.e. grade inflation.

For example, under the old standard, the CDC said that  a 24-month-old should say an average of 50 words.

But, the revised guidelines say parents shouldn’t expect a toddler to have a 50 word vocabulary until they are 30 months old.

Many parents can sigh relief.

Little Tommy’s not slow, after all.

Well parents, Little Tommy hasn’t changed, fols … just the bar has been lowered.

Little Tommy may not be getting the sort of clinical help that he might need.


Half of all bachelor’s degrees are in 5 fields…

September 9, 2022

Which ones may surprise you…

According to the Education Data Initiative ….

More precisely, 50.8% of all bachelor’s degrees are in 5 fields.

  • 19.1% in business
  • 11.9% in health professions
  • 8.0% in social sciences and history.
  • 5.9% in psychology.
  • 5.9% in biological and biomedical sciences.


I was surprised by the number of business and health-related degrees.

Note that of the STEM disciplines, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics don’t make the top 5

Geez, if there has to be an unconstitutional loan forgiveness program, why isn’t it at least targeted at those critical STEM studies?


Government tries to clamp down on record grade inflation…

September 8, 2022

Don’t rejoice (or worry), it’s the UK gov’t, not our’s

As in the U.S., grade inflation has swept the UK … with a huge spike during the pandemic when much schooling was done “virtually”.

In the UK, for about a decade preceding the pandemic, about 27% of the grades that high schoolers got were As. Source

That percentage spiked to 45% in 2020.


The commonly cited reasons:

  • Online performance tough to differentiate
  • Just showing up online earned bonus points
  • Cheating commonplace on online exams
  • Students needed motivation to stay engaged

As we previously posted, studies are revealing that standardized test scores are falling as letter grades are inflating.

See: Is grade inflation masking learning losses?

Well, the UK Education Ministry has noticed the trend and is taking decisive action to deflate the grades.

“Grade boundaries are being reset to the middle of where they were in 2021 and 2019 as part of a planned two-year process to get back to pre-pandemic grade levels.”

Already, in 2020, the percentage of As dropped to 37% (the black bar above) … down 8 percentage points from the pandemic high … but still 10 percentage points higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Students are reportedly having a “tough time” with the course correction.

As could be expected, they feel entitled to keep getting scored along the lax pandemic standards.

College admissions offices are having a fit, trying to figure out what to make of the grading shifts.

Nonetheless, the UK Education Ministry intends to stay the course … and get back to 2019 inflated grade levels.

No word from U.S. educators…

My bet, we won’t be hearing from them.

This isn’t a message that parents, teacher unions or the Feds want to hear.

Is grade inflation masking learning losses?

September 7, 2022

In short, the answer is yes!

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a sidelines story of a mother who was concerned that her daughter “is dumber now than she was 2 years ago”.

That mother’s comment piqued my already high curiosity about learning loss during the covid school lockdowns.

On cue, the ACT standardized testing service released findings from a reasonably comprehensive study of grades and standardized test scores.

Let’s drill down….


A remarkable increase in “A” students

ACT found that in 2021, about 55% of high school students had a composite GPA (i.e. average across all “book” subjects) that was equivalent to an A grade (the blue line below; Bs are the purple line).

That’s up about 10 percentage points over the past couple of years.

Hooray, the kids are getting smarter.


Err, not so fast mes amies….


But standardized test scores have fallen

On the below chart, the blue line tracks the average GPA … it’s consistent with the letter grade mix change shown above.

But, these higher grades don’t seem to be translating to improved standardized test scores.

Standardized ACT test scores (the purple line)have been pretty constant over the past 10 years …. but, have marginally declined in the most recent years.


Note: The “real” ACT trend is probably worse than shown because of “sample bias”.

During the pandemic (and continuing to today) many colleges have waived the requirement that applicants submit standardized test scores.

It’s commonly concluded that many “average” students opted out of test-taking, understandably concluding that they had little to gain with a mediocre (or worse) test score.

So, what’s going on?


Education pundits offer many explanations

There’s a wide array of  oft-cited possible explanations for the “discontinuity” between grades and test scores.

Here are some of my favorites:

> Assigning grades was challenging (for teachers) when classes were delivered online … so, a common sentiment was to give students the benefit of the doubt and “round up” to keep them engaged

> Course content was less rigorous (i.e. “dumbed down) to fit online delivery … so, more students were able to master the pared back content that was delivered.

> Submitted school work might not strictly reflect individual effort since students may have been getting “help” from well-intended parents who were, out of necessity, getting more involved in their children’s education.

> Fewer students are taking advanced courses … and getting higher grades in the less challenging course offerings.


> Curriculum changes — away from reading, writing and arithmetic towards social topics — have made grading less quantifiably objective and more generously subjective.


And, of course, there’s the possibility that school’s are “rounding up” to inflated grades to assuage parents concerns that, in the mother’s words, “children are getting dumber”.

As more standardized test scores come rolling in, that will become clearer.

My bet: We’re not going to like the answer…

Update: If the earth is warming, why isn’t Baltimore?

September 6, 2022

I hate to impair a popular narrative with actual data, but…

Like much of the U.S., the Baltimore area (where I live) was enduring an apparent heatwave this summer.

It was hot enough that, even I, momentarily thought: “Maybe the earth really is warming.”

Then, I got my monthly electricity bill from BGE (Baltimore Gas & Electric).

Besides usage info, BGE reports the average monthly temperature, for the current and prior years (the red boxes)


As Gomer Pyle would say, “surprise, Surprise, SURPRISE”.

The average August temperature this year (including the apparent heat wave) was 76 degrees … down 3 degrees from last year’s 79 degrees.

A fluke?

Note: According to BGE, my HVAC-driven usage was down 25% from last year.

Since we’ve kept our thermostat settings the same year-to-year, that’s consistent with a colder average temperature.


To dig deeper, I pulled some more historical data from my BGE file…

Below are the average monthly temperatures in Baltimore (as reported by BGE) for January to August in years 2020, 2021 and 2022



What does the data show?

  • Again, this year (Aug. 2022) was 3 degrees colder than Aug, 2021 and Aug. 2020
  • More broadly, comparing year-to-year temperature by month, all 2022 monthly temperatures were equal to or colder than  2020 temperatures
  • Compared to 2021,  only one month —  February 2022 — was hotter than the 2021 temperature (40 degrees to 36 degrees) … all other months in 2022 were colder than their comparable months in 2021.
  • The 2022 8-month average (January to August) was 2 degrees colder in July 2022 than it was in July 2021 …. and 3 degrees colder than it was in July 2020



My take

  • It’s conceivable that BGE’s data collection is wrong … or that Baltimore is a complete outlier that’s not representative of the rest of the earth …. but, I doubt either is true.
  • The data probably doesn’t indicate that the earth is cooling … but, it sure as heck doesn’t support a global warming narrative.

Somebody’s gotta explain to me:

  • if the data shows that my average   local temperatures have dropped almost  3 degrees from 2 years ago — why should I believe (with “settled science certainty”) that the earth will be a degree or two hotter 50 or a hundred years from now if I keep driving my SUV.

This circle doesn’t square…

If a tree falls in the woods…

September 2, 2022

So, who watched Biden’s speech?

I was anxious last night as the clocked ticked towards 8 o’clock.

I was amped to watch the Penn State – Purdue football game and afraid that it’s first quarter would be pre-empted by by Biden’s “Prime Time” rant.

To my delight, when the clock stuck 8, FOX (the national network, not Fox News) was broadcasting the kick-off.

That aroused my curiosity.

Presidential prime time speeches are always broadcast on the major TV networks, right?

So, I quickly scanned the other networks.

Shocker: None of ABC, NBC, CBS were broadcasting the speech either.

So, I checked the cable news networks.

Only Dem-reliable CNN and MSNBC were carrying the speech.



BTW: Biden’s speech was in Pennsylvania, right?

So, why would Team Biden counter-program against a Penn State football game?

Double hmmm.

Shocker: National test scores plummet…

September 2, 2022

“The test scores indicate a learning deficit that could resonate for years” WSJ

This week, the National Assessment of Educational Progress released the  “Nation’s Report Card.”

The results of tests administered to 4th graders show unprecedented drops in test scores.

4th grade is considered by many educators to be a pivotal year for students learning.

4th grade test scores, in effect, measure a student’s preparedness for “upper” elementary school and beyond.


Specifically, average scores in reading for 2022 declined to 215 out of a possible 500, falling five points from 2020.

Math scores fell seven points, to 234.


Math and reading scores for the exam are now at their lowest levels since 2000.


Drilling down in math

The drop-off in math scores was most severe for Hispanics and Blacks.

Data source: WaPo

Asian-American students are still the educational gold standard … scoring higher than other groups by statistically significant margins.

Data source: WaPo


Drilling down in reading

Only Asian-American students scored at a level comparable to 2020

Reading scores for all other groups dropped by 2 to 3 percentage points.

