North Cakalakie and Washington

As the DTH reported recently, North Carolina is projected to have, as of the beginning of this fiscal year, a 4.5 billion dollar deficit and is 6.7 million dollars in debt.  Fascinating since for the past three years North Carolina has had budget surpluses.  I suppose the trick is to add programs and spending during the good times and cry about it during recessions.

The John W. Pope Civitas Institute is reporting on 1.1 billion dollars in earmarks and pork including money spent on a park in Fayetteville, a museum of forestry, and a horse complex to name merely a few of unnecessary spending items.  Meanwhile Purdue and her friends added $870 million in taxes and fees (short of Purdue’s requested 1.5 billion) to your expenses.

Hey, General Assembly, if you haven’t noticed unemployment is at 11.1 percent, the fifth highest in the nation.  I garun-dadgum-tee you that raising taxes will not improve the situation.  Meanwhile the House just passed a 1,201 page “climate bill” that basically no one has read (especially considering that three-hundred pages were apparently added last night at 3 am) that will raise energy prices.  Indeed, the Democrats admit as much, making it the thrust of their entire argument (listen to Obama say it will raise your energy prices here).  Hey, Obama and most every Dem on Capitol Hill along with about 8 or so Republican congressmen, unemployment is at the highest it has been in America for 20 years or so.  I assure you raising our energy prices will not aid the situation.

The Democrats in Raleigh and in Washington (along with the “protestors” in both cities who demanded higher taxes) are sending a signal that they are the party of anti-American dream.  Well at least they are honest about it.  Bottom line: Democrats, shape up your disgusting party.  Republicans: don’t settle for another McCain or others like him.  I kind of like the idea of growing up and having private property mean something in this country.

21 comments

  1. hahaha, love this: “I kind of like the idea of growing up and having private property mean something in this country.”

    Aww, you think the country is going to implode?

    By the way, the CBO says the cap & trade legislation will cost $175/year for each household. Leaving the climate change question aside (because you guys all question the science), isn’t this going to be wonderful for our national security? And our economy? New technologies, new jobs, new manufacturing sector, new capital, new investments — the beginning of a green revolution! The CBO report doesn’t even include this new economic growth from cap & trade. Why are you against this?

  2. The Heritage foundation has an interesting report on the CBO’s estimates: http://www.heritage.org/Research/EnergyandEnvironment/wm2503.cfm

    I am against it because I hate tyranny. Obviously you are for tyranny and fool-hearty bills that no one has read. You can pretend to understand the millions of interwoven, intricate implications of the climate bill, but you don’t. The congressmen don’t know what they are meddling with. The market interactions cannot be regulated by a central authority because no one alive is smart enough to know how to anticipate the billions of possibilities involved and anyone who thinks they are must be arrogant to a point of insanity.

  3. “New technologies, new jobs, new manufacturing sector, new capital, new investments — the beginning of a green revolution!”

    Taxing energy producers in order to subsidize inefficient technologies while overlooking the most viable technologies means economic growth? I think you are reading too much Time Magazine.

  4. Wow, you guys need to stop freaking out. The Heritage Foundation is just as biased as Time Magazine is (although Time does provide some decent balance). The Heritage Foundation’s main argument is that cap & trade will lead to negative economic growth. Why is this so hard for them and you all to grapple with? Have you never studied anything in regards to green technologies?

    Yes, we’re in effect “taxing” energy producers to push alternative energies, but there are a plethora of benefits to doing this. We’re jump-starting a move towards a green economy, green technologies, and at the same time weaning ourselves off of foreign oil by passing cap & trade. I know we can at least agree on the national security implications, but understanding the potential economic growth is also important.

    Solar thermal and wind turbines are EFFICIENT technologies. In fact, almost every rooftop in the United States can use solar thermal to heat hot water with a payback on their investment within a few years. Further, if we subsidize alternative energy the way we have subsidized dirty energy, we will see a spur the use of solar, wind, and other alternatives. Solar photovoltaic is getting closer and closer to being an economically viable alternative to coal and other fossil fuels. In some areas it is already a better deal. Plus, some interesting capitalistic ideas — such as feeder tariffs — are contributing to economic growth by using alternative energy.

    And if there is higher demand for alternatives, who do you think is going to be building wind turbines, solar cells, and installing them all across the United States? The American people. A new, green economy = more jobs and a new manufacturing sector.

