Thursday, February 10, 2011
"Tomorrow, February 11, Governor Kitzhaber will announce his Executive Order to create the Oregon Education Investment Team with a tour of the Portland State University Helen Gordon Child Development Center to follow. The Executive Order is the first step toward investing in a seamless zero to 20 education system, with the goal of ensuring that children enter school ready to learn, teachers have the support and resources to teach, and high school graduates are prepared to pursue post secondary education."
Government cash (taxpayer money) and the Oregon Education Association (labour union). Adding seven more years into the process.
What could go wrong?
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
"The current plan would have the 220-mile-per-hour train running through well-populated residential areas. It also pits the Authority against Union Pacific over track resources, meaning the bullet train would essentially replace freight—the one genre of rail transport that remains viable and important to the economy—with a passenger rail project that has no hope of ever becoming sustainable."
The thought was this; what if we replaced the word "sustainable" at every turn with the word "profitable"?
So, the discussion on Green Technology would become one of profitability. "We are supportive of wind-power because it is profitable." Of course this statement is not true. Whether it was PP & L or PGE going in to talk about the current plan for Oregon increasing Green Technology, when asked if this technology was profitable, they would have to say, no. Is light-rail profitable? No. Is making the Chevy Volt profitable? Well, not without massive subsidies. Ethanol profitable? No. Not without massive subsidies.
I hear politicians talking about what business leaders should do with such a degree of certainty that it exceeds the bounds of credulity. Our own Junior Senator, Mr. Merkley, recently came up with this exceedingly interesting proposal:
"Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement Thursday in response to President Obama’s call for tax incentives and financing for energy efficient building renovations:
“Energy saving renovations are our best bet for creating a lot of jobs fast. Beyond putting Americans to work, these renovations save families and businesses money, utilize materials made in America, and reduce harmful global warming pollution. These energy efficiency efforts have the support of both Democrats and Republicans. I’m committed to continue working with my colleagues from both parties to get these initiatives in place.”"The proposal President Obama discussed today includes the commercial portion of Senator Merkley’s Clean Energy for Homes and Buildings Act. In the 111th Congress, Senator Merkley also introduced several other bills promoting energy efficiency renovations, including Building Star and the Rural Energy Savings Program. Senator Merkley also co-sponsored the legislation to create the Home Star energy efficiency program."
Is it profitable? When any activity requires massive subsidy from governments to "achieve savings" one can fairly question the underlying assumption that the speaker has a clue as to what constitutes profitability. Yes, the beneficiaries of government largesse will have profits (normally). But the activity being undertaken--without subsidy--would be unprofitable. Not sustainable. And an activity not actionable. Normal people just don't spend money that costs more than the benefits received for taking that action. Throw in massive government subsidies and the rules of normal decision-making goes out the window.
So, I simply submit that, the next time you hear the word "sustainable" you simply replace that word with profitable. When activities are profitable, they are sustained. Without government subsidy or mandatory regulation.
Senator Merkley, without a shred of private enterprise experience to his name, is setting policies that reflect his level of experience. In his experience, the private sector needs to be hectored in order to assure us, the folks, that the private sector is "doing its job." What a bunch of unsustainable blather. The private sector does this, does that, all without the guiding hand of the political elite (in fact, in most cases, despite the guiding hand of the political elite.) We do it because we enjoy doing it. We can see our way clear to earning a few bucks. And when it no longer is profitable, we turn our ruminations toward new paths, new products, new services. Of course you can generate bubbles in markets by introducing massive subsidies. And then when the bubbles pop you can blame the markets for the bubbles.
Sustainable. Profitable. Which word should be the most operative when looking at Merkley's call for putting Americans to work?
I think Senator Jeff, and definately President Obama, have no clue.