Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Government Giveth, Then Taketh Away

The following appeared at the end of a news article about how rural Democrat legislators felt their concerns were being ignored by the Obama Administration and Democrat leaders. In particular, the Democrat’s energy bill would greatly increase the cost of electricity in rural areas, which get roughly 80 percent of their electricity from coal-fired power plants.

It will cost every North Carolinian somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,400 to $3,000 a year in just the electrical surcharge,” said Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who hails from a state Obama carried last year and would like to win again. “That’s a surcharge larger than their annual electric bill.”

A White House official said the administration is committed to alleviating any disproportionate burden on rural states. “The president has been clear that if there is a disparate impact on certain regions during the transition period, families and businesses should be compensated — the Waxman-Markey legislation includes provisions that do just that,” the official said.

That’s the same thing we say in California about our budget problems. If we have to take money from the schools, we’ll make it up later. If California has to borrow tax revenues from cash-strapped counties and cities, California will pay it back as soon as possible.

I remember Popeye’s buddy Wimpy would approach Rough-House, the owner and operator of The Rough House Café, and importune him: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

Or the fellow who constantly wined and dined a beautiful señorita, then reported to his friends that: “She said she’d love me mañana, but mañana never came.”

So it is with the Democrat leadership. They’ll take care of the people – if there are no other more “important” things that need to be taken care of first.

In California, that comes down to just being able to pay the bills as they come due.

With the trillions being spent in Washington, D.C., I’ll bet that not being able to pay the bills is going to cause a lot of promises to be broken.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Global Climate Change in United States - Don’t look at the man behind the curtain!

The Washington Post highlighted the work of government scientists: Climate Change Already Affecting U.S., by David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post Staff Writer, June 16, 2009. The government report the Post examined, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States," covers much of the same ground as previous analyses from U.S. and United Nations science panels. It finds that greenhouse-gas emissions are "primarily" responsible for global warming and that rapid action is needed to avert catastrophic shifts in water, heat and natural life.”

In other words, it’s nothing new, except the Democrats need something to help them pass their mammoth bill to impose a cap on emissions, and government scientists and the Washington Post are eager to help.

An excerpt from the report concerning sea level rise caught my attention, since Al Gore has predicted that sea levels will rise twenty feet by 2100.

Sea levels have been rising along most of the U.S. coast over the past 50 years, increasing up to eight inches in some places. That trend is expected to continue as warmer temperatures melt glaciers and cause the ocean to expand like a wooden door on a hot day. Some of the worst-hit areas are expected to be along the East Coast, owing to a confluence of rising seas and subsiding land. Seas might rise 2.3 feet near New York City and 2.9 feet in Hampton Roads.

I found it interesting that in the past 50 years sea levels increased “up to eight inches in some places.” Why “in some places,” instead of in all places? Could the answer be found in the “subsiding land?”

As all should know, but apparently few do, sea level rise is natural, not unusual. Since the end of the last Ice Age, a mere 18,000 years ago, sea levels have risen over 400 feet, or an average of over two feet per century. Since the end of the Little Ice Ages in 1850, the average increase has been seven inches per century. If the trend “in some places” in the past 50 years continues, that would be about 16 inches for a century. How much of that is sea levels rising, and how much is subsidence?

I delved into the underlying report for an answer and found this:

Significant sea-level rise and storm surge will adversely affect coastal cities and ecosystems around the nation; low-lying and subsiding areas are most vulnerable.

High rates of relative sea-level rise have already resulted in the loss of 1,900 square miles of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands during the past century, weakening their capacity to absorb the storm surge of hurricanes such as Katrina. Shoreline retreat is occurring along most of the nation’s exposed shores. Recent estimates of global sea-level rise are 3 to 4 feet in this century, with higher relative sea-level rise in areas where the land is subsiding (sinking), including most of the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast of the United States.

There it is! Look to Louisiana for proof! So let’s do just that.

At “Wetland Loss In Louisiana,” we find that global warming is not the problem, and that the problem began over 200 years ago as “wetlands in the United States have been drained, dredged, filled, leveled and flooded for urban, agricultural, and residential development (Mitsch and Gosselink 1993). Because of these activities, 22 states have lost 50% or more of their original wetlands. The problem in Louisiana is somewhat different–wetland growth and deterioration have been naturally occurring here for thousands of years.”

