An Eruption of Illogical Moves

The Far Middle episode 88 honors defensive great Alan Page, the anchor of the Minnesota Vikings’ famous “Purple People Eaters” defensive line. Nick reflects on Page’s unique life story, “a story that oozes excellence through every chapter.” For more on the Purple People Eaters, check out where the Vikings’ defense ranks on Nick’s list of “The Ten Greatest NFL Defenses in the Super Bowl Era.”

Nick begins this episode’s connections by noting Page is a prominent catholic, and most prominent Catholics look to the Pope for guidance and leadership. Nick says unfortunately the Vatican is at it again with its calls to Catholics to stop investing in companies or industries that the Church views as immoral.

Nick contrasts the Vatican’s views on renewable energy investments with their view on investing in natural gas companies, as well as agricultural firms that use genetic science. “The Vatican’s recommendations are the exact opposite that science and logic dictate, it’s unbelievable that an institution that exists to provide moral guidance can have its moral compass be so fundamentally broken,” says Nick.

The Vatican is adrift in a sea of distraction, much like the United Nations and its ocean of accords and treatises. Nick proceeds to examine the latest UN accord signed by nearly 200 nations, who’ve agreed to conserve 30 percent of their land, inland waterways, and coastal and ocean areas. Moreover, he looks at where the land conservation funding will come from, and the impact of such an accord on the poor and developing world. Nick then discusses environmentalism and climate change being used to justify the transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world, or from one unfavored class to the favored class.

Nick summarizes that collectively the Vatican’s “faith-consistent investing,” UN accords, and forced value appropriation like the EU’s “solidarity contributions” all translate to lowering quality of life and should be exposed for their flaws.

In closing, Nick celebrates the late, great Eddie Van Halen in conjunction with his birthday. Nick lists the best guitar-driven works by Eddie on each Van Halen album, from Eruption to Outta Space.

Accumulation, Accountability, and Advocacy

The Far Middle episode 87 is dedicated to Sidney Crosby, who “epitomizes greatness on the ice,” says Nick as he highlights the best all-around player the NHL has ever seen, as well as Crosby’s leadership and his winning record. While Crosby, alongside Alexander Ovechkin in Washington, continues to accumulate points, another accumulation is also happening in Washington, and that’s the country’s federal debt load.

There’s a crazy, scary trifecta facing our country’s fiscal health and government finances, explains Nick. That trifecta is a federal debt of $31 trillion and quickly growing, paired with continuous budget deficits and raging inflation. As interest rates are raised to fight inflation, the cost of servicing debt increases, thereby increasing debt, resulting in a serious math problem that doesn’t compute.

Nick then points out where we’re seeing this trifecta come to light, adding concern is the fact tax revenues are near all-time highs. Should tax revenues decline, our fiscal situation will only worsen. Nick goes on to explain that government spends endless amounts of money not just to help the poor, or to right a wrong, but to now also to save the planet. This leads to a look at GM who expects its EVs will be profitable in 2025, thanks to recently enacted federal subsidies. As billions of tax dollars go from the middle class to multi-billion-dollar corporations, Nick says, sarcastically, that’s a price worth paying because it’s going to tackle climate change and save the planet.

Nick next passes the puck from GM to FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried. Nick looks at how the crypto sham company duped investors for billions, doing so in part by ESG manipulation and virtue signaling. Nick juxtaposes GM and FTX to Vanguard, who has quit the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, as well as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Vanguard’s decision is a refreshing affirmation that Milton Friedman’s teachings are alive and well.

Transitioning overseas, Nick comments on French President Emmanuel Macron who says he has backed a strategy of “absolute defense of Ukraine.” However, Nick calls out France’s energy policies, which have not done anything over the past decade to help Ukraine. While France’s words ring hollow, sometimes words matter greatly and to the benefit of all mankind, which leads to this episode’s conclusion: a reflection on Martin Luther King, Jr.—a master of the written and spoken word.

Climate Policy and the Damage Done

Far Middle episode 86 celebrates the “Fab Five Record Setters of 1986.” These record setters span professional sports, from the hockey rink to Augusta National, and from Fenway Park and the Boston Garden to the boxing ring.

While memorable records were being established in 1986, in 2023 we find several forgettable records being set. These include the declining state of the UK’s beloved brewing industry as it faces numerous challenges; from energy costs to labor strife to consumers’ purchasing power, challenges all rooted in climate and energy policy creating energy scarcity.

The situation on tap for UK brewers reminds Nick of another record, Neil Young’s Harvest, and the song “The Needle and the Damage Done.” But in this case, it’s “Climate Policy and the Damage Done.”

On that note, Nick discusses the irony of referencing an eco-warrior such as Young and explores what concerts and touring would look (and sound) like if such warriors’ performances were carbon-free.

