Category Archives: Energy

Japan’s Nuclear Power Hari Kari

Any discussion of Japan and nuclear power is complicated by that country’s history as the only nation ever to suffer a nuclear attack. That event continues to haunt the venerable Pacific nation. This is an immutable truth that one must accept regardless of which side one is on concerning the legitimacy of the US attack 67 years ago.

That said, the Japanese nation nevertheless staked much of its economic destiny on nuclear power. Beginning more than four decades ago, Japan deployed over 50 nuclear power plants to feed the energy needs of its densely packed population. Very limited in domestic fossil fuel sources and running one of the world’s leading economies, the country’s reliance on substantial nuclear power facilities made eminent sense.

And for over 40 years, this decision redounded to the benefit of the nation and its people. But alas, nuclear tragedy struck again in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The reactor at Fukushima was damaged and a partial meltdown ensued. People died, land areas became contaminated and the safety of the country’s nuclear power plants was called into question.

Japan instituted a series of rigorous tests that all of its plants would have to pass (to ensure that they could withstand quakes and tsunamis) before they would be allowed to continue operating. One by one, reactors have been halted to perform the tests. Not one has been restarted, and recently the last operational reactor was taken offline. There isn’t a single nuclear power plant operating in Japan today; and it is unclear when, if ever, any will start back up.

Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • The overwhelming percentage of the casualties last spring resulted from the quake and the tsunami, not the reactor meltdown.
  • Clearly, the Fukushima plant was not subjected to the most rigorous safety tests that could have been applied. But there is no evidence that any other Japanese plant was in danger of a serious malfunction. Moreover, none of Japan’s numerous, previous earthquakes had caused a problem for any of their plants.
  • Many nations around the world continue to rely on nuclear power. France gets more than 75% of its electricity from it. At its height, Japan got 30%.
  • Non-nuclear forms of energy are dangerous too; see: Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Horizon, Bhopal and all the eagles that are getting sliced and diced by wind turbines.
The anti-nuclear activists have seemingly won the day in Japan. The result will be a country trapped in the misery of imported energy, drastically increased fuel costs, a diminished economy and a commensurate loss of independence. (We in the US know about such things.) Japan had come to a modus vivendi in which it has been able to harness the type of energy that had previously been used against it. The result was a peaceful, economic and efficient use of nuclear power. Could it have been done with better safety and controls? Absolutely. But by allowing the tsunami tragedy to enable the anti-nuke activists to subvert the industry, the Japanese are punishing themselves in a misbegotten attempt to expunge modern and past demons.
This article also appeared in The American Thinker at:

Global Warming Fanatics are Like Islamic Fundamentalists: What the Rest of Us Should Do About It

‘Allah is God, Mohammed is His prophet and the Koran is the message.’ That commonly-used apothegm encapsulates the core belief of the Muslim religion. Well how about: ‘The Earth is God, Al Gore is its prophet and Global Warming is the message.’ I would say that this adage sums up the core belief of the climate change crowd.

The analogy goes further. The adherents of the two aphorisms are animated by a religious fervor that is highlighted by an absolute faith in the truth of their saying’s content. The followers in both instances are bent on world domination and conversion of all non-believers to their point of view. Their ultimate goal, in each case, is a totalitarian system in which those at the head of the system will determine all aspects of the lives of their followers. And finally, both systems deem their opponents—infidels in the former, skeptics in the latter—as unworthy, misguided, evil and deserving of no succor, mercy or salvation.

The main difference in the two movements is that the former has shown a deep propensity for violence whereas, thus far, the latter has not. But to those of us who doubt the truth of either, both movements treat us with disdain, condescension and disrespect.

What puzzles me is that no one outside the orb of these vicious, globally-oriented and mind-controlling movements has hit on the following seemingly obvious idea. We need to spark a confrontation between them, a situation in which each of the movements sees the other as their main opponent. If each could be convinced to devote their abundant energy toward attacking the other, perhaps both might deliver a fatal blow. How delicious that would be for the rest of us!
This piece also appeared in The American Thinker Blog on February 14, 2010 under the title, ‘Comparative Religion 101: Climate Change and Islam.’ See:

Our New President’s Three Top Priorities: Government Cures for Problems Caused by Government

President Obama repeatedly emphasized as a candidate that his three top priorities as President would be health care, energy and education. He has continued to stress those themes since his inauguration, both in proposed legislation and on the bully pulpit. To his way of thinking — and to that of the liberal elite who believe they are running the nation, which in fact they seem to be — these three issues are the most critical facing our nation at the close of the first decade of the twenty-first century. This would seem to relegate to secondary importance such ‘minor’ issues as: Islamic fundamentalism and its assault on Western Civilization; runaway entitlement programs that threaten to bankrupt the nation; a bloated federal government, massive deficits, a rapidly expanding money supply that portends severe inflation and a crippled economy, all of which threaten to do likewise; out of control illegal immigration, augmented by tens of millions of poorly assimilated minorities that weaken the cultural fabric of our society; and a profound ignorance among our citizens of the founding principles upon which our country was established.

