Newsletter 71 (Fall 2013), http://www.s-a-f-e.org/safe_newsletters.htm
Advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996.

                     

     Secure America’s
      Future Economy

 

 
 

   Gone but not forgotten

  Bloom Energy debate

   Immigration

  Common Core
   An independent voice

  And more

An economic recovery plan – Revitalizing the US economy is crucial, but government spending to create jobs is not the way to go about it.  Nor are there gobs of money to spend, for the government can’t seem to afford the programs that are already up and running.

A more promising approach, we think, is to concentrate on terminating government policies that have not worked.  And to this end, SAFE has proposed a 10-step plan that could be quickly implemented and we think would give the economy a real jolt. 

Here’s the list: (1) Approve the Keystone Pipeline; (2) Prohibit the EPA from regulating or taxing carbon emissions; (3) Repeal the federal minimum wage; (4) Tighten eligibility requirements for food stamps; (5) Repeal the Federal Reserve dual mandate; (6) Repeal the ethanol blending requirements in motor fuel; (7) Restore defense budget to level requested by the Department of Defense; (8) Amend federal bankruptcy law to ensure unfunded employee/retiree commitments can be adjusted in bankruptcy; (9) Proceed with revenue neutral tax reform; and (10) Delay GovCare implementation for one year.

Our goal is not to further the agenda of either political party, and in each case there are reasons for the proposed action that should have appeal on both sides of the aisle. For discussion of the ten steps, see “Less is more: a 10-step plan to reboot the economy,” SAFE blog,  .9/2/13

A robust economic recovery would boost tax revenue and reduce welfare spending, thereby shrinking the deficit over time. But to solve the fiscal problem, Congress must also take an axe to wasteful spending and restructure entitlement programs. We urged selected members of Congress to get cracking in a “welcome back to Washington” letter on September 9th. http://bit.ly/16ez43a

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Gone but not forgotten – As most of you know, we lost SAFE founder Bill Morris in July.  Here’s a link to his obituary, which is on the Essays page of our website. http://bit.ly/14ycTqA

Bill was the editor of this newsletter for a number of years, and even after yours truly took the reins he remained a faithful contributor.  In the last issue, for example, he wrote a story about fluctuations in the Earth’s climate over the past 400,000 years. 

“Bottom line,” the story concluded with Bill’s characteristic practicality, “I don’t see much reason to view climate change (either global warming or cooling) as a threat.  Even if it happens, humans should have plenty of time to adapt.  Meanwhile, let’s use our relatively brief life spans to work on more immediate problems.” http://bit.ly/17JBDe5

Most of the policy issues SAFE follows are about money, which means they are inherently political, but our members call the issues the way they see them.  Some directors are Republicans, others are Democrats, and then there was Bill.  Not a fan of either of the major parties, he founded the Libertarian Party of Delaware in 1975. 

Bill ran for Congress twice, first for the House in 2004 and then for the Senate in 2006. The goal was not so much to get elected as to challenge the thinking of the political establishment. Incumbents Mike Castle and Tom Carper were reelected handily in the respective races, but Bill received over 2,000 votes both times and also had a lot of fun.

Like most of us, Bill did not beat all the challenges that he took on.  Many politicians remain fiscally irresponsible – the global warming alarmists have yet to admit error – Libertarians may not start winning election any time soon.  But Bill believed in his causes, fought the good fight, and never gave up. 

We won’t soon forget Bill, and will aim to live up to his activist example.

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ImmigrationThe US immigration system has been corrupted by widespread illegal immigration, and it does not look like the Senate “reform” bill would fix the problem. SAFE study, June 2013. http://bit.ly/14XYv8q

Please note, however, that we have great respect for immigrants who lawfully make their way to this country in search of a better life.  Here’s the inspiring story of a Cuban immigrant named Rafael Cruz who spoke at a Heritage town hall meeting on August 29. (His photo appears below.) There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

Mr. Cruz fled Cuba after the Castro-takeover and came to the US. He began at the bottom, washing dishes, and worked his way up.  Fifty-five years later, he saw his son (Ted Cruz) sworn is as a United States senator.  So truly, this is the land of opportunity and the greatest country on earth! 

Sadly, over the years, Cruz has seen the loss of freedom and socialist takeover in Cuba being paralleled (albeit less abruptly) by developments here.  For example, Cuba had a fine medical system before Castro socialized it; now GovCare threatens to undermine our system. Americans must break the spell before it is too late, and the best way to do this is to revisit this country’s founding documents, especially the Declaration of Independence, and pledge “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” to preserve them.  Delaware Chatter, .8/30/13

Trivia corner: How old was Ronald Reagan when he was sworn in as president? (answer below)

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Bloom Energy debate From the beginning, SAFE and like-minded allies have viewed the Bloom Energy venture as a scheme to subsidize a high-cost operation at the expense of Delaware taxpayers (state grants for production facility) and Delmarva Power ratepayers (who would be saddled with a special tariff on electric power generated from Bloom fuel cells).  Fuel cell boondoggle, SAFE newsletter, Summer 2011. Fuel Cell

 The Delmarva Power tariff is running considerably higher than initial estimates.  And thanks to the Rick Jensen Show (WDEL, 1150 AM), Colin O’Mara, secretary of the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, recently responded to some questions. 

