A way to build Delaware manufacturing

I kept this article around for a potential upcoming “odds and ends” post, but the more I thought about it the more I believed it was enough for a standalone article. It’s a couple weeks old but certainly evergreen enough to be a timely piece.

Charlie Copeland, who used to be the Senate Minority Leader in Delaware once upon a time, is now the co-director of the Center for Analysis of Delaware’s Economy & Government Spending. (Yes, that’s a mouthful – so we’ll call it CADEGS.) So the CADEGS head wrote a post on the blog of the Caesar Rodney Institute that told me two things, one of which I knew and one I did not: number one, the one I knew, is that Delaware got a crapton of $ from the federal government thanks to Uncle Sam’s CCP virus spending spree – so much so that it’s remarkably not all been spent. But number two, which is the one I did not know, is that “Northern Delaware has over half a dozen former industrial sites waiting to be cleaned up and waiting for infrastructure upgrades.”

How does Charlie put one and one together? He adds, “By making a one-time investment from one-time federal funds into these sites, Delaware can create a magnet for private sector business investments in these locations. Imagine close to a dozen industrial sites ready for new, clean American manufacturing.” And this makes sense, since presumably these sites either already had the infrastructure needed onsite or it was there but needed a little updating and TLC. After all, if the company I work for can update a forty-odd year-old restaurant that had no grease interceptor (meaning it was dumping grease right into the system) I suspect piping at these sites which dates from the 1940s or 1950s can be replaced.

But the second part of Copeland’s wish list is just as important.

This true infrastructure investment would be a good start, and the next step will not cost any money. Delaware needs to dramatically improve its permitting process for business site investments. This requirement was made clear in a 2019 report released by the Delaware Business Roundtable on Delaware’s job-killing permitting process. 

As stated in the report, “The permitting process plays an important role within the site selection process. Site selectors and investors often view the process as a barometer for measuring how business-friendly or supportive a state or local community is to economic development and new investment.” And Delaware is viewed as unfriendly. As a matter of fact, one national manufacturing site selection expert stated that “Delaware is not on anyone’s list.” 

Adjacent states can often complete site and business permitting in six months. In Delaware, it can take as long as two years. Job creators have options, and they are opting to go to other states where they can get their businesses operating in one-quarter of the time than it takes in Delaware. The proof of Delaware’s failure is in the continued decline in our manufacturing employment, while nationally, manufacturing has been growing as the US continues to on-shore production from China.

Charlie Copeland, “Delaware Manufacturing Job Growth Opportunity“, Caesar Rodney Institute, June 30, 2021.

Having dealt with the First State for a few commercial projects, let me restate louder for those in the back, “Delaware needs to dramatically improve its permitting process for business site investments.” For example, we spent a ridiculous amount of time dealing with site improvements for a project on a rural corner that didn’t even see 1,000 cars a day and might only gain 50-100 because of the development. Business people who have borrowed thousands to make their dream a reality don’t want to wait an extra three months to open because state and county agencies can’t get their sh*t together.

What Charlie suggests is that the “site and business permitting process could be quickly streamlined by reassigning a few State employees into ‘permitting-process concierges’ who would keep track of the status of major projects (e.g., over $5 million in investment). At the same time, the State should create a government website ‘dashboard’ giving the status of all aspects of investments in the permitting process detailing when permits were submitted, the amount of time waiting for initial comments, and what agency is currently holding a permit (and for how long). These two steps – the concierge and the dashboard – would bring transparency and accountability to a very diffuse process.”

In other words, do what certain private-sector businesses do with high-profile clients who generally receive just one point of contact. That’s not to say that smaller guys should get a runaround, but if the red tape is pushed aside for the big guys, maybe that learning curve is made easier for the small fries.

I will say, though, that Copeland was thinking mostly about the northern part of the state. I would be curious to know if this same principle could apply to whatever portions of the old DuPont facility in Seaford remain unused now that Amazon has made plans to use part of it for a regional hub. Regardless, if gaining jobs in the Wilmington/NCC area makes them just that much more prosperous, then the burden on Sussex County taxpayers should be lightened too. As it is said, a rising tide lifts all boats – and this state could use a lift.

How not to be an aspiring writer

Every so often I have to feature one of these articles where either it’s people trying to tell me how to run my website or people trying to use what I built to advance their careers. This one is the latter, and I’m going to feature two recent e-mails I received. I’m not going to change the names because I suspect they are fake anyway.

Here’s e-mail number one, from Jacob Fowler. He wants to give me six months of pro bono work.

Hi there,

I’m Jacob Fowler – a freelance writer from Sydney. But I am also dealing with an issue I was hoping I could grab your advice on.

See, I’m trying to become a full-time freelance writer. It’s all I want to do with my life.

But here’s the catch…I can’t get work without experience. And I can’t get experience without work!!!!

To break free of this paradox I want to create quality, original and 100% FREE articles for your website.

Why? This way I build a portfolio and move towards my goals. More importantly for you – you get more site visitors, engagement from your audience, and improved Google rankings.

Are you happy to hear my 3 article ideas?

No pressure to say yes. No obligations to accept. Just a chance to hear what I could help you with.

Let me know

Kind regards,

Jacob Fowler

The first e-mail I received from Down Under.

In rereading this, I have an idea: start your own blog.

I have plenty of ideas already, and unfortunately my previous two regular guest columnists didn’t work out in the long run – although I would welcome them back with open arms, they seem to have moved on with life.

I remember back a decade ago when the internet was still sort of a new thing and many thousands, perhaps millions, of bloggers saw what happened to some of the initial pioneers and said, “I’d love to get in on some of that money.” Seeing the vast amount of potential content out there, certain entities began to whisper that, while they couldn’t pay people right away, working for them would “create valuable exposure” when all it did was make someone at the top wealthy – meanwhile, those who began working and managed to scratch out a bit of a living at first saw their paychecks melt away thanks to the competition of “real” outlets who already had paid writers (many of whom were eventually downsized out of a job, too.) It was always an excuse of, “well, our ad revenue didn’t meet expectations, so we have to cut back the pittance you’re already making by reducing the already-microscopic CPM payout.”

Anymore it seems to be all about marketing rather than talent, and Jacob, my friend, you have marketed up the wrong tree. And by the way, you don’t discuss what happens after six months – am I stuck buying six more articles from you at full retail price because I got ten for a penny? (People who grew up pre-1990 will get the reference, I’m sure. But it will go over Jacob’s head.)

Now let me introduce you to Natalie James.

Hi there,

I’m Natalie – a freelance ghostwriter, which means I write articles for businesses to use on their websites.

I’m reaching out to you because I’d like to write for gmail.com. You’re probably thinking, “what’s the catch?”. Well I do get something out of it.

If you let me create free articles for your site you get an SEO boost, more site traffic, and a way for your site visitors to engage with your business and hopefully drive more sales.

In return, I get to build a portfolio that will help me kickstart a full-time writing career.

You won’t need to pay me. And I won’t ever ask for money. Just a chance to do what I love – which is write.

Please shoot me an email if you’re interested in hearing more.

Kind regards,

Natalie James

This was the second e-mail. Notice how they sound similar?

