January 20, 2021

Where is my America?

Posted on 11. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Education, Politics, Social/Cultural

I do not recognize my own country anymore. I grew up immediately after WWII, the beneficiary of the hundreds of thousands of lost lives sacrificed by the previous generation who died defending my rights. We spoke of these people as selfless patriots who did their duty, full well knowing that they were subordinating their lives to ideals that were greater and more powerful than themselves.

We inherited a few indisputable truths about our country and ourselves:

That we were a people blessed through the sacrifice of our ancestors; That we were equal under the law and free to pursue our life choices without government intervention or control; That our government was in business to serve us, not the other way around; That government service was an honorable calling; That we lived by the rules of Man as long as they didn’t conflict with those that were laid down by our Creator;

That we would defend the clear separation of powers guaranteed by our Constitution; That we enjoyed religious freedom and didn’t have to defend or explain the observance of our religious holidays; That we were allowed to protect ourselves and our private property; That our courts were not handmaidens of a political class and didn’t legislate from the bench;

That we were free to earn a living and not see our taxes rise to the level of government spending but that government spending was keyed to our taxes; That our children would be educated and that that education was administered locally by elected school boards who were not subservient to the Federal government; That our children were raised and disciplined by us, their parents; That our country’s finances would be spent wisely based on a thoughtfully constructed yearly budget;

That our foreign policy reflected our American values; That our foreign aid did not support corrupt foreign governments or organizations; That all life, no matter how young, old or fragile would be protected; That the sanctity of the family was not something to be compromised; That the economic system of our country would not become a political football kicked around by ideologues who would transform it into an unworkable textbook theory of their choosing;

That our elected leaders held themselves to higher standards than the rest of us and were punished when they didn’t; That our military was well-trained, well-equipped, strong and not a laboratory for social engineering; That our government did not determine winners and losers in our private sector by investing our tax dollars in ideologically-driven technologies; That our government did not rescue endangered companies or industries but let them fail or succeed based on their own abilities;

That our lands and businesses could not be expropriated for frivolous purposes under an abusive eminent domain policy; That we were free to establish businesses and hire workers in any state we wished without fear of government reprisal; That our workers were free to organize (or not) into unions; That marriage was a religious compact instituted and ordained by God and recognized by society – not the other way around;

That our privacy would not be invaded by our government; That our borders would be preserved and protected and that those who violated our immigration laws would be prosecuted or deported; That our multi-ethnicity would not be used as an excuse for the de-Americanization of America’s values and the breakdown of the homogeneous nature of American culture.

Many of us today are frustrated, angry and resentful at what our country has become. Our frustration is based on a sense of helplessness that our government has moved us so far from our natural orbit that we cannot be brought back into alignment with the gravitational pull of our Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Our anger is grounded in a deep-rooted belief that our institutions have failed us AND it is directed at the ‘opposition’ that seems determined to take us down a road that is diametrically different from the one our Founding Fathers laid out for us. We’re also angry at ourselves for not keeping the rest of us honest and resentful that the others don’t share our concern.

This intense frustration, anger and resentment is nearing the boiling point, and the only thing that will keep it in check is, ironically, the very system that we feel has failed us. We may be running out of opportunities to redress its deficiencies, and while the ballot box is the traditional means of doing so, I’m not sure that it will be enough for the millions of American citizens who feel abandoned and lost.

- Editor

Roundhouse Roundup Feb. 9, 2012

Posted on 10. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

Bill SB53

From New Mexico Senate Minority Office

Senate Unanimously Passes Anti-corruption on the State Investment Council Bill

SB 53 State Investment Council Membership & Duties

Senator Steve Neville

Senate Passed 35-0

Santa Fe – A bill designed to remove any possible undue political influence that could lead to corruption  on the State Investment Council passed the Senate unanimously today.  SB 53- State Investment Council Membership and Duties passed 35-0 and heads to the House. It is sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chair Steve Neville.

He said, “I believe the state has had more than enough of the scandals and the  headlines about  what the  previous governor allegedly did to steer state investments away from what was good for the state to what was good for himself and his political friends. This bill will help to ensure that New Mexico State Investment Council should be free of such scandals in the future.”

Senator Neville said by making changes to the makeup and duties of the State Investment Council, the public can be better assured that no one political person will have complete power and undue influence and authority over the actions of the State  Investment Council. He said that unchecked power would be extremely dangerous in the event the elected official were to be corrupt.

The bill removes the elected positions of the Governor, Treasurer and Land Commissioner from serving on the council and it makes makes major changes in the way council members are appointed.

The SIC has control over investing two of the state’s major  funds. Currently,  the Land Grant Permanent Fund has  9 ½ billion dollars and the Severance Tax Permanent Fund has  3.2 billion worth of investments. The SIC also manages investments of  the Water Trust Fund and the Tobacco Settlement Fund.

