Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Here Comes The Sun"


I just finished reading a series of studies about solar power that has me wishing to lob a few heavy salvos on those K Street coal and electric, gas and nuclear energy lobbyists over Washington way.  What has me so excited was a series of parallel studies that indicate we could install solar on every home in America for quite a reasonable costs.  If I might:

Our government masters (specifically the Department of Housing and Urban Development) says there are 131 million homes in America.  The individual cost to install a 4 kilowatt solar system in the average home is currently $17,000 per home.  4 Kilowatts will more than power the average 2,000 square foot home and, in most cases, provide a quarter of the home's production to the overall electric grid.  So, the Solar Power Association ran the numbers and said Uncle Sam would have to fork out $2.2 trillion dollars to fit every home in America with solar!  (By the way, that's less than what we've spent in Iraq and Afghanistan over the years of war).

Stay with me here folks.  The Solar manufactures and installers say they can install that same system on a home for less than $10,000 if contracted to do so on a massive scale, such as one awarded to them by the U.S. government.  Not only can they manage their work load more efficiently, large scale installations allow for massive cost reductions for bulk purchase of materials.

Still with me?  I had to run back to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to see how many of those 131 million American homes are already equipped with solar, and how many of those homes might be owned by folks who make more than $200,000 a year.

"Lawdy!"   If the U.S. government would not be required to install solar on the ones already equipped, and they didn't have to foot the bill for anyone making over $200,000 a year, we just got those housing numbers down to a more manageable 80 million housing units!   

So, if you are able to reduce the solar costs from a present day $17,000 average, down to a $10,000 dollar average, you've just shaved 40%  of the total costs of installing solar in every home.  And, given that Uncle Sam won't be springing for the solar installations of those making over $200,000 per year, you, the taxpayer, has now shed another $500 billion of costs.  

Factor in the reduced costs from a massive government contract, and say "you're on your own" to the folks making over $200,000 a year, and folks, you're talking about equipping every home in America with a solar system that produces all the power you need, and you're talking about a one time national investment of $800 billion dollars!   (Let's not sweat that would take ten years to accomplish a project of this scale, so let's bring the costs down to a more manageable $80 billion a year).

It gets better boys and girls!  The solar companies and solar installers would have to hire and train hundreds of thousands of workers.....workers that are currently out of work and drawing welfare or unemployment benefits!  And when those solar line workers and installers begin collecting a paycheck, guess what?  Yep.  They start paying federal taxes......taxes that will further offset the government's cost to build out that solar!  

Now I'm not gonna get out my calculator one more time.  You figure it out yourself.  Let's just say 200,000 workers begin paying taxes on their spanking new solar jobs....At a 20 percent tax bracket you've got those 200,000 happy workers paying tens of millions in taxes, further offsetting the costs of the national solar build out!  Folks, if we played our cards right we could probably equip every home in America at zero net costs!

Need I say more, people?  The greenies are happy, the blue collar are happy, everyone's happy...except those Washington D.C. K street electric, gas, nuclear and coal lobbyists!   (Yes, we might have to either subsidize or nationalize those traditional energy companies, cause it would be the absolute end of the greedy corporate owners of today's power grid).

A cleaner world!  Millions of happy households no longer forking out $400 a month every summer for their AC!  Homeowners selling their excess solar production back to the grid and getting a check back every month.

Anyone want to join me in firing a few salvos over toward K Street?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Do Nancy And Chuck Really Care About Those DACA Kids?


Through this morning's coverage of the Congressional spending bill we learned from Speaker of the House Ryan and Senator McConnell that Democrats were offered what they wanted on DACA...a path to citizenship for some 1.6 million illegals brought here as children.  In exchange the Democrats would be required to support the $25 billion to build the wall, fund an expansion of detention facilities, and hire more border patrol.

The Democrats refused.  They simply could not face the idea that future Democrats might not ever again be able to cross the border and vote to keep them in office.  Nor could they tolerate building more detention centers to house illegals nabbed by ICE and awaiting deportation trials.

If I were a DACA kid I would be worried.  While both the Supreme Court and the liberal-populated lower courts have put a temporary stay against deporting DACA candidates, in no way does that guarantee them a safe space in America.   If I'm reading The Supremes correctly, they will rule against Obama's DACA program.  It was unconstitutional based on the essential fact that only Congress can pass immigration law.  And they will rule that Trump, despite his rhetoric, had the right to end a program that was unconstitutional in the first place.   So, when The Supremes get around to ruling on DACA this fall, those DACA kids are going to be on the ICE removal list.

So what will Chuck and Nancy do when their best bargaining chip melts away on the marble floor of the Supreme Court?  What will they have to offer Trump and the Republicans to get a deal done?  The Mexicans have a word for it; "Nada".

There is no doubt in my mind that the Congress will eventually pass some sort of DACA legislation.  But without the courts hanging over their heads, and absent anything the Democrats can offer in trade, I suspect any DACA legislation will be far less generous...and involve far fewer candidates.  And if Trump is smart he'll insist on that wall money, and that detention center money, and money to hire the 5,000 additional border patrol workers he initially wanted.  And I would add one more codicil to that agreement....a firm line in the bill that insists Sanctuary Cities be denied federal funding if they continue to violate our immigration laws.

