Well, the obvious one would be some massive spending cuts. Or maybe a balanced budget amendment. Or maybe a flat tax that includes no loopholes, exemptions or credits. But this weekend’s cowardice and blinking tells me I’ll have to wait for January 2013 at the earliest for anything that rational.
In lieu of that, I’ll go with the kind of long term thinking that was so clearly missing in Washington throughout this whole debt debate. And for that we’re going to go back to discussing the environment. (In case you’re wondering why all the recent environment/global warming posts lately, I finally got around to reading Crichton’s State of Fear and I’m in that mindset…review of that book coming soon).
So, unlike the Chicken Little’s who believe the sky is falling when it isn’t (new NASA data shows once again heat is not getting trapped) but environmentalists would rather scream about impending danger than actually do anything of value that will actually have a legitimate and positive effect – like actually help us save money while using all these supposedly green technologies.
Now, I’ll admit that we are not at a point that we can replace oil and coal and remain a first world nation, not just yet. Even if we replaced all the coal plants with nuclear ones (which won’t happen, again because of the Chicken Littles) even if we put solar paneling on every house, even if we put wind turbine in every community and even if we switched every car to a hybrid, we’d still need oil. So talking about getting rid of oil and coal is just silly. That doesn’t mean we can’t make moves in those alternative energy sources to help bring down their cost per unit and make them at least cost efficient for the average person. Further as we all know I hate oil not for environmental reasons, but because every barrel of oil sold, whether it’s from Saudi Arabia or from Alaska helps keep up the overall price of oil, and that means funds are still streaming into the Middle East and from there into the hands of the organizations most opposed to civilization as a whole. The more we cut oil the more we cut tyranny and terrorism bank rolls (which in turn would mean we could cut our military and DHS funding).
How do I suggest doing that? Well we all know I’ve advocated for nuclear power, which would save us a huge amount of money in producing your average kilowatt hour. But there are other things that would be indicative of long term planning that would actually help to lower our use of oil.
At present the only city I have heard of that is putting up any amount of solar paneling on all its government buildings is Seattle. I can’t see them making that cost efficient with Seattle’s aversion to clear skies, but I would assume it would eventually have to break even and then start paying for itself….however, I can’t understand why the entire Southwest, where the sun always shines, hasn’t put solar panels on every state and city building. Here in Phoenix that would have to pay for itself in only a few years. And cutting government spending on electricity is a two-fold bonus, not only does it reduce the cost of everyone’s electric bill (as the demand drops) but it also means they have to fleece us for that much less in taxes.
Or, how about this. We have learned from the debacle that is the Americans with Disabilities Act what you can and cannot do in requiring building standards. Why do I bring up the ADA? Well a lot of business was killed by this act. Contractors used to be able to buy old buildings that were on the verge of falling apart cheaply, then renovate them and turn them around resulting in a good profit, business for the building industry, and new avenues for the housing and commercial markets. The problem with the ADA was that adding all the handicap accessible changes to old building became prohibitive for a building that was just sitting there and making nothing in terms of income. Thus no one had the capital to begin a lot of renovation projects, which meant that competitive pricing in apartments and commercial space disappeared—bad for the economy all around. What we’ve learned from the ADA is that requirements for new buildings work well and good for new building projects but you need to give a grace period for older buildings, giving them time to make the initial improvements that will allow them to start making income and say within five years of the start of the project make all the required changes (if this change were made to the ADA it would open up millions, perhaps billions of dollars in renovation within the next decade; that’s jobs and money and taxable income). (Hmmm, reading that paragraph you would think that government even when it has the best intentions tends to ruin everything it touches…oh wait that is exactly the case).
So before you think that last paragraph was completely off topic, let me propose that states enact laws that any new projects starting in 2014 (that should give them fair warning to build up enough capital) for any commercial buildings or large housing projects need to have solar panels on the all of the buildings (but with the addendum that renovation will have five years to put those in so as not to further kill that segment of the contracting industry). Any housing project needs to also include one wind turbine per, oh let’s say, every 25 homes (The cost of a wind turbine spaced out among 25 buyers shouldn’t be too much). Yeah they’re ugly, but not as ugly as power and telephone poles and we got used to those. Also with them spaced out like that it should cut down on how many birds they kill. Is that going to save a lot of money? Well not enough to go out and buy a new car, but it could save you a couple hundred bucks a year. Also for these large projects and commercial buildings, and this may be just an Arizona problem, but single paned glass needs to be forbidden. Every place I have lived and worked in Arizona has single pane glass, which makes no sense because if we just had double paned glass we could save hundreds (for individuals) perhaps thousands (for companies) in cooling costs (which here is Phoenix is a large portion of everyone’s electric bill).
It’s these little things that show long term thinking that should be implemented if you’re going to discuss environmental laws. Things that will cost a little more upfront but will save massive piles of money in the long run.
(Further if you put in those laws about solar panels and wind turbines then you would probably see a quick boom in the industry as everyone tries to get their building projects done before they have to meet the standards, which would also help revitalize a few sectors.)