Next up in the episode’s setlist is a “groundbreaking” study from Stanford that, according to the study’s lead author, finds “electricity access impacts economic well-being at scale across an entire country in Africa.” Nick asks if we really need satellites and artificial intelligence to tell us something we’ve known since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Nick references this is a theme discussed in his book, Precipice. He argues that the corollary to inhibiting the availability of affordable and reliable electricity through climate policy, which is morally wrong, is suppressing growth and personal income, destroying quality of life, and denying those in the developing world a path to a better life.

Equally morally wrong are business leaders not speaking up when they see policy prescriptions proposed or enacted that are impractical, “it’s leadership 101,” says Nick.

The discussion then returns to Stanford as Nick uses the school’s administrative army, which almost equals the school’s student body, as a prime example of how the business model of higher education is broken.

Nick closes by celebrating the numerous contributions of Alexander Hamilton, whose birthday coincides with today’s episode release.

Hollow Proclamations

Far Middle episode 85 marks the series start to 2023. As The Far Middle enters its third calendar year, Nick once again connects issues spanning the past, present, and future.

Dedicated to the iconic 1985 Chicago Bears, Nick looks back on the epic season of a team that was truly “must-see TV.” While not a dynasty, the Super Bowl XX champs had it all; boasting personalities like Jim McMahon and Walter Payton on offense, the “Monsters of the Midway” on defense, and Coaches Ditka and Ryan on the sideline.

Nick moves from the “Windy City” to the hot air blowing from the medical journal, The Lancet, which in a March 2020 editorial made bold proclamations touting China’s success in handling Covid-19.

Next, Nick examines a recent editorial by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, titled, “Biden Has the Economy Back on Track.” Nick counters Ms. Yellen’s hollow policy proclamations, in particular her accomplishments on energy being “a key focus of the administration’s work.”

Staying on energy and the economy, Nick looks under the hood of Stellantis’ announcement that it would be idling its Belvidere, Illinois, plant that produces Jeep Cherokee SUVs. The company is looking to cut costs, and 1,300 jobs, to invest in electric vehicles. Nick says this is the real-world collateral damage of the energy transition that’s falling upon our middle class and middle America.

Shifting gears from the auto industry to power sector, Nick reflects on Siemens Energy and the challenges its renewable business is facing. Nick reiterates the supply chain issues/sourcing for renewable sources, as well as the material required per unit of power derived from sources like wind and solar juxtaposed to sources such as natural gas.

Turning to academia, Nick discusses Harvard and Yale’s decision to stop participating in U.S. News & World Report law-school rankings. He says our elite colleges can make quite the hollow pronouncements at times, and so too can the G20 (aka the master of the obvious) who issued a recent declaration stating, “Today’s era must not be of war.”

Nick wraps this episode’s policy discussion by highlighting total factor productivity (TFP), a metric that measures how much innovation contributes to growth, particularly economic growth.

And as 2023 gets underway, Nick goes back 78 years to 1944 and the Battle of Anzio to demonstrate the lessons and importance of strong leadership. Nick concludes: “If America and the West do not get better leadership, do not drop the ideology and embrace the reality, and if we continue to move sluggishly and inefficiently, we’re going to lose the current confrontation with our adversaries. It’s not Anzio and it’s not bullets yet, but there is a war and its largely being waged economically and via policy. Let’s wake up and win this thing.”

Appalachia First

As 2023 nears, Nick goes back to 1984 for episode 84’s dedication—commemorating the seven-game NBA Finals series between the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers. The intense matchup marked the golden era of NBA basketball as the 1980s would feature classic rivalries, many of the sport’s greatest players, and iconic coaches.

Nick crosses over from the hard court to America’s military, stressing the importance of focusing on the best military equipment, contractors, and systems. He calls out a new rule proposed by the Department of Defense and NASA that aims to require defense contractors to disclose their CO2 footprints, reduction plans, and their climate risks. Nick suggests our government is more concerned about our military’s carbon footprint than its efficacy, which is great for our enemies, as are all America’s climate policies. Such a strategy would’ve spelled loss for the Celtics and Lakers in 1984, and Nick fears it could spell loss for our military in an increasingly hostile world.

Next up, Nick discusses BP considering ending the publication of its Statistical Review of World Energy. “Another symptom of how the energy space is being driven, more and more, by the mystic and not by the science,” says Nick.

While some in the energy space yield to mysticism, CNX Resources is not. That’s why the company has recently launched its “Positive Energy Hub”—a new forum for energy related facts and resources. Nick proceeds to delve into CNX’s recently announced vision for the Appalachian region, aka “Appalachia First.” It’s a chaotic world when it comes to energy, but Appalachia should be ground zero for a better energy future. The CNX vision is a strategic roadmap, leveraging low-carbon-intensive natural gas to transform key sectors of America’s economy and workforce while also changing the world for the better.

Why Appalachia? Nick says it all centers around location-location-location, including Appalachia’s workforce, existing infrastructure, and decades of energy supply. Nick concludes by looking at the motivators behind constructing the Appalachia First vision.

Visit www.positiveenergyhub.com/appalachia-first to learn more, and for a detailed presentation narrated by Nick.

Happy New Year!