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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How High?

[Updated below]

Are petrol/gas prices, around you?

(Using both terms, to please me, and my more North American readers)

This weekend was sticker-shocksville for our family, gas-wise.

I filled the tank not once but twice, putting in our usual Premium, the cheapest of which I could find was at:

U$ 3.18 per gallon at a local Mobil station.

I daresay we could have gone to one of those "generic" petrol stations which seem to have popped up these past few years, like Weststar, Monarch, and Hess (although the latter is hardly new), since you have to mortgage your home to go to a Texaco these days -- but I find our cars get all clunky when I fill up with inferior gas.

Now we all know that gas prices always have their seasonal jump around this time of the year, but honestly, this is the earliest I've seen it this high, not having been cognisant of such things in the 1970s.

Speaking of NPR, I did listen to a report on Brazil's total petroleum independence, just announced this past week, by Brazilian President Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva.

The reporter on NPR couldn't help but gleefully compare the US and Brazil's dependence on oil, as ever skewing the story to make the US reflect badly in comparison.

They even interviewed the Petrobras president, about why one country is now independent, whereas the US still chugs gas as if it were Cool-Aid.

He replied that Brazil HAS to find ways to be independent because, and I quote again,

"Brazil doesn't have the United States' resources: neither the economic power, nor the military power, nor the government power that the US has."

Uh-huh.

Yeah, that's certainly true, but here are some other reasons you won't hear on NPR, for whatever reason, that have very little to do with the ones they tried to push you in this story, which seemed to hint at the "bully hyperpower" theory.


Number 1:

Brazil has almost 50% less population than the United States. It's 170 million to almost 300 million people.

Less folks. Less gas. Simple maths.


Number 2:

Brazil has about 60% of their population living in what would be considered grinding poverty here in the US.

The poorest person in New Orleans during the height of the Katrina debâcle, would be almost rich compared to the people who have to live in favelas, with their attendant conditions of rank filth and general misery.

Only about 25% are middle-class, or thereabouts, and a tiny percentage are the truly wealthy.

Contrast this with the 80% of middle-class people in the United States, and well...it's easy to be self-sufficient, when a comparative mere pittance of your population can afford to buy a car.


Number 3:

You know how anyone in the US with access to a car, can take a driving exam, no questions asked how you learnt?

Well, taking driving lessons in Brazil, and passing the driving exam is a question of two things:

Lots and lots of money (about 300 dollars for the State-enforced 12 lesson minimum, from a State-vetted Driver's Ed academy, it goes without saying), plus lots and lots of bribes.

-- In such countries as France, Belgium, state-sponsored driving academies can charge up to U$ 2000 for driving lessons. Imagine the outcry here in the US, if we did the same --

Because you can indeed take the driver's exam without benefit of bribes, but sometimes, they fail you because you didn't grease their palms.

And you have to take it again, and again, and again, until you do.

I need not mention that even those who can afford it, sometimes don't pass this exam, let alone those who are illiterate -- as a huge proportion of those 60% of poor people already mentioned, are.

And how poor people learn to drive, since few of their buds have those reputed US Welfare Caddies at their disposal, is a mystery to me.


Number #4:

As almost everyone knows now, Brazil has been using ethanol in their cars for years.

They call this "alcóol" in Portuguese (yes, "alcohol", and by the way, you can actually drink it, which many thieves do to syphon stolen gas), and more than half the cars in Brazil run on it.

It is true that in the early 1990's, suddenly alcool cars went became unfashionable, but they're back with a vengeance these days.

More alternative fuels -- less need for those Middle Eastern oil barrels.


Number #5:

Petrobras was the government-owned entity which has a virtual monopoly on gas purchased in Brazil, although other companies do have a share.

But imagine if there were only one truly big sanctioned company, say oh I don't know, "Standard Oil" maybe, owned, sponsored and given grants to research by the US government.

And all the gas purchased by consumers, fed back back to this "Standard Oil", in cold hard dollars.

Back in John D. Rockefeller's and Teddy Roosevelt's day, trust-busting was a big deal, and his (Republican, you'll remember) administration tried to break it up, successfully.

