Month: August 2008

Dirty Money?


Enough Already.  There is too much “selective reporting”.  As I write this, we are in the midst of the Democratic Convention. And this story about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared online:

Pelosi to protesters: “Can we drill your brains?”

House Democratic leaders and protesters waving McCain signs had a war of words Tuesday at a press event outside an old train station. The demonstrators interrupted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with chants of “Drill here! Drill now!”

Pelosi paused and asked the group, “Right here?”

Seeming to enjoy the back and forth, she followed with another question: “Can we drill your brains?”

She went on to refer to the protesters, who continued to chant sporadically, as “handmaidens of Big Oil.” Arguing that increased offshore drilling would reduce gas prices by only a couple of pennies a decade from now, she referred to the demonstrators as the “2-cents-in-10-years-crowd.”

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer swiped at the demonstrators, too, saying that “sophomoric chanting” won’t solve the energy crisis and that “all thinking Americans know” — stressing the word “thinking” and looking at the crowd — that America doesn’t have a quarter of the word’s fossil fuels yet uses a quarter of the world’s energy.

Before the convention, there was a story that revealed why Pelosi was against drilling for more oil.  It wasn’t the lame argument that it won’t matter due to limited oil, or the amount of time it will take to get started, or whatever the excuse was that was on the list she and others were reading off of.

No, you have to follow the money.

This story from the Wall Street Journal finally reveals the money path:

Pelosi Investment Shows Unlikely Energy Alliance

Shares Purchased
In Pickens Firm;
Oil Man’s New Role
By IAN TALLEY
August 23, 2008; Page A3

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband invested between $50,000 and $100,000 in T. Boone Pickens’s Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which could benefit from legislation the California Democrat favors to boost U.S. use of natural gas.

[Pelosi]
Reuters
Nancy Pelosi (left) has an interest in a firm founded by T. Boone Pickens (right).

The investment is a small fraction of the Pelosis’ net worth. But it highlights the unlikely alliance evolving between Mr. Pickens, an oil man with a long history of support for Republican causes, and powerful Democrats who have welcomed Mr. Pickens’s recent campaign for developing alternatives to oil.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Mrs. Pelosi, said the investment “does not raise any direct conflict-of-interest issues” or violate any ethics rules of the House of Representatives. “The speaker has been an advocate for increasing our country’s energy independence and for renewable energy for years, long before this purchase,” Mr. Hammill said. He said Mrs. Pelosi was unavailable to comment directly on the issue.

Legal experts say that unless policies promoted by a lawmaker exclusively benefit him or her, no ethics laws are violated. “The ethics rules are so incredibly narrow that unless you are pushing or voting for something that will impact only you, it doesn’t count as a conflict,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Asked if the investment could raise the appearance of impropriety, even if it is legal, Mr. Hammill said such a standard would mean the speaker or her spouse wouldn’t be able to own shares in any company given the comprehensive nature of her position.

The Pelosis got in on the ground floor at Clean Energy, purchasing shares in an auction when Mr. Pickens publicly launched the company on May 25, 2007. Clean Energy markets compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas as a fuel for motor vehicles. The investment was valued at $50,000 to $100,000 when the shares opened at $12.10 apiece, according to Mrs. Pelosi’s financial disclosure forms. These forms list investments only as a range of values. The purchase is listed as stock held by the speaker’s husband, successful financier and businessman Paul Pelosi. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Tom Brokaw asked her about this during her visit to Meet The Press Sunday.

Of course, we were all still caught up in Olympic fever to have noticed at the time.

Here’s the full exchange:

BROKAW: You just mentioned natural gas and emphasized it in your last radio address. And then we read in the Wall Street Journal, you and your husband made a substantial investment in the plan that T. Boone Pickens put forward which has a heavy emphasis on natural gas.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Let me see if you call substantial 0.3 percent of our —

BROKAW: Between 1 —

SPEAKER PELOSI: It was 50 to $100,000. And it’s part of an entrepreneurial package. This is a package we sign up with. This is what they invest in. That’s not the point. I’m investing in something I believe in. I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuel.

