Monthly Archives: February 2014

Twisted Turbines

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turbineWe’ve had plenty to say on this subject but it’s unusual to see an elected official step up and say the cult-like infatuation with wind energy presents problems.

So it was especially refreshing to see the recent edition of “Lasee’s Notes,” an email newsletter from State Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere).

Lasee (La-SAY) represents the area that includes Shirley Wind, a small energy facility where several families have actually abandoned their homes, complaining of varied ill-health effects they attribute to turbine noise.

Spain Can’t Afford Wind Energy
By State Senator Frank Lasee

Last week, the government of Spain proposed a plan to cut lucrative subsidies (paid for by taxpayers) for renewable energy producers, causing investors to go crazy with speculation. Facing a tariff deficit (the amount between revenues and program costs) estimated at nearly $30 billion (about $40 billion USD), the world’s number four wind energy producer has had enough of wind welfare and with good cause. For years, wind producers in Spain have received guaranteed payments above market rates (so has wind in the US), meaning that households and businesses paid more than they should have for their electric usage. These payments are contributing greatly to massive government deficits (and higher consumer electric bills) while wind energy companies enjoy windfall profits.

What to do with all those excess subsidies?

Introducing the carbon free taxpayer funded pinwheel! Their production will put people to work, so why not pinwheel welfare?

Like Spain, our federal government pays direct taxpayer subsidy support to the wind electric producers. Since 1992, the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) has paid U.S. industrial wind producers a 2.3¢ per-kilowatt-hour tax. Since 1998, the PTC has risen from $5 million annually to well over a billion dollars a year today. Originally sold to consumers as a temporary tax credit to get the industry jump started, the PTC has now lingered on for over two decades.

The unintended consequence of a 20 year temporary tax credit is the distortion of the true cost of wind energy. Electric made by wind costs substantially more than coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Taxpayers and rate payers are paying these additional costs, taking money from your pocket and mine, and causing jobs to leave our country and business profits to be squeezed.

The PTC, at a significant cost to taxpayers, has created a system of net payers and net takers.  In 2012, the payment for the PTC subsidy (the annual transfer of wealth from Wisconsin taxpayers to the renewable energy industry) totaled nearly $14 million for just Wisconsinites. (That is just the PTC, not the rate payers subsidies in higher electric rates paid). That’s $14 million dollars that went to subsidizing corporations in other states.

Energy market distortions do not end there. As long as a wind turbine produces electricity, even at times when there is no demand from consumers and it is sold at a loss, wind producers still collect tax credits for every kilowatt hour they generate.

If we stop subsidizing it with government and electric user dollars, wind will  stop moving, even after 20 years of a temporary subsidy.

The feds are not the only ones helping to create this unrealistic and unsustainable renewable energy market. Wisconsin’s very own Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) passed in 1998 requires that utilities within the state increase the amount of energy they provide from renewables such as wind. According to a recent study, Wisconsinites will pay nearly $800 million for renewable sources such as wind and solar from 2014-2017.

Many supporters of wind energy subsides will argue that eliminating tax credits will cost jobs in the renewable energy sector. Although wind energy only contributes about 3% of the nation’s electricity, the cost to protect the industry is estimated to be $329,000 per job.

If it is a jobs program we want, we would be better off having a green jobs lottery and pay six people $50,000 a year instead of the current taxpayer and ratepayer wind and solar energy scheme. If our country did this, we would create 222,000 jobs instead of the current 37,000 wind and solar industry jobs created with our money. (I know my math was about 10% short – 6 x $50,000 equals $300,000, not $329,000. See what happens when money gets windblown through Washington DC?)

Too bad more wasn’t done to shine the light of day on this problem before the towers and panels went up. Too bad the left and the left leaning mainstream media continues the lie that this is somehow good for us. Too bad they perpetuate the lie that industrial wind towers don’t harm some of those that have them built too close to their homes. Too bad the myth that industrial wind towers don’t hurt property values continues.

Just another waste of our hard earned money perpetuated on us by our government, for our own good they say.

Disappointment for Dems

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jobcreatefutureEver since Scott Walker was elected Governor of Wisconsin, it’s been obvious that nothing makes legislative Democrats and their activist base angrier than good news for the people of this state.  That means the left-wing spin machine will be going into overdrive, trying to cook up a rationale for claiming last week’s good news from the Gallup polling organization isn’t really good news after all.

Gallup reports that Wisconsin has climbed into its list of the top ten job-creating states for the first time since the organization began surveying the issue—in 2008, two years before Walker was elected.

It’s important to note that this particular Gallup survey is not an opinion poll; it’s measuring empirical data and reporting reality, not perception.

That is bad news—for Democrats—but good news for everybody who values opportunity for family-supporting employment more than opportunity to gain political advantage.

It’s especially bad news for the Democrats’ obvious plan to run against Walker this year on the issue of job creation. We’re guessing the Governor might wish he hadn’t made the overly-specific pledge to promote the kind of economic revival that would create 250,000 new jobs in his first term; that’s sticking your neck out.  On the other hand, any fair-minded person would have at least hoped the Obama administration might not commit itself full-time to suffocating the economy and driving people out of the workforce.

