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Front Page » Authors » Bio for J.P. Michaud » Archives for J.P. Michaud

By J.P. Michaud on September 20, 2008

The meltdown of our financial system should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. For the past five years, people who should have been renting apartments were buying houses they couldn’t afford with money they should never have been lent. Our apparent economic growth was sustained only by the fabled American consumer maxing out his credit cards and spending down the (imagined) equity accumulated in his home.

The federal government set no example either, accelerating government debt at an unprecedented pace – not to improve the country for its citizens with better health care or infrastructure – but to wage an unjustifiable war that benefited only the oil industry and defense contractors. How long could our whole system continue to teeter along on borrowed time and borrowed money?

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on August 3, 2008

In his recent column, Ethanol good for Kansas, the Kansas lieutenant governor, Mark Parkinson, tries to defend a misguided and (likely) doomed policy that was never fully thought through before receiving political approval: the subsidized burning of food in the form of bioethanol from corn. In a huge oversimplification, he tries to attribute all opposition to an "anti-ethanol campaign" by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

In fact, there is a huge backlash against bioethanol from many sources including scientists, conservationists and diverse business interests. Parkinson starts his defense by saying the corn used for bioethanol is not the same corn people eat. It is true we would not eat this as corn-on-the-cob or cornflakes, but it is the same corn used to fatten most of our livestock -- even catfish.

A recent article in the New York Times documented the complete collapse of catfish farming in Alabama due to competition with bioethanol for feed grain. Corn costs might only contribute 5 percent to an expensive box of cereal, but it is a much higher proportional cost in poultry, meat and fish production and consumers are about to see all these (far more essential) foods rise in price as result of the ethanol policy.

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on July 11, 2008

"Evolutionists use a variety of methods to silence alternate viewpoints. They say people are trying to 'inject religious views into science courses....'

"Many reputable scientists and scholars disagree with Darwin's theory of evolution and certainly challenge it. Evolutionists say they don't want biased religious views forced on students. Ironically, Darwin's evolutionary theory is based is atheistic naturalism, a religious belief." (Floyd and Mary Beth Brown)

I write this in response to that written by Floyd and Mary Beth Brown (here and above). They refer to a piece of legislation in Louisiana that was correctly described by the New York Times as a "Trojan Horse" that seeks to invite criticism of the established facts of science under the guise of "freedom of academic speech."

Global warming is poorly understood as yet, and eminently debatable from various scientific angles. Human cloning is an issue that must be addressed for its sociological and ethical implications, debates that are completely beyond the purview of science. However, evolutionary theory is not dogged by any such uncertainty or ethical dilemma, and the Times correctly identifies it as "the unchallenged central organizing principle for modern biology."

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on May 4, 2008

It seems that politicians of every stripe have a new buzzword to abuse. Preface any project or technology with the word *renewable* and it is almost guaranteed to generate automatic public support and popularity – even though it is invariably linked to some handout for big corporate interests. Coincidence? I think not. It reflects the covert stranglehold that corporate interests have gained over our political process. Powerful lobby groups representing private interest sectors are the primary beneficiaries of such policy, rather than the public interest.

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on April 2, 2008

It isn’t the south against the north. It isn’t Christians versus Muslims. It isn't even the rich versus the poor. It is a civil war arising from the land use conflicts inherent in alternative energy generation initiatives and it thrives on a certain disconnect between urban and rural elements of our society.

While rural communities possess the required land resources, large urban centers have the hunger for the power and the political influence needed to acquire it, along with little empathy for the pastoral quality of life that defines and motivates rural living.

Politicians of almost every stripe are currently stampeding over each other to masquerade as protectors of the environment by promoting and embracing 'renewable energy'...

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on December 31, 2007

First, let me clarify a point from my earlier blog on biofuels and farm subsidies. Food should cost more than it does for two reasons: because the true costs of production are not factored in to the price, and because a large portion of the price is currently paid by government in the form of subsidies. What I failed to clarify adequately was my view that these costs should be borne by American consumers - not the farmers.

When I criticized farm subsidies I was not criticizing the farmers who have become dependent upon them, but rather an inefficient and undesirable way of funding agriculture.

We pride ourselves on being a democracy that thrives on a free market system. Subsidies distort free market forces, hide the true cost of food to consumers, and often encourage wasteful production practices.

For example, subsidizing diesel for agriculture encourages excessive tillage, a practice we are trying to discourage to improve soil and moisture conservation. It is generally agreed by economists in the World Trade Organization, including the American representatives, that agricultural subsidies are not a good thing, do not encourage sustainable and efficient agriculture, and should be ultimately abolished. But no country is willing to take the first step in eliminating subsidies because in doing so they put their own farmers at an immediate economic disadvantage. Only if all countries acted simultaneously would no single country be disadvantaged by acting first. Farmers would obtain the same profits, but consumers would pay more of their actual food bill at the supermarket and less of it through taxes.

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on December 12, 2007

As a scientist involved in agricultural production for many years, I have long said that food is undervalued and under priced in our society. Now the price of our food is set to skyrocket -- but for all the wrong reasons.

There are two reasons the price of basic foods was held at artificially low levels for so many years in America. The first was taxpayer subsidies that stimulated excess production of corn, wheat and soybeans.

These are "key" commodities because they are converted into many other forms of food, including chicken, beef and dairy products. We have been fooling ourselves with low food prices at the supermarket because we have already a paid a large portion of the price with our tax dollars.

At the same time, by depressing the value of these commodities with our overproduction, we have pushed subsistence farmers into ever deeper poverty in poor countries where subsidies are not available.

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on July 21, 2007

Is wind energy compatible with agriculture?

This is a compelling question given the proliferation of wind farms. The wind might be free, but harvesting it comes at a hefty price, in terms of the technology required, and the large areas of agricultural land required to site turbines.

The net value of wind energy to society is a controversial and technical issue, but farmers might be concerned whether the land can remain a farm in the conventional sense, as most wind developers claim.

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on June 1, 2007

Corruption may have occurred in the zoning process that led up to the conditional use application for a wind energy development in my county - Ellis County, Kansas. If any of you have following the efforts of my group, the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, to stop the "wind farm" from being built in such close proximity to so many residences, you may be interested in these chronology of events.

Read more of this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on May 4, 2007

Regarding the industrial wind power project some would like to build next to my town and near my home, I belong to all three of the groups described by Paul Faber.

I feel the siting of this project is entirely inappropriate, I have little faith in the ability of wind power to make any meaningful contribution to renewable energy.

I am outraged by the devious and undemocratic process by which this project has been foisted on unsuspecting citizens.

Read more of this post here ...

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