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Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Silence From the Right is Deafening

Stock Market Rocket

Our stock market had four straight days of record breaking highs and then to top it off; the jobs' report came in Friday showing that our economy added 236,000 last month. The joy from the right was invisible. The lone exception was Jack Welch saying that the president’s regulations are putting a stranglehold on corporate profits. Jack probably doesn’t believe the jobs numbers because somehow President Obama is manipulating them. I’m cautiously optimistic because the stock market was at a high mark just prior to the 2008 financial crisis and besides, Wall Street is borrowing money at such a low interest rate that it would be fiscal malpractice if they weren’t achieving their goals. It’s sad at what could’ve been because the job numbers will surely drop with the sequester cuts.

Mr. Greg Zowarka wrote a blog about the sequester cuts titled “Is the sky really falling?” The short answer to that is no, but it’s nowhere as simple as his mathematical point. His numbers are off because our fiscal budget ends in October, so now we’re making all those cuts and cramming them into seven months, and they weren’t evenly applied across the board. I will concede that the administration hyped up the cuts to make a political point, and that’s wrong. Eliminating waste from the Federal budget should be a daily occurrence but the sequester is the wrong approach because it represents austerity, which will only delay our recovery. You see Mr. Zowarka the answer is one grand bargain using a balanced approach and not the continuing crisis to crisis road we are taking. Right now we need consumers and yes that includes public workers,so laying off people won't help our jobless recovery.

The austerity mindset is prominent at the community level, and it reared its ugly head the other day when a couple of local city council members wanted to turn down a grant to send Washington a message. Another poster said it’s the reason Washington had out of control debt problems. Our country’s debt problem is due to the recession, and federal grants have never been the problem. I don’t know that much about solar energy and that project may not be a good expenditure right now but having a closed mind about accepting federal grants because of ideology is not what our city needs. To pull up a budget from four years ago and saying that servicing the debt has tripled since that time is meant to scare off future expenditures. For example, our own personal mortgage (“which could be viewed as excessive but manageable”) outlays for interest are initially higher, and they gradually go down. I have to agree with Councilman Polasek, the $35 million spent for the Sam Houston and Laurent projects, at today’s cost of material and low interest rates will probably be worthwhile.

Federal grants are an investment in our future, and they don’t have 100% reliability but as I always say, “we should never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” At the local level I think it’s getting a discount for something that we can’t always measure. We’ll always have amateur number crunchers, but it’s a good thing President Eisenhower didn’t listen to them when he built our Federal highway system because we were in a recession when he did that. That project started in 1956 and was supposed to last for 13 years, but it ended in 1991.


Edith Ann said...

I find it very interesting that the local newspaper is critical of the council not unanimously voting for accepting the grant for the solar stuff.

IF the folks who actually wrote the editorial had ACTUALLY listened to the discussion and heard what those of us who were there heard, I think they would have thought differently.

First--the grant was for installing some solar stuff at 700 Main Center to use as 'educational' devices for the community--to get the community on board with solar energy. The problem with the offered stuff was that it would barely make a dent in the power needed in that building.

Now, with that said, the strongest arguments to take the money were from Polasek: "I've always had an interest in solar power, so I'd like to see it happen." From Halepaska: "It's like money laying on the ground. If we don't pick it up, someone else will." I'm sure Halepaska's comment sent some of our locals into apoplexy with the 'free money' bit.

The city's part would have really been $55,500,00, and while that is small potatoes compared to other city spending on lesser things, it is money that could be spent on worthier projects.

Even the guy from the energy company was very lukewarm in his presentation.

This time, the council got it right.

Mike said...

As I was watching Meet the Press I noticed that David Gregory allowed Joe Scarborough to take over the show again by not having some on that can match him talking point by talking point…Today, the subject was about the president finally reaching out to republicans…I know it’s been 4 years but as the president was dancing at his inaugural, GOP leadership were in the next room plotting against him. Not one person mentioned that the president reached out several times but the GOP refused his invitation. ..Chris Wallace was lapping it up as Paul Ryan was saying that the president needs to stop berating them ,yet he was one of the leaders who were in the room plotting against the president.

It was a different on ABC where Paul Krugman told Senator Ron Johnson that his so-called facts were flat out false.

