05 June 2017

America's environmental clean-up bill is overdue.

From the year 1900 through the latest data available from 2011, America is responsible for over 28% of all industrialized carbon emissions in the world. (SPREADSHEET made possible thanks to CAIT climate data.) Based on carbon pollution information, if we were to assume the United States did not exist, the world would have 31 additional years to resolve the climate crisis.

This information is not intended to be anti-American since I assume most of the world is happy to not be speaking German or Russian as their primary language. On the whole, the United States has been a force for good on our planet that has raised the quality of life for most of humanity through technology and prevention of another world war. It should also be noted that, without American satellite technology, the world may not have known about our perilous situation until 31 more years had passed, thereby erasing any benefit from the absence of our carbon pollution.

However, this information is critical when evaluating our responsibility to repair, or at least mitigate, the damage caused by our emissions. When a political leader speaks about how a climate deal punishes the United States, we must acknowledge the "punishment" every other country faces due to the total history of our pollution. The richest country in the world is responsible for over a quarter of the pollution so the bare minimum should involve us covering our 28% of the bill for a solution. Considering the financial benefit gained by our emissions in the past century, we probably could afford to cover the 20% gratuity, too.

22 April 2017

All income should be taxed at the same rate.

President Trump is preparing to embark on new tax policy for America and I will naively pretend that it is something more than a tax cut for the rich. If he truly wants to fix the tax system then the only truly fair process would be a flat tax based on net worth. (Expect that to happen when our sun turns into a white dwarf.) However, the best change we can make today is to tax all income, including capital gains, inheritance, prize winnings and whatever else - at the same rate. The super rich get all of their income from capital gains. I know this is depressing to hear but the 1% do not “labor” and get all of their income from investments, having already inherited or collected their core income for their investments. Their work choosing investments is their "labor". Some investments happen without being initially taxed. Yes, there are regulations in place that allow individuals to invest (with various rules/limits attached, of course) without paying any taxes. So if you have enough money to invest then you actually can “earn” money and only pay taxes when divesting. (Or maybe not even then, depending ... A tax lesson for another day.) There is no rule that a dollar is only taxed once. Everyone, no matter how you earn income, is taxed multiple times on every greenback. Just take a look at the fine print on your cell phone bill and start counting the number of taxes. The more you spend on goods or services, the more taxes you pay. Those with less income pay a higher percentage of taxes. Round one is social security and federal income tax. Round two is state taxes on income and/or sales. Round three is local taxes and/or individual departments of government. Then, depending on what you purchase (used automobile, for example) you can be taxed on it multiple times by the state. Half or more of these tax sources hit when you purchase something, which those with less money need to do with a higher percentage of their income. If you have enough money to invest then you can avoid most of these taxes. Our tax system should be equitable to all Americans. The only way to make a fair tax system is for all income to be taxed at the same rate. If you inherit it, if you get it from capital gains, if you labored for it, if you won it on the Price Is Right —- it simply does not matter. It should be taxed at whatever rate you pay. Exceptions to tax rules only benefit the rich because they are the only ones that can afford CPA’s working full time so they pay as little (or nothing) as possible. Those on "main street" have no choice but to just pay and the poorest are always hit the hardest.

04 March 2017

The future of humanity.

The future of humanity.

2014: Hottest year ever measured.
2015: Hottest year ever measured.
2016: Hottest year ever measured.
The White House is gutting the EPA. Congress is trying to cut funding for the satellites that track this information under the mistaken belief that if we do not know about then the problem goes away.

Remember that lying Al Gore movie about the climate? Great news! The climate models made 30 years ago that Gore used are accurately predicting the warming of our planet! And things start to get a lot worse in the years and decades ahead.

Politicians have become this a political game with one side trying to make America stupid and the other without the balls to underscore how critical this is. The ice is disappearing almost overnight and it is now absolutely clear that, short of a couple mile wide asteroid hitting us, that humans are on course to create the worst mass extinction event in the fossil record.

Is America great again if the choices we make today will assure our country no longer exists two generations from now? That is what the (scientifically accurate) climate models predict if we do not stop using fossil fuels.

We can fix the future with the tech we have today. With solar, wind and nuclear energy (ideally Thorium-based) we could safely be emission free for electricity generation within 20 years. Oh, and it would also create thousands of jobs. Please, White House - champion this and train the coal workers and anyone else out of a job to be part of our planet-saving new economy.

We must invest in the technology of the future if we want America to still be here for future generations.

23 January 2017

A plea to save the American economy.

Dear President Trump,

You are in danger of permanently placing China in the driver's seat of the world economy and our dollar in the toilet.

I appreciate the fact that many of your supporters want you to bring back buggy-whip factories, but they are not coming back. No matter what you do, we are not going to be building new coal-powered electric stations. Apple is not going to be transferring iPhone manufacturing to Indiana. Nike's shoes are not going to be sewed together in a Portland suburb. And that's good news!

We have the high paying jobs everyone wants right here in our borders. That Boeing company that you said charges too much money, they build the greatest aircraft in the universe. Tesla has the greatest batteries and electric cars ever dreamed of. Apple may build their devices elsewhere but all of their high paying jobs and profits comes back to the United States of America. And, more importantly, America is the financial center of the world.

We are the largest market as a result of leading the world in free trade. Whenever a standard currency is needed the world picks the American dollar. Want to buy a barrel of oil from any country in the world? The cost is calculated in our dollar. When a country wants a safe place to store their money for the long term, they invest in the United States dollar. Nearly all financial transactions come through America.

Now you want to start a protectionist environment so we can force companies to bring back their low-paying manufacturing jobs to America. It might work, but think about this for a moment:

  • China is now the largest economy in the world.
  • China trades with every country in the world.
  • China wants to lead the world in free trade and have already stated they will take our spot.
  • China no longer wants to use the American dollar as the currency standard.
    • Neither does the middle east.
    • Neither does Russia.
    • Neither does Europe.
    • Heck .. Nobody wants to use the dollar anymore.
    • ... and what held them back is not having an alternative.
    • ... and here comes China with an alternative.
If the world stops using our dollar then our financial institutions (half of our economy) and government will take an enormous hit. Bringing back low paying jobs seems nice until it means that all imported goods cost twice as much because our dollar crumbles. What will happen to our federal budget with no one investing in American treasury bonds?

This doomsday scenario will not happen immediately. It may take the world a few years to switch away from the dollar. But they will. And when they do, it will be the rest of the world that controls the American economy.

All so you could try to bring back some low paying manufacturing jobs.