Last week (11/26/2011), a guest commentary was submitted to the Herald and News on behalf of the board of directors of the Klamath Basin Power Alliance (KBPA). The KBPA was formed to address concerns about power production and how future power rates will impact the agricultural community. The commentary mistakenly assumes and promotes some basic misconceptions about free markets and profitability, especially in relation to renewable energy production. A paragraph in the commentary reads:
Finally, KBPA will be in a position to invest in renewable energy projects where the profits will buy down the overall costs to its members, the irrigation community. These funds will be made available through the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement
The critical hinge for supporting this door to the new world of renewable energy is “profits.” The assumption is that “with profits” there will be sufficient economic resources to accomplish the desired goals.
"I question the propriety of meddling." - Herbert Spencer, 1884
Around our home, we are busy getting ready for winter. The days have been beautiful while the nights have been cold and crisp. On the edge of our pasture, the Aspen trees appear to have lost their leaves quickly. It seems to me that they usually stand in their bright yellow glory for longer periods.
However, my view might be biased. It may be my simple impression that "life" is scurrying by – rather quickly. Think about it, Thanksgiving is almost here, then Christmas will be upon us.
With Christmas in mind, ABC News reports,
First, I would like to thank the author that used the pen name, B. Franklin, for his/her article last week. If you haven't read it, the article was regarding a school lunch commentary that appeared in the Herald & News. I thought this article was a fine soapbox to stand on, but in weighing its importance, I figured there must be bigger fish to fry.
My November, 2011 copy of School Reform News just arrived and it has an article entitled, “School Lunches Free for All by 2015 If Districts Choose.” Now, I see that Franklin popped the lid off a #10 can of government obesity because the story begins with,
"Michigan, Kentucky, and Illinois will offer federal-government sponsored free-for-all breakfasts and lunches to students attending participating public schools this fall. Four more states will participate each year until 2014, when all states must allow districts to opt in to a federal program requiring all students at a participating school to eat taxpayer-funded school breakfasts, lunches, and snacks at no cost to any student, regardless of individual students’ ability to bring or pay for their food."
Spain’s largest oil company, Repsol, is moving in to spud an offshore well deep in Cuban waters. The well will be just 60 miles from the Florida Keys. Whether you see this as good, bad, or indifferent, recognize that foreign companies are eagerly seeking opportunities for using natural resources to provide cheap energy, industry, jobs, and profits.
Meanwhile, here in the US, we have shut-down deep water drilling. We would rather let others create jobs and industry. Although the current Administration is always talking about jobs there is no sense in getting dirt under our finger nails. After all, the enviro-elites would prefer those high paying jobs come from watching our timber grow and wither.
Throughout the US, and in Oregon, environmental activists have foisted a baseless and bankrupt worldview on our community. This tragedy stems from the activism of the 1960’s, when the Silent Spring was written. This book made an emotional argument about DDT that sounded plausible. There was no data, but still, it sounded plausible. It got people wondering about man’s role in the environment and concerns blossomed about man’s use of chemicals and his encroachment in the natural realm.
The KBRA agreements, “aim to improve fish habitat, establish sustainable water supplies for irrigators and acquire a 92,000-acre tree farm for the Klamath Tribes.” The KBRA/KHSA storyline continues along its fanciful march. Don't get me wrong, these "aims" are great ideas. However, in various KBRA promotional pieces there is never any mention of costs, trade-offs, or possible unintended consequences.
Let's weigh these admirable goals against real world constraints. In other words, let's see how it really works...
Increasing available water for irrigators is not on the table. The phrase, “sustainable water supplies” means a known quantity of assured water allocation. Therefore, the amount of water available to agriculture will be limited. Any water, above the allocated amount, that could be available will NOT be saved, stored, or used, but will instead spill into the salty Pacific.
A couple of weeks ago, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spoke about the Klamath Restoration EIS/EIR documents and his favorable take on dam removal. In his introductory preamble he spoke as follows:
“Today, I want to talk about the debate raging in Washington, DC over the future of our country, and what it means for the water supplies we depend on in the West.
“Americans are being presented two competing – and fundamentally different – visions of who we are as a people and how we tackle the economic challenges we face.
“How do you create jobs?” – Now there’s a question that gets asked a lot. This question is on everyone's mind. It even came up during the debate last Wednesday on “This Week In Klamath.” During President Obama’s recent speech on the economy and his jobs proposal, he stated:
“Our gross domestic product -- the sum total of all that our economy produces -- fell at the fastest rate in a quarter century. Five trillion dollars of Americans' household wealth evaporated in just 12 weeks as stocks, pensions, and home values plummeted. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month, equivalent to the population of the state of Vermont. That was true in December, January, February, March.”
All of this is especially true right here in Klamath County where we have suffered from some of the worst unemployment numbers in our entire state.
I've talked to several folks regarding yesterday's article, Ken Can't Count. The basic objection is that jobs are jobs and any job is better than no job. The premise of the argument goes like this: Full-time work is best; part-time or temporary work is good; no work is terrible. Therefore, why shun these jobs? After all, jobs are jobs.
All things being equal... I understand. The point is well-made.
But... what if all things aren't equal? Here’s the rub – there is more going on here than meets the eye.
Local news outlets were quick to catch the “cute kitty” story about the magical creation of nearly 4,500 jobs in the Klamath basin. It all started when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spoke to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. He told the group President Barack Obama stands behind the dam removal agreement.
“Salazar previewed environmental and economic reports on the Klamath that he will release later this week. According to the upcoming report, the deal could create 4,500 jobs.”
However, let’s look at what Salazar really said:
The title for this blog is a calculated misspelling. Besides sounding like a pretty exciting Hardy Boy Adventure, I misspelled “Stakeholder” on purpose. I misspelled "Stakeholder" to cause everyone to slow down and think about the words that are being used.
A recent newspaper article, (Herald & News - “KBRA legislation in the works” - Sep. 12, 2011) references U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s efforts with regard to transforming the intent of the KBRA into actual legislation on behalf of the agreement’s stakeholders. Merkley’s office will attempt to push this $1.5 billion dollar effort along with the help of U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein. (This ought to create a fairly-hot potato for these four Democrats as they try to manage our US budget deficit while at the same-time spending $1.5 billion to destroy 169 mega-watts of clean hydroelectric generation.)
With regard to the KBRA agreement, a majority of the ‘stakeholders’ approved the agreement. However, the concept of a ‘stakeholder’ deserves some attention. After all, according to the article the stakeholders, “handed over their draft legislation to Merkley’s office…” This means our legislature is not drafting legislation, but instead special interest groups are drafting legislation.