It’s interesting that last night I pointed out in passing North Dakota’s success in bringing their per-capita income to the cusp of the top five in the nation when even more encouraging news recently came out for them. This update is from the Energy Tomorrow blog in a post by Mark Green:
The U.S. Geological Survey has new estimates for oil and natural gas in the Williston Basin shale area that simply blows the doors off previous estimates:
- 3.65 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil for the Bakken Formation.
- 3.73 billion barrels for the Three Forks Formation.
- The total, 7.38 billion barrels, is a two-fold increase over USGS’ 2008 estimate, which included only the Bakken Formation because Three Forks wasn’t thought to be productive.
If you’re wondering where the Williston Basin is, perhaps this USGS map will help. Note that this formation is different than the Marcellus Shale formation which encompasses the western end of Maryland. But consider that North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and while it’s not necessarily glamorous tasks requiring a master’s degree or specialized training, there is a lot of work available out on the plains.
But the principle outlined later in the piece by Green remains true regardless of the conditions:
The dramatic increases in these oil and natural gas estimates are a credit to industry initiative and the application of ideas and technology – in non-federal areas where oil and natural gas development is supported and encouraged. These reserves underscore the game-changing nature of unconventional oil and natural gas – again, thanks to hydraulic fracturing – that could support the creation of 3.5 million jobs and more than $5.1 trillion in industry cumulative capital spending by 2035, according to an IHS Global study.
Obviously the small portion of our state which happens to lie within the Marcellus Shale region would only see a fraction of that benefit. But what about offshore oil? We don’t know because no one is being allowed to do the necessary leg work to drill and find out. There could be an energy windfall off Ocean City which has nothing to do with thirty-story high wind turbines but we can’t say. Indeed, we could have no viable oil deposits there, either.
But factor in that just five years ago no one thought the Three Forks Formation was commercially viable for oil, and now there’s the potential for 3.7 billion barrels. (Granted, our daily consumption is about 20 million barrels of oil per day so by itself the field isn’t huge, about six months’ worth. Yet you can add that to all our other potential, not to mention the near-certainty that technology can eventually enhance our findings.)
Because I favor the expansion of an energy type which has been proven to be efficient and relatively cheap in comparison to other modes, some have called me a shill for the oil industry. Sorry, I don’t work for them – although if they can use a writer, I certainly would entertain the offer. I just happen to know that an economy which is growing the right way needs to expand their usage of energy so mankind has to expend less and allows us more time and effort to devote to improving our lot in life.
As I said yesterday, the part of the state which tends to vote against its own best interests is the part which, in this case, is sending useful idiots who believe the garbage about the “dangers” of fracking to Annapolis. No, the process is not risk-free, but no endeavor worth doing is. We’ve placed ourselves with New York as two states falling far behind the curve on energy exploration, but 2014 provides us the chance to correct that mistake.
I found this to be interesting; unfortunately the omission is not surprising. Last week on the Energy Tomorrow blog, a map showing all the areas placed off-limits to oil and natural gas exploration was posted; meanwhile, as the piece by Mark Green points out, the governors of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina called on the federal government to allow drilling off their coastlines. Needless to say, I didn’t see Martin O’Malley’s name on that letter because he’d rather waste time and money tilting at windmills, and “can’t imagine” anyone would want to drill for oil off the coast of Virginia. Better think a little harder there, governor.
The naysayers also would tell you there’s only a limited supply of oil off our coast, anyway. But who really knows? The estimates of Outer Continental Shelf energy resources are over 30 years old, created at a time when people believed in “peak oil” and that energy resources in this part of the country were pretty much played out. Hundreds of massive deepwater oil finds and millions of cubic feet of natural gas unlocked through fracking later, we know better.
Yet our governor swears up and down the market is there for offshore wind, and insists it would cost us no more than a couple bucks a month. But why can’t we have both?
It seems to me there are vast swaths of ocean area being debated about here, hundreds of square miles. How much space (and height) does a deepwater drilling platform really take up? Wouldn’t it be possible for the oil platforms and the windmills to coexist? I honestly don’t see how one would affect the other, with the possible exception of being careful to drill away from the underground infrastructure needed to transmit the electricity produced to shore. Aside from that, there’s a lot of ocean out there. Certainly the purists who like to look out over the ocean and gaze at the stars at night would object to the lights of oil platforms within their line of sight, but the same can be said for wind turbine towers (they have to be lit as well, so planes and boats don’t run into them.)
You know where I stand. But if we can have both and the market will support them, I say go for it. Bet I know which would be built first.
Perhaps rainy days and Mondays always get you down, but this potpourri of snippets I’ve collected over the last couple weeks will hopefully brighten your day. As always, they’re items which merit anywhere from a paragraph to four to five.