I believe I laughed when I saw the part about writing for gmail.com. Natalie – if, indeed, that is your real name – let me give you free advice: proofreading is your friend.

But let’s look a little deeper into this. If Natalie really is writing articles for businesses to use on their websites, wouldn’t you think she would have pointed out some of them? I’ve applied for and acquired a number of writing jobs over the years and, to a company or website, they have asked me for samples of my work. Free or not, I don’t believe writing for my small-time website that may get 10,000 readers a year is going to do a lot to boost your portfolio.

If you really get something out of writing for free, I’m going to give you the same advice I gave Jacob: start a blog. I believe Blogspot is still around; or you can work through WordPress.com.

This site is a labor of love for me, and as such it’s not something that pays the bills. A rattle of the tip jar happens about as frequently as an earthquake around here, which is why my PayPal account is dry as a bone. (That and I stopped doing record reviews and actively seeking ads.)

Natalie told me this would be a win-win, and perhaps it was: she got a little free advice and I got some content that hopefully held the reader’s interest for a little over 900 words, my part being about 650 of them. I wish both her and Jacob luck, because they’re going to need it.

The end of an era

Back in February I commented on the passing of Rush Limbaugh, who was the influence that inspired the very name of this website. As I wrote many years ago on my “about” page:

The inspiration for “monoblogue” struck me one day as I was listening to “a daily relentless pursuit of the truth,” my daily dose of Rush Limbaugh. My favorite parts of the show are right after the top-of-the-hour breaks, where Rush goes in depth on a subject that interests him. No real script, no callers, just a passionate “shoot from the hip” where sometimes you’ll hear a near-shouting rant when he’s interested in a subject and it inflames his passion. One hour, he cited what he’d continue discussing in his next hour’s monologue and it hit me. This slight play on words was the perfect name for my website, just add the “b.”

The monoblogue “about” page, or as WordPress calls it, mission statement.

Fortunately or not, my website has outlasted the Maha Rushie himself and now it has outlasted his show.

I sort of suspected when he passed that the idea of having “guide-hosts” and playing snippets of his radio show culled from his wing at the Museum of Broadcasting over the years wasn’t going to be a permanent gig. I’m sure it kept its ratings for the first month or so, but I could sense that the listener interest was declining. Apparently the same held true for his syndication competitors – a number of Rush’s former stations (including one local affiliate, WGMD-FM) departed for the Dan Bongino show when it debuted in May, while others enlisted local hosts.

The ones who stuck with the EIB Network through thick and thin (including Rush’s other local station, WJDY-AM out of Salisbury) will now be treated to the tandem of Clay Travis and Buck Sexton. I seem to recall Sexton was an occasional guest host for Rush, which makes this seem like a logical succession (although dittoheads may have preferred Mark Steyn, since he was probably the second-favorite guest host all-time behind the late “black by popular demand” Walter E. Williams) but instead Sexton is being tied in with Travis, who is more known in the sports world. I’m not sure whether the show will compare favorably to Rush, but time will tell by the number of stations which drop or add the program. Perhaps it is time for a post-Rush radio anyway.

The person who may be crying in her beer the most over the show’s demise, though, is Chrissie Hynde. No longer will millions of people get to hear My City Was Gone fifteen times a week, and it’s probably ruined her music career because no one will hear that song without thinking of Rush. (I’m sure there was a generous royalty involved there, since there was a brief period some years ago where Rush couldn’t use the song.)

(Late edit: I listened to Clay and Buck on Friday and they indeed continue to use My City Was Gone. So Chrissie still gets her royalties.)

I wonder if Rush would have rather gone out on top on his terms, but then again he could have stopped at any time once he received his diagnosis and it became apparent no treatment would preserve him much longer. Ending it this way seemed to be more of a whimper than a bang, but I guess that’s the way it goes. We just have to carry on the work of preserving our republic without him or his show, although they are keeping the website.

It’s yet another reminder as I get older that time will go on without us.

More thoughts on government dependence

While I love working in this venue, I also cherish how I get to stretch my writing wings on various subjects of national importance thanks to my longtime employment as part of The Patriot Post. Thus, last Friday I got the opportunity to take a swing at one of my favorite subjects, that of government dependence.

In this case, however, I was looking at the issue on a personal level. And while that is extremely important, we shouldn’t forget that it can happen on a local and state government level as well. And that brings me to a topic I was alerted to recently.

According to Charlie Copeland at the Caesar Rodney Institute, the state of Delaware has a “shadow budget” estimated at $7.5 billion, and it’s money which is “almost entirely comprised of Federal funds in the form of grants for hundreds of projects in dozens of our state agencies as well as our colleges and universities.” (The quote comes from a related “exclusive interview” the CRI released in e-mail form, with much of the same information.)

The very important piece of context for this is that Delaware has a state budget (at least the one officially on the books) of about $5 billion, which is the smallest state budget in the country. If you added this $7.5 billion “shadow budget,” though, it’s no longer at the bottom and, on a per capita basis, it now becomes larger than adjacent Maryland’s – where (I believe) both state expenditures and federal pass-throughs are listed in their $50+ billion budget. In fact, Delaware could easily fall into the top 10 in highest per-capita spending, although that depends on how each of the other states treat federal contributions to state budgets. It’s likely there are other states whose budget reporting in skewed in similar fashion; it’s a scope I’m not going to get into right now.

My point is that state and local governments have fallen into a trap that no one seems to have the will to extricate themselves from. By taking that federal (or, in the case of local government, state) largesse they avoid making the difficult decision of balancing a budget or raising taxes to do so. And if it’s enough, they can take the credit and keep the voters happy – if not they have a convenient scapegoat to blame. (Case in point: the staffing controversy in Delmar after the death of DPD Corporal Keith Heacook.)

Certainly there are aspects of government only suitable for handling at the federal level, but generally these are performed by federal employees. Where the feds overstep their bounds is those times when they hand out money to the states, expecting them to follow along in lockstep by enacting desired policies. Since no one wants to give up the federal funding, they follow along dutifully like a dog on a leash.

What the federal government needs is a reformer who both understands the Tenth Amendment and knows that many millions of federal employees, lobbyists, and other beggars and hangers-on really need a productive gig. The world needs ditchdiggers, too. Sadly, we are stuck going in the opposite direction for the time being.

Programming note: Speaking of wing spreading, today was my last Friday piece for The Patriot Post and it was on a somewhat related topic. But it’s not the end for me there.

I don’t know if this is a promotion or just a lateral move, but they have asked me to write on Tuesday nights for Wednesday publication and I agreed to do so. I suspect my first Wednesday piece will come next week.

Patriots for Delaware meet at Range Time

I’m sure there are critics who would believe it was appropriate for a conservative-leaning group to meet at the extreme edge of the state, and indeed if you walked across Bethel Road from Range Time you would find yourself in the wilds of Maryland. But the local (and relatively new) indoor gun range was the locale for a tent meeting for the Patriots for Delaware on Tuesday night.

The space owned by Range Time afforded it plenty of room to set up the tent and a few tables, and park a batch of cars aside from its own parking lot. The owners of the firing range have become enthusiastic backers of the Patriots for Delaware.