Data source: WaPo

As in math, Asian-American students set the high bar … scoring higher than other groups by statistically significant margins.

Data source: WaPo


Education pundits opine: The test scores indicate
a learning deficit that could resonate for years.

Among their recovery recommendations:

  • Refocus curriculum on math & reading
  • Shrink class sizes
  • Provide more one-on-one tutoring
  • More homework
  • Extend the school year with mandatory summer school

Dwindling college enrollments…

September 1, 2022

Some interesting data from the Education Data Initiative and Statista

College enrollments

> Undergraduate enrollment (the middle black line in the chart below) almost tripled from 1970 to 2010 … from 6.3 million to 18.1 million.

> But, from 2010 to 2020, UG enrollment has declined by 2.2 million to 15.9 million … a 12% fall off.

> Graduate school enrollments tripled between 1970 and 2015 … and have been flat around 3 million since 2015

Source: Education Data Initiative


Degrees granted

In 2021, 4.43 million college students graduated

  • 24.6% received associate degrees.
  • 49.9% received bachelor degrees.
  • 20.8% earned master degrees.
  • 4.7% earned doctorates or professional degrees.

Source: Education Data Initiative


Age group penetration

The share of the 18 & 19 year old  population enrolled in college or other higher education (e.g. community colleges & trade schools):

> In the mid-1970s, about 1 in 3 of 18 & 19 year olds  were enrolled in higher education.

> That percentage peaked at 51.2% in 2010 (consistent with the above enrollment numbers) …. and has flattened at about 50%

> In 2000, The enrollment % among 18 & 19 year olds started falling below the enrollment % of 20 & 21 year olds, foreshadowing a future decline in the enrollment % among the older age group.

Source: Statista



Forget the $10,000, it’s Biden’s repayment plan that’s the killer.

August 31, 2022

Great analysis by William Gsldton  in today’s WSJ

Galston writes:

A largely neglected dimension of Mr. Biden’s order changes to the program allowing borrowers to repay their loans as a percentage of their discretionary income over a fixed period (“income-directed repayment,” or IDR).

That provision might prove even more consequential (than the $10,000 loan forgiveness).

The president has:

  • Increased the amount of annual earnings not counted as discretionary income by about $30,000
  • Reduced monthly payments from 10% to 5% of what does count as discretionary income
  • For borrowers with original loan balances of $12,000 or less, Biden has reduced the repayment period from 20 years to 10
  • For borrowers whose payments are too small to cover interest as well as principal, the unpaid interest will no longer be added to the loan balance.
  • At the end of the 10 years, the loan balance is written off.


The results will be dramatic.

The average starting salary for students with two years of community college is less than $35,000.

That means that loan payments will be based on only $5,000 of discretionary earnings.

So, the monthly payment is less than $25, including interest.


So what?

“Through the back door, the president will come close to fulfilling his promise to make the first two years of community college free, and almost all borrowers in this category will be debt-free after 10 years.”

That may be a good thing, but…

The repayment plan applies to all students (current and future) with Federal loans,

Accordingly, the Penn-Wharton model suggests that this feature of the president’s program could cost as much as $450 billion over the next decade.

That’s more than the estimated cost of the $10,000 loan forgiveness … and raises the total cost of Biden’s program to a trillion dollars.

All with the stroke of a pen…



Flashing back, Galston noted that his 1963 annual tuition at Cornell was $1,700 … and that students attending Ohio State were grousing about paying $375 annually.

Update: Taxing Biden’s election year loan forgiveness gambit…

August 30, 2022

When Biden’s plan was announced I calculated:

An average student loan holder will see their monthly student loan payment go down a whopping $55 … adding about 2 bucks-a-day to their disposable income … about a Starbucks frappe every week.

Enough to matter?

You decide.

For details see: Dumb and dumber looks even dumber when you dig into the details

I also asked a question that I hadn’t heard or read anywhere: What about the income tax implications?

You see, according to the IRS:

IF you have cancellation of debt income because your debt is canceled, forgiven, or discharged for less than the amount you must pay, the amount of the canceled debt is taxable and you must report the canceled debt on your tax return for the year the cancellation occurs.

So, at a 15% income tax rate (the lowest bracket), a Biden loan forgiveness recipient might be getting a $1,500 tax liability … for the 2022 tax year.


A couple of loyal readers reminded me that:

Last year, the American Rescue Plan precluded any federal taxation of student-loan cancellation through 2025.


But, I was on the right track.

A WSJ op-ed advises that state lawmakers can tax the windfall.

New York, for one, is choosing to tax student-loan forgiveness. All in all, it appears 13 states are primed to follow NY’s lead on taxing debt relief.

  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

The author points out that the above states “could mitigate some of Biden’s unfair stimulus by using the revenue (from taxing the forgiven loans) to give one-time tax rebates to residents who didn’t attend college or paid off their student loans.”

Not a full loaf, but better than nothing ….

Disney goes Angels & Demons… to boost revenues & profits

August 29, 2022

Disney says; “Annual passholders are amongst our most special guests”, but…

Let’s flashback: About 20 years ago, Larry Selden & Geoffrey Colvin wrote a best-selling business book titled:

Angel Customers and Demon Customers: Discover Which is Which and Turbo-Charge Your Stock


In a nutshell, the authors argued that:

One of the oldest myths in business is that every customer is a valuable customer.

Many businesses don’t realize that some of their customers are deeply unprofitable, and that simply doing business with them is costing them money.

It’s typical that the top 20 percent of customers are generating almost all of a company’s profit while the bottom 20 percent are actually destroying (stock) value.

Their prescription: Manage businesses as a customer portfolio.

  1. Determine which customers are profitable (angels) and which are not (demons)
  2. Cater to the most profitable customers — new & old — who buy more and pay more.
  3. For the low profit customers, raise your prices — from free to something … and from something to something higher.
  4. If customers are unprofitable after repricing, fire them

Sound reasonable doesn’t it?

Some companies (e.g. Best Buy) bought in to the concept.

See: Best Buy Decides Not All Are Welcome

How did that work out for Best Buy?

Well, just glance at the below chart showing Best Buy’s stock price.

Yeah, I know that correlation isn’t necessarily causation and that other things were going on (e.g. a financial crisis and a deterioration of BB’s in-store service.  Nonetheless, I think the relationship is both likely and instructive.



OK,now let’s fast forward to today…


What’s Disney’s new magic formula?

According to the WSJ: “Wringing every last dollar out of each visitor.”

Said more elegantly, “in a major strategic shift, the company is focused less on maximizing the quantity of visitors and more on increasing how much money each visitor spends, an approach the company refers to as yield management.”

First, Disney has raised prices pretty much across the board for park tickets & merchandise), and eliminated or started charging for other services (e.g. parking for some annual passholders) and features that used to be free (e.g. the Magic Bus from the airport).

Second, Disney is, in essence, branding its customers Angels or Demons.

Who are the Demons?

Annual pass holders (think: local residents).


Annual passholders tend to spend less than other visitors per visit.

A typical annual pass holder might ride only one ride during a visit, eat an ice cream cone and walk around for a few hours.

They take up capacity that might otherwise be used by out-of-state visitors (the Angels) who stay all day, eat multiple times in the restaurants, stayin the Disney hotels, and buy more merchandise.

Among the actions that Disney has taken:

  • Stopped selling new annual passes
  • Raised renewal prices for current annual pass holders
  • Blacked out more days when annual passholders aren’t welcome

Annual passholders are some of the Disney’s most loyal and ardent fans, and many are not happy.

Disney’s CEO shrugs off the tension caused by rising prices and other changes, especially for annual passholders as “the inevitable result of progress” and notes that “demand has not abated.”


My take:

Disney execs may have read the 2003 book but, apparently, didn’t do more recent research on Angel & Demon zealots (e.g. Best Buy).

I’m all for raising prices when you can but, in my days as a marketer, I never found hacking off your brand loyalists to be an effective strategy.

I think Disney is forgetting that annua; passholders are the brand’s most effective marketing vehicles … proselytizing Disney virtues to friends and family … often inviting them to go to the park with them (at full price, of course).

When the loyalists go silent (or negative), short term results may spike, but are likely to turn around as quickly as Best Buy’s did.

WaPo: “Biden’s student loan plan is a regressive, expensive mistake”

August 26, 2022

OMG: For once, I agree with the Washington Post

The reliably left-lurching Washington Post scorched Biden’s vote-grabbing student loan scheme in an editorial and op-ed.

Editorial   Op-ed

Here are the highlights from the WaPo pieces with interspersed observations from an opinion piece in the left-leaning Daily Beast


What crisis?

In court pleadings regarding Title 42 immigration policies, The Biden Administration declared the COVID pandemic to be over.

The Biden Administration has claimed that “inflation is zero” and that this is the healthiest U.S. economy ever.

In fact, the unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees and higher is just 2%.

So, it’s hard to make the case that college graduates are still facing an unprecedented (financial) crisis.


