It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders..
Rick Perry famously campaigned to eliminate the Department of Energy. So predictably, Donald Trump chose him to run the place.
Rick Perry still has no idea what the D.O.E does, and neither does Donald Trump — and neither do you.
Does it matter? Yes, actually, because the D.O.E may be more important to your safety, and to the safety and the future of America, than is the military.
In this vein, I urge you, I beg you, to read this article about the DOE that appeared in Vanity Fair. You will thank me, afterward.
A few excerpts:
On the morning after the election, the people who ran the U.S. Department of Energy had cleared 30 desks and freed up 30 parking spaces.
Whoever won the election would surely be sending a small army into the Department of Energy, and every other federal agency. The morning after he was elected president, eight years earlier, Obama had sent between 30 and 40 people into the Department of Energy.
By afternoon the silence was deafening. “Day 1, we’re ready to go,” says a former senior White House official. “Day 2 it was ‘Maybe they’ll call us?’ ”
“The election happened,” remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the D.O.E. “And he won. And then there was radio silence.
Across the federal government, the Trump people weren’t anywhere to be found. Allegedly, between the election and the inauguration not a single Trump representative set foot inside the Department of Agriculture, for example.
The Department of Agriculture has employees or contractors in every county in the United States, and the Trump people seemed simply to be ignoring the place. Where they did turn up inside the federal government, they appeared confused and unprepared.
A small group attended a briefing at the State Department, for instance, only to learn that the briefings they needed to hear were classified. None of the Trump people had security clearance—or, for that matter, any experience in foreign policy—and so they weren’t allowed to receive an education.
On his visits to the White House soon after the election, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, expressed surprise that so much of its staff seemed to be leaving. “It was like he thought it was a corporate acquisition or something,” says an Obama White House staffer. “He thought everyone just stayed.”
This was symptomatic of two problems:
- Trump thinks the world runs on negotiation. He does not plan or focus. He believes he can walk into any situation, with no preparation, and because of his greatness, he can bluff his way through. He does not deal with complexity.
- Trump also believes the government is composed of idle, ignorant bureaucrats, sitting around doing nothing. He thinks he can slash away at departments, ignore or fire thousands “useless” people, and there will be no repercussions.
This is your introduction to one agency, the D.O.E. I promise, you will be amazed — and frightened.
The D.O.E., though created in the late 1970s, largely in response to the Arab-oil embargo, had very little to do with oil.
About half its budget (in 2016 approximately $30 billion) went to maintaining the nuclear arsenal and protecting Americans from nuclear threats.
It sent teams with equipment to big public events—the Super Bowl, for instance—to measure the radiation levels, in hopes of detecting a dirty bomb before it exploded.
“They really were doing things to, like, keep New York safe. These are not hypothetical things. These are actual risks.”
A quarter of the budget went to cleaning up all the unholy world-historic mess left behind by the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
The last quarter of the budget went into programs aimed at shaping Americans’ access to, and use of, energy.
Maintaining our nuclear arsenal, protecting Americans from nuclear threats, cleaning up dangerously radioactive sites, increasing our access to energy — these would seem to be rather vital missions for an agency about which Trump and Perry know so little they continue to talk about cutting it back.
This would be as disastrous for America as dissolving the Navy, yet few Americans, Trump and Perry included, understand why.
(A) $70 billion loan program had been authorized by Congress in 2005 to lend money, at very low interest rates, to businesses so that they might develop game-changing energy technologies.
The idea that the private sector under-invests in energy innovation is part of the origin story of the D.O.E.
The basic problem is that there is no constituency for an energy program. There are many constituencies opposed. Existing energy businesses—oil companies, utilities—are obviously hostile to government-sponsored competition.
At the same time they are essentially commodity businesses, without a lot of fat in them. The stock market does not reward even big oil companies for research and development that will take decades to pay off. And the sort of research that might lead to huge changes in energy production often doesn’t pay off for decades.
Plus it requires a lot of expensive science: discovering a new kind of battery or a new way of capturing solar energy is not like creating a new app.
Fracking—to take one example—was not the brainchild of private-sector research but the fruit of research paid for 20 years ago by the D.O.E. Yet fracking has collapsed the price of oil and gas and led to American energy independence.
Solar and wind technologies are another example. The Obama administration set a goal in 2009 of getting the cost of utility-scale solar energy down by 2020 from 27 cents a kilowatt-hour to 6 cents. It’s now at seven cents, and competitive with natural gas because of loans made by the D.O.E.
“The private sector only steps in once D.O.E. shows it can work,” said Franklin Orr, a Stanford professor of engineering.
The whole idea is for the federal government to invest in research, much of which might never pay out. The private sector cannot afford those failures, but if a dozen failures lead to one success, America profits.
Politically, the loan program had been nothing but downside. No one had paid any attention to its successes, and its one failure—Solyndra—had allowed the right-wing friends of Big Oil to bang on relentlessly about government waste and fraud and stupidity. A single bad loan had turned a valuable program into a political liability.
Yet, even that political liability was an economic success. The money the government poured into Solyndra was an economic stimulus that, because federal spending is not funded by taxes, did not cost American taxpayers one cent.
The article also tells you an interesting and scary story about Hanford, WA.
In early 1943, the United States Army was evicting everyone from an area in Eastern Washington nearly half the size of Rhode Island and setting out to create plutonium in order to build a nuclear bomb: Hanford WA.
The place created two-thirds of the plutonium in the United States’ arsenal—a total of 70,000 nuclear weapons since 1945. You’d like to think that if anyone had known the environmental consequences of plutonium, or if anyone could have been certain that the uranium bomb would work, they’d never have done here what they did.
Plutonium is hard to produce and hard to get rid of.
The United States promised to return Hanford to a condition where “kids can eat the dirt.” (The estimated) cost to return Hanford to the standards now legally required: “A century and a hundred billion dollars.” And that was a conservative estimate.
The Department of Energy wires 10 percent of its annual budget, or $3 billion a year, into this tiny place and intends to do so until the radioactive mess is cleaned up.
The worst thing that could happen is that the federal government loses interest in it and slashes the D.O.E.’s budget—as President Trump has proposed to do.
This post does not do justice to the Vanity Fair article, which again, I urge you to read it in its entirety.
It will give you an understanding you do not currently have, not just of the D.O.E., but of the imminent threats facing America.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.
Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE A MONTHLY ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA (similar to Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Economic Bonus)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012
Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONE Five reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE FEDERAL TAXES ON BUSINESS
Businesses are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the federal government (the later having no use for those dollars). Any tax on businesses reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all business taxes reduce your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and business taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.