The Charlotte News
Monday, September 8, 1941
Site Ed. Note: "In Delaware when I was younger..."
"Oil by Pipe" and "Football & Gas" from today's page brings to mind something we read in The New York Times September 13, 2008, anent Sarah Palin's pipeline deal: that is that Ms. Palin did one other thing, in addition to gaining authority from the Legislature to do a feasibility study for the pipeline itself, ultimately benefiting primarily the big oil companies who own the gas to be transshipped through that pipeline, assuming it is ever actually built from the half billion dollar gift to TransCanada Corp. to do the feasibility study--; she hiked taxes on excess profits of big oil.
Sounds great, on the surface; get those greedy oil companies in their purses.
In addition, we find from another source, that not only did she do that, but promoted a bill passed by the Legislature to return to Alaska's taxpayers $1,200 per person in rebates out of this tax-boon kitty. Sounds greater still. Hooray for Governor Palin!
Thank you, Lord, for that tax rebate. Thinks we shall go out and buy us a Mercedes with that $1,200. Or, maybe a hel'copter. Maybe get to go huntin' for polar bears again, like in the old days.
But hold up there.
The prices at the pump also went up some in response to that increased tax, didn't they?--and not just in Alaska, in all probability, but all over the U.S. For Big Oil is not run by idiots or eleemosynary interests. When taxed, to maintain profits and support all those fine houses in Houston and big cars in the driveway, those Escalades and Navigators, etc., they are surely going to pass those taxes on to the consumer with higher prices at the pump on their already booming record gas profits. For they are not charities, nor are they so run. Greed is their obvious motto, as demonstrated by those record profits despite oil per barrel going to record highs, spiking to $140 per barrel in recent months, 14 times that in 2001. (Huh, and we'd thought this war in Iraq was supposed to make oil so much cheaper for us all, the war in Iraq to which Ms. Palin also expressed commitment to winning, in order to honor the victims of September 11, 2001, regardless of universal assent now that Iraq was not connected to the attack.)
So thank you, Governor Palin, for some of that $4.00 per gallon price we have been paying of late at the pumps throughout the country, not just in Alaska which is the only state that gets any benefit from your tax rebate. Wow, what a peach you are. And peach you if we lived in Alaska, we might.
For, moreover, that $1,200.00 rebate totals what? We don't know, for we don't know precisely how many taxpayers there are among the roughly 700,000 people in Alaska, 684,000 as of 2000. So, let's assume two-thirds of those people pay taxes and are entitled to the rebate. That's roughly 466,200 people at $1,200 per throw from Juneau. So, the total rebate would be $559,440,000, that is about 560 million dollars, something over half a billion anyway. That's fine for Alaskans. But how much did it hike their gas prices at the pump to compensate for the excess profits tax? Assuming they drive 10,000 miles per year on average and achieve an average of 25 miles per gallon, both very liberal assumptions, they are spending at $4.00 per gallon--probably low for Alaska--$1,600 per year per person on gas. Assuming those figures are at all correct, they are being subsidized by the state government to the tune of three-quarters of their gas bill. Fine for them.
But what of the rest of the country, which does not benefit from this gimmick, applicable only to residents of Alaska? Well, in effect, the rest of us help to subsidize the Alaska state public welfare agency thus beneficently providing every single taxpayer indiscriminately, rich and poor alike, this rebate promulgated to the Legislature by Governor Palin. We help to subsidize it by paying higher prices generally at the pump, those passed on to everyone from Big Oil for the slice into profits generated by the excess profits state tax in Alaska. Thank you, Governor Palin.
Once again, your short-sighted narcissism, eager to please those immediately around you, but caring not a spotted hoot for the rest of the country, proves eminently salutary.
The rest of us have to help pay for Alaska's state tax rebate at the pump every time we put gas in our vehicles, increasingly a loathsome task to our dwindling pocketbooks; for, unlike you, we have no deep pocket treasury into which we can dip our dipsticks.
We would like to ask where, pray tell, is our $1,200 in the other 49 states? We think you ought to figure that in, Governor, and pay all 300 million of us at least a prorated share of that rebate you so generously gave to your state's residents at our expense, to the extent that we have to pay it down now at the pump to the oil companies to defray their excess taxes you made on their excess profits.
