Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SAVING - August 19, 2010

As a recent retiree who has a certain concern about savings for possible necessities, I find it distressing to consider the options that I see as a saver and to consider that in contrast to the options available by others more affluent and by those who are in a position to profit from the rules for lending money to the US government. For various reasons, this nation gives special benefits to those lending us money from abroad, even when that money has its origin in domestic earnings and loses its identity when shunted through the labyrinth of foreign banks and institutions. It does not seem unreasonable that our treasury should look to domestic savings as a prime source of borrowed funds, especially if that should result in economic gains for our financial situation. The middle-class saver is treated as an unwelcome supplicant when it comes to federal borrowing, while foreign companies and even nations are courted with the best rates and freedom from income taxes. Indeed there are several dimensions on which our economies would profit from the unexpected consequences if our treasury would pay private borrowers the same rates available to strangers, and as tax-free as apparently alien funds. Such a change would free us from the need to borrow as much from overseas, even not counting the fees paid to the agents that maintain the foreigner fiction for us. Also, more of the interest would be spent on domestic products, which might even help in the cause of recovery. Finally, the extension of the existing benefit to Americans might make domestic borrowing enough better so that the interest paid on that borrowing would decrease. Is it possible that this obvious result has not been seen by the supposed scientists who advise our government, or is it the case that these are again a recital of the benefits that the rich and the powerful rain on each other and that are denied to those of us who scrape by as best we can?

Monday, August 16, 2010

SOLAR VS. NUCLEAR - August 12, 2010

In a stunning article in the International Herald-Tribune recently, it was revealed that the cost of a kwhr in NC has dropped (to 16c) below that for nuclear, which continues to rise. And this is in NC, not AZ. That puts a seal on the question of what we can do to rein in the peril of disasters like that at Chernobyl. Because the true cost of solar is just what was reported, while the cost of nuclear does not satisfactorily reflect the total insurance cost that should be paid by nuclear to protect the public from that kind of industrial disaster. The US law simply lays the bulk of the risk on the populace, which makes losses over a certain level unrecoverable. And we have recently seen new developments that further reduce to cost of solar panels. Indeed, a prize of Eu 800k was given by a Eu foundation for a new way of building these more cheaply, and promises transparent panels in window panes. That makes glass houses a new way of dealing with that placement problem. So the new differential will continue to grow, and we should be able soon to decommission the old nuclear reactors as the new solar ones continue to grow cheaper. It is a genuine change in the nuclear game to the advantage of the human race. Thus, the atomic age, which promised for over 65 years to deliver unlimited power, both military and electrical, to the people is now over. The new technology leaves us only with the question of how to deal with the detritus of the existing atomic works. Of course, that problem has never been solved, and we are now at least saved from having to consider what we can do to protect ourselves from the shadow that continues to hang over our future as the electrical issue clouds that one from the consideration of nations that claim that their nuclear efforts are economic in nature, while the sun continues to offer a better answer to that.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

GOVERNMENTS LIE - August 5, 2010

Years ago, I learned from my friend I. F. Stone that governments lie. Not that they always lie, or even most of the time, but they have no strong tendency to tell the truth. In fact, the only thing that we can conclude from a statement of fact from one of them is that they would rather we believe it than not. This injunction applies especially when they give us a reason for undertaking fierce action or even going to war. When we remember the Alamo or the Maine, we are very likely to be seduced into doing something that we would otherwise not do. In more recent memory, that applies to the sinking of the Lusitania or the USS Maine, or the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin or the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Today, we are being told of the long chain of events in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which up until now had apparently escaped the notice of the US or UK governments. And to the extent that the leak is not exactly what the government in question wants us to believe, the revelation in question is claimed as a government secret, and we are told that deep consequences would follow if the facts in question were known. Thus is a democratic populace denied the facts on which its welfare, or even survival, is dependent, we are told. Today the issue is how we view our ally Pakistan who are, according to what we see, either supporting our needs in Asia or plotting with the Taliban to murder our soldiers there. And we have been told that that the facts in question are so dangerous for us to know that no official body can be told them without endangering us from who knows what. And this about an allegation that could engage us in a war, even an atomic one. I do not know when we shall know the truth about this, or about so many stories that have led us into a century of world wars, but we vote every so often based on what we have been told.