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  1. #21
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    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    Vince-
    Agree to disagree on tax breaks. I got my degree in economics so it's been pretty well hammered into my head that they're inefficient.

    However I would argue that your points on nuclear power are outdated. GE and Westinghouse are now marketing streamlined plant designs, basically cookie cutter plans allowing one company to use the same generic plan for multiple plants, saving money on design and training (you can train staff for multiple plants at the same time and use workers interchangebly). These are just now coming on the market and have a lot of people interested.

    You're correct in pointing out that the government is very involved in France. The government also plays a role in the public finance of large infrastructure projects in the U.S. I wouldn't agree though with your apples to apples comparison of public finance with tax breaks meant to encouarge behavior deemed socially beneficial. Given the stress to the power grids and the ratio of electricity demand to the available supply deliverable by the grid, I support government support. I agree that the government's job is keep citizens safe. I certainly agree that means keeping them healthy, and nuclear power emits zero SO2, NOX, C02, or any other harmful ozone pollutants. I'm not naive enough to suggest global warming isn't real, and I would argue that nuclear power would be a great step in reducing our harmful burning of carbon fuels.

    I would also argue that governments have a responsibility to ensure the free competition of business and operation of markets. Energy consumption is a good thing, and improves our standard of living. It's easy for Americans to hail the virtues of conservation since we are consuming so much already. Great advances in society are made through increased energy consumption. The personal computer consumes an unbelievable amount of electricity, even when just idling. As I mentioned, if I'm buying it and and it's being produced responsibly (by which I meant nuclear) I don't think my energy consumption is any of your (or the government's) business. Feel free to reduce your consumption. Enjoy the reduced utility bills.

    The brunt of your argument seems to be aimed at burning coal and oil, which I agree we should move away from.

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  3. #22
    Guest

    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    There are many economists who would argue that tax breaks to actual people (as opposed to corporations) can and do help. The problem is not with tax breaks in general, it is with tax breaks that have been hijacked by corporate interests, that do not necessarily serve the country's interest. If you take care of your citizens, the corporations can easily follow. After all, they're supposedly run by smart people.

    GE and Westinghouse are of course going to advertise how wonderful their 'new' nukes will be. They want taxpayer money to build them (through the utility companies, that is). What I am saying is don't be fooled, they will have the same cost overruns, UNinsurability, and terrorist risks as usual. Stop the tax breaks for nukes and you will see them all shut down.

    Last I read, natural gas-fired powerplants will cost about $0.05/Kw-hr to build, coal about $0.06/Kw-hr, nuclear about $0.15/Kw-hr. And you still have all the external costs: CO2, gaseous pollutants, etc. Windpower is about $0.05 and solar is on par with nuclear--depending on the source you read. Nuclear power just doesn't add up. Again, the subsidies are going to be given away no matter what, it is better to give them to individuals rather than corporations.

    As for the electric grid: lowering end-use demand (i.e., more efficient homes, appliances, etc.) will lower the stress on the grid, lower consumer's costs, lower pollution costs, lower CO2 emissions, and put more money into the economy. The grid will last longer as it is--costly upgrades can be postponed.

    Great advances in society are NOT made through energy consumption....they're made from human beings thinking up new ideas. Major corporations (mentioned in previous posts) are reducing energy consumption and getting 2-4 year payback. That's a much better return than the stock market these days. Their keeping the same output with less energy. That's where smart designs and good engineering come into play.

    The bottom line of my argument is: If I had $100 million to spend, I would be serving the country's (public's?) interest more by building more efficient buildings, homes, etc. than by building a new power plant. And it would also have a much higher ROI.

  4. #23
    Guest

    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    Vince-
    Many new nuclear power plants will be built in the next decade. Wind farms are also being constructed, but last I heard they're contributing less that 2% of electricity. They can certainly do more, and I expect they will. However to meet the electricity demands for New York City you would have to cover every sqaure inch of surface space in the city with solar panels, then multiply that by two. Solar is a ways off for mass power production.

