San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, September 20, 2013

Price Gouging In The Colorado Flood Disaster

David Migoya wrote an article in today's Denver Post that was entitled, "Price Gouging:  Supply, Demand Drive Up Expenses."  As a headline the above sentence is pretty good, not perfect, but pretty good.  It recognizes the economic truth that prices for things are impacted by the forces of supply and demand.  Everyone in the world understands that when demand increases and supply remains the same, prices rise.  In the same way everyone understands that when supply increases and demand remains the same, prices fall.  The law of supply and demand has been taught in Economics 101 for decades and it is a simple economic concept.
The problem with the headline is found in the first two words.  "Price Gouging" is something we hear a lot about but rarely define.  Once again most people have some idea of what is meant by price gouging.  I suspect the majority of citizens in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika would believe that price gouging is taking place when businesses rapidly increase the price of something they are selling in response to a rapid increase in demand that was the result of some sort of emergency or catastrophic event.  Of course, we now have to define precisely what makes an event a catastrophe or emergency.  We also have to define how rapid the price increase must be to actually constitute gouging.
The problem with all discussions about price gouging is we are incapable of precise definitions for these terms.  One person's price gouging is another person's reasonable price.  I may think the automobile dealer was gouging me when I paid $20,000 for the same car you were able to purchase for $19,000 just the day before.  Truth be told, I probably thought I received a good deal until you came by and told me about the deal you were able to strike. Then I suddenly decided I had been gouged and began my search for a politician who would agree with me.  Should there be a law determining the "fair" price for that car so that nobody ever gets gouged? 
In 2006 Colorado legislators attempted to pass a law making price gouging illegal.  The bill was wisely vetoed by then Governor Bill Owens who said that it "violates the fundamental principles of our market based economy."  Good for Bill.  At least he got one thing right.   The proposed legislation was House Bill 1251 and it was designed to "ban price gouging for life sustaining items such as water and gas during Colorado emergencies."  Those found in violation of the law would be fined up to $10,000 for their immoral ways.  The bill was introduced with these words:  "It is an unfortunate truth that some will try to take advantage of others in emergency situations by price gouging for consumer and other commercial goods or services."  To try and add some intellectual credibility to the bill, Professor MacClous of Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver attempted to define price gouging by saying, "Where it crosses into gouging is when you are able to increase the supply but strictly deal with the demand by raising the price."  Wow.  That is a mouthful.  Let's consider these things for a moment.
Let's take last things first.  The good professor's definition is a fine example of obfuscation.  He attempts to draw the line between raising prices in the face of increased demand and price gouging by determining that price gouging begins to take place the moment businessmen are "able to increase the supply but strictly deal with the demand by raising prices."  It seems to me that the professor has missed the point.  If a businessman has 30 snow shovels in stock when the blizzard hits, each of which is priced at $50, will he make no attempt to procure any additional shovels when the 30 he has in stock sell out within five minutes of opening his store?  That is lunacy.  The professor's definition of price gouging hinges upon the belief that the store owner has access to additional supply that he simply chooses to ignore.  I have never known any profit-seeking businessman who ever turned away potential customers when he had access to additional goods to sell.  The reason prices rise dramatically in the alleged cases of price gouging is because the shopkeepers can't obtain any more goods to sell.  It is not because they do have access to additional supplies and simply choose not to sell them, preferring instead to raise the prices on their existing small supply.  The professor's definition for what constitutes price gouging never occurs in the real world. 
The vetoed legislation was designed to ban price gouging for "life sustaining items".  What are life sustaining items?  Water and gasoline were listed as two examples.  Were they the only two goods that were to be the subject of the new law?  Who determines what is "life sustaining", some government bureaucrat?  I might think that cake and whiskey are life sustaining items.  Do I have the right to fine the local shopkeeper for selling me a cake during a blizzard at a price that is double or triple what he would have charge me during the summer?  The entire issue is awash in subjectivity.  Nobody, not even an omniscient government bureaucrat, can determine subjective worth for other people.  What is life sustaining for one is not for another.  Fashioning laws that are dependent upon some objective price with total disregard for subjective appraisal of price is ridiculous and doomed to failure. 
