Monday, April 13, 2009

Everyone loves to hate Goldman...

and the rest of the TARP gang - Citigroup, Bank of America, J.P.Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo... They took the taxpayers money, and then turned around and paid themselves a fat bonus. How dare they? And how have they managed to produce (or so they say) a profit this quarter, other than by ripping off taxpayers more by getting the money funneled from AIG, by getting virtually interest-free money from the Fed and lend it at an interest rate that's well north of 2%, by ripping the credit card holders off by jacking up fees and raising APR. What crooks.

But before you join the chorus condemning the financials, check this out:
Taxpayers Subsidizing Paper? (Econompic Data)

"In January 2009, the company [International Paper] was notified that its registration as an alternative fuel mixer was approved. On March 20, 2009, the company received its first check from the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $71.6 million related to an alternative fuel mixture produced and used at 15 of its mills for the period of November 14 to December 14, 2008. The company will continue to submit refund claims based on actual mill production and use of an alternative fuel mixture and will provide investors with information relating to future credits during its regular quarterly earnings calls."

Cool $71 million for one month worth of alternative fuel mixture produced and used at their mills.

And here's the catch:

"Since the 1930s the overwhelming majority of paper mills have employed what's called the kraft process to produce paper. Here's how it works. Wood chips are cooked in a chemical solution to separate the cellulose fibers, which are used to make paper, from the other organic material in wood. The remaining liquid, a sludge containing lignin (the structural glue that binds plant cells together), is called black liquor. Because it's so rich in carbon, black liquor is a good fuel; the kraft process uses the black liquor to produce the heat and energy necessary to transform pulp into paper. It's a neat, efficient process that's cost-effective without any government subsidy."

Without any government subsidy. So, in order to get the government subsidity, the company mixed diesel fuel to this perfectly efficient, organic fuel so that the resulting fuel mixture qualifies for mixed-fuel tax credit.

$70 million per month of free money for the company, and probably environmentally worse off for everyone else.

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