First of all, you are probably aware that Indiana and Michigan are the two latest states to throw the yoke of forced unionism off their workers and adopt right-to-work laws, with Pennsylvania also strongly considering such a measure. Conversely, I’m not hearing about hitherto right-to-work states making much of an effort to close their shops, which should tell you something.
And while Maryland is not a state one would consider a candidate ripe for such a refreshing change, there is a bill out there to bring our state out of the unionized Dark Ages and join other states where workers are free to choose affiliation regardless of where they work.
Best of all, this news comes from one of my favorite counties to cover, Cecil County. HB318 is being heard tomorrow, and their Republican Party leadership under county Chair Chris Zeauskas has taken a bold stand on the issue. They’re calling out Delegate David Rudolph, the Vice-Chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, as “bought and paid for by compulsory unionism – and that’s wrong.” Certainly the unions donate thousands and thousands of dollars to state politicians, most of which goes to Democrats.
But the question I have is more local. To what extent has Big Labor “bought and paid for” Delegates Rudy Cane and Norm “Five Dollar” Conway, or State Senator Jim Mathias – the king of across-the-Bay fundraisers? Surely a significant portion of their largess comes from the coffers of workers who may not necessarily prefer these policies be enacted. HB318 can help change that, but my guess is – if they get to vote on it at all (neither Cane nor Conway is on Economic Matters) – they’ll play along with the union line like good little minions.
Meanwhile, our tone-deaf governor doesn’t get it on wind farms, and I had to chuckle when I saw even the Washington Post admits Big Wind “(d)evelopers and industry analysts say those and other (subsidy) concessions will make the project reliant on further federal tax incentives or help from other states to make it profitable.” At a quarter per kilowatt hour, you better believe it needs a subsidy. Yet the Post believes it’s “likely to pass.” That depends on the level of sanity in the General Assembly; yes, a dubious precipice to cling to, but one nonetheless.
And here I thought wind was free – that’s what people tell me, anyway.
I also thought Maryland had a top-notch school system, but President Obama’s Department of Education begs to differ. This nugget came to me from Change Maryland, which continues to occupy that little place in Martin O’Malley’s mind reserved for those who have pwned him:
In the second year of the $5 billion Race to the Top initiative, the Obama Administration singled out Maryland, Washington D.C. and Georgia as coming up short on progress in fundamental areas. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Maryland did not set clear expectations for the 2011-2012 school year in the development of a teacher and principal evaluation system which rendered the data meaningless and inconsistent. Lack of coordination between the state and local school districts was cited as the primary reason for the data collection failure.
“I would like to see Gov. O’Malley reach out to President Obama while he has his attention… and seek assistance on properly implementing the Race to the Top initiative,” said (Change Maryland head Larry) Hogan. “Our students and their parents deserve a way to measure how effective their teachers are.”
I have one bone to pick with that approach, though. I would really rather not have a dependence on federal money or a federal role for education, which is more properly a state- and local-level concern. But there should be some consistency in evaluations so that underperforming teachers and principals don’t lead to underperforming schools – unfortunately, that seems to be more and more the case.
And here’s yet another example of state incompetence. On Thursday, State Senator E.J. Pipkin blasted a process which shut out hundreds of people from testifying against SB281, the gun bill:
We can’t turn away people who take the day off, drive for hours and wait even longer, to have their voices heard. Turning away interested citizens in such a manner further fuels cynicism about our legislative process. Next time, they might not come back.
Yesterday, a system that can accommodate 100, 200, or 300 people, broke down when numbers reached into the thousands.
Thousands couldn’t get into the Senate’s Miller building to sign in to testify. Those who signed in but left the building were unable to reenter. At the end of the evening, some who stayed 10 to 12 hours, were brought through the committee room, allowed to say their name, home town, and whether they supported or opposed the legislation. (Emphasis mine.)
The reason I put part of the above statement in bold: that’s what they want. The majority – not just in the General Assembly, but in Congress and 49 other state capitols as well – really would rather we just leave them alone to do what they do, enriching themselves and a chosen few cronies while leaving the rest of us to pay for it and suffer the consequences of their actions.
Now for something completely different. Several years ago, I copied a late, lamented blog whose owner is no longer with us in offering “Sunday evening reading.” Well, today is Monday but there are some items I wanted to include that I read and felt they would add to the well-informed conversation in some way.
My old friend Jane Van Ryan (who I thought “retired” but seems now as active as ever) sent along the link to this piece by Paul Driessen which discusses the concept of “sustainability.” She thought I would have something to say about it, and I do.