Bill SB293

From New Mexico Senate Minority Office

Improve Teaching by Objectively Measuring Teacher Effectiveness

SB 293 Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness Act – On to Judiciary

Senator Vernon Asbill Sponsor

Santa Fe – A bill designed to improve how well New Mexico students are taught by measuring the effectiveness of their teachers and principals is headed to Senate Judiciary.  If measurements indicate ineffectiveness, teachers will be given assistance to improve their teaching.  If they don’t improve, they could be discharged through due process.

The sponsor of this major segment of education reform in New Mexico is Senator Vernon Asbill, a retired School Superintendent in Carlsbad.

“We want good teachers in the classroom, if they are not good, they need to be removed through due process for the sake of our students,” Senator Asbill said.  “This bill provides a mechanism to measure our teacher’s effectiveness by measuring how well their students are doing on student achievement tests and by other measurements.”

SB 293-Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness Act creates a new teacher/principal evaluation system that bases their effectiveness on how well their students improve.

The bill changes teacher evaluations and principal evaluation so half of the measurement will be based on how well their students improve.

“Now, the evaluation process is very subjective with evaluations based largely on two class visits per school year by the school principal.  This bill will require a more objective measurement based on testing as well as input by parents, students and the principal,” Senator Asbill said.

The students’ improvement will be measured by a test based on state standards A school district can choose to have 50% of the evaluation to be based on the state standards or choose 35% based on state standards and the remaining 15% to be based on locally generated tests.

The second half of the teachers’ and principals’ evaluations would be based on classroom observations, parent surveys and student input.

According to analysis, the Secretary of Department of Education has called our current evaluation system a “broken system” because over 90% of teachers rate satisfactory and our students are not performing well in the classroom.

This is one of two measure bills for education reform this session.

Bill SB197

From New Mexico Senate Minority Office

Another Anti-Corruption Bill Passes Senate Unanimously

SB 197 Felonies for Public Officials

Senator Bill Payne

Passed Senate 39 to 0

Santa Fe—The State Senate unanimously passed a bill to fine corrupt public officials who are guilty of a felony related to their public office.  The bill now heads to the House. Under the bill sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne of Albuquerque, SB 197- Felonies for Public Officials- corrupt officials could receive a fine and lose their benefits like their pensions if they are found guilty of a felony related to their public office.  In addition to a criminal trial, a separate trial would be held to determine the additional penalties to the basic criminal sentence. Those penalties may be increased by an additional fine not to exceed the value of the salary and fringe benefits paid to the offender.

“Corrupt officials should lose their salaries and benefits when using their office for criminal activity,” Senator Payne said. “Public officials who violate the public trust should receive a greater punishment than just the basic sentence. Being fined the amount of their salary and benefits might make these corrupt officials think twice about violating corruption laws.”

Senate Bill 197 is an anti-corruption legislation that adds a new section to the Criminal Sentencing Act.   It imposes an additional fine not to exceed the value of the salary and fringe benefits paid to the offender if the offender holds an elected public office and the conviction relates to the office held. The salary/ benefits calculation starts after the commission of the first act.

Senator Payne has sponsored similar bills for the past several years, but none of them has passed both Senate and House chambers to become law.

Earlier in the session today, Senate Minority Caucus Chair Steve Neville’s SB 53- A bill designed to remove any possible undue political influence that could lead to corruption  on the State Investment Council- unanimously passed the Senate.

Bill SB37

From New Mexico Senate Minority Office

Senate Judiciary Killed Bill to Remove Time Limits to Prosecute Homicides

SB 37 No Time Limit to Prosecute Certain Crimes

Senator Bill Payne

Table in Senate Judiciary Today 6/2

Santa Fe – A bill that would have removed the statute of limitations for certain crimes that take someone’s life was essentially killed in Senate Judiciary today when the committee, on party lines, voted to table the bill. Six Democrats voted to table SB 37 and two Republicans voted not to table it.

Senate Minority Whip Bill Senate Payne sponsored the bill to  eliminate the statute of limitation for any type of  homicide.   Currently, only first degree murder has no statute of limitation, or time limit for prosecuting a first degree murder case.

The bill would have removed the six year statute of limitation for second-degree murder. It would have also removed the time limit for a case to be tried for:  every degree of murder, voluntary and involuntary  manslaughter, assisted suicide and vehicular homicide.

Senator Payne said criminals should not get away with a homicide because the calendar runs out.

“This is bill was not about changing  penalties, it  was about eliminating the time limit in finding evidence to charge someone with a homicide,” Senator Payne said.  “Someone should not get away with taking another’s life if enough evidence to charge a person with homicide is found one day after the current statute of limitations runs out.”

He said because of improved technology, and advances in forensics and DNA testing, reliable evidence can be found many years after a homicide is committed.

Bill SB147

From New Mexico Senate Minority Office

In Emergencies State Needs to Check for Felonies Prior to Placing Children in Home

SB 147 CYFD Emergency Placement Background Checks

Senator Sander Rue On to Senate Floor, Passed  SJC  Today 7/0

Santa Fe–Abused and neglected children needing emergency protection from the state would not be placed in a home with a known convicted felon if Senator Sander Rue’s legislation passes. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 147 unanimously. The bill is on to the Senate floor.