I said a few weeks back that if the Patriots for Delaware found themselves out Laurel way I may have to stop by and see what the fuss was about. Gumboro is close enough, plus I wanted to check out the building anyway. (Alas, I never made it inside.)

One thing I found out is that this group is very creative. I should have taken a couple steps closer to this sign table, but this was meant to be sort of an overall test shot because of the long shadows. Turns out it makes my point.

(Notice they had quite a bit already in the donation box, too.)

It’s hard to read at this level of detail, but here is what some of these signs say:
“Patriots for Delaware: United in Liberty” (Pretty evergreen.)
“Defund Police? Disarm Citizens? Empower Criminals? No thank you! Vote NO on SB3 & SB6!” (These are “gun control” bills before the Delaware General Assembly.)
“Office Space Available: Contact your Representatives and Senators for Details.” (This refers to the virtual meetings the General Assembly has held since last March.)

They have a lot of good ones besides those for supporting small business, reforming education, and so forth.

One thing I was remiss in capturing was the presence of a couple vendors there as well as a hot dog stand. So there was dinner available if you didn’t mind hot dogs, chips, and a pop.

Here’s another sign that, if the print weren’t so small and the photographer was thinking about it, would give you an idea of where the Patriots for Delaware stand. This was my shot to check lighting in the tent, and unfortunately that was about as good as I was going to get.

It’s definitely unfortunate I didn’t get a closeup of the sign; then again it’s the same objective as you see on their website.

Truly, what they had to say was more important than whether I took good photos or not – after all, there were probably 75 to 100 people who took time out of a Tuesday night to attend.

This was an initial shot of the crowd. They took the back flaps off the tent so the people outside could see better. By the way, the gentleman in the blue seated next to the pole is Sussex County Council member John Rieley, whose district we were in (it’s also mine.) He spoke briefly during the Q & A portion at the end, or else I wouldn’t have known him.

After an opening prayer which beseeched His help for “a nation in need,” we we introduced to the group’s concept by its co-leaders, Glenn Watson, Jr. and Bill Hopkins. This is made necessary because each meeting has such a high proportion of new faces, in part because they move around the state.

The group was “brought about with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in mind,” said Hopkins, who added that the government was not doing its job of guaranteeing it. “If we don’t do something, we’ll have nothing,” Bill continued, noting as well that “we have to forget about this party thing.” Patriots for Delaware was out to attract members from all the parties who agreed on their core concepts.

When it was Glenn’s turn he added that earlier that Tuesday the group was active at the Legislative Hall rally, where they called on our General Assembly to resume public meetings instead of the Zoom meetings that are held inside the hall, with the public locked out. Reopening the legislature was just one of its current priorities, but it also went along with a list of bills they were working to favor or oppose – mostly the latter. (We received a handout of their legislative agenda.)

An interesting sidebar was learning that State Sen. Dave Lawson has been doing the Zoom meetings from his legislative office, with Tuesday’s meeting having the added feature of sign bearers in his background calling on the state to return to “Leg Hall.”

The Patriots for Delaware approach was that of working from the bottom up, which made the slew of school board elections ongoing around the state a key point of interest. The group was in the process of sending out detailed questionnaires to candidates around the state with an eye on endorsing ones they saw fit. There were about three candidates already so endorsed, although none locally.

But there was more to the school boards than just elections. As a rule, their meetings are lightly attended by the public (perhaps by design) but members were working to ferret out waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. “We need people to make this happen,” said Glenn, so the group was looking for volunteers to attend school board meetings. Something I learned from the chair of their education committee is that the big roadblock to fully opening up schools is the limit in bus capacity.

It should be noted that the first third to half of the meeting was going through committee reports from several of their seven committee chairs. There were actually four other scheduled speakers: the well-received and popular 2020 GOP gubernatorial candidate Julianne Murray, Mike Jones of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (naturally, since the event was being held at a firing range), Jim Startzman of the Delaware State Sportsmen Association (ditto), and Larry Mayo of the Institute on the Constitution.

Murray, who announced last week she was filing suit in federal court to get the Delaware General Assembly back to meeting in person with public access, noted that while she was glancing behind her to the 2020 election and questions about it, she was more focused on 2022 – an election where we will need hundreds of volunteer poll watchers.

In the meantime, she urged those assembled to beseech the Republicans in the Delaware House to stop HB75, which would allow the DGA to set election terms (basically, codifying a repeat of 2020.) “We’ve got to be smart going into 2022,” she said, “and HB75 is huge.”

Before heading out to tend to a family matter, Murray hinted that her next campaign may not be a second try for governor in 2024, but running against incumbent Attorney General Kathy Jennings next year.

Jones introduced those attending to the USCCA, which provides legal representation to its members in the case of a self-defense incident, while Startzman detailed that his group would be gearing up for lawsuits against the gun grabbing legislation being considered in the General Assembly. For that, they need members and donations.

Mayo revealed that his latest class of IotC graduates would matriculate this week and a new 12-week course would begin next week in Milford. (It’s also available online and on DVD. I guess you don’t get the fancy graduation ceremony.)

Lastly, we had the Q and A portion, which featured an interesting revelation from the aforementioned Councilman Rieley.

Recently Sussex County settled a lawsuit where the plaintiffs contended the county was shortchanging schools because they had not reassessed property since 1974. Rather than fight it, the county agreed to do a three-year assessment at a cost of $10 million.

Of course, people worry about their taxes increasing, but Rieley told those assembled that the goal was revenue neutrality as rates would be reduced. The “maximum” one’s taxes could increase was 10 percent, although he noted some in the western portion of the county may see a decrease. (The increase would likely fall on those in the rapidly-developing eastern half of the county.) Additionally, he promised, “we are not going to be raising taxes anytime soon.” (Then again, for the most part Sussex County simply serves as a pass-through for the state, so they can be blamed.)

I gotta admit, I was a little rusty on the note-taking part of the meeting, but it was an interesting hour and a half that went by quickly. (I couldn’t sleep anyway – it got a bit nippy in that tent once the sun went down.) The next meeting (set for next Tuesday, April 27) isn’t too far down the pike from me in Greenwood, so if my calendar is clear I may head that way. If you are a Delaware resident “barely left of militia” like I am, or even somewhat closer to the center, this is an interesting grassroots group to follow.

Mt. Hermon Plow Days 2021 in pictures and text

It felt good to be out of the rain. No, actually, to shorten up the song lyric, it felt good to be out.

In thinking about doing this post, I got to pondering how long it had been since I’d done a “pictures and text” post – turns out it’s been over two years. These were once staples of my site, but frequency decreased as I became less active politically. It was understandable about the last year since most events (including the proposed 2020 rendition of Plow Days) were scrubbed, but I can’t figure out what happened to 2019. I guess a lot of it was consumed by our house hunting and move, plus a couple family vacations along the way.

Anyway, the nice thing about using the newer version of WordPress is the more intuitive captioning feature so you can truly have pictures and text.

A little about this event: it was the fourteenth annual rendition, although I’m not sure if last year’s scrubbed event was deemed the thirteenth annual or not. While I don’t believe it’s an official ministry of the Salisbury Baptist Temple, many of those involved locally are also active in that church. As they describe it, “We invite you to take a step back in time and learn how country people lived a century ago when rural America had no electricity and very few tractors.”