Is it fair?

Widely canceling student loan debt is regressive.

It takes money from the broader tax base, mostly made up of workers who did not go to college, to subsidize the education debt of people with (supposedly) valuable degrees.

It benefits a relatively small, affluent group of voters.

A minority of Americans have college degrees, they are higher earning and less-often unemployed than their fellow countrymen.

It takes the willingly acquired debt of some and makes it a liability of those who did not take it on … while offering nothing in mortgage relief, car loan relief, credit-card debt relief, or small-business loan relief.

It makes suckers of everyone who recently paid off their college loans or decided not to acquire them in the first place.


At what cost?

Secretary of Education Cordona told CNN that he didn’t know because: “The projections are still coming out.”

But based on think tank estimates, this Executive Action will cost the federal government somewhere between $400 billion and $600 billion, completely unpaid for.

These policies would nullify $305 billion of (dubious) deficit reduction from the Inflation Reduction Act.

According to  Jason Furman, formerly the top economic adviser to President Barack Obama:

“It will pour roughly half [a] trillion dollars of gasoline on the inflationary fire that is already burning,”


Is the Executive Order legal?

It’s doubtful that the 1965 Higher Education Act grants the president the legal authority to take such a sweeping step.

And, as cited above, the Biden Administration itself has already pleaded in Title 42 court arguments that COVID is over.

So, it’s tenuous that the administration can claim that the Administration’s argument that the loan forgiveness is a “pandemic emergency”.


What’s the bottom line?

According to the Washington Post:

“Mr. Biden’s student loan decision will not do enough to help the most vulnerable Americans. It will, however, provide a windfall for those who don’t need it (i.e. the wealthiest Americans and price-gouging universities) — with American taxpayers footing the bill.”


Price gouging universities?

The WSJ cuts to the chase in Biden Bails Out the Price Gougers:

Of course Mr. Biden’s illegal plan to make taxpayers cover student-loan debts will in many cases shower benefits on borrowers who don’t need help.

But the biggest bailout is for the academic wokesters who get paid handsomely to supply products and services for which there is little or no market demand.

Take away the massive system of federal subsidies and there will always be students eager to pay for electrical engineering degrees from Georgia Tech—and private lenders happy to finance an education that is likely to generate earnings power for the borrower. The earnings power comes from the fact that the engineer can make stuff that people want and need.

What cannot exist without government intervention are expensive degrees in ideology and grievance and debt-fueled accumulations of nonmarketable skills.

As we’ve said before: dumb and dumber may have reached the inevitable: dumbest.

Even the Washington Post and the Daily Beast agree!


P.S. It’s worth reading all of the above linked articles in their entirety

Econ 101: Biden’s Election Year Student Loan Forgiveness

August 24, 2022

Dumb and dumber looks even dumber when you dig into the details

We’ll skip over the moral and legal points that have been widely reported (and summarily dismissed by Team Biden) … and go straight to the economics.

First, the macro look, as reported by left-leaning Wharton economists:

President Biden’s election-year plan to cancel student loan debt would cost the Treasury at least $329 billion and would mostly benefit wealthier taxpayers, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study showed that a majority of the relief would go to borrowers in the top 60% of earners.

Simplifying the argument, over $300 billion of student debt (held by about 40% of the U.S. population) would be transferred to the national debt which is owned by 100% of the population.

Economists call this a concentrated benefit and diffused cost.

That means that 60% of the population gets put on the hook for a debt that they didn’t sign up for.



Now, for the even more interesting micro look

My hunch: Many (most?) of the student loan holders probably envision that they’ll be getting another Biden-check in the mail … this one for $10,000.

Of course, that’s not the case.

Their loan balance will simply be transferred to the national debt.

So, what’s the pocketbook impact for the loan holders being bought off?

Let’s start with some defining parameters

  • The average outstanding student loan is about $40,000  Source
  • The average borrower takes 20 years to repay their student loan debt. Source
  • The most commonly used federal student loans have an interest rate close to 3% Source

OK, let’s plug those numbers into a basic P&I calculator (e.g. Excel’s PMT function).


The bottom line: An average student loan holder will see their monthly student loan payment go down a whopping $55 … adding about 2 bucks-a-day to their disposable income … about a Starbucks frappe every week.

My hunch: Recipients of Biden’s election year juice will be a bit disappointed …


And, here’s something that I haven’t heard or read anywhere: What about the income tax implications?

According to the IRS:

IF you have cancellation of debt income because your debt is canceled, forgiven, or discharged for less than the amount you must pay, the amount of the canceled debt is taxable and you must report the canceled debt on your tax return for the year the cancellation occurs.

So, at a 15% income tax rate (the lowest bracket), a Biden loan forgiveness recipient might be getting a $1,500 tax liability … for the 2022 tax year.


To recap:

  • The national debt will go up over $300 billion … wiping out the claimed debt reduction in the recent climate control bill (err, I meant “Inflation Reduction Act”)
  • A average student loan owner will pocket about $2 per day from reduced loan payments.
  • Those who get loan forgiveness may be subject to higher income taxes this year!
  • Everybody who paid off their student loans (like me) … or who worked — rather than borrowing — to pay for college (e.g. my wife) … or didn’t go to college (like about 1/2 the country) are stuck shouldering Biden’s largesse.

It’s called Bidenomics.

About Joe’s “Zero Inflation”…

August 24, 2022

Have you glanced at your electrical bill recently?

During Trump’s time in office, electricity prices were flat.

Not so under Biden’s …

In the past year alone, electricity prices have gone up 15.7%

In stats-speak, that’s a number statistically different from zero.

Source: FRED and HFS analysis

Close coal-fueled electricity plants, stiff arm nuclear and that’s bound to happen. … especially with price of natural gas — the main electricity fuel — sky-rocketing.



And, let’s not forget about gas prices!

Shocker: Public trust in the FBI nosedives…

August 18, 2022

… and that’s before the Trump raid.

Gallup periodically asks Americans to assess how some federal agencies and departments are doing.

Specifically, respondents are asked whether a gov’t agency is doing an excellent, good, fair or poor job.

Across the board, agency ratings dropped between 2019 and 2021 (the latest Gallup survey) … with the CDC taking the biggest hit … down 29 percentage points … with only 40% thinking that the CDC was doing an excellent or good job.



In general, Dems rate agencies higher than Republicans …  Independents report declining agency performance ratings



On the headline point: “public trust” in the FBI fell 13 percentage points from 2019 to 2021 … with a minority (44%) thinking that the FBI was doing an excellent or good job.

  • 2 out of 3 Dems think that the FBI is doing a good job
  • 1 out of 4 GOPs think that the FBI is doing a good job
  • A minority of Independents think that the FBI is doing a good job

Source: Gallup, visualized by Statista

Again, these results are before the FBI’s raid on Trump’s Mar-a Lago residence.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the 2023 Gallup ratings for the FBI are going to be even lower … with Dems continuing to shout attaboys, the GOPs pointing to (highly) selective prosecutions (Trump – yes, Hilary – no, Hunter & Joe – no) … and Independents’ ratings continuing to slide.


P.S. Also note the IRS’s low job ratings … about 1 out of 3 Americans think that the IRS is doing an excellent or good job.

The logical Biden move: Add 87,000 IRS agents to double the size of the department.


Has the FBI raid backfired politically?

August 16, 2022

Interesting poll results from the right-leaning (and often “right” as in “correct”) Trafalgar Group.

They surveyed over 1,000 people after the FBI raid.

There were 2 central questions asked…


#1 Who do you believe is behind the FBI raid on President Trump’s private home?

  • Overall, there was an even split between “Trump’s political enemies” and “the fair judicial system”
  • A majority of Independents said that Trump’s political enemies were behind the raid.
  • Hispanics had, by far, the highest percentage of respondents who thought the raid was politically motivated.

One hypothesis for the last finding is that many (most?) Hispanics have roots to countries where similar political reprisals are common.



#2 Does the FBI raid on President Trump increase your motivation to vote in the 2022 election?

  • Overall, 70% of the people said that they were more motivated to vote (in the mid-terms) than they were before the raid.
  • Predictably, a sky high number of Republicans (83.3%) said they were more motivated than before.
  • Over 70% of Independents said they were more motivated to vote.
  • Hispanics had the highest percentage of respondents who were more likely to vote than before the raid.



A couple takeaways:

First, the FBI raid has generally increased motivation to vote … particularly, it appears to have stoked the fire under the GOP base.

Second, the raid seems to have accelerated a Hispanic shift towards the GOP.

Probably not the result that Team Biden was expecting.


Mission Accomplished: Joe says “Zero inflation in July”…

August 15, 2022

My wife (and I) disrespectfully disagree!

Last week, Biden declared victory over inflation and headed off to Kiawah Island for some vacation (away from the hustle & bustle of Rehoboth Beach).

His inflation claim is based on the overall CPI being unchanged from June to July.

