September 15, 2009

Conservative chain letters from my grandfather

Normally, when I get an chain-email that's full of illogical conservative nonsense from my Glenn Beck-loving, Rush Limbaugh listening grandfather, I usually just disregard it, because it's usually petty bullshit.

But since the conservatives have taken to just plain making shit up, and since nobody is calling them on their bullshit, I think it's time we stop being passive about this, and call them out when they're full of shit. Every single time. They're like children. If you give them leeway, they will think they can get away with it. So since I did the work once, I figure you should have the benefit of using this as information ammunition should you come across the same stupidity.

Now, today I got an email about the cash for clunkers program. I want to point out that this isn't in defense of the program. It's in defense of MATH.

So here's the email I got:

A vehicle at 15 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 800 gallons a year of gasoline.

A vehicle at 25 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 480 gallons a year.

So, the average "Cash for Clunkers" transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year.

They claim 700,000 vehicles – so that's 224 million gallons / year.

That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil.

5 million barrels of oil is about ¼ of one day's US consumption.

And, 5 million barrels of oil costs about $350 million dollars at $70/bbl.

So, we all contributed to spending $3 billion to save $350 million.

How good a deal was that ???
They'll probably do a great job with health care though!!
Ha ha ha. Except for one thing. Somebody might want to check their math:

A barrel of oil is 42 gallons of oil.
Depending on refining efficiency, the gasoline extracted can vary, but averages about 20 gallons per barrel, in reality, it's about 19.7 gallons, but rounding up for ease of math...
(from the Dept of Energy's website)
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/eng99/eng99288.htm

FIRST ERROR: 224million gallons a year doesn't equate to 5 million barrels of oil.

Check it out:
20/1 = 224,000,000/x
x=11,200,000

224 million gallons would come from 11.2 million barrels of oil.
That's more than twice the figure given.

SECOND ERROR: 5 million is NOT 1/4 of our daily petroleum consumption.

The USA uses 8,989,000 barrels of oil a day in transportation.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/basics/quickoil.html

So even if the savings was 5million, it would be more than half of our daily consumption, not a fourth.

What's more, 11.2 million barrels (the actual savings in this hypothetical) is not 1/4 of 8.989 million either-- 11.2 million is roughly 120% of 8.989 million.

THIRD ERROR: 11.2 million barrels would cost $784 million at $70/bbl.

FOURTH ERROR: The average car has a lifespan of 20 years. Over twenty years, a savings of $784 million/yr = $15.68 billion
If all cars swapped out in the Cash for Clunkers deal were a swap of 15 to 25mpg, that means we spent less than $3 billion to save $15.68 billion dollars.

FIFTH ERROR: The most popular car purchased in the Cash for Clunkers program was the Toyota Camery, which gets 31mpg.
At 12,000 miles a year, that's 387 gallons a year, a fuel savings of 412 gallons over the 15 mpg car, per year.
If everybody bought a Camery, that's 288million gallons saved a year. That's $14.4 million barrels of oil. That's a little over one billion dollars a year.

And $20.16 billion dollars saved over the course of the lifetime of those vehicles.

A legitimate argument would have been that we're removing between $15-20 billion dollars from our GDP in petroleum sales.