Archive for November, 2008

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Your Trillion Dollar Electric Bill

November 5, 2008

In his long-suppressed and now infamous talk with the San Francisco Chronicle last January, Barack Obama bluntly admitted that “under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

So, how much is “skyrocket?”  Can we put a dollar figure on that?

Well, last year, Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner put forward a bipartisan cap-and-trade plan (Senate Bill S.2191, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007) that is actually less stringent than the plans put forward by Obama.  Earlier this year, the Energy Information Administration conducted – at Senator Lieberman’s request  –an analysis of the costs and potential effects of the bill.  On the completion of the analysis, Senator Lieberman applauded it for its fairness.

The conclusions are stunning:

“Under S. 2191, average annual household energy bills, excluding transportation costs, are between $30 and $325 higher in 2020 and $76 to $723 higher in 2030.”

“OK,” the average ratepayer might think, “30 bucks more in 12 years isn’t so bad.”  But what if it’s the higher number?  Or even, as is more likely, a median number?

But, the individual numbers only tell part of the story.  The real price is in overall effect on Gross Domestic Product:

“Total discounted GDP losses over the 2009 to 2030 time period range from $444 billion to $1,308 billion  . . . the cumulative discounted losses for personal consumption range from $546 billion  to $1,425 billion.”

Gulp.  Ok, after swallowing hard, surely a pricetag of over a trillion dollars is worth it to save the planet.  What do we get on the environment front for foregoing 1.4 trillion in personal consumption?  For all your hard sacrificies you get . . . a fraction of 1 degree in temperature reduction.  And, if the BRIC countries don’t go along with us, we won’t even see that.  Remember, Lieberman applauded this analysis, so its not like it was a political hit piece.

Obama’s plan is even more extensive and, therefore, probably more expensive thatn Lieberman-Warner.  But, don’t lose sleep if this makes you think you voted the wrong way.  McCain’s plan was essentially Lieberman-Warner, so we were taking a hit either way.  Economists call inflation “the cruelest tax.”  Both candidates campaigned as tax-cutters.  They were both cruelly deluding us, if not themselves.

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In the end, I voted McCain

November 4, 2008

This is not an endorsement by any means.  I think both candidates are terribly flawed and I am dismayed that this is the best we can come up with at such an important time in our nations’s history.  The electorate would have been much better served if the nominees had been Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, each of whom was far superior in both intellect and leadership to their parties’ actual nominees.

I’m a two issue voter this year, even with the financial crisis still unfolding around us.  My issues are geopolitics and energy.  Neither candidate, in my opinion, has a genuine understanding of geopolitics or a true theoretical foundation upon which to build such an understanding.  Both are mere ideologues on geopolitics, their positions are non-reflective echoes of partisan positions that may or may not have any grounding in geopolitical realities.  I expected this sort of thing from McCain, but I was amazed at the general thougtlessness of Obama.  He has the reputation of a scholarly, thoughtful man, but I’ve read just about everything he has published (and that is not very much), and find him bright but not particularly insightful.  His work is primarily descriptive and reminds me of a class report one would expect from a college sophomore.  Where he is prescriptive, he is largely an unimaginitive and doctrinaire liberal.  This is not meant to use “liberal” as a pejorative, but merely to state that I find no spark of insight in his thoughts.  There is nothing there to turn me against him, as McCain is similarly unimaginative, but there is nothing to excite me either.

The difference that I do find on the candidates is on energy.  I have found flaws with both candidates’ energy proposals on this blog.  McCain’s nuclear plan is pure fantasy, and his “all of the above” approach has as much depth as a bumper sticker.  But, despite her characterization in much of the mainstream media as a lightweight, Palin is by far the strongest of the four principles on energy policy.  So, McCain has that slender reed going for him.

Obama, on the other hand, lost my vote late in the race solely on the energy issue.  Earlier, I was dismayed at his selection of Joe Biden and Biden’s comments on coal.  Then, over the weekend, Obama’s long suppressed comments on coal were the last straw.  This nation is going to need growing capacity on its electrical grid.  In addition to that, old and obsolete plants will continue to go offline.  There is no way the US will meet increasing demand without utilizing coal fired plants over the next few decades.  Closing the door to coal as Biden wants to do, or making them prohibitively expensive as Obama indicated he plans to do, is unconsionable.  Electricity prices will skyrocket and blackouts and brownouts will increase in frequency.  It is a simple equation – we need capacity, and wind and solar will not be sufficient get us there for several decades.

I don’t like to use the common phrase because neither man and neither party is evil, but my vote for McCain was definitely a vote between two lessers.