Let's consider the idea that the shopkeeper is "taking advantage" of innocent buyers during times of emergency or catastrophe.  If I have had 30 snow shovels on hand that I have listed for sale at $50 each for the past two months that nobody has shown even the slightest interest in purchasing prior to the arrival of the blizzard, why is it immoral for me to raise the price when the blizzard hits?  Anyone could have come into my store and purchased a shovel for $50 right up until the day of the blizzard.  Is it my fault that nobody did?  Should I be fined $10,000 because my customers did not prepare for the winter?  Should I be penalized for someone else's short-sightedness?  Then, when I arrive at my store the morning after the blizzard I discover a line of people stretching around the block.  They all want to purchase a snow shovel.  There must be at least 200 people in line to purchase my stock of 30 shovels.  The roads are all closed and there is no way I can increase my present supply of shovels.  What am I to do?
Socialists and career politicians say that I must sell my 30 shovels to the first 30 customers for $50 and tell the remaining 170 people to go home without a shovel.  Somehow they consider that to be a compassionate and moral thing to do.  The truth of the matter is they do not think about the 170 people I have to tell to go home.  All they are thinking about is the fact that I will make a nice profit if I raise the price to $200 per shovel and they do not want me to make a profit.  Envy rules their thinking.  Envy blinds them to the truth and makes it impossible for them to be compassionate.
So what should I do?  I know that the 200 people lined up outside my store are prepared to pay varying amounts for a shovel.  I want to find the price that will be exactly equal to the number of people who want a shovel for that price, or more.  There are several rich people who would pay $1000 for a shovel.  There are many poorer people who will not pay more than the original $50.  I finally guess that $200 per shovel would be the stock clearing price.  I reprice my shovels and open the door to the store.  If I have guessed correctly, 30 of the 200 people lined up outside my store will purchase a shovel for $200.  Nobody who wanted to purchase a shovel for $200 or more would go away upset.  On the other hand, the 170 people who were not willing to pay $200 for a shovel would no doubt be upset by the fact that the price jumped four-fold in one day.  But why is that my fault?  I have cleared my stock at a price those who purchased the shovels were willing to pay. 
Even more important, what have I done here that is immoral?  In both scenarios 170 people go home angry with me.  In the first case the 170 who were not the first 30 in line go home angry.  In the second case the 170 who were not willing to pay $200 per shovel go home angry.  Which group is more moral and why?  Which group has a complaint that I have violated moral principles and should be fined 10,000 dollars?  Their are only two differences in the two cases.  First, the government, pandering to the envy of my dissatisfied customers, labels me as immoral and classifies those who did not purchase a shovel as victims when I raise the price on my shovels.  That makes politicians look good and likely buys them some votes in the next election.  Second, I make more money when I raise the price on my shovels.  Other than those two things, there is no difference in the outcome as a result of my raising prices.  In both cases 170 people go home dissatisfied.  One is called price gouging and the other is called compliance with the anti-price gouging law.  What a joke.
Another item never considered by those who worship at the throne of state power and who want to impose their sovereign will on business owners during times of emergency or catastrophe is what would happen if the first man in the store decided he wanted to purchase all 30 shovels?  Maybe he owns a snow shoveling business.  If I had kept the price/shovel at $50 he would have purchased all 30 shovels leaving 199 dissatisfied customers in his wake.  How have I been compassionate now?  On the other hand, if I had raised the price he might have only purchased a couple of shovels and more customers could have been served. 
Another possibility could exist as well.  Maybe the first man through the store doors is a budding entrepreneur.  He buys all of the shovels for $50 each and the remaining 199 customers go home angry.  Then, after buying my entire stock for $50 each, he goes door to door selling the shovels for $250 each.  He thinks that he can charge an additional $50 more than me because he is personally delivering the shovels to the customer.  Should his activities be forbidden?  Is he immoral?
Another possibility could exist as well.  Imagine the entrepreneur buys all of my shovels only to discover that nobody wants to pay $250 for one.  He is now out $1500 for his purchase from me.  He suffers a $1500 loss as a result of the disaster.  Is he entitled to FEMA dollars for his losses?  After all, they were related to the catastrophe. 
I think you get the point.  The market is complicated.  Nobody knows how anyone else appraises anything except by means of the price mechanism.  It is by means of rising and falling prices that we all can know what others want.  When prices are not permitted, by government law, to rise and fall freely distortions occur that harm everyone.  In times of catastrophe and disaster it is not possible to please everyone.  Some people are going to suffer losses.  That is why they are called catastrophes.  Only government agents and those who worship them have the arrogance to believe that they can distribute scarce goods better than the free market.
In light of the recent flooding in Colorado I expect some state legislators, probably compassionate women legislators who are thinking about the children, will introduce legislation to make raising prices illegal in times of state determined emergencies.  She will tell a story of how somebody in Lyons had to pay five times the usual price for a wheelbarrow after the floods.  That business owner will be painted to be an evil monster out to exploit the people while the congresswoman will get reelected and given a plaque in recognition of her lifetime of dedicated service to her constituents.  And this seems normal to everybody?  What a disaster.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jefferson County Building Inspectors Are Lazy Tyrants