But in Brazil, when the government has a hand at the pump, you can be sure that won't happen nearly to the extent it did in the US.

Why would they? They'd be taking the profit from themselves.

Oh, yeah, one last thing.

We US gas consumers are sure hurting right now, no doubt about it.

But won't you spare a tear for the poor Brazilians?

After all, they pay 5-6 dollars a gallon for their automotive juice, fully independent as they are.

Of course, they have a lot less Hummers traipsing through their favelas, so no biggie.

P.S.: Why is it, you think, that NPR can't report on this side of the story, as I have here on my humble blog?

I mean, if I can give you a more fully rounded picture, why can't they, with their...better resources, do the same?

Perhaps the answer lies where it usually does with Mainstream Media:

They don't want to, because it doesn't fit their agenda.

UPDATE: Renato half-heartedly challenged my views on this blogpost on Ethanol, by asking for a reference for the purported $5-6 per gallon prices, which Brazilians are reputed to pay.

I accept the challenge!

This is the NPR report, as heard on Morning Edition, by reporter Julie McCarthy in Rio de Janeiro.

Click on "Listen Now" and scroll to about minute 3:13 of the 4:33 minute segment.

There you will hear her say that prices at the pump, seen on the average Carioca petrol station, are at:

"5.85 dollars per GALLON"

Obviously, they use litres in Brazil, so she had to have that converted to Imperial.

However, I wonder if she is using the "paralelo" exchange rate, which is the black market price for US dollars, or the official one, which is very very low?

Whatever it is, almost 6 dollars per gallon, Renatinho, is enough to choke a horse.

(Especially since so many Brazilians earn what is called a "um salario minimo", which is a little under 100 dollars per month...)

Renato did make a very shrewd point about this general topic, though.

He mentioned that no matter how fraught politics are in Canada -- they have taken to calling Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, "Bush Junior" -- this issue of gas prices, is almost absent in Canadian media.

After all, you'd think it would be the same, since Canadians pay as much, if not more, for their fuel, so what's the difference?

The difference is that our US media are stuck on:

"We want Bush to be blamed for everything, so we push certain stories, the better to make his administration look bad".

And Canadians are stuck on the Stanley Cup playoffs (Go Flames!!).

ANOTHER UPDATE: The World's Richest man is ahead of the curve. Just.

After probably having seen those "Go Yellow" commercials plastered every 5 minutes on TV, Bill Gates decided to splurge some of his hard-robbed cash on Pacific Ethanol.

I actually saw this story first on CNBC today, and it seemed the business show in the mid-afternoon was looking at this move of his, with jaundiced eyes.

Why? I can't recall.

They did mention he bought up about 25% of the company's shares though, so that's a very long-term investment.

By the way, NBC proper may be the most politcally left television network around, but their CNBC subsidiary is the most pro-free-market entity around.

Certainly, a very welcome change from the Abominable Dr. Lou Dobbs, a man I would have to be restrined not to flip off, if ever I were in his presence.

23 Comments:

  • A couple of years ago, my favorite local whacko right wing radio host moved on to another town and I looked for something to fill my morning drive void. I tuned in NPR with the hope of hearing what the other side had to say about things. Just my luck, it was a week-long series of special reports about the countries of South America. By the third day, even a numbskull like me could detect the NPR script: whatever country they were in was good, and the bad things in the country were caused by the evil Yankees to the north, no matter how tenuous the connection. I finished out the week, saw no reason to listen further, moved on the next week to another whacko right wing radio show. That's just NPR, I guess.

    By Blogger Pete, at Tue Apr 25, 07:17:00 am GMT-4  

  • Victoria, I must confess that I used to think you were perfect, except for your NPR predilection. After your recent posts, it is now clear to me, you are perfect!

    Jovi, I like the sound of that!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Tue Apr 25, 09:27:00 am GMT-4  

  • What does the MSM want? What do, in many cases, highly educated people want?
    It seems no more to me than a failed Soviet Union with it's lie of everyone sharing equally, as is a failed Cuba.(You and Jose have me thinking of that country all the time). As if there were no elite class in those countries, such fools to think they will all fit into that tiny percentage of preferential treatment. They all believe they will too.

