I was in college in Oakland and Senator Gaylord Nelson instigated Earth Day on a Wednesday in April so college students could participate to the fullest extent. They are malleable and the professors thought the cause was urgent enough that class could wait.
Global cooling was the cause of the day and certainly a worthy concern. Throughout the centuries famine and civil unrest have accompanied cooler periods which, unlike today, came and went with changes in solar activity and geologic events (as opposed to human activity). Warm climatic periods have been times of bounty.
On Earth Day 1970 I marched with some sort of sign, probably denouncing corporations for polluting a swamp. I lived a block away from Oakland Tech High School, where Huey Newton went before founding the Black Panther Party. The Panthers, as we affectionately called them, conducted social programs for “the community” along with their more militant and violent activities. In other words, they were a microcosm of the federal government.
In a quest for social justice, the Panthers and the government are tools for those who think they know the right thing to do and think that knowledge is exclusive to their exceptional minds. The real issue surrounding Earth Day should be whether government may be used to subsidize inefficient technology in unproven quests for a perfect world.
I know most people consider Earth Day as a good time to clean up or plant trees. I picked up some trash out of the road ditch yesterday, public property by the way. The problem comes when activists hijack the idea of recognizing the value of a clean environment and use it to justify trampling on the rights of others for their own utopian dreams or profits.
Take Elon Musk’s Tesla as an example. I read last weekend about the new Tesla Model X. It is a seven passenger SUV that can go from zero to sixty miles per hour in 3.2 seconds. The cost is only $135,000. It qualifies for a Section 179 tax break of $25,000 because it can be used for business and has a gross vehicle weight over 6,000 pounds. It also qualifies for a $7,500 electric vehicle federal tax credit. But now California has added a means test for their tax incentive. Hardly anyone who subsidizes Tesla can afford one of their cars and we pay for the roads as well.
All these benefits go to a company that is really no more green than Volkswagen when all the costs of mining, manufacturing, and electricity are added up. And our Volkswagen can go three times as far between fill-ups.
When I go to buy something I make a decision as to whether that thing is worth the effort I took to make the money. That process doesn’t apply to Tesla, or wind power for that matter. The money is spent for us without our consent. Some might say, as our son did upon a visit home from college years ago, that we did consent through our vote. As Charles Grassley once told me, “I don’t know. The courts just approved it over time.”
Musk, Warren Buffet, and untold numbers of sly businessmen dream up threats and crises. Taxpayers gladly cough up the money to pay for a fix that never gets the job done, unless that job is lining the pockets of businessmen who make products that would never stand the test of real capitalism.
I’m no longer green on the outside and red on the inside like a watermelon. I’m green through and through because I know that strict enforcement of private property rights is a better path to a clean environment. As I write this, it is tax day. When you read this it will be Earth Day. The two are more closely related than we might think.
To say that MidAmerican’s $3.6 billion wind energy expansion will move them “closer to providing 100% percent renewable energy to its customers” is simply a lie. The sun shines on the other side of the earth at night and the wind doesn’t blow all the time.
MidAmerican CEO Bill Fehrman claims the project will not cost customers anything because the entire cost will be recouped through federal tax incentives. Apparently he is living in this future world where Bernie has won and only people richer than MidAmerican customers will be paying taxes. Somebody has to pay for the bloated monstrosity we call the federal government, right?
The bottom line is this: Warren Buffet, the real big-wig at MidAmerican, says they would never build wind farms without subsidies. In the big picture that means we are not using the most efficient energy source. The money is flowing out of our pockets into the pockets of the lobbyists’ employers.
The governor and his cronies might call that economic development, I call it theft.
Look at this YouTube: “Bird vs Wind Turbine FAIL”.
Regarding the letters of April 1 “Trade, Sans Manufactures to Sell, Hurts U.S.”: I agree that it’s a shame that so much of our manufacturing has moved out of the U.S.
All businesses, and especially small companies and manufacturers, in this country have been under siege for decades. I am the owner of a small manufacturing company and speak from firsthand experience.
Increasing costs and ever more intrusive regulations are the cause of many manufacturers moving offshore because of family-leave laws, handicap accommodations, increasing minimum wages, NLRB rulings favoring easier unionization, increased unemployment compensation and workers comp costs, rising insurance premiums, higher taxes, lowering the bar for employees to sue their employers, ever more stringent EPA regulations, ever more complicated tax laws, difficulty finding qualified employees, etc.
Every business is different and has its own unique situation, but many have simply given up on fighting these never-ending battles that do nothing but add costs and lower profits. Sometimes it’s just easier to have the goods manufactured in a country that doesn’t have so many of these obstacles.
How many of the disgusted and alarmed “working class” voted for the politicians who have supported the laws, regs and costs that have resulted in their jobs being moved offshore?
Wayne Sissel’s letter on soil health had some good points but needs more.
When he says, “We wanted healthy soils for those who tilled the soil 100 years from now,” he gets to the root of the problem. Tillage is the number one enemy of healthy soil. Organisms live where they do because the environment suits them there. When we till the soil, we change that environment in the same way as if we drain a lake or flood the land.