Paul Ryan released his budget on Fox News Sunday. He said it would balance the budget in ten years without any defense cuts or any new revenue..The tax revenues that were agreed in January will be the final tax increases for ten years. Here is the shocker: After 33 failed attempts to repeal Obamacare,it becomes part of his plan. Here is the rest of his plan:
1. Cuts Medicaid by $770 billion
2. Cuts Food Stamps $134 billion
3. Cuts training,education,and other social programs $166 billion
4. Remember when Ryan & Romney told the people that Obama was cutting Medicare by $712?
He cuts it by $750 billion and lowers the age of exemption to 54…voucher program.

He wants to block grant Medicaid to the states and we all know how GOP governors care about poor people’s health…they’ll use that money to balance their budget, lower taxes to make them look good.
The man can lie with a straight face on a Sunday after church because he says he has bipartisan support.

Count the votes after Boehner allows the Ryan bill that voters rejected in 2012 go to the floor. Not one democrat will vote for it and he will far short of the votes needed to override a presidential veto.

Mike said...

I missed my newspaper this morning but I stopped calling after two times and completely forgot about it…I just visited the on line forum to my delight it seems like the editorial board coincidentally felt the same way I did about mixing local politics to the ones in Washington.

We just found out that the globe is a lot hotter than it’s been for the last 4000 years. The conservatives are now starting to agree but they will say that we can’t do anything about it. I don’t know a lot about solar but I do know it’s getting cheaper (by 80% in California) but it still needs subsidies. Whoever gets on the ground floor will reap the most rewards…DuPont used to have students come out to see their wet lands in order to promote a respect for the environment and it didn’t hurt their reputation…It’s not always what’s on the spreadsheets.

The way I read the story, the two city councilmen wanted the project as an educational tool and not necessarily recoup its investment in X amount of years. I can accept the “no, not at this time” but as the editorial board stated, the grandstanding was not necessary because in the future it might be feasible to think about accepting grants. For one, all our money goes to Washington, so getting some back is not adding to the federal budget because our government already allots some money for alternative energy projects. I guess if we are really interested, we could check on the cities that took the grants in about ten years and see how they did.

Like I said, I ‘m not arguing the decision, that’s what we elected them for but I do like the second part of the editorial board thoughts where they said” lead by example in encouraging others in our community to learn about renewable energy sources….yea,I know I have a renewable energy bias…;-)

Edith Ann said...

I am hear to tell you that, as a person who was actually AT the meeting, there was no grandstanding. There were a couple of comments toosed out, but there was no time wasted on what Washington was doing.

How educational is it to the general public to have solar panels installed at 700 Main Center? What are we supposed to do? Wait for a quarterly or annual report as to how much money was saved? If I recall they are talking about only enough 'equipment' to power a small portion of the building. How effective is that to guage anything?

Just because it is a grant and just because it carries the tag 'educaional' does not necessarily make it a good thing.

You are partly right when you say two councilmen wanted it as an educational tool--Paul Polasek straight up said this topic was of interest to HIM, so he was going to vote for it. Tom Halepaska never mentioned education-he only mentioned the 'free money on the ground' angle.

The man from the solar power place should retool his presentation and the city should select a building that could be accuarately tested as to the cost efficiency and energy efficiency. Green energy is a great thing, but this hastily thrown together proposal is not the ticket at this time.

The man from the solar comapny and the city's guy, James Foote, both acknowledged that the proposal brought to city council was rather quickly assembled because they had less than a month to do it.

Edith Ann said...

Congrats on 80K!

Mike said...

You, being at the meeting does not give you any more expertise in what was written in our newspaper than any curious reader because context was not an issue. What determines grandstanding can be subjective. I read those words “send Washington a lesson” so the amount of time that was devoted to those words is immaterial, from my standpoint.

I don't want to devote all lot of my time to this project since it’s already been voted in the negative and I’m willing to move on. According to the newspaper, James Foote said that he didn’t expect that much push back, so that may be why the presentation was lacking. I’ll say this for the third time, it’s a done deal, I accept the results and I’m ready to move on.

