Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nathan Bech is going to save us a penny

You may have seen this article in the Sentinel the other day. It's about Nathan Bech, a Republican challenging John Olver for his seat in the House of Representatives.

It's an interesting article mostly because after a whole article that consisted of nothing but parroting favored Republican talking points, it ends with:
"I think people of Western and Central Mass. deserve better," he said. "I'm an independent thinker. A good idea's a good idea."

[...]

"I want to get this seat back into the hands of someone who will diligently and honestly represent the people and not just someone who pushes the party line," Bech said. "I can think for myself."
Okaaaay...

It was of course entirely possible that Bech does have some views that don't match up perfectly with the views of the Republican establishment, and the S&E article just didn't bother to mention them, so I checked out Bech's website.

Man, the guy really harps on being a vet. I will give him credit for that though, most Republicans who support the war haven't ever been in the armed service. He's a Republican who supports the war enough to have fought in it. It doesn't really separate him from the party leadership though, aside from making him seem less hypocritical.

So I kept looking for whatever I could find that might separate him out from other Republicans. Here's what I found:
  1. He doesn't support a "National ID card," just something that's exactly like it.
  2. He's opposed to torture (which he does not define).
Those are sort of at odds with the Republican party line, right?

No? Oh well, I tried.

But that's not the most interesting part of his website. The most interesting part of his site is this crazy gas thing where he shows how all his fancy plans would have us paying just $2.08 at the pump today compared to how Olver's plans would have us paying $4.01. Oh my god, the man must be good at telling people what they want to hear a genius!

Actually, he just seems to have taken these "ideas" from the Bush administration and stuck numbers with them.

Anyway, we have math to play with! Let's look at all his fancy-pants cuts!

His first item is:
Bring onshore oil online (ANWR, Shale) with a savings of $0.70 - $1.60.

Hmm, that doesn't seem likely. I mean, this study (pdf) on ANWR drilling suggests a mean savings of 75 cents per barrel, and that's not until 2025. There are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil, so that means a 1.8 cent decrease per gallon. Yay?

Now, that's wholesale of course. You'll probably see less retail. Maybe a cent, if you're lucky. So it must be the oil shale that account for somewhere between 69 cents and $1.59 in Bech's calculations.

Wow, it takes a brave (or stupid) man to propose something with so many nasty environmental side effects while also playing up his supposed environmentalism.

I don't know where Bech gets his figures, but even this RAND study (pdf) suggests it would take at least 12 years to begin production and probably would only save a few dollars a gallon. Plus it would be environmentally disastrous to do, of course.

Well crap, Mr. Bech. Your first figure just didn't work out.

How about the next one?
Bring deepwater oil online (OCS) with a savings of $0.90-$2.50. Sweet!

This is the "offshore drilling" stuff so popular with Bush and McCain and all their toadies these days. The one that would take 10 years before any oil would start flowing and then wouldn't actually have any impact on prices anyway. Well, maybe after 2030. But probably not.

This isn't working so well for Mr. Bech. All his savings are disappearing!

So, what's left?

blah blah blah "gas tax holiday" for 18 cents.

Man, do I even need to mention this one? Like the way every economist in the country has said it won't work? No, I didn't think so. Moving on.

His last sizable cut is also an old favorite of the Republicans who he's oh-so-different from.

Bring new refineries online for $0.15-$0.45.

Sure, that sounds swell. But nobody wants to build them because their profit-margins are razor-thin. The first new one since 1976 has been in the works for a decade or so, and construction has yet to even begin. They do claim to be expecting full operation by 2012, but I got that off a FAQ that's 4 years old.

Damn. Another one down.

I won't bother addressing the supposed 5 cent decrease from halting shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, since both Olver and Bech support it.

I'd like to know where Bech gets his figures (aside from the 18 cent gas holiday one, I already know that). They're either ridiculously optimistic or totally made up. Decide for yourself. Either way, his little gas price chart is nothing more than a big fat lie. Way to represent for the Replubicans, Bech!

So yeah, vote for Olver.

12 comments:

Erica said...

Unicow,

On a related note, any chance you'd be willing to craft a response to Marcus DiNatale's mind-boggling piece in the Pride last week,
Federal restrictions fueling gas price boom
? I brought the paper along with me on vacation, and DiNatale's inconceivable stupidity really ruined my weekend. Every time I start to write a response, however, I start sputtering vulgarities and daydreaming that he gets run over by a giant Hummer and then eaten by one of the few remaining polar bears.

You seem more suited than I to maintaining calm and reason in the presence of an imbecile, and it seems that someone needs to publicly counter the misguided #%*^#)%& this guy is spewing.

The Unicow said...

Ugh, that really was a big old pile of red-hot stupid. Ending with a long quote from the president of Shell Oil was a nice touch though, because that's a source you know you can trust!

If I can squeak out some free time this week I may indeed write a response.

BSM said...

Then again, Olver wants to increase the gas tax, so whatever works for you.

At least Nathan Bech has a handle on the basic idea that more supply = lower price. It works with farms the price of food and the price of fuel.

It's too bad that the authors of this blog don't understand how futures prices work. The efficiency gains from Bech's plan are minimal, but it takes the tightness out of the market. More refineries and more oil creates more barrels that need to be bid on, reducing the price that each get bid for...

18 cents? Not much to you, but that's 18 cents I'd rather have in my pocket than in Washington. Or do you trust Bush and Pelosi that much?