Driessen’s main point is that the concept of “sustainability” as preached by Radical Green doesn’t take into account future technology. It would be like watching “Back to the Future” knowing that it was filmed three decades ago but set in the modern day today – for example, who drives a DeLorean these days? Sometimes their predictions seem quite humorous, but we know technology has taken many turns they couldn’t predict when the movie was written and filmed.
While oil, gas, and coal are “old” technologies, who’s to say we can’t improve on them? As long as there is a supply which comes to us at reasonable cost, you can’t beat their reliability when compared to wind which may not blow (or gale too hard) and the sun which seems to be stubbornly parked behind a bank of clouds as I write this. Instead of dead-ends like the E15 technology which ruins engines (but is acceptable to Radical Green) why not work with what works?
But perhaps there is a sense of foreboding brought on by the Radical Green propaganda of a collapsing ecosystem. One way this manifests itself is by a lack of willingness to have children, which goes in well with the decaying culture of life in this country.
Last week in the Wall Street Journal, author Jonathan Last advanced his theory that our nation is heading down the same road as other moribund industrialized nations – not necessarily because of policy, but because of falling birthrates. According to Last, we as a nation have been below the replacement birthrate for most of the last forty years. Whether this is through abortion or other lifestyle choices isn’t important to him; instead, it’s become an ongoing problem of our population aging – as Jonathan puts it, “(l)ow-fertility societies don’t innovate because their incentives for consumption tilt increasingly toward health care.” Put another way, those energy advances I write about above may not appear because more demand will come for health-related technology advancements.
Instead, what has primarily increased our population over the last few decades is immigration, a large part of it illegal. Normally I’m right with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but I have to disagree with their stance on E-Verify. I can understand their point regarding civil liberties, but no one says mandatory E-Verify has to be permanent. Instead, I would like to see it set up to be a five-year plan with one possible five-year renewal – this would give us ample time to secure the borders and address those who are already here illegally. (Ideally, they would return to their country of origin and reapply to come here legally.)
Understandably, that may be a pipe dream but I’d prefer not to reward lawbreakers in a nation built on the rule of law. We have enough of that already given the greed of the redistributionist state.
And so ends another edition of odds and ends, right around the length I like.
This post starts out with a video. Watch it and then read what I say next.
Call it propaganda from oil company shills, but the fact remains: North Dakota leads the nation with the lowest unemployment rate – even better than Washington, D.C. They have 3% unemployment, which is 0.9% better than the next state on the list (Nebraska) and a full 3.8% better than Maryland’s number. The BLS also notes that “the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment occurred in North Dakota (+6.8 percent).”
I will caution that fracking isn’t a panacea for all unemployment ills – Pennsylvania could eventually add over 200,000 jobs related to the energy industry by decade’s end but still has a higher overall unemployment rate than Maryland does. Part of the reason for North Dakota’s success is that it really had few other job producers before energy companies invested heavily into the Bakken play; as one observer notes in the video it wasn’t all that long ago that young people left the area because no jobs were available.
And note that not all the jobs are directly related to energy extraction, with one entrepreneur featured in the video opening her own diner and others getting work from the surge in construction. Obviously that industry will mature as supply catches up to demand but there will be other needs which will eventually have to be addressed in a growing area.
Maryland has a small piece of the Marcellus Shale formation; unfortunately the state seems to be dragging its feet on allowing its exploitation. The two counties which would stand to most benefit, though – Allegany and Garrett – have unemployment rates just about the state average as of April, with both coming in just above 7 percent. Granted, we aren’t talking about a large population center – the two counties combined are just a shade larger than Wicomico County by itself and only a small fraction of Maryland’s overall population. But imagine the impact of 2,000 new jobs in that area – I’m not saying that would necessarily be the case with fracking but that’s certainly in the realm of possibility.
It can’t hurt, can it? Moreover, cheap and abundant energy can bring industry – unlike far-off North Dakota, the western edge of Maryland is within a day’s drive from a number of large markets because of its reasonable highway access. And their success would make life just a little easier on us in the rest of the state as Annapolis can have another source of income besides raising taxes. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Why should the barren, frigid wasteland of North Dakota have all the energy fun? Let’s open Maryland up for business.
Yes, I missed last week, but Mike had such a long week I didn’t have a chance to post in a Sunday slot – and I had a lot to write about anyway.
We’re now at the point in session where the hearings have pretty much ended and the House is now taking up a number of bills which have passed through the Senate. But as Mike wrote at the top of his Week 11 notes, “The news I bring you this week from Annapolis is not good.”