Having the government involved in building projects on property that I own is immoral.  Government has no moral or constitutional right to assert its authority over my property.  I should be able to do as I see fit with my property.  If I want to build an addition to my home that ends up catching fire, or falling off, or electrocuting me or my guests, or chopping off one of my guests legs, or collapsing in on my head, or killing me and my family from carbon monoxide poisoning that is my business.  I am responsible for my own property.  I am responsible for the safety and welfare of my family and guests.  If I am negligent in that responsibility and a guest is injured, I have committed a tort against that guest and the court system can award him, or his survivors, damages.  But it is never the business of government to come on to my property and force me to conform to their standards for construction and building safety.
I understand the impetus for such immoral and unconstitutional intrusions.  Some career politician, probably a sensitive female, had somebody she knew get hurt at a home that had some sort of construction project going.  She decided, in her feminine compassion for all mankind, that it "would never happen again".  Of course, the government is omnipotent and it can positively guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen on any construction site ever again.  All the government has to do is pass a law and, presto-chango, nothing but good things happen.  The law was passed with much fanfare, she was reelected and later received a plaque for her compassionate concern for the community and a slew of new laws were written to oppress and harass the citizenry.
I tried to find an on-line copy of the entire building code for the county in which I live, Jefferson county Colorado.  I couldn't find one.  In the process of searching for my county I found an on-line copy of the entire building code for the poor souls who happen to live in Jefferson county Missouri.  I suspect the code for the county in which I live is similar.  This code consisted of thirteen different sections.  The sections included:  Flood Damage, Dangerous Buildings, Sewage Treatment, Residential Code, Building Code, Existing Building Code, Amendments to the Building Code, Fuel Code, Fire Code, Mechanical Code, Electrical Code, Energy Code and Plumbing Code.  I clicked into the "Residential Code" section just to see what was there.  It had 44 chapters and 16 appendices.  I clicked into the chapter entitled "Chimneys and Vents".  It had 24 sub chapters.  Based upon my best estimate, any private citizen who wants to make changes to his home in Jefferson county Missouri will be subject to somewhere around 15,000 individual rules/laws to which he must comply or face the consequences for non-compliance.  Failure to comply with a government building code will ultimately result in the property owner being evicted from his own property.  The property will eventually be condemned and destroyed by the state.  (Just keep telling yourself, you are a freeman, you are a freeman....)
I had a new roof put on this week.  About a month ago a hailstorm hit my area.  After the storm I looked at my roof and couldn't see any problems.  The day after the storm dawned to find dozens of representatives of roofing companies swarming my neighborhood. I felt like we were being invaded.   I had the owner of the first company to ring my door bell go up on my roof.  He assured me that I had experienced significant damage to my roof.  Being aware of the rather dubious reputation of many roofing companies, I decided to call my insurance company.  They sent out an adjuster and, lo and behold, he declared my roof to be a total loss.  That tells you how much I know about roofs.  I contacted the man who had wanted my business and signed a contract for a roof replacement.
The shingles arrived on Monday.  On Tuesday the work crew arrived and by mid-afternoon I had a new roof.  The owner of the roofing company walked me around the roof, pointing out how everything was completed properly and making sure I was totally satisfied with the work.  I was.  Later I was surprised to discover that the roofers left an extension ladder near my garage door that allowed access to the roof.  I assumed that they had simply forgotten it and would return later that day to pick it up.  I never saw them again.
On Wednesday I had a man ring my doorbell.  He announced that he was the roof inspector from Jefferson county and that he was going to inspect my new roof.  I felt like turning my dog loose on him but decided that would probably not be in my best interest (My dog, a doberman, was smart enough to know this guy was from the government.  He was barking and growling quite impressively.).  I saw no reason why an agent from the government should walk around on my roof after the work was done and I was satisfied with the work.  After spending all of a couple of minutes on the roof he rang my doorbell again.  He peeled a little green sticker off a sheet of little green stickers and gave it to me.  It said "Approved".  He instructed me to place the little green sticker on the building permit I had been forced to tape to my front window.  He further instructed me to keep the building permit with the little green sticker on it in a safe place forever.  I was disgusted.  But what happened next disgusted me even more.
As he turned to leave he cheerfully told me that he had emailed the roofing company and somebody from the company would be coming by to pick up the ladder.  Yep, you got that right.  The Jefferson county building code mandates that the roofing company leave one of their ladders on site so the roofing inspector can inspect the roof without having to set up his own ladder.  I chocked down the bile that was rising in my throat as the inspector walked to his truck.  It took all of my powers of self control to not yell out, "Lazy tyrant!"  I wondered as he drove away, how much money does this jerk make to do what he does?  So I looked it up.  The average salary for a building inspector in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is right at $50k year.  Now I was even more angry.  This bum makes more money than I do and he does nothing to add value to society.  I don't know for sure but if he is like any other government worker he probably spends most of his time in the doughnut shop and parked in the shade of some large tree near a park.
To top it all off, I later discovered that if my roof leaks I cannot sue the county for issuing a false report.  Despite the fact that the law requires me to pay for and obtain a permit and approval sticker for any work done to my home, if the work that is "approved" later proves to be faulty I have no recourse with the state whatsoever.  The state assumes all authority over me but no responsibility to me at all.  Of course I can sue the profit-seeking company that installed the roof but the government agent responsible for the final determination is exempt.  I have concluded that building inspectors are lazy tyrants.  A pox upon them all.

Update:  September 21, 2013

The roofing company came by to take their ladder today.  I asked them why they left the ladder and they confirmed that the roofing code requires them to do so.  I then asked why the code required them to do so and the answer I received outraged me.  According to the owner of my roofing company, he is required to provide a ladder for the roofing inspector because the government does not want to be held liable for any injuries suffered if the inspector falls while using a ladder provided by the government .   By forcing the profit seeking company to provide the ladder the government opens the door for any inspector who injures himself while performing his duties to sue the roofing company and not the government.
He also told me another interesting story.  As it turns out the roofing inspector can call a roofing company at any time after the roof has been completed and inform them that they have 15 minutes to get a ladder to the construction site so he can use it to inspect the roof.  If they do not get the ladder to the site on time they are fined $50.  He told me how he has been personally called at 7:30 am and ordered to get to a construction site within 15 minutes with a ladder.  When he arrived a few minutes late he found a notice informing him the inspection fee had just gone up by $50 and he needed to be prepared for another call sometime in the future.  This has happened to him many times, especially in Arvada.  A pox upon them all.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Real Personal Income Is Not Declining

NOTE: I have spent the last three hours trying to edit this post so the two sentences that were somehow extracted from yesterday's post would not appear in the middle of today's post.  I have no clue what is going on and no clue how to fix it.  Some people who subscribe to this blog tell me they are receiving their feed of it with no overwritten script.  I know that those who come directly to the website to read the post are discovering the two sentences of overwritten script.  My apologies and thanks to those of you who persevere.

{Update November 6, 2013:
 Somehow by means that I do not understand, probably an exorcism of some sort, the offending text has been dropped from this post.  Ignore what I wrote above.}

The following graph pertains to the discussion that follows.  I am placing it here so the demon-text that is haunting this post will appear across it rather than my writings.  Look at the graph and then scroll down to the text.

FRED Graph

Kim Peterson of MSN Money wrote this last Friday, "The U.S. economy is in full recovery:  Unemployment claims are dropping, companies are hiring again and the national deficit is plunging.  Sounds great.  So why don't we feel any better about our finances? The recovery is filled with apparent inconsistencies.  Jobs are coming back, but they are low paying.  Prices for food and gas are rising, but wages aren't keeping up.  Americans are digging out of debt, but they're putting away less money for retirement.  While the economy has come a long way since the depths of the financial crisis five years ago, most of us aren't exactly rolling in cash; in fact, a third of Americans still believes the country is in recession.  And there are plenty of reasons why we might feel less financially secure these days, even as slow but steady economic growth takes hold." 
Her comments are not made in an economic vacuum.  It seems as if most financial and economic writers I read these days believe that real personal income has been declining, is declining and will continue to decline in the future.  I can scarcely go a day without seeing some article bemoaning the fact that nobody but the rich are making more money than they did before the Great Recession.  I constantly read folks who tell me that my parents made more money, on a real basis, than I am making today.  Is there any basis in fact for what these folks are asserting?  Look at the graph above for the facts.
The important line in the above graph is the "0.0 Percent Change from Year Ago" line.  Anytime the blue line goes below that line it is the case that real personal income is declining.  On the other hand, anytime the blue line is above that line real personal incomes are rising.  Please note, this graph is charting "real" personal income.  That means it has been adjusted for inflation.  What you see above is real and true.  It is consistent with your personal experience.  It shows how much income has increased or declined after inflation has been subtracted out of the equation.
Although we experienced a serious decline in real income during the Great Recession, we have been experiencing real growth in personal income, with one tiny negative blip, for the last couple of years.  Also note that declines in personal income such as that experienced during the Great Recession are not at all unusual.  In fact, the decline that occurred during the 1973-74 bear market was much deeper than the most recent decline.  Perhaps the real personal income decline experienced during the Great Recession only felt worse to so many because we had gone since 1991 without experiencing a real decline?  Regardless, real personal income is increasing.  It is just below its all time high, set at the end of 2012, and above the high set just prior to the Great Recession.  In other words, we are making more money now that we were prior to the last recession, no matter what you might be hearing from the financial press.
The graph below shows real personal income per capita for the past ten years.  It illustrates what I just wrote:

FRED Graph

According to the federal government, the Great Recession began in October 2007 and ended in July 2009.  Real income on 10-1-07 was $35,823.  Real income on 7-1-09 was $35,448, a decline of 1% during the recession proper.  Personal income reached a high point of $36,679 on 4-1-08, during the Great Recession.  The low point was attained on 1-1-10, after the Great Recession was over, when real income touched $35,316. That represented a total decline of 3.7%.  Since then real income has risen to $36,666, an increase of 3.8%.  Real personal income is now only $13 less than it was during the previous recessional high point and $1,350 above the previous post-recessional low.  No matter how you cut it, we are making more money now than almost any time in our history and we are making much more today than we were just ten years ago. 
Is it true that I am making less than my parents did?  Is this generation born to suffer through real income that is less than the generation that birthed it?  Look at the graph below:

Graph of Real disposable personal income: Per capita

Although the recessions of 1973, 1982, 1991, 2001 and 2008 caused the income line to momentarily decline, the obvious fact is that real personal income in this country has been on an inexorable march upward.  There is no reason to believe that this situation has changed, is changing today or will change sometime in the future.  Don't believe it when you are told that you are a victim of poor economic circumstances.  Don't believe it when a career politician tries to tell you that he can fix the problem that does not exist, in exchange for your vote.  Real personal income is not declining.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Anti-Fracking Zealots Fiendishly Exploit Colorado Flooding

