Thursday, September 25, 2008

Government 101 – Me and My Soap box

I have been spending some time this week reading up on the economic crisis. I have been struggling with the question of if I believe our Congress should give the Executive branch a $700 Billion check. Proponents say if we don't do it, then our economy (and the economy of the rest of the world) will collapse. Opponents say that bailing out the market is irresponsible, will saddle taxpayers with a huge debt, will devalue our dollar further (thus hurting our economy and the world's), and may not fix the problem. Some have argued for other solutions such as suspending the capital gains tax for two years. They argue that there is private capital out there waiting for the right price to jump in. Warren Buffets infusion to the market of $5 Billion yesterday sure seems to give this argument some weight. What is the right answer? Honestly, I think all of the arguments have their strong points and their weak points. The bailout check would be used to buy up bad mortgages. Managed correctly (which I don't know if the government can do) this could actually return a profit to the government and to taxpayers. I am always a fan of removing taxes and getting private capital flowing, but is suspending the capital gains tax for two years enough to get that money moving? If we have learned nothing from the Great Depression, we should have learned two lessons. First, business and the market hate uncertainty. It scares them. Businesses will hold on to money, and not invest, until they are sure what the government plans to do. Second, passing laws just to pass laws can sometimes make matters worse. What if giving the Fed's a $700 billion check simply delays a much worse crash?



My wife made me watch Glenn Beck last night. If you didn't see it, you should go look for it on CNN or YouTube. I found the transcript for the show here. If I am recommending you view a CNN program, you really should sit up and take note. Glenn Beck had former Shell Oil executive John Hofmeister on and asked viewers to call in to ask any question they wanted of Mr. Hofmeister. Mr. Hofmeister has a new organization called Citizens for Affordable Energy. While watching that episode, and talking to my wife about the economic crisis and the energy crisis I realized we haven't come up with the correct solution yet because we haven't asked the right question yet. The right question is: When are we going to start legislating like adults, and not like children who just want to feel good?



Go look for articles on the economic crisis. Most of them blame it on the "Sub prime mortgages" or "bad mortgages" or "questionable lending". This is code speak for "loans that were given to people who should have never gotten a loan in the first place." Congress encouraged / forced banks to give loans to people who wouldn't have qualified for them. They did it under the guise of "making homes affordable for everyone." This is the problem. Any sane adult should be able to take a step back and look at the world and realize there are people in this world who will never be able to afford a home. There are charities that have as their goal fixing this. This is a noble goal. However, it isn't a realistic one, and it isn't one our government should be legislating to fix.



Another example is Polar Bears. How? Simple. Recently our government, under the evil George Bush, placed Polar Bears on the threatened species list. Bear in mind (no pun intended) that the worldwide Polar bear populations are at a high point. There are now more Polar Bears in the world than at any point in the twentieth century. Why did they get placed on the threatened species list? Because it "felt good".



We can't drill in water closer than 50 to 100 miles from our shores. Even though the most productive oil rigs are within the 50 mile mark, congress has decided we shouldn't drill there. Why? Sun bathers don't like to see oil rigs. What if there is an accident? Who will protect the birds? The safety record of the oil industry is actually pretty impressive. You have heard of a few spills, but by and large, oil is moved around this country every day and the only time we hear about it is when our gas prices go up. For those of you who think we can get rid of oil and replace it with solar or wind power, you are living in a pipe dream. If you think political environmentalist are going to let you construct wind and solar energy "plants" you haven't been paying attention. Already there are concerns with wind mills killing migratory birds. Sane adults can pass a comprehensive energy plan that uses oil, coal, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro and anything else we can safely squeeze energy out of.



What about our tax code? Here is a colossal waste. We have a cumbersome tax code that is designed to make the wealthiest people in the United States give their money to the "poor". Think Robin Hood with a gun and the federal government. We don't tax business and individuals to keep the government running and for the government to do those things the Constitution gives it power to do. We tax to try and earn votes, and because it "feels good" to stick it to the wealthy and to Big Business. What this really does is to drive businesses over seas and to take money from the people who might be able to bail us out of our current financial troubles.



I have great faith in the American people. At some point, Americans are going to wake up and tell their representatives to start passing laws like adults and not like 60's era hippies. When that happens, you will see a real energy policy, a tax code that makes sense, and as Glenn Beck would say, the few surviving hippies running for the hills while the rest of us chase them there with torches, cell phones, and SUV's.

30 comments:

Jannie "Funster" said...

Your comment on Dooce was bang-on!

And you said it without malice, I wish everyone could talk like that.

Andy D said...

Thanks. That is what this site is built around. I try to open up political debate without everyone calling each other names.

Andy D said...

A quick update. Blogger has been doing some work to their site and I think I lost one comment on here from it.