Some of the lowlights included the passage of a bill to further hinder Maryland’s opportunity to join in on the Marcellus Shale bonanza. “There was a significant amount of propaganda put forward by Chairman McIntosh citing many ground water contamination concerns”, wrote McDermott. “Although none of these instances has shown to have been caused by hydraulic fracturing in the process described, the chairman is a believer and is not swayed by many known facts.” But as he describes in week 12, there’s no problem with rushing offshore wind.
A good friend of mine tipped me off to this op-ed in the Baltimore Sun from March 5 and encouraged me to write a rebuttal. The paper wouldn’t take it as an op-ed nor run a shortened version as a letter, so in the spirit of never letting good writing go to waste I’m posting it here.
As the energy industry has arrived in our state in hopes of extracting the natural gas which lies underneath in the Marcellus Shale formation, the term fracking has become part of our vocabulary. As a Maryland resident who has no stake in the energy industry, aside from my role as a consumer of those elements used to create the gasoline and electricity I need for my various jobs and the heating oil I use to heat my hot water and household, my main concerns are twofold: reliable energy which doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg. I suspect those concerns are shared by a vast majority of us.
The cost competitiveness and abundant supply of natural gas gives Americans a great asset, but only if we choose to take advantage of it. This choice, though, is one environmentalists want to frighten us away from because natural gas is not a renewable source. And it’s obvious that some people just can’t stand prosperity as a recent op-ed by Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune demonstrates.
In his piece Brune disparages the entire natural gas industry with a palette of half-truths and wild assumptions. But the bad news for Marylanders is that Brune seems to have the ear of Governor O’Malley. It’s obvious that both are only too happy to impact the coastal environment of the Atlantic as well as areas of western Maryland by building noisy, unreliable, and unsightly windmill farms because they’re perceived as the politically correct thing to do, but those tried and true methods of getting the energy and job creation our state desperately needs are unappealing to them.
And the allegations that Brune makes don’t stand up to scrutiny. For example, hydraulic fracturing has been used in more than one million oil and natural gas wells in the United States since the 1940s, and despite Brune’s strictly anecdotal reports to the contrary not one confirmed case of groundwater contamination stemming from fracturing has been documented, according to a recent University of Texas study. And regarding his shrill warnings about the dangers of piping the natural gas he fails to mention that natural gas is already piped to points across the country via a network spanning well over 300,000 miles nationwide – including almost 1,000 miles lying under Maryland and Washington, D.C. An existing pipeline already services the Cove Point LNG terminal!
One has to wonder why Brune isn’t telling you those facts I easily found with a little bit of research. Perhaps it’s because he wants us to “invest in” (read: subsidize with taxpayer dollars) sources like wind, solar, and geothermal, as well as emphasize energy efficiency. Most of us realize taxpayers can pump all the money we want into these sources but we can’t spend our way into making the wind blow just the right speed to make turbines work effectively all the time, nor can we compel the sun to shine 24 hours a day. Geothermal energy is more promising, but has a limited amount of effectiveness and also requires hazardous pipeline fluid chemicals to handle the wide temperature swings.
And while we should strive for cost-effective energy efficiency, it shouldn’t come with a price tag of reducing our standard of living. A shuttered coal plant is neither efficient nor a job producer, but it’s a badge of honor to a radical like Brune. For those placed out of work by the closure, though, it’s only their economic livelihood they’re losing. No doubt Brune and O’Malley would gladly “invest” government dollars into teaching them the skills needed for a non-existent “green” job.
Environmentalists could be taken more seriously and provide a better service to residents by not obfuscating their argument with scare tactics. Most people have the sense to know that fossil fuels won’t be around forever, but for the foreseeable future the market favors reliable sources of energy including natural gas. If you’re enjoying the current decline in natural gas prices and the resulting extra money in your pocket, you can thank hydraulic fracturing because it’s that decades-old “new” technology increasing supplies, driving down prices, and actually bringing back a discussion about helping our nation’s balance of trade by exporting natural gas.
Who would have ever thought we could beat OPEC at its own game? Let’s put Maryland to work building for the prosperity of tomorrow by making use of that which we have in abundance.
The locale was a familiar one, but there were still nearly 100 people in attendance this afternoon as Congressman Andy Harris took time to meet with his Lower Shore constituents. Originally slated as an hour-long event, Harris spoke for about 20 minutes on a couple topics and spent the last hour fielding questions.
Initially, Andy showed this chart, one which illustrates the upward climb of gasoline prices over the last few years. The “pain at the pump” we were feeling was a sign that America needed to change its energy policies.
