November 14, 2019

New Law- New Long-term Insurance Program

Posted on 17. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Healthcare, NM, Politics

New Law- New Long-term Insurance Program Would Allow New Mexicans to Keep More of their Assets While Qualifying for Medicaid- takes effect June 14, 2013

The law:

  • Gives New Mexicans more choice to do with their own money
  • Incentive allows estate to retain value of policy that could be passed to heirs
  • Saves Medicaid program when people are on private insurance.

(Santa Fe)  It is now law. A person does not necessarily have to be destitute in order for  Medicaid to pay  their nursing home expenses.

Freshman Senator Lee S. Cotter (R-Las Cruces) sponsored SB 196- Long Term Care Insurance Partnership and it has been signed into law.

It allows New Mexicans with private nursing home insurance to be able to exempt the amount of their insurance benefit from the amount of assets they can retain in order to qualify for Medicaid. They could still qualify for Medicaid if their assets total only $2,000. The amount of the insurance benefit would be separated out and would not be taken into consideration for qualifying purposes.

“New Mexicans who have invested in long-term care insurance will have more choices in how to spend their own money.  They will not have to spend their assets, including their insurance benefit, down to that last $2,000 in order to qualify for Medicaid if they need to go into a nursing home,” Senator Cotter said. “

They can keep amount of their insurance benefit and use it how they like.  They can use it to improve their lives while in a nursing home or they can leave their assets to their heirs.  The value of the insurance benefit is theirs to spend it as they see fit.”

Senator Cotter said the new law, which will go into effect June 14, 2013, will also help save the federal Medicaid program dollars. He said New Mexicans will appreciate the incentive of purchasing their own private insurance and might not ever go on the federal program. Others would have to be on the federal program, until their private insurance is exhausted.

Senator Cotter said the long-term insurance incentive program has been passed by 42 other states. Senator Cotter reiterated, “The program allows New Mexicans to have a choice. It gives them an incentive to save assets and provide for their long term health care instead of forcing New Mexicans to reduce their assets to $2,000 before they can apply for Medicaid.”

He said it modifies Medicaid eligibility rules by requiring that, individuals’ assets counted when considering Medicaid eligibility, exclude the amount of qualified long-term care insurance. The lower the “counted assets” the higher the chance the person will qualify for Medicaid.

SB 196 requires that the Human Services Dept. (HSD) modify the state Medicaid Plan and create a long-term health insurance partnership program in consultation with the Superintendent of Insurance to give incentives for individuals to obtain long term care insurance.

This was submitted by the New Mexico Senate Republican Office. For more information, contact: Diane Kinderwater at diane.kinderwater@nmlegis.gov

The middle class breadline?

Posted on 17. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

I had a feeling of déjà vu the other day as I pushed my shopping cart through the cavernous maze of Costco. Every time I enter this pantheon of discount bulk foods I’m drawn back in time to countries I lived in like the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago which lies 25 miles off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea.

Shopping in the islands was an experience. There were no Safeway’s, Albertsons or Piggly Wiggly’s. Small grocery stores and specialty markets with high prices were the rule. If we wanted more variety and a sashay down aisles wide as the interstate we had to fly to Miami. Munich, Germany was much the same way, and while the stores were bigger the aisles were smaller. Go figure it.

I suspect that the experience of American supermarket shopping with its piped in music and spacious surroundings never translated well to the Europeans who had limited time to shop after work, used public transportation to and from the market AND had a tradition of buying fresh food every day.

Plus, there were the outdoor markets offering every imaginable food choice from produce to meats to freshly baked bread. In Munich, there was the ‘Viktuelienmarkt’ (from the Latin word, victualia meaning provisions) which was located just a few blocks from the physical center of town easily accessible by the tram and not far from an underground station.

Back to Costco. I have a few pet peeves about this wondrous concept, the biggest is I never know with absolute certainty where anything IS except for the frozen food lockers, the produce section and the meat counter and maybe the OTC medicines, the electronic/computer products and the Eyeglass and Photofinishing counters as well as the wine racks. OK, maybe there are not THAT many things that are moved around like peas in a shell game, but it seems that way every time I can’t find a canned good or paper product.

Costco could take a lesson from Sam’s Club, their venerable competitor just down the street. Sam’s puts up the names of categories on signs high above the aisles so people can navigate without fear of taking a wrong turn and ending up in Zanzibar without a sextant. I’m a member of both not because of the different product assortments or the lower prices on cat food (Sam’s is best) but because I can get a free lunch in two places any time I want!

Actually that’s not true, but I suspect it might be for some people. This week I did some undercover research. I pretended to shop at both Costco and Sam’s but really observed the eating habits of my fellow shoppers. Both stores offer what I call the middle class breadline.

This takes the form of portable food sample carts with steam tables or tabletop skillets that cook exotic items and slingshot the aromas with an irresistible ‘come taste me’ invitation into every nook and cranny of the store. Beware the shopper who just came in to pick up his vacation photos or have his eyeglass rims tightened, he will be tempted.