That’s true … but, shall we say, both premature and misleading.

First, it ignores the fact that the  “all items” price level is up 8.5% year-over-year … and 12.5% since Biden took office.

And, while gas prices fell in July, they’re still up 44% versus year ago.

Most telling, and most aggravating to my wife (& me), is what’s happening at the grocery store.

The “food at home” price index is up 13.1% versus last year … its June to July change was 1.4% … which annualizes to over 18%.

Biden’s focus on a 1 month change is statistically silly, but let’s play his numbers game and look at the grocery staples that most people buy (chart below).

Let’s look at some June to July price changes (when Biden says there was no inflation)

  • Potatoes went up 4.6% in July …  71.5% APR
  • Eggs (which have increased 38% since last year) went up 4.3% in July …  65.7% APR
  • Bread went up 2.8% in July …  39.3% APR
  • Baby Food went up 2.1% in July …  28.3% APR
  • Breakfast Cereal went up 2.0% in July …  26.8% APR

You get the picture…

Source: FRED CPI

OK, that’s Biden’s way of looking at the numbers.

Let’s re-sort the chart by year-over-year price increases (which are statistically more representative.

A couple of “staple” examples.

  • Eggs are up 38% vs 2021 … and the trend is bad (based on the June to July increase)
  • Bread & potatoes have increased about 13.5% year-over-year … and their June to July increases were high.



Sorry, Joe, this “inflation thing isn’t under control quite yet.

These items hit most families and the pain is both conspicuous and constant…


P.S. Meats (total) are “only” up 7.2% since last year … and their annualized rate based on the June to July numbers is “only“ 5.9%.

So, you can’t pin it on “Big Meat” ….

Standardized tests “confirm the legitimacy of high GPAs”…

August 11, 2022

So says a pre-law prof at at “working class” university”.

I’ve always been a fan of standardized testing, so a recent WSJ op-ed caught my eye.

The author was reacting to reports that “the American Bar Association, which accredits law schools, is considering a proposal to abandon its requirement that applicants take a “valid and reliable admissions test.”

His summary conclusion: bad idea.

For context, he points out that:

The Law School Admissions Council, which designs and administers the LSAT, has demonstrated through extensive research that “the LSAT is the single best predictor of law school success.”

That’s good, he argues because:

Objective measures of ability give working-class students a shot at going to a top law school.


By leveling the playing fields between undergraduates attending “working class schools” and those fortunate enough to attend “good schools” (i.e. selective private universities) whose “brand identity” and its “halo effect” boosts applicants’ standing in the admissions process.

He argues that a “valid and reliable admissions test” allows working class students to demonstrate that they are as bright and capable of doing well in law school as students from privileged backgrounds.

In effect, the standardize tests confirm the legitimacy of GPAs … potentially boosting the standing of qualified applicants from lesser ranked schools … while filtering out lesser qualified applicants who accrue “face credibility” simply by attending brand name schools … or, schools that have succumbed to the grade inflation virus.

So, the author opines that the standardized tests can help law schools construct more qualified and more diverse student bodies.


My take

While the article was focused on the LSAT and law schools, I think that its conclusions apply more generally.

It’s commonly agreed that grade inflation has been rampant in high schools and colleges … and that the trend accelerated during the pandemic.

Studies are consistently showing that teachers were tossing around high grades like penny candies during the pandemic … in part because of the challenge evaluating students in a remote learning environment … and, in part, to claim legitimacy for remote teaching.

The ranks of honor roll and straight-A students swelled during the pandemic.

Standardized testing is a way to determine whether the higher grades better performance and more learning …  or simply grade inflation.

If grades are going up, but standardized test scores are going down, that’s a red flag.

WaPo: $369 billion won’t do much to control the climate.

August 9, 2022

… or curb inflation, for that matter.

The Dems massive Inflation Reduction & Climate Control Bill is getting backlash … even from the left!

Let’s start with the Inflation Reduction malarkey.

More than 200 economists wrote a letter to Senator Schumer detailing how this bill will not reduce inflation, nor reduce the deficit.” Source

“Several nonpartisan experts believe it’ll have no noticeable downward pressure on prices — including the Congressional Budget Office (“negligible at best”), the Bipartisan Policy Center (“small impacts one way or the other”), and the Penn Wharton Budget Model (“statistically indistinguishable from zero”).” Source

And, my favorite:


Even Mark Zandi — Moody’s Analytics chief economist and Biden’s go-to flack — says that the bill will have near-zero impact on inflation.

Why? Corporations will pass through tax increases to consumers, oil prices will stay high (or increase) and drug price controls won’t kick in until “mid decade””.


And, about climate control…

Specifically, the electric car incentives that are headlined to shave $7,500 off a high-priced EV.

In WaPo’s own words:

“An entire supply chain of rare minerals, semiconductors, batteries and financing has to fall into place before Americans give up their combustion engines.”

Here’s the big rub…

“American consumers can only claim the full $7,500 credit for an all-electric engine if their manufacturers displace Chinese batteries by 2024 and minerals from China or other countries lacking free-trade agreements — a threshold that automakers are warning could be impossible to meet.” Source

For the record:

60–80 % of EV batteries’ mineral ingredients are controlled by China which currently produces 76 % of the world’s lithium-ion batteries, while the U.S. produces only 8 %.

Despite ambitious plans to scale up, the U.S. and Europe together will likely account for only about a quarter of total global production of EV component minerals by 2030. Source

English translation: Expect to pay full price if you want to impress your friends with a climate-cooling EV.


So, I guess we’ll have to count on windmills circling Nantucket and dotting the Jersey coastline.

When that happens, I’ll start taking the climate-controllers seriously…

Set your phone’s passcode … right now!

August 5, 2022

Tips from my “hacked” experience

In a prior post, I recounted how I got hacked …

A perp hijacked my cell phone numbe,  used it to breach my BofA bank account and withdrew a statistically significant amount of money.

For details of the sophisticated hack, see:
I was HACKED … and my story is worth reading!


The first lesson that I learned (again) is that cell phones are the weakest link in online security.

Step #1 is to secure your phone with — at a minimum – a passcode.

Yeah, it’s an annoying inconvenience, but…

It’s not just to keep kids from grabbing your phone to play games … or keep peering friends & family from sneaking a peek at your texts and emails.

If you lose your phone (or have it stolen), it buys you some time to call your carrier and de-activate your number.

An amateur may get stymied trying to guess which of the 10,000 possible 4-digit numeric codes you use on your phone … a hack-pro can eventually crack the code, but it takes time & effort, so it buys some time … and the perp may just toss the phone and hunt for a non-passcode phone.

Of course, if your phone is equipped with fingerprint or facial recognition, consider using it.

It adds to the inconvenience, but it ups your phone security by orders of magnitude.


Why is this important?

If perps can open your phone, they can see where you have accounts.

For example, they can scan text message alerts that you’ve received from your banks and credit card companies.

Bingo, they know where you keep your money.

Then, they can go to the banks’ web sites and simply click “Forgot user ID & password “.

The bank will likely recognize the device (remember, the perps have your phone) … and, if you’ve activated 2-factor authorization, the bank may unwittingly send the 2FA code to your phone … which the perp is holding in his hand.

BINGO … account breached … and the perp is off to the races.


P.S. My phone wasn’t lost or stolen.  It and my number) were hijacked when my carrier “sold” a perp a new iPhone, charging my account and over-riding my activation with the fraud purchased phone.

My bet: A likely “inside job”.

You (and I, now) are way more likely to lose our phones (or get them stolen) than getting them hijacked … which is why passcode protecting them is important.

Again, doing so may cut off some easy paths to your accounts … and may at least buy you some time to contain possible financial damage.

P.P.S. If you have any anti-hacking ideas, please post a comment or email me.

I was HACKED … and my story is worth reading!

August 3, 2022

Strong passwords and two-factor-authorization gave me a false sense of security … lessons learned!

Cutting to the chase: a perp breached my B of A account and withdrew a statistically significant amount of money.

Here’s the story as I’ve been able to piece it together…

Somebody (in Ft Worth TX) “bought” a new phone on my Verizon account and activated it to “highjack” my cell phone number.

It’s not clear to me how he did it.

It appears that he bought the phone in a Verizon store (though some Verizon reps say it was an online purchase).

My questions…

If a store purchase, why didn’t somebody check his photo ID and notice that the account has a Maryland address … not a Texas address?

If an online purchase, he might have illicitly got his hands on my ID and password, but how did he get by the “challenge question”?


My theory of the case:

The perp downloaded the Bank of America app to the highjacked phone, signed on to B of A and clicked the “forgot ID & password” button.  B of A sent my 2FA code to the hijacked phone … which allowed the perp to access my B of A account … changing the password and processing transactions

My B of A “connection log” does show transactions via the B of A app … which I have never even downloaded,.