I received an email from a reader of this blog last night.  His message contained a link to the website of a lady who calls herself "Texas Sharon", or at least that is what it looks like to me.  I did not pursue the issue of who created the website very far.  I was more interested in the message found on the site.  Texas Sharon is a radical environmentalist who hates the oil and gas industry.  She is a socialist who believes that government is able to solve all of the world's problems.  She believes that profit is evil, the earth is sacred and people should only use renewable fuels.  If people are too stupid to use renewable fuels, she believes the government should force them to do so.  Not surprisingly,  she also hates the practice of fracking.
The title of the webpage on her site is, "Is there a media blackout on the fracking flood disaster in Colorado?"  Her headline caught me by surprise.  I live in the middle of the "flood disaster in Colorado" and had heard nothing about a "fracking" flood disaster taking place.  I was driven to conclude one of two things:  Either there was a media blackout on the fracking flood disaster (and that is why I am unaware of it) or there is no fracking disaster taking place and she just made this stuff up.  I had a pretty good idea which conclusion was going to be correct but I tried to suppress my anger at Texas Sharon and get a good night's sleep anyway.
I awakened this morning to my usual glass of orange juice and Denver Post.  There, on the very front page of the paper, was a story entitled "Oil And Gas Industry:  State, companies working to assess damage in fields".  So much for the theory that there is a "media blackout" about the potential damage done to oil and gas wells by the recent flooding.  Of course Texas Sharon would refuse to believe anything written in the newspaper article.  She believes everyone in the universe but her fellow greenies are in cahoots with the oil and gas industry in a vast conspiracy to rape and pillage the environment for profit.  I would encourage you to click through the above link and take a look at her website.  She is a gem.  She is so blinded by hate for profit seeking oil companies she is incapable of a single rational thought.
Like most environmental wackos, she has taken up the cause to ban fracking.  The fact that a lot of fracking takes place in northeastern Colorado and the fact that northeastern Colorado has experienced a flood have combined in her mind to create the perfect propaganda opportunity.  She spares no barb as she attempts to make the case that the combination of flooding and fracking has created an environmental "disaster" that will have far-reaching negative consequences.  I can already see her imagining BP type lawsuits for any oil company that might be operating in the area.  I can see her licking her chops at the idea that some profit seeking gas companies could be driven into bankruptcy.  So, the only important question we need to deal with is, does her assertion make any sense?
Let's begin with fracking.  Go to this website for a basic education about fracking.  Most important, from my perspective and for Texas Sharon, are the following facts about fracking:

1.  Since 1949 there have been over 2 million "frack treatments".  Not one of those 2 million cases has resulted in the pollution of ground water supplies.
2.  Since 1949 90% of all oil and gas wells drilled in the Socialist Democracy of America have been fracked.
3.  Most private water wells go no deeper than a couple of hundred feet.  Almost all aquifers are found no deeper than 500 feet.  Fracking operators do not even begin to turn the angle of the bore until attaining the depth of 2000 feet.  Almost all fracking operations take place between 6000 and 10,000 feet deep.  That means there are literally thousands of feet of impermeable rock between water supplies and fracking operations.  
4.  99.5% of the materials used in a fracking operation consist of water and sand.  That is why fracking engineers are often called "mud" engineers.  Fracking materials are mostly mud.

It is impossible to know what Texas Sharon means by the phrase "fracking flood disaster" because she does not define anything.  Her website has lots of photographs of well sites that are under water.  She has more photographs of floating natural gas tanks.  But what is it she is trying to prove?  Does she believe water is flowing into bore holes, creating back flow and causing millions of gallons of oil and toxic chemicals to get discharged into the flooded river?  Does she believe that containment tanks are rupturing and spewing millions of gallons of oil and fracking compounds into the flooded river?  Does she believe that gas and oil pipelines have broken and are pumping out billions of gallons of oil and natural gas?  Does she believe that all of these alleged leaks, ruptures and back flows are going to kill everything downstream?  Does she believe all downstream water supplies will be contaminated?  Will all animals die?  Will all farmland be destroyed?  She does not say.  It is difficult to criticize an argument that is impossible to know but I will give it my best shot.

  • Since fracking was introduced in 1949, over 2 million frack treatments have been pumped without a single documented case of treatments polluting a water aquifer.
  • 90 percent of all gas wells drilled in the United States since 1949 have been fracked.
  • - See more at:

  • Since fracking was introduced in 1949, over 2 million frack treatments have been pumped without a single documented case of treatments polluting a water aquifer.
  • 90 percent of all gas wells drilled in the United States since 1949 have been fracked.
  • - See more at:

