The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Keystone Pipeline’

DINOSAURS

It’s all their fault – the dinosaurs that is.  Well, they had a pretty good run on the stage of planet Earth as masters of the planet for 165 million years.  But then, whack – a cataclysmic event wiped them out about 65 million years ago.  And that started the whole mess – I mean the energy mess.

There’s poor Nemo, your typical male T Rex out one day looking for lunch, a meteor hits the planet and the rest, including Nemo, is history.  Little did Nemo expect when he woke up that morning that one day his transformed remains were going to end up being pumped into somebody’s Hummer so that mom could take the kids to soccer practice in a place called America.

Fortunately for the dinosaurs they had not developed the telescope so their demise was unexpected and probably nearly instantaneous for most of them.  But had they known that the meteor was hurtling on a collision course to Earth they would have had no more ability to alter its path than we are.  They were the victims of true climate change.

Before the first oil well was purposely drilled in Titusville, PA in 1859, oil and natural gas seeped naturally from the ground in various places in the country.  In many cases mining for salt opened veins into these deposits and they were considered more of a nuisance than anything useful.  Then mankind learned how to make kerosene which began to be used for lighting.  In time kerosene became the fuel of choice, replacing whale oil which was formerly used to illuminate our homes.

In 1859 in a virtually pristine America, consider the conundrum of an environmentalist with imagination who foresees the invention of the horseless carriage and how oil will become a potential threat to our planet because its use releases greenhouse gas.  On the other hand, by using it we are doing the right thing in saving the largest mammals on earth, our whales, from hunting and possible extinction.

As we know, there was no environmental agenda 165 ears ago nor was there a need for one.  But things have changed, and while I do not necessarily agree with the hyperbolic rhetoric that those who forecast our imminent doom use, it is hard to deny that our cities with their dense populations contain worse air than our heartland’s wheat fields and that mankind has an impact on the world.  But we do it one person at a time.

The other day I was engaged on this subject by a fellow dog owner at the park.  Both of us were originally from NYC yet despite that, we have diametrically different views of the world.  He introduced the statement that “Ninety-five percent of all scientists believe that mankind is responsible for climate change.”  The following day he brought me a printout that substantiated his position.  I appreciated his follow up.  To me it demonstrated his passion for the subject and his belief in his position.

Now as a rational person it is clear to me that each of us has an impact on the world or, if you prefer the term, the environment.  For example, a person who murders another person has inalterably changed the world.  The victim was about to get married and might have had several children.  Those children will never be born as a result of the murder.  What if one of those children had turned out to be a brilliant inventor who found an efficient, inexpensive way to produce universal renewable energy?  Or what if that child was left as an unborn embryo on the cutting room of an abortion clinic?

The day following our initial conversation I again engaged this chap on the subject.  I asked him whether he had walked to the park.  He replied that he had driven.  I mentioned that I also had driven there,  the three miles one way.  So I pointed out to him that we both obviously put our two dogs’ need to socialize with others of their kind above our concern for the carbon emissions we were going to cause by using our vehicles.  By extension, anyone who uses electricity to light his home or gas to heat it has made a personal decision that his personal comfort is more important than the environment.  I have yet to hear of an environmentalist who operates his laptop by utilizing candle power.

After years of “study,” the news is finally in that the Keystone XL Pipeline does not pose any grave threats to the environment.  Whether this project goes forward or not is now up to President Obama.  He is finally expected to approve it some time this summer – about five years late.

During the course of this hiatus there have been eleven incidents in which oil was being transported by freight trains that derailed.  Some of the contents of the oil cars spilled – sometimes in fiery explosions.  Mankind will never invent perfect solutions to our challenges until we ourselves become perfect.  That may be awhile.

In writing this post I realized how great mankind’s indebtedness is to our dinosaur predecessors, as unanticipated by them as it was.  I would raise a glass in a toast to them, but there’s no hooch in the house.  So I’ll just add this to my blog and in commemoration of their sacrifice turn the heat up a little.  It’s a bit chilly in the house.

WATCHING OUR WASTELINE

If you run a small business, one of your most important concerns is how to provide your clients with quality services and products and, at the same time, maximize your businesses’ profits.  By profits, I mean what you wind up taking home for yourself and your family – after the government gets its mandatory cut.

To many, the term profit is a dirty word.  They portray the typical businessman as a middle aged, jowly white man wearing a napkin tucked under his chin as he prepares to feast on the livers of the workers whom he employs.  Their mindset is that the way your typical businessman improves his profits is by taking unfair advantage of his employees.  Obviously, he is not one of the touchy-feely “good guys” which is how they perceive themselves

Perhaps there are people who operate their businesses that way – but not for long.  A free market gives everyone choices – and that includes those who work for businesses, small and large.  In a healthy financial environment, the intelligent employee will seek out the best employment opportunity and eagerly exit that sort of environment.

The problem with the ghoulish picture of the profit-driven business owner which is in vogue is that those who have captured this image have little or no experience with the way a successful business actually works.  While ignorance of the law is no excuse if we infract one, apparently that same principle does not apply when it comes to describing business.

Let’s return to the underlying premise of the left that making a profit is something that is inherently bad.  Their theory is that it is government that should be the distributor of all that is good and holy and wisely metes out to its citizens that amount of goods and services which is in their best interest.  But where does government get the funds to accomplish this noble mission?  In large measure, it comes from the profits of businesses which it taxes.  No profits, no taxes.

Then consider the company that consistently loses money.  Let’s pretend it happens to be the bank where you have your accounts.  Ultimately, one day you show up at the ATM and find that your funds are frozen while the FDIC figures out which profitable bank it can cajole into taking over from those who mis-managed this institution.

There is no business that can sustain or would tolerate a management team that loses money year after year.  That is to say, there is no privately owned business that would or could do that.  But there is one business that does not perceive itself as needing to follow the rules of profit and loss.  That business is government.

The recent partial shutdown of some government departments sheds some interesting insight into how government “works.”  While much of the media attention is focused on the closing of our National Parks and the disruption to the lives of tourists who planned trips there, less attention has been paid to the fact that this is not the first time such a shutdown has occurred and plans had previously been made to identify “essential personnel” to keep government functioning on a limited basis.  One of those departments is the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA has the responsibility of protecting us from environmental damage – most of which, it believes, is induced by mankind.

It is the EPA which has had significant input in blocking the Keystone Pipeline, which would create thousands of jobs and help to make America completely energy independent of the countries from which we import oil and which are hostile to us.

It is the EPA which has created regulations which effectively will kill the coal industry, eliminating thousands of jobs and raising the cost to consumers whose energy needs are provided by burning coal.

It is the EPA which has identified the number of its staff who are “essential.”  By their own statement, of the approximately 20,000 EPA employees, only 7% of them are “essential.”  But the agency has stated that in order to “effectively enforce” all the regulations that it has created, it needs to hire an additional 230,000 people to get the job done – at a cost of $21 Billion per year.

Maybe there is something positive that will come out of the partial government shutdown.  Perhaps it will force us to look at the way we spend money on supernumerary people and programs.  Perhaps we will pull our belts one notch tighter and constrict our wasteline just a little bit.  But I have to tell you, I really doubt it.

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