Simply stated, the sediment deposited on the Mississippi River delta naturally compacts under its own weight and subsides. Before channels were straightened and confined with levies, newly added layers of sediment compensated for compaction and subsidence. However, manmade alterations stopped this natural process long before the specter of global warming was raised.

The same process has been identified in other deltas, such as Bangladesh, where efforts to control flooding have caused flooding problems to worsen as natural compaction and subsidence expose low-lying shores to storm surges. The storms are no stronger or frequent, and the sea level increases are normal and natural, but the natural storm barriers are not being replenished.

This apocalyptic government scientist report trumpeted by the Washington Post takes an effect – sea level increases – and assigns it an erroneous cause – manmade global warming. Sea levels are rising naturally, and have been at varying rates for the past 18,000 years. The current rate of rising sea levels has not increased, even though natural climate change has caused the United States temperature to increase about one degree Fahrenheit in the last century.

The rest of the report displays the usual unwarranted alarmism about normal climate change. It’s like the government scientists and Washington Post reporter and editors were born yesterday, and their only instructor about weather was Al Gore.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Liberals Use Statistics to Lie About California Taxes

In fact, California ranks 18th among the states in percentage of personal income paid to state government, and its presumably beleaguered wealthiest 1 percent, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, pays just 7.4 percent of their income to the state, while the poorest Californians pay 10.2 percent.

So prattles Harold Meyerson, in a May 29, 2009 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, How the Golden State got tarnished.

To take the second part of Meyerson’s statement first, the Citizens for Tax Justice table he referenced was updated, and he overlooked the update. Instead of 10.2 % for the poor, and 7.4% for the rich, the table shows an effective tax rate for the poorest 20% of 11.1%, and 7.8% for the wealthiest 1%.

Meyerson conveniently overlooks some details in the study which aid him in distorting its results. The study says the wealthiest 1% only pay 7.8%, that is arrived at by deducting a "federal reduction offset" of 2.4% from the 10.2% the rich actually pay, which apparently adjusts the tax rate of the rich for the federal taxes saved by paying state taxes and itemizing deductions.

The poor only pay 0.1% percent of their "income" for income tax, but about 7% for sales and excise taxes. What the study doesn't even hint at is that the poorest 20% receive untaxed transfer payments (food stamps, rent subsidies, aid to dependent children, WIC, etc., plus their own "federal reduction offset," the Earned Income Tax Credit) that usually more than double their "income," but which are not reflected in their "base" for wealth and cost comparisons such as tax equity. Also this lowest 20% rarely pay federal income taxes (and get more back than is withheld), and often don't pay FICA/Medicare either.

As is the case with most of these agenda-serving studies, the author compared apples to oranges and produced a lemon.

Now for the first part. Meyerson apparently found a table he liked that showed Californians are 18th in the percentage of personal income paid to state government. However: "At 8.25%, California has the highest state sales tax, which can total up to 10.25% with local sales tax included."

Another table shows that California has the 2nd highest personal income tax rate at 9.3%, slightly lower than Vermont's 9.5% (although the California rate can be higher because some local governments can add taxes).

Then I found a table that showed California #9 in per capita state taxes paid. Interestingly, I found that Wyoming was #2, ranked higher than California even though Wyoming had a much lower sales tax, no personal or corporate income taxes, and lower gas and cigarette taxes. What's the story here?

The answer surprised me, and showed me how some analysts used statistics to pull the wool over over taxpayer eyes. Wyoming produces a lot of coal and gas, and is paid royalties by the companies that extract it. These royalties are lumped into the state tax receipts, then the total is divided by the Wyoming popultation, making it look like Wyoming folks are among the highest taxed in the nation when the opposite is true. This also appears in statistics for other resouces rich states like Alaska, South Dakota, and Louisiana, and makes states like California look like they are not taxed as highly in comparison.

As a Californian born and raised, I know we pay a lot of California taxes. Our problem is not that California taxes us too little, but that California spends too much, particularly on entitlement programs. Some Californians want that to continue, and feel that Californians, particularly the wealthy, should be taxed even more. Apparently they think California has a captive tax base, even as wealthy Californians and businesses move to more tax-friendly environs.

