Pollution for me, but not for thee!

Pollution for me, but not for thee!

5/14 - 73°/43°, 0% chance of rain; Oil, Musk, Bennifer, Property tax, masks no more, etc.

🛢 Oil Pipelines The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline not only exposed America’s dependency on oil but also the tenuous relationship between hydrocarbons and the Biden administration. We discussed Wednesday how the Biden Administration's policies exacerbate inflationary conditions. These efforts do not stop in D.C. though. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is currently in the process of trying to decommission Line 5, the petroleum pipeline supplying half of Ontario’s fuel supply. The reckless urgency of Green legislation refuses to account for the fact that world still runs on oil.

🧈 Bennifer Fresh off her break with Alex Rodriguez, rumors swirl that Jennifer Lopez has rekindled her flame with the erstwhile Ben Affleck. The last time they were together was 2003. Why is the Pamphleteer concerned with Bennifer? To be honest, we aren't, but the occassion offers an opportunity to reflect on 2003 and look at how much the world has changed since then.

In 2003, the five companies with the highest market capitalization were:
  1) Wal-Mart
  2) General Motors
  3) Exxon Mobil
  4) Ford Motor
  5) General Electric

Today, the list looks like this:
  1) Apple
  2) Microsoft
  3) Amazon
  4) Alphabet
  5) Facebook

Compared to 2003, today's stalwarts exert much more control over people's thoughts and habits. In just eighteen years, not even long enough for the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez flame to die, the US economy has been remade into what looks more like an immaterial thought experiment than a traditional economy based on the trade of materials, goods, and services.

🔋 More Musk Mayhem Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday night that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment on account of its "environmental impact." Bitcoin plummeted ~15% instantly. There's an obvious element of hypocrisy wrapped up in Musk's declaration. From Teslas receiving energy from a power grid comprised mostly of coal and natural gas to the destructive process of mining lithium for Tesla's batteries, Musk is not taking an evironmental stance, but expressing a value judgement on what we are "allowed" to expend energy to produce [1].

Some speculate that Musk [2] issued the statement to shore up the semiconductor shortage for Tesla; others, that he's conjuring a dip to buy more BTC at a discount. Maybe he's on a ketamine bender. We'll never know.

All we can do is speculate, of course, but here are some facts about BTC's energy usage:
  + Bitcoin does require lots of power to operate effectively
  + Estimates claim that 40% to 75% of this power comes from renewable energy sources. By comparison, just 20% of power in the US is generated from renewable sources.
  + Bitcoin miners (the source of the concern) soak up excess energy that would otherwise be wasted or sold to buyers such as aluminum smelters
  + It provides powerful, sustainable incentives for the development of low-cost energy effecient technologies
  + This is to say nothing of the wasteful USD, a topic too large for this newsletter, but tackled well by Alex Gladstein here

Fresh Reads

Jerod Hollyfield talks about the history of the action movie and how—despite the all consuming popularity of the superhero genre—it still speaks to Americans.

The Last Action Heroes
‘Nobody’ and ‘Fatman’ Face the Twilight of the Genre Star

Nashville News

🎉 All COVID capacity restrictions, except mask mandate, lifting today in Nashville (WSMV)
  + CDC to Ease Indoor Mask-Wearing Guidance for Vaccinated People (NR)
  + Metro to keep mask mandate despite CDC’s announcement (Channel 5)
  + We've said it before, but masks are the MAGA hat of the left

💰 Metro government sues Davidson County Election Commission over referendum (Main Street, Lookout, WPLN)
  + Cites the $800k it would cost tax payers to run the election
  + Disputes that the petition obtained enough signatures
  + Claims the referendum intends to "steer voters"
  + Who wants to pay more taxes? Certainly not taxpayers.

💸 Tennessee ends distribution of federal unemployment benefits (WPLN, Biz Journal)
  + Residents will no longer receive $300 on top of state benefits
  + TN Joins Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and South Carolina

🏭 TVA Takes First Small Steps Toward Closing Its Largest Power Plant (WPLN)
  + A confounding quote from TVA spokesman Scott Brooks: "These are the two largest coal units we have in our fleet. So if there’s any logic to it, it would make sense that we would start with our two largest units." This kind of logic belongs at the poker table

👨‍⚖️ Legal community calls for governor veto of chancery court bill (Lookout)
  + It attempts to divest Davidson County of undue influence
  + The bill creates a three-judge, statewide chancery court to hear constitutional challenges

📰 Other headlines from the week
  + Jim Cooper chief of staff, Lisa Quigley, announces departure (Post)
  + Rep. Jason Potts says he won't seek reelection (Tennessean)
  + Crack closes I-40 bridge between Arkansas & Tennessee (Channel 5)
  + Man catches 'prehistoric' fish on Caney Fork River (Channel 5)
  + Neighbors Debate Racing Proposal at Contentious Hearing (Scene)
  + Former LifeWay building sells for $95 million (Biz Journal)
  + Broadway building home to brewery sells for $36M (Post)

Nashville Events

Events for week of May 10th, 2021
Your week in events featuring the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, Soundsbaseball, Strawberries, much laughter, song, & more! Events🏰 The Tennessee Renaissance Festival continues Saturday and Sunday, Info[http://www.tnrenfest.com] ⚾️ The Sounds play the Memphis Redbirds all week. Catch America’…

Loose Ends

🦈 An addictive shark tracker (Link) and video of a surfer slapping a shark (Link)
🧬 Black holes, buckyballs and boxing hares — April’s best science images (Link)
📺 Get Paid $1,000 to Watch Home Improvement Shows. Really (Info)
🪁 A scrolling internet toy (Link)

Words of Wisdom

Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes.
 
Thomas Sowell, Polictics versus gold

Footnotes

[1] Now is not the time for Bitcoin apologetics, but suffice it to say that Bitcoin does provide value to people. The question of "what is worth energy expenditure" tells us more about who benefits from the allocation of energy than anything of substantive, environmental concern.

[2] Called the "Wizard of Oz" by Dave Portnoy for his market manipulation acumen