Costco and Sam’s are the modern day equivalent of Shéhérazade who mesmerized the Persian King with stories that lasted 1001 nights. The difference is they do it at lunchtime with food, and so well that it’s not unusual to see a whole family huddled around a three bean green chili salad or mini-pizza cart like baby sparrows in a nest waiting for the next morsel from mama bird.

I know the stores do this to sell more food, but some of my friends are suspicious. They think this might be a secret Obama Administration plot to reduce the number of food stamp recipients and help out the working poor by keeping them off the Government’s poverty statistics. All I know is that these people are always blocking the aisles making it much more difficult for me to get lost. Enough already!

- Editor

Thirty-five New Mexico writers to converge on Moriarty

Posted on 17. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

Mystery! Suspense! Action! History! Drama! Fiction! Non-fiction! On Saturday, April 20th, 35 home-grown writers from New Mexico will be on hand at the Moriarty Civic Center at 202 Broadway from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm to meet the public, sign books and speak about the ‘mystery and magic’ of writing.

This is the seventh such event, and ‘Authors for Literacy,’ is generally very well-attended and is supported by the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy and the United Way of Central New Mexico.

In addition to being able to meet local published authors, there will be two discussion panels: the first starts at 11:00am and includes authors who will discuss the writing process and at 1:00pm a panel on reader expectations.

For more information, please contact: Tina Cates-Ortega at the Moriarty Public Library. Her telephone number is: 505/832-2513

 

Margaret Thatcher: global warming provides a marvelous excuse

Posted on 17. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

In honor of Margaret Thatcher’s memory, favorite quotes from the Iron Lady have popped up everywhere. This one came across my Facebook newsfeed: “Global warming ‘provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.’”

The hundreds of comments the quote received covered a variety of sentiments from hostility to adoration. A couple accused Thatcher of launching the entire global warming hoax to end a coal-miners’ strike. Another cited an earlier Thatcher quote: “The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations. Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world’s environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community.

No one should under-estimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order. It’s because we know that, that we are here today. But the need for more research should not be an excuse for delaying much needed action now.” CFACT, the poster of the comment, responded: “Thatcher evolved. Millions have joined her.”

I do not know if Thatcher started the whole hoax. I do not know the facts behind her “evolution” on the topic. What I do know is the damaging impacts climate change mitigation attempts have had on the economy—a viewpoint the American government still clings to while the Brits (as evidenced by Thatcher’s comments) have “evolved.”

Perhaps, Thatcher did perpetuate the idea that CO2 emissions were warming the planet, but the theory was readily embraced in Europe. Natural-resource rich, the US has historically had lower energy costs than our European allies—which gave us a competitive advantage. Pushing the global warming narrative—which promotes wind and solar power as a curative—attempted to level the playing field by moving all of us to higher-priced energy.

Regarding the 2011 UN climate change talks in Durban, the Financial Times said the European Union (EU) “is pushing hardest among developed countries for a new global deal” and is “the greenest voice among wealthy countries at the talks.” In a column I wrote in December 2011, I posit that the EU supported the climate change narrative specifically to raise energy prices in the US.

Richard Courtney, a consultant on matters concerning energy and the environment who has served as an expert peer reviewer for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, calls the global warming issue “political.” He says: “Each government has its own special interests in global warming but, in all cases, the motives relate to economic policies.

In general, the USA fears loss of economic power to other nations while this is desired by those other nations. Universal adoption of ‘carbon taxes,’ or other universal proportionate reductions in industrial activity, would provide relative benefit to the other nations.”

Whatever the motive, the EU has led the way on renewable energy—especially wind and solar. Germany, home of the Energiewende (energy transformation) has garnered a reputation as the country to follow when it comes to green energy. Having passed the Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz (renewable energy law) in 1991, Germany has poured huge subsidies into wind and solar power.

Twenty-two percent of Germany’s power is now generated with renewables (“solar provides close to a quarter of that”)—which are “guaranteed more-than competitive rates”—despite the fact that “producing electricity from sunlight costs 10 times more than generating power using coal or nuclear energy.” Power companies are passing the costs on to consumers in the form of higher rates.

I frequently hear Germany’s record being held up as a shining example. After all, if Germany can get nearly a quarter of its electricity from renewables, why can’t the US do the same? I’ve had listeners of a radio show where I am a guest call in and tout Germany’s record. If one doesn’t know the whole story, it does sound admirable. I ask: “Have you been following Germany recently?” Silence.

Post-Fukushima, Germany announced the closure of eight of its 17 nuclear power plants, with the remaining 9 to be closed within the next decade. To replace the 17 power plants, it was announced that Germany would build or revamp 84 power plants—more than half would be fossil-fuel-powered, including 17 coal-fueled. This winter, it was reported that energy costs in Germany were so high that its residents were literally cutting down trees in city parks and stripping the forests in order to heat their homes.