We recommend that the Federal Government look into this boondoggle sounding as a Ponzy scheme, and either prosecute for SEC violations or force the State of Alaska to disgorge sufficiently to the Federal budget an equivalent amount to that which the oil companies compensated for their losses in Alaska state taxes by hiking prices nationally, and pass it on generally to the consumers throughout the country--or, better, apply it to a special fund to afford tax credits for production of an electric car.
For we don't mind paying regular welfare to Alaskans who genuinely need public assistance as we always do in each state through the Federal outlays for same. But when it comes to this sort of special ad hoc legislation of a single state's Legislature taxing heavily big oil and then giving the taxes, or part of them, back to that state's residents only, while obviously causing big oil to hike prices nationally, we feel substantially cheated by that state's plan.
Ach oh, there went the that tail rotor again.
We note also the visual impact of the setting that she chose for the interview with ABC the other morning, that is the pipeline, itself, lending to her words at the convention credulity of a sort for the hard of hearing, credulity which may only be conveyed by that moving picture background worth a million words of pit-bullism--suggestive that she has miraculously somehow in 22 months in office already completed that pipeline to the North Slope.
Of course, the pipeline in front of which she chose to be interviewed was one built in the mid-seventies, at the time designed to benefit the entire country, not just Alaska's residents, and which acted as an offset to high unemployment among those who boarded a bus or plane, hitched a ride and went north to Alaska, just as in the thirties when there was a re-settlement program under FDR to encourage broke Okies, out of the Dustbowl, out of the country's Economic Problem No. 1, to go to cold country rather than heading to Townsend's proposed never-was sunny Southern California boondoggle, sounding as Palin's existing one for Alaska--those broke Okies being the people who formed the core basis of the population of Wasilla, Ms. Palin's hometown. But, who knows? Maybe Ms. Palin was the true force for that plan as well from out there in the ether somewhere and as well for the Alyeska pipeline when she was in her early teens.
Oh yeah, another thing-- A long-time friend and confidante of the Governor told The New York Times that in 1998 Governor Palin, then Mayor of Wasilla, a town of 5,400 people, in response to her friend suggesting to her that one day she might become Vice-President of the whole land, said that instead she intended to be President. Well, nothing wrong with dreams, we suppose. But if you are going to do it, it is best to have a plan which benefits everyone and not instead a series of cheap side-show gimmicks which benefit at the end of the day only a select few in your own midst--such as the 27-year old receptionist the Governor employed in a high government position and who now, less than two years after being a 27-year old receptionist, earns $68,000 per year in Alaska. All, while firing from state government wholesale those who were not her friends in Wasilla, mostly members of her little Fundamentalist church there. Move to Alaska twenty-something receptionist willing to become a Fundamentalist, bored with your lower 48 life, and see if you fare as well by simply saying the magic words up that way these days apparently: "Heil Palin!"
Finally, we note that about half her time since becoming Governor she has spent in Wasilla, 950 miles from the state capital of Juneau. Whether she drove or flew each way we don't know, but we assume she had to take some form of transportation, the likes of which most of us mortals do--unless, that is, she hitched a ride on the wings of that eagle upon which we remarked back in early 2007, the one which got fouled in the electrical lines near Juneau after trying to take off from its unusual plundering of city dumpsters for provender, it being unable obviously to seek its provender in the wilderness for some odd reason. Just how much fuel those trips back and forth cost the taxpayers of Alaska, we don't know. Maybe the costs came from the 2.1 million she got back for the state from selling the private jet upon which nobody bid when she dramatically posted it on ebay at a "Drill Now!" price of 2.7 million. Just how much the state had paid for it, incidentally, we also don't know. She didn't elucidate when bragging at the Republican convention about the ebay posting of no consequence.
In any event, we mention that bit of long travel back and forth at government expense, and her living at home half the time, not to pick on her for being absent from her duties and unavailable to lawmakers, as many have complained about her so far. Rather, we suggest that she might consider giving back half her salary to the state for that period of paid absenteeism, as would most employees, who also received normal Federal and state pregnancy leave benefits as she no doubt did during her recent pregnancy, that is if she is genuinely so concerned about cutting government waste. She might also agree to pay for her own transportation costs to and fro Wasilla. Who knows? Maybe the clean-government minded Governor has already done so. But nowhere is that reported either.
