As I wrote last week, when we ask the wrong question we most often get the wrong answer. As with the "jobs problem" — in Klamath County as well as nationwide — the problem our country faces is not the lack of jobs. Yes, you read that correctly. The problem is NOT jobs. The lack of jobs are a mere symptom of the real problem.
The real problem lies in the fact that we have an economy that is stuck in the mud and sliding backwards quickly. It's like we're slipping down the side of a muddy bank towards the abyss in slow motion. These are the things nightmares are made of — except what makes this worse is we are awake while this is all happening and it's all too real.
Yet our President is focused on creating jobs. And when the President is focused on the wrong issue, so often follows the nation. We are so far off course that now others are coming up with "job solutions" or "job fixes". This is meaningless, and worse very dangerous. For example, U. S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., son of the famous Reverend Jesse Jackson, is now proposing that the Federal Government hire all 15 million unemployed people for around $40,000/year.
The Story of the Dentist and the Toothache
Long ago there once was a man who had a terrible toothache. After a time he decided to go see an expert in teeth — the village dentist. The dentist had a distinguished career with many awards and degrees. After examining the man, the dentist decided to prescribe some pain medication for the toothache. He said, "Take one of these every time it starts to hurt, that will relieve the pain." The man left happy believing he had a solution to his toothache problem.
Within a day the man had to eat the pain medication like candy. It wasn't four hours after taking one pill that he had to take another. Soon after one pill wasn't enough, so he began taking two and then four at a time. On top of that the pain medication had all sorts of other side effects. He was unable to work or be productive to support his family. It was an awful mess.
So the man returned to the dentist. The dentist re-examined the man and decided that what was needed was a stronger medication to help alleviate the pain. The man was a bit skeptical but went along (while on pain meds, he also wasn't able to think very clearly). The new pain meds worked at first but then the same cycle happened — he needed to take more and more pills. What's more, the pain was not only in his tooth, his entire head hurt and his chest as well. He went to bed that night intending to see the dentist again, but died in his sleep due to a massive infection.
The KBRA is an odd document. First we don't know who wrote it.1 For something that is being used as the baseline to craft legislation by Senator Merkley, shouldn't we know who actually wrote the darn thing? It's as if from the heavens this document descended on its own (no need for a Moses to carry it down) and different groups all said in unison "This is good. Let's make it law."
Second, the groups that are in support of the KBRA are really a minority in this community. They are well funded (thanks to public grant money — our tax dollars at work) and they make lots of noise in the paper, but they are the minority. The KBRA supporters would have you believe that if you add up the tribes, the farmers, the environmentalists and the fishermen you get a majority opinion. Really all you get are several special interest groups wanting the same thing — a leftist agenda. Even that isn't necessarily true. On the whole farmers do not support this document, but since the Klamath Water Users Association is pro-KBRA, you are to believe a majority of farmers are for it as well.
Finally (and this is the biggie), what in the world does the purchase of the Mazama Tree Farm and then gifting it to the Klamath Tribes have anything to do about fish restoration in the Klamath river? (As a side note, calling 90,000 acres a "farm" is like calling a Ferrari a commuter car.) Stop for a moment and think about this. How do you connect purchasing 90,000 plus acres of private timber land, then giving it to the Klamath Tribes to help restore fish habitat 50-250 miles away? The quick answer is you can't.
Who Pays for the Flowers?
Klamath County Commissioner Hukill announced building of a Veteran’s Long-Term Care Facility here in Klamath County as one of her main goals during her time in office. While this sounds like a noble project, let's take a moment to examine whether the idea is benefits the county or not. Here are a few thoughts:
Is a Long-Term Home for Veterans really needed here?
While a veteran's facility would be a nice feather in the county's cap and would bring people into the area to visit those who are in the facility, I wonder whether this should really be a top priority project that County government should be pursuing. I haven't seen any grass roots effort clamoring for such a facility. I don't see sick veterans lining the streets looking for long-term care treatment. Seems to me this isn't really a pressing need. I could be wrong, but again, this doesn't appear like something that should be occupying top of mind for Mrs. Hukill.
For the next 60 days the government is accepting public comments on the draft EIR/EIS document. Make your voice heard. We're certain many outsider environmentalists (New Hamshire, Southern California and the like) are making their opinions known — for Dam Removal. Let's give them some inside the Basin feedback — what we want to happen to dams that impact us directly.
All that is required is your email address, subject and comment. We suggest you give your city and state as well so the government is aware of comments made inside the Basin versus those outside.