His ideas of a diverse rotation are excellent. But spraying chemicals has been proven a better way to preserve soil life than tillage when moving on to a different crop. We’ve been flying on cover crops for ten years and killing them with roundup. We haven’t used full-width tillage for 35 years. When I dig up a foot of seed trench I find fifteen earthworms in that foot.
We still need to be careful with chemicals, of course. Phosphorous fertilizer is deadly on mycorrhizal fungi, for instance. Mycorrhizae grow into plant roots and make phosphorous available that is otherwise tied up in the soil.
Farmers and politicians both seem to have trouble resisting the urge to “do something.” Tillage tools and subsidies and regulations destroy self interest. If we humans and soil inhabitants were simply left to do what we do best without interference, maximum efficiency would be maintained.
I’ve been a little preoccupied and ignored the blog now for a week. Had the occasion of going through a TSA screening. If I thought it would do any good, I’da been terrified. But terror is no longer defined that way. Now it is simply a word used to confiscate more funds of productive people for use by the others (TSA, US military, and other worthless bureaucrats and tools).
Anyway, I held my antacids in my hand as the guy with the creative haircut OK’d my passage. There had to be 300 people there, waiting with their backpacks and other carrion to be judged worthy. The question never seemed to occur to anyone, “why the hell would a terrorist wait in a line like this in order to blow up an airplane, when there are more people to blow up right here?”
No. I’m not afraid of introducing a great idea to some nut by writing this. The fact is the actual terrorists are as rare as hen’s teeth. And if it weren’t for our invasion of their world they would be rarer than that. Also, if each company and individual were responsible for their own safety instead of harboring the insane belief that a bunch of government goons would do a better job, 9/11 and many other incidents may not have been so intense or happened at all.
Anyway (again), the news seems to indicate a presidential election would have an effect on our lifestyles. So to go along to get along I will find metaphors for our election and the choices we are allowed to make and post them here until I get tired of it. The first one comes from the movie Five Easy Pieces. I think it might have been the first time I witnessed Jack Nicholson. Search YouTube on your own to hear Merle Haggard. There was no way I could pick something of his to post here. This old hippy is in mourning at the passing of a guy who did a great job putting life into song.
The urban crime culture is bleeding into our rural paradise, evidenced by the tagging that went on last summer around Hampton. When I was young in Southern California, tagging, which is spray painted graffiti referring to gangs, was rare. It was cleaned up soon after it was discovered. It wasn’t long, however, until no one could keep up and the painted slogans were accepted as part of the landscape.
After awhile the culture degrades enough and the vandalism brings such small consequences that we will accept it too. In Hampton the cost to clean up the paint only on the public property was stated as $15,000. The perpetrators were fined $650, which was “suspended.” I wonder if that means dangled in front of the faces of complacent taxpayers.
Granted, getting $15,000 out of three teenagers would probably be like the proverbial blood out of a turnip. But a property crime presents opportunity for a demonstration of law based on restitution and accountability as opposed to law based on punishment for a violation of our management by a faceless government. A crime perpetrated against an individual puts the perpetrator in the position where he can relate to the victim as someone like himself.
Our system of law is failing because the whole idea of “victim” has been erased by the fallacious belief that a society can be regulated to perfection by an elite class with unique abilities. A simple system of law that draws a line at violation of property rights and nothing more would be more effective.
Nixon’s EPA is a perfect example of where property crime with an actual victim has been replaced by a regulatory state. Mindless obedience to the EPA has wrought untold damage to the people of the world. In 1972 William Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the EPA, banned DDT in spite of several hundred documents and 150 scientists that brought his examiner to conclude the insecticide should not be banned. There was no victim to the “crime” of DDT. But there are victims of EPA aggression on the 214 million people who needlessly contracted malaria in 2015 alone. Of those, 438,000 people died.
Well intentioned philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates spend $200 million per year on malaria eradication while the tool to do it is readily available in DDT. Research has shown that there were many other causes responsible for the soft egg shells blamed on DDT. Every evil that DDT was blamed for has been debunked. The Gates’ should redirect their research to include solving problems caused by politics.
Throughout the sixties, Milwaukee and three other Wisconsin cities substantially polluted Lake Michigan, the source of Chicago’s drinking water. The state of Illinois sued Milwaukee but passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 negated Wisconsin’s responsibility to restrict its impact on Chicago by ordaining the EPA as sole regulator of water. The Supreme Court upheld the EPA. Chicagoans were certainly victims of these Wisconsin cities but the regulatory state prevented justice.
If every regulatory agency were abolished and property rights were fervently protected from trespassers, vandals, and thieves we might stand a chance against people like the city fathers in Wisconsin and the taggers and gangs in our neighborhood.
If these kids had to wear orange jumpsuits while they scrubbed sidewalks and signs until they were restored, the next violators would either go elsewhere or realize that the victims were people like themselves and treat them as they wished to be treated.
Consistent with the non-sentences these kids received, William Ruckelshaus was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in November of 2015. It is a world gone crazy. In the sixties, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure that up to 40 percent of the children in poor nations die of malaria. Always question authority.