Framing the Dialogue

Sun’s Free

One of the things that I hope to accomplish with FramingTheDialogue is to link news stories and try to show their connection and often contradictions.  It is surprising, but not unusual to find more than one article on a related topic in different sections of the newspaper.  The most recent were two articles about CFL/Incandescent light bulbs that I wrote about in Watt TF.  Recently the following three articles were available on the same day though I cannot remember whether they were available on the same media outlet. 

Solar power’s outlook grows brighter in Pittsburgh region

The story was about a geology professor from the University of Pittsburgh who had a $50,000 solar power grid (48 panels) installed on the roof of his Pittsburgh home.  To further the “greening” of his home he plans to cover the rest of his roof with plants for insulation.  Professor Ramsey believes that the panels will provide all of his energy needs even though Pittsburgh is one of the cloudiest cities in the United States’

“Statistics from the National Climatic Data Center indicate Pittsburgh, with an average of 59 sunny days a year, is among the country’s cloudiest cities.”

Though the experts (that is the folks who are selling the solar systems) are quoted that there is sufficient light to convert sunlight to power.  The sun’s free right?  Unfortunately I read the rest of the article where the details are less “sunny.”  Professor Ramsey did not pay $50,000.oo for his system.  He did not pay $40,000.00 for his system.  He did not pay $30,000.00 for his system…

“his $23,000 system will pay for itself in seven or eight years, maybe sooner.” 

I would say that an eight year Return on Investment (“ROI”) is moderate to poor.  I don’t know if you noticed, but the system cost $50,000.00, but the good professor’s investment was much less.  Any guesses who picked up the remaining $27,000.00 so he could have free energy from the sun? 

“a combination of state grants, federal tax credits and the knowledge that they could sell solar renewable energy credits — known as SRECs — every year to utilities, to put solar systems within their reach.”

In case you didn’t know, power generators are required by law to produce a certain percentage of their electricity from “renewable” sources.  In addition to providing our tax dollars for individuals to benefit personally the government has also required utilities to purchase energy credits which in turn increases the price to the rest of us.  I am not against solar power, however, I am against my tax dollars paying for them for individuals.  The green energy here is full of the green removed from my paycheck.

Penn State whitewashed ClimateGate

A little over a year ago global warming scientists’ unethical behavior and tactics were exposed in the Climategate scandal.  Implicated in the scandal was Professor Michael Mann from Penn State University.  Being a man-made global warming doubter and a Pitt graduate this news was doubly delicious.  Penn State dutifully investigated the accusations and their internal investigation found that Mann did nothing wrong.  There were certainly doubts about the veracity of the investigation, but the media seemed satisfied to put this story away.  But not so fast…

“A federal government inspector general has revealed prima facie proof that the so-called independent inquiries widely if implausibly described as clearing the ClimateGate principals of wrongdoing were, in fact, whitewashes. This has been confirmed to Senate offices. It will not be released to the public for some time because the investigation is ongoing.”

At this point it is not enough to dump Mann, a step they are likely to try.  That would have worked initially, but now that they have conspired (allegedly) to hide the evidence more must be done.  Perhaps Penn State should lose all grant funding for their unethical behavior.  There are probably many ethical research universities more deserving of our tax dollars. 

The White House’s Green-Jobs Fantasies

One of the foundations of the renewable energy push is the creation of green jobs.  President Bush used tax dollars to push green jobs and now Obama has jumped on the accelerator with $2.3 billion in additional money.  As an aside, I am amazed at how desensitized I am to the “billion” dollar threshold as we are faced with tens of TRILLIONS of dollars of deficits.  One billion seems small…and that’s scary.  Fox Business’ John Stossel weighed in on Obama’s green-jobs initiative using such descriptions as “snake oil,” “fantasies,” and “illusion” leaving little doubt about how he feels about the green push.  Stossel relies heavily on the research of Kenneth P. Green,

“”It is well understood, among economists, that governments do not ‘create’ jobs.  The willingness of entrepreneurs to invest their capital, paired with consumer demand for goods and services, does that. All the government can do is subsidize some industries while jacking up costs for others. In the green case, it is destroying jobs in the conventional energy sector — and most likely in other industrial sectors — through taxes and subsidies to new green companies that will use taxpayer dollars to undercut the competition. The subsidized jobs ‘created’ are, by definition, less efficient uses of capital than market-created jobs.”

Kenneth Green took a looked at the similar efforts by many European countries and the results are not surprising, but because the main-stream media chooses to ignore the information you may not have heard about it.  Stossel’s article is full of good economic reasoning unlike what you will usually see in most media outlets.  It is time to learn what we are NOT getting for our tax dollars.

“Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every green job created, while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create almost five jobs in the general economy.”

We had  something called the green stagecoach when I was in grade school.  If you were not paying attention and walked along a hedge a “friend” often gave you a ride in the green stagecoach…not a pleasant ride.  I am suggesting that we are all being taken on a green stagecoach with the green energy push.  The thorns in this ride, however, are that this White House is also working to make other energy sources less available and/or more expensive.

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