  • Since fracking was introduced in 1949, over 2 million frack treatments have been pumped without a single documented case of treatments polluting a water aquifer.
  • 90 percent of all gas wells drilled in the United States since 1949 have been fracked.
  • - See more at:
    It is impossible to know precisely what Texas Sharon means when she says there is a disaster taking place.  She has many photographs of well sites that are sitting under water as well as some photos of natural gas tanks floating down rivers.  She speaks vaguely about contamination and water pollution being the inevitable result of the combination of flooding and fracking.  But she gives no precise argument as to exactly what she believes is taking place in the alleged disaster.  So, I will be forced to try and guess what she means.  I suspect she believes that the mere presence of flooding at a well site is sufficient cause to create a major ecological disaster.  I suspect she envisions thousands of people who live downstream being unable to drink their water because of oil and gas contaminants.  I suspect she believes that millions of fish and animals will die from being in oil and gas contaminated water.  I suspect she believes that flooded farmland will be rendered useless due to the presence of toxic chemicals and oil contamination.  Let's consider this possibilities.
    If Texas Sharon is afraid of back flow from uncapped wells she needs to know this.  There are approximately 20,000 wells in the basin that includes northeastern Colorado.  Nobody knows exactly how many of those well sites have been flooded.  We do know, however, that every single well that was flooded was capped prior to the last man leaving the well site.  There is no danger from back flow from bore holes.  There is no danger of drilling equipment being swept away and the natural pressure inside the bore hole causing the oil, gas and fracking compounds to come spewing out.  All well sites are secure.
    If Texas Sharon is afraid of massive spills of oil, gas and toxic chemicals, she needs to know this.  To this point nobody has produced a single photograph of any rupture spewing anything into the flood waters.  Helicopters have been flying over the area non-stop and there is no evidence of any spillage.  There have been no fires.  There is no evidence of any oil and gas pipeline ruptures or leaks.  The fact that a few tanks have been seen floating on the water means nothing.  The fact that a few on-site containment tanks have been seen listing to port due to water undercutting the foundation of the tank means nothing.  Texas Sharon has produced no evidence on her website that any damage has been done.  Visions of open wells spilling millions of gallons of oil and fracking mud into the water are just that...visions.  They do not exist in the real world found in northeastern Colorado today.  Sorry Texas Sharon, this is not another BP/Gulf of Mexico environmental "disaster".
    If Texas Sharon believes that oil and gas drilling effluence is going to destroy all living things downstream, she needs to know this.  The greatest danger to downstream fish is silting.  Silt clogs the gills of fish.  Given enough silt in the water the fish will suffocate.  If any pictures of fish floating on the surface of the waters are eventually seen we can rest assured the fish did not die from fracking pollution contamination.  There is no real danger to farmland downstream.  Texas Sharon needs to remember that some of the richest farmland in the world is that found in floodplains.  Once the water recedes the farmland will be better than it was before.
    Every rational person with a lick of sense agrees that the biggest danger to humans downstream is not from oil and gas contaminants.  It is from bacteria from human waste.  Most all of the city sewer systems that are upstream have flooded.  That flooding has caused back flows.  People have had sewage backing up in their homes.  Many cities and towns have put their citizens on alert to purify their water prior to using it.  I have personally witnessed two pit-toilets in a state park near my home that are completely submerged.  As is always the case in flood situations, the biggest danger is from water born pathogens that are the result of human waste and that can cause diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
    So, sorry Texas Sharon.  Nice try.  But your propaganda just does not fly.  The mere fact that fracking has been taking place in an area that is flooded is not sufficient cause to declare an environmental disaster.   Your hatred for profit-seeking oil and gas companies notwithstanding, there is simply no fracking flood disaster here.    Maybe you should look into the tornadoes that struck Texas this year.  Maybe they can be combined with the practice of fracking to create multiple "tornado fracking disasters" all around your state. You can take lots of photographs of the impact of tornadoes upon well sites.  I am sure the environmentally faithful will believe what you have to say.  Meanwhile, those of us with a brain will ignore your drivel.

    Update:  September 19, 2013

    The Denver Post reported today that a survey of 1900 flooded oil and gas wells in northeastern Colorado turned up "two tank batteries that were damaged by flood waters and have associated light -oil releases."  The report stated that an estimated 5,250 gallons of oil spilled into the South Platte river near Milliken.  As of this morning the South Platte river at Ft Lupton is flowing at 1500 cubic feet per second.  Although nobody wants to see any oil spilled into a river, it is difficult to see how a 5,250 gallon spill constitutes a "disaster".  It is impossible to see how any of this has anything to do with fracking.