State Senator Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque, Rio Rancho) is sponsoring the bill to  allow the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD)  to conduct a federal criminal history records check with the FBI of all adults residing in a home where a child might be placed by the state when there is an emergency and a child is in need of state protection. It would producer faster criminal checks than CYFD is currently able to attain.

“We want to ensure that when an emergency arises,  the state places  no child in a home that could be potentially volatile if a felon is living in the home,” Senator Rue said. “The state needs to do everything it can to protect these children that are under its care and we need to be able to do it quickly.”

CYFD currently conducts fingerprint-based national criminal records background checks on all foster and adoptive parent applicants, however these checks do not provide immediate results. The bill provides CYFD with more timely access to federal criminal records histories than currently is available.  This information is critical to assessing child safety in the placement.

This bill adds a new section to the Children’s Code permitting the Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) to request from a criminal justice agency a federal name-based criminal history record check of each adult residing in a home where a child will be placed in an emergency due to the absence of the child’s parents or custodians. The bill also contains provisions for fingerprint-based verification by the department of public safety of name-based checks completed.  The bill contains an emergency clause.

According to bill analysis, law enforcement may place a child into the emergency protective custody of CYFD when law enforcement believes that a child is abused or neglected and that there is an immediate threat to the child’s safety.  In such circumstances, the parent is unavailable to provide care and protection to the child, and CYFD is responsible for identifying a safe and appropriate placement for the child. Placement options can include appropriate relatives so as to reduce the trauma to the child and preserve family connections.

The bill also establishes provisions for follow-up on any name-based check with a fingerprint-based check within fifteen calendar days from the date of the name-based check.  The bill provides provisions to remove a child from the home immediately if any adult resident in the home fails to provide fingerprints or written permission to perform a federal criminal history record check when requested to do so.

When placement of a child in a home is denied as result of a name-based check and the resident contests the denial, the bill allows the resident to still submit fingerprints with written permission allowing for the fingerprint based check.

For the purpose of this bill, the term “emergency placement is defined as instances when CYFD is placing a child in the home of private individuals, including neighbors, friends or relatives as a result of sudden unavailability of the child’s primary caretaker.

Bill SB197

Another Anti-Corruption Bill Passes Senate Unanimously

SB 197 Felonies for Public Officials

Senator Bill Payne

Passed Senate 39 to 0

Santa Fe—The State Senate unanimously passed a bill to fine corrupt public officials who are guilty of a felony related to their public office.  The bill now heads to the House. Under the bill sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne of Albuquerque, SB 197- Felonies for Public Officials- corrupt officials could receive a fine and lose their benefits like their pensions if they are found guilty of a felony related to their public office.  In addition to a criminal trial, a separate trial would be held to determine the additional penalties to the basic criminal sentence. Those penalties may be increased by an additional fine not to exceed the value of the salary and fringe benefits paid to the offender.

“Corrupt officials should lose their salaries and benefits when using their office for criminal activity,” Senator Payne said. “Public officials who violate the public trust should receive a greater punishment than just the basic sentence. Being fined the amount of their salary and benefits might make these corrupt officials think twice about violating corruption laws.”

Senate Bill  197 is an anti-corruption legislation that adds a new section to the Criminal Sentencing Act.   It  imposes an additional fine not to exceed the value of the salary and fringe benefits paid to the offender if  the offender holds an elected public office and the conviction relates to the office held. The salary/ benefits calculation starts after the commission of the first act.

Senator Payne has sponsored similar bills for the past several years, but none of them has passed both Senate and House chambers to become law. Earlier in the session today, Senate Minority Caucus Chair Steve Neville’s SB 53- A bill designed to remove any possible undue political influence that could lead to corruption  on the State Investment Council- unanimously passed the Senate.

SB197

From New Mexico Senate Minority Office

Major Anti-Corruption Bill Passes Senate Unanimously

SB 197 Felonies for Public Officials

Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne (R-Albuquerque)

Passed Senate 39 to 0

Santa Fe—A major piece of legislation to fight corruption by penalizing corrupt elected officials passed the Senate unanimously late Thursday afternoon.  With a 39-0 vote,  the  State Senate passed a bill to fine corrupt public officials who are guilty of a felony related to their public office.  The bill now heads to the House.

Under the bill sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne of Albuquerque, SB 197- Felonies for Public Officials- corrupt officials could receive a fine and lose their benefits such as their pensions if they are found guilty of a felony related to their public office.  In  addition to a criminal trial, a separate trial would be held to determine the additional penalties to the basic criminal sentence. Those penalties may be increased by an additional fine not to exceed the value of the salary and fringe benefits paid to the offender.

“Corrupt officials should lose their salaries and benefits when using their office for criminal activity,” Senator Payne said. “Public officials who violate the public trust should receive a greater punishment than just the basic sentence. Being fined the amount of their salary and benefits might make these corrupt officials think twice about violating corruption laws.”

Senate Bill  197 is an anti-corruption legislation that adds a new section to the Criminal Sentencing Act.   It  imposes an additional fine not to exceed the value of the salary and fringe benefits paid to the offender if  the offender holds an elected public office and the conviction relates to the office held. The salary/ benefits calculation starts after the commission of the first act.

Senator Payne has sponsored similar bills for the past several years, but none of them has passed both Senate and House chambers to become law.

Contact for questions on these bills:  505-986-4702

- Editor

 

Breaking News on Drivers License Law

Posted on 08. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

After a lengthy debate, the NM House voted to overturn New Mexico’s controversial law which allows illegal aliens to obtain driving licenses in the state. The vote on HB103 was 45 to 25 (higher than last year). The bill will now go on to the Senate.

- Editor

News from the Front Lines: Roundhouse SB189

Posted on 08. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

Bill Unlocks Nearly $2 Million for Low- Interest Business Loans

Senator Sue Wilson Beffort is Sponsoring Pro-Businesses Bill-SB 189- Development Training to Encourage Economic Development Senate Floor Thursday.

Nearly $2 million in low-interest loans for New Mexico small businesses would be able to be spent on economic development projects if a bill that will be on the Senate floor Thursday passes and becomes law.

The bill sponsored by Senator Sue Wilson Beffort (R- Sandia Park) is needed so the state’s Economic Development Department can access $1.9 million worth of development funds,  currently they do not have the authority to spend it.

“Freeing up these funds should have a big impact as we  try to do all we can to help New Mexico businesses,” Senator Wilson Beffort said. “These funds would be used for community development and for low interest loans for small businesses and for training.  I am hopeful real jobs will result from this money being spent on economic development projects throughout the state.”

SB 189- Development Training is on the Senate calendar for Thursday. It clarifies that the $1.9 million balance in the development fund can be invested in economic development and will not revert at the end of  the fiscal year to the General Fund. “If this bill passes, this pool of money  will be available to be invested in New Mexico business development and no tax increase would be required to have this money flow into our communities,” Senator Wilson Beffort said.

Released to the press from the Legislative Offices on  Wednesday, February 8, 2012.  Contact: 505/986-4702

 

No-pigskin zone?

Posted on 08. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

Yours truly was not one of the 111.3 million people who were glued to their television sets last Sunday. I did not see Madonna perform, nor did I view the Clint Eastwood ‘Morning in Michigan’ ad or have to endure another stylized butchering of the national anthem.

I did, however, watch the first Super Bowl in 1967 when the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs, but I confess I don’t remember anything about it except for a few of the outstanding players and my beloved Vince Lombardi (I even had to log on to the internet to find the score)! I must add here that I played football in high school. I didn’t play it very well, but I played right tackle either because the coach saw a tenacious rough and tumble guy when he looked in my eyes or because all the other positions were already taken.

Either way, I had an orange and black jersey and pants, shoulder pads, helmet and cleats. I felt tougher than Cassius Clay and Seaman Art Thomas on their best days. The glory didn’t last long. After suffering enough bone-crushing I decided to go out for choir (better to tackle sharps and flats than to block for our egotistical quarterback who was always posing for the school newspaper’s sports reporter).

I suppose this brings up the question of the choices we make, like last Sunday when I chose to read an old book I had lying around instead of being mesmerized for 4-6 hours by the ‘box.’ The book was, “The Death of Outrage” by William Bennett, the former Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan, and it was a lament on the state of our country during the Clinton-Lewinsky debacle. Back in 1998 when the book was published, I was living in Singapore, and I remember the restraint the Singaporean press showed to Bill Clinton’s sexual transgressions (American journalists were calling them peccadilloes or small sins, perhaps revealing the changes taking place in the then ‘mainstream media’).

They gave him a pass, perhaps because they knew that philandering was as common as eating noodles for breakfast in their part of the world. For whatever reason, this sordid chapter in the presidency kept us all occupied for weeks and months on end. It was the sequel to Peyton Place and better than the gossip magazine, ‘Hollywood Confidential.’ We couldn’t get enough. The more salacious it became, the more we wanted.

America was hooked…and divided between people with values and people whose values were works in progress.  What does this have to do with the Super Bowl, you ask? Well, it’s all about culture and how we view the things that shape our culture and our world. The first Super Bowl was an exciting event that tapped into the gladiator in Americans and gave them their day in the amphitheater. Instead of throwing bread to the Christians, they chowed down and slurped their way to the final quarter in their Barcaloungers.

Much has happened in American sports and politics since 1967. We’ve had nine presidents since then and 45 Super Bowls. We went from a war in Vietnam to a war in Iraq and Afghanistan and a war on drugs and one on terror. We had hostages in Iran for 444 days and now have a dozen or so Americans going to trial in Egypt. We’ve been on crusades against or for things like: highway beauty, illiteracy, promiscuity, political correctness, Christmas and the latest, obesity.

To the casual alien visiting us from outer space, it probably seems like America is always flexing its muscles, and when it’s not, it’s practicing flexing its muscles…or watching others flex their muscles.

For me, I’ll never regret giving up my shoulder pads for four-part harmony.

- Editor

All those billions, blowing in the wind

Posted on 08. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

On February 1, an urgent alert was sent to supporters of wind energy. It stated: “The PTC is the primary policy tool to promote wind energy development and manufacturing in the United States. While it is set to expire at the end of 2012 … the credit has already effectively expired. Congress has a choice to make: extend the PTC this month and keep the wind industry on track…”

The wind energy industry has reason for concern. America’s appetite for subsidies has waned. Congress is looking for any way it can to make cuts, and the twenty-year old Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy is in prime position for a cut. It naturally expires at the end of 2012. Without action, it will go away.

The payroll tax extension will be a hot topic over the next few weeks as it expires on February 29. Wind energy supporters are pushing to get the PTC extension included in the bill. Whether or not it is included will be largely up to public response.

After all, regarding the PTC’s inclusion in the payroll tax extension bill, the February 1 alert stated: “our federal legislators heard us loud and clear.” In the December payroll tax bill negotiations, the wind energy PTC was placed on a “short list of provisions to be extended through that bill.” Wind supporters are worried—hence the rallying cry.

Due to a deteriorating market, Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial wind turbines, is closing a plant and laying off workers. Everyday citizens, armed with real life information gleaned from the wind energy’s decades-long history, are shocking lobbyists and killing back room deals by successfully blocking the development of industrial wind plants in their communities.

As it becomes widely known that actual wind energy contracts are coming in at three and four times the cost of traditionally generated electricity, and natural gas prices continue to drop due to its newfound abundance, states are looking to abandon the renewable energy mandates pushed through in a different economic time and a different political era.

American Wind Energy Association spokesman Peter Kelley reports: “Industry-wide we are seeing a slowdown in towers and turbines after 2012 that is rippling down the supply chain, and the big issue is lack of certainty around the production credit that gives a favorable low tax rate to renewable energy.” All of this spells trouble for the wind energy industry.

The PTC is part of a push for renewables that began in the Carter era. Enacted in 1992, the twenty-year old wind energy PTC was designed to get the fledgling industry going. However, after all this time, wind energy is still not a viable option. Even the industry’s  own clarion call acknowledges that government intervention is still needed to keep it “on track.” If the training wheels are removed, it will topple.

Wind energy lobbyists have a plan: HR 3307 will extend the PTC for another four years. If the PTC extension passes, it will add an extra $6 billion to the $20 billion in taxpayer dollars the wind industry has already received over the past 20 years. These are monies we borrow (typically from China) to give to Europe—where most of the wind turbine manufacturers are located.

With advertisements featuring blue skies, green grass, and warm and fuzzy images of families (and not one shot of a 500-foot wind turbine looming over their homes), it is easy for the average person to be taken in and think we should continue to underwrite this “new technology”—after all, there is an energy shortage. “What will we do when we run out of oil?”

Wind energy is electricity and electricity doesn’t come from oil. Even if it did, we don’t have an oil shortage. Electricity comes from clean-burning natural gas and coal—both of which we have in abundance and know how to use effectively. They don’t need an expensive supplement masquerading as a replacement.

Wind energy supporters often tout turbines because of the misguided belief that they will get us off fossil fuels—when, in fact, they commit us to a fossil fuel future. Optimistically, a wind turbine will generate electricity 30% of the time—and we cannot predict when that time will be. Highly variable wind conditions may mean the turbine generates electricity in the morning on Monday, in the middle of the night on Tuesday, and not at all on Wednesday.

A true believer might be willing to do without electricity at the times when the wind is not blowing, but the general population will not. Public utilities and electric co-ops cannot—they are required to provide electricity 24/7 and to have a cushion that allows for usage spikes.

So, during that average 30% of the time that the turbine blades are spinning, the natural gas or coal-fueled power plants continue to burn fossil fuels—though possibly slightly less in an extended period of windy weather, and full-steam-ahead the remaining 70% of the time. (Research shows that turning up the heat on power plants, and then turning it back down, and up again actually increases the CO2 emissions.)

Absent a major breakthrough in expensive energy storage, wind can never save enough fossil fuel to make any significant difference.  After twenty years of subsidies, wind energy has not replaced one traditional power plant.

Some argue that many new technologies got their start through government support. This might be a good viewpoint if wind energy were “new.” But after twenty years of subsidies it is little better now than it was in the late 1800s. Windmills produced electricity then, and modern industrial wind turbines generate electricity now.

It is not that they do not work; they do. They just don’t do so effectively, economically, or 24/7—and they still need Uncle Sam (ie, taxpayers and consumers) to prop them up.

Those who favor free markets need to seize upon this opportunity to push for the government to get out of the business of picking winners and losers. Clearly the “green” experiment has failed. Billions have been lost in the effort.

If we truly believe in free markets, why stop at just cutting the subsidies to wind energy? Stop the subsidies to all energy! May the strongest survive! The fact is, such a move is afoot. While HR 3307 aims to stretch out the subsidies for wind energy, HR 3308 will stop subsidies for all energy sources—wind and solar, oil and gas. The playing field will be level; billions will be saved!