Creating any new jobs at all in that kind of environment would be a noteworthy achievement, and now an independent research organization with no known sympathy toward Conservative ideas has confirmed that it’s happening in Wisconsin.

We hope our Democrat friends can forgive us for being happy about it.

Feral Communications Commission

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wildlife wild pigs feral near the gulf of carpentaria North QueenslandCongressional outrage appears to have put a halt the the FCC’s plans to conduct an intrusive study into potential bias in America’s newsrooms. The FCC finds it convenient to say it’s walking away from its plan to play hall monitor, but we’ll see. Last Friday’s “never mind” statement was as weaselly as anything we’ve heard lately.

Note the meticulous evasiveness of the words, “[M]edia owners and journalists will no longer be asked to participate in the Columbia, S.C. pilot study…the pilot will not be undertaken until a new study design is final. Any subsequent market studies conducted by the FCC, if determined necessary, will not seek participation from or include questions for media owners, news directors or reporters.”

That doesn’t translate as “We’re leaving.”  It translates as, “We’ll be back.” And “we,” it’s now clear, includes that tireless guardian of our constitutional liberties George Soros.

Nobody but a complete sap would see anything but calculated intimidation in a federal agency asking reporters and editors to explain their rationale for covering one story and not another, and the priorities assigned to stories the Commission might label as “critical information needs” while an honest reporter might yawn.

This country has, inexcusably, a government-owned broadcasting network and—SHAZAM!—it functions as a distributor of “critical information” that happens to be congenial to expansive government. It is enjoined from acting as a full-blown government propaganda agency only by the existence of other choices.  The FCC’s initiative was—is—a straightforward attempt to change that.

Any talk about the project being “suspended” must be judged in the context of an administration that professed outrage over IRS harassment of conservative groups, two years into its plan to step up the harassment.

Don’t fool yourself that a formerly sleepy bureaucracy of Liberals now gone wild will abandon efforts to regulate the news.  It won’t happen even after the current administration leaves town.

Locals, out of control

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gonecrazyJust last week we made some snarky comments about the logical implosion caused by a couple of left-wing bumper stickers we observed on Madison’s oh-so-righteous west side.  Now it looks like the Milwaukee newspaper is doing editorials-by-bumper-sticker, with similarly ludicrous results.

Sunday’s Journal-Sentinel scolded the Legislature for “messing” with local control. That’s the same Journal-Sentinel that so intensely dislikes lawmakers defending local control against a Department of Public Instruction that thought it should be able to force local school districts to change their team names if even one person—not necessarily anyone local, by the way—says they’re annoying.

But this is different. This time it’s about locally controlling the expenditure of other people’s money.  The Journal-Sentinel thinks the Republican-controlled Legislature should butt out, and not being mind-readers we can’t say whether it’s because big-government Liberals would appear to be have the strongest motivation to exercise this variety of local control.

The issue is not complicated: The Legislature represents a statewide interest in prohibiting a local minimum wage because it would make services and projects funded with tax dollars more expensive than they need to be.

Speaking of lawlessness…

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Break the rule conceptWisconsin teacher unions having been built on the United Auto Workers model imported from Michigan half a century ago by WEAC’s Morris Andrews. It’s probably to be expected that the “stop us if you can” mentality would be fully on display in Kenosha, where the UAW ran American Motors into the ground.

Nevertheless, people seemed surprised last week when the Kenosha teachers union announced that the past three years never happened.

What the union actually announced was that the Kenosha Unified School District would soon be making automatic deductions of union dues from teacher paychecks—which would be in direct defiance of Wisconsin law under the 2011 Act 10 collective bargaining reforms. The school district says it won’t be happening.

The simplest explanation is that the union is attempting both to sow and to exploit confusion over the effect of Act 10, playing off litigation and Dane County judicial mischief that itself looks like little more than a delaying tactic, muddying the legal waters for as long as possible.

Meanwhile, in a seemingly but not unrelated development, Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board is moving not to delay, but to accelerate elections certifying unions.  In 2011, a federal court threw out a speed-up rule the NLRB illegally adopted without a quorum.

Now the NLRB is back, proposing a rule requiring employers to give unions personal contact information for all employees and compelling certification elections within 21 days of a petition. Unions get forever to lay groundwork and employers get three weeks at most to respond.

How’s that relate to Kenosha schools?  Just by the implicit admission that workers who have a choice aren’t likely to unionize.

Dues income for the union, not worker protection, is what it’s all about.

He can’t change the law.

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obamacare ahead warning conceptual postEager for results, some will say we quibble over technicalities.  But those who define the vocabulary of the debate win the debate. Quibbling is worthwhile.

We quibble here with friends who complain that Barack Obama “changes the law” to escape political punishment for his willfully destructive “Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act.”

Accurate labeling demands that repeated delays of Obamacare mandates and deadlines be referred to not as “changing the law,” but as what they really are, which is “rule by decree.”

