Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Year, Another Rate Increase for MVWA . . .

Water rates rising for fifth time in five years. Will it ever end?

Probably not.

The board controlling the Water Authority is appointed rather than elected by the public.  They answer to politicians.  Therefore, decisions are likely to advance the local (read County) political agenda (formerly New Hartford expansion, now Nano Utica/Marcy, but always crony favoritism) rather than the interests of the consumers. Take a look at the rate structure . . . it heavily favors the high volume industrial users rather than the typical stay-at-home consumer, yet the cost to treat each gallon of water is the same for all.

The board also depends upon Water Authority officials for their information -- officials whose expertise is limited.

Since the paying-public has already lost control of the system, perhaps now is the time to consider selling the water system to a large waterworks corporation such as American Waterworks or Aqua America. These corporations serve many regions rather than one, have developed an expertise that cannot be matched by our local utility, and, most importantly, would be answerable to the  NYS Public Services Commission when they try to increase local water rates.

Will you ever see persons that think this way appointed to the board?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The McDermott Surprise . . .

I don't know about you, but after watching the NY Governor debate last night the Libertarian candidate, Mr. McDermott, was  the big surprise! 

Mr. Astorino came across as being plastic... He presented nothing that we haven't heard before. While he is against Common Core, he would "replace" CC standards with New York State standards . . . but we've already had NYS standards that didn't help.  He would, at best, be another Pataki . . . appealing to more conservative voters, but not fundamentally transformative.

Mr. Hawkins was the big disappointment. Based on the last debate I expected a more intelligent discourse from him, even though I disagree with him on almost everything .... But all I heard was his Utopian wish list . . . and his accent!  . . . Where did that come from?

As for Mr. Cuomo ... The state is a mess.  The targeted corporate welfare on steroids only spends taxpayer money.  It will not create a sustainable economic revival because the structural problems that created NYS' malaise are never addressed (high taxes, over regulation, high utility costs, etc.).
Mr. McDermott nailed both the Common Core and the Charter Schools issues for me. I know some of my conservative leaning friends will disagree on the Charter Schools issue because Charter Schools create choices for parents.  But Charter Schools are still Government Schools.  They may create choices for now, but they are tuition-free competition for the truly independent private parochial schools. After the parochial schools get killed off, there will only be government schools -- and they all will be promoting the government's agenda rather than a diversity of thought.

Mr. McDermott is really a long-shot to actually win because he is not of a "major" party.  But in this era of three Republican County Executives (including our own) endorsing Democrat Governor Cuomo, are the Republicans really a viable party in New York State anymore?  The People have no real choices any more. . . . 

Unless they seize power for themselves.

That was Mr. McDermott's overall message last night:  Give power back to the People, and they will fix things themselves.

That Idea, is truly something new

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Trophy Project" . . .

A healthy dose of pure skepticism was on display last week in Buffalo's ArtVoice over Gov. Cuomo's deal with Solar City (the subject of a post here) and whether it would be a "game changer." Using local economic statistics, writer Jim Heany demonstrates that while the project might be nice for Buffalo to have, it really doesn't change anything.
Deals like SolarCity provide Cuomo with the kind of trophy project that politicians pine for. 
But they also underscore how uncompetitive the business climate in Western New York and New York State remains. What’s more, these deals are a stark reminder that Cuomo and the rest of the Albany crowd have failed to enact reforms that would give us a fighting chance to improve our economic plight without having to ply companies with corporate welfare.
While taxpayers are being forced to pay to manufacture solar panels in Buffalo, the governor is working dutifully to expand the customer base for solar panels, also at taxpayer expense, right here in Oneida County.

Our money is being spent to create an unsustainable false economy . . . unsustainable because these projects do absolutely nothing to change the conditions that have caused NY's economic decline.

Mr. Heany is correct.  Trophy projects change nothing until state policy is reformed.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Pied Piper of Green . . .

God bless Howie Hawkins . . . I always enjoy listening to an intelligent conversation about current issues and politics, and you can count on that from Mr. Hawkins, rather than the public-relations focus-group-tested  rhetoric you get from mainstream politicians.  Mr. Hawkins elevates the grade-level of the discourse, and for that you have to welcome him and thank him.