The tree thefts are just one of the bizarre consequences of the EU’s adoption of the climate change narrative. One of the newest revelations, reported by The Economist, is: “By far the largest so-called renewable fuel used in Europe is wood”—which it calls “the fuel of the future.”

The Economist reports that nearly half of Europe’s renewable energy comes from “biomass,” while in some countries—like Poland and Finland—“wood meets more than 80% of renewable energy demand.”

Apparently, wood was included as a renewable that would help cut CO2 emissions—the supposed driver of climate change—because if the wood came from “properly managed forests, then the carbon that billows out of the chimney can be offset by the carbon that is captured and stored in newly planted trees. Wood can be carbon-neutral.”

As a result of the decision to allow wood to qualify for the “renewable” mandate, its usage has “soared.” In fact, wood has saved coal-fueled power plants that would have been shut down—making it popular with power companies. Unlike expensive forests of wind turbines that require brand new, expensive, transmission lines, the coal-fueled power plants are already connected to the grid.

They can also be “adapted to burn a mixture of 90% coal and 10% wood (called co-firing) with little new investment.” Additionally, wood-fueled electricity generation doesn’t require back-up (redundant) power.

While the EU’s goal of getting twenty percent of its energy from renewables by 2020 is hurting the European economy and individual ratepayers, it is helping Canada.

Europe’s energy policy ends up helping the economies of both Canada and the US—both of which didn’t jump into “renewables,” as the EU did. The US never signed on to the Kyoto Protocol and Canada abandoned it in 2011.

Europe doesn’t have enough wood to meet demand, so a substantial chunk of it will come from imports—which has created a booming new business in Canada and the southeastern US. Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, calls it “an industry invented from nothing.” Who would have thought that not only is the US now a net exporter of gasoline, but now we are fueling Europe with “biomass?”

The EU is seeing the error of their ways. “The European Environment Agency said, in 2011, the assumption “that biomass combustion would be inherently carbon neutral…is not correct…as it ignores the fact that using land to produce plants for energy typically means that this land is not producing plants for other purposes, including carbon otherwise sequestered.”

In fact, using trees for energy production actually, increases “carbon emissions compared with coal” and scientists have now concluded that the idea of using wood as a renewable fuel was an “oversimplification.”

Unlike Margaret Thatcher, the EU is unlikely to “evolve”—giving the US a competitive energy advantage Europe’s global warming encouragement was intended to erase.

While the US didn’t sign on to a binding commitment to CO2 reductions, our energy policies have, like Europe, pushed the more expensive energies and punished the cost-effective. Data from the Energy Information Agency reveals that the average all-in cost for electrical energy to the customer has risen at twice the rate of inflation—with no real identifiable and quantifiable fiscal benefit.

Thatcher was correct. Global warming has provided “a marvelous excuse.” The question is, will the US “evolve” and correct its course like others, or will we allow the climate change hoax to steer us toward full-on socialism?

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who 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.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Energy Security Trust?

Posted on 03. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

In his first energy speech of his second term, “President Barack Obama tried to move past partisan fights over energy policy on Friday with a modest proposal to fund research into cars that run on anything but gasoline.” The “modest proposal” is what he introduced in the State of the Union Address: an Energy Security Trust (EST)—which is a central part of his economic strategy.

The idea for an EST was developed by a collaboration of high-volume oil consumers and military leaders concerned about US energy security—put forth through a report titled “A National Strategy for Energy Security: Harnessing American Resources and Innovation.”

The unique backgrounds of the advocates garnered attention from both sides of the aisle. However, a key component of the Trust was omitted from the President’s Friday speech: increased domestic energy development—the piece that, according to one of the idea’s developers, was designed to win bipartisan support and “keep both sides engaged.”

In response to Obama’s presentation of an EST—which would set aside royalties from oil and gas extracted on federal lands and direct them toward research and development for transportation technologies that reduce our dependence on oil—House Speaker John Boehner’s office says: “For this proposal to even be plausible, oil and gas leasing on federal land would need to increase dramatically. Unfortunately, this administration has consistently slowed, delayed and blocked American energy production.”

Once again, Obama’s speech touted America’s growing “energy future:” “We produce more oil than we have in 15 years. We import less oil than we have in 20 years. …We’re producing more natural gas than we ever have before.” This is true, however Boehner is correct. A new report from the Congressional Research Service “confirms what many have known to be true.”

Marc Humphries, the government specialist in energy policy who authored the “U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Non-Federal Areas” report, says: “All of the increase (in oil and natural gas production) from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, and the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production fell by about seven percentage points. … In general, the regulatory framework for developing resources on federal lands will likely remain more involved and time-consuming than that on private land.”