The Unicow said...

Olver wants to increase the gas tax

Could you point me to where he says this? I could find no indication of it.

At least Nathan Bech has a handle on the basic idea that more supply = lower price

Actually, you're missing a major part of the equation. If more supply is accompanied by more demand you don't get a lower price. Demand needs to remain stable or decrease for prices to go down.

Seeing as Bech has no apparent plans to deal with demand and his plans for the supply are not likely to have any effect for at least a decade, his little chart showing huge savings remains a total lie.

18 cents? etc...

Hey, I'd love to get 18 cents off each gallon of gas. But almost no economist in the country thinks a gas tax holiday would actually lead to that (or indeed, much change at all). If Bech was actually going to save us that 18 cents the post would have been titled "Nathan Bech is going to save us nineteen pennies" instead of just the one.

Or do you trust Bush and Pelosi that much?

This was my favorite thing you said. Didn't you notice that Bech's "plans" are totally identical to Bush's? I mean, I linked right to Bush's plan.

Nice try though.

BSM said...

Apparently you got your economics education at the Mike Dukakis School of Economics.

Look how Olver voted on the gas tax. I know that may be too simple for a smartass intellectual like you, but it works.


Actually, you're missing a major part of the equation. If more supply is accompanied by more demand you don't get a lower price. Demand needs to remain stable or decrease for prices to go down

You are so right! That means we need to get LOTS of new energy sources. Since we have a growing country and economy, our energy demand is going to continue to increase. Let's grow our energy supply to fuel a growing world. Once Obama gets all the poor people into suburban homes, they are going to need a lot more gas.

Hey, I'd love to get 18 cents off each gallon of gas. But almost no economist in the country thinks a gas tax holiday would actually lead to that (or indeed, much change at all). If Bech was actually going to save us that 18 cents the post would have been titled "Nathan Bech is going to save us nineteen pennies" instead of just the one.

So now you lefties like economists? Then show me one who thinks that suing OPEC, which Olver wants to do, will drop the price of gas at all.

Show me an economist who wouldn't support more supply to lower the price of something.

Oh, and about that BS about how long it will take prices to come down if we drill... you are again exposing your ignorance. Futures and options are based on expectations. If we say that we'll drill in a few years, speculators will get out of the market. That's why speculators WANT lower crude supplies.

I could explain to you how bid prices work, but I think I've already lost you.

The 4-year timeframe is bunk too. You know that the Dems could have let us drill 15 years ago.

Stop your Greenpeace whining. We are going to build some new oil wells, some new refineries, and we're going to do the conservation part too. You are the problem and people are done with you.

The Unicow said...

Look how Olver voted on the gas tax.

You said "Olver wants to increase the gas tax." That's a statement of future intent. It has nothing to do with past votes. I'm still waiting for your source.

You're also confusing the issue here. My post was about how Bech's little chart of bullshit was incorrect in claiming that these things would lower the price of gas.

Would increased supply in addition to lowered demand (or stable demand, for that matter) be good? Sure. Did Bech's chart have any basis in reality? No.

If we say that we'll drill in a few years, speculators will get out of the market.

Yes, yes, the bugaboo of speculators that OPEC likes to complain about. Taking our talking points from them now?

Any informed speculator (which is what they strive to be) knows that the timeframe is so long before any benefit could be realized that there's very little reason to get out of the market now. Nice little theory though.

The 4-year timeframe is bunk too. You know that the Dems could have let us drill 15 years ago.

What the hell are you talking about?

The only 4-year timeframe I see is for the construction of a refinery (which won't be met). Incidentally, the reason construction hasn't started on that refinery isn't for regulatory reasons, it's because of a lack of investors.

Also, whatever people may have done 15 years ago hardly matters when dealing with timeframes today. It will take a certain number of years from when we start, not from when we would have started if we could magically go back in time and change things to suit your desires.

You're obviously a totally brilliant economist, but I don't think you understand how time works. For future reference, it only goes in one direction.


ps Are you part of Bech's internet team? Like the guy who made his Wikipedia page? Just curious.

BSM said...

Unicow -- the man, the myth, the moonbat economist. He can't understand supply and demand but he sure can sling an insult.

Code Pink is calling.

The Unicow said...

Awesome! I may use that as my email signature from now on...

Were you planning to actually respond substantively to something I said, or are you just going to bow out with a lame thing about Code Pink?

That was a long post, after all. Lots to respond to. You could teach me about how bid prices work! I'd love to learn!

Or, barring that, you could respond with some actual data that disproves something I said. Or even a well-reasoned and fact-based response to what I said. (Dodging the issue and bringing up totally unrelated matters don't terribly impress me.)

Hell, if you could present data that showed that there's a reasonable consensus among economists that Bech's figures are right I'd even write a whole new post to correct it.

Also, you didn't answer my ps. Are you part of Bech's team or not? I'm seriously curious, because it's obvious he has one and it looks like you just registered this account to respond to this post. And if my asking about it makes you disappear then I'm just going to assume you are.

BSM said...

Did you create this blog just to post your thoughts?

I think you are part of the Unicow internet team! All one of you.

The Unicow said...

Umm... wow that really put me in my place.

Yes, I'm the one person behind this blog. Nice detective work.

But no, I didn't create this to post my thoughts. Who's ever heard of a blog created for that reason?

I created it to post funny pictures of cats. I've just lost my way.

The Unicow said...

Please see this more recent post for some interesting developments.

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