As far as my history with Mt. Hermon Plow Days goes, I think this is the third or fourth one I’ve attended and what I recall about the previous events was that it generally seemed cold and windy. Perhaps it was the extra week in April – Plow Days’ traditional date is the first Saturday in April but this year that fell on Easter weekend – but as you’ll see, the weather was warm and sunny. I got a little bit of sun to be sure.

I decided to place these in the order I took them.

This was the midway when we arrived around 11:30. As you can see, there were quite a few people who were already in shirt sleeves checking out the wares of about ten or twelve vendors selling everything from jelly to cookware to pottery. There was also a petting zoo along here, which I will return to shortly.
These were some of the implements old-time farmers used behind their horses. Each had a little sign with its name and particular use.
We’ve seen this stagecoach a lot during the summer because they keep it at Salisbury Baptist Temple and use it as part of their “Summer Fun” weekly camps. The sign in the background reads “A Day in the Life of a Plower’s Wife” and there were exhibits regarding that as well.
Visitors also got to try their hand at plowing a row behind the horses. It was also a chance for kids to see the horses up close, which they enjoyed. I’m sure it’s a tough and bumpy ride.
Not only were there horses there, but also mules (hey, they can pull a plow, too.) They took their turns pulling, although I think this guy was there more for showing the kids.
Lucky kids got to ride in the rumble seat of this old beauty. It wasn’t quite a century old (the front plate said 1930 as I recall) but close enough. Seemed to run pretty well, although I didn’t get to see if it came under its own power or on a trailer.
The leader of the band, so to speak, is Oren Perdue. The founder of Salisbury Baptist Temple, Pastor Perdue is still active with this event (as well as with his church and the Summer Fun camp, although he’s handed those day-to-day reins to others.) I think I’ve featured the good Pastor a couple times in my coverage of the Wicomico County Fair, where we’ve played hooky from our church to attend his annual service there.
A closer view of how the professionals do it. Not sure which of the seven teams featuring 11 different drivers this was, but they came to this event from as far away as North Carolina. It was actually a down year for participation – because the event was pushed back a week from normal, a few teams didn’t come out. Normally we have teams from five or six states.
This was part of the “Plower’s Wife” exhibit I referred to. There were also three tents on the other side of the steps, but I didn’t like how that photo came out so you just get this one.
I don’t think they were selling autographs, but it was nice that people had an opportunity to ask questions and generally make these visitors feel welcome. Many of them have made it to most of the renditions of Mt. Hermon Plow Days, which has become an April tradition for them. Also, I believe the vehicle in the lower right of the shot belonged to one of the local TV stations so they were out covering the event, too.
This is my “awwwww” factor shot. Not many kids can resist the opportunity to pet these kids. (Nor can my wife!) Just wash your hands and make sure to sanitize after stopping by the petting zoo along the midway.
Actually, it was a good idea to wash your hands anyway because there was food there – not just these three food trucks, but also a tent selling oyster sandwiches (that closed early due to high demand), a former short bus selling slushies, and a booth with kettle korn. My wife waited in line 40 minutes while I took a few of the photos above and grabbed a shady picnic table spot. Next year they might need a couple more trucks!
The last photo is of the midway from the other side – I believe the line to the left was at the souvenir shirt booth. As you can see, the kids had plenty to do besides the animals.

A couple things I missed in my trip around: one was the band, which was a five-piece string group called (what else) the Mt. Olivet String Band. They were just finishing up by the time I walked over there, so I caught them breaking down and that’s not a good picture. I also missed the introduction of dignitaries (generally Wicomico County local politicians and a couple media personalities) who were there. I saw the politicians enough in the last ten years, so I didn’t get up from eating lunch to grab photos. (I did cross paths with Sheriff Mike Lewis enough to say a quick “hi” as he rushed by.)

And we didn’t stay long enough to check out the horse-powered treadmill shelling corn.

If they can guarantee the same weather for next year, we may swing by again. Just teasing – I’m sure we will stop by if our schedule allows. Plow Days is a nice introduction to spring and I’m glad it came back without the wokescolds complaining about how few out of the 1,500 to 2,000 I’m guessing were there yesterday for at least part of the time were wearing face diapers.

It was great to feel back to normal for a day.

Who should do the rebuilding?

The word of the month seems to be “infrastructure.” Everyone seems to think we need the federal government to put up billions and trillions of dollars of money we don’t have to do stuff we probably don’t really need, such as “clean energy.” (Regular old not quite as clean energy already created millions of jobs, some of which the current administration is hellbent on losing.)

One group which has laid the guilt trip on thick is one you may expect: the Alliance for American Manufacturing. I wasn’t sure if this was a pitch for their cause or for fundraising (not that they need any since I’m sure most of their funding comes from union dues and affiliated industry groups.)

Did you see the news out of Florida?

Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate near Tampa Bay this weekend because a leak had sprung at a wastewater reservoir. It threatened to unleash hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water, potentially causing a “catastrophic flood.”

Imagine having to evacuate your home because of a potential flood of toxic water.

While the exact cause of the leak is not yet known, the failure of critical infrastructure like this is, sadly, not a surprise. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave U.S. wastewater systems a “D+” grade, and the situation in Florida is just another example of the real-life consequences of America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Nearly 200 people died earlier this year in Texas when the state’s power grid failed during winter storms. Hundreds of thousands of people in Jackson, Mississippi were left without clean drinking water for weeks after storms wreaked havoc on the city’s water infrastructure.

It shouldn’t be like this – and it doesn’t have to be like this.

“Deadly Power Outages. A Potential ‘Catastrophic Flood.’ No Drinking Water. Enough is enough!” E-mail from AAM, April 6, 2021. (Emphasis in original.)

You’re right, it doesn’t have to be like this. But it certainly doesn’t need to be a top-down solution with funding doled out to the favored and connected, either.

After reading a little bit about the issue in Florida, it appears the state is going to pay for the cleanup – out of federal money they received from the stimulus program. (So the state is really not paying for it.) Of course, the owner of the facility in question is bankrupt so they couldn’t deal with it even if they were found liable for the breach in the reservoir liner.

And then you have the Texas situation, which was one where the utilities cut a corner, figuring they would never have to put up with such a storm – until they did. It’s one of those cases where the state will probably chase some good money after bad, doing what the utilities probably should have done to little effect since they likely won’t have another bad winter storm like that for decades. It’s probably the same thing in Jackson, Mississippi, except I’m sure local ratepayers have been funding the needed repairs for decades. It just sounds like they didn’t get the needed repairs, which makes me wonder just what they spent the money on.

And so on and so forth. Look, we have a need for infrastructure improvements, but the problem is that very little of this Biden proposal actually goes to infrastructure. If you want more infrastructure funding, it’s not about who supplies the coin so much as it is about spending it efficiently. If you want more bang for the infrastructure buck, there are a couple quick ways of doing so: eliminate the layers of environmental review which get used as a delaying tactic by the NIMBYs of the world, and repeal the Davis-Bacon wage rates so that contractors aren’t chained to sky-high labor costs. That’s just two quick ways of getting more repair and less red tape.