Another point Andy made in his gasoline presentation was that 80 percent of the cost of a gallon of gas came from the crude oil, 10 percent from distribution and marketing, and 12 percent from taxes. Refining was being done at a 2 percent loss currently. Yet Martin O’Malley was advocating a 6 percent sales tax on gasoline, which would add perhaps 20 cents per gallon, phased in over three years. It compares to the state’s “Blue Ribbon Commission” recommendation of a straight 15 cent per gallon increase (also phased in over three years) along with the Simpson-Bowles federal recommendation of a 15 cent per gallon increase.
The next chart he showed illustrated where the federal gasoline taxes were now going.
Perhaps it would make more sense if I showed the slide Andy had beforehand, which was a full pie showing all the highway money went to roads. That’s how it was in 1980, but thirty years later only 47% goes to roads, while 17% goes to mass transit, and the rest is either in earmarks, beautification, or other flexible projects. Andy believed there should be no increase in the federal gasoline tax until we get back to the pre-1980 condition of spending it all on highways.
However, Andy also discussed the new highway bill, H.R. 7. It would replace a bill which had run its course three years ago; a bill which had been extended three times. Andy claimed that it would streamline the process of getting new highways completed and that potentially 100% of funds could go to highways, if the state opted to spend the funding that way. The gasoline tax wouldn’t be raised to cover the spending; instead a new fee would be applied to domestic oil and gas exploration. (The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, as this is known, is still pending in the House.)
If anything about the bill bothers me, it’s that we can’t cover all it wants to spend with the existing gasoline tax. Why should energy companies – an industry we’re desperately trying to keep in the country to pursue our own abundant natural resources – have to help pay for highways?
Meanwhile, Andy pointed out that the state of Maryland has also raided its Transportation Trust Fund a number of times since 2003, to the tune of nearly $1 billion. Almost $680 million has been taken since 2010.
In essence, that was the extent of Andy’s message. He then opened the floor to questions, and ended up taking about a dozen. One of the most interesting ones came in regard to the tax holiday which Andy voted against last week. It was the “wrong way to do business,” said Andy, who then asked “will we ever stop the payroll tax holiday?”
Instead, something Andy suggested was giving people a choice – take the 2% reduction now and retire a month or two later, or maintain retirement age and pay the 2 percent. That seems like a valid suggestion to me, but Andy “didn’t think Congress is ready to be honest with the people.”
Another tax question Andy took was regarding a House bill which mandated a 1% fee on financial transactions sponsored by several Democrats. Andy said that bill was “not going anywhere in this House.” He pointed out that whenever taxes were increased, each dollar of new revenue was spent, along with 30% more.
Yet Harris also noted that all that saves us from being Greece was the fact we have the world’s reserve currency. Because of the strength of our dollar, interest on $15 trillion in debt is only $221 billion. But if we paid the same interest rates Greece is forced to pay, we would spend more on debt interest than we do on Social Security.
Naturally as part of the fiscal questions, someone asked Andy about the bonuses he gave to his staff. Andy defended the bonuses, saying that he paid his staff less than the average amount and once it became clear they would return money to the Treasury, he helped to bring them closer to the average pay scale through the bonus. To him, though, it was a good incentive to work more efficiently.
A couple questioners mentioned the defense cuts proposed by President Obama, particularly in our nuclear arsenal. Andy believed in “peace through strength” because “I don’t really trust the Russians or Chinese” but also made it clear that “I wish there was world peace…but we have real enemies.” A large and bipartisan group in Congress believed the drastic proposed cuts by Obama were “unacceptable” so they likely won’t happen.
Several people took it upon themselves to ask Andy about his environmental stance, in particular cleaning up Chesapeake Bay.
They asked about the Bay Restoration Fund, which was supposed to be bankrolled by the 1-cent sales tax increase of 2008. But that funding was stripped away the next year to balance the budget. (Never mind that this sales tax increase netted the state around $600 million.)
Yet the questioners pressed Andy on what he would do, one whining that he’s heard the same rhetoric for thirty years. Harris couched it in the terms of improving the economy, because the money wasn’t there to clean up the Bay. “We have to restore prosperity,” he said. Yet we’ve done a lot to help the environment, Andy continued, giving the example of removing 90% of the airborne mercury. Yet to get it to 99% removal, we would have to endure a 28% increase in our electric bills. The EPA didn’t do a good job in studying the benefits of what’s already been done, added Andy.
As for cleaning up Chesapeake Bay, Harris reminded those who questioned him that other states need to be involved as well. Yet a state like Pennsylvania has no real incentive because they’re not bordering the Chesapeake. We also need to partner with affected industries.