Memo to the administration: You don’t get to do that here. We think you know it, and suspect you’ll go absolutely as far as you can until someone stops you.

Was the President joking when he said “I can do whatever I want?” If so, it was an untimely experiment in self-deprecating humor suggesting wry humility–a concept with which this administration has not previously exhibited familiarity. In any case, prudence dictates the assumption that some people never joke.

But the nationwide glut of unused irony stored up by the past five years’ presidential pronouncements is being rapidly drawn down by the effects of Obamacare manipulations. Trudge on to the 15th paragraph of this Reuters account, and you’ll read that nobody may have standing to sue against these illegal acts because nobody has been harmed by them. Obama has spared people from harm by illegally blocking the application of the malicious law he designed.

Nothing more starkly illuminates the Orwellian world we inhabit today. If scornful disregard for “the consent of the governed” is the most glaring abuse in rule by decree, its runner-up is not to be overlooked: Those who bow to today’s decree must know they may be told tomorrow to bow to its opposite.

It’s not as if he’s leaving you unharmed intentionally.

Celebrate Conformity!

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conformityNo one affords more provocative insight into the Liberal mind than Liberals themselves, provided we seize our many opportunities to go discreetly among them and observe their habits, like (Liberal) David Attenborough with his cameras, sneaking up on Gooney birds.

This ritual is most commonly performed by means of bumper sticker. A rich example was observed in Madison this past week. Side by side and not more than 18 inches apart were these two messages:  “Celebrate Diversity,” and, “If your heart is in the right place, it’s on the left.”

No doubt space considerations prevented the stickers spelling out fully what they mean, i.e., “Respect and enjoy the differences between yourselves and others,” and, “If you’re different from me, you’re bad.”

The absurdity probably wouldn’t even register with most standard-issue Liberals, who are looking only for reassurance and conditioned to ignore anything that doesn’t offer it. But the crafty operators who pull their strings almost certainly recognize that we all have our shortcomings and that many will eagerly flock to join a movement that tells them the proof of their goodness is that they hate the right people.

Never Forget

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irs ahead post signRemember the IRS scandal?  Remember how, way, way back in the late spring of 2013, we found out that the Internal Revenue Service had been targeting Conservative groups for special scrutiny transparently designed to shut them up in the months leading up to Barack Obama’s re-election?

Yeah, we know you remember all that. It’s just the mainstream media that’s tried so hard to forget about it, hoping you’ll do the same.

But you know what they say about elephants.  Republicans in the House of Representatives exercising their oversight authority are shining the harsh light of truth on the almost-forgotten scandal—no, wait.  Scandal is far too gentle a word.  Call it the Obama administration’s premeditated, coordinated, criminal attack on Americans’ First Amendment freedoms.

And last week House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released findings that expose more Obama lies.

Yes, we said “lies.” Our beloved leader has tried to explain away new IRS rules stepping up the crackdown on Conservative groups by feigning confusion over the interpretation of long-established rules governing political speech by tax-exempt groups.  Camp’s efforts have unearthed proof that the crackdown was in the works long before interpretation of the established rules was ever claimed to be at issue.

Of course, none of us who have been paying attention ever doubted for a minute that the ongoing abuses represent anything other than the conversion of the IRS into a political police force, tasked with chasing down and silencing administration critics.

But thanks to Representative Camp and his colleagues, we’re no longer talking about our opinions. We’re talking about proven facts.

Yes to the Walker tax cuts

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Cutting taxesScott Walker abides by Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment—the one that says “Never speak ill of a fellow Republican.”

It’s a sensible rule, and we hope that squabbles within the GOP-controlled Legislature can be resolved without doing damage to Governor Walker’s tax cutting plans.

But just in case there are legislative Republicans who are feeling susceptible to arguments that taxpayers might get back too much money for their own good, we’ll say this as plainly as possible: Nothing positive is to be achieved by government keeping more of the taxpayers’ money than it needs.

On the contrary, that is a recipe for guaranteed expansion of government and its supposed “needs,” to the detriment of taxpayers.  Always has been; always will be.

The proffered excuse for Madison holding onto more of other peoples’ money than it can find a way to spend under the current state budget is the wish to avoid a squeeze in the next two-year budget period, which doesn’t begin until July 1, 2015.  Anything can happen between now and then. Revenue collections could continue to grow faster than anticipated, as they’ve been doing, or they could slow down.  Either way, here’s a handy 12th Commandment that could help stiffen Republican spines: “Never spend more money than you can reasonably expect to have.”  Problem solved.

Last week, State Representative Dale Kooyenga explained why the “structural deficit” objection to Walker’s tax cuts is a straw man that will get in the way of future revenue growth.  Kooyenga should know. He’s a CPA.

Two final thoughts for wavering GOP lawmakers:  Devising a budget paid for with taxpayer dollars isn’t supposed to be easy, and people who want government to control more taxpayer dollars aren’t the ones who vote for Republicans.