B of A did send me email alerts about “User ID lookup” and “Password changed” … but I didn’t notice them until about an hour after-the-fact … and, it took me another hour to finally get through to B of A’s fraud department.

In the 2 “open season” hours, the perp made 2 withdrawals from my B of A account. — an online funds transfer and a branch bank cash withdrawal

Again, all of this is happening in Fort Worth TX … it’s not clear to me why the branch didn’t check a photo ID and take notice of the account’s Maryland address

Once I connected with the fraud department, they froze my account and started the process of reversing the fraudulent transactions.

I’m confident that B of A will make me whole.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

Since my account is now frozen (for 6 months, deposits ok but no outflows), I had to open a new account.

That sounds simple enough, but …

Opening a new account means:

  • Changing the delivery instructions for all of my direct deposits (e.g. Social Security and retirement “checks”)
  • Restoring my list of “Bill Pay” accounts
  • Changing instructions for a couple of recurring direct debit charges (e,g, medical insurance)

That all sounds easy enough, but trust me, it’s a frustrating and time-consuming process …. and I’m sure some things will fall through the cracks.

The bad news: Getting to the “right” customer service reps is a challenge.

Many are “above my pay grade” or “not my department” people … some speak with practically unintelligible accents … some sound like they’re using fast-food drive-thru speaker technology to communicate

The good news: While it took many calls to get to them, several of the Customer Service reps were fantastic.

They obviously knew what they were doing …they spoke clearly … they were patient with “dumb” questions … they knew how to “work” their company’s systems … and they “got it done”


My biggest takeaway

Our IT director at Georgetown frequently reminded me that cell phones are the weakest security link … and strongly advised not using them for online transactions.

I don’t use my phone for online transactions … and I never dreamt of my phone number being hijacked … and, I didn’t even consider the implications (e.g. 2FA codes going to the hijacked phone number).


Some action items

Some things that I’m doing:

  1. Tightening security on my cell phone account
  2. Changing (and strengthening) all financial account passwords.
  3. Activating 2FA for all accounts (after being sure that #1 is done)
  4. Updating accounts’ contact information (especially fraud dept. phone numbers) for all financial accounts.

Trust me, #4 is easier to do before, not during, a hack when nerves are frayed.

It looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck so …

July 29, 2022

In Biden-speak: It must be an eagle

Of course, we’re talking about the “R” word – Recession.

In a prior post, we “followed the data” to observe that:

The past 10 times the U.S. economy experienced two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, the NBER subsequently confirmed (holistically after-the fact)  that  a recession had occurred.

For details, see: When is a 2-quarter GDP drop not a recession?

Well, as expected, GDP fell for the second consecutive quarter and Team Biden — dismissing the data — stuck to its “reimagination” of a recession … claiming that the 2-quarter drop does not indicate that we’re in a recession.

Here’s what’s interesting …

Biden’s crack team of economists (Yellen, Deese, Bernstein) and media flacks (CNN, AP, Politico)  are on record proclaiming exactly the opposite … that a 2-quarter drop in GDP is RECESSION.

Want some evidence?

Team Tucker did a deep dive into their digital archives,

Here’s a 5-minute then & now montage that nails Team Biden’s hypocrisy… well worth viewing.

click to view (5 min.)

So much for following the data…

Marketing 101: The dogs have to eat the dogfood…

July 28, 2022

Some interesting data on EVs from Consumer Reports

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports surveyed over 8,000 people on the subject of EVs.

The question that drew most of the headlines asked about “purchase intent”.

Which statement below BEST describes your thoughts on buying or leasing an electric-only vehicle if you were to buy or lease a vehicle today?

The answer:

  • 14% said that they would definitely get an EV;
  • 22% would consider getting one;
  • 35% would consider “in the future, not today”;
  • 28% wouldn’t even consider getting one.


Of course, you can look at the glass as half-full or half-empty…

  • Looking only at the “top box”, 14% are hot-to-trot right now
  • Combining the top 2 categories, 36% would definitely get an EV … or at least seriously consider getting one (Note: This was CR’s headlined conclusion)
  • Combining the top 3 categories, 72% are open to the idea of getting an EV some day … i.e. they are “definite maybes”

On the flipside, looking only at the “bottom box”, 28% say that they wouldn’t even consider getting an EV, not now or in the future.

28% translates to about 65 million gas-fueled vehicles currently on the road.

I that a big number (i.e. a show stopper) or a small number (i.e. a “so what?”)?

Draw your own conclusion …


That was CR’s headline question.

What  I found more interesting was a question about EV ownership, now or ever.

The general finding: 95% have never owned or leased an EV.

No news there, since EVs are just getting started in the market.



Let’s dig a little deeper on the other 5%…

The total sample was pretty big — just over 8,000 people.

So, 400 people in the sample currently or previously owned an EV.

Of the 400, 160 currently own an EC.

That leaves 240 who previously owned an EV, but don’t currently own one.

What’s up with that?

That’s 60% of the 400 who apparently “tried” an EV but went back to a gas guzzler.


In my prior life as a marketer, I would have gotten pretty concerned if the majority of customers who “tried” my product didn’t repurchase it … or worse, chucked it after buying it.

In marketing parlance it’s called “buyer’s remorse”.

In plain English, it’s a sign that the dogs aren’t eating the dog food.

Think about it.


Tech Talk

P.S. Yeah, I know that 400 is a small sample and that EVs are continually improving, so today’s (and tomorrow’s) EVs are better than yesterday’s.

I still think it’s a red flag.

While on the subject …

“Purchase intent” surveys tend to be biased high.

If people aren’t really shelling out any buckos, they’re more likely to say that they’ll buy something … especially if the price of the product isn’t included in the question.

So, the purchase intent results reported above are very likely overstated.

When is a 2-quarter GDP drop not a recession?

July 26, 2022

Team Biden’s PR stunt reimagining what a recession is, in Biden-speak, pure malarkey.

Team Biden’s crack team of political-economists is apparently trying to front-run this weeks GDP release by moving the goal posts.

Not by a couple of feet … or to the stadium parking lot … but to another stadium.

They’re saying “A recession is not fairly defined by a 2-quarter drop in GDP.  It needs to be evaluated holistically, after all related data is available and analyzed. And, that takes time. Maybe a year or so after the GDP decline.”

That’s partially true.

The NBER — the “official” recession sanctioning body — does consider multiple factors (i.e. more than simply a 2-quarter drop in GDP)  when declaring that a recession has occurred.

But, here’s an acid test question that cuts to the crux of the matter:

Out of the past 10 times the U.S. economy has experienced two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, how many times was a recession officially declared (holistically after-the fact) by the NBER?

Answer: All 10 times !

Source: AEI 

Said differently, post-WWII – a 2-quarter drop in GDP has been a perfect indicator of a recession.

In that time period, the NBER has always “holistically” confirmed  a recession after a 2-quarter drop in GDP

Nonetheless, Team Biden would advise:

Don’t generalize from your personal experience …and certainly don’t rely on the data … trust us Team Biden economists when we say that everything is fine & dandy.

These guys have no conscience.


P.S. The pundit consensus seems to be that Team Biden’s front-running “reimagination” is an attempt to defuse the impact of of a bad GDP number.

Obviously, they already know what the “top secret” number is.

Wouldn’t surprise me if the reported number is an infinitesimal increase in GDP.

That would give Biden a chance to boldly proclaim: “See, I told you that we’re not in a recession. The economy is strong.”

Naw, they’re not that smart…


Marketing 101: “Reasonable reach”

July 25, 2022

It’s only possible to incentivize buyers to buy something that they can reasonably afford.

Last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke a Climate Control truth out loud:


Recognizing the uh-oh of his comment, he tried to soften it by saying:  “We could have no pain at all by making EVs cheaper for everyone.” Source

Wrong, Mayor Pete.

Making an EV cheaper?

Right now, for example, Ford’s base model Lightning F-150 pickup costs $39,974, a mere $10,000 more than its gas-powered version. Source

Of course, government can make that $10,000 go away with the stroke of a pen.


Simple: subsidies to car buyers and manufacturers.

But, Mayor Pete, there are two pieces to the puzzle … the $10,000 price differential is one problem … the $39,974 (or, $29,974 after possible government subsidies) is a bigger one given that


You see, Mayor Pete, about half the country doesn’t have the scratch to buy more than a week’s food and gas.

A shiny new car isn’t on their radar, whether it’s $39,974 or $29,974 … or $65,000 for crowd-swooning Tesla.


It’s out of their “reasonable reach”.

And, by the way, the “reach” is getting more difficult these days …

As the headline teased:

Last November, 32% of Americans said they were ill-equipped to cover a $400 emergency expense.

But this year, that number has risen to 49%, according to a YouGov survey for the Economic Security Project conducted online in May .

It’s clear that more Americans are having trouble covering unplanned expenses than in the past.

It’s easy to see why fewer Americans have cash reserves in the bank now compared to last November.

Living costs have been soaring over the past six months due to inflation, and wages aren’t rising at a steady enough pace to keep up.