Huge tax credits for those trying honestly to develop a low-cost, efficient electric car, akin to oil depletion allowances for drilling dry wells in oil country--not more drilling for oil. That is what we counsel. A five-year plan to convert us from gasoline-fired engines to electric vehicles. Your old clunker even may be converted now. You don't have to give up the prized 1954 Buick Special--just convert it. If you miss the sound of a vrooming internal combustion engine replaced by sounds of silence of the electric car, then record the last of its spinning combustion and install a recording hooked to the battery to satisfy your aural aesthetic.
In fact you can do that gas-to-electricity conversion and have the government fund up to $4,000 for the cost of it under present laws, we hear. But there needs to be more than that, as it costs usually substantially more than that to do, up to about $10,000 we hear, depending on the size and type of battery, the mileage range enabled between charges being the key to success of electric vehicles. Acceleration and power are not so much the issue. How about substantial tax credits then to private companies willing to accomplish the conversion for no more than $4,000? How about tax credits to manufacturers who will produce the batteries and other drive-train conversion components and electric motors necessary to make the conversion at a retail price of $4,000?
Why didn't Ms. Palin, for instance, take that huge tax surplus from the oil companies and, instead of a rebate to all to make herself look good, offer instead substantial state tax rebates only to enable anyone who wished to convert their gas guzzler to electricity, to supplement the Federal outlay available and perhaps make it affordable on a tax-wash--for free? Now that would have been impressive and suggestive of someone thinking globally, that is holistically, that is in an holy manner, not narrowly only to the tip of her own powdered nose in the mirror.
The problem remains, however, of enabling a low-cost battery which can store sufficiently and efficiently enough to get more than about 50-100 miles per charge, as most of the batteries do in these lower cost conversions presently available. The batteries are now being developed to get a longer range, up to about 300 miles, but the batteries which enable that are presently out of sight in cost, causing the cars possessing them to sell for upwards of $100,000, beyond the reach of most.
Solution: Lawmakers, get with these smart companies producing these batteries, provide sufficient incentives in tax breaks and guarantees of a market in the government motor pool for instance, and fund them thereby to drive down their per widget costs to pass them on to the consumer.
Then maybe the eagle in Juneau may find its provender elsewhere than the dumpster and not become fouled in the electric lines attempting to carry its dumpster find back to the nest for its young eaglets about to become homeless.
Can't be done, you say? That's only because you have ties to Big Oil, Cowboy. We aren't proposing to end your little deal, but you'll have to get your profits and retrained employment from those profits out of the commensurate increase in electricity usage. At least by that mode we don't ride the Titanic to the end of its voyage, and sooner than later. Meanwhile, perhaps, someone out there may develop the nearly frictionless silicon bearings, electronically governed, to provide the long-dreamed nearly perpetual motion machine.
But you cannot effect the change if all you offer us is an upright box vehicle, reminiscent of the old post office, modified golf carts, which used to deliver the mail when we were young. Streamline that thing for the marketplace, just like your gas guzzlers and stop trying to make the electric car unattractive to deter consumption. Or do the manufacturers not have ties to Big Oil too much, while caring too little about their second and third generation unborn offspring and how those later generations might propose to live on the water resultant from the melting icecaps?--as we have pointed out before, as of 2005, 20% of the polar icecap gone since 1979, gone the way of the Titanic. Gone, as Governor Palin makes her 950-mile roundtrip too often from Juneau to Wasilla by what mode of transportation only the eagle might know for sure.
Not man-made, this global warming, says Ms. Palin, or maybe not, she said in partial hesitant retraction last week in the ABC interview; but instead, she says, perhaps because of the normal cycle of planetary change, progression and recession of glacial icepacks. Only problem with that latter scenario, Ma'am, is that if you study it beyond the seventh-grade earth science you took somewhere in the late seventies, you will discover that carbon sampling data from ice, ocean sediment, soil and rock sediment, etc., which preserve the accumulation of atmospheric carbon for tens of thousands of years, plus the rapid meltdown of the icepack, including that right in your own backyard since the late seventies, conclusively demonstrate that the normal alternating current pattern of recession and progression of ice, taking upwards of 100,000 years in times before 1850--assuming you admit of the earth being a little older than 10,000 years anyway--, has been receding arithmetically instead in a mere 160 years, unprecedented in the history of mankind, coincident with that release of CO2 from industrial and internal combustion engines since the start of the most impacting part of the industrial revolution.