    Those good ideas people come up to improve the standard of living (refridgeration, A/C, medical advances, telecom advances, personal computers) all have increased our electricity consumption. As long as the electricity is produced responsibly (solar and wind seems to be your preference) this is not a bad thing. Consumption doesn't have to be evil.

  5. #24
    Guest

    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    Alex, Vince, I think that the main issue of relevance here is efficiency in usage. It is correct that increased use of energy generally promotes higher standards of living. However, some countries do much better per unit of energy (let us cal it a KW/H) than others. The former Soviet Union and petrol producing arab countries are notoriously wasteful with energy, even though their living standards are quite below what we know in the West. The US is not great either, we get about half of the US$ output per KW/H used as Japan and most of the European countries. The living standards in these countries is roughly equal to ours, yet they achieve that with about 1/2 of the energy consummed per unit of GDP than we do. That would imply that we are not terribly efficient and that we could save a lot of energy without having to make any compromises on our quality of life. Of course the issue is, what do we call quality of life, is it the right to drive 300hp/5000lbs behemots to get our groceries fiv emiles down the road? In Europe you have that right as well, it will just cost you a heck of a lot more which, if we want to foster efficiency, it really should.

  6. #25
    Guest

    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    LETS MAKE NO MISTAKE OIL COMPANYS ARE LIKE CIGGERETTE COMPANYS THEY POLUTE THE AIR CAUSE CANCER ,CREATE AN ADDICTS OF PEOPLE {DENPENDENCY}KILL ,FRAME AND LIE TO STOP ANYONE FROM COMING UP WITH SOMETHING BETTER .THEY MANIPULATE POLITICS & PEOPLE FOR THERE OWN PERSONAL GAIN & SENSE PLEASURE AGAINST THE FREEWILL OF OTHERS. THOSE AT THE TOP ARE MOST LIKELY MURDERS IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.THEY MAY HAVE NOT STARTED OUT THAT WAY BUT LOOK AT THE VISABLE EVIDENSE, tHEY HAE THE CHOICE TO RETIRE OR GO INTO OTHER BUSSINESSES ALTERNITVE FUELS,THE ONLY DIFFERANCE BETWEEN THEM AND A BLACK MAN COVICTED OF MURDER IS THEY THINK THEYHAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT BUT KARMA WILL HAVE ITS WAY WITH ALL.TAX THEM

  7. #26
    Guest

    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    LETS MAKE NO MISTAKE OIL COMPANYS ARE LIKE CIGGERETTE COMPANYS THEY POLUTE THE AIR CAUSE CANCER ,CREATE AN ADDICTS OF PEOPLE {DENPENDENCY}KILL ,FRAME AND LIE TO STOP ANYONE FROM COMING UP WITH SOMETHING BETTER .THEY MANIPULATE POLITICS & PEOPLE FOR THERE OWN PERSONAL GAIN & SENSE PLEASURE AGAINST THE FREEWILL OF OTHERS.SUPPORT WARS THAT ARE FOR GAINING CONTROL OF OIL RESOURCES THAT KILL OTHERS, THOSE AT THE TOP ARE MOST LIKELY MURDERS IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.THEY MAY HAVE NOT STARTED OUT THAT WAY BUT LOOK AT THE VISABLE EVIDENSE, tHEY HAE THE CHOICE TO RETIRE OR GO INTO OTHER BUSSINESSES ALTERNITVE FUELS,THE ONLY DIFFERANCE BETWEEN THEM AND A BLACK MAN COVICTED OF MURDER IS THEY THINK THEYHAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT BUT KARMA WILL HAVE ITS WAY WITH ALL.TAX THEM

  8. #27
    Guest

    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    Ronald - I somehow cannot subscribe to your logic. I do not believe anyone is preventing you from going around on foot if you wish to avoid contributing to the overall conspiracy. I am no defender of oil companies, or even the car industry, but let us face it, they both react to market realities. We like big vehicles and whine endlessly when fuel prices rise, even want government to intervene. In other developed parts of the world US$ 5-6.00 pre gallon of gas is the reality This automatically forces more frugal consumption and an environmentally more sustainable approach to transport. Historically, some appalling things took place like bus/car manufacturers financing the tearing out of tram tracks in several us cities to (1) eliminate any opposing public transport alternative, (2) and ensure customer loyalty to buying buses. This kind of thing does make one think of a conspiracy, but it does not relieve us from our personal responsibility in choosing how efficiently we get around. It is just too convenient to always blame others for our situation.