BROKAW: But you’re also in a position to influence where the emphasis will be and where we’re moving.

SPEAKER PELOSI: But that is — that is the marketplace, the fact is that the supply of natural gas is so big and you do need a transition if you’re going to go from fossil fuel as you say, you can’t do it overnight but you must transition. Investment in wind and solar and biofuels and focus on natural gas, these are real alternatives, you have to ask yourself why, why is this administration not doing. This is the challenge of our generation, it’s national security issue. President Nixon said we must end our dependence on foreign oil. president carter said, it’s a national security issue, economic issue, it’s an environmental health issue and moral issue to protect this environment.

And the real question is not just how much money they invested, but what that investment will be worth if legislation is passed that will make that company worth 10x, 100x, or more than it is today.

I thought she was against making money and getting rich from the double talk coming from her and her friends.

Didn’t we recently toss out an Alaskan member of Congress for using his position for his own self interests?

(Yes, is the answer.)

The Merging of Capitalists with Environmentalists

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The recent traditional thinking has been:

Capitalists: Only concerned with making lots and lots of money.  Screw anyone that stands in the way.  This is our planet to use and abuse and as long as there is money to be made, Let’s make it (and keep it!)

Environmentalists: Only concerned with saving the world from the human race.  Against all progress in the name of the all sacred endangered species list.  The world would be better if there were no people, (except those that are saving the planet from the other people).

With the rise in the price of fuel (energy) recently, there have been heated discussions regarding drilling for more oil vs. conserving and using less, the pros and cons of alternative fuel sources, etc.  And our politicians are bouncing around, changing and tweaking their positions as they try and read the opinion polls to see where they should stand so they will win the next election.   Sort of disgusting, but this is politics as normal.  If you don’t win the election you don’t have any power.

Okay that last statement isn’t true anymore.  You can become a lobbyist or a media commentator and have as much or more influence than if you had won the election.  (Who has more influence, Rush Limbaugh or your local Congressman?)

But back to this merger of two sides.  When you leave it in the hands of the people, instead of the government or Big Business, we find the common ground taking place in households and small and mid-sized businesses across the country.

We want to spend less, so we are buying the new low watt light bulbs that last longer, and cost less to use, despite the initial higher price to purchase.

We want to conserve, to produce less trash, to be thrifty with our resources and save money.  Ultimately, once you take away the radical fringe from both camps, those that are characterized in my definitions at the beginning of this article, you come up with a reasonable, people driven set of standards that folks will voluntarily do.

I’ll point you to a blog post that inspired me to write about this, Click here

Where does the money come from?

Today I was listening to the radio and heard an insane conversation regarding taxes and oil companies and profits and I really could not understand why the guest could not understand where money comes from.

So I then thought about some of my friends that don’t understand this either and so I realized this must be a widespread problem.

People do not understand how our money system works as far as business taxes and individuals and our government.

First, I’ll answer the question.   All the money comes from you and me, the consumers that buy the food or the gasoline, or whatever the consumable product is.

Think about that for a moment.  Consumers are what we are called because we are the end users of a consumable product.

Take gas for example.  You spend 60 bucks for 15 gallons of gas priced at $4.00.  Out of that $60, comes the wholesale price of the fuel and the taxes that are collected including sales tax, county taxes and federal taxes.

Also out of that $60 comes the wages of the employees, including the taxes that come out of his paycheck. There’s also the property tax bill for the gas station, and the various business taxes that the owner has to pay.

Of course the gas station bought the fuel from someone else (a wholesaler) who has employees and they pay taxes just like the gas station owner did.  And depending on how many hands that gas (or the raw oil) went through, every time each company had to pay various taxes just like the gas station did.

Where does the money for these taxes come from?  Like I said, you and me. Out of that $60 tank of gas.

There is no where else for it to come from.

Because our combined local, state and federal governments are all demanding their share of taxes all through the supply chain, it is nearly impossible for us as consumers to know with complete accuracy, how much of our income is going to taxes.

This is why we need to overhaul our system of funding our government and simplifying our tax collection process.

Your comments are welcome and I’ll write more on this in the future.