A reader yesterday labeled "The Terry's" or something similar posted a comment. If that reader is you, please repost your comment and I will get it in here. The comment was critical of President Bush, and I am not sure which article they wanted to post it on. I didn't want anyone to think I was simply moderating an opposing viewpoint.

Christina said...

I was heading to read your earlier post abt your trip to D.C. and got railroaded by this post! Alot to think about, when I wasn't planning on thinking, Andy....! I guess I'm one of those people who hasn't been paying attention, tho, b/c I had thought the wind source 4 energy was a viable and valuable idea.

Andy D said...

Of the alternative energies, wind seems to show the least promise. However, environmental and concerned citizens groups are already fighting the use of wind power. There are certain "political environmental" groups that will fight any energy, no matter how green.

Christina said...

I should look into this, to broaden my awareness - any names, articles, etc. you could suggest?

Anonymous said...

Wind energy doesn't show promise?

Yeah: coal and oil are making things just great around here, and in Greenland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, etc.

Your enthusiasm for coal and oil b/c they are cheap to transform into heat, smoke and CO2 is suicidally shortsighted. If you compare the cost of shopping for groceries to eating your neighbor's garbage, it looks like the garbage is the only economically feasible option.

Drill here! Drill now! Garbage here! Garbage now!

And I'm sure the GOP's enthusiasm for 19th century energy technology has nothing to do with the old energy companies funding your party.

Andy D said...

Christina, are you looking for Wind Energy specifically?

Anon, once again, you aren't reading my words. I said of the alternative energies available,wind seems to show the least promise. Nuclear is very promising if we can clear some of the legislative hurdles. Solar has more promise than wind. I saw a program the other night that was very excited about nano technology and solar power.

I am like oil and coal because it is proven and we know how to use it. I agree with McCain when it comes to Nuclear energy. I am an "all of the above" kind of guy. Any energy form that works should be considered. The truth of the matter is that nuclear, coal, oil, and natural gas are the only thing that is going to give us the energy we need for the next ten to fifteen years. Hopefully by then, some of these other sources will be ready to come online.

Christina said...

Yes, wind energy (besides PikkensPlan) and the opposing political environmentalists...thanks...

Anonymous said...

You've figured out how to keep nuclear waste stable, protected, and enclosed for 10,000+ years? Awesome! Let's fire up those reactors!!!


Oh.


I see.


We have no idea how to store that stuff.


Darn.


But Andy still calls it "feasible."

Andy D said...

Anon plays the part of political environmentalist perfectly. Every energy source has downsides. We have to decide how to handle each of them. For the political environmentalist, any down side is a bad side. Forget that Europe is using much more nuclear energy than us. France gets about 80% of it's power from nuclear plants. I thought your side always wanted to model our approach after Europe.

Wind, Solar, and Hydro electric all have their downsides as well. If you believe oil and coal are causing global warming (which I don't) then nuclear power is the only thing we can use until wind and solar are more productive. But Anon would have us use no power until wind and solar are more efficient. I wonder if he would even approve of those...

Anonymous said...

For the cost of the Iraq war, the U.S. could have constructed more than enough wind power to supply *all* of our energy needs. We could be done with that problem right now.

If you think nuclear power has just a few "downsides," go talk to people--republicans and democrats--in Nevada near that proposed nuclear waste storage site. There is no known solution for the storage of nuclear waste. That's not simply a "downside." That's a non-starter.

Christina said...

This conversation is giving me whole new areas of interest to research, between all the links re/impeachment (Pres. Bush), now wind and nuclear waste issues...

pack04 said...

I thought the Iraq war claim was silly, so I researched and found out I was correct.
Iraq war cost = $558 billion
Total 2006 US energy consumption = 4,000 billion KWh
Total amount provided by wind in 2006 = 0.6%
Adjusted 2006 US consumption = 3,976,000,000,000 KWh
cost of 1 Megawatt turbine = $1,000,000
1 megawatt turbine = 3,066,000 KWh

Total turbines needed = 1,296,803
Total cost of turbines = $1,296 billion dollars.

Needed after Iraq war $$ = $738 billion.

Does not include cost to upgrade system to handle the varations that wind power provides at least $60 billion.

So you are about $800 billion short.

pack04 said...

Now before you get even more fired up. I said nothing in my post about how I think wind is not worth it. It was just to disprove your Iraq claim.
I think the answer is a combination of all of energy types including a push for more efficient use and reduction.

Anonymous said...

Ah, no. Pack, you are a couple trillion or so short on your Iraq war cost.