While it’s true I was not at the meeting but that’s doesn’t mean that I’m not interested on what our representatives say about renewable energy, grants and future endeavors. From Melissa Crowe’s column on March 4, 2013 Tom Halapaska said “ "If we only have to pay nickels on the dollar," it probably would be economically and environmentally feasible, Halepaska said. "But we pay state, federal and city taxes. ... If we have to stand flat-footed and pay for it, it probably wouldn't make sense."… Councilwoman Josephine Soliz said generating solar power is a good idea.

A small project like the one in question probably won’t generate a lot of savings but I don’t think profit motive should the major incentive in a experimental project. Like the article I submitted stated, it’s a learning tool for those interested in alternative energy. The bottom line, I don’t want our city to be in the same place it was 40 years ago like our surrounding cities.

Again, For the fourth time being closed minded to new ideas, federal grants, and a mindset of “no” to every expenditure is not conductive to good governing.IMO

…I may be way off base and totally wrong but I’m sure there will be votes coming up for future grants in our future. If someone thinks they are sending a message to Washington, as their basis for voting against future grants; then that person has an ideological bent.

Mike said...

Hey Dale
I know you were being facetious when you posted “Say Vicad, I need a new hybrid truck. Buy me one. The cost of that vehicle will not even be felt by budget. And I will sure feel good helping the environment” in your reply to the editorial.

As the editorial stated, the funds have already been allocated, so it’s not as if our city can answer your question “ when is enough, enough? However, that’s not the reason I singled out your reply.

The Federal government has a motive for reducing the carbon footprint every chance it gets. In 2007, your request was not that far off because the $3400 tax credit I received for buying a hybrid Toyota was a win -win. The Toyota was about $5000 more expensive than a conventional American car. I haven’t calculated the savings (in money or carbon footprint), but I don’t have the worries every time gasoline prices go up. I've never been waiting in a long line at the gas pumps because I can drive less than 35 miles an hour and not use gasoline…I wonder if you would be against converting the city fleet to natural gas because it’s cheaper and burns cleaner, because it might take a few years to recoup the initial outlay….Do you ever factor any variables besides $$$$$..?

The bottom line if the city cannot afford the $31,000 to $55,000 outlay and future calls for maintenance and daily upkeep, then they shouldn’t partake in this speculative venture. You, and others have stated your position, and the council has voted, so it’s on to the next agenda…

Edith Ann said...

If we are going to call a couple of mentions about Washington 'grandstanding'...well whatever. It's a matter of symantics and as the local paper is often prone to do--they overkill with words. Sells papers, I suppose.

In the context of this particular grant only--it was hastily produced, presented with no enthusiam and would have done nothing to educate the public.

The city accepts grants from time to time. It is just that THIS grant was just not a good fit. That is all. It is not about green energy, solar energy, what Washington is doing, who voted which way (two of the big spenders voted no, for the record) or future consideration of other grants for whatever widget is new and improved. It was this grant did not have much of any benefit for the city or the citizens and those who were thinking before they voted saw that.

Should we just accept grants (and match those funds sometimes) just because it is offered?

Mike said...

I don’t have a vendetta against the City Council members or the Victoria Advocate, but I do think words matter because it goes to a mindset. If the council members don’t want to be quoted verbatim, they should choose their words wisely. It’s the job of a newspaper to report, and sometimes it may not be to our liking. If the council member thinks, he was misquoted, he should say so.

To you, it wasn’t about green energy or solar energy or Washington but to others it is and was.

I think you’re trying to control the agenda by trying to misconstrue my thoughts with innuendos because I continue to say that like anything else, grants are not for everyone, but they’re not the bogeyman as some have stated. I forget who stated it in our newspaper, but the answer is YES, we should consider (not yes or no) every grant because it’s discounted money, but sometimes it’s not going to be feasible as the council has said. For the fifth time, I accept their decision

Edith Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

You certainly don’t need to apologize to anyone for your thoughts and opinions; your credibility is still outstanding.

You’re right. I was left with an impression (true or not) because I’ve seen plenty of it in town hall's meetings across the nation…as I’ve stated numerous times, “leave the grandstanding at home and don’t try to mimic the Washington politicians.” As a poster stated the other day, “we elected you to deal with city problems.”