Increasing resource development on federal lands is one of the key features of the EST. In fact, the idea is that the funds set aside for the trust would come solely from new development. Yet, Friday’s speech never mentioned that—despite media reports stating: “the new program…would be paid for through royalties generated by offshore drilling of oil and gas development of the outer continental shelf.”

I had a post-speech conversation with Sam Ori, Director of Policy for Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE)—the organization responsible for the Energy Security Leadership Council (about which Obama spoke) and the idea for the EST. While SAFE is pleased that its policy proposal has been picked up by the Administration, Ori wouldn’t comment on the President’s cherry-picking approach to the plan.

He did, however, say: “The speech is not the final place. If the EST doesn’t offer new oil and gas development on federal lands, the Republicans won’t sign on.” Ori emphasized that in order for the EST to be a success, it needs to have something that is “attractive to both sides.” The alternative energy research is the carrot for the left and the increased drilling is there for the Republicans. Ori also pointed out—as did Robbie Diamond, Founder, President and CEO of SAFE, during our December conversation—that the EST is for research and development of technologies that will lesson our dependence on oil, not deployment of said technologies.

Somehow, in a time when deficits and government spending are front-page news stories, Obama wants to “divert” revenues already coming into the US treasury into “a dedicated slush fund for alternative energy.” In Friday’s speech, he pointed to SAFE’s proposal when he said: “let’s take some of our oil and gas revenues from public lands and put it towards research that will benefit the public so we can support American ingenuity without adding a dime to our deficit.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski disagrees. Robert Dillon, spokesperson for the Senator told me: “The president hit on a good idea when he called for a trust fund to promote energy innovation. But unlike Sen. Murkowski’s proposal, he would not enable new energy production to pay for it.

The president says he wants to divert a share of the royalties from offshore production that has already been factored into the budget, which could mean either deficit spending or less funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. More likely, the president’s real plan is to raise taxes on oil and gas. There’s a better way that not only funds investment in research, but also addresses our need for affordable and abundant energy. It’s Sen. Murkowski’s plan. We hope the president will embrace it.”

Forbes writer, Christopher Helman, takes it one step further. He believes that “this Energy Security Trust could well serve as the tip of a wedge that could some day lever open a new carbon tax.” According to Helman, Connecticut Congressman John Larson, said “that the very purpose of the Energy Security Trust fund was to serve as a conduit for the collection of carbon taxes.”

True, Larson does have a proposal from 2006 that is all about a carbon tax, and his proposal bears the same name—but the similarity of the plans stops there. SAFE has never advocated a carbon tax. Because Obama favors a carbon tax, connecting the two plans with the same name is a logical leap, but it misrepresents the current plan.

If Obama was truly “seeking to build some common ground on energy,” he should have included both sides of the equation; incorporating both increased drilling and R & D “investment.” Instead, in his “first energy speech of his second term,” he continued to put partisan considerations before the national interest.

The speech included some populist themes:

  • “Our top priority as a nation” should be “reigniting the true engine of America’s economic growth.”
  • “Few areas hold more economic promise for creating good jobs and growing our economy than how we use American energy.”
  • “What most Americans feel first when it comes to energy prices—or energy issues are prices that they pay at the pump.” And,
  • “We’ve worked with the auto companies to put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in history.”

Yet, he omitted any solutions that would help American’s today. The only mention of a pipeline was this: “as long as the pipeline for research is maintained…” No mention was made of the “good jobs” that could be created if he’d quickly approve the Keystone pipeline—something Dave Mallino of the Laborers’ International Union specifically chastised him about on the air with Neil Cavuto.

Regarding fuel economy standards, as we’ve seen with cellulosic ethanol, just because government mandates it, doesn’t make it so.

Friday’s speech didn’t address expanded access to America’s natural resources. It did, however, threaten that the “so-called sequester” would cut into the “muscle and the bone.” Obama claimed that “because of this sequester, we’re looking at two years where we don’t start new research.”

The speech, which was reportedly about freeing “our families and business from the painful spikes in gas prices,” did suggest “more solar power, more wind power”—neither of which do anything to touch “spikes in gas prices.”

SAFE’s EST, which aims to bring both sides together for “energy security,” is admirable, and Ori hopes “that we can be successful.” If shuttling some of the funds from new development—that the government already collects (not a new tax)—toward R & D will cause this administration to finally “stop being an obstacle,” I am all for it. However, I hate that we have to bribe them to do what they should have been doing all along. If this “first energy speech” is any indication, I can’t say I share Ori’s optimism.

I have to agree with Helman. He says we already have an EST. “It’s this: the hard work and innovation of the tens of thousands of engineers at American oil companies who have unlocked a plentiful supply of energy that will keep the nation moving and growing for decades. And all without taxpayer handouts.”

The article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who 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.


 

Carrots and sticks, honey and vinegar

Posted on 02. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Healthcare, Politics

We are a nation of laws, but we’re also a nation built on incentives. The problem is that our elected representatives do not seem to understand basic human nature.