A congressman I spoke to fears that, in the current political climate, his colleagues will cave on the wind energy subsidy, as they seem unwilling to take a strong stand on any issue. While wind energy supporters are calling their representatives, free-market advocates and everyone who believes the government-gone-wild spending must stop have to place a call, too.

Call, or e-mail, your Congressman, and as many others as you can take the time for, and tell them to stop subsidizing energy. Tell them:

“Do not include HB 3307 in the payroll tax extension bill. Support HR 3308 which will repeal the PTC and numerous other renewable energy tax incentives, including the investment tax credit, the cellulosic biofuel producer credit, the tax credit for electric and fuel cell vehicles, and tax credits for alternative fuels and infrastructure. Additionally, HR 3308 will also repeal the enhanced oil recovery credit for producing oil and gas from marginal wells.”

Instead of propping up energy policy based on politics rather than sound science, we have to prop up our representatives and give them the backbone to do what is right. Tell them to end energy subsidies!

This article was submitted by Marita Noon, the author of Energy Freedom. Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

No Global Warming Almost Fifteen Years

Posted on 07. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The Albuquerque Journal recently ran an op-ed by Maxwell Boykoff (Feb 1, p. A6), a professor at the University of Colorado, in which he stated in his second paragraph:  “The earth is still getting hotter.”  It is not.

The absence of global warming in the past decade or so was noted as long ago as 2008 by Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  according to Lindzen, there had been “no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.”

More recently, coverage in the Journal of a study headed by Professor Richard Muller, a physicist from the University of California-Berkeley, reported that Muller’s study had found that global temperatures had increased 1.6 degrees over the past two hundred years.

Yet, the Journal failed to tell its readers about the dissent from a senior member of Muller’s own study team, Professor Judith Curry, who heads the Department Of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.  Curry believes the publicity surrounding the Muller study has mischaracterized its results by saying that this study should end skepticism about global warming.

In fact, Curry noted, the Muller study had pointed up a major anomaly for those who may still believe that the earth is warming and that this warming is caused by human use of fossil fuels: there has been no increase in the global temperature since 1998 in spite of the fact that carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is considered the major cause of global warming, has continued to increase.  This calls into question any direct cause-and-effect linkage between carbon dioxide and global warming.  This in turn suggests that the continued use of fossil fuels may not produce the catastrophic results predicted by global warming advocates like Al Gore.

The very day Boykoff’s piece appeared in the Journal, the UK Telegraph published a story which states:  “The planet hasn’t actually warmed for a decade—or even 15 years—according to new temperature data released by Britain’s Met Office.”

The Telegraph article also talks about the work of Henrik Svensmark, who is the director of a research center focused on the impact of the sun on our climate.  Svensmark recently noted that a change in the sun’s activity may well result in a much cooler climate for the next fifty years.

Fittingly, the Telegraph article reported the comments of Harvard University physicist Mike Stopa, who had warned a few days earlier: “It is possible that CO2 has effectively no influence on global climate.”  And if this is turns out to be the case, Stopa wondered, “how will the history of this colossal mistake be written?”

The history of this fiasco should be written as farce, however, it may well be written as tragedy.  If AGW advocates continue their attacks America’s fossil-fuel energy system and Sensmark’s warning about a cooling climate proves true, they would be setting us all up for a “perfect storm” in which we face a cooling global environment with a crippled energy system.

This article was submitted by Don Baucom who is a retired Air Force officer with an undergraduate degree in engineering sciences from the Air Force Academy and a PhD in History of Science from the University of Oklahoma.  After retiring from the Air Force in 1990, he served as historian for the Defense Department’s missile defense program until 2003.  In 1994, his Origins of SDI (University Press of Kansas, 1992) received the Richard K. Leopold Prize from the Organization of American Historians.  He and his wife, painter Margaret Baucom, now live in El Prado, just north of Taos.

 

Volt short circuits: It’s what happens when ideology gets ahead of reality

Posted on 03. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

In a May 2007 speech before the Detroit Economic Club, Candidate Obama chastised American automakers for building the wrong cars—while they were building “bigger, faster cars,” “foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology.”  He stated that “it’s not enough to only build cars that use less oil—we also have to move away from that dirty dwindling fuel altogether.”

He noted that “the transformation of the cars we drive and the fuels we use would be the most ambitious energy project in decades.” He promised “generous tax incentives” and “more tax credits” to make this happen. He believed that the additional costs are “the price we pay as citizens committed to a cause bigger than ourselves.” He claimed to be a leader who could make this happen as he intoned, “Believe me, we can do it if we really try.”

While that speech did not mention the Chevy Volt, or even electric cars, it surely laid out his ideology. For the most part, these are campaign promises he has kept. He has driven Detroit to “move away from that dirty fuel altogether.” He has offered “generous tax incentives” and “more tax credits.” To see “the most ambitious energy project in decades” become a reality his administration has handed out loans to virtually every strata in the electric car’s foundation.

He’s bailed out GM—which allowed government manipulation of the market to produce the Volt in the first place.

He’s given billions of taxpayer dollars to “green” energy companies who promised to deliver the electricity—Solyndra is just the one of the myriad of failures in his “ambitious energy project.”