That’s forced many people to dip into their savings rather than reserve that money for other purposes. Source

Simply put: An EV isn’t within the reasonable reach for most Americans … and the reach is getting longer as savings erode and inflation shreds buying power.

Or, as the original Grandma Homa used to say more colorfully:

“If you don’t have a pot to piss in, don’t go shopping for Cadillacs.”


P.S. to Mayor Pete

According to the WSJ:

Most nonrich consumers will likely opt for gasoline-powered cars for decades to come. 

So, the auto industry is gambling on big electric vehicles – loaded with exciting, high-tech gadgets – aimed at the rich.

For example, Nissan is giving up its pioneering electric Leaf in favor of a big electric SUV aimed at affluent shoppers. 

Ford is placing bets on the Mustang Mach-E; GM on the Hummer EV, 

Some $526 billion is currently being invested to create dozens of mostly high-end electric vehicles aimed at the 17% of buyers who constitute the luxury market.

Regulators everywhere are structuring their electric-vehicle industries based on subsidies from less-affluent people who continue to buy gas-powered cars.


Part 3: Putting the “E” in EVs

July 20, 2022

How much electricity is currently generated? How is it generated? So what?

In Parts 1 & Part 2, we concluded:

    • The U.S. currently consumes about 4 trillion kWh of electricity per year
    • About 1.5 trillion kWh (about 40% of the total) is consumed in residential use … about 1/2 of that is used by HVAC & hot water heaters
    • A scant amount of electricity is currently being consumed for “transportation” … and, practically all of that is used by public transit systems.
    • If all vehicles currently on the road were to be replaced by EVs, recharging their batteries would consume an additional 1 trillion kWh of electricity.

All of which raises a couple of  central questions: Does the U.S. have the electricity generation capacity to service a full national fleet of EVs?

Short answer: no.

So, where will the additional electricity come from?

Today, we’ll set the context by looking at our current supply of electricity…


According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)….

Total U.S. electricity generation in 2021 was about 4.12 trillion kWh.

There are four fuel “sources” for electricity generation: natural gas (38%), coal (22%), renewables (20%) and nuclear (19%).

in the past 10 years, total electricity generation has stayed virtually constant at around 4 trillion kWh … but the mix of fuel sources has changed.


Coal and nuclear power have declined in the overall mix of fuel sources … coal by a lot, nuclear by a little … natural gas and renewables have increased and are, together, account for about 60% of fuel for electricity.


Digging deeper in the  category of renewable fuel sources….


  • From 2011 to 2021, electricity fueled by renewables increased by over 60% to 826 billion kWh … which is accounts for 20% of the electricity generated.
  • About 2/3s of the increase is attributable to wind power … which provides about half of the renewable fuel used to generate electricity … and about 9% of the total fuel that goes into electricity generation.
  • Almost 1/3rd of the increase is attributable to solar power … which provides about 3% of the total fuel that goes into electricity generation.



  • Electricity generation has stayed practically constant for more than 10 years at around 4 trillion kWh
  • Some area of the country have experienced brown outs (rationed supply of electricity), primarily during periods of hot weather … suggesting that, during daytime hours, the electricity generation capacity is at capacity.

It is commonly assumed  that there is available nighttime capacity.

  • Over the past 10 years, coal usage as an electricity fuel has been cut in half … replace by natural gas (2/3rds) and renewables (1/3rd).
  • But, 20% of electrical generation (899 B kWh) is still being fueled by coal
  • Nuclear power — about 20% of the fuel mix — has been slowly declining as old plants are being retired … and no new plants being built.


Bottom line: To meet Biden’s aggressive climate control objectives, electrical generation will need to be increased by almost half … 1 Trillion kWh for EVs and 899 Billion kWh to totally phase out coal.

Part 2: Putting the “E” in EVs…

July 19, 2022

So, how much electricity will EVs eventually require?

In Part 1, we looked at current demand for electricity and concluded:

  • The U.S. currently consumes about 4 trillion kWh of electricity per year
  • About 1.5 trillion kWh (about 40% of the total) is consumed in residential use
  • A scant amount of electricity is currently being consumed for “transportation” … and, practically all of that is used by public transit systems.

Of course, EV demand for electricity will increase.

By how much?


Let’s look at our prior ballpark estimate:

A full “incredible transition” to EVs would increase consumer / residential electricity demand in the U.S. by over 40% (640 billion kWh / 1.5 trillion kWh = 43%)

Data, sources & calculations

  • in 2019, “there were almost 229 million Americans who have driving licenses
  • The 229 million collectively drove over 3.2 trillion miles.” Source
  • From what I can ascertain,  on average, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored charge. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range).
  • So, 3.2 trillion miles of driving requires 640 billion kWh of additional electricity.

What do other sources day?


The Energy Institute at the University of Texas analyzed the likely additional energy required by state for a full transition to EVs.


The UT-EI conclusion: On average across states, 30.9% more electricity will be needed to electrify EVs … with wide variability across states.

All States’ Data

The 30.9% translates to over 1.25 trillion kWh of added electricity required … almost equal to all of our current residential consumption of electricity.


In August 2021, the NY Times asserted (without attribution or analysis):

If every American switched over to an electric passenger vehicle, analysts have estimated, the United States could end up using roughly 25% more electricity than it does today.

Working the NYT’s estimate …

Their 25% — apparently based on total U.S. electricity consumption —  implies that we’ll need an additional 1 trillion kWh of electricity

The 1 trillion kWh of electricity is roughly equal to  66% of our current residential electrical consumption, (1 trillion / 1.5 trillion = 66%)


The Brattle Group is a research consultancy that “combines state-of-the-art analytical techniques and practical industry experience to answer complex economic, financial, and regulatory questions”.

Brattle analysts did a detailed “assessment of the investments needed across the electric power sector to support the deployment of 20 million EVs in the U.S. by 2030.

Brattle’s conclusion: 20 million EVs will add 60–95 TWh of annual demand and 10–20 GW of peak load to the system.

Taking the low end of Brattle’s range (60 TWH per 20 million vehicles) and scaling that number up to all 239 million vehicles currently on the roads …  717 billion kWh of additional electricity will be needed for a full “incredible transition” to EVs … with a high estimate of 1.135 trillion kWh of electricity required (equal to about about 75% of current residential electricity consumption).

239 million vehicles / 20 million = 11.95

11.95 x 60 TWH = 717 TWh

One Terawatt Hour is equal to 1 billion  Kilowatt Hours. Reference

So, 717 TWh = 717 billion kWh


So, how much electricity will EVs eventually require?

  • UT Energy Institute: 1.25 trillion kWh
  • Brattle Group (high): 1.135 trillion kWh
  • New York Times: 1 trillion kWh
  • Brattle Group (low): 717 billion kWh
  • HomaFiles estimate: 640 billion kWh

Our back-of-the envelop estimate was on the low side.

Looks like 1 trillion kWh is a reasonable (and easy to remember) estimate of the electricity load that an “a full “incredible transition” will add to the system … a 25% to 30% upper to our current levels.


Next up: So, where’s that electricity going to come from?

Putting the “E” in EVs…

July 18, 2022

Starting point: How much energy do we consume now?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some ballpark estimates of how much additional electricity would be consumed in the U.S. if Biden’s “incredible transition” materialized and all of us were driving shiny new EVs.

My conclusion: A full “incredible transition” to EVs would increase consumer / residential electricity demand in the U.S. by at least 50% (640 billion kWh / 1.34 trillion kWh)

For details see: Update: What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?

At the time I asked for ideas re: sources of (1) “hard” numbers re: electricity generated and consumed, (2) analyses of how much EVs will add to electricity consumption and (3) “real” plans to bolster U.S. energy production and distribution (i.e. “the grid”).

A couple of you pointed me to some info sources … THANKS!

So, let’s work the numbers, starting with electricity consumption


According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)….

Total U.S. electricity consumption in 2021 was about 3.93 trillion kWh.

Of that total, the 3.8 trillion kWh is classified by the EIA as “retail sales”.

Of that total, “residential retail sales” account for almost 1.5 trillion kWh about 40% of total “retail sales of electricity”.

For reference: We previously ballparked total residential electrical consumption at about 1.34 trillion kWh (10,715 kWh per household x 125 million U.S. Households)



Drilling down further

Between 1/3 and 1/2 of residential electricity consumption is driven by home HVAC systems (air conditioners and furnaces) … hot water heaters (14%) and washers & dryers (13%) push the cumulative total to almost 75% or residential use. Source




Rounding up a bit for simplicity:

  • The U.S. currently consumes about 4 trillion kWh of electricity per year
  • About 1.5 trillion kWh (about 40% of the total) is consumed in residential use
  • The majority of residential use attributable to HVAC systems and hot water heaters.

Important: Note that only a scant amount of electricity is currently being consumed for “transportation” … and, practically all of that is used by public transit systems.

