Image of the day

Captured by
Rolando Chavez

Humming in the Garden

My Account

New to Astromart?

Register an account...

Need Help?

Posts Made By: Joe Bergeron

July 18, 2008 01:57 AM Forum: Polls

You have to choose one for your backyard to help in the energy crisis

Posted By Joe Bergeron

Well, that's where the part about being smarter comes in. Smart enough to appreciate a house that belongs where it is. Most of us are in one house after another for decades. If they were all sensibly constructed you could count on your next house being that way too. We would all reap the benefits of the previous guy's foresight. Picture us all jumping around from one smart house to another..assuming our current mobility even persists, of course.

July 19, 2008 03:21 PM Forum: Polls

You have to choose one for your backyard to help in the energy crisis

Posted By Joe Bergeron

You're setting up a false argument here, acting as though it's the responsibility of "environmental types" to come up with a plan that's to your liking, rather than one that conforms to what we see as a complex reality that involves more than what's cheapest or what does the least to change or upset the riotous energy consumption that people like you see as their birthright. A lot of "environmental extremists" view the environment, which you are willing to tolerate as long as it doesn't get in your way, as literally vital to our standard of living and quality of life. "Common sense tradeoffs" too often involve destroying what we hold dear so others can continue to refrigerate their houses or commute 40 miles. What are you prepared to trade off? I suspect you're really saying "Tell me what you're prepared to sacrifice to keep things the way I want them."

Maybe I should challenge you to come up with a plan that hands you everything you want while still not fatally screwing up the planet or turning most of it into an industrial that satisfies you and also keeps people like me happy. Why should I expect you to do that?

Does "cheapest" always take priority over every other consideration? Is there no instance where "better" might be considered?

July 19, 2008 11:42 PM Forum: Polls

You have to choose one for your backyard to help in the energy crisis

Posted By Joe Bergeron

Moot. The word you're looking for is moot, not mute.

I don't understand your point about Bakersfield. Are you saying that because oil is being pumped there, we should be able to pump it anywhere? Or are you noticing inactive wells there, and getting annoyed because they're not doing anything?

July 20, 2008 03:31 PM Forum: Polls

You have to choose one for your backyard to help in the energy crisis

Posted By Joe Bergeron

I think you won't be surprised to hear that I disagree with many of your premises, and am therefore unwilling to argue on your terms. I don't agree that environmentalists are creating problems, but rather trying to stave off problems created by others. Sure, lots of us have a plan: in essence, it's to scale a lot of things back to reasonable, manageable proportions. Not quite to revert to 1850, but to cut way back on profligacy and self-indulgence. However, this sort of plan is so foreign to a lot of people that their minds dismiss it at once and it appears to be no plan at all. I realize such a plan will never be accepted until it is forced on people by circumstances. We are incapable of rationally accepting the sacrifices needed to put ourselves into such a position rather that being put into it willy nilly.

You say energy demand will only increase in the future. Well, what we demand is one thing; what we get is not necessarily the same thing. Children often demand things which are not available, not affordable, or not good for them, and if their parents are any good, they don't get them. People can demand to have ever increasing amounts of energy lavished upon them, but if it just isn't there, they can either flail around in a destructive tantrum or go without. So no, I will not acknowledge we'll be "needing" more electricity in the future. What does "needing" imply? Keeping us alive, keeping us fed? I don't think so. I think you mean "desiring" more electricity, not "needing" it.

I keep hearing about the need for new refineries. Are you saying we have petroleum piling up unrefined because of the lack of refineries? I haven't noticed any gasoline scarcity whatsoever. No shortage of any petroleum product. Anyone can still buy just as much as they want, as long as they pay through the nose for it. Would more refineries make oil cheaper? I think not.

As for the drilling, I think it's been established that US reserves have been pretty well shot, that even if the small remaining fraction was developed like mad starting today, the relative trickle that would emerge in ten years or so would be insufficient to make much of a difference in anything. I have never seen any analysis of the issue that suggests otherwise. And really, if we haven't already essentially replaced gasoline vehicles in ten years, I think our economy will already have ground to a halt as transportation costs soar to triple what they already are, if not worse. So no, I don't acknowledge that we need new domestic sources of oil, at least none that actually exist. That's just a canard that people like Bush use to try to get a few more billion dollars into the pockets of his buddies, or to quiet public panic by doing something meaningless but which sounds good.

