THE HOUSE BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

Today, I got a bit of a surprise.  My little blog got a visit (see here) by a former candidate for office, the Honorable Bruce Roemmelt.  For some reason, my blog has received a lot of comments of late, and I have enjoyed it.  I was reminded of a poem,  The House by the Side of the Road

Here is the stanza that seems most relevant.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by;
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Roemmelt has run for office, which is more than I have done.  And a lot of people took him seriously.  So I expect his opinions are heartfelt and well-reasoned.  Nevertheless, we do not agree, and I think my opinions — and Bob Marshall’s — are at least as well reasoned.

Roemmelt posted his comment in response to the previous comment asking about Bob Marshall’s endorsement by some green groups.  Rather than debate that issue, I think the best thing to do is to let Marshall speak for himself.  Fortunately, Marshall’s website for his senate campaign is still up.  Here is a link to the page he posted on Environmental Issues.  The entire page is well worth reading, but here is the most relevant part.

As a state delegate I received a “2007 Legislative Hero Award” from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters for my 100% voting record in environmental preservation.  I also received an endorsements from the Farm Bureau and Sierra Club, a rarity for a social conservative legislator.

In a post on his website (here), Roemmelt attacks the legislation that Marshall sponsored with respect to offshore oil drilling (see this post).  Since I am not authorized to speak for Marshall, I will let his words stand on their on.  I will just give my own opinion. 

There are no perfect solutions.  So long as we insist on living, we will eat and drink.  So long as we insist on living, we will urinate and defecate.  So long as we insist on living, we will pollute.   Just as we came up with toilets and sewage treatment plants to minimize the ill effects of human excrement, we have also come up with ways to minimize the ill effects of securing and using petroleum products.

Democrats, in the name of environmentalism, have prohibited offshore oil drilling.  However, the technology for drilling offshore is well developed.  We have been doing it a wide variety of places for years.  The most notorious offshore oil spills have come from oil tankers, not oil wells.  Shipping oil to America poses the greatest risk, not drilling for it off our shores.

In his post, Roemmelt references the Pickens Plan.  This is an interesting idea to build a bunch of windmills in the center of our country to generate electricity.  Supposedly, we could then use the methane we are using to generate electricity to power our autos.  While Picken’s idea may or may not be sound, it exists now merely as speculation.  What do we do if the environmentalists who think windmills are a environmental problem succeed in banning them?  Sounds stupid, but windmills kill birds (see here).  Rather than transport electricity from the Great Plains, some people want to site them in the breeze offshore.  These people are having the same sort of problem as the folks who want to drill for oil offshore.

There are already more than 20 offshore wind farms producing electricity in Europe but, in this country, such proposals have sparked opposition from the Great Lakes states to Long Island. Opponents, including seafront homeowners, say such installations would threaten avian and aquatic life and ruin scenic vistas. With such environmental concerns pitted against the demand for clean energy, there is not a single offshore turbine anywhere in the United States.  (from here)

Will windmills work?  I don’t know.  The current reality is that we are paying a lot of money to unfriendly nations for oil we could be taking out of wells just off our shores.  Why?  Some people don’t like the idea, and with all our lawyers and judges, we are doing a great job of tying up every new idea in knots.  Instead of spending so much money in court, why not come up with a system that estimates the damage done by polluters and tax them when they pollute?

Americans, not America’s government, fix problems.  When Americans pollute, the problem usually results from the fact that the Americans causing the pollution do not bear the direct costs of the pollution they produce. So they do not have an economic incentive to fix their problem.  Fortunately, there exists an effective way encourage Americans to fix their problem.  We can tax the problem.

You have heard of Western Europe’s Value Added Tax (VAT)?  America can scrap its income tax system and give our accountants some useful work. We can tax pollution with a Pollution Added Tax (PAT). The PAT would make clean energy sources far more competitive.

Consider our trash problem. When you go to the store, half of what you bring home is used to wrap the other half. Your mailbox is loaded with junk mail. That trash litters the environment and is costly to dispose. The people responsible should pay the cost.

We could apply the PAT to anything that results in litter or any other form of pollution. If somebody insists on making a mess, that somebody should pay for the privilege.  Then they will either stop polluting or their competitors will put them out of business.   Problem solved.

Stopping pollution.  Why don’t we make it a good business practice?

Roemmelt also complained that the Special Session did not accomplish anything.  I have already addressed that complaint in this post.

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I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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8 Responses to THE HOUSE BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

  1. kgotthardt says:

    Love the poem!

    But who says wind power has to be ugly? Come on. Holland has some of the prettiest landscapes in the world. We have enough artists to help make fuel functional and beautiful if we try. And I am sure we can do something about the birds—safety net or something else. We need to put our collective heads together and work on alternative fuel….and tax the polluters as you suggest, Tom.

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  2. Citizen Tom says:

    kgotthardt – Actually, I think we are having problems because we are putting our collective heads together. The government is just getting in the way.

    Problem 1: Our politicians have made lots and lots of promises, but all they have done is waste money. When a politician takes our money and spends it on an “energy solution,” most of the time all he is doing is paying off some special interest.

    The private sector already has plenty of cash. Without make some national crisis out of it, universities and the private sector will happily do plenty of research. If we tax pollution, we will provide a profit motive. That is all that is needed.

    Problem 2: Every time somebody proposes a fix, local politicians and the courts step in block it. This NIMBY nonsense has to stop. These people are blocking windmills so far off shore no one can see them. That is absurd.

    Yes, we should make an effort to protect birds from windmills, but the fact we have not built any windmill farms clearly indicates something is out of balance.

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  3. kgotthardt says:

    What does NIMBY mean?

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  4. Citizen Tom says:

    Not In My BackYard.

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  5. kgotthardt says:

    Oh I should know that. Someone told me before. I can never remember these damn acronyms.

    Put a windmill in my backyard. Make it pretty and I’m happy.

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  6. Tom,

    there was quite a discussion at Bacon’s Rebellion about the dangers of off shore drilling.

    Bacon’s Rebellion: Faulty Logic in the Offshore Drilling Debate

    http://baconsrebellion.blogspot.com/2008/07/lots-of-faulty-logic-in-offshore.html#links

    i was able to go to US Government web sites and pull together some of the issues post Katrina and Rita about the rigs in the Gulf. there are serious potentials there for pollution.

    i’m actually good with wind mills and nuclear as well. just got to figure out how to get those spent fuel rods shot into the Sun and we’ll be fine. i think that storing them on site (current solution) is too big a risk.

    regarding Bobs ‘Greenness’ i’ll just let actions/votes speak louder than words. i still wait for Bob to oppose the Dominion Power line.

    again the SCC statements of us both are powerful and telling.

    http://www.gettingaround.org/?p=82

    CT, we do disagree on several issues, but we are talking, not shouting, cursing, or throwing things ;-)

    b

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  7. kgotthardt says:

    “CT, we do disagree on several issues, but we are talking, not shouting, cursing, or throwing things”

    Thank GOODNESS! We have enough of that crap in the immigration “debates.”

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  8. Pingback: DRILL NOW, DRILL HERE! « Citizen Tom

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