Said differently, the electricity consumed by EVs is currently rounding error.

But, that will change…


Next up: How much electricity will Es consume?

The $100 Trillion World Economy

July 14, 2022

A great contextual chart by the Visual Capitalist


  • The aggregate World GDP number: $100 trillion
  • The U.S. has been the world’s largest economy since 1871
  • But, China is projected to surpass the U.S. by 2030
  • Russia — the small circle at the 6 o’clock position on the chart — is the 11th largest economy @ $1.8 trillion … less than 1/10th the size of the U.S. economy … smaller than Canada, Italy and both California and Texas.

click here to enlarge
This infographic visualizes the 100 trillion global economy by country GDP==============

The Top 10

imageclick here to view the ‘all countries’ list

How much did Sen. Stabenow save driving her EV from Detroit to DC ?

July 13, 2022

The Detroit News pegs the savings at less than $10.

A couple of weeks ago, Michigan’s Sen. Debbie Stabenow took a  trip from Lansing, MI to Washington, D.C., in her Chevrolet Bolt EUV to tout the benefits of driving electric.

Stabenow crowed: “I went by every single gas station, it didn’t matter how high it was.”

English translation: Get an EV and stop whining,peasants.”

So, how much did she save?


To answer the question, the Detroit News ran  the senator’s trip through two popular charging apps, A Better Route Planner (ABRP) and Chargeway.

According to ABRP, Stabenow’s Bolt EUV used almost 200 kWh of energy on the 600 mile trip.

So, ABRP estimates that Stabenow paid (and probably expensed) about $80 for electricity.

Note: Charging station operator Electrify America’s charging rates across Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are a uniform 43 cents per kWh.

In comparison, a comparably equipped, gas-powered Trailblazer SUV gets 33 mpg on the highway.

At $5 per gallon, that works out to about $90 in gas bill (600 mile / 33 mpg x $5 per gallon).

So, Stabenow saved about $10.


The News, apparently doing some rounding, pegged the savings at $8.

The News also pointed out that the Bolt is priced about $5,000 higher than the Trailblazer ($28,195 to $22,995).

And, channeling an analysis by Chargeway, The News concludes that Stabenow’s EV added more than three hours to the a gas-fueled 9 hour, 30-minute Lansing-to-D.C. road trip (13 hours, 9 minutes total) … attributable to charging time (added distance to charging stations, wait time, actual charging time) and slower speeds.

Note: Chargeway assumes an average speed of 60 mph on the Bolt EUV’s Lansing-to-D.C. trip while ABRP assumes 65 mph

But for EVefficiency, ABRP urges drivers to travel at, for example, 55 mph in the long leg between Toledo and Pittsburgh. Ohio and Pennsylvania have a 70 mph speed limit.


Paraphrasing the News’ conclusion

Get an EV if:

  • You’ve got the $$$ to buy one
  • You plan to use it for commuting, not road trips
  • Your employer Or somebody else) provides free-to-you charging
  • You can charge it overnight in your garage or driveway (at economical electricity rates)

Otherwise, you may want to hold off for awhile…

The Hill: ”R.I.P. Green New Deal”

July 11, 2022

The 3 reasons that AOC’s Green New Deal is staggering

Interesting opinion piece in left-leaning The Hill

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the  Institute for Policy Innovation which professes itself to be “a non-profit, non-partisan public policy think tank.”

Merrill opines:

“We had such high hopes (that the Green New Deal) would save our planet; save our economy; and, most of all, save our party from the coming November red tsunami.”

Note: Doesn’t sound non-partisan to me.

But he concedes that: “There is very little chance of resurrecting the Green New Deal (now or after the November elections.”

He asks rhetorically: “Where did things go off track?”

Speaking some quiet truth out loud, Merrill soberly cites 2 strategic miscalculations that climate controllers have made:

  1. Pushing for higher gas prices
  2. Relying on unelected bureaucrats & courts

Taking those one at a time…


High gas prices

One of the necessary ingredients for the Green New Deal was high gasoline prices.

We need those high prices to push millions of reluctant Americans to embrace electric vehicles.

When we surveyed the pubic over the years, many people (44 percent in a 2018 survey) said they would be willing to pay somewhat higher gasoline prices to fight climate change.

So, we thought the recent jump in gasoline prices would be, if not welcomed, at least tolerated.

But we were dead wrong.

It turns out that high gasoline prices hit low-income families the hardest — the very people we progressives claim we want to help.

More importantly, those high prices have enraged most voters.


Unelected Bureaucrats & Courts

We thought that we could still depend on federal agencies and the Supreme Court to impose what couldn’t pass Congress.

We knew it would be difficult getting the Green New Deal through Congress, even with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

Especially since we included so many items that aren’t actually related to the environment, like higher wages and social justice and equity demands.

For years it seemed the Supreme Court was willing to interpret the law favorably for us. That era appears to be over.

As Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “The Court does not purport to pass on the wisdom of the EPA’s course. It acknowledges only that agency officials have sought to resolve a major policy question without clear legislative authorization to do so.”


The “so what?”

Merrill says:

If we want sweeping environmental reforms, we will have to turn to our democratically elected representatives in Congress or the state legislatures to pass them.

That means if we’re to make progress on our environmental agenda, we will have to sit down with the other side and see where we can find common ground.

That’s a tall order.

But if we really think the environment is important, maybe we should try to do it the way the framers of the Constitution envisioned and rely on the legislative branch rather than the judicial branch to make our laws.


My take:

None of the above is surprising “new news”.

But, I credit Merrill with speaking the truth out loud … that sky high gas prices and circumventing legislative processes were (are?) part of the plan … all along.

Sometimes, you reap what you sow…

Shocker: Americans losing confidence in “institutions”…

July 7, 2022

So says the most recent Gallup poll.

According to Gallup: Americans are less confident in major U.S. institutions than they were decades ago … or even a year ago.

In the 1980s,”high confidence in institutions” hovered around 45% … that dropped to 40% in the 1990s … then dropped again to about 35% in the period 2007 to 27% in 2022.


Gallup observes that:

The largest declines in confidence (from 2021 to 2022) are 11 percentage points for the Supreme Court — as reported in late June before the court issued controversial rulings on gun laws and abortion, and …

15 points for the presidency, matching the 15-point drop in President Joe Biden’s job approval rating since the last confidence survey in June 2021.

Congress dropped 5 percentage points (from its prior 12% level) and to a new low of 7%


The highest confidence ratings go due small business and the military (despite the Afghanistan debacle which is apparently laid at the feet of the Biden administration).

Note: Big business is down 4 percentage points to 14%

Next highest confidence levels go to police and the medical system.

  • Republicans give the police a 67% confidence rating; Dems give the police a low 28% confidence rating.
  • The criminal justice system is down 6 percentage points to 14%

Public schools are down 4 percentage points to 28%.

Newspapers and TV news are down to 16% and 11% respectively.

Dems give newspapers a 35% confidence rating and TV news a 20% rating; Republicans give those news outlets 19% and 13% ratings, respectively.


Anybody surprised?

Numbers: Some context for the abortion debate.

July 5, 2022

Birth rates & abortions … how many, where, who and how likely to be restrcted.


U.S. Births

According to the CDC:

> The number of births has declined by an average of 2% per year since 2014.

> In 2020, 3,613,647 births were registered in the United States, down 4% from 2019



Birth Rates

> The general fertility rate (GFR) for the United States in 2020 was 56.0 births per 1,000 females aged 15–44

The general fertility rate in 2020 was  down 4% from 2019 … a record low rate for the nation


> Birth rates continued to increase for females in age groups 35 to 39 and 40 to 44a record high.

> Birth rate among teenagers continued its steep decline: In 2020 the birth rate for females aged 15–19 was 15.4 births per 1,000 …down 8% from 2019 ….and another record low

With those numbers as context, let’s look at the abortion numbers…



According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute:

> The number of reported abortions in the U.S. has declined over 40% since the 1980s


In 2020…

  • 930,160 abortions were performed in the U.S..
  • The abortion rate was 14.4 per 1,000 women (in child-bearing age groups)
  • The ratio of abortions to pregnancies was 20.6% … about 1 in every 5 pregnancies


Abortions impacted by Dobbs

According to CDC data (for 2019):

68% of all abortions were performed in blue states and 32% in red states … call it 2 out of 3 in blue states.

Blue states currently have the most liberal abortion rights which will, at a minimum, be retained … or, most likely, will be expanded.

Note: The vast majority of pro-choice protests seem to be happening blue states or, in some cases, in red states by by out-of-state blue staters

Less than 300,000 abortions per year (297,651 to be precise) are in blue states and, thus,  at  risk of being banned after Dobbs.


Blue state “bans”

The number of full bans on abortion is likely to be far less than 300,000.


Every abortion ban enacted or proposed includes an exception to protect the life or health of the mother.

According to the CDC, 92% of abortions take place in the first trimester … 43% in the first 6 weeks.