    Stop. Paul, you're to comment here, not post. Okay.
    Do you know, Victoria, that almost always, as with this post, you have me seeing much more than I ever thought of, even though I share the general theme? I feel it, just cannot think it, like you.
    Partly why I come here :)

    By Blogger Paul, at Tue Apr 25, 10:43:00 am GMT-4  

  • And who could produce a more well rounded picture than Sundries?

    By Blogger Ron, at Tue Apr 25, 10:44:00 am GMT-4  

  • They don't want to, because it doesn't fit their agenda.

    Of course not. What they don't want to tell you is that they think that we should pay $5-$6 per gallon, too.

    What they're upset about with the current gas pricing is that the profits go to Big Oil and not to the Government, where it could be wisely spent on health-care or education.

    By Blogger I R A Darth Aggie, at Tue Apr 25, 10:57:00 am GMT-4  

  • Great analysis.
    As the mandatory script of the Lofty Lefty Press goes, America bad, Third World good.
    What they don't tell us is that, the poor in the United States have more social assistance, more justice, and more opportunities overall, than the poor subjects of a che loving government in South America.
    Brasil cut it's dependence on oil for only one reason: They wanted to export as much as they could through the socialist concept of a government owned monopoly, Petrobras. So the alcool cars are not for the benefit of the Brasilians, as the artificial high price of sugar cane alcohol demonstrates it, but for the benefit of a socialist machinery geared to export petroleum to several First World countries.
    Now, let's get into sugar cane economics. It's one of the most budget friendly crops in any tropical and semitropical setting. Sugar cane is technically and botanically a weed, so it grows practically out of any soil whose Ph is good enought to bear any vegetal life. While sugar would not be good as the canes are harvested from bad soils, alcohol would be the same, and the cycle is closed by using all byproducts as fertilizers to grow more sugar cane.
    Back to Brasil, the use alcohol as fuel has not solve the social problems, or has put cars at the doors of every Brasilian. On the contrary, the socialistic policies of the Brasilian parliament (because they have subsisted even through non socialist governments) have hampered the progress, and yes, as you say, many people steal the alcohol just to drink it as a high octane (pun intended) fuel for their illegal fanstasies.
    Which bring us to drugs.
    Brasil also has a high poverty rate associated to a high drug consumption, and homeless children are the main "glue sniffers" and "alcohol siphoners".
    If we were to use ethanol (non drinkable) as a massive solution for the "oil addiction" we would be certainly revolutionazing (how I hate this word!) the history of the automobile. But till the day comes by, we need to use our own oil reserves and to drill in our territory, without the constrains impossed by the extreme eco terrorist activists.

    By Blogger Charlie Bravo, at Tue Apr 25, 11:06:00 am GMT-4  

  • Sugarcane ethanol makes sense in a way that corn ethanol doesn't it.

    In the long run, low gas prices does us no favors.

    My two brief cents.

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Tue Apr 25, 05:32:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Hess is hardly a "generic" brand. Leon Hess was the owner of my beloved/your hated New York Jets until his death a couple of years ago, and the company, while hardly ExxonMobil is not tiny either. Anyways, you can go back to your regularly scheduled programming. Regards,

    Jorge

    By Blogger dotJorge, at Tue Apr 25, 09:29:00 pm GMT-4  

  • A couple of years ago, my favorite local whacko right wing radio host moved on to another town and I looked for something to fill my morning drive void.

    This is what I love about certain people, of our political tendencies.

    We know some of these talk show hosts are whacko ring-wingers, and say so, tongue-in-cheek...

    ...but the other side actually think Janeane Garofalo is normal.

    Not to mention the 'brains' behind Daily Kos.

    I tuned in NPR with the hope of hearing what the other side had to say about things.

    Very good.

    Although you're not like me, apparently, and inflict yourself with NPR rabies, at least you gave them a shot for a whole week.

    That's more than many a sinister-sided person would've stuck out with Rush.

