WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?
(Holding Government to the Appropriate Standards)
Thomas Paine – April 2009
Essay No. 1 noted the need to eliminate all subsidies. Subsidies seldom achieve the intended objective and very often do much unintended damage to other elements of the economy. At the very least they create dependencies that are self-perpetuating and costly to the taxpayer. Who among you can recall the elimination of a subsidy? Even worse who among you can remember a subsidy that achieved its stated goal without causing significant unforeseen consequences? Who remembers the corn to ethanol subsidy?
Hardly had I time to put down my pen from writing Essay No. 1 than another new subsidy was announced in the local newspaper.
April 22, 2009, a front page story in the Weatherford Democrat announced: Senate Passes Solar Incentive Bill. The vote in the Texas State senate was 26 for and 4 against. Environmentalists hailed the bill as a big step toward a greener future for Texas.
How could any elected official vote against this bill unless they wanted Texas to remain brown and never achieve green status? Surely every responsible person wants to shepherd the environment and promote conservation when it is approached in an appropriate manner. The expanded use of solar power is certainly positive so long as those citizens least likely to derive advantage from it are not penalized in some manner.
We should recall that four senators did vote against this bill and I submit to you that they are likely the only four who actually thought about what this bill would do and would not do. We should remember them so we can reward them at the ballot box when they next seek to retain their elective office.
We start our consideration of the actual manifestations of the bill by seeing what the bill’s sponsor said. Senator Troy Frasier [R] Horseshoe Bay said that while the funds for this direct subsidy to homeowners would come from a tax levied on every user of electricity in Texas, this would be a small price to pay for the thousands of dollars Texans might collect in rebates from federal tax incentives and lower electric bills. REALLY? Frasier’s bill is designed to collect over 100 million dollars annually from Texans and Texas businesses.
No one will be immune from this additional tax on their use of electricity no matter how burdensome their electric power payments now are. Frasier’s bill also REQUIRES developers to offer solar as an option in any development of 50 homes or more.
What is wrong with this approach?
The answer is plenty! It perfectly typifies more and more government intrusion into every citizen’s freedom and liberty. Firstly it seems suspiciously like the bill was embraced by politicians who were more concerned with not appearing to be green in the eyes of extreme environmentalists than they were about confirming they are tax and spend politicians. After all tax and spend has been going on for years, we should all be used to it and accept it by now. Why should a politician running for reelection ever vote against such an earth saving plan? The trouble is this logic is flawed and private citizens have finally become fed up with tax and spend without accountability on the part of the government. The citizens have now reached the point that they intend to start electing officials who will demonstrate well considered responsibility to the taxpayer. I am certain as I sit here that, with the possible exception of the four “Nay!” votes, not one politician voting on this bill did sufficient review and analysis to determine whether or not the taxpayer money would be utilized in a way that could be economically justified. After all, aren’t appearances better than substance? Not when it is the citizens paying for the purely political appearances of politicians. Those politicians in tune with the will of the citizens are the ones who voted against this measure. It is important we remember them and reward them with our votes.
The persons who can expect to receive some direct benefit from this bill are almost certainly those persons who currently are relatively immune from the tough economic times the average citizen is facing. They are persons who DO NOT need a subsidy to help them make a solar decision if indeed it is beneficial to them. They are the owners of generally upscale homes without an underwater mortgage. They are fortunate and we applaud them, but their solar decisions should be based on free markets and not government caprices and interventions. All the rest of the citizens either live in apartments, or have little likelihood of reaching a point at which solar is attractive to them personally from an economic standpoint. Never mind, we will tax them anyhow! They must not be allowed to stand in the way of green progress even if that progress cannot be economically justified without a large measure of overlapping subsidies and credits. One should ask….. Did these other subsidies come from some other unnamed tax source? You bet they did! The tax credits and tax abatements will be recovered through other taxes on even more people.
Therefore is this proposed bill really as effective as is being presented? Almost certainly not!
WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?
The time to elect representatives who display a large measure of common sense is now!
Vote for substance not appearances the next time you vote.