We were always on the same page, but you kept putting me on the defensive. I could never defend or argue with the council’s decision without having the data in front of me. That would be a fool’s errand, and I would be arguing for argument's sake.

For the record, if I were a betting man, I would bet that any green initiative that ever came up on a ballot it would be voted down in our conservative city. Those same initiatives would be voted on unanimously in Austin or Corpus Christi. Of course, Austin has the University of Texas where small projects lead to more successful ones but occasionally some will fail…. That’s why I emphasized the word “mindset.” To me, that’s what the editorial was implying “don’t be afraid to stick your toe in the water.”

Mike said...

Denise Scoot has just made my point when she posted “Dale, Bravo. You get it. Council members Alvarez and Hagan have taken an opportunity that, apparently, the Vic Ad Board and at least two council members missed. That is, an opportunity to lead by example. This is an opportunity to shout to the entire country a small, but significant, stand on skewed government priorities. President Obama has been chastised, criticized, and ostracized for promoting alternative energy sources.

A skewed government priority is her opinion… President Obama has been chastised, criticized, and ostracized for promoting alternative energy sources by the climate change denying critics of the right wing.

It’s people like her who can’t separate a local spending decision from a national one. Our local decision will not put a dent in our national initiative to lower greenhouse gas emissions. All it means is that some other city will have access to those funds.

A Feb 2013 Pew Research Center/USA Today poll:

Overall, 54%% of Americans think our most important energy priority should be developing alternative sources such as, wind, solar and hydrogen 33% of Rep. And 64% of Dems

Only 34% think we need to expand exploration and production of oil, coal, and natural gas.
54% of Rep. thinks we need to and only 28% of Dems think we do.

On setting sticker emission limits: Overall 64% favor that while only 42% of Rep. do and 64% of Dems do.

Edith Ann said...

This went south when I chose to focus on the word 'grandstanding' along with the fact that the two concilmen who voted for accepting the grant had weak (IMO) arguments.

I need to remember that if I have a hard time diciphering my nonsense, others may, too. I am sorry for the confusion!

Moving right along, I'm done now. WE're all done!

Mike said...

It's time to decipher the letter from W.E. "Casey" Crowder, of Port Lavaca as he tries to convience that the swords of 3000 years ago were the AR15s of today. ...I guess the chariots were the Corvette but what's the purpose?

There's no need to justify gun ownership because gun confiscation is only being discussed by one side. Stating the obvious is a waste of time unless you think your opponent is not well versed on the topic and you have to come down to their level...I believe that we have evolved and we are much more civilized,although it doesn't always seem that way....I imigine in the 1800s,80 % of the households had a gun but today it's down to 34%. ....I'm sorry but the bible is not a good justification to not have universal background checks,own a AR15 or an extented clip that holds more than 10 rounds...It is entertaining following that Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon logic.

Edith Ann said...

Well, all Crowder did was take his comment from a previous letter and turn it into a leet. Got to gove him credit for cleverness.

My son has a friend who works in supply on a military base and the friend was complaining that there is a stockpile of AR-15's in his supply area, but he is having difficulty getting one on the open market for his personal use. And he also told my son that ammo was in short supply becasue the government was snatching it all up!

Did you see story about Gregory Rodriguez, the host of the Sportsman Channel show “A Rifleman’s Journal"? He was shot and killed. As I asked on Facebook, is it just my imagination, or are there more gun related murders of 'good guys with guns' now that we are talking about gun safety? Is the irony of the whole discussion going to be that sharpshooters and marksmen are going to die and early, tragic death by gunshot? Or since only He knows the number of our days, is God trying get some folks' attention?

Mike said...

I agree Crowder did copy a lot of his comments from a previous letter but I’ve also noticed that those references to that therory are all over the internet.

I thought the AR15 was basically a civilian weapon now but if ammo is short then it’s probably being bought up by the same people but our government has a lot more to do than buy ammunition because of a potential revolt…They have their hands full around the world with real threats.

I saw the Rodriquez story on Juanita’s (where I get all my interesting tidbits) and thought it was ironic.

Well I’ll be out of the loop for about three hours this morning dealing with a routine doctor’s visit but I’ll work on material for a new blog.