    (Although you just KNOW a good chunk of Limbaugh listeners, as well as Fox News viewers, are just that)

    Just my luck, it was a week-long series of special reports about the countries of South America. By the third day, even a numbskull like me could detect the NPR script: whatever country they were in was good, and the bad things in the country were caused by the evil Yankees to the north, no matter how tenuous the connection. I finished out the week, saw no reason to listen further, moved on the next week to another whacko right wing radio show. That's just NPR, I guess.

    I think I remember that!

    Of course, it sounds like many another similar programme on South America (which you noted), but this one I remember because they interviewed some Chilean farmers, one of which was called Renato.

    I remember teasing my erstwhile Canadian co-blogger Renato, at the time, saying that the only time I have heard his name, was in South America not Italy. ;)

    Anyway, that segment did indeed have that "Blame the US for your ills" spin to it, since something the US industries were doing, was affecting their productivity.

    Whatevs.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 02:25:00 am GMT-4  

  • Victoria, I must confess that I used to think you were perfect, except for your NPR predilection. After your recent posts, it is now clear to me, you are perfect!

    Not at this time of the night, and I fear, in the mornings either.

    I look a fright in my Kiehl's mudmask at the moment, but I am naked. :)

    Jovi, I like the sound of that!

    C'est Bon. Jovi. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 02:29:00 am GMT-4  

  • (You and Jose have me thinking of that country all the time).

    The most excellent of all compliments, is to inspire someone, to think in a way they hadn't before.

    It doesn't mean, as many presume, that it is to agree with them.

    But rather to open up a vista, the better to enjoy the scenery of our life.

    Thanks for your kind, and as ever, generous words, Paul. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 02:31:00 am GMT-4  

  • And who could produce a more well rounded picture than Sundries?

    You too, my dear Ron! Many thanks for your charitable sentiments, as always.

    But, as I did say rather candidly, though for many, incorrectly, that I believe a blog is only truly as good, as its commenters.

    And thanks to my Althouse connexion, as well as to my friends from the soccer forum, not to mention some kind souls who just pounced on the blog, one day --

    I have the best.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 02:34:00 am GMT-4  

  • Of course not. What they don't want to tell you is that they think that we should pay $5-$6 per gallon, too.

    Bingo!

    The great unspoken truth in this whole topic.

    What they're upset about with the current gas pricing is that the profits go to Big Oil and not to the Government, where it could be wisely spent on health-care or education.

    Precisely.

    Fortunately, the US doesn't have a history of nationalised companies (unless you count the semi-public utilities etc.), so I don't forsee any profits being directed towards these areas.

    Which, as you mention, by definition -- since they are targetted towards and controlled by, the private sector -- means that "conglomerates" and "corporations" are the bad guys again.

    You never hear certain people complain, when say a Hugo Chavez is thinking of nationalising oil companies in his country (shiver), because then they think, he's protecting his own from "exploitation".

    What a bizarre double standard.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 02:42:00 am GMT-4  

  • Great analysis.

    Thanks, Charlie. :)

    I was happier than usual about this post, because I am at my "best", I believe, when I am rebutting a particular angle, certain people are trying to push.

    I'm a sucker for the Socratic method.

    Brasil cut it's dependence on oil for only one reason: They wanted to export as much as they could through the socialist concept of a government owned monopoly, Petrobras. So the alcool cars are not for the benefit of the Brasilians, as the artificial high price of sugar cane alcohol demonstrates it, but for the benefit of a socialist machinery geared to export petroleum to several First World countries.

    Although your points in this post are excellent, allow me to quibble about the Socialist term used.

    Brazil is only just coming into the free-market fold, after Getulio Vargas nationalised many industries, a situation which was abetted by the military juntas which ran Brazil from the 60's-80's.

    In short, as you know, these are protectionist measures, rather than strictly Socialist ones, though there is a lot of overlap, at times.

    It is also true that President Lula is a life-long union blue-collar worker, and despite being gussied up in Armani suits these days, he does encourage that kind of leftist attitudes.

    But Brazil is no way, a Socialist country.

    In fact, the surprise is that Lula is continuing with gusto, the free-market advances made since the corrupt ex-President Collor, took Brazil to more globalised waters.