    I understand why you guys think this is a bad idea — it’s the government, rather than the free market that is sort of “forcing” us towards green technologies. But, what you must realize is that the free market doesn’t account for the negative externalities of fossil fuels. Climate change aside, the health implications from the burning of coal and other fuels is outrageous. Fossil fuels are undoubtedly contributing to the rise in health care costs.

    I know it’s not a great comparison (because of difference in size), but let’s take Denmark for example. In the 1970s, after the oil crisis, they decided to move towards alternative energy. They now get nearly 20% of their energy from wind, are a leading export of wind turbines, and are a world leader in wind technology. They have a much higher nominal GDP per capita than we do have experienced sustained economic growth largely due to their focus on alternative energy.

    But hey, we’re America. We can do it better. If we go head-first into alternative energy, we will have new and sustainable economic growth that is not subject to fluctuations in energy prices, we will improve our national security, and we’ll kick ass. What do ya think?

    P.S. – We’ll also weaken Iran and Russia by reducing the demand for oil and natural gas.

  5. Also, the cap & trade bill is actually pretty weak in regards to the coal industry and other fossil fuels producers. It’s not like we’re going to stop using coal anytime soon. The Obama Administration is also committed to investing money in CO2 sequestration technology.

  6. “Yes, we’re in effect “taxing” energy producers to push alternative energies, but there are a plethora of benefits to doing this.”

    Energy production will be taxed. That tax is a tax. No quotes necessary!

    “We’re jump-starting a move towards a green economy, green technologies, and at the same time weaning ourselves off of foreign oil by passing cap & trade.”

    Uh-huh, that’s the pretty narrative that the greens have pieced together.

    “P.S. – We’ll also weaken Iran and Russia by reducing the demand for oil and natural gas.”

    … a little bit, but mostly Canada and Mexico. Take a look: http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html

    “It’s not like we’re going to stop using coal anytime soon.”

    Well, that’s not good, is it? Coal is a mess. We should stop using it as soon as possible; it is extremely dirty to mine. Even “clean coal” only cleans up the burning process. I’m a conservative, and I want to conserve nature, especially mountaintops. I’m sorely disappointed that Obama sent $3.4 billion to coal production in his stimulus package… nicknamed the “American Reinvestment and Recovery Package.”

    “A new, green economy = more jobs and a new manufacturing sector.”

    Sorry, but the economy will not magically make jobs due to federal redistribution of wealth, which is all the cap & trade plan is. It will tax production, and the tax will be passed on to consumers, and we will pay more. The federal government will take that money from us and the energy companies and try its hand at the energy business, picking winners and losers everywhere. The only green in that economy is other peoples’ money.

    Denmark actually only gets about 2-6% of its electricity from wind power. What I think you were implying is that 20% of Denmark’s consumed electricity is generated by wind turbines. That is false. Denmark’s wind electricity production is equivalent to 20% of demand – but because wind power is not a viable baseload technology (and for a half dozen other reasons, only one of which is the requirement to build carbon-burning baseload production next to the wind production), much of that power is not actually consumed. So Denmark exports wind power and imports hydro and nuclear power from neighboring countries… see this letter from a University of Toronto professor for a layman’s overview:

    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2009/05/11/the-myth-of-the-danish-green-energy-miracle.aspx

    I am absolutely disgusted with the federal government for picking winners and losers in peak load technologies instead of deregulating viable non-carbon-based baseload technologies. Hydroelectric power and nuclear power are our best options. Nuclear power construction, production and licensing is heavily regulated, and the types of reactors that we use are also heavily restricted – sometimes for safety concerns that have now been overcome. But instead of committing to enabling viable baseload technologies through modernizing regulations, our politicians decided to throw their constituents’ money down a large toilet that flushes money to producers of land-intensive (wind and solar), carbon-consuming (biofuel production), starving-child-killing (corn ethanol) peak-load power sources and transportation fuel sources.

    “But, what you must realize is that the free market doesn’t account for the negative externalities of fossil fuels.”

    Yeah, it’s an externality. Then why do we subsidize all carbon-based fuels? Why did Obama campaign promising to subsidize carbon-based fuels like ethanol that can sometimes take more energy to manufacture than they give off when the stored energy is burned? The only answer I have is that he doesn’t care about the environment, and used popular ignorance to ride the myths of base-load redemption by wind and solar right into the nation’s highest office.

  7. Okay, now that I turned Obama’s “green economy” blather into dust, let me share an alternative plan.

    1) Repeal cap and trade (cap and trade is a tax scheme which we already have in parts of the country on a state level)

    2) Cut out all direct energy subsidies

    2.1) … including the per-kWh wind production tax credit, which has been around on-and-off for years but has just killed birds and destroyed property values. Yeah, it makes power… but the return on energy invested is quite poor.

    2.2) … including all coal and oil subsidies.

    2.3) … including nuclear subsidies, especially plant construction subsidies. I would keep insurance subsidies. Big companies like Duke do not need construction subsidies for reactors – and they don’t want the federal strings that come with that money, either.

    3) Get capital investment going by cutting or eliminating the capital gains tax.

    4) Deregulate nuclear power construction and production.

    5) Halt the increases in federal expenditures and – most importantly – market interventions, that are prolonging this recession so that companies can get R&D going again.

    Then I will sit back in the informed bliss that comes over me when I understand that virtually all humans, including politicians, are merely pursuing their own self-interest. I will not wander around in a dark room and bang my head on a wall, like leftists do, exclaiming that progress does not happen outside of new legislation or legislative committee meetings. And, like they have done for 127 years, our power companies will produce power.

    America in 20 years with the Obama energy plan:
    – Wind turbines dot the Midwest, and supply some peak energy at high cost. Countless acres of land go to capturing the wind.
    – Coal mining companies tear down mountaintops to produce “clean coal”
    – A few new nuclear power plants supply some baseload energy
    – Cap and trade makes the American middle class poor… so they vote Democrat, and the Democrats tax them and make them even poorer in a cycle that once ended with Ronald Reagan before it began again.
    – Starving African children continue to be affected by climbing food prices due to the consumption of crops for fuel.
    – Cities see a stabilization or increase in air pollution. One of the reasons for increased noxious gas emissions will, ironically, include higher CAFE standards for vehicles. Automakers must meet the increased costs somehow, so they start to barely comply with noxious gas emissions standards with which they used to overcomply.
    – Venture capital is not doing so well under left-leaning governments. The feds pick winners and losers in hydroelectric technology, leaving some of the most viable machinery out of the running.

    American in 20 years with no federal energy plan:
    – Duke Power builds more nuclear reactors, without federal construction subsidies, to meet expanding demand. The reactors only take up a few square miles, and our power production grows seamlessly.
    – Solar panels dot rooftops across America. They are now efficient enough to produce some power for the home at a reasonable cost. Energy companies have funded research into efficient solar panels with expanding R&D budgets.
    – We start taxing coal in order to move off of carbon-based fuels for good. 20 years into a capitalistic future, we won’t need to have extremely extensive coal production because our baseload capacity from renewable or nuclear sources is so high. So a tax will just wind the coal business down slowly, saving the Appalachians.
    – Cities begin to see reduced air pollution from coal, and air pollution from the burning of other carbon fuels begins to level off or even decline.
    – We gather significantly higher kWhs of our electricity from hydroelectric power due to small-time innovators (like to guy who powers the grocery store along the Hudson, I believe) who can ride venture capital to production of efficient, high-volume hydroelectric machinery.

    It’s best if the feds just stay out of energy production. They didn’t run it before, and there’s no reason – not one – for them to start now.

  8. Johnny Q, I know this is a hard concept to understand, but we must try nonetheless. If green technologies were truly efficient, then these taxes of non-green energy producers would not be necessary. Simultaneously claiming that this tax is necessary and that green technologies are efficient is contradictory.

  9. Nuclear power wouldn’t be possible without massive subsidies — from extraction to construction to disposal. I don’t think you’re going to find much support for deregulating nuclear power construction and production, either.

  10. Nuclear power generates far more kilowatt-hours of electricity per federal dollar (and per acre) than do wind and solar. But the nuclear energy industry doesn’t need massive federal subsidies. Yes, it has high overnight reactor production costs and insurance costs, but the technology is becoming more compact, efficient and powerful thanks to scientific progress.

    On regulation – a stable regulatory regime, combined with lessening of non-safety-related construction/production regulations in other specific sectors, would be a boon to the industry. Here are ten examples of “deregulation” – really, re-regulation and modernization of regulations – that would help us move towards a green future:

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/EnergyandEnvironment/wm1944.cfm

  11. I just don’t believe you when you say the nuclear industry doesn’t need massive federal subsidies. Subsidies are the lifeblood of the nuclear industry. They have loan guarantees, production tax credits, billions of dollars of subsidizied research, insurance, security, waste disposal and cleanup, decomissioning — take all that away and the nuclear industry wouldn’t even exist.