Just in my humble opinion, these environmentalists are representative of a group which won’t be satisfied until we’ve returned to the conditions found in pre-Colonial days. After all, if the Chesapeake Bay Foundation ever gives the Bay an A+ grade, what reason do they have to exist anymore? There’s no sense of balance given, nor credit for what’s been done thus far at great expense to our farmers and industry. Instead, the EPA is “confrontational” with the states.
There was one thing about which I didn’t care for when Andy said it. The question was raised that, okay, let’s say the economy is better. Then what will you do about the Bay? (These people were insistent.)
As part of that response, Andy said, “if you don’t want the federal government to have a say, then don’t take federal money.” That’s a little disingenuous because there are a number of areas where the federal government is supposed to perform tasks within states. I’d be very happy if Maryland didn’t take federal education money, for example, but would the federal government get off our back with various requirements? I doubt it.
And then there was the budget deficit. A questioner asked where the controls were, and Andy basically said there are none – “both parties are absolutely to blame…they can’t control themselves in Washington.”
“It’s too easy to come up with an excuse in Washington to spend money.” But Andy was fully supportive of the Ryan budget proposal last year, and likely would be again this year. “Stop attacking those who want to start the conversation,” he pleaded. If politicians don’t have ideas on how to address this, they should be thrown out of office, Harris added. After all, this was a group which approved a budget item of $1 million to Chinese factories to help them improve their energy efficiency. (That’s going to create jobs here.)
Speaking of being thrown out of office, one of the final questions dealt with term limits. Andy is a co-sponsor of a term limits bill already in the hopper, but promised to serve no more than 12 years himself. We should have a citizen legislature, Harris said, and he believed that most of us in the room would be just as qualified to be a Congressman as the ones who are there as long as we have some common sense.
Well, I have no plans to run for Congress – perhaps that’s evidence of the common sense he speaks of – but the hour and 20 minute session was quite informative. I doubt everyone went away happy, but the dialogue was quite compelling.
Media coverage was pretty good. Insofar as I know I was the lone blogger there, but WMDT-TV (Channel 47) was there as was a print reporter and photographer, presumably from the Daily Times.
More of the small stuff you love! Let’s begin with this.
Up in the Second Congressional District, GOP candidate Larry Smith is challenging his four rivals to eight hour-long debates on various issues. But considering he has more to gain than two of his rivals (who serve in the Maryland General Assembly) that’s probably a pipe dream – not to mention they would likely be in session several nights a week.
But the key complaint Smith has is simpler: “This election should not be decided on who has the most insider endorsements, but rather who would be the best representative of the voters of the district.” All that is true, but if these debates were to come to pass I would hope that a conservative runs them, rather than the debacles we have seen with the GOP Presidential debates and their “gotcha” questions.
I wish Mr. Smith the best of luck in going to Washington.
So, President Obama wants to extend the payroll tax cut. Okay, said House Republicans, but we’re going to create a whole bunch of jobs with it by giving the green light to the Keystone XL pipeline.
I’ll let Andy Harris pick things up from here:
“Americans need the truly ‘shovel-ready’ jobs and economic investment that the Keystone XL Pipeline will provide,” said Rep. Andy Harris (MD-01). “The plan that the House majority has introduced is an excellent compromise that will extend tax cuts to the middle class, create tens of thousands of jobs, and will help secure America’s energy future. I am deeply disappointed that President Obama has promised to veto this bill to extend tax relief to our citizens over the Keystone pipeline provision that actually creates jobs without spending a dime of taxpayer money while lowering the price of gasoline and diesel as well.”
Yes, President Obama is threatening to veto the measure. So much for compromise.
Either one of the two points below would then be true. Come to think about it, maybe both are:
- President Obama doesn’t really want to create jobs. Well, perhaps he doesn’t unless they happen to be either government jobs or positions in an industry he favors. But I have news for the President: there aren’t any green jobs; shoot, right now there aren’t many jobs period. Or:
- President Obama really has no desire to cut taxes. To be honest, this tax cut he gave out was relatively insignificant to working families. But he certainly wants to lower the boom on more successful working families by increasing the taxes for couples that make over $200,000.
I’ll grant that the Keystone XL pipeline probably won’t do a whole lot for our local economy since it will run through several states in the Midwest. But the additional oil supply will help us in the long run by stabilizing gasoline prices, as Congressman Harris points out.
But if we do elect a new President next year, I hope Congressman Harris – assuming he’s re-elected, for which he’s an odds-on favorite at the moment – will begin to advocate solutions for our tax code which are more permanent and will begin the process of weaning the government off an income-based tax collection. Ramping up a consumption-based tax, as Herman Cain proposed with his economic plan, would serve this purpose.