That may explain why they mostly focus on the sticks (law-making) and don’t consider the carrots (incentives) as a way to influence American  behavior.  Both political parties are guilty of excessive and bone-headed law-making from time to time, but both parties are not always equal in their distrust of their fellow citizens which has led to the passage of hundreds of unwieldy laws and thousands of onerous regulations.

Yes, there is a distinction between laws and regulations. Laws beget regulations. Regulations are the bureaucratic flotsam and jetsam that ultimately wash up on the shores of the unwitting average citizen, and which demand their full and immediate attention. When we realize that a law has spawned a multitude of regulations we’re surprised, confused and angry. We feel betrayed and don’t understand how very different the regulations are from the original law.

At this point, my father would have said, “Son, the devil is in the details,” and he would have been right. That’s where the devil always resides, and he’s not picky about his roommates, either. Here I speak of the thousands of bureaucrats who view themselves as shadow law-makers – ideologically-driven green eye shade types who see regulation-writing as their way of interpreting and influencing the law.

Before I do a number on bureaucrats (which they so richly deserve), let me call out the House and Senate Committees and staffers AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC for either not thoroughly reading the proposed laws and the resultant regulations or for not objecting to them during the review/comment process. Fortunately, (yes I said fortunately), we have lobbyists and non-government organizations (NGOs) that religiously take on that task.

Because their mission is to protect their special interest constituents, they pour over regulations to make sure that the regulators are not pulling a fast one that would disadvantage their bosses. The public should want the same involvement BEFORE the laws were passed as well as during the comment period, but that’s another story. It would seem that many Americans are blasé about the impact that legislation and the ensuing regulations have on their lives.

Case in point is the three-year old 3,256-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka. Obamacare). If law professors and political science/civics teachers needed a textbook case for earlier citizen involvement in the political process, this is it. Many credible critics have spoken eloquently on this subject, but Dr. Barbara Bellar (a licensed physician and lawyer in Illinois) stated the bureaucratics and ham-handedness of it succinctly in one (albeit long) sentence:

“We’re going to be gifted with a healthcare plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t which purportedly covers at least ten million more people without adding a single new doctor but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that didn’t read it, but exempted themselves from it and signed by a President who smokes with funding administered by a Treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect by a government which has already bankrupted social security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese and financed by a country that is broke.”

The act created 159 new bureaucracies and boards and thousands of new regulations, and to add insult to injury, the government is now contemplating shortening the public comment time on its proposed regulations from the normal 60 days to 15!

President Theodore Roosevelt (the original Progressive) said, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” It’s probably time for the Progressives to channel some really big brains like Bugs Bunny, or at the very least, Elmer Fudd. Maybe they can locate some of the carrots they will need to make their makeover plan for America more palatable to the average citizen. Otherwise, they’ll wind up with a very unfunny cartoon parody of a once-great country.

- Editor (Opposing views are always welcomed. Send them to us at: editor@newmexicanvoice.com)

Cast a vote for Roadrunner Food Bank

Posted on 02. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

Help the Food Bank receive a Walmart grant to fund child hunger programs on Facebook with the ‘click’ of a mouse

All month, Roadrunner Food Bank is hoping the public will use their computer mouse to vote for the Food Bank to earn a $45,000 Walmart grant for childhood hunger programs at the Food Bank. Votes can be cast on Facebook until April 30 at 11:59 pm est.

The grants will be awarded to food banks with the most number of votes. The Food Bank is encouraging the public to take three easy actions to help achieve the grant.

“We are so grateful for this opportunity and we hope the community will take action and vote for our project.  Funding like this helps us ensure the Food for Kids program is there for nearly 4,000 children every week.  Without it, many of our children wouldn’t have access to regular weekend food.  Your vote helps us secure food for vulnerable children,” said Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank.

The grant is part of Walmart’s “Fighting Hunger Together” initiative.  By voting, the public decides what organizations will receive grants.  More than 300 different hunger relief organizations from across the US are competing. The more votes a Feeding America food bank receives, the better chances they have of receiving the grant. At the conclusion of the voting, top vote getters will split $3 million in funding from Walmart. The funds won will then be used to support local child hunger relief programs.

Roadrunner Food Bank would utilize the grant to help fund its Food for Kids Program.  The program is targeted to providing low-income elementary school aged children food to eat over the weekend.  Every week, 45 schools receive backpacks filled with food for low-income children to take home on Fridays.  Children eat the food over the weekend and then return the backpack to be filled again.  Often, the food in the backpack is the only food a child might eat for two days.

Funding for child hunger programs is especially critical given the significant need that exists. According to the USDA, more than 16 million children in the United States struggle with hunger. Roadrunner Food Bank serves about 90,000 hungry children every year, however there is an estimated 146,000 children who struggle with hunger in New Mexico.

