Putting the Scale of the Bailout in Perspective

November 25, 2008 - 08:31:41 PM

Just think of what could have been accomplished had we chosen to deploy 10 Trillion dollars toward really making our country work and the world work  for all humanity instead of propping up a house whose foundations have been found to be rotten to the core. Time for a makeover of the world's entire financial system from the ground up...... JA

According to Barry Ritholtz, the blogger behind "The Big Picture" and CEO and Director of Equity Research at Fuison IQ, an online quantitative research firm, "If we add in the Citi bailout, the total cost now exceeds $4.6165 trillion dollars. People have a hard time conceptualizing very large numbers, so let’s give this some context. The current Credit Crisis bailout is now the largest outlay In American history. Jim Bianco of Bianco Research crunched the inflation adjusted numbers. The bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:"

    • Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
    • Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
    • Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
    • S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
    • Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
    • The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
    • Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
    • Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
    • NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

    TOTAL: $3.92 trillion
    Data courtesy of Bianco Research

"That is $686 billion less than the cost of the credit crisis thus far. The only single American event in history that even comes close to matching the cost of the credit crisis is World War II: Original Cost: $288 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $3.6 trillion"

"The $4.6165 trillion dollars committed so far is about a trillion dollars ($979 billion dollars) greater than the entire cost of World War II borne by the United States: $3.6 trillion, adjusted for inflation (original cost was $288 billion). Go figure: WWII was a relative bargain."

Ritholtz estimates "that by the time we get through 2010, the final bill may scale up to as much as $10 trillion dollars." "Bloomberg calculates the total amount the taxpayer is on the hook for is $7.76 trillion, or $24,000 for every man woman and child in the country. (Data breakdown is here)


PS 1.05.09

On Nov. 24 2008 the US Treasury agreed to guarentee $306,000,000,000.00 of Citigroup's troubled assets. This was on top of the Treasury's recent cash infusions of $45,000,000,000.00 into Citigroup. According to Michael Lewis and David Einhorn's 1.4.2009 NYT OpEd piece - " The End of the Financial World as We Know It " , the bailout of Citigroup equated to almost 2 percent of gross domestic product, and about what we spend annually on the departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development and Transportation combined. 




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The Pickens Plan

July 27, 2008 - 10:42:14 PM
T. Boone Pickens ideas about wind energy make sense but as Greg Watson points out in his superb blog "12 Degrees of Freedom" we'd be far better off converting the nation's vehicle fleet to electric power instead of natural gas. For a detailed explanation as to why this is true, see the following article by Harvard professor Michael McElroy. (JA)


The Pickens Plan:

America is addicted to foreign oil.

It's an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. It touches every part of our daily lives and ties our hands as a nation and a people.

The addiction has worsened for decades and now it's reached a point of crisis.

In 1970, we imported 24% of our oil. Today it's nearly 70% and growing.

As imports grow and world prices rise, the amount of money we send to foreign nations every year is soaring. At current oil prices, we will send $700 billion dollars out of the country this year alone — that's four times the annual cost of the Iraq war.

Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion — it will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

America uses a lot of oil. Every day 85 million barrels of oil are produced around the world. And 21 million of those are used here in the United States.

That's 25% of the world's oil demand. Used by just 4% of the world's population.

Can't we just produce more oil?

World oil production peaked in 2005. Despite growing demand and an unprecedented increase in prices, oil production has fallen over the last three years. Oil is getting more expensive to produce, harder to find and there just isn't enough of it to keep up with demand.

The simple truth is that cheap and easy oil is gone.

What's the good news?

The United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power.

Studies from around the world show that the Great Plains States are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world — by far.

The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America's electricity can come from wind. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country.

Today's wind turbines stand up to 410 feet tall, with blades that stretch 148 feet in length. The blades collect the wind's kinetic energy. In one year, a 3-megawatt wind turbine produces as much energy as 12,000 barrels of imported oil.

Wind power currently accounts for 48 billion kWh of electricity a year in the United States — enough to serve more than 4.5 million households. That is still only about 1% of current demand, but the potential of wind is much greater.

A 2005 Stanford University study found that there is enough wind power worldwide to satisfy global demand 7 times over — even if only 20% of wind power could be captured.

Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20% of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion. It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns.

That's a lot of money, but it's a one-time cost. And compared to the $700 billion we spend on foreign oil every year, it's a bargain.  READ MORE »

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Air-Powered Car Coming to U.S. in 2009 to 2010

July 27, 2008 - 10:07:58 PM

The CityCAT, already being developed in India (above), will be available for U.S. production in three different four-door styles. But it's the radical dual-energy engine, with a possible 1000-mile range at 96 mph, that could move the Air Car beyond Auto X Prize dreams and into American garages.

Air-Powered Car Coming to U.S. in 2009 to 2010 at Sub-$18,000, Could Hit 1000-Mile Range By Matt Sullivan of Popular Mechanics Magazine

Published on: February 22, 2008
The Air Car caused a huge stir when we reported last year that Tata Motors would begin producing it in India. Now the little gas-free ride that could is headed Stateside in a big-time way.

Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) confirmed to on Thursday that it expects to produce the world’s first air-powered car for the United States by late 2009 or early 2010. As the U.S. licensee for Luxembourg-based MDI, which developed the Air Car as a compression-based alternative to the internal combustion engine, ZPM has attained rights to build the first of several modular plants, which are likely to begin manufacturing in the Northeast and grow for regional production around the country, at a clip of up to 10,000 Air Cars per year.

And while ZPM is also licensed to build MDI’s two-seater OneCAT economy model (the one headed for India) and three-seat MiniCAT (like a SmartForTwo without the gas), the New Paltz, N.Y., startup is aiming bigger: Company officials want to make the first air-powered car to hit U.S. roads a $17,800, 75-hp equivalent, six-seat modified version of MDI’s CityCAT (pictured above) that, thanks to an even more radical engine, is said to travel as far as 1000 miles at up to 96 mph with each tiny fill-up.  READ MORE »

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A Generational Challenge to Repower America

July 23, 2008 - 06:34:23 PM

Al Gore speaks at DAR Constitution Hall on 7/17/08

Ladies and Gentleman:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more - if more should be required - the future of human civilization is at stake.

I don't remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse - much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland's largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an "energy tsunami" that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn't it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that's been worrying me.

I'm convinced that one reason we've seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately - without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective - they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges - the economic, environmental and national security crises.

We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we're holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.
The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis, I have held a series of "solutions summits" with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices. Moreover, they are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses.

But to make this exciting potential a reality, and truly solve our nation's problems, we need a new start.

That's why I'm proposing today a strategic initiative designed to free us from the crises that are holding us down and to regain control of our own destiny. It's not the only thing we need to do. But this strategic challenge is the lynchpin of a bold new strategy needed to re-power America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans - in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge.  READ MORE »

Buckminster Fuller Challenge: SEE THE MOVIE!

June 24, 2008 - 06:17:23 PM

The good news -- we’re acquiring the right technology.

The bad news -- we’re still doing it for the wrong reasons.

Bottom line: life support systems are critical.

Bucky had it right. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

Thats why The Buckminster Fuller Institute is awarding a $100,000 prize each year for comprehensive solutions that radically advance human well being and ecosystem health.




Learn more at

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Winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge to Receive The " OMNIOCULI "

June 02, 2008 - 10:26:08 PM

The OmniOculi designed by artist Tom Shanon will be presented to John Todd, the winner of the first Buckminster Fuller Challenge along with a check for $100,000 on June 23rd, 2008 at the Center for Architecture, New York City.

Artist’s Statement:

“Bucky loved to enlighten. His talks and writings overflow with original connections between math and nature. Nature as the model for his conceptions. He proposed a comprehensive view of the universe as an integrated whole. Then asked to conceive a sculpture to represent the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, I knew I wanted it to be as loaded with Fuller’s thinking as possible. The sculpture formed rapidly in my mind. Shape, spherical, because Bucky elucidated spheres perhaps more than anyone; geodesic patterning, because that’s the special geometry with which he meant to emulate nature’s behavior.

Bucky liked to remind us that on all scales there are always an inside and an outside co-existing. It came to me to highly perforate the surface of the sphere so one could see the inside at the same time as the outside. The perforations would be located at the vertices of a high order geodesic dome. The vertices would be open viewports like the fly’s eye domes. I then thought it would be revealing if select vertex holes could be of particular sizes to represent the vertices of as many of the regular polyhedrons as possible, such as the five platonics, the archimedians and in particular the sixty carbon atoms of the buckminsterfullerene molecule, all neatly circumscribed and superimposed on the same geodesic pattern.

Bucky made original discoveries about the transformability of one elemental shape into another as manifest in his jitterbug’ model. I asked Joe Clinton, who is a master of geometry in general and geodesics in particular, if he could design such a complex pattern. What seemed like only a day later he had built a virtual prototype on his computer. Rapidly the pattern evolved into a beautiful flowing, slightly pinwheeling geodesic array comprised of sixteen graduated hole sizes marking the many circumscribed polyhedrons. Joe’s twist to the geodesic pattern makes allusions to patterns of nature from micro radiolaria through flowers to spiral galaxies.

This sculpture is also an interactive optical instrument. The concave inside is mirror-polished so it produces in its center a hovering aerial real image while it infinitely re-reflects the incoming light. The outside surface is also mirror reflective so it is omni-directionally visually alive with its changing surroundings. To hold the geodesic sphere in the air I chose a mirror-polished sphere exactly one half its diameter. That means the surface area of the large sphere is exactly four times the surface of the small sphere and the volume is of the large sphere holds the volume of eight of the small spheres. Surface increases by the square, volume by the cube. This doubling relationship Bucky observed has a subtle connection to Newton’s inverse square law of gravity: halving the distance increases the attraction four times.

The geodesic sphere is held by a hidden shaft seated in ball-bearings inset in the smaller sphere. This enables the geodesic sphere to be rotated or spun. The top half of the geodesic sphere is held in place by magnets so it can be removed occasionally for dusting the internal mirror.”

Title: OmniOculi
Material: 2024 aluminum (w/magnets and ball bearings)
Dimensions: 8 inch diameter sphere above 4 inch diameter sphere
Sculpture concept and design: Tom Shannon,
Geodesic concept design: Joseph Clinton
Engineering, machining: Bluechip Engineering
Computer Rendering: Jonah Tobias,

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