Secretary O’Mara was an in-studio guest on September 3.  After dialoging with Jensen, he took questions from a succession of callers including Dave Stevenson of the Caesar Rodney Institute and civic activist John Nichols (who had also been a call-in guest on an earlier broadcast). Delaware Chatter, 8/28/13 & 9/3/13.

O’Mara concedes that the Bloom tariff for Delmarva ratepayers is running several times higher than was estimated by the national consultants relied on by the state (CRI’s estimates have proven more accurate), but says this is because cheap natural gas drove down overall power costs so ratepayers are ahead of the game.  

• Delaware should encourage power production from combined cycle natural gas plants as well as from fuel cells.  Thus, a 300 MW CCNG plant is currently under construction in the Dover area. (Stevenson suggested that there should be no more electric power generation from fuel cell clusters. It’s time to build more CCNG generation capacity, say 1,000 megawatts, to minimize regional grid distribution charges.)

• Subsidies were granted to attract the Bloom venture; that’s what states must do these days to attract high tech, job-creating investments. And Bloom fuel cells are a new technology, so power generation costs should come down over time. 

• The data center to be built next to the Bloom factory will be powered by a natural gas power plant because it is too big to rely on Bloom’s fuel cells.

• O’Mara has visited the Bloom factory; he reported observing fuel cells being assembled – as would be necessary to meet conditions for the surcharge Delmarva Power is collecting.  A caller who had been able to look inside the factory said he had seen no signs of manufacturing operations.  “I don’t know what you do with that one,” said Jensen. 

Bloom has plants in India and Mexico, but O’Mara predicts the firm will use a regional manufacturing strategy to keep fuel cell production relatively close to markets and hold down logistics costs. If so, its manufacturing operations in Delaware should grow as fuel cell sales along the East Coast develop.

An engineer’s viewpoint - To the optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

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Common Core – Our basic thought about education is that it should be decentralized, with a range of options as to where and how children are educated.  Unsurprisingly, therefore, we are inclined to be skeptical of the Common Core standards for “English language arts” and mathematics that are now being implemented by schools in most states.  And as became evident at a public meeting in Delaware on July 30, many other people feel the same way.  Delaware Chatter, .7/31/13

The talking points for the CC standards sound very impressive.  Supported by the National Governor’s Association, the public education establishment, the Business Roundtable, etc. – no federal government involvement - standards are based on numerous empirical studies, take the best of what education systems in the states and other countries have to offer, will provide our young people with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a global economy.

According to critics who have delved into the CC standards, however, the details are underwhelming.  Rote learning is often overemphasized, for example, but it is not necessarily a good idea to go to the opposite extreme and teach students that their thought processes are more important than learning the right answers.

The CC standards were not developed by the states; they were commissioned by a handful of nonprofit entities (notably the Gates Foundation) and pushed by using federal grant money as a bargaining chip to encourage “voluntary” state adoption. 

People who ask probing questions about the CC standards are written off as “obstructionists.”  So keep on asking questions; you’re probably on the right track.  Will Common Core standards enhance US education?  8/5/13

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Trivia corner – Answer: 69, going on 70 (born on 2/6/11, Reagan was sworn in on 1/20/81).

Video – Here’s evidence that the government can over-complicate anything, even making brownies. http://bit.ly/19C3qg2 (3:17)

SAFE Board

Andrew Betley, (302) 239-9679

Edgar Fasig, treasurer, (302) 999-0611

Dan Kerrick, (302) 658-7101

Steve McClain, (302) 998-3910

Jerry Martin, (302) 478-5064

Ryck Stout, (302) 478-9495

Bill Whipple, president, (302) 464-2688

For e-mail addresses see: http://bit.ly/HM3UBn

Secure America’s Future Economy (SAFE)

SAFE is a non-partisan, all-volunteer organization that was founded in 1996.  We advocate smaller, more focused, lower cost government, to be achieved by cutting spending, restructuring “entitlements,” simplifying taxes, and rationalizing regulations.

The SAFE agenda is promoted through:

# Our website, including a weekly blog.  Members can help to spread this content by forwarding links or downloads to their families, friends, and contacts. 

# A quarterly newsletter for members, which is also posted on line for convenient reference and sharing.  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/safe_newsletters.htm

# Letters to the editor, microblogs, videos, public events, and legislative contacts.

www.s-a-f-e.org

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To join SAFE or renew membership, please complete our form and mail it with your check to SAFE, 214 N. Spring Valley Road, Wilmington, DE 19807. Thank you!