I have been very busy doing things, hence I have not been blogulating or otherwise documenting things. Since this is site is relatively solipsistic, I don”t think it has caused a problem with the public at large…
First, a follow-up on the ACA bruhaha that has been percolating since my last post in October: Anti-ACA folks in government, industry, major media, etc… have one thing in common. They all have or seem to have no worries about the availability or cost of their own healthcare. I’m sure it isn’t 100% but I am also sure that Rush Limbaugh is not paying $1300/mo for shit coverage, or getting denied coverage for his many pre-existing conditions. On the far far far far right (I hope) are the people who think that ACA is “government-run healthcare”, is “worse than hitler, stalin and pol pot”, or is somehow making things “worse”. No. Just like Medicare and Medicad solved actual problems for the poor and old, this solves problems for everyone else. I feel like any further attempt at rationality is futile here, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Item 2: The simplest explanation for the rapid climate change the planet is currently experiencing is proving to be more likely each day. Take all that carbon that the geologic cycle had the good sense to “sequester” under the ground, pump it back into the atmosphere at a supernatural rate, and bingo: climate change. Unfortunately for us humans, the climate may very well be changing back to pre-human conditions. Bad news, meatbags.
Item the Third: Dear Hartford, Connecticut. City Hall will never make your city better. You have to do that yourself. Once you start doing that, City Hall can give you a push. Look around at cities that are fighting their way back an winning. They have active communities, taking pride in them, and working to solve problems. While that happens in Hartford, I think the residents have to give up on any tangible help from their city government. It is a snake pit, and is in no danger of getting any less snakier any time soon.
More hot blog action to come. Maybe something not filled with so much snark, but filled with a little more subtlety.
Bold move by President Obama this week, getting all kind of stabby on greenhouse gas emissions and “carbon”. I will bow to BikeSnobNYC and tell you that “crabon emissions” are what I have on enchilada night…
In a major way, I am not imprressed. Not because the ideas aren’t good, or because they are rehashed, or because they have zero chance of being implemented… but it is that the reason they have zero chance of happening is because the United States is still a wholly owned subsidiary of the petrochemical industry. And don’t you forget it. Setting prices of gasoline, uh, that is their turf. If you want to play that game they will double down on your pathetic carbon tax with $150/bbl crude faster than you can say “gouge me”. The public won’t care who did it, they will pillory the guy who they believe caused gas to top $5/gal. If they wanted that shit they would move to Europe and pay $6/gal, and get healthcare for the troubles.
I’ve probably related this before but here goes: on my first full day in a job dealing with climate and energy policy I joked “fix gasoline at $5 and we can declare victory tomorrow”. And then it happened. Gas hit $5 in almost all major markets in 2007 and the top blew off. SUV sales cratered, economy cars were flying out of showrooms, people were carpooling, public transit saw a ridership spike (even the bad systems)… and you can go check the math with the EIA, gasoline sales and deliveries took a major hit. BUT, that was due to wehat I believe to be massive futures manipulation in energy markets, facilitated by a lenient SEC under the Bush II administration. If there had been a carbon tax driving that pricing you would have the social changes, the consumer changes, and the tax revenue to start building real next-gen infrastructure. Throw in the income tax swap and you would have more money in consumer’s pockets and a nice economic boost in all the other sectors. But instead all we got were record-breaking profits over at Big Oil.
The problem is that every climate scientist, economist, back bencher, tree hugger, knows or should know that carbon tax policy is sound policy. You can swap it against income tax, and it is a win-win. Even nutjob supply-siders on the right nod in agreement. The trick is to make sure you are spending the revenue on leveling the playing field for competing technologies. And doncha know that Daddy Petrobucks hates that shit all day long. It isn’t enough for him to get Billions of USD in free money at the taxpayer expense, and have a captive market, and legalized pice fixing… no, he certainly will not allow sales of his product to fund his competition.
So enjoy the show, but feel free to leave early because… SPOILER AlERT! The Bad Guy Wins in the End.
Quick update before I get back to blogging again…
The Halloween Storm did a number on things here at the ranch. A few trees down, a week without power, and a general setback for musical, photographic, and otherwise enjoyable productivity. If productivity involved a rake or a chainsaw, then yes, it has been a productive period.
Got a gig coming up with two NHIC groups at Firehouse12 on December 3rd. 8:30pm and 10:00pm. The first is nhic:atlas, a six-piece mostly acoustic affair. I am playing my Tacoma CB10F fretlsss ABG and it sounds really nice with this group. The second is NHIC Electric, a noisy electric affair. That is a job for the Zon Sonus. I am in hog-heaven as a bass player because Atlas will have Mike Paolucci on drums, and he played in my short-lived jazzy Soul Cryptographers band. I really enjoy playing with Mike and it is good to be working with him again. NHIC Electric will have Peter Riccio on drums, and that is VERY badass. I had been hoping that we would have this opportunity, and it is sounding very nice in rehearsal.
If there is any bright side to this “winter” it is that we are still getting warm temps. Last weekend I put on about 20 miles on the bike, in short sleeves! getting that opportunity after Thanksgiving in New England is rare. I am definitely not complaining. My friend Chris James calls it Global Weirding… Well, let’s keep it weird! Oh… rising sea level and food chain disruption? P’shaw!
The big news on the work-front has been that the Gina McCarthy, commissioner of the Connecticut DEP (my employer), has been appointed to an administrator post at the US EPA. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with her on a few projects and as much as it is a huge loss for the staff of the DEP, it is a kind of confirmation that someone else agrees that she is as great as some of us think she is. If it sounds like fawning, it isn’t. What it is: The CT DEP has had some truly awful commissioners in the 16 years that I have been there, ranging from ineffective to demonstrably corrupt. With Gina we have had a true professional. She set a very high bar for performance, ethics, and public service, treated staff and management in a professional manner, and expected the same in return. Being treated as a professional is rare in the public sector, and it was nowhere to be found in the years before her appointment to our agency. Gina brought that approach to an agency that had been at a morale nadir when she arrived. There is no such thing as turning a bureaucracy on a dime, but she did alter the nature of the agency, in a huge way, for the better. When you have a focused and consistent commissioner you get a focused and consistent agency. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. The bar has been set for whoever fills that job next. The pressure will be on that person to not backslide. The Fed will be picking up a strong leader and a dynamic personality. I’m gripping the rails hoping that we get someone even half as qualified in her place.