I'm sure as our tax base shrinks because of this exodus, our Liberal brain trust will answer by proposing even higher taxes. And wait for Obama to bail California out.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Nancy Pelosi Must Investigate Her CIA Allegations

Nancy Pelosi said the CIA lied to her and Congress in briefings concerning waterboarding. What is she doing about it?

She can’t be doing nothing. Congress can’t be doing nothing. Congress must investigate all serious allegations of misconduct by the CIA, especially since Congress has CIA oversight responsibilities. In this case, the person bringing the allegation, the Speaker of the House, is the person in Congress most involved with security responsibilities.

Can she accuse the CIA of lying to her, and then not investigate? Even if she says she can, Congress can’t. Lying to Congress is a criminal offense and such allegations must be pursued.

It’s not a matter of choice, it’s the law.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Solar Bottom Line is Bottomless Pit

Obama poses before a bottomless money pit, also known as the huge solar installation at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada

The New York Times has a Green Inc. section, motto: Energy, the Environment and the Bottom Line. In a May 27, 2009 article, Obama Touts Clean Energy Achievements, by Kate Galbraith, the clean energy achievement being touted by Obama was the 140-acre, 70,000 solar panel installation at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The cost of this monument to taxpayer waste is $100 million to provide Nellis with about 30 percent of its electrical needs at a savings of $1.2 million per annum. Doing the math, that's an 83-year payback period, except that "Solar panels have an effective lifespan of about 20 to 25 years, and their value and wattage output decrease steadily over time."

In other words, there is no pay-back for the Nellis solar-cell investment. The Bottom Line is that the government has paid $100 million and will receive back approximately $20 million in value, for a loss of over $80 million (the solar-cell installation will have operating costs in addition to the initial investment, and these operating costs will increase the net loss).

In 20 to 25 years the solar panels will need replacement at a cost of $100 million, ignoring inflation, and will then probably be providing only 20 percent of Nellis' power needs unless Nellis is closed, shrunk, or defies modern trends and holds the line on power consumption.

If you still believe solar power is the answer, you're a Democrat or a fool (please excuse the redundancy).
UPDATE: Writing of Democrats and fools, the Nevada Democrat website reported Obama's visit to Nellis' solar extravaganza, and there I find that savings will be "almost a million dollars a year," so it's even worse than I initially reported. It seems Democrats would be trying to hide this from public view instead of publicizing it. Apparently they think everyone is as challenged mathematically as they and Obama. But let's make this very easy for them: $100 million cost divided by $1 million saved per year equals 100 years to recover the cost. Except solar cells must be replaced every 20 to 25 years.
And our President is happy about this!

Monday, June 01, 2009

CO2 Tail Can't Wag Climate Change Dog

A May 15 letter to our local weekly paper, the Independent Coast Observer of Gualala, California, referred to one of my letters and began: “A previous letter falsely stated that increased CO2 concentrations can’t initiate a warming trend.” The writer then followed this by admitting that the Vostok ice core samples proved that solar cycles initiated previous temperature increases and subsequent CO2 rise (an inconvenient truth Al Gore got backwards), “but that is not the case in our present warming trend.”

That’s false. Our current warming trend began over 400 years ago, long before atmospheric CO2 increased significantly (Moberg et al, published in Nature, Vol. 433, No. 7026, pp. 613 - 617, 10 February 2005). From the end of the Little Ice Ages, approximately 1860, until 1940, the global temperature increased about 0.6º C. From 1940 to present, it’s only increased 0.4º C, and the Globally Averaged Satellite-Based Temperature of the Lower Atmosphere from January 1979 through April 2009 has only increased 0.2º C. The past four years show a cooling trend; 2008 was the 14th coldest year of the past 30, and 2009 could be even colder.

Returning to the Vostok ice core samples, they not only proved solar intensity initiated warming and subsequent CO2 increases, but equally as important showed that increased CO2 levels do not prevent cooling. That’s right. In every instance, as CO2 remained high, cooling began, and then CO2 levels decreased as the cooling oceans absorbed it.

These facts make logical sense. CO2 is only four percent of greenhouse gases, compared to water vapor which is over 90%, and it would be foolish to attribute warming to a trace gas instead of to the extensively documented prowess of the sun. Solar fluctuations result in heating and cooling of the oceans, and the warmer or cooler oceans release or absorb CO2.

The CO2 tail can’t wag the climate change dog.