Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Some News From Today

Alternative Energy:  T Boone Pickens, the Texas Billionaire who has been in the public eye for his promotion of alternative energy has called off his plan to build the country's biggest wind farm in Texas.  He stated that the transmission costs would be too much.  This has become more generally understood lately as people who run with an idea begin to come face to face with reality.  Thank goodness for people who run with ideas, without them we would never progress.  This applies to a bigger issue around wind and solar generation.  If we are going to change the way we do energy WHY would we simply replace the big coal plants, nuclear plants and gas plants with big solar arrays and wind arrays?  We need to go deeper than this and examine the whole system of how we produce energy because when we do that it becomes clear that there may be better options than simply replacing the power plants but not addressing the issue of control of that energy and what that control means.  More and more people are exploring what it would mean to decentralize power, to go away from the centralized power plant that requires untold numbers of tranmission lines, land and, of course, utility bills that force people into the box of consumerism.  What if, instead of big centralized power we concentrated on making every house or every neighborhood energy independent?  Instead of transmission lines and central billing, each house or neighborhood would be it's own energy plant.  The technology is already here for this and it makes me wonder why we haven't done this as a collective, government sponsored (if government is going to sponsor things) initiative.  Of course then I think of what the motivation of the government is (by examining the results of government action) and it becomes clear that the government doesn't want individual homes and neighborhoods to be energy independent.  So I put the government thoughts aside and imagine what it would look like and what life would be like if everyone, everyone was able to produce all the energy they needed...

Obama in Russia:  Obama has been in Russia for the past few days, talking with Russian leaders about limiting nuclear weapon least that's what it says in the news.  There was an article that referenced the fact that many Russians were unfased by Obama's presence in their county and in fact down played it saying, when polled about what would be the biggest result of Obama's visit to their country, that "traffic jams" were going to be the most notable result.  The article was interesting to me because I had the feeling that these Russians who have seen so much more political and social unrest than we, as Americans, have had a sensible and refreshing view of our President and politics in general.  In America where Obama is the celebrity president and the public waits eagerly to hear what he grows in his garden or how his jump shot is, it is clear that we are concerned more with suss than substance.  In Russia it seems to have become more of a joke that anyone would treat a politician (technically our employee) with such silly reverence.  The Russians have learned with all the pain that one could imagine that politicians are not to be revered or even trusted and that, in fact, putting trust in a politician often leads fatal consequences.  I couldn't help but feel as I read the article that the Russian people had an attitude that I wish the American people had and one which Americans ought to have, one not of trust in their politicians but on evaluation of performance, not performance itself.

Palin:  I don't care what anyone says about Sarah Palin (Disclosure:  I have not been a fan at all) but when I see her in hip waders and heavy gloves working nets in Alaska, I think to myself that if she would shut her mouth and just do her work, she would already be better than 99% of the politicians we have.  And that maybe, if she really does work like that, politics ruined her, like it tends to ruin most.  

The Pope:  The Pope yesterday called for a "World Political Authority" to better ensure the "Common Good" in a response to economic injustice.  How do you interpret a "World Political Authority"?  What does that mean?  What it means to me is not good because to me 99% of the people are not the problem and do not need some type of Authority to oversee them or to ensure the common good.  99% of the people understand what good is and what common is.  It's the 1% that need the lesson and that need the authority.  By further consolidating "authority" all we are doing is making it easier for the 1% to control the 99%.  This is the POPE saying this...THE POPE!

The Minimum Wage:  An opinion piece today in the Boston Globe brought up a good and completely neglected (by those making laws) point.  Politicians (nor anyone) can solve the problem of poverty or low wages by simply requiring employers to pay more for minimum wage.  The article was in response to a 41% increase in the minimum wage in the last two years.  His point and the point is that it doesn't matter how politicians or anyone feels about the minimum wage, simply because someone feels that someone else should be paid more or simply because our President says he supports minimum wage hikes because he "believes that people who work full time should not live in poverty" has nothing to do with the factors that determine what an employer can or should pay.  In fact the article states correctly that by setting an artificial floor for labor, by saying that all employers must pay $7.25 hour, we are essentially encouraging unemployment and that the result, overall, will not be better conditions for workers and those lowest on the totem pole but actually it will lead to more unemployment.  The reason for this is simply that it doesn't matter what people THINK about a thing or how it SHOULD be in a market based economy.  Just because politicians or anyone else institutes a minimum wage doesn't make it possible for businesses to pay it.  The two are not connected other than being diametrically opposed to each other meaning that the minimum wage will achieve exactly the opposite of what it's proponents are hoping.  What will happen instead is that businesses, because they operate based on supply and demand and based on producing value that others pay for, will have to find ways to adapt to the FORCED minimum (by someone completely outside of the business world), so because they are being forced to pay out more in one area they will cut costs in other areas... possibly by cutting hours, cutting benefits, cutting service, shipping jobs overseas or even closing.  That's the problem with interference in business models by non business models.  You can't have both acting together AND achieve prosperity.  You can have both acting together... but you cannot achieve prosperity that way, this is the system we have today in the US... both systems are working together, business and political, and they are achieving EXACTLY what they are meant to, poverty, unemployment, lack of innovation, high costs and essentially the destruction of a layered and healthy society.  Any time someone presents the argument to you that Minimum Wages are the way to help, you can be sure that one of two things are true, either they understand nothing about the free market OR they intention is to destroy society as we know it...

Put that in your pipe and smoke on it for a while...


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