I so often read about individuals who attend seminars or other functions that feature forums for “Innovative Thinking” and then pour out all those gushing new ideas. Usually such “Innovative Thinking” type of idea only needs a way to come to fruition. Why if only individuals would demand that their power companies switch over to the newest and greatest green energy the earth would be saved. Yes, what an inspiring thought, maybe. What is that old saying, “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.” Or they would have the latest iPhone in their pocket and Apple Watch on their wrist. I’m not talking just technology, although so many people “envision” such wonderful changes if only we have the will to make it true. Unfortunately so many of these beggar wishes will never come true nor even close.
So let us say that the “Green Energy” revolution will pave the way to the reduction of the carbon footprint of industry and residential living. What would it need for that to happen? Any ideas? Well, we could look at the prices way are willing to pay for energy. Yes, yes, I know that solar and wind power have declines in cost over the years according to a number of trade studies. But the basic question is energy output in terms of all accounting of the various costs. For instance we are told that the use of ethanol on our gasoline reduces the harmful emissions of the gasoline used by the automotive engine. Yes, ounce for ounce the emissions are reduces, case closed, tight? Not so fast, sport. Yes, ounce for ounce the emissions are reduces but ounce for ounce the power per ounce is reduced. That means one must use more fuel to propel that same vehicle down the road at the same speed. So there is no net gain in emission control. The other consideration is how that additive is made. Consider that corn must be grown for the fuel, this means two things for the price of corn. One is that the use of ethanol must compete with food supplies. But not just human food supplies, but with cattle feed and other other animal foods. Second, tractors must expend diesel fuel to plow, plant, fertilize, and harvest that corn. Thus in its production we incur more carbon emissions. Third, the use of fertilizers causes problems with fertilized run off into the water environments. The area where the delta of the Mississippi meats the Gulf of Mexico has an ever increasing dead zone of algae bloom in which no fish can live. And the fourth point is that it takes more energy to convert the sugars in the corn to alcohol and then into ethanol. So where is the Green Savings? It’s not there. Who benefits, you the motorist? Not even close.
Well, what about wind power, surely thats a freebie? Well, no. See some one had to make the wind mill generators and that cost money. the research and development costs money, a lot of money. Must of that money comes from tax payers. The problem with wind power is that the conditions for its economical use must be right. The wind does not blow at a constant speed, it varies. When the wind blows too have the windmills have to be shut down. If the wind is not hard enough there is no energy produced. There is also the problem of environments oversight. Windmills kill a great many birds, thus creating a hazard for migratory as well as local bird population. And there are other aspects of the giant towers that can prove at least irritating ot humans. But the worst problem with wind power is that in must be subsidised by both tax payers and rate payers. Again, there is no free lunch.
Sun power is nice that the problems have been documented. Giant arrays of photoelectric cells, mirrors that concentrate the sun’s light, and hence heat, produce problems for birds and wildlife. But more than that, it generates heat and causes permanent temperature changes. Just as cities change the weather, in particular with highrise buildings and the concentration of heat from cooling towers ad well as heat sinks for sunshine, Solar panels can cause similar problems. Or course we have not covered how the panels are manufactured. They rely on special chips and if one has ever read much of silicon ship making one understands the such manufacture is not clean by any stretch of the imagination. The Silicon Valley microchip industry was filling the ground water supplies with benzine and other chemicals long before anyone figured that connection. The other problem is that the sun does not shine twenty four hours and day and that when it does the peak output hours are about five to six hours a day, depending the time of the season. Also, the conversion from sun light to electricity yield is still very small. Again, taxpayers and ratepayers foot this bill.
I know, all these wonderful ideas sounded so great, so promising. But they are all free lunch ideas for the simple reason few people actually factor in the expenses. Outside of the large cities, the population in France burn a lot of finewood for hear. Natural gas is expensive, often the housing is very old, often not kept in good repair, and very likely innergie inefficient. Add to that the fact that electric rates are very high in the winter due to the demand and one understands why so much of Europe depends on firewood for hear. And no carbon taxes are assessed. Actually, a very large percentage of the wood sold goes unreported and income, so we have tax evasion to consider as well.
So now we have a revived interest in reparations for the Black Community. Boy, does that open a can of worms. The point of this program is to correct for past injustices and continuing injustices. Assuming that could be done, and I can’t see just how a specific amount of money granted to a group of people will settle that problem, How do we as a society arrive at what might be considered a fair and just amount? The second problem is who becomes eligible to receive such a sum? Should this be done as an outright give or as a stipend paid monthly or yearly? And who will be eligible. Should we include those individuals who have immigrated from other countries who happen to be “Black” or will they be excluded? Such a simple idea is now turning into a nightmare. In the case of intermarriage shall we determine the payment on a percentage basis? And how long will be continue this program. Shall it be cut off after one or two generations or will it become a right in perpetuity? What will be the economic cost of such a program? Will we use general tax funds or shall we assess White only through income taxes? If we do make it an issue, then would we tax all white people regardless of past residential status? Many of the Irish, the Scandinavian, the Jewish, and other late arrivals of immigrants surely aren’t guilty of the subjection of black people to slavery. And there is the larger question of equity in society. If such money is suppose to improve the Black Community, to raise it up from the mud, so to speak, than if that money is spent merely on consumer goods and services, have we not done more harm than good? If you opt for a lump sum that may be fifty thousand dollars, for example, and you buy an automobile and other consumer goods, what will you have left? What has been accomplished other that a simple redistribution of goods? We you, as a black man or woman or child be any better off in such a situation? If nothing else has changed, then all that has happened is that you have been bought off and now we can tell you live with it. That is not a very good outcome. Those who purpose such a program had not thought it out to its logical conclusion, they have not looked at the potential hard in may do for decades ad even centuries.