    Now, let's get into sugar cane economics. It's one of the most budget friendly crops in any tropical and semitropical setting. Sugar cane is technically and botanically a weed, so it grows practically out of any soil whose Ph is good enought to bear any vegetal life. While sugar would not be good as the canes are harvested from bad soils, alcohol would be the same, and the cycle is closed by using all byproducts as fertilizers to grow more sugar cane.

    I know the Fanjul brothers of Palm Beach, have cornered much of the sugar cane market (with their Bacardi connexions, obviously).

    And the topic of sugar cane production is a heady one down here in South Florida, with a recent vote about sugar industries setting up shop near the Everglades -- which enraged environmentalists.

    Back to Brasil, the use alcohol as fuel has not solve the social problems, or has put cars at the doors of every Brasilian. On the contrary, the socialistic policies of the Brasilian parliament

    They were a parliament in the 60's yes, but no longer. They have a bicameral legislative body, as the US.

    Minor talk-back points, but I want to pre-empt picky, prickly people from tearing your otherwise reasoned arguments.

    (because they have subsisted even through non socialist governments) have hampered the progress, and yes, as you say, many people steal the alcohol just to drink it as a high octane (pun intended) fuel for their illegal fanstasies.
    Which bring us to drugs.
    Brasil also has a high poverty rate associated to a high drug consumption, and homeless children are the main "glue sniffers" and "alcohol siphoners".
    If we were to use ethanol (non drinkable) as a massive solution for the "oil addiction" we would be certainly revolutionazing (how I hate this word!) the history of the automobile.


    You know, Charlie, I was thinking about this last point of yours, all day.

    Alcool syphoning is not SUCH a big activity, and it is still rather dangerous to ingest alcool, albeit one can hold it in one's mouth for a while, if you lack a suction mechanism with which to do so.

    I have personally seen this happen in Brazil, MANY times.

    I agree that Brazil is very dangerous, and both my parents were mugged there (my dad, twice), but don't believe the City of God hype that MUCH, either.

    Of course, if you live in the "suburbios" of major cities, and you are black, you have an exponential chance of being a victim of the kind of mindless violence you saw in that film.

    (And in the Sundance documentary series by the same director, City of Men)

    But that's like saying that Detroit's worst crime areas, are indicative of the situation in the whole of the US.

    These "pivetes" (street urchins, pronounced pee-veh-chees) who sniff glue are everywhere.

    But they are not everywhere, everywhere, if you catch my meaning.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 03:08:00 am GMT-4  

  • Sugarcane ethanol makes sense in a way that corn ethanol doesn't it.

    In the long run, low gas prices does us no favors.

    My two brief cents.


    I know exactly what you are saying, RIA, but could you expound on the corn/sugarcane question, as well as the low gas prices, too? :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 03:11:00 am GMT-4  

  • Hess is hardly a "generic" brand.

    I did mention something like that! :)

    But you know what I mean:

    We down South would consider an established brand like Conoco, to be rather "generic", just because it's not very common down here.

    Leon Hess was the owner of my beloved/your hated New York Jets until his death a couple of years ago, and the company, while hardly ExxonMobil is not tiny either.

    Yeah, I am a Giants girl, all right.

    Are you kidding me? That fake spike by Marino is my favourite play EVER!

    Anyways, you can go back to your regularly scheduled programming. Regards,

    Jorge


    You are always welcome to inject some much needed common sense into this blog, Jorge. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 03:14:00 am GMT-4  

  • Guys, my reply-making has spilt over to my night-night time.

    I will blog/further reply tomorrow!

    P.S.: The gas oven caught fire again. Consequently, we are looking to buy a new one -- which means me, since purchasing appliances is my family province.

    And oh, we're having our guest/my bathroom completely remodeled down to the tub.

    More on that tomorrow. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 03:17:00 am GMT-4  

  • Upon re-reading my reply, Charlie, I think I too awkardly stated my points.

    Generally, I mean that Brazil isn't as violent as it is recently been seen to be.

    In fact, I often remark that Brazilians are the most happy-go-lucky people I know.

    They have a placid, non-violent nature in their culture.

    They much rather make love, than make trouble, unlike Argentinians... ;)

    I also failed to mention that your point about alcool syphoning got me to thinking about this happening in the US.

    Our German cars have tamper-proof gas openings, but could an ethanol-based gas see a crime industry spring up in the US, one day?

    Because it's much easier to syphon off, and resell since it's not as volatile, obviously.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 03:25:00 am GMT-4  

  • Vics,
    When I said that it was "socialistic" I meant the reasoning behind big nationalizations, the reasoning behind creating state owned monopolies. In Latin America, quite unfortunately, the lefty-populists politicians are the ones coming with these policies. What they do is what their master and teacher kasstro taught them so well: socialize mysery, since socialized mysery is a great tool of societal control. They imposse prices that allow the elites to enjoy the great life, that strangle the middle classes, and that keep people safely in mysery. So the elite, in which the left wing politicians and pseudo-intellectuals are included, enjoys the benefits of cheap labor. Yes, the right is also part of this elite, but the right doesn't go about and around singing praises to social measures, according to the evangelical chest pounding of the pinkos.
    Violence: there's a duality to Brasil. It can be very violent in the wrong places, and heavenly in the right places. It has nothing to do with the social strata to which people belong. It has to do with other malaises like drug trafficking, politicking, and leftwing terrorism.
    Peaceloving, the Brazilians are.
    Laidback and caring, too.
    There's probably no land on Earth where people enjoy life (even when it comes ladden with shortcomings) more than in Brazil.
    Cuba used to be like that. Now, thanks to kagasstro, Cuba has the highest women suicide in the world, the second highest suicide rates for teens, and the first cause of deaths for males is drowning in the Florida Straights.
    There's always more than one facet to a problem or to a story, and you have exposed with masterly hand the reality of Brazil for your readers. Points were taken for both your replies, and maybe I will get you some Brazilian recipes for your cooking adventures!

    By Blogger Charlie Bravo, at Wed Apr 26, 11:36:00 am GMT-4  

  • When I said that it was "socialistic" I meant the reasoning behind big nationalizations, the reasoning behind creating state owned monopolies.

    Charlie, I totally know where you are coming from on this, but I have to disagree with the "socialist" angle.

    Sure, with Hugo Chavez, and with the new spate of frankly extreme-left politicians which have cropped up of late to lead Latin American countries, there are overt to shaded versions of 'socialistic' practises.

    And as you say, the rhetoric is, without doubt.

    But to use "socialistic" even as a derivative word to describe not actual practises, but superficial similarities, is pushing the envelope, IMO.

    South America is a relic of the mercantilistic, paternalistic Iberian Empires.

    That was when the best of their countries, was exported to the motherland, leaving a deep emotional and historical scar, which hasn't healed to this day.

    Of course, the Spanish and Portuguese empires also sent their emissaries, who were corrupt, and just lined their pockets.

    This created, as I don't need to tell you (but to reinforce my point, I shall), a feeling that resources were being ripped off, and people taken advantage of.

    These nationalisations of industries, etc. thus has more to do with protectionism allied to nationalism (this protection of national "patrimonies, as Petrobras is called), than precisely "socialistic" practises of state ownership for equitable wealth distribution.

    In Latin America, quite unfortunately, the lefty-populists politicians are the ones coming with these policies.

    Yes, and watch out for Peru. ;(

    I will be blogging about their Presidential election, very soon!

    What they do is what their master and teacher kasstro taught them so well: socialize mysery, since socialized mysery is a great tool of societal control. They imposse prices that allow the elites to enjoy the great life, that strangle the middle classes, and that keep people safely in mysery.

    Yes, absolutely.

    So the elite, in which the left wing politicians and pseudo-intellectuals are included, enjoys the benefits of cheap labor.

    Where the US and South America differ, is in their intelligentsia.

    Here in the US, there is indeed an academic or social-minded elite, such as professors who lead janitor strikes (as in UM), or mega-wealthy celebs, who nevertheless vote Democrat, and trumpet the cause du jour.

    But they work. Work is good. Being in business, is good. No shame in that.