Nevertheless, Mr. Hawkins, in the report of his presentation to the OD Editorial Board, really offers nothing more to the voters of New York State than promises of what many would like to see . . . a Utopian vision if you will . . . of things that have already been tried but would end up causing more harm than good in the long run.
Employment assurance: People who are unemployed will be able to find full employment by doing community service or public work.
Roosevelt's WPA may have put people to work, but it prolonged the Depression by distorting market forces... keeping people in "public" make-work jobs rather than jobs in the private sector doing things for which there is a demand. This has been done before (Soviet Russia) and does not work. When the government puts people to work, it builds things that bureaucrats want rather than things that people (i.e., the "market") want . . . Remember the Yugo? I wonder how Mr. Hawkins feels about "workfare?"
Affordable housing . . .it matters in New York City and other larger areas...
Not necessarily . . . There is plenty of "affordable housing" in Detroit . . . and there will be in New York City, too, once the green ideas take hold.
. . . increasing the minimum wage - possibly to $15 per hour
This is the "living wage" shibboleth: That everyone, whatever their job, should be paid enough to support themselves and their families. While "living wage" is a nice outcome . . . and has actually been achieved in some places without government mandate (like North Dakota where fracking is allowed, or Switzerland which has no minimum wage) it is a distortion of the "market" and ultimately must fail unless the entire economy is government rather than "market" controlled (which again, like Soviet Russia, ultimately will fail). YOU pay someone wages based on the perceived value of services YOU receive in return. If a minimum wage is set, that means that people earning the minimum are most likely NOT providing a commensurate value of services in return . . . YOU are "overpaying" them. Of course, value is relative to the local economy. If it is humming with near zero unemployment, then you will likely pay a "living wage" to others to get menial tasks done.
Clean energy . . . “To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Hawkins said. “Lower electric costs, full employment, clean energy. That’s the way to go.”
No-brains is more like it! Wishing does not make these things so. It's time that we learn from others.  As already noted in der Spiegel, the German "green energy" policies have turned electricity into a luxury item -- busting the "lower electric bills" myth. In Spain the promise of "green energy" lead to a 26% unemployment rate! So much for "full employment."  And Clean?  How clean is it with windmills chewing up and solar reflectors frying birds?  With entire landscapes covered with windmills or solar panels?  And with landscapes festooned with powerlines?  What happens when these "large footprint" projects fail . . . or just get old and wear out?

Mr. Hawkins says things that a lot of people like to hear . . . like children enjoying a fairy tale.  And the more plausible-sounding the tale, the greater the enjoyment. . . . But it is still a tale.

Mr. Hawkins is the Pied Piper of Green.    

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Is It Communism?

Last week I commented on Oneida County's solar projects, noting that one of the companies involved had just entered a huge deal with New York State to build a panel manufacturing facility in Buffalo. Something about the deal in the Sentinel article referenced caught my eye . . .
Under the deal with SolarCity, the state will spend $350 million to build the sprawling factory on South Park Avenue and provide $400 million in funding for equipment, with the state following the economic development model that it used to build up the semiconductor industry in the Albany area. 
Under that model, the state invests in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that typically are too costly for companies to acquire on their own and then signs agreements with companies, like SolarCity, that want to access it. . . . [emphasis supplied]
The "economic development model" is State ownership of the factory and State ownership of the equipment. . . .  i.e., "public" ownership of the means of production -- a hallmark of Communism.  Although one or two factories may not mean NY has gone communist ...
SUNY Poly has also sought to use this same model in Marcy where it owns a site that is being developed in hopes of attracting up to three computer chip manufacturing plants.
We certainly have not had armed revolutionaries taking over factories like in Russia a century ago . . . But we have had over-regulation, taxation, and trade laws shut down factories here sending the jobs overseas  to the benefit of large transnational corporations that are cozy with the government. . . . and now we are trying to "lure" jobs back and reopen factories with taxpayer financed incentives like the deal discussed here plus a loose immigration policy that drives wages down.

Whether by armed revolution or by laws and regulations, isn't the end result the same?  Elites (rather than the public) will control the means of production . . .  and the people working in the factories will be nothing more than serfs.