Now while I think that the President’s priorities might be misaligned, I do not mean to suggest that Barack’s big three are not vitally important. They are. But what strikes me is that the three top problems that he has identified are perhaps the three that most clearly illustrate a principle that characterizes the behavior of our federal government. Namely, it is intent on solving problems that it created in the first place. Moreover, its preferred method of solution bears amazing resemblance to the methods it deployed that created the original problem. That assertion is true of some of the other issues I specified above. But it is particularly true of Obama’s big three. My purpose here is to elaborate on that observation.

I will take them in reverse chronological order. That means energy is first as the original sins of the government occurred less than a half-century ago. America’s need for and use of vast quantities of energy originate in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. Prior to that we got by with energy gleaned from ‘natural’ sources like water, solar, wind and of course human and animal strength. But the new engines of economic growth in the 19th century required more robust sources of energy — initially coal, and then later oil. These sustained us for more than a century, although they had certain disadvantages — primarily environmental and the fact that, at least in the case of oil, the sources were to be found increasingly in foreign lands.

Then, at almost exactly the same point in time, three critical events occurred: (i) the environmental impact of our heavy reliance on coal and oil worked its way into the consciousness of the American public’s mind; (ii) it became clear that the ‘finite nature’ of those resources would cause them, if not to disappear altogether, then at least to become dramatically more expensive and harder to obtain; and (iii) an amazing new resource became practical. At that point, the federal government initiated policies that recognized (i) but totally ignored (ii) and (iii). In short, beginning approximately 45 years ago and continuing to this day, the government implemented steps that: (a) restricted the use of coal and limited the deployment of more environmentally friendly coal technologies; (b) severely limited drilling and exploration for new domestic sources of oil, shale and other ‘dirty’ sources of energy; (c) began to emphasize and favor inefficient and expensive biofuels that has had the unanticipated consequence of distorting food prices (because of the diversion of certain grains from food production to biofuel production); (d) made the construction of new oil refineries virtually impossible; (e) pursued the chimera of reviving the use of ‘natural’ sources (water, solar, wind) in a major way, expecting beyond common sense that they would provide a substantial portion of our total energy needs; and (f) most importantly, essentially suspended the development and deploymentof nuclear technologies that would in fact have supplied huge proportions of our energy needs. Not surprisingly, these steps have caused scarcity in energy supplies, driven energy costs sky high and placed our industry and our lifestyle at grave risk. Stated in this fashion, and I believe it is an accurate summary of the idiotic government-driven energy policies our country has pursued over the last 45 years, it is natural to wonder how our government, with our concurrence, could institute these incredibly moronic policies. Why would any government do such things?

The answer: For exactly the same reasons that motivate the Obama administration, whose members seem to be convinced that to fix our energy problems we have to pursue precisely the policies that put us in this predicament — although they don’t see it that way. The Obamaniacs are motivated by the beliefs that:

  • The US is no more entitled to access to energy supplies than any other nation, that therefore our consumption of more energy per capita than anyone else is unfair, indeed morally wrong, and that it must cease;
  • Mankind is a threat to the Earth and living with less, cleaner energy is an appropriate check on our human tendency to ‘rape the Earth’;
  • It is the job of the federal government to control our energy appetite and referee the equitable distribution of energy, not only among the peoples of the nation, but also among the peoples of the world; and
  • Unregulated exploitation of the world’s energy sources is a reflection of the corporate greed that is so characteristic of an unfettered capitalistic system, a system that must be reigned in.

It is a radical, anti-free market, redistributionist philosophy that too many of our people have bought into because of the brainwashing they have succumbed to in our schools and at the hands of a biased media. It is a program that will lead us to economic ruin.

Having caused the problem, the government announces that we are in crisis and then sets out to resolve it by rededicating itself to the efforts that created it in the first pace. And the people buy it. But when there will be insufficient energy to heat their homes, power their vehicles and drive the engines of their businesses, then perhaps the good people of America will realize, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, that Barack Obama and the liberals calling the shots are the problem, not the solution.

Proceeding backward in time, the next issue is health care. The basic problem is the explosive nature of the cost of health care. It is universally acknowledged that American health care is the finest in the world — why else would foreigners flock here to access it? Unfortunately, its cost is exceedingly high and seemingly out ofcontrol. Why is that? I maintain the root cause is that the vast majority of American health care is paid for by so-called ‘third party’ insurers. That is, party one (the individual or family) seeks medical assistance from party two (doctors and hospitals), but the bill is paid by party three (either an insurance company or the government).

This abnormal situation came about because of two fundamental blunders by the federal government. The first was the wage and price controls it imposed during World War II. This caused business, when it sought to attract employees, to offer subsidized health care benefits to potential employees; the subsidies were not subject to federal income tax or wage controls. With the federal government’s acquiescence in this dodge around wage controls, thus was born employer-based health insurance that inaugurated the era of the third party payer system. It looked like a win-win for everyone, but the impression created in the public’s mind was that, while health care was not totally free, its costs were capped (by the premiums they paid through their employer) and so they felt no compulsion not to enjoy as much of it as they pleased. A simple case of supply and demand. The insatiable demand by third party-insured health care consumers drives the price for health care higher and higher.

The problem was compounded by the introduction of Medicare in the mid-60s. The target was America’s elderly instead of its workers and young families, and the third party insurer became the government instead of private insurance companies — a horrible eventuality for other reasons. But the third party payer principle was the same and so costs were driven even higher. Americans buy their car, life, home and disability insurance in the open market. Costs for these escalate in line with standard cost of living indicators as people pay directly for what they receive. But the federally-inspired, third party payer health care insurance industry interferes with the natural laws of supply and demand and drives prices to the stratosphere.

So how is the government going to fix this? Why of course by instituting universal health care — controlled, managed and financed by the government, which, whether purposefully or inadvertently, will drive private health insurers out of business. Nationalized health care! Oh swell, the government completely controlling the supply and demand for health care. Of course the demand will not decrease, so the only way to control costs will be by restricting supply. Yup, rationing of health care! Precisely what has happened in other countries that have nationalized health care (see, e.g., Great Britain and Canada)!

Having seen the disaster that nationalized health care has been in other countries, why would the US government implement it here and why would we the people vote for it and support it? Obama made no secret of his intentions. How could we have given him the power to do it? The answer to the second question lies in the brainwashing we have endured in the last few generations; the answer to the first looks suspiciously like the reasons for our misbegotten energy policies:

  • Access to health care is a basic human right (actually, where in the Constitution or Federalist Papers that might be found is a mystery to me — but Barack sees it clearly); all should have the same access — even if at a lower level for everyone.
  • The federal government has the obligation to guarantee that right.
  • Private insurers are motivated purely by the profit motive (damned corporate greed again), not by the desire to fulfill this human right — only the government can provide uniform and fair coverage.

Once again, a radical, redistributionist ideology at work that our brainwashed populace might conceivably not endorse, but certainly acquiesces in. And again, having caused the problem, the government proposes to fix it by redoubling its misguided efforts. When, like in Britain, it takes months (if ever) to see a specialist, we might have second thoughts on the wisdom of this fix.

This brings me to the third priority — education. In this case the original sin lies long in the past — namely, more than a century ago when radicals like John Dewey (and Horace Mann even earlier) convinced the American people that the education of their children was a task best left to the government. It need not have developed that way. True, the governments involved were local, or occasionally county or State, not federal. That would come later. But at the end of the nineteenth century the people of the United States relied on local, State and the national government for precious few services outside of those prescribed in the Constitution. Mail, transportation, some communications come to mind. All in the realm of interstate commerce. Today every activity falls under the rubric of interstate commerce — even education. But exactly where is it ordained that government-run schools are the preferred — and if some had their way, only — method of delivering an elementary school education to the youth of America? It is a choice made by the American people that has led to:

  • Inefficiency, waste and corruption in the administration of America’s school systems;
  • A level of performance by the average student that borders on the abominable;
  • A curriculum that is often at odds with the desires of the students’ parents;
  • A dangerous physical environment rife with drugs, promiscuity and violence;
  • A failure to transmit to America’s youth the fundamentals of our Constitutional Republic and the essentials of our American culture;
  • A total failure to teach our youth about free market capitalism, the fundamental economic system that is responsible for our unprecedented prosperity;
  • A cadre of teachers beholden to the most radical and powerful union in America — the National Educational Association; and
  • A homogeneity of thought on the part of the teachers and staff who run the system that has resulted in the brainwashing of America’s youth who are inculcated with a ‘progressive agenda,’ which is nothing more than the statist philosophy of the liberal elite.

Here Barack would disagree. He likely would think me daft and would instead cite the following as the fundamental problems with our schoolsystems:

  • Inadequate resources available to minorities compared to those for white males;
  • Too much emphasis on American history and culture and not nearly enough attention paid to the people of the world;
  • Insufficient study of the effect of mankind on the environment and not enough indoctrination — er, that is, information about being green;
  • Inadequate teacher salaries; and
  • Too much local control as it is clear that education is far too important to the future of America to be left to anyone but the federal government.

Well, how will he fix these problems? By nationalizing the schools of course and reinforcing the regimen implemented over the last century, which as I have pointed out, is responsible for the failures I have cited — as opposed to his phony problems. The schools will only get worse. But they will produce little Obama clones.

In summary, our esteemed President has identified three critical areas of concern for our nation, but failed to notice that they are areas of concern precisely because of past policies practiced by the government. He proposes to fix them by implementing ‘new’ policies that constitute nothing more than the ratcheting up of the methods that caused the concerns originally. Can you say ‘Prescription for disaster!’ Hopefully the American people will wake up before it is too late.