Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shut It Down

"...'time is up', no more short term funding bills to avert a government shutdown."

I for one, hope the GOP follows through with this threat.  Moreover, I hope that Democrats will stand firm on not allowing cuts to essential services.  In the end, I hope all this leads to a shutdown of the federal government.

Far too many Americans have or are taking our government for granted.  Especially among Republican voters, and or those who hold the Tea Party in such high esteem.  "We need less government!", they exclaim.  Let them sit with only 'essential services' operating and see how that works out.  Our infrastructure is crumbling beneath us, everything from roads and bridges to our power grids and our waste and water delivery systems.

So as America collapses and degrades before our eyes, we are engaged in now 3 wars in 3 different countries, and Republicans are toying with the idea of shutting down the federal government.  I say "Let'em!"

We need a healthy dose of what our government does around us, and where your tax dollars are spent.  As a nation, we have to be made aware that taxes equal services.  Tax cuts have led to shortfalls, and given these cuts didn't 'stimulate' the economy as intended, there were even greater revenue shortfalls.  Now, Conservatives want to cut services, to cover the deficit.

What Democrats need to do is allow Republicans to get what they are asking for, and then just sit back wait for the public backlash.

The problem is Americans haven't felt the sting of underfunding government, because we've been offered tax cuts, while we ran deficits.  We simply haven't felt the years of our underfunding government.

Well, we need to.  Shut it down, we have a lesson to learn.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nuclear vs. Solar

"Nuclear energy is safe."

Unless you put nuclear plants near earthquake prone areas that are also susceptible to tsunamis.  Additionally, there is the having to deal with the waste produced by the nuclear fusion process.  Spent energy rods tend to need a place far away from humans for about a quarter of a million years so, there's that.  Worst case scenario in a nuclear power plant is the cooling systems fail, the plant melts down making the area within a 20 mile radius inhabitable, while releasing tons of radioactive material into the atmosphere, and killing tens of thousands with cancer.

Solar energy on the other hand does not require the same production footprint.  While there are waste products created in the construction of solar panels, and fossil fuels consumed to create them, once completed, solar energy produces no emissions.  The worst case scenario is a newer more efficient one is developed, and you have to toss the old one in a land fill.

The difference between the two is efficiency.  A small nuclear power plant can power over 25,000 homes. To produce that amount of energy you'd need around a million solar panels, or around 30 to 40 per house.  The real difference is that nuclear power plants work all day and all night, while solar power only works its best during clear sunny days.

So, while solar panels have never killed anyone, they aren't washing the market clean of other energy sources.  Even though solar energy is ambient, meaning that it is just sitting out there, most of it is still just sitting there waiting to be collected and employed.  One doesn't even need solar cells to collect it, a series of mirrors all aimed at the boiling pot of a steam engine will produce usable clean energy.

Rather than fully employ a rather benign energy source that is all around us, it is cheaper to attempt to control a nuclear reaction.  $9,000 per kwh for solar and we kill no one vs. $1,500 per kwh for nuclear, and we could possibly destroy 100 sq miles for decades and kill tens of thousands of people... which seems more reasonable?

We need energy, because we are a consumption nation.  So let's invest in energy sources that won't kill us, and we don't have to kill anyone for...  Rather than create a process we can't 'always' control, that makes waste that remains toxic for millennia, why not just fully employ what is all around us and is perfectly safe?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Raising Taxes to Save Money

"Government is the problem, not the solution."

At present, this is true.  The reason is that Conservative Republicans are actively undermining government initiatives, then crowing about how inefficient it is.

Allow me to present an example.  A Democrat proposes the building of a highway, and estimates cost to be $1 million.  It is proposed that taxes should be 'raised' to increase revenue, by 2%, to fund the project.  Republicans claim that this increase will slow economic growth, so they only agree to a 1% increase, resulting is less revenue in which to fund the project.  The result is the highway is paved only partially, then Conservatives say, "Look how inefficient government is, they can't even properly pave a road!"

I'd like to argue that we should go the other way.  What if government could provide better or ideal services, and still save taxpayers money, all by raising taxes?

Skeptical?  Allow me to explain...