Electing conservatives isn’t enough – we need to elect those who have the courage to act. Whether you like President Obama or despise his policies as much as I do, the one thing you can say is that he acted in trying to get his agenda done. We may only have four years to undo the damage he did, although I suspect that if a true conservative succeeds Obama he (or she) will have a full eight years to make a difference. But we’ll all have to roll up our sleeves and get to work – something sorely lacking with the Obama regime.
And now for something completely different:
The first of six opening round tilts in my best local blog poll is over, and the first semi-finalist will be Right Coast Conservative.
After a strong start, Julie Brewington’s site saw a rally from the Shorebirds’ blog which placed it ahead for a time. But much like their team’s performance in 2011, the Shorebirds site couldn’t hang on in the late innings as a strong push from RCC readers carried Julie’s site in the end. Right Coast Conservative received 143 votes and moves on, while the Delmarva Shorebirds Blog gathered 66. The Pocomoke Public Eye did not receive a vote.
The second round is up now, and it has an interesting draw to be sure.
After Congressman Andy Harris heard President Obama’s new proposal for that “one thing – jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs,” as Teamster head James Hoffa would say, his reaction was short, sweet, and direct:
Over Labor Day weekend I met with many small business owners on the Ocean City Boardwalk – a common theme I heard from those potential job creators was their desire to get government out of the way so that they could do what they do best: grow their businesses and create American jobs. President Obama’s newest spending plan is nothing more than a second Stimulus bill. Just like the first Stimulus passed by the previous Congress, it will not create jobs, but instead delay recovery, increase the debt and grow the size of government. I believe that common sense ideas like a balanced budget amendment, elimination of job-destroying regulations and making America energy independent will create American jobs and get us out of this recession.
Well, he’s right, isn’t he? More after the jump.
Unfortunately I could not be there to see this with my own eyes, but both published and eyewitness reports indicate that Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton attended a small protest today at the local office for Congressman Andy Harris.
The reason for the protest was to show support for a document called “A Contract for the American Dream,” with the title obviously a play on the Republicans’ “Contract With America” from 1994 and 2010.
So let’s assume Jim Ireton is foursquare behind the document – what is he backing?
It begins with a call to rebuild America’s infrastructure. That’s commendable, but they go beyond roads, bridges, and utilities in calling for “national and state infrastructure banks.” To me, that’s code for more federally- and state-controlled land, whether through outright acquisition or regulating usage. Money should be allocated for these tasks, but preferably at the local and state levels and for meaningful, development-friendly projects like expanded highways or new utility lines – not wasted on items like public transit or bike paths few use.
The second point: creating “21st Century energy jobs” – in other words, continue to subsidize expensive and inefficient “renewable” sources at the expense of proven fossil fuel technology that we have in plentiful supply. When the market is ready, someone will tap into those renewable sources. Jim, it’s not time for that yet.
Thirdly, we’re asked to “invest” (read: throw money at) public education. So much for educational choice, right? And the idea of “universal preschool” fits right in with a plan for indoctrination. It makes me wonder what their definition of a “high-quality” teacher is. Mine would be one who teaches critical thinking instead of regurgitating the latest propaganda.
The fourth point is “Medicare for all,” which equates to a single-payer health care system. Lefties have been pining for this for years, always saying we’re not in step with the rest of the industrialized world. So where do those who can afford it come to get medical care again? (Hint: it’s not Cuba.)
Idea number five is to “make work pay;” in other words enact a so-called “living wage.” We have a “right to fair minimum and living wages,” they say. What part of the Constitution was that again? It’s not in my copy. We’d be better off abolishing the minimum wage, since those who own businesses know all about working long hours for little pay. If a worker is only producing a net three dollars an hour for the company, that’s what they should be paid.
Sixth, they want to “secure Social Security” by – guess what? – raising taxes on the rich. They would eliminate the tax cap on earnings so every penny of what one earns would be taxed. How about giving us all a break and beginning to sunset the program instead?
The “soak the rich” philosophy continues with item number seven, which would be to not just eliminate the 2001/2003 Bush tax cuts but enact a “millionaire’s tax.” We see how well that works for Maryland, don’t we?
Number 8 continues the class warfare by calling for a .05% tax on each Wall Street trade, which supposedly would raise $100 billion a year. Besides the fact that we’re talking chump change in this era of trillions, the effect of such a tax would be to destroy billions in wealth as the stock market plummets in reaction to the toll. Of course, when the desired amount is not raised they’ll simply increase the tax, continuing the vicious cycle.
Ninth in the order is bringing the troops home. I can agree with that in part – there are a lot of countries we don’t necessarily need to be in. But we also need to give those troops we leave in the field the tools and strategy for victory. If we want to rout the Taliban, well, let’s stop playing around and throw out the silly rules of engagement which bind our hands. The enemy has no rules of engagement, why should we?