Many (most? all?) blue states are likely to permit abortion in the first 6 weeks or the first trimester.

That cuts the number of abortions at risk of being banned down to about 150,000,at most … and, more likely, down to well under 100,000


Other “ban” mitigating actions

According to Guttmacher, 54% of all abortions already are “medication abortions” (i.e. pills) that are FDA approved for use within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.


My hunch: Those pills will likely flow across state lines, e.g. via difficult-to-stop online pharmacy sales.


And finally, many companies have already declared that they will pay travel expenses for employees traveling to abortion-permitting states.

While obviously an added hassle for abortion seekers, it does provide access.


And, for the record

14 weeks is the cut-off for “abortion on request” for practically all Europen0an countries.

Maher noted that the majority of the U.S. still has more abortion freedoms than a lot of countries in Europe, where they set a shorter time-frame on abortion limits


Those are the numbers from the CDC and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.

Draw your own conclusions…

Happy 4th of July

July 4, 2022

Kick back … enjoy your friends & families … be thankful for our freedoms.


More reasons that government is ambivalent about inflation…

June 30, 2022

Bottom line: All levels of government benefit from inflation.

Recently, Biden raised eyebrows when he blurted that we’re in an “incredible transition” away from fossil fuels … and inflated gas prices are the price to be paid.

I’m surprised that so many folks are surprised that Biden thinks high gas prices are good … and that his claim of “all things being done” to arrest further gas price spikes is just window dressing.

In a prior post, we spotlighted the world’s worst kept secret, revealed publicly by Biden’s press secretary


English translation: “If high gas prices bother you, get on our climate control program and buy an electric car.”


OK, that’s one reason that Biden’s people are ambivalent or maybe even enthusiastically supportive of skyrocketing gas prices.

And, there are other reasons that all levels of government — local, state and Federal — have some degree of ambivalence (or enthusiasm).

As the WSJ puts it:

One irony of inflation is that while it’s bad for working Americans, it’s great for the government.

Tax revenues soar as nominal profits and incomes rise.

“Overall state and local government receipts including federal aid are already 23% above pre-pandemic levels … thanks to Congress’s gusher of spending.”


How does that happen?

Let me count the ways…


At the Federal level:

(1) inflation devalues the national debt

(2) higher nominal wages push some tax filers into higher Federal tax brackets

(3) increasing asset prices boost capital gains and push some tax filers into higher Federal income  tax brackets


At the State level:

(1) higher wages and capital gains push some tax filers into higher state income tax brackets

(2) higher retail prices increase state sales tax revenues … assuming that consumers continue to buy the same “real” volume of goods.


At the Local level:

(1) higher wages and capital gains push some tax filers into higher local income tax brackets

(2) higher retail prices potentially increase local sales tax revenues

(3) higher real estate prices push real estate assessment values higher and boost local real estate tax collections.


And, there’s a blue state slant to all of this:

The WSJ observes:

Progressive states with higher tax rates are especially flush (with tax revenues).

Democratic states in particular are building in new structural spending in the form of higher pay and pensions for public unions.

As Jen Psaki might say if she were still frequenting the podium: “suck it up”.

What’s the fundamental difference between oil prices and electricity rates?

June 29, 2022

Hint: Who (or what) sets the prices?

This week, the G7 leaders reached “an agreement in principle to begin the process of imposing price caps on Russian oil.”

The agreement on oil, would aim to limit how much money Russia can earn from each barrel of oil it sells on the global market, reducing the fossil fuel revenues Russia is relying on to finance its war effort.

It would also attempt to stabilize global oil markets — and hopefully bring down prices.

It remains unclear how caps would work, and there is more speculation than specifics. NY Times


Coupled with my recent digging on EVs, the G-7 agreement lit my light bulb, so to speak.

I asked myself: “What’s the fundamental difference between oil prices and electricity rates?”

Well, oil prices are set “by the market” … largely driven by supply and demand … subject to some governmental supply policies (e.g. OPEC supply agreements and capped pipelines) … and short-lived price controls (that invariably backfire).

Electricity rates (i.e. “prices) are controlled by state regulatory agencies… electric companies submit pricing plans that must be approved by government bureaucrats.


So, under the umbrella of climate control — less oil, more electricity — governments intend to wrest near total control of energy prices away from “the market”.

Is that a good idea?

The economist side of me says: “Nope”.

I’m surprised that pundits haven’t explored this “wrinkle” in Biden’s “incredible transition” plan.

An unintended second-order consequence or part of the plan.

Draw your own conclusion.

Update: What if Oprah gave all of us EVs?

June 27, 2022

Would the electric companies be able to supply the increased load?

Note: While at the beach last week, I got some helpful input from loyal readers and trusted sources which I’ve tried to incorporate into the original post.


In a prior post we ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers on EV ownership.

The conclusion: With $5 per gallon gas and 14¢ per kWh electricity, a shiny new EV would practically pay for itself … albeit taking 20 years to break even.

Key assumptions: (1) A typical EV with a 50 mWh battery has a range of about 250 miles (2) All electricity drawn for charging is stored in the battery (i.e. charging efficiency is 100%)

Caveats: (1) Doesn’t consider the cost of an in home charging station (for faster charges) which would lengthen the breakeven time frame (2) Doesn’t consider differences in lifetime maintenance costs which likely favors EVs and would lower the breakeven time frame 

Let’s assume that life expectancy (for you and for an EV) is generally longer than the breakeven time frame … and ask a broader question:

If there were a groundswell of EV demand, would electric companies be able to generate enough electricity to keep the EVs charged (and the rest of our electricity-based lives operating “normally’}?

Suppose, for example, that Oprah gave all of us an EV today.

How much electricity demand would be added on to the U.S. electrical grid?

Again, let’s run some more back-of-the-envelope numbers…


  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (whatever the heck that is): In 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh)

For reference: My home’s annual electricity consumption runs about 27,500 kWh

Before you accuse me of being an energy glutton, consider…

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research estimates that Al Gore (former VP and current Climate Control Advocate) has a 20-room home that “devours” nearly 221,000 kWh annually … that’s about 20 times the national average … and about 10 times my home’s usage 

  • There are about 125 million households in the U.S.  We’ll assume that each household is a “residential utility customer”.
  • That makes total residential electrical consumption about 1.34 trillion kWh (10,715 kWh x 125 million)


  • According to Federal Highway data reported by Metromile, in 2019, “there were almost 229 million Americans who have driving licenses, and they collectively drove over 3.2 trillion miles.”

Note: I’ve seen estimates that range all the way up to 7.5 trillion miles.  To give EVs every benefit of the doubt, we’ll use the low number

  • Again, from what I can ascertain, a Tesla gets about 5 miles per kWh of stored charge. (e.g. a T3, 50 kwh battery gets 250 miles of range).
  • So, 3.2 trillion miles of driving requires 640 billion kWh of additional electricity.

Note: The above assumes that “filling” a battery is like filling a gas tank  — i.e. a gallon “flowing in” is a gallon “stored for use”.

This assumption probably understates the amount of electricity that is required to recharge a battery … maybe by a lot!

Bottom line: A full “incredible (fast) transition” to EVs would increase consumer / residential electricity demand in the U.S. by at least 50% (640 billion kWh / 1.34 trillion kWh)


Key question: will the electric companies (and the country’s electrical grid) be able to meet the increased demand?

Keep in mind that:

  • In some (many?) parts of the country power plants are currently fueled by coal, gas and nuclear power — all of which are deemed taboo by climate control zealots.
  • Key components (or full units) of solar panels and windmills are sourced from China … and neither modality has been proven to generate a dependable flow of energy “at scale”.
  • Some parts of the country have a history of electrical outages — e.g. unplanned weather outages and rolling blackouts.

But, a trusted source reminded me that the electrical companies — while sometimes stressed during peak daytime hours — have substantial unused capacity during nighttime hours.

That unused capacity can be tapped by “demand management” that nudges EV owners to charge their batteries overnight instead of during the day.

Note: I’m trying to track down hard data re: U.S. electricity generation capacity.  Any ideas re: sources?

For example, nighttime electricity rates (i.e. prices) are generally lower than daytime rates … and that differential can be widened to coax overnight EV charging.

That’s true, but overnight charging at home — even with nighttime rate discounts — isn’t exactly a gimme.

  • For example, many urban car owners park overnight on the street where there’s no access to a personal (or public) electrical outlet.
  • Other drivers park in driveways and would need to run extension cords from house outlets to their cars.  Good idea?
  • And, charging via a standard 110/120 outlets is a slow process … adding only a few miles of range from an overnight charge.
  • To up the charging speed requires 220/240 service and a fast-charging station … which adds to the initial EV “investment”.

So, leveraging unused nighttime electrical capacity may be a partial solution, it doesn’t close the supply-demand gap that EVs are virtually certain to create.

How’s that gap going to be closed?

I’d sure like to see the plan…




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