    Update:  September 20, 2013

    The final reports are in.  10 locations where oil/gas spilled onto the ground or into a flooded river combined to spill a total of 18,725 gallons of oil in northeastern Colorado during the recent flooding.  I reported on the second largest spill yesterday.  It was 5,250 gallons. The largest spill was at a tank farm on the St. Vrain river.  323 barrels, or 13,500 gallons, of oil was spilled in to the St. Vrain river near Platteville.  The other 8 oil spill sites were minor issues such as "sheens coming off a piece of equipment rather than a measurable volume of petroleum product."  According to the EPA the two largest spills both involved "condensate - a combination of oil and water."
    Reporting the facts is one thing.  Interpreting those facts is another.  Governor Hickenlooper, in a rare moment of common sense, stated that, "the several small spills we've had have been very small relative to the huge flow of water coming through."  On the other hand, anti-oil environmental wackos like Wes Wilson (leader of "Be The Change", an anti-oil lobby group) stated, "the sheens visible on surface water are an indication of heavy crudes left behind which will now end up in the soil.  We are going to have dozens, if not hundreds, of toxic sites and they've got to be cleaned up."  How 10 sites suddenly morphed into "hundreds" is not explained.  I suspect he has some financial interest in companies that work in cleaning up "toxic" sites.
    Reports noted that the oil companies had already put absorbent booms with vacuum trucks in the locations of the two major spills.  In the Milliken case, 25% of the oil had already been recovered.
    For Texas Sharon, I have this additional point of information.  According to the report, "None of the sites where Anadarko is hydrofracturing - pumping large volumes of water, sand and trace chemicals into a well to crack rock and release oil and gas - are in flooded areas."
    Also to put things in perspective, let's assume that 15,000 gallons of oil actually spilled into the South Platte and is now careening towards Nebraska.  15,000 gallons of oil is the equivalent of 2,000 cubic feet of oil.  As I write this post the South Platte river is flowing at 10,500 cubic feet per second in the town of Fort Morgan, below where most of the tributaries from the flooded area converge.  In other words, more than five times the total volume of spilled oil is flowing down the river in water every second.  It is hard to see how even the most rabid, oil company hating, profit-seeking company despising eco-terrorist could interpret the data in a light favorable to his position.  Still, I am sure they will.  The report in the Denver Post concluded with one oil company hater saying, "I think we have got better ways to create energy."  Who the "we" in his sentence referred to was not explained.  What the better ways to create energy were was not described.  How federal taxpayer subsidies for renewable energy sources constitute a "better way" was not presented as the necessary conclusion in a syllogism.
    Meanwhile, FEMA representatives also reported that "millions of gallons of sewage" has spilled into waterways.  E Coli has turned up in numerous municipal water systems.  The real danger to human health is ignored by environmental zealots filled with hatred for oil companies.

    Update:  October 9, 2013

    In an article in today's Denver Post entitled, "E.Coli, but no oil, seen in flood zone", the author reports that the Colorado Health Department has collected water samples from twenty locations in eight rivers in the flood zone.  High levels of E. Coli bacteria were discovered in all samples.  The presence of the E. Coli is a direct result of massive sewage leaks as the health department estimated about 20 million gallons of raw sewage poured into the streams.  To the chagrin of oil company haters, the health department stated that "testing showed no evidence of any contamination by oil." 

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    Colorado Floods: FEMA Stay Away!