But even if we used your incorrect low-ball numbers for the Iraq war, that means *even by your own calculations* we could have supplied a huge percentage of current U.S. power demand with wind power--instead of burning the money in the Iraqi sand. By enacting no-brainer energy efficiency policies that repubs have fought, we could reduce our energy demand even more and *save* some more money. (Efficiency actually sounds like something we agree on--I raise my glass [well, my coffee mug] in your honor. Cheers!)

Andy D said...

Well, truth be told, if we are going to redirect the funds, shouldn't we look for the best bang for our buck. How many Nuclear reactors or oil refineries could we have bought with that money?

People in the South East are really not happy with gas lines. If only we could have one mix across the U.S. instead of all the different blends and seasonal blends. The EPA claims Atlanta needs a different gas blend than everyone else, maybe we should build a few refineries to handle that different blend.

pack04 said...

Your source said the Iraq war will/could cost. Your previous statement said the money we have spent.

here is my source for the CURRENT Iraq war cost. In other words the amount we have spent or the amount we could have used to build enough wind turbines to produce all of our energy.

I never said it would not cover our energy needs or it would not work for us. As a matter of fact I even said it should be part of the solution, wind power that is.

You made a claim, I called you on it and the only think missing from your Obama like backpeddling is a bunch of stammering and "uhs" and "ums."

By the way I do not consider 43% of our energy needs, by my calculations, to be a huge percentage. It has to be at least 50% for a huge percentage.

chell12376 said...

Or we could just have bought up a bunch of maybe, possibly, failing mortgages... In stead of freeing a nation from a murdering tyrant and spreading democracy. Oh and saving America from future terrorist attacks.

Yeah, you know, that $556 Billion in Iraq is looking pretty good.

Besides, the private sector will continue to make progress on the alternative energy front as the public demands (which we are). The government forcing one source or method over another will just stifle creativity and innovation.

I once again trust the private sector and the people more than I trust the politicians.

Christina said...

chell12376, I like ypur thinking...

Anonymous said...

Joe Biden put this "bargain" of Iraq in clear perspective:

We spend more in Iraq every three weeks than we have spent over the last six-and-a-half years re-building Afghanistan!

Christina said...

I hadn't realized that we needed to spend more time and $$$ in Afghanistan than we did...Abt a wk.or 2 ago I was watching an interview, I forget now who it was with, retired military personnnel I think, who was explaining that...

Anonymous said...

Christina,

The commanders in Afghanistan are warning that we will fail there if we don't really ramp up our efforts--especially those that rebuild the country.

And, what do *you* think? We still haven't found bin Laden. Are you simply ok with that?

Andy D said...

I think Palin had it right the other night: We need a new surge in Afghanistan.

I'm not ok with not finding Bin Laden. Surely you don't think we have just ignored that. Though, I would love for McCain to ask Obama for the co-ordinates of Bin Laden so we can go pick him up...

Andy D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Iraq is a massive distraction from the hunt for bin Laden--and its been great for recruitment... for Al Qaeda.

If we had taken 1/10th of the money we've spent in Iraq and moved it to Afghanistan/Pakistan, bin Laden would be captured by now.

Obama has it right: we took our eyes off the ball when we went into Iraq.

Christina said...

How could anyone "be OK" with bin Laden yet to be captured? Other than terrorists themselves & their affiliates,of course. I have thought, how could this be, w/all our technology, resources, &
power, that we haven't caught bin Laden yet? I had never even heard of al Qaida (sp?) b4 Sept.11, 2001, and when I did, all the countries there seemed to blur together 4 me. It's more clear now. Yes, it seems we did take our eyes off the ball. We need to get back 2 Afghanistan. I believe bin Laden, like Saddam, will be caught. But we need to go back to where he most likely is to get him.

Christina said...

Yes, Linda Palin did have it right...we need that surge...I'm not saying we should not have gone to Iraq, not at all, but it mushroomed, and pushed that other major goal to the side, I guess...re-focusing is necessary now.

Anonymous said...

Christina:

Glad you support Obama's position on Afghanistan.

You hadn't heard of bin Laden before 9/11? John McCain had heard of him... and John was angry... because we were going after bin Laden.

In 1998, John McCain criticized the U.S. government for focusing on bin Laden. "You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that's depicted? Most of us have never heard of him before."

Still, back in 1998, when a guy by the name of Joe Biden heard about McCain's remarks he labeled McCain's remarks "preposterous" and said bin Laden is "one bad mother," and said of course we needed to go after him.

That was back when Sarah Palin was hanging out with the America-hating (that's their own word for it) *secessionist* Alaska Independence Party. (Oh, and that continued into 2008.) So she wasn't too worried about the U.S. government chasing bin Laden or doing anything else--other than keeping it out of the "nation" of Alaska.

I have no idea what Linda Palin was doing then.

Christina said...

Sorry, meant to say Sarah Palin, not Linda...don't know where my head was!!