Thursday, April 21, 2011

Which is the Old, and which is the New? James Cameron shows Arnold "The Way"

I guess Cameron thinks wind and solar are new, and hydro is old. Actually, wind, solar, and hydro are all old. Each has huge environmental and societal liabilities. Hydro floods useful land and displaces its inhabitants, and wind and solar use huge amounts of scarce resources - including useful land - degrade the environment, don't produce energy cost effectively, relaibly, or efficiently, and produce nothing at all without government subsidies at the beginning and throughout the life of the wind and solar installations. Among the three, hydro makes the most sense because it is reliable, dispatchable, and controllable, and is generally cost effective. It also provides what developing nations need most, abundant energy to fuel their economic growth.
What can the world learn from our former California Governor Schwarzenegger?
As a Californian, and a one-time supporter of his election to governor, I am well qualified to answer my own question.
Governor Schwarzenegger was a total failure as governor of California. Among many fundamental errors he made was his mindless pursuit of green-energy jobs. They weren't created, and California had one of the highest rates of unemployment at over 12% in the United States. When the number of job seekers who dropped out of seeking employment because of frustration are counted, the actual unemployment rate doubled.
California's wind and solar farms are expensive, taxpayer subsidized, inefficient, and ineffective. They show no sign of ever being better than their current level of abject failure.
I lived within view of the wind farm at Altamont Pass for nine years. Besides not producing enough energy, even at highly subsidized rates, to avoid bankruptcies of their owners, the only thing the wind turbines did on the rare occasions their blades were turning was to kill rare eagles, raptors, and bats. And to be a much too visible eyesore on what should have been pristine views of rolling hills.
Only desperate fools seek guidance from the "Governator," whose only claim to fame is how he made California even worse than he found it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Putting the "Own" back in Homeowner

The Wall Street Jounal had an almost great article about home ownership, or how little most of own after years of making mortgage payments. Putting the "Own" back in Homeowner One of my pet peeves is the mortgage interest deduction, which encourages us to never pay off our mortgages.

The mortgage interest deduction makes no sense, and I'm in real estate. In fact, no incentives to home ownership make any sense. We need to have a mobile workforce to satisfy rapidly changing job market needs, not only in skills, but in geography. Right now the collapsed housing market in rural Northern California has many people trapped far away from the best job markets. If they leave they're forced to sell their home at a great loss, or rent it and suffer negative cash flow while trying to make rent or house payments at their new place of employment..

Home mortgage interest deduction makes as much sense as not taxing employer-provided health insurance as compensation. Where do we keep coming up with these dumb ideas? Oh, that's right, we don't. Politicians do, then buy our votes.