    Many of you could be aware of the fact that northeastern Colorado has been experiencing some flooding in recent days.  The body count from the rushing waters is presently up to 4.  I don't understand why the media is so insistent upon having a continuously accumulating body count.  The last major flood in the Denver area happened in 1965 and the body count for that event rose to 21.  Are these events in competition with one another?  After the previous major flood the powers that be constructed a series of flood control dams that have been, no doubt, responsible for saving many lives and much property.  Old timers who witnessed both floods have said that this one appears to be worse, although its impact has been less severe.  All I know is a lot of water has fallen, a lot of homes have been damaged or destroyed and a lot of highways have crumbled under the onslaught of the water.
    Governor Hickenlooper did what most politicians do in times like these.  He made speeches and declared the citizens of Colorado to be the most kind, most generous, and most hearty of the land.  We all know those are lies designed to flatter us but many people choose to believe them anyway.  He also was careful to tell those citizens, of which I am one, that he was in contact with the federal government and he was doing his absolute best to get federal funds sent to the state.  I just read in the newspaper this morning that King Obama telephoned our Prince over the weekend and assured him that FEMA funds and personnel were on the way.  How disappointing.
    If my house had caught fire and burned down over the weekend it might have been a story in the local newspaper.  If my burning house had caused my neighbor's house to also burn down, I probably would have made the local 5:00 news.  If the entire street had caught fire we would probably have made the news throughout the Denver metro area.  But in none of the above cases would King Obama declare that I have a right to other people's money to rebuild my home.  When thousands of homes are affected by flood waters, however, the entire situation apparently changes.   It makes no difference to the individual if his home was the only one that was washed away or if ten thousand other individual homes were washed away.  It makes a huge difference to the politicians.  Large scale disasters get the attention of national media and potentially millions of votes are at stake.  Just because my house was destroyed along with hundreds of others I am now somehow magically entitled to taxpayer dollars from taxpayers in other parts of the country.  It is ridiculous, of course.  But it is politics as usual in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.
    Lots of people who live in northeastern Colorado believe in the Constitution.  You may also have heard about the secessionist movement that is taking place there.  Several counties want to secede from Colorado and form the 51st state.  Good for them.  Although they have no chance of success (the federal government would never approve it), I appreciate their chutzpah and their assertion of a somewhat distorted doctrine of states-rights.  Certainly the folks who understand that men should be able to live freely and that the power of government is to be restrained should also understand that living freely means taking personal responsibility for those things that happen to them.  That includes the devastating effects of floods.  Now, maybe they do not want federal "help".  Maybe the Prince is not speaking for them.  I don't know.  I do know that nobody has been reported in the press as raising an objection to federal aid.  I hope those folks who want to secede stick to their principles and turn down all federal dollars.  But I am a realist.  I don't expect that to happen.  The federal tentacles are just too strong.
    My home did not flood.  My basement did not accumulate water.  My roof did not leak.  In fact, of all the areas in northeastern Colorado that have received rain, I believe the little community in which I live probably received the least amount of total rainfall.  Every community around me officially reported rainfall totals that were in many cases double or triple the amount I measured in my backyard rain gauge.  So I have suffered no harm while thousands around me have experienced significant losses.  I can therefore be accused of being insensitive to the needs of others when I write that FEMA should go away.  I don't care.  I hope I have sufficient moral character that if my home does some day get destroyed by a natural disaster I would still tell FEMA to go away.  There is more at stake here than mere utility.  Moral principles and personal integrity should trump immediate need and utility every day of the week.  In that spirit I say, FEMA go home!
    There is a very simple principle at work here.  Let's assume for the moment that my home was washed away, that the county road leading to my home no longer exists and that the bridge connecting me to the state highway was washed out.  What am I to do?  The first question I must ask myself is, did I have flood insurance?  If not, why not?  A second question I should ask myself is, why did I knowingly build my home in a flood plain?  When I knowingly assumed the risks associated with building in a flood plain, how does it follow that now that a flood has occurred I should not be responsible for the damages caused by it?  Is my word worthless?  Are my promises to behave responsibly conditional?  I should have purchased flood insurance.  In that case my home will be rebuilt and life will go on.  If I did not purchase flood insurance and I made the decision to live in a flood plain I should be left to suffer the consequences of my foolish decision.  Most importantly, my foolish decision to live in a flood plain without flood insurance does not suddenly make my neighbor financially responsible for my loss, regardless of what King Obama says.
    There is no reason in this world why you should ever be responsible to pay my bills.  I am responsible for my all bills, you are not.  When King Obama announced that he was going to steal money from people who live in other parts of the Socialist Democracy of America and send that money to local and state governments in the flood affected zone, he committed an immoral act.  The residents within the flood zone do not have a moral claim on the money of SDA citizens who live outside the flood zone simply because they experienced a flood.  They have no right to any person's money.  For the federal government to forcibly extract money from non-flooded citizens of the SDA and give it to citizens who have been flooded is wrong, immoral and an act of theft for which they will be held accountable.
    The fact that the road outside my home no longer exists does not change anything.  The fact that the bridge connecting me to the road on the other side of the river no longer exists does not change anything.  The road to my home was a county road.  The county must pay for its repair.  As a citizen of this county my taxes will go into the repair of my road.  The bridge was a state bridge.  The citizens of the state must pay for its replacement.  My taxes as a citizen of this state will pay for the repairs.  Under no circumstances can it ever be considered morally justifiable for the federal government to force citizens in other states within the SDA to pay for the reconstruction of my road and bridge.  It is theft.
    Of course my words will be met with howls of derision from the handful of people who read this blog.  They will accuse me of being heartless and assert that if my home had been destroyed I would be at the front of the line seeking a federal government handout.  I hope they would be wrong.  I hope that my moral principles would not fly out the door the moment I might face financial difficulty.  I hope I could walk away from the government agent who is reaching out to me with a great big bag of cash that he stole from other people and wants to give to me.  Regardless, the truth remains that moral principles are absolute.  You should never be forced to pay my bills.  Ever.  Therefore, FEMA funds should not be coming to Colorado.  In fact, FEMA should not even exist.
    If you feel constrained to help your fellow man you are always free to make charitable gifts to those who have suffered loss.  I would never tell anyone to not be charitable.  In fact, being charitable is a very good thing.  Helping our neighbors is a very good thing.  If my neighbor's house had been flooded (it wasn't), I would have offered to have him stay in my home until his could be repaired.  That is the right thing to do.  The key question here is, who is my neighbor?  Not everyone living on the surface of the earth is my neighbor.  I am not responsible for the family who lost their home in a tornado in Oklahoma or a hurricane in Texas.  My neighbor is my neighbor.  I know his name.  I know a bit of his life story.  We see each other.  We talk.  We are neighbors.  But to have the federal government take money from a couple living in Daytona, Florida to give to the county government to use to repair the road to my house is flat out wrong.  I must be responsible for myself, and so should you. 

    Update:  September 18, 2013
    The Denver Post reported today that 6,400 people prostrated themselves in worship before FEMA representatives yesterday to beg for a transfer of taxpayer money from the federal treasury to them because they suffered the consequences of a federally approved catastrophe.  FEMA representatives were happy to give away stolen money in exchange for votes for their handlers.  Almost one half million dollars of taxpayer money was given to the petitioners.  It begins.
    Meanwhile, there was no newspaper report of any money being given to the man in south Denver who lost his home to fire last week.  Poor fellow.  If only he could have lost his home in the government approved fashion. 
    Incidentally, the Post carried a small article about a stockbroker who is going to serve 12 years in prison for building his home with money he stole from his clients.  The lesson to be learned here is clear.  If you want to get a new home, be sure to use the thievery apparatus of the federal government to do so.  Any attempt to do so yourself will be prosecuted.