For more information about Roadrunner Food Bank visit www.rrfb.org.  To vote, please visit: https://apps.facebook.com/walmartlocal/?applet=hunger&organization=1

This was submitted by the Roadrunner® Food Bank, a Feeding America member. It is the largest non-profit dedicated to ending hunger in New Mexico and operates warehouses in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.  Last year, the Food Bank distributed nearly 23 million pounds of food through its own programs, a statewide network of partner agencies, and regional food banks helping nearly 40,000 children and adults weekly.  The Food Bank also rescued more than 16 million pounds of food last year keeping food out of landfills.

Politics and Energy: Two Articles

Posted on 02. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Politics

Article 1: New regulations create more wealth for green cronies

On Good Friday, a day fewer people would be paying attention to the headlines than on most other days, the Obama administration released news about its plans to raise the price of gasoline.

Gasoline prices for the first quarter of 2013 are higher than the same time in 2012. Intentionally pushing prices up would seem stupid in the midst of a struggling economy—that is, if your goal is to help those most impacted by higher fuel and food prices, rather than boosting the bottom line for your billionaire donors.

The plans, announced Friday, call for stricter limits for sulfur in gasoline—from the current 30 parts per million to 10. (Sulfur is an important element that is found naturally in crude oil has many industrial uses.) The EPA estimates that the low-sulfur gasoline will raise the price of a gallon of gas by “less than a penny,” while industry sources say it will be closer to ten cents a gallon.

Energy analyst Robert Rapier, told me that the new regulations “will certainly make gasoline more expensive.” He said; “Note that diesel was historically less expensive than gasoline until the ultra-low sulfur diesel standard was passed.

Since then, diesel has often been more expensive than gasoline. I am not saying whether or not those standards were needed, maybe they were. But the impact on cost is undeniable. I worked in a refinery when those standards were passed, and we spent a lot of capital making sure we could comply.”

Though air pollution is a worthy consideration, it is low on the public’s list of priorities, while gas prices are of utmost importance. If the public doesn’t see air pollution as a problem, and the President’s popularity has peaked, why would he put out policy that would hit the middle class the hardest? Because, despite his campaign rhetoric, he’s not “a warrior for the middle class.”

One year ago, Christine Lakatos launched her blog— “The Green Corruption Files”—through which she set out to prove that “green corruption is the largest, most expensive and deceptive case of crony capitalism in American history.

Stay tuned as we expose one piece of this scandal at a time.”  Last summer, Lakatos and I partnered to draw more attention to Obama’s Green-Energy Crony-Corruption Scandal. To date, I’ve written fifteen columns based on her research—this is the sixteenth.

A week ago, she posted her expose on George Soros and his profiting from his, apparent, insider information on green-energy investments. Within her post, Lakatos says: “be prepared for regulations and legislation that will, in some form or another, resemble cap-and-trade and demand additional funds to bank roll Obama’s efforts to save our planet.” Exactly one week later, the new EPA standards on gasoline were released.

The standards will raise the cost of fuel—which has been the underlying goal of the Obama energy agenda: make what works more expensive so people will accept the high cost of “green energy” in the name of saving the planet. (Remember outgoing Energy Secretary Chu’s 2008 statement: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”)

But, as the Soros story shows, it’s not about the planet, it’s about the profit. Soros’ investment portfolio shows he invests where he can make money—both traditional and green energy (though, as you’ll see, through Obama’s green energy emphasis, he has more control over green energy investments). In a 1998, 60 Minutes interview, Soros said: “I am basically there to make money. I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.”

Soros’ relationship with Obama goes back almost as far as his manipulation of money and markets.

It is reported that back before, Obama became a Senator, or announced his presidential bid, and before the founding of the Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP), Morton Halperin, (the director of Soros’ Open Society Institute), John Podesta (the former Clinton White House chief of staff), Jeremy Rosner (a former speech writer for Bill Clinton), Robert Boorstin (a Democrat strategist and also a former speech writer for Clinton) and Carl Pope (a Democrat strategist and environmentalist) met in 2002 at Soros’ Long Island Southampton beach house to draft a plan to defeat President Bush in the presidential election of 2004. Without that meeting, Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson, says: “Barack Obama would be … an unremarkable and unheard of state senator. Instead, Barack Obama is the President of the United States.”

Soros was an early donor to Obama’s senatorial race. “Soros and his family gave Barack Obama $60,000. This does not include money that Soros was able to funnel to so-called 527 groups (Moveon.org, for example) that have also been politically active; nor does it include money that Soros was able to raise from tapping a network of friends, business associates, and employees.”

Once Obama was running for president, Soros was there again with support to the tune of $5 million—which put him on the Forbes’ 2008 list of Obama’s Billionaire Buddies. But the king of contributions wasn’t done there, and in September 2012, Soros pledged $1.5 million in donations to a trio of super PACs backing Obama and congressional Democrats. Soros’ political contributions are widely known, as is his funding of left-leaning organizations such as CAP, The Tides Center and the Apollo Alliance—which all play a part in his ability to cash in on green.

Soros was instrumental at the least, integral at the most, in writing Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill that put nearly $100 billion into various green energy companies and projects. Additionally, there is a little-publicized connection between Soros, green energy advocacy, and the White House.

Since buying access, Soros has been a frequent White House visitor and met with Obama’s, then, top economist Larry Summers—exerting his influence.

The Soros-funded Apollo Alliance brags about its role in writing the 2009 Stimulus Bill. In an interview, the best-selling author of Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer, states: “Billionaire George Soros gave advice and direction on how President Obama should allocate so-called ‘stimulus’ money in a series of regular private meetings and consultations with White House senior advisers even as Soros was making investments in areas affected by the stimulus program.”

Schweizer, then, reveals, “In the first quarter of 2009, Mr. Soros went on a stock-buying spree in companies that ultimately benefited from the federal stimulus.” He continues: “It is not necessarily the case that Soros had specific insider tips about any government grants,” nevertheless, Soros’ “investment decisions aligned remarkably closely with government grants and transfers.” The majority of those investments were in green energy ventures that gained from the stimulus and/or government regulation such as BioFuel Energy that benefitted when the EPA announced a regulation on ethanol.

Shortly after the 2009 Stimulus, more to secure his investments than because of any core belief, Soros launched several new groups to help propagate the manmade climate change narrative that is the foundation for green energy investments—without belief in manmade climate change, we don’t need renewables as there is no energy shortage.

Some of the little-publicized connections include Cathy Zoi, former CEO of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, and who, while at the Department of Energy, oversaw the disbursement of more than $30 billion in green-energy stimulus funds. In early 2011, she resigned to work for a Soros fund: Silver Lake Kraftwerk. Another is Denis McDonough who has replaced Jack Lew as Obama’s Chief of Staff. McDonough was a Senior Fellow at Soros-funded CAP, which Bloomberg News called: “an intellectual wellspring for Democratic policy proposals.” Other CAP/Obama advisors central to the green-energy scheme include Carol Browner, Van Jones, and Steve Spinner.

So, what return has Soros gotten on his stimulus-inspired stock buying spree plus investments in companies like First Solar and Solar City? Lakatos’ thorough research discovered that Soros’ green tab exceeds $11 billion of stimulus money (dwarfing Citibank’s) –– and we, the taxpayers, footed the bill. Keep in mind, this tally doesn’t factor in any profit Soros has made off these investments—or will continue to make as a result of Obama’s climate change agenda being pushed by EPA regulation.

As save-the-planet regulations and legislation come out of the Obama administration, which raise costs for the middle class and hurt America’s struggling economy, remember the Soros story. It illustrates that Obama is not the “warrior for the middle class” he campaigned as, but he’s most concerned about creating wealth for his “green cronies”—of which Soros is just one. This new EPA low-sulfur gasoline proposal is just the latest in a series of green regulations. We don’t know for whom it creates wealth, but we know it isn’t the middle class.

—————

Article 2: Winning the battle for American jobs, economic growth, and affordable energy

Following the Conservative Political Action Conference—known as CPAC—it has been reported that the faithful feel discouraged, dispirited, and defeated. Dr. Ben Carson, who emerged from the Conference as the new conservative darling, has stated that America is heading for failure. Generally, I agree. However, I see a chink in the armor.

The alliance of the environmental lobby and big government advocates have been winning—Obama is back in the White House, the new cabinet members seem worse than the last, and the Keystone pipeline has become a battle line. With the victory, however, they’ve perhaps gotten over confident and pushed too hard. They’ve had a series of losses that have put them on the defense—and everyone knows, you win on the offense.

Their losses haven’t made headline news—making them easy to miss, and the alliance is not likely to beat a hasty retreat, but looking at them added together, I see an opening for a breakthrough.

In case you missed them, here are some of the recent reversals they’ve received:

  • On March 20, the Supreme Court shot down “overzealous greens” that hoped to “hobble the logging industry by reclassifying rural storm water runoff under the Clean Water Act’s ‘point source’ standards, which require costly federal permits.” The Court ruled: “more effective regulation could be done by states and state foresters.”
  • On March 19, the Obama Administration scrapped “a series of graphic warning labels on cigarette packages that were blocked by a federal appeals court”—a win for the “tobacco industry’s free-speech rights under the First Amendment.” Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, says the FDA won’t be deterred from implementing stronger warning labels.
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein’s gun-ban bill became a victim of friendly fire when, in a March 18 meeting, Majority Leader Harry Reid notified a “frustrated Feinstein” that her assault-weapon ban “wouldn’t be part of a Democratic gun bill.” The exclusion means “almost certain defeat” but, according to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Ladd Everitt, it has “fired up gun violence prevention advocates.”
  • On March 15, hyper-liberal Bill Maher had an epiphany on his HBO show Real Time. In a conversation with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, regarding Paul Ryan’s budget, Maher announced that rich people “actually do pay the freight in this country.” He continued, calling the taxes the rich pay: “outrageous” and “ridiculous.” He warned his liberal friends: “you could actually lose me.”
  • Facing the reality of a nuclear attack, on March 15 the Obama administration announced a reversal on missile defense. In 2009, Obama killed the Bush administration’s plans for 14 US ground-based long-range missile interceptors—which are now, in opposition to the “Democratic Party’s long aversion to any kind of missile defense,” playing catch up. Missile Defense advocates are now vindicated.
  • Government overreach received a setback on March 11, when “a judge threw out New York City’s ban on supersized sugary drinks.” Judge Milton Tingling said the soda ban “would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it.” And, that has the “potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages.”