Our last example, because it is on similar lines as the one above is income redistribution. We know this as income inequality. The concept also plays into ending poverty with a guaranteed income. As always, the real question becomes, “Who Pays?” At, the rich and we all know who they are. So many individuals through a very simplistic thinking process believe that the rich have vaults fill with money. All one needs to do is shovel it out to the masses. Except that is not true. Maybe Bill gates and a few others might have a checking account with a million dollars in it. But a million is a long way from 5 or ten billion dollars in investments. One of the problems is how can one get at these investments without killing the companies they own and disrupting employment and business? So we put a tax on wealth. Let us say that if one has a million in assets one has to pay the IRS five percent each year. What is five percent each year? I’ll do the math for you, it is $50,000 each year. That means that should you need to liquidate some of on wealth to pay such an assessment then that lowers my tax base for next year. There will be only 959,000 dollars and maybe only a two percent charge for that wealth accumulation. Otherwise, I would have to earn a minimum of $50,000 each year plus living expenses. Maybe that is possible, we don’t know. But let us say that we tax the billionaires 90% of their wealth. All, then that would be much harder to pay. One would wither have to earn the difference each year or sell more assets to satisfy the tax debt. Once that $90 million is paid, one has only ten million to try and make back the $90 million. But the question becomes for these liquidation of assets, who will buy them. Obviously those control corporations. But instead of the distribution of these concentrations of assets, they are reconcentrated into corporations. That doesn’t seem right. true, we will keep these executives from owning too much personal wealth but now they can exercise far more influences and power in society and that especially includes government
Meanwhile we have decided that everyone is entitles to an income of $50,000 dollars every year. One need not work for the money, one just receives to check each month. Ah, consumer spending increases and all it right with the world, no one is poor and everyone has a place to sleep and food to eat. Then why should I bother to work? I mean, $50,000 is a decent income and I can buy lots of stuff and I don’t have to work. As I shown above, the resources are finite. We take from the rich and pretty see we have no more rich. And maybe we reduce the concentrations of corporate power. Alright, why not. But the fewer people who pay taxes to fewer tax monies are received to pay for the guaranteed income. It’s like the village of one and siste people what farm and hunt for their food. It it takes X number of people to farm and produce enough for the community and Y number of people to hunt for the community, then there is a balance or workers to receivers. That is, everyone eats. What is important is that the number of X and Y food produces produces enough for the total population. I am excluding children because that are the special case, they neither farm or hunt but they eat. If it takes all the population to farm and hunt, then no one can become unproductive. The old, the lame, the disabled become a liability. That is, they only subtract from the total amount of food available and do not contribute to it. That means that others will have to become far more productive or settle for less than their needs and due.
But let us agree that only seventy five percent of the population need to be productive to feed all the population. Then twenty five percent do mot meed work at all. The old and the disabled would be the first ones we recognise and being excluded from work by cause of their conditions. If that made up fifteen percent of the population, so be it. But what of the other ten percent that do not need to be involved with food production? How are they chosen? Should we do it by lottery? Should we insist that these ten percent work and store up that extra surplus for that rainy days or perhaps so the community can take a vacation one year? What happens if more that ten percent don’t want to work, who will make up the difference? The reality of the world is that we are a consumer society. Yes, we save our money to provide capital for the making of capital goods that will produce the consumer goods. The the truth is, real economic grown world wide only comes from an increase in population. Growth is not static. The world is one big economy and one person’s loss is another’s gain We can use tools to increase gains in consumer and capital equipment but beware, there is a limit to growth. It cannot continue forever.
How do we cure poverty and reduce income inequality. The first is by reducing government. Out governments through out the world take far too many resources. The second is by reducing the ability to retain great wealth. Limit the size of corporations. Limit the union excesses. If you want to work for a union then your pay should depend of the union contracting with the employer to product goods and services. The union pays you and the union contracts to produce x amount with your labor. That means that other unions can compete for your job and for your membership. If the unions don’t take the jobs then the corporation owners can’t sell one single unit. These one idea. Corporations should have lifetimes, after which the company is sold and liquidated. the company should have no more that x amount of shareholders and shares of stock. Any growth will be done by retained earnings. We can do quite a bit as far as limiting the accumulation of growth. Make fractional reserve lending illegal. The number of parts to this solution to end poverty and income inequality are vast. Don’t settle for half assed ised, they will always fail.