Beacon Power Company received $39 million of its government-guaranteed loan before it filed for bankruptcy. Beacon Power developed new technology that supposedly provides energy storage designed to help the intermittent solar and wind power be used by power grids, which need stable power to remain reliable.

Just this week, another Obama backed company filed for bankruptcy. EnerDel made lithium-ion batteries for electric cars. It received more than $100 million in government funding from the Obama administration, as part of the economic stimulus package and green energy push.

One year before EnerDel filed for bankruptcy, Vice President Biden visited the plant and crowed: “A year and a half ago, this administration made a judgment. We decided it’s not sufficient to create new jobs—we have to create whole new industries.” The reason for EnerDel’s demise? “The company suffered when demand for the batteries dropped as fewer Americans than expected opted for electric cars.”

Yes, the Obama administration has worked hard to line up the dominos to insure a “transformation of the cars we drive and the fuels we use.” They have provided “generous tax incentives” and “more tax credits.” But to what end?

The dominos have fallen, one right after the other—all the way up to the Chevy Volt and beyond.

Last week GM launched “national and television print ads” to try to bolster the slumping sales for the Volt. (Every time you see an ad for an electric car, think of President Obama and your tax dollars.) Dealer orders are down. They report: “We just haven’t been seeing the interest. The cost definitely has something to do with it.” GM is considering slowing production due to the less-than-expected demand and has temporarily laid-off 1,200 workers.

In 2011, instead of the forecasted 10,000, 7,671 Volts were sold—which comes out to three-hundredths of 1 percent of US carmakers unit sales. Analysts say there has been a “slow initial uptake of the first models to come on the market.” Many of the Volts that were sold were to government.  New York City bought 50. The city of DeLand, FL used part of a $1.2 million federal grant to buy five. Perhaps in effort to save his “ambitious energy project,” President Obama has committed the fed to buying 100+. He’s even pushed his Jobs Council leader, Jeffery Immelt, to buy them. GE will purchase 3000 through the year 2015.

Of course GE is one of the leading suppliers of the charging stations needed to power the Volt—much like those removed by Costco, due to lack of use. After investing a lot of time and money on recharging stations, GE has to do what they can to not let the market slip further away.

But, remember, “we can do it if we really try.” From the first domino to the last, the administration has really tried. The Volt, says the Financial Times, was “fast-tracked through development in a process it likened to a ‘moonshot.’” Adam Jones, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, believes that they are “not yet ready for prime time.”

Addressing the removal of charging stations at Costco, general manager for northern California, Dennis Hoover said: “Why should we have anybody spend money on a program nobody’s thought through?” Calum MacRae of PWC’s Autofacts states that electric vehicles “are flawed in terms of convenience.”

Citing statistics for the Nissin Leaf, Forbes Magazine counts the cost of an electric vehicle (EV): “At $0.11/KWH for electricity and $4.00/gallon for gasoline, you would have to drive the Leaf 164,000 miles to recover its additional purchase cost.  Counting interest, the miles to payback is 197,000 miles.  Because it is almost impossible to drive a Leaf more than 60 miles a day, the payback with interest would take more than nine years.”

But, they state: “The cost is not the biggest problem.” “The biggest drawback is not, range, but refueling time. A few minutes spent at a gas station will give a conventional car 300 to 400 miles of range. In contrast, it takes 20 hours to completely recharge a Nissan Leaf from 110V house current. An extra-cost 240V charger shortens this time to 8 hours. There are expensive 480V chargers that can cut this time to 4 hours, but Nissan cautions that using them very often will shorten the life of the car’s batteries.”

Plus, the cost of electricity keeps going up. According to the Energy Information Administration, residential electricity rates have risen from 11.26 cents per kWh in 2008, to 11.51 cents in 2009, to 11.54 cents in 2010. With the increasing regulation on cost-effective coal-fueled generation, and the proposed plant closures, that trend is likely to get even more dramatic.

No wonder initial “uptake” has been slow. Meanwhile, impressive advances in the technology for the traditional internal combustion engine are being made—with some outperforming hybrids. A gasoline powered Ford Focus costs about half of its electric version sibling. Remove the $7,500 US government tax credit and the EV is even less desirable.

Despite Obama telling Detroit that they are building the wrong cars, Americans don’t want what Obama is selling. Washington has poured billions of dollars in making cars that people have to be paid to buy. Meanwhile, Chrysler is enjoying a resurgence thanks to Jeeps. Chrysler is adding more than a thousand jobs to build gas-guzzling vehicles like the Dodge Durango and Jeep Cherokee.

Mr. President, you are building the wrong car.

But this was before his now-public, election-year conversion experience, as expressed in the State of the Union Address. Now, leaving many in his eco-friendly base “more than a little unhappy,” he’s touting fossil fuels—particularly natural gas (even though Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think natural gas is a fossil fuel).

In the SOTU, the President said: “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.”

Imagine if he’d had this revelation in 2007. While I oppose federal tinkering with the markets, since the Obama administration was hell-bent on spending—a so-called “stimulus,” what might the world would look like today if the $2.4 billion spent subsidizing electric cars and their various components had been spent on infrastructure to support vehicles powered by natural gas?

Instead, industry, like Chesapeake Energy, and investors, like T. Boone Pickens, are using their own money and are building the needed fueling stations to allow for compressed natural gas (CNG) powered trucks to crisscross the nation. Without government pressure, and without having to retool, Honda is adapting the Civic to make a CNG-fueled car with a 250 mile range that can be refueled in the same time as a gasoline-fueled automobile (rather than the hours needed for an EV).

While prices at the pump have doubled since President Obama took office, and electricity rates are “necessarily” skyrocketing, natural gas’ abundance has dropped prices to the lowest in more than a decade.

On its own, the free market is going to create the “transformation of the cars we drive and the fuels we use,” without any help from the White House. Perhaps it is time to stop throwing good money after bad and allow the Volt to go the way of Baker Electrics’ cars—or keep them for the rich who will buy them even without “generous tax incentives.”

Now that President Obama has had his oil-and-gas-conversion experience and angered his green base, maybe he could go ahead and approve the pipeline. Then we’d know his conversion is real and not just an election-year transformation.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon, the author of Energy Freedom. Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

 

 

Selling New Mexico Internationally

Posted on 03. Feb, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, NM, Politics, Social/Cultural

In an earlier article, I wrote about the importance of ‘Internationalizing New Mexico,’ and now I’m pleased to report that we’ve taken the first tentative steps towards telling New Mexico’s story to the outside world and, in effect, selling New Mexico as a truly international destination for foreign direct investment (FDI), foreign students and tourism as well as scientific and cultural exchanges.

International time zone bending

The distance between the international world of commerce and culture has steadily shrunk to a tiny sliver since the advent of the computer and non-stop air travel. This bending of time zones has made the rapid transportation of information, goods and people not only possible, but absolutely necessary as the world has flattened out.

It has also created a ‘just-in-time’ (JIT) mentality and a set of expectations that must be met if communities and companies are to compete, internationally, for investment, contracts, consumers, tourists, students and services.

There are many U.S. states that depend quite heavily on cross-border or foreign trade and have, as a consequence continued investing in their individual states’ infrastructures in order to remain competitive in the race for FDI.

New Mexico is not geographically blessed with some of the ‘basics’ of a true international state. We have no seaports, no significant concentration of single industries or large population centers (save one) and no discernible international attitude. In short, on the surface, New Mexico has no real critical mass to attract many of the world’s top companies, nor does it have an undeniable academic lure for international students. There are two areas, however, where the State does maintain a competitive advantage. One is in tourism and the other is our national laboratory research facilities’ ‘footprint.’

Many would call New Mexico a ‘domestically foreign state’ given its high percentage of ethnic peoples like the Hispanic and Native American communities. These communities are important to the State’s growth because they show a deep-rooted history of peaceful and successful coexistence and interaction – something foreign companies and people in general look for when narrowing their search for re-location sites.

The goals and objectives

During these times of dwindling domestic market share, high unemployment and state and community revenue losses, we must re-balance the scales by choosing a new course that includes a massive effort to: 1. steadily increase the amount of foreign direct investment here; 2. stimulate the growth of international tourism; 3. markedly expand the number of foreign students enrolled in NM universities; 4. put NM on international organizations’ short lists for conferences/gatherings venues; and 5. enhance our international cultural relationships.

The problems and challenges

Nothing comes easy, and the challenges we face are fourfold: 1. a lack of public (and government) awareness of the benefits of having a global/international view, 2. an undersubscribed and underfunded network of international organizations, 3. insufficient overall investment in an international promotional effort, and 4. no centralized international leadership or champions.

Ours is the classic case of too many organizations with frequently overlapping missions (and too few experienced people) chasing the same dollars to fund too many duplicative activities.

One of the solutions

That’s why it may seem strange to solve these problems by adding to our existing inventory of offices or organizations, but that’s what I decided to do by establishing the New Mexico Office of International Cooperation (NMOIC). The office will focus its efforts on solving the four problems mentioned above through a special, organizationally-neutral project called, “IQNewMexico” (‘IQ’ stands for Internationality Quotient™) designed to tell New Mexico’s story abroad to foreign governments, businesses, the scientific and cultural communities and tourism groups.

The NMOIC is different from traditional international organizations that depend on membership dues and activities to stay afloat. It is a totally volunteer enterprise open to anyone who has international contacts that could be used to New Mexico’s advantage; who has worked or studied abroad; who has a compelling international personal story to tell or who is simply ready to roll up his/her sleeves and work to make our state a Land of INTERNATIONAL Enchantment.

Those interested in knowing more about how they can be involved should contact: Stephan Helgesen at honorarygermanconsul@gmail.com or helgesen@2ndopinionmarketing.com or by phone at 505/239-0008. Helgesen is a former U.S. diplomat and former Director of the State of NM Office of Science & Technology. He is now an export consultant and Honorary German Consul in NM.

 

 

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