Government should take over the entire insurance sector.  Instead of paying bloated premiums to for-profit private insurance agencies that are legally allowed to discriminate, you pay 'part' of that money as higher taxes.  Without the need to turn a profit, advertise, or pay high salaried executives and board members, government could offer you more delivered claims for lower prices.

Insurance companies don't produce anything.  They simply collect, hold, and distribute money, while keeping some for itself.  That sounds like exactly what government was designed to do.  Insurance companies are legally allowed to discriminate to set premiums, then legally allowed to deny claims, and lobby for broader ability to do so.  Why?

Why not allow government non-profit agencies to do a better job, while costing less?

Raising taxes could save money while offering better services.  The savings of which, would further stimulate economy growth, all by offering full coverage government.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Supporting Democratic Revolutions

"Gaddafi is a brutal killer and Libya – not to mention the world – would be better off if he were out of power." 

Sarah Palin is right, we should be helping and publicly supporting those in Libya who are fighting to oust Gaggafi.  Although, I don't think that the institution of a no-fly zone is enough.  Were I President, I'd be sending in covert operatives to help organize and arm rebels actively fighting Gaddafi forces.

The other thing we should be doing as a freedom-loving democratic nation is calling for the U.N., N.A.T.O., and any other international organization to take direct action against Gaddafi, and assist those struggling against him.  

America's problem is that we don't really support freedom and democracy, beyond our borders, in a consistent reliable manner.  In fact, our government has allies and long standing relationships with unelected dictators, repressive monarchies, and not so democratic leaders.  We tolerate these nations' actions because we get something, usually oil, from such outlets.  Saudi Arabia one of our biggest crude contributers is not a democracy, or republic of any kind.  Yet, this royal family has been the honored guest of more than one U.S. President, and our ally.

We support what is in our economic interest to support, if that's a democracy, great.  If it's a repressive monarchy, oh well...

We live in a complicated world, but what shouldn't be complicated is saving people from being murdered by a violent dictator, bent on staying in power by killing civilians until everyone gets back into line.  One of the reasons we went into Iraq was to stop Saddam Hussein from his oppression of Iraqis, and his people weren't even actively complaining or actively protesting.  

All that said, even if our economic needs keep us from taking principled public stands, we should be taking covert steps to organize, arm, and train democratic rebellions.  

Allowing Gaddafi to maintain control over Libya is entirely unacceptable.  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Union Busting

"Public workers shouldn't be allowed to Unionize."

That's right, Republicans do not believe that Teachers, Firemen, and the Police, or any other public sector workers deserve the right to join Unions, and collectively bargain for wages and benefits.  The people who educate our youth, protect and serve you and your home, DON'T deserve to decide among themselves how much money they make?  How did that argument win the day?

The recent economic downturn has indeed seen a drop in tax revenues collected, and it would be and is wise for Unions to realize that we all need to sacrifice, which they have.  Wisconsin's and other Unions have accepted cuts in pay, reduced pension benefits, and agreed to pay in more for their health benefits.  They fully accepted the reductions, cuts, and increases in benefits dues.  This wasn't enough for Conservatives, however.  Because they managed to elect some overwhelming majorities, Republicans see this as an opportunity to strip Unions of all their collective bargaining power.

Were I a Union boss, I'd be preparing everyone for a nation-wide walk out.  Republicans and by extension those who voted them into office, need to appreciate the work Teachers, Firemen, Police, and other public sector workers do for the United States and Americans.  What voters need is a huge dose of the reality of underfunding public works.

Taxpayers seem completely removed from the rate of taxes they pay, and level of services they receive.  This is because we have been operating on deficits for over a decade.  Our current tax rate isn't paying the bills.  It is not enough to pay for our military efforts, or even the general maintenance on our degraded infrastructure, and those charged with molding our future and protecting our livelihood are willing to take a pay cut...but this still isn't enough for Conservative Republicans.

I say we let Republicans try to enact ALL their policies.  Let them drive Unions away from the bargaining table, and allow things to really fall apart.  People need to understand what happens when you don't fully fund a working government that can respond to all of its citizens' needs.

People deserve to know what collective bargaining really means.