Oh, and I simply do not believe that oil companies are capable of (or interested in) drilling in ANWR or offshore without creating a mess. Whatever they say about it is meaningless. They will say anything to get to do what they want. The next time one of their platforms was wrecked by a hurricane or a ship collision they'd just say, "Oh dear, who could have predicted such a terrible accident?" All that in exchange for no meaningful benefit. Your assertions leave me unmoved.

You keep putting your opinions and assumptions forth as realities which others must also acknowledge if a meaningful discussion is to be had. I don't see it that way. I see the realities imposed on us by the limitations of the world, not by the "demands" of a spoiled people.

Nuclear plants: I'm not averse to having more of them. But where? I'm sure you're aware of the huge Palo Verde plant just west of Phoenix. I'm not in favor of dotting the desert with more nuclear plants which will only hasten the mindless growth of these ridiculous desert cities which will soon be screaming for water which doesn't exist within hundreds or thousands of miles. If nuclear plants are so very safe, it seems the place for them would be right in the cities they serve, cities with access to local water.

Fusion reactors: I notice these are rarely mentioned in the current discussion of energy options. Obviously this is because they don't exist and have no prospect of existing in any foreseeable time frame.

I would like to see each house become a self-sufficient energy producer, whether through solar, wind, or even fuel cells, though the self-sufficiency part is elusive with them since most houses don't have a source of free hydrogen. I would like to see everyone driving around in electric cars charged by these sources. I don't care if such cars are small or slow or don't look like much. I would even like to be able to cross town on an electric streetcar, such as the ones that existed even in my small city before the cars took over. Whether any of this will come to pass remains to be seen. I would prefer it to tallow candles and horses and buggies, but the way things are going we might wind up with those sooner or later.

I have already lost many freedoms and options, losses imposed by energy prices and by the weakness of our economy. These result in me consuming less, and they harm nobody else, except for those who miss seeing my smiling face due to my inability to travel. I would like to reverse all that, but it may well be that my ability to flit around at will was a product of unique, transient conditions which will never return. If so, I'll get along as best as I can and watch as others also adapt to the new circumstances with varying degrees of grace and equanimity.

July 29, 2008 04:13 AM Forum: Polls

THE QUESTION - some of you shouldn't look - you have been warned

Posted By Joe Bergeron

We may indeed be worse off in four years. We have so much downward momentum now that a ruling coalition consisting of Pericles, George Washington, Gandhi, Steve Jobs, and Alexander the Great would have a tough time reversing it. But I'd be shocked (and probably suicidal) if it was because the next guy we elect is actually worse than what we have now.

July 29, 2008 12:43 PM Forum: Polls

THE QUESTION - some of you shouldn't look - you have been warned

Posted By Joe Bergeron

Oh, I don't know. It seems to me that one good reason to collect taxes is to reduce the incredible growth of the federal deficit over the past 7 years and prevent the country from sinking even deeper into debt to foreign powers of uncertain intent. I was always taught that spending vastly more than you take in and living by borrowing was unwise. But of course, I'm only a naive "liberal", and thus these matters of high finance are probably beyond me. At least I can take comfort in knowing that those nice people in the oil industry aren't being soaked by ruinous taxes, even if you are.

Your consulting business must be booming if your Federal tax is 30% on top of the 15% for self employment. I'm also self employed, and my Federal tax is always around 15%, or 30% with self employment.

July 29, 2008 07:04 PM Forum: Polls

THE QUESTION - some of you shouldn't look - you have been warned

Posted By Joe Bergeron

The only time since before Reagan when our debt was in decline and our budget was in surplus was during the last few years of the Clinton administration. He did a few things in his time which I didn't care for, but he did, at least, do that much right.

I suspect the habitual Republican budget-busting has something to do with their desire to "strangle the Federal government until it's small enough to drown in a bath tub."

July 30, 2008 01:18 AM Forum: Polls

THE QUESTION - some of you shouldn't look - you have been warned

Posted By Joe Bergeron

You know, I thought you had a few decent points until you started blathering about the "socialist takeover of our country." Can you give some example of countries which you consider socialist? Are any European countries currently socialist? How about China?

July 30, 2008 02:52 PM Forum: Polls

THE QUESTION - some of you shouldn't look - you have been warned

Posted By Joe Bergeron

Well, I can't get myself as excited about the supposed onset of socialism as you have. Your remarks seem unfocused and confused to me, as though you're applying the term "socialism" to everything that ever happened which you didn't like, or as if the dictionary definition of "socialism" were "That awful, repugnant system of tyranny which is devoid of any possible virtue whatsoever."