Sadly, we’ll get the stuff we don’t need and the bill to boot.

Odds and ends number 103

The e-mail box is filling up fast these days, so after just a month I felt the need to relieve some of that pressure, as it were. Plus I just felt like writing something over the weekend (how’s that for honesty?)

As I have said probably 100 times or so in the past, these are dollops of bloggy goodness which aren’t promoted to a post but deserve some sort of mention, whether a few sentences or a handful of paragraphs.

The protectionist racket

I’ve referred to this man and group many times in the past, but the Alliance for American Manufacturing and their president Scott Paul are nothing if not consistent. After the February job numbers came out, Paul had this to say:

It’s good to see factory job growth resume after January’s slump, but the pace must pick up. At this rate, recovering all the manufacturing jobs lost during the pandemic will take more than two years.

That’s why it is so important for Congress and the Biden administration to speedily complete the short-term COVID-19 rescue package, and then shift to work on a sustained, robust public investment in infrastructure, clean energy, and innovation.

One thing to point out here: January goods imports were the highest on record. Made in America procurement efforts and the rebuilding of domestic supply chains couldn’t come at a better time.

Alliance for American Manufacturing press release, March 5, 2021.

I always appreciate their perspective; Lord knows their hearts are in the right place. But what has always concerned me about the AAM’s steadfast support of protectionism is what I call the Trabant effect, named after the East German car that vanished once the Berlin Wall came down and former denizens of that communist regime could buy other cars that were thirty years more advanced.

I believe we have better workers than China could ever have, although it’s worth noting that China didn’t start eating our lunch until they adopted a hybrid mix of totalitarian government with just enough capitalism to keep people from starving. There are certainly some in the wealthy category in China, but they aren’t self-made – they have to have some connection to the ruling party in order to succeed.

Even without taxpayer “investment” in infrastructure we have enough of a market to create massive wealth, if the government would just get out of the way. That’s where I often part with the AAM, which is an extension of several steelworker unions.

Illustrating absurdity

We all know that Joe Biden has made a mockery of a situation that President Trump was quickly gaining control of: border security and illegal immigration. But when you see things in graphic form, as the Heritage Foundation has put together, the changes are brought into perspective.

It’s sad that, out of 22 policy areas the Heritage Foundation has identified, that Biden and his cronies have made changes to all but two, taking us in the wrong direction. Once upon a time America was supposed to have 11 million illegal immigrants, but I would posit that number is twice that now and may be triple or quadruple that by the time Biden is through.

The problem with strategists

I’ve liked Bobby Jindal for a long time, but I think he has a poor choice in writing partners sometimes.

Perhaps I should have had a clue when the piece appeared in Newsweek, which isn’t exactly a conservative publication, but he and a “Republican strategist” by the name of Alex Castellanos opined there on “Separating Trump from Trumpism.” I had not heard of the latter previously, so when it was noted in the bio that he had worked on four different Presidential campaigns, I was curious to know which four – turns out he was busy for awhile since the list was Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Jeb! Bush. So we’re basically talking a classic #NeverTrump personality here along with a guy whose behind was kicked by The Donald in the 2016 campaign.

I sort of gleaned the direction they were heading when they warned, “Unless the GOP creates an alternative version of Trumpism, without Trump, he’ll be back.” However, there is a little wheat among the chaff here:

Republicans must jettison Trump’s demeanor, but pick up where Trump’s policies left off. They should fight the concentration of political and economic power that has benefitted technology and financial giants, gather allies to force China to compete economically on a level playing field and reshape the government’s spending, immigration, trade and tax policies to benefit the working class. They can show how an open economy, bottom-up growth and limited government can empower and enrich working-class Americans more than any old, top-down, artificial program. These policies will benefit working-class and all Americans willing to invest their labor and talents towards living even bigger American dreams.

Bobby Jindal and Alex Castellanos, “Separating Trump from Trumpism is Key to the GOP’s Future,” Newsweek, March 1, 2021.

There was a lot about Trumpism that I liked, including the unvarnished patriotism, the willingness to be pro-life, and the complete honesty in dealing with the elites and media. Those of us in the heartland didn’t like either of those groups, but we weren’t seeing any push back from the GOP despite its goading by the TEA Party, among others. It almost makes you wonder who wanted him out more – the Democrats or the elites who still count themselves Republicans in the same vein as Dole, the Bushes, and Mitt Romney.

Stick to writing your own stuff, Bobby – that is, if you want to keep the little bit of relevancy you have. You have the lanes figured out correctly, although in this case I hope you eventually choose the right path.

Although, on second thought, since you’re now pushing for a huge federal infrastructure bill like Joe Biden is, maybe it’s too late.

Placating Woke-O Haram

To Erick Erickson, there is a new religion:

Secularism is, in fact, a religion.  It has sacraments like support for abortion rights.  It has tithing in which secular adherents give money to various political and social causes.  It has liturgies in the new speak of wokeness.  It has theological tracts and church services as rally and protest and Episcopal mass.  It has even spurred the rise of terrorist zealots and the new censorious social justice warriors I have taken to calling Woke-O Haram.

Erick Erickson, “Secular Indulgences,” March 11, 2021.

The initial comparison Erickson makes is the Catholic Church at the time of Martin Luther, which is somewhat appropriate. But the indulgences once sold to pay for St. Peter’s Basilica are now being extorted from businesses in a perverse form of wealth redistribution from industrialized nations to those on the other end of the scale – that is, whatever’s left after those in charge of the redistribution take their cut.

And the funny thing about this whole climate change enigma is that there is no control mechanism. We cannot predict with certainty how the weather will be a month out, so who can believe that doing whatever job-killing, income-robbing scheme Radical Green dreams up will make a significant dent? And when it falls short of predictions – as it always does – then the problem will be that we didn’t do enough, not that the whole idea we could have an effect was bullshit from the start.

It’s like the cynical philosophy I’ve come to embrace in my adult life: government is not in the business of solving problems, for if the solutions they came up with worked, there wouldn’t be a need for them. For government, job preservation is the true Job One. Believers in Radical Green are the same way, so they come up with wilder schemes and excuses to justify their beliefs.

The national impact races

Had I thought more about the post I did on the Laurel school board election, I would have quoted an e-mail I received from iVoter Guide:

Many of the problems that threaten our nation today can be traced to years of misplaced priorities in our public schools. Our children are not learning how to become citizens who appreciate, defend, and cultivate the values and principles our nation was founded upon. This responsibility and power rests with our school boards—positions largely overlooked by the general public, but captured by Leftist organizations and special interest groups who have exercised their influence over our children for far too long.

The good news is, with relatively few votes compared to higher office elections, the trajectory of our school boards and the nation can start to change when principled candidates are elected. This is why iVoterGuide is launching a trial program to equip Christian and conservative voters to engage in these high-impact elections. (Link in original.)

Debbie Wuthnow, “From the Classroom to Congress: Your Schools Matter,” iVoterGuide e-mail, March 4, 2021.