  12. “It’s best if the feds just stay out of energy production” = pure fantasy. The federal government has long been intimately involved in energy production. The point of subsidizing research and development of “green” power initiatives now is to help them begin to attain the levels of efficiency found in traditional energy production methods, all of which have enjoyed heavy subsidies for many decades.

  13. “The federal government has long been intimately involved in energy production. The point of subsidizing research and development of “green” power initiatives now is to help them begin to attain the levels of efficiency found in traditional energy production methods, all of which have enjoyed heavy subsidies for many decades.”

    The return on energy invested in oil and natural gas has actually been decreasing over the years. We now get maybe 5 units of energy from every 1 unit of energy dedication to extraction, whereas that ratio used to be 30:1 or higher. Federal subsidies have nothing at all to do with those ratios. Those efficiencies are inherent in the energy source.

    Wind has received subsidies for many decades, and hasn’t started to take up less land or generate more power for significantly less money.

  14. Oh, the nuclear industry would indeed exist. The UK is doing it with French reactors.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7179579.stm

    By the way, since when are left-leaning folks concerned about federal spending? This is great. Can we get more of this concern, more often, please?

    Wind power receives massive subsidies as well. It got $724 million in 2007, but only generated 3.9% of the electricity that nuclear power generated with $1.6 billion in 2007 subsidies.

    Keep in mind, too, that nuclear technology is ever-changing. The industry is now at a point where it can reduce costs by consolidating reactor designs (like Duke Energy is doing).

    Nuclear power is now possible without subsidies. I think you will see it on a more local scale, rather than on the scale of the huge, single-run uranium plants that use the big fuel rods, though. But the newer, more compact technology generates equivalent power for less money. Also, thorium reactors will begin to reduce waste. Deuterium fuels will become available extend the lifetime of the power source by providing more nuclear material to work with. And the best part is that you, as a taxpayer, don’t have to bear the responsibility for failed nuclear projects (in my ideal subsidy-free world).

    I take comfort in the fact that progress towards clean energy marches on thanks to science – but I remember that Obama can halt this progress by refusing to modernize regulation.

  15. I often hear you guys say that the government is going to “run this” or “run that.” What on earth are you talking about? Cap & trade is not the equivalent of the government running ANYTHING. The government is only dis-incentivizing dirty fuels with cap & trade. Please, explain to me how they will be running companies and making executive decisions.

    What you fail to mention is what cap & trade will actually do: it will create a high demand for new power lines, solar panels, solar cells, wind turbines, and efficiency measures across the country. Don’t you agree that it will create that demand? And if you can agree to that (which is pretty basic logic), then you can certainly agree that it will create millions of jobs, new capital investments, and a new manufacturing industry… and economic growth. Finally, the U.S. will be exporting something of value again. Further, the buying and selling of permits will generate investment money so that we can improve technologies and cushion the American people from the rise in fossil fuels costs (CBO: $175/household).

    I agree with you on coal, but a lot of Democrats and Republicans in Congress will not allow us to get rid of it. The reason I support investing in “clean coal” (oxymoron) technology is because regardless of what we do here, China is still going to burning coal by the ton, and that pollution ends up on our coasts and produces more greenhouse gases. We need to develop clean coal technology so we can export it to them and other countries. In effect, we need to protect ourselves from them. I also agree with you – and most sensible people do – on ethanol. It’s an inefficient sham. I don’t agree with oil and coal subsidies and I feel like our government has been picking “winners and losers” (basically sinking alternative energy) with these subsidies whilst hiding the true costs of burning fossil fuels.

    Hydro won’t get us there – we have basically dammed up all the decent bodies of water.
    Nuclear is not a viable option without significant changes in regulation. I don’t see that happening. Even then, environmental groups (for better or worse) are able to prevent construction b/c of the appeals process in CERCLA. By the time all court proceedings and grievances have been filed, investment money has often dried up.

    So, we need to look at what cap & trade actually does. It doesn’t let the government run anything. It is only incentivizing the use of alternative fuels, technologies, and spurring innovation. And honestly, it’s not picking “winners and losers,” it’s setting a limit on emissions and letting the market figure out how to reach it. Cap & trade means industry is going to be looking for different ways to cut their emissions. That will revolve around using alternative fuels, boosting efficiency, and innovating… all of which equates to millions of jobs across the board.

    I think we agree on the ends but not the means, which is good. I feel like government needs to set guideposts for achieving this necessary end; you don’t, for the most part. I really believe cap & trade is a good idea, and while it does have its flaws, it will generally lead us toward a future with less fossil fuels, less energy consumption, a better environment, and improved national security.