It seems odd that a company whose main business is to create and sell electricity would be FOR the removal of dams which provide clean, sustainable hydroelectric power. But that is exactly what we are faced with: Pacific Power is for tearing out dams along the Klamath River. Why? Well here are three simple reasons (none of them good for us):
- The 25% Mandate. By 2025 all energy companies in Oregon are mandated by the State to have 25% of their power come from "Renewable Energy". Seems somewhat silly that Hydro is left off the list they consider "Renewable". There is a sliding scale so by 2015 its 15%, by 2020 its 20% and by 2025 its 25%. As a business there are two ways to get your energy portfolio to comply. First you can increase the amount of solar and wind power in your portfolio. Pacific Power is doing just that with rebates and paying up to 5x the amount for solar power — to encourage more on their grid. Second you can lessen the amount of power you generate from traditional resources. No matter how you get to the correct percentage both strategies are being pursued. And make no mistake, both strategies also mean higher electrical costs going forward.
- Political Correctness. If there was one thing I could remove from the American thought process it would be political correctness. This is a PR move by Pacific Power to look like they care and are concerned about the Tribes, the Farmers, the Fish, the Antelope, the rocks, the trees and the stars. It is pure, unadulterated B.S. See reason number one for the main driver, but don't underestimate the executive suite where there is little fortitude to stand up against the Tribes, the FIsh and the environmental wackos. Producing less power isn't beneficial for all, and yet cowtowing to these groups keep them out of the crosshairs of frivolous lawsuits.
- It Will Cost Less. This one I can kind of get my head around. Pacific Power says it will cost less to remove dams than it would be to relicense them. But the only reason that is true is because:
- Tax payers will be required to fund much of the cost of dam removal. Matter of fact, it's already happening with a special "fee" on the end of your bill each month. Whether you want it or not, Pacific Power is already taxing you to remove dams. Thanks PUC for looking out for us!
- The relicensing requirements are extreme and made that way to be cost prohibitive. The rules for relicensing are made to encourage dam removal, not renovation and safety.
Pacific Power really doesn't care if they produce 10,000 Mega Watts or 10. All they care about is getting enough money through the Public Utility Commission to stay in business. Fewer dams mean few employees which mean fewer headaches. No problem. As long as the executives get's their money, all is well — for them.
This is not capitalism. There is no incentive to seeking real energy solutions that work. There are no market forces in place that make Pacific Power become better and better at what they provide or go out of business. Pacific Power gets a D-. And I'm in a good mood today.
That's what has me puzzled about Pacific Power, like any other business, needs to generate more revenue than incurred expenses to survive. It is in the business of making electricity and then selling that at a profit (selling electricity for MORE than it costs to produce). And yet if you put in a solar power array, Pacific Power is willing to pay you 4-5x the going rate to buy that electricity. What? Yeah, that's what I think. Who in their right mind would pay 5x the going rate to buy something that they make below the market rate.
Is electricity generated by solar panels more powerful than electricity generated by coal or hyrdo? Of course not. Matter of fact solar is far less efficient than either of those by a magnitude. Yet Pacific Power is paying solar "farms" 4-5x the going rate. Not only why, but how do they do that and stay in business?
Ideas are usually based on assumptions. Sometimes the best way to see whether an idea works or not is to dig deeper than the idea itself and test whether the assumptions are true or not.
For example, the KBRA’s dam removal proposition is based on the environmental and tribal assumption that dams along the Klamath river are the cause for lower fish populations during the 20th century. This argument assumes that had dams never been put along the Klamath river fish populations would have remained the same (higher than today). Moreover, the argument also assumes removing the dams now will return fish populations to a level reported before dams were built along the river.
On the other hand, there is an argument against dam removal which is based on the assumption that there are other, significant reasons for lower fish populations. These arguments assume that what happens while fish are in the ocean for four years matters just as much, and perhaps even more, than what happens during their journey along the river. This argument assumes making the river pristine as the wind drive snow won't matter much because the major issue isn't being addressed — what happens to the fish when at sea?
If you just listened to the rhetoric on the other side, you would probably come to the conclusion that the main obstacle to returning prosperity to the Basin is those darn dams along the Klamath river. If we could just get rid of them, we could all once again live in harmony with each other and with nature.
The gospel according to KBRA preaches that if we can get those dams to come a tumblin' down, then fish populations will magically return to numbers only seen before western europeans inhabited the land. There would be so many salmon running up and down the Klamath river we would no longer need bridges — one could just walk on fish from one side to the other.
However, this thinking all hinges on the the assertion that the Klamath River Dams are the single, significant cause for a decline in fish population during the past 60 years. What if this assertion is wrong? Could there be other explanations for fish population decline that we haven't explored or have dismissed because our world view of “dam removal or die” prevents us from seeing the truth?