08 April 2009

Corporate intelligence, Vol. 8

Once again, I'm here to demonstrate the importance of saying exactly what you mean, and nothing more. Just as I am the noble hero of literalism, picking apart your statements at will to reveal the messages you didn't know you were sending, there is a dark side to this power, and those who practice it do not show mercy even to fat, lazy, spoiled, Depressed nations.

My example this time comes from our hard-working United States Congress, doing its best as always to provide a steady, paternalistic hand guiding the feisty sled dogs of capitalism, while those dogs do their best to distract that hand with giant sacks of cash.

Paper industry starts using oil to get billions in alternative-fuel credits

Before you decide this sounds boring, let me sum it up for you, to innocently feed your disbelief and rage while you're trying to decide how you're going to make it through these next few years with both the shirt on your back and an absence of Chinese capitalist Communists laughing while they repossess Mt. Rushmore:

A few years ago, Congress passed a law meant to promote decreased use of fossil fuels. The language of this bill was so poorly chosen that at this most ideal of times, we all are now on the hook for many billions of dollars in unplanned-for expenses paying crafty companies to start mixing diesel fuel in with the renewable fuel they've traditionally created from their industrial waste.

So we have a single bright spot in a generally toxic industrial process, the usage of a waste product as fuel in place of more damaging alternatives, and these giant companies, hemorrhaging money for too long, snuff it out with a shower of diesel fuel injected into the process to qualify them as "mixing a taxable fuel with an alternative fuel."

The result for us, the taxpayers? International Paper, for example, will get "probably close to a billion a year of cash" from the IRS encouraging them to "keep mixing alternative fuels with the diesel fuel", and the manageable $61 million projected by Congress for extending this right-minded credit three months could instead "cost as much as $2 billion." The likely total payout to the top ten paper companies alone for this year is $8 billion.*

"The money to be gained from exploiting the tax credit so dwarfs the money to be made in making paper ... [that] the ultimate result of the credit will likely be to push paper prices down as mills churn at full capacity in order to grab as much money from the IRS as it can."

So at least you can get a few reams of paper way cheaper than before, for drafting all those letters to your Congresspeople. Just call me Mr. Sunshine-- I'll always find the bright side even if I have to make it myself! Maybe they can use all the extra paper to print up some more currency-- doesn't that always fix things whenever money is tight?

Remember this heartwarming story of poor word choice** as you hunker down with your industrious neighbors to help patch this sinking ship, making daily sacrifices just to get by, gladly exchanging a pay cut for a non-binding implied desire not to fire you in the immediate future.

At least SOMEONE'S making some money, right?*** That's gotta trickle down somehow... or do I need to go buy the latest edition of this classic 1983 economics textbook?

* $8 billion! Before all these corporate bailouts and emergency loans, that used to be an awful lot of money.

** I say "poor word choice" only assuming no Senators from paper-producing states were involved in writing this bill.

** For my readers abroad, rest assured that, as you can see, even the economic elite of America are determined to help dig a way out of the hole we've dug you all, by any means necessary.


unmitigated me said...

This makes my head hurt.

cIII said...

Almost as Horrifying as the "Naked Short Selling" I just learned about.

Nest of Schemeing Bastards. Each and every one of them.

beth said...

Perhaps the real lesson to be learned here is leave goventment out of most business as business always finds ways to "work the system".

Halftime Lessons said...

I refuse to let you work me into a lather over this.


Too late.

You definitely have the gift of gab my friend. Literal wording is oft the source of frustration around here...I am the half of the couple who believes in the importance of wording.

The other half, not so much.

Great post Dan, thanks for the ulcer.