  16. The government is not only dis-incentivizing dirty fuels. They are also incentivizing dirty fuels, which include ethanol and (unfortunately – I wish this one were viable) wind (which is dirty in the sense that its land requirements are absolutely absurd, and that it has a very low return on energy invested. We are putting a bunch of energy into the technology and not getting a whole out relative to other sources.) They are implicitly, via the funding of competitors, dis-incentivizing clean and modern alternatives to the products that do not qualify for the politicians’ short list.

    Nuclear will happen. That change in regulation will occur. There is nothing Obama can do to halt progress forever on this front, and I’m not sure he sees any need to halt that progress beyond his term, so I don’t think he’ll permanently damage the industry.

    By hydro, I didn’t mean dams as much as tidal power and power from flowing rivers (with the latter on a small scale and the former on a commercial scale).

    The House bill does not merely set limits on emission and “let the market” figure things out. It actually makes energy producers pay to emit carbon – in the middle of a deep recession. Ugh.

    “Clean” coal technology already exists, and, in fact, in powers the Chapel Hill coal plant. That plant already runs under a state cap-and-trade program, which has the plant paying for emission licenses. In fact, it might be a federal program – can’t remember what the guy said when I visited.

    Generally speaking, producers are not going to cut their carbon emissions. They’re going to pay for their emission. That includes the fines – whatever needs to be done to keep up with demand. So the federal government gets to sort out who gets the spoils. It’s just cap-and-pay-the-federal-government.

    When carbon emissions are cut, it is at a huge cost. In the case of CAFE, we run the risk of actually raising emissions of other noxious gases and causing more highway automobile deaths. And the production tax will be passed on to American consumers, who will see higher food and utility prices as a result – in the middle of a deep recession.

    There will be no net increase in available employment as a result of this bill. The bill just sucks money out of one sector of the economy and gives it to energy sources that, if they were efficient, wouldn’t need subsidies. No jobs come from redistribution of wealth… just watch what happens if you don’t believe me. I don’t want to watch the effects of this bill. I want clean power, not subsidies for land-hogging, inefficient power sources.

    I don’t think the Chinese will pick up on our existing clean-coal technology on a large scale. I think the alternative is exporting more-efficient green technology than coal – then the Chinese will catch on.

  17. “By the way, since when are left-leaning folks concerned about federal spending? This is great. Can we get more of this concern, more often, please?”

    Yes, I think subsidizing and privileging nuclear power is a bad idea, just like I think the government wastes a staggering amount of money on the military, prisons, factory farming, bailing out the banking industry and a host of other corporate subsidies. Nuclear subsidies over the last 50 years absolutely dwarf those for wind/solar/whatever I’m not sure why you’re even making that comparison. It’s ridiculous to say that the nuclear industry could do anything without government support. Look at that UK article again, it even has a sidebar listing ways the government is going to support the nuclear industry, including emergency funding and waste storage.

    “Mr Hutton conceded that no nuclear plant had been built anywhere in the world without public money – but he insisted there would be no subsidies from the UK government.”

    I am laughing.

  18. … but not construction and many of the other subsidies the U.S. has.

    The project includes “traditional” nuclear plant and doesn’t really incorporate the latest technology. My point above was that we’ll see less of these, and thus will ‘need’ fewer dollars in subsidies to nuclear power, in the future. But success might not come in the form of single-run light-water reactor plants.

    According to the Energy Information Administration, current direct subsidies to nuclear power are dwarfed – by billions of dollars per year – by subsidies to renewable. A report from the EIA also put me under the impression that before the 2005 energy bill, the only direct subsidies nuclear power received were R&D subsidies.

    They’ve been rather well-spent, I think, as nuclear power generates 20% of our electricity. (To get the same amount of power from wind, you’d have to occupy between 2-3 million acres of land with nothing but windmills. And you’d have to build backup, carbon-fueled plants if you want to use the wind power for anything except peak loads.) But they are not essential to the survival of the industry.

    If it were interested, the U.S. government could reduce cost by modernizing regulations in the manner described above – or by opening up Yucca Mountain for storage.

  19. Two points and I’m done: the numbers you’re citing do not include insurance or waste disposal, and the 2007 number for renewables includes a majority portion ($3 billion) for ethanol, which is really just a subsidy to the corn-industrial complex. Take a look at nuclear subsidies since 1950, including waste disposal, and compare that to subsidies for green/renewable energy.

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