In this case, they are doing a test run of 20 Texas school districts to see how well their voter information program translates to that level. Yet, bringing it back to my school district as an example, it’s hard to find much on these races because the participants (particularly the incumbents) know the race is more on name recognition and who you know rather than on particular issues the schools are dealing with. Most of what information I found the last time I went through this a year ago came from a lengthy profile on the race in the Laurel Star newspaper.

Common sense and sunshine in Delaware?

I suspect he’s lining himself up for bigger things down the road, and he’s not even my representative, but State Rep. Bryan Shupe has a good idea.

HCR10 would require the Delaware General Assembly to stream and videotape proceedings, to include committee meetings. That’s important because those meetings are where the sausage is ground – legislation is generally massaged at the committee level and the horsetrading to get things passed should be a matter of public record.

The fact that the bill has a “modest” amount of co-sponsors, however, tells me the state’s legislative body would rather keep things behind closed doors. (In reality, the bill has five Senate sponsors and co-sponsors along with 11 from the House. Among the group, three are Democrats and the rest Republican.)

I get that the behavior may change because legislators may play more to the camera, but subsequent elections can correct that problem. We should have more transparency in the First State, not less.

One final Palm Sunday item

My original story for this last slot was Delaware-related, but I decided to promote it to a full piece. Instead, as our church was retold today, Jesus had a tough week beginning on the first Palm Sunday.

As it turned out, Erick Erickson wrote on the subject today, so I’ll close with him.

Today is Palm Sunday, the day in which Christians remember Jesus’s final entry into Jerusalem. He entered as a king with people laying palm branches before him. Given the population of the day, it is very, very likely that many who hailed him as a king on Palm Sunday were yelling “crucify him” on Good Friday.

(…)

The moral laws of Christianity are not the laws you follow to get eternal life. They are the moral laws you follow out of love for Christ as you feel him transforming you. As you become more Christ like through the regeneration he sparks in you, you want to be more like Christ. You become more Christlike over time, but you know if you fail you are forgiven. If you fall short, you have grace. Your sin fights back against the regeneration but the regeneration continues.

Two thousand years ago today, Christ Jesus entered Jerusalem a conquering king. But he promised no revolution of strength. He said the strong would be weak and the weak would be strong. He upended the secular paradigms and, for that, the world killed him.

Erick Erickson, “Hail the King. Kill Him.” March 28, 2021.

You may have had a bad week at some point, but just bear in mind that our Lord made flesh knew how his week would end yet still went through with it. This is a good piece because it’s yet another reminder that God has this.

Misdirection

Once again, I will caution readers that the reason I never had a big desire to run for high political office was that I hate asking strangers for money. But I was alerted to an investigation into the financial windfall a company servicing GOP Congressional candidate Kim Klacik received.

Granted, this investigation was done by the Washington Post, and they’re not going to shine a favorable light on any Republican, especially an overtly Trump-supporting minority GOP member like Klacik. But I’ll play along because it leads to another point.

As you may recall from last summer, Klacik became the “it girl” among Republican House candidates thanks to a viral ad she had shot on location in the slums of Baltimore, blaming the decades of Democrat leadership for the decrepit and hopeless conditions. It was a turn of Donald Trump’s “what the hell do you have to lose?” question to black voters, which make up the majority in Klacik’s district thanks to much of it being in Baltimore City.

Yet according to the Post:

By the end of Klacik’s campaign, she would raise a staggering $8.3 million and pay nearly $3.7 million of it to Olympic Media, according to campaign finance filings and her campaign manager. Klacik, now a frequent Fox News and Newsmax commentator, lost to Mfume in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District by more than 40 percentage points.

“Donors gave a House candidate more than $8 million. A single firm took nearly half of it.” Meagan Flynn and Michael Scherer, Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

The fact that she raised $8.3 million for the race based on a viral ad may be scary enough, but then considering nearly half of it went to a consultant made it worse. This reaches back to a subject for which I sometimes kick myself for not devoting more pages to it in The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and that is the effect of scam PACs, particularly in the later years of the movement. This comes from the chapter of my book called “The TEA Party Is Dead”:

The incessant fundraising off TEA Party regulars, who skewed heavily toward those 60 and over and who had the disposable income to use for political causes, made consultants – a group of characters who often countered that doing mass e-mail appeals wasn’t as cheap as those on the outside of the business thought – fabulously wealthy for next to no effort, while achieving little to assist actual candidates who could have used the funds if they were given directly. Oftentimes less than 10% of the money raised by a PAC would go toward candidates, with much larger amounts used to pay for more fundraising.

The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, p.129.

I gave the subject about a page and a half, but in retrospect it probably deserved at least twice as much. This is particularly true because Klacik, as revealed in the Post story, is another failed candidate who has began a PAC of her own, called the Red Renaissance PAC. (Just like Lauren Witzke here in Delaware.) So she will be yet another grifter taking her cut instead of moving the money where it belongs, and I think that greed is what stunted the growth of the TEA Party. Imagine if that scam PAC money had instead assisted local candidates, who may have won races they lost had they had the additional funding that instead found its way into some consultant’s bank account. Instead of paying for 100 yard signs, donors to scam PACs paid for Mr. Consultant’s yard work to be done.

There was another reason this came to mind: many Delaware school districts have at least one seat on their board of education coming up for election this spring. In my little school district, the one open seat has attracted four candidates as the incumbent decided to forgo another term. What do you think a couple dozen people of like mind donating $100 apiece could do to a candidate in a race like this where winners seldom spend more than a few thousand dollars as opposed to a Congressional election where that group of 24 is outspent by some corporate PAC that donates the maximum?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you want to donate to a candidate, skip the middleman of a PAC and send it directly. (Or, even better, be a volunteer for them.) It will do the most good for the people who really need it.

Odds and ends number 102

I’m bringing back those chunks of blogging goodness that take anywhere from a couple sentences to a handful of paragraphs.

A surplus? Give it back!

It’s been a tough year for state governments around the nation, and Delaware was no exception. But there was a surprise when the First State beancounters came up with the numbers at the end of the year – we had a $347 million surplus thanks to record real estate transfer taxes and very successful IPOs.

Of course, just because we have an extra $347 million doesn’t mean the state won’t have plans for the money that don’t involve returning it to the hard-working taxpayers of Delaware. But I also noticed this nugget: “At one time, far more people came into Delaware to work, but it’s been closer to 50-50 recently, officials said Monday. And many of those who leave Delaware, but are now working at home, have higher paying jobs than those coming from out of state to work in Delaware.” I’m one of those 65,000 who leave Delaware to work, which was the reverse of where we were before we moved when my wife was one of the 65,000 who came into Delaware to work. Neither of us have a typical “work from home” job (although mine is a more likely candidate – not counting the side hustles I actually do from the comfort of my rocking chair) so the gig economy hasn’t hit us yet.

If they are taxing us too much, give it back. If they’re not taxing us enough; well, we don’t need everything the state spends its money on.

A little help from their friends

We had some issues in Texas a couple weeks back, and in the spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, the left-leaners at the Alliance for American Manufacturing are now demanding a “Made in America” infrastructure bill. As Texas resident Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch wrote at the group’s behest:

It didn’t have to be like this. While we are seeing unusual weather in Texas, the electric grid here also hasn’t received updates it has needed for years. As one expert put it, the grid “limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”

And it’s not just Texas. States like Oregon, Kentucky and Louisiana also are seeing power outages right now. California faced similar struggles last year.