The list could continue to include NBC’s ratings fall and Obama’s sudden shift in relations with Republicans, but you get the idea.

“Marita,” you might say, “this is an interesting list, and I get your point, but you write on energy, and none of this has anything to do with energy.”

Here are some similar setbacks to the left’s energy agenda:

  • Going back a couple of months, on January 25, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a unanimous decision, found that the EPA was projecting far too much production of cellulosic ethanol and mandated the exaggerated fuel standards—confirming that “EPA’s renewable fuels program is unworkable and must be scrapped.” The nonexistent-fuel requirement is costing refiners $8 million dollars in fines paid to the federal government—which are passed on to consumer—due to the unreasonable 2012 mandate.
  • Last month, regulators met in California “hoping to hash out a solution to the peculiar stresses placed on the state’s network by sharp increases in wind and solar energy.” The state is “running low on conventional plants, such as those fueled by natural gas” and now “it doesn’t have the right mix.” Utility executives are predicting rolling brown outs as early as this summer. Other states with high dependence on wind and solar resources face similar problems.
  • “In a preemptive move to protect against possible court challenges,” “an early step toward President Barack Obama’s second-term goal of cutting emissions linked to climate change has hit a snag.” Reported on March 19: “The Obama administration is weighing changes to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to limit emissions at new power plants.” The EPA’s rule would “essentially ban new coal-fired power plants”—which “may not withstand legal scrutiny.”
  • On March 20, another Solyndra-esque, government-funded solar panel manufacturer embarrassment came to light. SoloPower began the first round of layoffs just months after opening with a high-profile ribbon cutting and is now “selling some of its equipment through a third party and is attempting to restructure its $197 million federal loan guarantee.” The story shows that “politicians are proving to be lousy venture capitalists with this and other green energy subsidies.”

Again, this sampling of stories illustrates the cause for my optimism.

In war, and we are in a war, when one side sees signs of weakness, it is time to act and exploit the vulnerabilities; go on the offensive. The weapons we have are social media, email, and our telephones. Here are some of the battles we could win if we join in the fight for American jobs, economic growth, and affordable energy.

  • The Keystone pipeline is in the news again due to the recently released State Department report that concludes that it is environmentally safe. The pipeline, alone, has the unique ability to create jobs without taxpayer monies, spur economic growth in the states it will cross and other states that will participate in construction support, and lower the cost of gasoline through increased supply. We all need to add our “comments.” Tell the State department to end the four-year delay and approve the Keystone pipeline.
  • Anti-surface mining ads running in Tennessee on March 19 are just the latest in the war on coal. The war is raging against coal mining—which provides good paying jobs for thousands of Americans—and against coal-fueled power plants with 300+ scheduled for closure in the next few years and no possible replacement.

We need an energy policy that works for each locale rather than one-size-fits-all requirements. For example, in New Mexico, we have coal-fueled power plants built right next to a coal mine, yet EPA regulations are shutting down five of the nine units. Likewise, West Virginia has an abundance of coal, and they, too, are closing plants.

In the Pacific Northwest, hydropower is efficient, effective, and economical, but environmental groups are forcing their removal. Call or email the White House and tell the Obama administration to make good on the “all of the above” promise and not limit or mandate specific electricity sources.

  • Due to the combination of new technology and new applications of sixty-year-old technology, America now has an abundance of natural gas. Many markets across the globe need our natural gas—which could be liquefied and shipped worldwide and help the US trade deficit.

In a free market, companies should be allowed to sell their products to the highest bidder, but due to trade agreements and the slow approval process of applications to build new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, this boost to the economy is being stifled. LNG exports are one of the few issues that truly have bipartisan support—yet, environmentalists oppose them and the Department of Energy has been dragging its feet on LNG export applications. Contact your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose legislation that would limit LNG exports.

There is more we could do, but together these simple steps—passed on to everyone you know through Facebook, Twitter, and your personal email list, and acted upon—can serve as our forlorn hope (the first wave of soldiers attacking a breach in defenses). Let’s band together with a common strategy, a surge, that can turnaround the current direction and make America great again.

These articles were submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who 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.



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