We shall see how this unfolds.  But I think Chuck and Nancy just sold those DACA kids down the river.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Battle Fatigue And The Energizer Bunny


I would not trust Donald Trump to babysit my grandchildren, or drive my wife to the grocery store.  Trump is like having as your best friend the school bully.  As long as he's doing good things for you, you don't much care who he's beating up in the parking lot.  But, as I witness Trump's machinations, I am frankly suffering from battle fatigue from Trump's "Energizer Bunny" approach to governing.  

Trump, fueled by T-Bone dinners and four quarter pounders with cheese, double fries lunches, awakes at 4AM, grabs the remote control, begins flipping through both friendly and enemy news stations, and begins tweeting.  Trump has time for tweeting because he seems totally incapable of reading and comprehending policy papers beyond the first paragraph.  

Trump is the ultimate hip-shooter.  Sometimes he scores a hit, such as his Supreme Court nomination, his tax cuts, and his more forceful illegal immigration policy.    But Trump misses the target far more, and he's burdened with a seemingly total incapability of articulating, or inspiring.    In his wake are fading porn stars (even as he had Melania at home) and questionable business ethics and a total absence of loyalty to his friends.  Just this morning Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was dismissed because Trump seems not to understand the nuances of foreign relations and he was dismissed "in abstentia" as Trump never has the courage to fire any of his many victims face to face.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump's first and most important political campaign ally, is constantly battered by Trump, Sessions' biggest sin his insistence on adhering to the rule of law.  Given Trump's long list of victims, some are abandoning the ship, many more are reluctant to sign on...most of them suffering battle fatigue from Trump's "energy bunny-ness".  

As I have stated here repeatedly, (and I have been fair in both cheering and condemning Trump as the situation warrants) I wanted from Trump conservative court judges and money to build the wall.  That is all I still want.  Every day I get up and pray that Trump lasts long enough to outlive one more liberal Supreme Court judge and stick around long enough to fund the wall and arrest a few million more illegals.  After that I'd be perfectly content to see Trump retire to Mar A Lago and his 27-hole golf course.

Frankly I'm ashamed that Trump's in the White House.  I'm ashamed that the entire conservative movement is painted with the same broad brush.  Morally he's a snake, ethically he's a coward, mentally he's psychotic.  But unlike the two Bush boys, and unlike Barack Hussein Obama, Trump occasionally stumbles to success in some of the national issues I consider most important.  And, as much as I deplore Trump, I'm grateful that he has shaken up Washington and its "good ole boy" way of doing things.  

So I'm ashamed that I've allied with the school bully.  But I'm not ready to abandon him entirely until he beats up a few more of those whom I abhor.  But, yes, I'm getting battle fatigue from how Trump gets that done.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Where Was I?


Blue collar Democrats and the average working stiff are rightly cheering President Trump's imposition of tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.  For more than half a century America has been getting pummeled left and right with trillions in trade imbalances, none of them in our favor.  These unfair trade practices have been driving businessman Trump crazy for years, and rightly so.

World trade, by its very nature is so very complicated, made more complicated by the various free trade zones that exist around the world.  Let's look at the first two commodities, steel and aluminum, that Trump has chosen to hike tariffs on.  China and South Korea have been cleaning our clock on those metal productions for years.  And it is not just the inequities in labor and environmental laws.  Because of NAFTA foreign metal producers have been shipping production metals to Mexico and Canada, from which, because of NAFTA, they can enter the U.S. tariff free, even as the U.S. produced products are subject to import tariffs when shipped to China and South Korea.  

Well, our trading partners are upset with Trump, the most recently vocal, Germany and Great Britain.  They are fearful that Britain's 7 percent trade surplus and Germany's 24 percent trade surplus in foreign made cars and parts is under threat.  Both of our best trading friends have threatened to hike tariffs on American produced cars.  We are already hurting there too.  German assesses a ten percent tariff on American made cars, even as we impose a paltry 2.5 percent on foreign made automobiles.  And again, because of NAFTA, Germany has been cheating by setting up assembly productions in Mexico and Canada, then trucking them into the U.S. without any tariff at all.  Trump says this economic sleight of hand must stop.  Americans, regardless of political persuasion should agree.  We have already lost so much of critical production capacity in this country so that not only our economic health is threatened but so too our national security!  Shall we wait until we need tanks and guns and put in our orders with China?

Wall Street doesn't like Trump's tariffs.  But we've known about Wall Street for a long time now.  Those "universalists" on Wall Street, who long ago stopped caring about America communities, in favor of the almighty world dollar, care not how this country fares as long as their bottom line is healthy.  Politicians, whose campaigns are funded by those corporations don't much care about American jobs either, except those Democrats who need labor union money to stay in office.  Trump holds no allegiance for either side.  As inarticulate as he can sometimes be, you can be sure that, with respect to world trade, President Trump stands pretty much alone on looking out for American interest.

These Trump tariff hikes should not worry even those of you who are wary.  Trump's current tariff hikes, along with the threat of imposing more of them, will, for the first time in decades, finally force our foreign trading partners to the bargaining table.  And that cannot be a bad thing.  And we simply must revise those NAFTA agreements.  For too long Canada and Mexico have served as nothing more than a means for foreign producers to distribute their products in America tariff free.  Enough!