These are the real world consequences of America’s failure to modernize its infrastructure. Now it’s time to learn from our mistakes and get to work.

“TAKE ACTION: What Happened in Texas Could Happen Anywhere”, Alliance for American Manufacturing, February 18, 2021

In fact, in the e-mail, Brotherton-Bunch actually says, “The crisis in Texas this week once again is highlighting the consequences of inaction. But every crisis also yields opportunity.”

Suppose, however, that the federal infrastructure bill did away with Davis-Bacon laws that add labor costs to the project unnecessarily. Sure, the leftist groups that back prevailing wage will tell you that the increased wage brings an increase in productivity, but to me that claim is rather dubious. Surely the reason the AAM really wants the infrastructure bill is to prop up their union backers – just like the push for an overall $15 minimum wage most benefits Big Labor in general and the SEIU in particular – moreover, if it goes to things the federal government may want that may not be what the locality needs.

Infrastructure in most cases should be more of a state priority. We’ve spent enough federal money for three lifetimes in mine, but those in power now want to put drunken sailors to shame. I guess the AAM just wants their cut.

The hopeful tone didn’t age well

Just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, Bobby Jindal – the two-term governor of Louisiana and 2016 Republican presidential candidate (the one I endorsed initially) placed an op-ed at the Fox News site that sounded conciliatory toward the incoming administration, pointing out areas of common ground between the perceived moderate Biden and populist Republicans that backed Trump. In part, this was because President Trump…

…modified the traditional conservative argument that the problem was government was doing too much for too many — and instead argued it was not doing enough for the right people.

Trump expanded the definition of the deserving poor to include everyday working families whose wages had stagnated for years. Democrats have long used similar arguments to enact universal social welfare programs. President Obama cited the plight of working Americans to include both Medicaid expansion for the poor and exchange subsidies under ObamaCare for families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level.

And Trump tapped into working-class anxiety by promising to pursue policies, like tighter immigration controls, tariffs, farm aid, and renegotiated trade deals, that would protect their jobs and incomes from unfair foreign competition.

Trump further promised to protect entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that benefited his base supporters, while railing against a corrupt Washington establishment that conspired to enrich the coastal elites and expand wasteful redistribution programs for favored liberal constituencies.

But Trump seemed more interested in adding spending he liked — such as military spending, his border wall, his long-promised infrastructure bill, and direct pandemic assistance — than in eliminating spending he did not like.

“Bobby Jindal: Biden may find support for some proposals among populist Republicans in Congress,” FoxNews.com, January 17, 2021.

This big-government populism was the philosophy candidates like Lauren Witzke ran on last year.

I would agree with Jindal except for the fact that Democrats inside the Beltway seldom backed Trump’s initiatives despite the fact that a significant number of rank-and-file Democrats in the Rust Belt and other areas of flyover country eschewed the 2016 Democrat standardbearer Hillary Clinton to vote for Trump.

However, it should be said that the trajectory of history pre-pandemic was favoring Trump’s contention we could grow our way out of a deficit, as the annual shortages were coming down until trillions of dollars of stimulus and transfer payments were supposedly made necessary thanks to the “15 days to stop the spread” that are now closing in on a year in many places. Had Trump not been denied a second term he may have been proven correct.

But it was disappointing to read this from a man who was a successful budget-cutter in his home state, making the tough choices to save taxpayer dollars. And as an aside, one of those “common ground” issues Jindal cited was infrastructure.

First it was RGGI, now it’s TCI

It’s been percolating under the surface for quite awhile now, but when you start talking about a potential gas tax increase, people begin to listen.

It wasn’t enough to address so-called manmade climate change by developing a way for public utilities to transfer protection money to state governments (also known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or as the subtitle suggests, RGGI) – nope, they decided to attack the internal combustion engine in the same way. As Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort explained at Delaware Online back in December 2020:

As Delaware faces a significant drop in tax revenue due to the pandemic, the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) can offer needed funding for communities along Routes 13 and 40 and other pollution burdened areas across Delaware, including Route 9, Northeast Wilmington, Belvedere Newport and Sussex County. TCI is a collaboration between eleven northeast and mid-Atlantic governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C., who have been working to develop a regional cap and invest program that would significantly cut tailpipe pollution while building a fair and just zero-emission transportation system.

“Building a transportation and climate initiative that works for Delaware,” Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort, Delaware Online, December 17, 2020.

Never mind I put the lie to the tax revenue claim a few paragraphs ago, but the duo are only following what was laid out a couple years earlier as goals for the TCI:

Informed by input from hundreds of stakeholders and expert analysis, the participating TCI jurisdictions will design a regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each TCI jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure. This proposed program, when combined with existing programs and complementary policies, will be designed to achieve substantial reductions in transportation sector emissions and provide net economic and social benefits for participating states.

“Transportation and Climate Initiative Statement,” December 18, 2018.

Welcome to wealth transfer program part two, where rural folks and those who drive for business or pleasure will be transferring their wealth and freedom into more government largesse that will go to boondoggles they pick because the public won’t. In an Open Letter on the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a number of groups advocating the rightsizing of government in these affected states and beyond called TCI “the wrong idea at the wrong time.” And in case you haven’t noticed, gas that was around $2.19 a gallon back in November has gone up 50 cents a gallon since – granted, some of that is normal (it seems like gas prices annually peak in the late spring) but the recent 20 cent surge blamed on Texas refineries being kicked offline thanks to the massive snowstorm there will take its sweet time to work itself out. Yet to someone who drives a 20 MPG truck 20,000 miles a year such as a rural worker, that per-gallon increase works out to $500 a year they can’t spend on food, clothing, or other necessities. A 27-cent gas tax increase such as the one the Caesar Rodney Institute has worried could be proposed for Delaware would cost that Sussex County worker $270 a year on top of the 50-cent increase.

Something on a favored flag

I suppose that since I wrote a book with it on the cover, one would consider my flag of choice the Gadsden flag. That yellow-and-black symbol of our colonial days became the icon of the TEA Party, and it got a little bit of its due recently thanks to my Ammo.com friend Sam Jacobs pushing an article on it.

Every so often I see a Gadsden flag adorning a pole under an American flag or see a Virginia Gadsden license plate – surprised those haven’t been banned from the state yet. (I just checked and they are still available, shockingly enough. But I doubt there’s any in the D.C. suburbs.) It’s comforting to know there are still people like me out there.

And since I now have an open space on the front of my car because Delaware only requires one license plate, maybe I can find a Gadsden plate to increase my old car’s value. (15 years old, almost 200,000 miles that would have been a lot of gas tax for greedy governments around the nation.)

Programming note

I have one more item in my e-mail box that will graduate to a full-length article, I believe. Be advised, though: writing may be a little sparse for a bit as I seem to be the snake that swallowed the goat and that big lump of various side hustles is making its way through my workload these days.

