Posts Tagged ‘environment’

My View of a Green America

July 8, 2009

With all the talk of “cap and trade” and the new green industries, I thought it was time to really look at a vision of a truly “green” America, not one manufactured by political parties and big business.

First, just think about how we get electricity.  It is produced by a coal power plant, transmitted hundreds of miles, and then to our homes.  It has been this way for a century.  Most of the power we generate is wasted though, because we have no efficient way to store the excess electricity.  Is this a product of a lack of science?  No.  It is because of a lack of innovation because utilities are politically insulated companies, granted monopoly rights by our governments.

You would think, by now, every home would be fitted with solar panels that could generate more than enough electricity for the house.  You would also believe that each house would be equipped with some sort of device, be it a flywheel or another invention, that could store power generated during the day to be used at night.

Then, we could all drive plug-in hybrid cars, cutting our gas consumption to a small fraction, and using the power generated by our homes to charge the cars.

Why haven’t we gotten to this point yet?  Because as consumers, we have no choice.  We have to buy our power from our local utility.  If you even mention power deregulation, everyone always brings up the California fiasco.  However, the reason it failed is because they deregulated everything except the end user.  We were still stuck buying power from the monopolies, no matter how much they manipulated the price.  And who can blame them?  If you had a captive audience, wouldn’t you charge as much as you could?

Imagine if there was competition for supplying power.  You could buy from a solar provider, hydroelectric, nuclear, or if you wanted to save a few bucks, coal.  If we had the choice, I think a lot of people would sacrifice a few dollars a month to buy from a cleaner source.  Rather than having the government subsidize the coal plants, we would put them out of business because we want a cleaner solution.  This would cause for innovation from the coal companies to find a better way to burn the fuel.

Government restrictions and a horrible cap and trade policy cannot and will not help the environment one bit.  It will just generate revenues for the government and their partner utility companies, while charging the consumer more, and allowing the utilities to keep polluting.

In India, companies claim that they can capture carbon in huge underground tunnels.  They can then print out carbon certificates at will, and sell them on the cap and trade market.  Utility companies can buy these certificates and not have to change their ways at all, while this bogus company makes millions.

We need to be able to hold companies accountable, and if it is proven that a utility’s pollution is harming people, they need to be held accountable.  We can have the Supreme Court giving them a free pass to pollute all they want.  That’s not helping anyone.

It’s not about global warming or climate change either.  It is about creating the most efficient and cost effective source of power we can make, while polluting and wasting less.  We need innovation in the way we produce power and the only way that will happen is ending government/utility partnerships, allowing consumer choice, and letting the markets work.  Cap and Trade or any other government sponsored method will only hurt the environment and the consumers, while making the utility companies and the government itself handsome profits.

Obama’s Picks Not Very Impressive

January 13, 2009

Today, there were Congressional hearings to question some of President-Elect Obama’s cabinet picks.  Let’s just say like Obama, these guys haven’t really lived up to the hype.

First was Steven Chu, who is supposed to head the Department of Energy.  He previously had said that he thought we should tax gas to keep it in the $4 range to encourage alternative fuels and deter us from using too much gas.  Using taxes as a deterrent almost never works, just look at cigarettes.  What we really need to do is let the markets work and stop getting in the way.  If we stopped our subsidies for the automakers and the lobbying efforts of oil, gas, and car companies, we would have developed these fuels already.  Of course, he backed off his comments.

He had also said that coal was his “worst nightmare,” but changed his tune in front of Congress, saying the result of more coal use was a just a “bad dream.”  We have such abundant coal reserves, that we need to focus on clean coal technology and ways to convert coal to fuel.  We have been so strapped to the oil companies for so long, that we stopped any sort of innovation in other fuel sources until now.  Finally, the market is demanding innovation, and we are finally evolving.

Next up was Tim Geithner, the pick as the new Treasury Secretary.  Word comes out that he didn’t pay $30,000 in taxes on his self-employment income for almost all of the 2000’s.  Geithner did pay these right before he was nominated by Obama, but had penalties waived by the IRS.  Obama’s new Press Secretary played it off, saying that it was an “honest mistake.”  Seriously, everyone knows when you have to file a 1099.  Even the head of the New York Federal Reserve should know this!  What a joke!  At least we know this guy’s a crook before he takes office so when he screws up the economy even more, we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

His housekeeper also had her US working documents expire for the last few months she worked for him.  To me, this is a little more forgivable, since she did have her papers and they expired.  If you’re in a political position, you should probably watch for these things a little more, but this looks more like an honest mistake than not paying your taxes for years.

To me, if these are two of people who are supposed to be leaders in our country, we’re in trouble.  So much for all this “change” Obama promised.  Instead, they’re just more politicians and crooks, just like the current administration.  The worst part of all is that these guys are going to get credit for the recovery and all the new green jobs, when it all happened in spite of them.

Raising the Gas Tax?

January 2, 2009

Today, the National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing suggested to Congress to raise our taxes on gas and diesel by roughly 50%.  Currently, we pay about 18 cents a gallon on gasoline and 25 cents a gallon for diesel.  Read about it here.

According to the commission, the current taxes leave a shortfall of about $100 billion a year, which means road and bridge projects can’t get funded.

My main problem is that this panel was created by Congress.  They are not an independent party to analyze the entire infrastructure system and budget.  The easy way out is to just raise taxes.  What they really need to do is look at all the bureaucracy that exists and look at how much they can save if they streamlined their operations.  Nothing in this article suggests the government faced such an audit.

Also, I have a big problem with the taxes I pay going to Washington for them to dole out.  How do I know that my taxes will help build or repair roads in my neighborhood?  My money might go to build a bridge in Alaska or some high-ranking Senator’s home state.  This is one of the main reasons for the American Revolution and our Constitution in the first place.  They were fed up paying taxes to the British government, and then never seeing any returns on those dollars.

They should lower, or even abolish, the Federal tax and replace it with State or local ones.  That way, we would all see returns for our tax dollars.  If we did this, we would probably see lower taxes because there would be more efficient use of the dollars, resulting in less of a need for the tax.

The Federal government does fund some of the major Interstate highways, so they could either give the power to the states or they could use a portion of the tax dollars the states or local governments receive.

The entire system is backwards right now, where our money goes into a black hole, and we have no idea if we will ever see it.  We need to start at the local level, not at the Federal level.

Also, we should not be fooled into thinking this is for environmental reasons.  They say in the article that they need to “sell” it to us.  If they really had the environment in mind, they need to explore different fuel sources, electric cars and plug-in hybrids.  Raising the tax on gas does nothing to promote alternative forms of transportation.  Taxes to deter the use of something rarely work, if ever.

And finally, check out this paragraph from the article:

According to a draft of the financing commission’s recommendations, the nation needs to move to a new system that taxes motorists according to how much they use roads. While details have not been worked out, such a system would mean equipping every car and truck with a device that uses global positioning satellites and transponders to record how many miles the vehicle has been driven, and perhaps the type of roads and time of day.

Are you kidding me?  Talk about Big Brother!  The government has no right to monitor where or when you are driving.  Why is that their business?  Rather than tracking your every move, they should just set up toll booths on certain roads.  I know that their ideas are well meaning, but the last thing we need is the government monitoring our every move.

We need less Federal intervention in our road and infrastructure system, in order to really fix and address the problem.  The more power that is handed to local, state, or even private companies the better.  We have no way to hold Washington accountable for how they spend our tax dollars.  Locally, we can see the results of our taxes and can hold our politicians and policy makers accountable.