I do agree that we are losing freedoms, and that we are being abused and exploited by the government (and its corporate supporters), but I doubt you'd want to call all these people socialists. The system of a few rich oligarchs lording it over vast masses of peons who depend upon their largesse, which they seem intent on installing, could as easily be described as feudalism.

I'm especially baffled by your attitude toward health care. You said you yourself lack health insurance. Do you think that's just? If you have a medical crisis, you will be forced to go begging to charity, ruin yourself financially, or simply go without. Do you think it's right that you and millions like you are of so little consequence to your own government, to your own society, that you are left in such a vulnerable position? Sick people are already at their most vulnerable and frightened. They don't need to be told to go hang in addition to that. I would be happy to pay some of my money (if I had any) to prevent people from suffering that kind of misery and indignity. In my opinion, medical insurance "providers" are crooked rackets which should be dissolved and made illegal. They are nothing more than parasites, contributing nothing. So I am completely unmoved by your evocation of "socialized medicine" as some sort of bogeyman. I reject your implication that people living with such systems are enduring some sort of medical hell, or at least are indulging in some ethical perversion as undeserving poor people are treated with dignity and allowed to live when they get sick. Our health care "system" is a disgrace. I am ashamed of it.

August 1, 2008 01:49 PM Forum: Polls

THE QUESTION - some of you shouldn't look - you have been warned

Posted By Joe Bergeron

What do I think is going to happen when the "socialized medicine" becomes a reality for *everyone*? A lot of people will stop having their lives devastated, or even ended, by a lack of access to health care. It won't be perfect, and no doubt there will be instances of abuse. I'm pretty sure the abuse will be better than the abuse which is now heaped upon millions of us by our current system. And I don't believe it will make those lazy bums you rail against any lazier, or encourage anyone to stop working just because now they can see a doctor if they need to.

I didn't say anyone was entitled to your money, or mine. I say erecting a public health care system is a rational and ethical choice that is made by civilized people to reduce the misery of their fellows, even the lazy ones. Laziness is not a capital offense.

You say you are willing to help the unfortunate; fine. Lots of conservatives make similar claims. Yet what are people in duress supposed to do? They get sick, or are lying beside a road with a broken body. Are they supposed to first scrounge around to discover which individual or which private charity deems them worthy of assistance? No. They should know where to go, confident that they will receive the care they need without being judged.

I don't see this as representing any kind of loss of freedom. You, for example, would not be required to take advantage of this kind of system. If you got sick but found the new universal system too unresponsive or ethically unacceptable, you would be free to ignore it. If you were rich, you could certainly still hire any boutique physicians you chose. You would still be required to pay taxes, of course. But you do that already, or at least you do if your income is sufficient.

You seem to be implying that the only way a person can demonstrate they are worthy to live is by dedicating their lives to making lots of money. In your world, that's the only valid path to survival. If you don't follow it, you can go crawl into a corner and die, or beggar yourself, should something happen to you. That seems like a curiously limited form of freedom to me. Pursue that one goal (although I admit you can be really imaginative in doing so), or be consigned to the margins of what passes for society, expendable and unregarded.

Germany: you cite problems with their system. First, no one has set forth Germany as the example to be emulated. If they have screwed things up, someone else can do better. What about Norway, France, Australia? No doubt you can also find imperfections in their systems. You will also, if you care to admit it, find millions of their citizens who are quite satisfied with what is available to them. Please do not pretend that the world is full of people yearning to enjoy the benefits of an American HMO. That's just nonsense. You say the guy who originated the Canadian system calls it a failure (can you cite him or that)? I wonder how many Canadians agree with him. Where do you suppose Canadians get their health care? Do they all stream south of their border to us? No. I suppose some do, those who are impatient or dissatisfied or feel some lack in what's available to them. Fine for them, if they can afford it. On the other hand, millions of Canadians can get care that doesn't upend their lives when, if they were US citizens, they could not. Somehow I think the balance winds up being in their favor.

Clearly our views in this matter do not overlap very much. But I don't think you'll have to worry about your preferred system being overturned. Any politician would have a tough time overcoming the money-sucking parasites of the insurance "industry", so you're in no immediate danger of being provided with health coverage. Whew!