And speaking of the TEA Party, I believe I noted that I deactivated my old Rise and Fall website a couple months back. I think the Facebook page for it will be next to go. Last year I abandoned a book project that became a series of posts here on the Indivisible movement, and I started on another idea I had for an e-book before pulling the plug because I didn’t like how I thought I had to frame it – too unworkable. To be honest, right now is not the time in my life for a book.

So I guess I will stay in this little forum for now.

A waste of energy (and money)

I’ve been mulling this post over long enough to have it almost lose relevance because the initial subject matter became law a week or so ago. (Then it got pushed back once again with the passing of Rush Limbaugh.) Originally I was going to post about Delaware’s Senate Bill 33, an ill-considered measure that both extends and expands the renewable energy portfolio that Delaware (among many other non-thinking states) is saddled with. Now we are supposed to have 40% of our energy come from renewable sources by 2035.

How it really works, however, is that the state’s utilities fork over money to the state (via a market-style entity) in lieu of attaining the percentage required. For example, I’m a customer of the Delaware Electric Co-op, which has a shade over 100,000 customers in the state. In recent years they have created a solar farm that now services up to 1,000 homes – but that’s still way short of the required 2.25% amount for the current regulations, let alone the future. I had the good news of a proposed 3% rate cut come with my bill last month, but I can see the state taking that away thanks to their waste of a bill.

(When you talk to an environmentalist wacko, remember these pertinent questions: what exactly is the optimum, average climate? And who’s to say we’re not on a trend toward it regardless of the folly of believing mankind can do a thing about changing that direction?)

What put this back first and foremost on my mind, though, was the situation in Texas. The Lone Star State has been walloped by a “once-in-a-century” winter storm this past weekend, leaving piles of snow and temperatures well below freezing all the way to the Mexican border. Their problem in this case is that the Texas electrical grid (which is pretty much self-contained) depends heavily on wind, solar, and natural gas for its power. Unfortunately, the wind turbines are frozen in place, the solar panels are under a foot of snow, and the natural gas isn’t moving through the pipeline system at the necessary quantity to make up the shortfall from the lack of wind power in particular. You could say it was the perfect storm.

(It’s interesting how the proponents of wind power try to shift the blame. Not to say it’s all wind’s fault, but they will probably be the last to recover.)

Of course, here in Delaware we are more accustomed to stormy weather in all seasons thanks to occasional snow storms, nor’easters, and tropical storms that come throughout the year. So unlike Texas, which bakes during their hot, steamy summers (great for solar, so-so for wind) and normally has temperate winters where wind energy can make a small dent, Delaware isn’t perfectly suited for either type of renewable. Yet the powers that be seem to be determined to waste acres of valuable farmland to create solar fields and wish to pollute the viewshed off our beaches with wind turbines that will need to be replaced in just a few decades. Again I note that once upon a time, windmills were what the farmers depended on – only to drop them like a bad habit once rural electrification became available. It was cost-effective and (most of all) more reliable.

We seem to have a backwards state here. Things which can be dependable sources of energy, such as natural gas or oil which may be available in commercially viable amounts offshore – well, we can’t even do the seismic testing to find out if there’s any there. But to site wind turbines – yeah, go right ahead even though it may be millions of dollars spent to power a few thousand homes.

Let’s face facts: if it weren’t for ill-advised carveouts like a “renewable energy portfolio” we wouldn’t be wasting our time dealing with solar or wind power. We could be conducting research into nuclear power and methods to make it more accessible, or exploring for new natural gas deposits. After all, we have to use those to back up the unreliable renewables that make running an electrical grid more unpredictable than it needs to be.

Instead of a Senate Bill 33, the smart play for Delaware would be to scrap those mandates entirely. But the Left can’t stand losing that sort of money or power, regardless of how much of a setback these restrictions provide to hard-working families trying to improve their lot.

A new local grift?

Among the many reasons I have never run for higher office is that I don’t much like begging for money. (Says the guy who has a “Donate” button on his website – but notice it’s not near the top.)

But one thing I have found in common about a number of failed politicians is their propensity to try and keep their name in the limelight by creating their own political action committee, often with a name which defines its purpose. Such is the case with the perpetual campaign of 2020 U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware Lauren Witzke, who has recently announced the formation of the Hold The Line PAC.

Shouting in ALL CAPS, “Join us as we hold the line to help elect conservatives and defeat the establishment! No compromise!” Lauren’s site currently has a few rotating news stories but its primary page asks for donations, stating:

Hold the Line PAC exists to stop Democrats from making advances in Red states and imposing their radical agenda on conservative Americans.

Focusing on key issues like immigration, the Second Amendment, abortion, and religious liberty, Hold the Line PAC is the voice for Americans who want to keep their traditional values, and not be crushed under the tyrannical boot of “progressivism.”

As the left becomes more radical in its pursuit to bring communism to America, Hold the Line PAC is here to ensure that the Bill of Rights and the Constitution remains the law of the land.

We will NOT sit idly by and let the radical communist Democrats abolish the electoral college, the Second Amendment, and cancel half of the country. Instead, we will fight to preserve the America that we know and love for future generations.

Donate page, Hold the Line PAC

This all sounds really good, but the reality of PACs tends to be far different: most of the revenue accrues to the pockets of various consultants and vendors connected to the PAC, with only a small portion going to assist candidates. We saw this for several years with the TEA Party, as “scam PACs” parted gullible people with their money – funding that, if donated directly to candidates, could have made the difference between victory and defeat. (Note: writing a book on the subject really helps with finding links for later use, and self-promotion never hurt anyone.)

In Lauren’s case, though, having a PAC tied to her is a direct and logical extension of something I was pleased that she did as an underdog candidate: nationalize her race. In fact, out of the 600-plus individual contributions to her campaign itemized in her FEC report, only about 30 percent came from Delaware. And that number was somewhat consistent as the campaign wore on; however, out of the last 100 contributions I counted only 21 coming from people listed as being from the First State. While she came nowhere near the war chest amassed by incumbent Chris Coons and all his PAC money, she still raised nearly a half-million dollars through (mostly) individual donations. Of course, a good deal of it went to various political vendors and consultants.

And that’s the weakness of the PAC approach, because they will also have their vendors and consultants that get their cut before the candidates ever do. Much like Lauren’s political philosophy – which didn’t seem to mind big government as long as the money was spent in the proper fashion – a PAC just adds an extra layer of bureaucracy to what should be a simple transaction. I didn’t need a PAC to make the two donations I made during the last cycle; I did one through the candidate’s website and the other via a check to the candidate. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve even donated to a PAC, although someone who wanted to find little ole me on the various state and federal campaign finance websites may find the truth is that I did – heck, I don’t know with all the (small-dollar) contributions I’ve made over the years.

I suspect that when we look back at this in 2023, we will find that Hold The Line PAC raised a few thousand dollars and spent most of it chasing money via the website and consultant fees. What little they give to candidates will be a drop in the bucket.

I think there are times and races where a PAC would be super useful, but it’s up to Lauren to prove my instincts wrong on this one.

*Postscript: It should be noted that only about half of Lauren’s intake was reported, which means the other half was likely smaller donations that fell under the reporting threshold and I believe those were more likely to have come from Delaware. I don’t want people to get the idea she had no financial support in this state.