  9. #28
    Guest

    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    Diesel-
    You make good points concerning efficiency of usage. I support increases in efficiency because they save me money. I buy energy efficienct products, I turn off the lights and appliances when not using them, and I do my best when driving my Jeep to not wate gas by alternating between slamming on the gas and the slamming on the brakes. Efficency is great, and through science it is always improving. However I don't think it's the government place to mandate the purchase of certain products because they're efficient. People and businesses will buy them anyways because they can save money. Government mandates are inefficient since they pick winners and discourage private firms from competing to develop better products. The government mandated installation of flourescent lighting during the 70's and 80's was a waste of time since that would have happenned regardless.

    Regarding the comparisons to foreign countries and standard of living, I would argue that Japan and the Europeans achieve more efficient usage of energy because they live closer to towns. Since many Europeans and Japanese live in high density areas more of them can rely on public transportation (rather than living in the suburbs). I would also argue that 'standard of living' is not an exact science. I've travelled in both Europe and Japan and I didn't find either to be as comfortable to me as America. This may make me sound like a lazy American but I like air conditioning. When I go into a restaurant and order a soda, I don't want a warm can of soda and a glass. I want a frosty glass with ice in it. The lack of ice machines in restaurants in Italy is bizzare. I love a lot of things about Europe, but I would personally argue that Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than either the Europeans or the Japanese. That includes my ability to buy a 'McMansion' in the suburbs and drive a massive SUV.

    I don't disagree with your point that the public health costs of my doing these things should be better reflected in the cost. However I don't think that a further increase in the fuel tax is the best avenue for that. Crippling our economy in the name of better efficiency is not an option. We're stuck with these suburbs and interstates that allow people to live 60 miles from the office, so rather than penalizing citizens for this, I would like to see a solution that allows people to continue living the lifestyle they have chosen. This is why I think plug in hybrids and nuclear power are a good idea. Cheap, domestically produced, clean energy which could fuel economic growth and lower our emissions sounds great to me.

    This is America, and people have the right to decide where they live, what they drive, and how they live. People are interested in saving money, so energy efficient products will sell on their merits. I work for Congress, and I can tell you in my opinion the further away the government stays from my decisions as a consumer the better. Educating people on how to be a responsible consumer on the other hand, is something I would support.

  10. #29
    Guest

    TAX the profits of big oil companies...

    Alex: you are proving my point. New US nuclear plants may be built in the coming decades--but only because they will be getting large taxpayer subsidies. Let's take away the subsidies and see how many will be built! If you could get your power from a nuclear plant without any subsidies, I would be all for it. And you'd probably be paying $0.25-0.30/Kw-hr for that energy. Also, please don't confuse nuclear power with clean energy, because it isn't. Energy efficiency is the cleanest energy of all--because it is AVOIDED energy use.

    Since you work for congress, are you here because of your interest in hybrid cars, or are you just trying to propagandize on this website for your party.....?

    I think what seems to be the major difference in our opinions is that you think it is better to give handouts to corporations, whereas I would rather give that money to people. People first--corporations can adapt.

    It seems very illogical for you to be OK with handouts on the supply side (i.e., nuclear power), but a tax break to a person you consider a mandate. As I've said in previous posts on this thread, people should be able to buy whatever they want to buy....but they should also have to take responsibility for what they buy up front. Because when it comes to health-care costs, DoD costs, global warming costs, etc., the damage we do now may take 20-30 years before the average person sees it. And by that time the costs will be much greater. Our leadership should be thinking of these problems now, not later. Those externalities need to be paid for up front.

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