And finally, they call for restricting free speech in the most “catch-all” of bullet points:
We need clean, fair elections – where no one’s right to vote can be taken away, and where money doesn’t buy you your own member of Congress. We must ban anonymous political influence, slam shut the lobbyists’ revolving door in D.C. and publicly finance elections. Immigrants who want to join in our democracy deserve a clear path to citizenship. And we must stop giving corporations the rights of people when it comes to our elections and ensure our Judiciary’s respect for the Constitution. Together, we will reclaim our democracy to get our country back on track.
So let’s follow this to a logical conclusion – everyone here gets a vote whether they’re here legally or not (and will be rewarded for breaking the law to get here), elections will be publicly funded (except when a candidate chooses not to follow those rules – *cough*Barack Obama*cough*), lobbyists won’t be allowed but “czars” will, and corporations will lose their right to free speech but unions won’t.
But the last sentence of the document provides the fatal flaw, and one needs to ask Jim Ireton whether he really believes this.
Our nation is NOT a democracy – it is a republic. If we were a democracy, we would soon be defunct under the tyranny of the majority. As the old parable goes, a democracy is where two wolves and a sheep vote on what’s for dinner.
While Jim Ireton had the majority of those who could be bothered to vote in the 2009 Salisbury city election, that was by no means a clear mandate. And having a so-called “contract” signed by 125,000 Americans is invalid in the face of millions of voters who desired the more conservative direction Harris and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have attempted to push government toward. I’ll see the backers of the “Contract for the American Dream” and their puny 125,000 total nationwide and raise them the 30,000 additional citizens here in the First Congressional District who gave Harris his mandate by voting for him. If Frank Kratovil had 125,000 votes he would have only lost by 30,000 instead of 35,000.
But if this is what Jim Ireton truly stands for – a group of items which would effectively federalize much of government and make princes paupers by taxing the producers of society – then we really need to find a conservative challenger for him in 2013. He’s leading Salisbury in the wrong direction, and real help needs to be sent on the way.
In news that’s sure to cheer my API friend Jane Van Ryan up, and perhaps build even more clamor for the Keystone XL Pipeline (and thousands of jobs) being debated by the State Department and EPA, Rasmussen released a poll yesterday which states 75 percent of Americans feel we’re not doing enough to develop our own gas and oil resources.
While the Keystone example would promote exploration in both the U.S. and Canada (hence the State Department involvement,) there are plenty of places we can explore and extract in America, both on- and offshore. An April Rasmussen survey found 50% support for drilling in ANWR (they didn’t ask me, so now it’s a majority of 50 percent plus one;) meanwhile, another April survey pegged support for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico at 59 percent. That’s in the wake of sob stories about the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Yet we still have people in the corridors of power who think mandating more fuel-efficient cars is the way to go. I say let the market decide on that one; of course, given this administration’s policy decisions which have led the way to $4 a gallon gasoline they may all but kill SUV demand anyway.
It never ceases to amaze me that the people who believe that certain technologies, created over the last century and constantly updated and perfected to make them even more cost-effective, are a horrible blight upon the earth. And then they turn around and support the methods those tried-and-true approaches supplanted – the sun only shines an average of 12 hours a day and is at a usable angle only a percentage of that time (not to mention the need for cloud-free days) while the wind has to blow just so to make a wind turbine useful.
About the only fossil fuel I’m aware of that, by reputation, is dogged by reliability issues is nuclear power. If we were getting our own supplies of oil, coal, and natural gas we wouldn’t have to worry nearly as much about strife in other parts of the world or bad weather in a particular region of the country. Are some people too dense to figure this simple truth out?
Now I don’t mind at all if the private sector is involved with alternative energy – after all, Perdue is placing about 13 acres’ worth of solar panels behind its Salisbury headquarters, paid for by a utility – but I have to question whether the utility really wants this electricity or is being forced to back this project by government mandate. If, because of the energy savings Perdue might enjoy, we save a nickel on a fryer that’s great; but the question is whether we lose that few pennies paying for mandated “renewable” energy from utilities when it’s far cheaper to create electricity from coal or natural gas.
(I just hope the glare from the panels doesn’t cause any more accidents in a busy area where changing lanes to follow U.S. 50 westbound is frequent.)
We know that someday there will come a time when fossil fuels run out and technology allows renewable energy to be more reliable. But we’re several generations away from that point, considering how much oil is in shale out west and natural gas is under the rocky western end of our fair state. Let’s go out and get it while we can, creating good jobs in the process.
America has a prosperous lifestyle to sustain, whether environmentalist wackos like it or not.