American Elephants

Here’s Why City Councils Often Become National Laughingstocks by The Elephant's Child

When people get interested in actually doing politics, some start near the beginning and run for their local city council.  Perhaps that is why City Councils so frequently make the national news for some dumb thing they have done. The Seattle City Council is an excellent example. Seattle has a major “homeless” problem, so of course they want to help give them homes.

I should note that I put “homeless” in quotes, because for the most part their problems are not a lack of a home, but drug addiction, uncontrolled alcoholism, mental illness. Some, it is reported, just like living on the street and don’t want to be controlled.  Call them “street people.”

Seattle property is currently very expensive, and becoming more so rapidly. So building homes for the “homeless” requires a hike in taxes. Problem is that we already are very thoroughly taxed. The Washington State Constitution forbids an income tax (which the bureaucrats keep trying to repeal) so they have to find somewhere else to tax. We have a significant sales tax, car taxes are at absurd levels, and property taxes are so far through the roof that people are leaving the state for more welcoming venues. But homes, homes, we need homes for the” homeless”!

The Seattle City Council’s initial solution was a “head tax” on the employees of “Big Business, those companies making $20 million or more like  Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and others who have their headquarters in Seattle. (Boeing has moved their headquarters to Chicago, so perhaps they don’t count) In any case, the lefty supporters insisted that large companies like Starbucks and Amazon have contributed to Seattle’s homelessness by driving up rent and home prices.

They started off with a $500 “head tax” per employee, but new mayor Jenny Durkan undoubtedly heard for several weeks in no uncertain terms from a few of those big companies. The City Council reduced the tax to a $275 tax per-employee. Amazon has around 222,400 employees. National reporters love stories poking fun at bureaucrats, and the story spread across the country and anyone with the most basic familiarity with economics, which excludes most lefties, had a good laugh at the stupidity. (What happens in a company when a city council imposes a huge tax? Do they simply write a check? Amazon is already reported to be looking for another city for a “second” headquarters.) You can do the multiplication yourself.

Mayor Durkan and some members of the Seattle City Council have beat a hasty retreat. No “head tax”, they’ll think of something else. I’m not sure they’re open to suggestions, though I’m sure there are plenty of them out there.


Winding America Down, Step-by-Step. by The Elephant's Child

Democrats abandoned “Cap-and-Trade” back in July.  There was no support for the bill, and public enthusiasm for Congress was around 11%.  Although perhaps “abandoned” is too strong a word.  They just put it on the shelf temporarily and, as they do so often,  gave it a new name, and  will bring it back in the Lame Duck session as a nationwide renewables mandate, which will require utilities to source certain amounts of their electricity from “renewable” sources.  That sound innocuous enough, doesn’t it?

According to a Financial Times/Harris survey this month,  most Americans favor an expansion of renewable energy. But that support is very weak.  When asked if they would be willing to pay as little as 5% more for electricity, only 32% of Americans said yes.  A full 57% of Americans said they would be opposed to paying for more than a 5% increase in electricity prices for renewable energy.

The Administration’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects the cost for various sources of electricity per megawatt hour in 2015 (in 2008 dollars).

  • Conventional coal power:  $78.10
  • Onshore wind power:  $149.30
  • Offshore wind power:  $191.10
  • Thermal solar power:  $256.60
  • Photo-voltaic solar power:  $396.10

The prices for alternative energy are, at a minimum, almost double the cost of electric power from a coal-fired plant.  And since so-called renewable sources require 24/7 backup from a regular power source (i.e, a coal-fired power plant) you can probably add the $78.10 cost for conventional coal power to the cost of the renewable.  (Perhaps I misunderstand this, but when you turn a light switch on, you expect the lights to go on — you don’t want to wait for the wind to start to blow again).

Administration ideas of what is renewable power don’t seem to include nuclear plants nor hydroelectric plants. It’s all about wind and solar — which are not really sources of energy.

A Heritage Foundation analysis of a requirement of 22.5% alternative energy found that 1) household electricity prices would jump 35%;  2) industry prices would rise by 60%; 3) national income (GDP) would be cut by $5.2 trillion between 2012 and 2035; and 4) a renewable electricity standard would kill more than one million jobs.

We have had decades of  subsides for renewable energy, yet if you eliminate hydropower, wind and solar only account for a tiny 3% of our energy, and that doesn’t include the necessity for keeping a conventional backup.  Think of a renewable mandate as something that massively raises costs but provides no economic benefit whatsoever.

If Congress does not pass a Renewable Energy Standard, we are not out of the woods.  The EPA is ready to slap a tax on all forms of energy in the interest of protecting us from the debilitating effects on our health of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that we exhale.

You would think that the Democrats would want to create jobs and grow the economy; to make us all more prosperous.  People prefer to be prosperous.  That would seem to be the road to electoral success.  But here they are, determinedly making poor people poorer, killing jobs at every opportunity, destroying business opportunity,  killing free trade and damaging our relations with our allies,  and now they want to turn the electricity off at the same time they want to get us all into electric cars.  Please explain this to me.  I don’t get it.

%d bloggers like this: