Category Archives: Thomas Paine

Perpetual Motion and Government

WHERE  HAS  COMMON  SENSE  GONE ? No. 12 Thomas Paine – November  2010

Does perpetual motion exist?  Knowledgeable people have told us perpetual motion is a technical impossibility. Anyone making the “outlandish claim” perpetual motion is an impossibility has obviously never watched the political process very closely.

While it is true the political process does not meet the true standard of perpetual motion, a standard which requires no new energy being supplied to the process, the political process all too frequently continues indefinitely with no positive result. I am willing to discount hot air as an energy source and thus defend my analogy of the political process being strikingly like perpetual motion.

A mere one day after the recent election results were in, the perpetual motion machine was off and running. How can this be? Continue reading →

A Modest Proposal for Governments from Federal to Local Level

WHERE  HAS  COMMON  SENSE  GONE ? No. 11 Thomas Paine – November  2010 We will soon go to the voting booth to test the national character. Sometimes our choices will be clear. Some candidates will profess to be aligned with the same thoughts and beliefs we have as individuals. At other times the choice will not be clear as in the case of candidates who have switched their positions or sometimes even switched political parties to align themselves with their vision of how the political winds are currently blowing.

At risk of sounding blunt, even to the point of being cynical, I will quote an expression my grandfather used when summing up certain candidates and their positions on important issues….” It may be a Democrat Turkey, or it may be a Republican Turkey, but it is still a turkey.” The older I get the more fully I understand the full implication of what he meant. Continue reading →

WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE ?

( Some Random Musings on the forth of July )

No. 10

Thomas Paine – July 2010

Our country is in a mess. We are being bombarded from every direction with conflicting solutions to the mess. We are even seeing astoundingly bad solutions that seem to be saying the mess is not bad enough yet…..we should make it worse and the clarity that situation provides will then make it easier to apply an as yet undetermined solution in the somewhat distant future. How many times have we recently heard from our elected representatives….” We know it is a new law with some problems but we will fix them later. It is better to pass a bad law than no law at all!” In order to believe such a moronic statement one must be willing to ignore the question “If you really intend to fix it why did you not do so the first time?” Do we even uniformly understand what a mess is? Is a big mess the same as a terrible mess or are they different messes?

Where Has Common Sense Gone?

Continue reading →

Where has common sense gone

Where  Has  Common  Sense  Gone?

By

Thomas  Paine

INTRODUCTION

Tax day is April fifteenth.  The citizens of Weatherford, Texas decided to hold a Tea Party, representative of the earlier one in Boston harbor, to protest unreasonable tax burdens. I attended that party and was struck by the number of ordinary citizens who were there. I saw no evidence of any supremacy group representation. I saw little attendance by the very young or by curiosity seekers. What I saw was a broad cross spectrum of Middle Americans of clearly differing ethnic backgrounds. As I contemplated what was motivating this assemblage I started to realize it was not merely a show of discontent for the tax and spend policies of the administration presently resident in Washington, D.C.  Clearly the excesses of tax and spend activity advocated by the present administration is a significant contributing factor to this present upwelling of citizen anger toward big government, but the root cause is the understanding that for a very long time the government has worked against the best interest of the majority of Americans and is now proposing to dramatically accelerate that process. This situation holds true well beyond the Federal level of government.

I talked to a few people I know and again was struck by their desire to have a more responsible government, even though there was no clear majority opinion of how that could be brought about or how to judge the progress to that end.. People have been conditioned to look for more and different ways that the government can do things for them. This is an incorrect and grossly ineffective approach. Complex problems and situations seldom have simple solutions. Often the best solution is a complete departure from what is not working. This solution does not advocate anarchy. It merely asks government to do what it was originally intended to do and not one thing more. Government must remember that its sole purpose for being is to serve the people, not control and direct them. The astounding array of give-away, take-away, special interest subsidies and special interest punishments has spun completely out of control as witnessed by a tax code that is rapidly approaching 40,000 pages in length. The role of a taxation system is to raise revenue; social policy must be approached and delivered in a much different manner than it is today. There is every possibility that the tax code could be reduced to a “mere”400-500 pages that would be comprehensible to tax paying Americans. It only requires a total repeal of the old statues and substitution of new well considered ones.

This and subsequent essays are intended to help ordinary citizens understand what a burden our government has become on the lives of citizens and also provide some insight into the needed changes elected officials should be held accountable for undertaking

Holding Government to the Appropriate Standards #1

WHERE  HAS  COMMON  SENSE  GONE?

(Holding Government to the Appropriate Standards)

No. 1

Thomas Paine – April 2009

Our Federal Government has certain important and defined functions. To support those functions it must raise revenue. All citizens understand and accept this fact. Government can and should tax income and consumption. Government should not tax anything else whatsoever. Every dollar of income should attract some tax, under a modestly graduated tax that is reasonable and that is not changed dramatically or often without exceedingly good reason. All subsidies, without exception, must be eliminated.  Government must stop looking at activity but instead look at results. A limited number of transfer payments are acceptable: social security and veterans benefits being prime examples.  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has asked the congress to provide metrics which will support and verify the actual economic results derived from government programs. Congress has refused and not even one of the programs O.M.B. verified as ineffective has been cancelled.  By way of example it was demonstrated that only 15% of the jobs programs designed by the government was providing any benefit whatsoever. The programs do however provide employment for an army of civil servants. Government absolutely must start looking at results instead of at activity. There can be no sacred cows allowed to exist that do not economically pay their own way through the quantifiable benefits derived from their actions.

Government’s job is not to provide employment for civil servants but to provide necessary and useful services to its citizens, and it should be buying those services from the best and most cost effective provider. In short, government should lay off significant numbers of staff and shift the work to the private sector. The cost effectiveness gained would allow even more employment with a dramatic increase in work effort and productive results.

The original Thomas Paine understood the use of common sense when railing against the excesses George III had inflicted on his own citizens. George III was an example of arrogance combined with ignorance and power, a truly lethal and disruptive combination. Paine said government needs to remedy the defect of man’s mortal virtue, not help supply it. Today Thomas Paine would likely change the title of his thought provoking paper to:

Where Has Common Sense Gone?-A.D. 2009”.

(An indictment against big government)

Government must not do the things government should not do. Government must not do things that do not work………

A classis example is the Washington, D.C. Public School System (remember, the Federal Government is solely responsible for and to the citizens of the District of Columbia). Washington public schools are among the very worst performers in the nation by their own admission. A pilot program was started to introduce an education voucher system into the district in order that parents could economically seek a better education for their children. The resulting increase in student achievement exceeded even the most optimistic expectations of the system managers.

What did the government do? Government did away with the voucher program.  When something works the government cuts its funding. If it doesn’t work the government throws more money at it. WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

America’s primary and secondary public education system does not much harm those students with greatest ability but it certainly insures that a large number of students will remain at a level without skills necessary to participate effectively in society. This abomination must be stopped and stopped now! Governments subsidize inefficiency. Subsidies create dependencies and eliminate innovation. Any responsible person recognizes that the strongest component of American prosperity and success has been our national characteristic to innovate, create and take risks. This characteristic is being systematically erased from our psyche by big government.

Thomas Paine surely would have asked the government……

What have you done to private citizen property rights?  Why have you usurped instead of protected them? Why have you not codified them in a systematic and responsible way? Why are property rights being decided on an ad hoc basis by individuals who do not necessarily have any special expertise in the area where they operate, but instead are granted much authority just because they met the qualifications of being on a ballot and got elected by individuals with even less understanding of the area they are expected to operate in.  WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

What works? Do you know? Do you even know what you are doing? Do you have any idea what you should be doing?  Why do you duplicate so many of the activities of the private sector but do them so poorly?  WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

Paine would go on to say………

The question on the floor is…..Why is a particular policy not working?  What public benefit has actually arisen from activity in this area?

The list could go on and on but I believe the point has been made….We must start using our common sense regularly and insist that the government does likewise.  How do we achieve these ends? First we recognize both major political parties have been responsible for our present state of affairs. It does no good to debate by which measure one or the other is most responsible. They need to hear the people’s message in such clear and unambiguous terms that even a government out of touch with reality cannot help but understand the message.  I cannot speak for others but I gladly present my position for others to contemplate.

The answer is at the ballot box. It has taken a long time to reduce the effectiveness of government to its present state. It will likely take at least some time to rectify the situation. Even so, this is not sufficient reason to delay starting the process now! Therefore I share my views of the way I intend to contribute to the process.

I urge each of you to do likewise if you truly believe in liberty and freedom from excessive government intrusion into your life.

I will profess allegiance to no political party. I will make every effort to elect individuals who will install and follow without exception the common sense principals previously referenced. I care not what their ethnic background or political stripe is. I care only that they will systematically help dismantle the non-responsive elements of big government at every level and return our country, state or community to a sound financial basis, while minimizing intrusions into the lives of the citizens. I will do this without exception, and I will try to help educate others so that they may clearly understand how to correctly judge the actions and results of their elected officials.

T.P. (2009)

Holding Government to the Appropriate Standards #2

WHERE  HAS  COMMON  SENSE  GONE?

(Holding Government to the Appropriate Standards)

No. 2

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.

T.P. (2009)

How Manipulating the Tax Code Promotes Bad Government

WHERE  HAS  COMMON  SENSE  GONE?

(How Manipulating the Tax Code Promotes Bad Government)

No. 3

Thomas Paine – May  2009

Essay No. 2 shed light on an attempt to promote solar energy by once again using a rightfully popular concept to distort logic and perpetuate a tax and spend mentality which is so aptly demonstrated by our elected officials.

Was there not a wise American, who when discussing the political arena said …..

“Here they go again!” or something very similar?   Well here they go again……

The Weatherford Democrat on May 5, 2009 made legislation pertaining to Texas House Bill 469 the front page headline. This bill relates to coal fired generation facilities and a way to reduce the amount of free carbon dioxide they emit when operating.

Texas House Bill 469 appears to have all of the necessary ingredients to provide something useful and cost effective for the State, and it is surely as green as grass. The same color as your money which will go into supporting the activity this bill references. Perhaps we should look at it a bit closer. After all, we have already discussed the basic requirement for our politicians….. get elected!  Far too many of them are either unwilling or inept when it comes to providing the critical thinking required as a prerequisite for important decision making.  HB 469 is a good example.

The proposed legislation would seem to embrace all of the necessary components to be regarded as a useful contribution to the greening of Texas.  It has been carefully drafted to respect other existing legislation and in fact draws on that legislation for support and functionality.  What it does not tell us is that some of the existing legislation being cited as a contributing reference is bad legislation. Was this fact considered or did the HB 469 drafters merely check to ensure that supporting references were accurate and reasonably complete?  Never-the-less the purpose of this essay is to discuss HB 469, not previous legislation which is voluminous.

Upon reading the draft which is proposed to take effect on September 1, 2009, a few examples of legislation designed by legislators to please lobbyists, while appearing green, become apparent. Tax and spend is rampant. The actual taxing is applied to someone other than the facility owner. The facility operators get a tax credit, and even then if they cannot use it all (since they have significant other tax reduction incentives) they are free to sell it to someone else. Good job, we certainly would never want a tax credit to go unused!

“The generating facility must be capable of capturing and sequestering in a geologic formation at least 60 percent of the carbon dioxide resulting from the generation of electricity.” I believe capable is the operative word!  What about the carbon dioxide resulting from ancillary activity which is necessary but which does not directly generate electricity? The amount of additional carbon dioxide created by ancillary activity could be substantial.

Never mind. The important thing is 60 percent of the carbon dioxide created directly by generation could be sequestered. “After sequestering, the carbon dioxide must remain in the formation for at least 500 years.” Bravo! This shows some serious intent. But wait! It is only necessary to have 60 percent of the sequestered carbon dioxide remain in the formation. Let’s see….60 percent of 60 percent is only 36 percent. Oh well, we can hope this percentage is exceeded even though it is only necessary for the generating facility to meet the minimum required standard. This is good because we are not sure how much additional carbon dioxide will be produced by ancillary operations. We can be pretty sure it is less than 36 percent, therefore ensuring a net positive reduction in carbon dioxide produced by the electric generating facility.

But wait….the generating facility will not be the entity actually utilizing the sequestered carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide will be handed over to oil and gas producing companies that will utilize it to pressure hydrocarbon bearing formations which have neared the end of their producing ability as a result of formation pressure drop.

One might ask….. “If pressuring the formation is all that is necessary for more oil production, why haven’t the producing companies just used air which is free for the taking and readily available?”  There is a good reason why they have not done this. Air does not form a solution with petroleum liquids nearly so well as carbon dioxide does. The formation will produce more hydrocarbons as a result of the increased pressure of carbon dioxide in solution. This also guarantees the produced liquids, and gas for that matter, will contain very much more carbon dioxide than they otherwise would have done. Is this where the missing 40 percent of the total amount of carbon dioxide being sequestered has gone?

Now who is responsible for the carbon dioxide once it is removed from the oil and gas? Where might it go next? If it is re-injected into the formation after recovery from the produced hydrocarbons then why will there be a continuing need for more carbon dioxide from the generating plants as the legislation presumes?  Was there any analysis done that indicates a need for anywhere near 60 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by the electric generating plants? By the way, how much more carbon dioxide will this additional compression and injection create?  What happens if the hydrocarbon producers become sufficiently saturated with carbon dioxide and cannot effectively utilize the amounts being produced? Is this another opportunity for the word “could” to come into play?

Will government expand to provide the necessary oversight or will the government rely on the regulatory honor system, of the Texas Railroad Commission which is now much used and often abused?  Will government expand the already punitive eminent domain provisions to allow additional pipelines for the transport of this corrosive carbon dioxide from the electric generating plants to the injection points? Can ANY of these questions be answered before the September first activation date for the legislation? Very likely not!  This proposed legislation is a fine example of lawmakers run amok!

WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

Once again the government has distorted the picture to create the impression that something important is happening. The increased production of oil and gas by a state and nation that is in a deficit position is absolutely a worthy concept. So is the reduction of free carbon dioxide; however, to use this concept as a supporting argument for passing bad legislation that will increase the tax burden of the citizens with little verifiable positive carbon dioxide reduction is bad government, and another example of the abuses fostered by a system of seemingly unlimited tax manipulation by special interests and their government facilitators. When is government going to demonstrate some ability to actually cut spending and reduce staffing? The citizens want that time to be now!!

T.P. (2009)

Why do bad schools get a passing grade?

WHERE  HAS  COMMON  SENSE  GONE?

(Why do bad schools get a passing grade?)

No. 4

Thomas Paine – May  2009.

The question of how good or how bad primary and secondary public schools are has been debated at some length. Despite an overwhelming preponderance of evidence supporting poor teaching and lax administrations as causative factors of the problem, low achievement rates persist among far too many students. While this essay does not propose to debate the conflicting opinions on this issue, it will address one aspect of the issue that has been identified, clearly documented and subsequently largely ignored. On closer examination it is the most important issue. This issue is the culture of excuses that permeates our public schools.

The Weatherford Democrat 0n May 13, 2009 focused on minimum grade policy, which is an imbedded example of the issue. The central issue is the unending litany of excuses offered by public schooling for the low achievement rates of their students.

The minimum grade policy in effect at Weatherford schools ensures that no student will get a grade below 50 for any work assignment no matter how poorly done or even left undone. The schools say it is a disincentive to give students an appropriately low grade for substandard performance since it may not be the students fault.  They actually got this one right, but for the wrong reason….…..it is very likely the school’s fault.  What about giving serious students appropriate full credit for the work they have honestly and earnestly done? Might the grade system being utilized actually serve as a disincentive to good students?  One wonders how this grading system might also mask the truth with respect to poor teaching! The actual degree of education success or failure can never be accurately monitored so long as the metrics which go into the assessment can be manipulated at will by those with the most to lose if the truth were known.

WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

The Texas State Legislature has decided to take up the question of minimum grading in public schools. The House Public Education Committee (a collection of school administrators) will no doubt try to persuade a liberal legislature to continue and further solidify this minimum grade policy. Any Texan with school age children or grandchildren should be prepared to weigh in on this issue if they believe actual achievement in education is a necessary precursor to success in life. Any Texan who pays an outrageously high tax assessment to support failing schools might also want to be heard. Follow this one closely and vote for the common sense candidates the next time they are up for election.

What about the culture of excuses?

I believe we have probably heard all of the excuses more than once, e.g. “Many students are disadvantaged economically. Many students are suffering from a poor home environment, etc. etc” But the worst excuse of all is the one that claims specialty charter and no excuse high performing schools should not be considered since they pull away good students and high performance teachers from the other schools, thereby somehow causing the other primary and secondary schools to perform badly. Washington D. C. high performance schools have documented and rendered all of these excuses bankrupt and anyone willing to look at the comprehensive facts they have assembled will understand this.

WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

After years of inaction and endless debate it appears our State Legislature is starting to hear the voice of the citizens. At the very least they are going to review the minimum grade situation as it exists today.  Watch this one closely, and let your representatives know that a no excuse culture is what is needed and wanted in public schools. Do not let the legislature say “We looked at the problem and we believe it is an acceptable excuse for continuation of this corrupt system.” Political double talk about holding school property tax down or wringing hands over finding solutions to the failing public school problem is merely a subterfuge to make citizens think serious thought is being given to the problem.  If serious thought had been given to the problem in Texas, we would have seen a stronger push for the alternate schools a long time ago.

The present problem is not one that can be rectified by picking away at external factors. Anti-poverty and disadvantaged student programs have their proper place, but they do not improve school achievement; however, yet disadvantaged students, such as the ones attending specialty schools, have clearly shown much improved motivation and a  significant, positive, lasting impact on poverty and poor family environment. The solution to the culture of excuses lies within the schools themselves and it can be provided by the school administration and teachers.  It will not be provided by the Federal Department of Education, the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers.  It will be provided by school district trustees who steadfastly dismiss any excuse for poor school performance. It will be provided by District Superintendents and School Principals who will not tolerate excuses or substandard performance by themselves or by their staff. It will be provided by unfettered competition between specialty schools and existing public schools so effectiveness can be reliably measured in a no excuse accepted environment.

Once it becomes clear that the citizens have access to an undistorted standard by which to judge and compare public school performance against specialty schools, the public schools will start to fix themselves and if they do not, they will be closed, and all available funding shifted to the high performance schools.

We need help from our legislators to advance this solution. If they will not take firm and decisive action now then we need to change over to no excuse legislators. The long standing poor performance of public schools can be fixed but it cannot be fixed by plowing over again the same ground that has always come up with failure.

Here they go again – again

WHERE  HAS  COMMON  SENSE  GONE?

(Here they go again – again)

No. 5

Thomas Paine – June  2009.

Essay No. 3 talked about bad government and tax code manipulation. Specifically it discussed some aspects of the legislative give away to the coal industry at taxpayers expense as reported in the May 5, 2009 Weatherford Democrat. On June 3, 2009 the Weatherford Democrat gave front page billing to Texas House Bill 469. The same bill discussed in essay three. This previous essay raised some questions relative to potential weaknesses in the control and verification of actual net carbon dioxide reduction. It also suggested the possibility that the bill sponsors were more interested in appearing green for re-election purposes than they were about protecting the interests of Texas tax payers, by ensuring the results obtained under the bill justified the cost to taxpayers.

A reasonable voter might even have been willing to give those legislators approving the bill the benefit of the doubt until some form of independent verification could be applied to the results. Now there can be no doubt about the wanton inappropriateness of the legislation as recently revised and presently constructed. It seems as though the lobbyists did not think the previous give away was sufficient so they came back for more.

I suppose it is not surprising that the same legislator who gave away so much to the ERCOT (Energy Reliability Council of Texas) plan a few years ago is now trying to help cover his previous mistake in which he promised plentiful and cheap electric power for Texas well into the 21st century. What a great opportunity, appear among the greenest of the green and also bury a previous gross error in judgment, while keeping the lobbyists happy. Hopefully no one will notice ERCOT has still not implemented all of the checks and controls required by their mandate, even though some are several years overdue.

What have the lobbyists gotten in this present round of give-away?  Was not 60 percent carbon dioxide capture previously a marker in the House Bill 469 construction? Why now do the emitting plants need capture only 50 percent of their carbon dioxide emissions to obtain a sales tax exemption on all purchases related to plant, equipment and sundry items utilized for the capture, transmission and subsequent deployment of the carbon dioxide? But wait; let’s also provide a state wide opportunity for a tax holiday under all regional and local taxing jurisdictions. We would surely not want any possible additional tax give away to be missed for lack of enabling legislation.

Why the reduction in capture percentages required to start harvesting the tax abatement feast? Apparently it is important to have the capture percentage numbers bounce around a lot in order to create the impression significant expense and effort will go into gleaning any additional percentage of capture. To prove this point we will give the plant owners an additional $100 million dollars franchise tax credit per project if the plant is capable of reaching a 70 percent capture rate. Plant owners do not actually have to capture the 70 percent to get the money. This is a wonderful incentive. Too bad the potential plant owners did not make it clear that once carbon dioxide capture is accomplished there is almost zero incremental cost increase incurred in elevating the design capture rate from 50 percent to 75 percent.

WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

But wait, there is more. Now the oil industry will get a 75 percent severance tax reduction for a 30 year period with respect to any oil recovered using carbon dioxide technology.

Interestingly enough, the oil industry has for years been reusing carbon dioxide originally recovered from the ground as a result of high carbon dioxide levels in some oil and gas production. They do this because it is profitable for them to do so. They do not depend on this proposed tax reduction to provide an incentive for this activity presently. Why have our representatives made this added feature available? Could it be important to demonstrate the maximum usage of carbon dioxide captured from coal fired generating plants? Do the oil companies have to “dump” the naturally produced carbon dioxide to maximize the use of captured carbon dioxide in order to earn maximum tax reduction?  Or could it be even worse?  Could the oil companies apply for the tax reduction by merely recycling the carbon dioxide they already produce? After all this activity meets the test of utilizing carbon dioxide technology.

Will there be independent assessment of actual results to determine cost / benefit effectiveness and verifiable capture and reuse rates of carbon dioxide, or will the standard government process be used in which some academic is hired (again with tax payers money) to verify results? This seems just a bit too incestuous to me. Independent verification from a nationally recognized testing agency is the only acceptable way to obtain results free from self-interest.

The potential cost of this legislation to the Texas taxpayer is very worrisome, especially in a time of slumping tax revenue to the state from reduced sales taxes and fees. This legislation is providing for huge give-away dollar amounts. The amount of tax dollars lost through these tax eliminations and reductions could easily be large enough to impact the franchise tax rate on small businesses as well as the Texas sales tax rate required to maintain a balanced budget.

The nicest thing that can be said about this piece of legislation is that it is shameful and that its’ proponents have no shame. When are our elected officials going to honor their duty to protect the interest of the common citizen taxpayer instead of special interest groups and their own self-interest?  When is our state government going to stop devising new ways to mangle the tax code? When are the voters going to get angry enough at this sort of behavior to do something about it?

WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

Getting Government Back Into the Hands of the People

WHERE  HAS  COMMON  SENSE  GONE?

(Getting Government Back Into the Hands of the People)

No. 6

Thomas Paine – July  2009.

Fascists to the right of us……Socialists to the left of us…… What are we to do? We seem totally surrounded by the extreme fringes of both major political parties. They each wax and wane in turn, yet we are always left with the feeling we are being driven to financial ruin by a political ruling class that has taken control of our lives while long ago forgetting their purpose for being. We are continually bombarded with messages reminding us if we do not subscribe to the most extreme positions taken by the activists in both major political parties then we are unworthy to call ourselves either Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrat. We are the excluded middle, and unworthy to even consider ourselves true Americans, since any form of moderation is viewed by political  activists as disgraceful. How can this be possible. Surely freedom of thought is protected under the freedom of speech provision of the First Amendment. But then again the fringe elements don’t seem to think so, and all too often we acquiesce to their brand of dogma . Why do we do this?

WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE ?

We know that we are deeply concerned by what is happening to our country. We do not fully understand why it is happening. Is it because a virtual litany of code words have been developed to quickly discredit any non-aligned thoughts? Is it because on a personal basis we either do, or do not, support gay rights, abortion, undocumented workers, water boarding, or a myriad of other hot button issues that seemingly always demand our attention. True we should be concerned about these issues, and we should clarify our own personal thoughts with respect to them, but we must also keep in mind that no matter on which side of the issue we reside our judicial system has largely decided for us what our opinions should be and it is well on the way to imposing them on us without benefit of any form of referendum.  Their attitude is……So what if one has to find differing and new meanings in the Constitution of the United States of America. Meanings that hinge on obscure and often irrelevant concepts which have never before been recognized by either our Founding Fathers or by the numerous constitutional scholars who have followed  after them.

We do not like the way the tax code is in a perpetual state of manipulation in order to serve the political will of elected officials and not the well being of the general citizenry.

We do not like the way the people are constantly categorized as either religious or atheists, rich or poor, overly advantaged or woefully disadvantaged, over-achievers or just plane lazy. All of this rhetoric is designed to do two things: Make us believe we must choose one or the other of the main political parties or else find ourselves left out in the cold. Also, and most importantly, it is designed to obscure our vision with respect to how poorly the government is attending to the true will of the people, and how big government is driving our country towards a financial abyss. We do not like this situation but we often feel there is little we can presently do about it.

But there is a way to do something about the present situation. It is a peaceful way and it cannot be filibustered and thus ultimately stopped by the long term politicians. The way to get government back into the hands of the citizens is to institute term limits for all elective politicians.  This can be done at the ballot box by electing Term Limit Independent candidates.

This concept has been suggested before and it has always been shouted down by those with the most to gain by perpetuating political status quo. Lets look at the concept a little more closely instead of dismissing it out of hand as something the incumbent politicians will never allow.  In fact they can disallow it all they want but they cannot stop a term limit movement at the grass roots level. Read on……..

This conceptual change cannot happen through the normal process of constitutional amendments at federal or state levels. The term politicians will continue to place their personal desire for reelection ahead of the interests of the citizens. They will block every attempt at term limits that is in their power to block. They will continue to spend very little time seriously thinking about how to deal with national and state or local problems on a rational level. They will be too busy either actively campaigning to raise funds for reelection or they will be catering to special interest groups which will help them maintain a power base. Any remaining time will be devoted to reviling politicians from the other major political party and creating animosity among differing segments of the general population. They will never, never allow a referendum that limits the term or scope of their power.

To achieve de facto term limits for politicians at all levels will require a huge and sustained effort by voters committed to winning their country back. It will likely take years to achieve full effect, but it can start to have limited effect almost immediately. Just remember if the process is never initiated then it will never happen. The time to start the process is now. Once the process has established some creditability and demonstrated positive results it will become even easier to gain additional support for its concepts and apply them to ever higher levels of government. The general population of citizens will then be regaining effective political control of their country.

Initially the process will be commenced at a more localized level, but with continuing expansion to state and federal levels at every opportunity. Every elective position at city and county level  must be challenged at every election by a Term Limit Independent. A term limit independent is notably different from other candidates now considered to be Independent, Libertarian, or of some other persuasion.

A term limit independent will be bound by the following criteria:

They will serve only one term in any particular elective office in the same jurisdiction. They will not rerun for the same office, in the same jurisdiction, having once been elected to it or appointed to fill an unexpired term. They may run for any other elective office in the same jurisdiction provided they have never served in that office and they meet the qualifications of that office.

They will take a public pledge to reform government along the following lines: i). Cut unnecessary spending. ii). Eliminate subsidies. iii). Restructure entitlements. iv). Raise taxes to balance the budget only after i). ii). iii).  have been acted upon in a structured and competent way, and roll back any tax increase once it is not needed.

They will on an annual basis, in a public forum, and in concert with the time frame of their jurisdictional budget, provide a comprehensive review of the actions that have been taken and what progress has been made with respect to the reform agenda referenced above. They will provide a a general assessment of how well they have been able to perform their statue duties of office.

They will not actively participate in any other political party while either running for election or serving after elected as a term limit independent. They will renounce any prior political party membership or allegiance other than term limit independence.

Once elected, a term limit independent will strictly adhere to the following criteria:

They will provide their jurisdiction with written requirements ( within legal boundaries ) that strongly project these principles: Disengage from any form of nepotism or cronyism. Accept no personal favors or gifts of any tangible value for self, family members, relatives or business associates. Promote efficiency in government within their jurisdiction and eliminate waste as well as any unneeded activity. They will not conduct personal use with any jurisdictional property, or unnecessary personal activity during normal jurisdictional working hours.  They will actively pursue cheaper and more effective ways to accomplish needed jurisdictional activity.

They will meet on an established periodic basis with other term limit independents to establish consensus on ways to revamp and improve cost effectiveness of government and improve services rendered to the public at their respective jurisdictional levels.

They will make every available effort to resist intrusion by higher levels of government into the lives and liberty of citizens, resisting at every opportunity the utilization of the tax code to reward special interests or punish others or to promote social engineering.

They will never support a raise in pay for their elective position that would have effect during their term of office if serving in that position.  If a pay raise is instituted over their objection, they will refuse to accept it or if required to accept it they will publicly  donate it back to a legitimate charitable organization active within their elective jurisdiction.

What is the goal of a term limit independent movement?

The goal is to remove career politicians at every level of government and replace them with citizen office holders. This will allow competent citizens, that might otherwise not do so, to hold elective office since they will not be subjected to the financial pressures brought on by election efforts when running in major party primaries or general elections.

It will also make virtually meaningless the attempts by career politicians or their supporters to engage in character assassination attempts on term limit independent candidates or their families.

The goal is to redirect election campaigns and terms of service to focus on issues and not the qualifications or personal habits of the other candidates. The present state of constant bickering and politically motivated attacks or counter attacks has reduced the objectivity and effectiveness of the various levels of government to its present state of incompetence.

The situation can be made better only if competent replacement candidates carrying no political baggage and insulated from the insidious siren call of power and prominence are elected to serve limited terms. This is a must, since even the best, brightest and most honorable of our citizens will eventually be compromised if allowed to stay in the presence of charlatans and special interest brokers for an extended period of time. Personnel rotation has been demonstrated as an effective tool for innovation and competent thinking for a long time. Business learned this lesson long ago and it is time for our government to learn it also.  One need only to look at individual failures in business and government to see what a deleterious effect is caused by limited personnel rotation.

Once a sufficient number of career politicians have been replaced by term limit elected officials it will be possible to encourage employers to treat the absence of an employee, actively serving a term limit, in a manner similar to the way citizen soldiers are treated during their limited term of military service which takes them temporarily away from their regular job. Obtaining this level of cooperation from employers  will ensure an ever increasing supply of competent term limit candidates who have no other motive than providing a useful service to their country. They will have no need for political favoritism or paybacks.

Even without a clear majority representation at higher levels of government, the increased presence of term limit independents in sufficient numbers will be instrumental in redirecting existing elective officials to reexamine their actions and motives to ensure  they are constitutionally sound and conforming to the best principles of limited but effective government. If the incumbents do not start to move in this direction they will be replaced by a term limit independent at the next election.

This program can succeed and it should be commenced now!