    Whereas in South America, another relic of their colonisation, has made their comparative tiny elites, and intelligentsia, HATE and be EMBARRASSED of business.

    It has the odour of labour, of needing to work, which is something the 'campesinos' should do, not them.

    This is an aristocratic hold-over, which I personally find galling.

    Because sometimes, I feel myself edging towards that way of thinking, and I am acutely aware, of how snobbish, and un-American, that is.

    Yes, the right is also part of this elite, but the right doesn't go about and around singing praises to social measures, according to the evangelical chest pounding of the pinkos.
    Violence: there's a duality to Brasil. It can be very violent in the wrong places, and heavenly in the right places. It has nothing to do with the social strata to which people belong. It has to do with other malaises like drug trafficking, politicking, and leftwing terrorism.


    Yes! 100% correct, IMO.

    Peaceloving, the Brazilians are.
    Laidback and caring, too.
    There's probably no land on Earth where people enjoy life (even when it comes ladden with shortcomings) more than in Brazil.
    Cuba used to be like that. Now, thanks to kagasstro, Cuba has the highest women suicide in the world, the second highest suicide rates for teens, and the first cause of deaths for males is drowning in the Florida Straights.
    There's always more than one facet to a problem or to a story, and you have exposed with masterly hand the reality of Brazil for your readers. Points were taken for both your replies, and maybe I will get you some Brazilian recipes for your cooking adventures!


    It's funny you mention the Cuban suicides, because I have a blogpost coming up on that too!

    I will H/T you though, since you have inspired me to post on it. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 01:32:00 pm GMT-4  

  • BTW, Lou Dobbs was completely out of control today.

    Someone had better check that man, because he suffers from a bad case of BDS: Bush Derangement Syndrome.

    Oh yeah, CNN is very neutral. Please.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Apr 26, 11:59:00 pm GMT-4  

  • We're on! Here's my link from a WSJ piece via a Yale Blog.

    Instead of reaching for the gasoline, he spent $29 to fill up his car on ethanol made from sugar cane, an option that's available at 29,000 gas stations from Rio to the Amazon. A comparable tank of gasoline would have cost him $36.

    Either it is somewhat cheaper to buy Ethanol or they have very small gas tanks.:)

    At current prices, Brazil can make ethanol for about $1 a gallon, according to the World Bank. That compares with the international price of gasoline of about $1.50 a gallon.

    I love the idea of the flexi-fuel cars! They would finally give people a choice of what to fill up on. It would also provide some competition to the oil companies.

    We've had higher prices here for years and have just learned it to accept it like snow, death, and higher taxes.

    By Blogger Renato, at Thu Apr 27, 12:11:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I'm actually working on some stuff about the issue, though Lord knows when I'll do anything about it, but here's the short, simplistic (and, therefore, dangerous) points.

    Growing corn takes more energy than growing sugarcane, in a variety of ways (and remember--the thing people always seem not to know or forget--whatever you have use to produce an energy source, whether equipment or pesticides or whatever themselves require energy to produce, and in some cases, run). Sugarcane, again very, very simplistically, is essentially grass, in comparison.

    Low gas prices permit people to go along in a fool's paradise that encourages our dependencies elsewhere, for sure, and possibly hastens the day when we well and truly have a TRUE shortage crisis of fossil fuel. And here's the insult to the injury: If at that point we decide, "Well, gee whiz! Now I'm ready for the alternatives!" we've got a number of problems--and not just the time required to construct the infrastructure for those alternatives.

    Let me pose a question: At this point, what is an absolute requirement for building wind farms, solar panels, nuclear power plants, factories to produce ethanol, etc. etc. etc.?

    Ahem: Fossil fuel. That's right, folks! It's gonna take fossil fuels, baby, to build the components etc. that are needed to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.!

    Ever wonder how many people actually think about that?

    Oh, and plastic, for example? What do we think that's made of, pray tell?

    It's not just about what goes in our tanks, folks.

    See ... and there I've gone on too long, but still, way too simplistically.

    In any case, just some food for thought, since you asked.

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Sat Apr 29, 12:42:00 am GMT-4  

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