It isn't made up. Look at the satellite photos of the earth's polar caps from outer space taken in and since 1979 and compare. Nature, including man, simply hasn't been afforded time to adjust in a mere 150 years to such dramatic changes which are normally glacially slow, as in former times when we as a human species moved slowly across the planet as nomadic wanderers to adapt to those changes over the course of generations, not in a matter of months or a few years.
Speaking of which, is it possible that the natural unconscious autonomic quest for survival led those Okies habituating themselves to Alaska since the 1930's, accustomed to warmer climes, to bring about a warmer climate up there, not understanding that what they were doing, by unconscious experimental trial and error, was acclimating to more driving and, by that increased motor-vating over the hill, warming their immediate surrounds to their liking, not understanding that they were dramatically aiding the bathing of the planet in the incipient Flood in the meantime? Not listening to and observing enough the native Innuit population who had adapted to the environment physically with shorter limbs over the course and curved air of thousands of years, after their nomadic wanderings from Asia brought them there over that little 2.2 mile chasm?--as may be seen visually on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
But who needs to do that, to study natural history and sociological migratory transitions of mankind, Ms. Palin? as you, also according to that New York Times story of yesterday, cut government funding programs in order to pay for your various boondoggles in support of that pipeline, in part by firing the state's natural history museum director when you took office and forcing the other three employees of the museum to select among themselves which one of the remaining three would be fired, resulting in all three honorably quitting rather than participate in your lottery for a firing. And, consequently, the museum was left to hang--unnecessary, you think. Maybe you deemed it contrary to your religion, enough for you and your small clique of Wasillans, now in control of state government at your gracious invitation, to supplant all other human knowledge?
Will you then counsel, by means of your various boondoggling methods via franked mass-mail, doing the same with respect to the Smithsonian in Washington should you become Vice-President? All in secret as you do in Alaska via private e-mail addresses rather than government e-mail addresses, to avoid government subpoenas from your opposition, those dirty-government people opposed to you and your methods of "openness", on which you ran and convinced your constituency you were going to bring to state government.
Study those pictures and simple graphs a little instead of your nose in the mirror so much and you can see it, quite easily in less than an hour, we'd venture, Ms. Palin. Start with about 90 additional minutes of time spent viewing "An Inconvenient Truth", to obtain the full package collected, more or less, as we presently understand it, of what that CO2 is doing to the planet over the long term--that is if you haven't banned it from distribution in Alaska. Then look again at your own backyard in Wasilla, and think a little for a change beyond the end of your nose.
Leave the fossil fuels to the fossils, so that we might all benefit from their wisdom and not burn them up with the Tigers in our tanks, until we all perish in the heat and friction thus produced.
Too much electricity will be consumed, you say, with the operation of those cars by electricity, and so it will be at best a wash. Not if you have tax incentives, or treaty commitments in the case of foreign countries, also to turn off the lights of the skyscrapers in the big cities around the globe, except for those necessary for nightly maintenance crews and basic security in the first two or three floors, which today stand typically lit as Christmas trees every night on floors higher than the highest burglars' ladders--unless you're worried about Spider Man getting in.
Which reminds us of another whirlwind idea of Ms. Palin: when funding was requested by the Mayor of Juneau--or was it Anchorage?--for some stoplights not functioning, she told him simply to turn off some of them. Stoplights. Just all one big cartoon to Ms. Palin, it would appear--the suckers playing bump cars at the stoplights can go hang in her change, as she, at state expense, traverses hither and yon 950 miles between Wasilla and Juneau at will on her full state salary, one paid largely by taxes on Big Oil.
Anyway, we await further information in the October 2 debate with Senator Biden. We'll just be biding our time in the meantime, sitting here listening to all the hits.
"...I would roam upon the land. In the spring, I had great hunger."
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