The Cost

The E.P.A. is set to announce new carbon emission rules soon and when it does, it promises to ignite a political storm in Washington.

Electricity generation accounts for 1/3 of the carbon emissions in the U.S.  The majority of those emissions are from coal-fired plants. The majority of the electricity used in the eastern half of the U.S. comes from coal.

Some are predicting that new regulations to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants will increase the cost of electricity, leading to opposition from not only pro-industry and pro-business forces, but consumer groups, labor unions and anti-poverty advocates as well.  The pro-environment side may well find itself in a tough fight on this one.

Given that there is no immediate solution that doesn’t (at least temporarily) have the potential to increase the cost of electricity (the damage to the environment being an externality that isn’t factored into the cost), this is going to be a hard sell.

For more on this:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/heres-what-to-expect-from-obamas-big-new-climate-rules/

 

 

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Pro Bono

It’s going to be another long day, as I have to finish cutting the hay and prepare for market tomorrow.

Here’s a factoid from this month’s ABA Journal:

67 million Americans, 21 percent of the U.S. population, are now eligible for federally funded legal assistance–an all-time high.

That’s not the kind of record we should want to be setting.

Pedaling Faster

It’s time to cut hay but I’m holding off until I catch up on all my other overdue priority items. I have a “to-do” list with 119 items on it, but it too is on hold pending completion of my “priority” list, which is to plant 3 more gardens and finish staking all the tomatoes.  Obviously it’s a busy time of year. Those cold dreary winter days spent dreaming of spring seem a distant memory now.

This morning before I can begin anything else I have to pick today’s orders.  Buzz about our farm and demand for what we’re growing seems to be increasing by the day.  That’s a good thing of course.  The farmer is just going to have to pedal faster for a while.

I’ll close with a random shot of the Dominickers enjoying a stroll in high grass of late spring.

IMG_1995

 

Meanwhile, at the pond…

We have nine chicks trailing the hen who hatched them, and another hen sitting on a clutch due to hatch in couple of weeks.  But that’s not the only egg-sitting going on around here.

We have a goose sitting on a nest near the edge of our pond.  Hopefully we’ll have some little goslings soon too.

Look carefully to see Mother Goose .

Look carefully to see Mother Goose .

When I came nearer she flattened herself out to hide.

When I came nearer she flattened herself out to hide.

Her mate was swimming in the distance, probably keeping an eye on me and ready to attack if I got to close to the nest.

Her mate was swimming in the distance, probably keeping an eye on me and ready to attack if I got too close to the nest.

 

White Flint Roosters

We have our rooster population a little more under control now.

We’re down to five.

Our boss rooster.  Elvis is king.

Our boss rooster. Elvis is king.

Son of Elvis.  LL Cool J.

Son of Elvis. LL Cool J.

As yet unnamed Barred Rock rooster.

As yet unnamed Barred Rock rooster.

Dominicker Rooster #1

Dominicker Rooster #1

 

Dominicker rooster #2

Dominicker rooster #2

But that won’t last much longer.

Among them, no doubt, are roosters-to-be

Among them, no doubt, are little roosters

IMG_1989

Demonizing

I used to spend a lot of time on a internet message board focused on politics.  While there were a handful of hardliners on there who generally just repeated the talking points from partisan talk radio, most of the discussion was intelligent and thoughtful.  I learned a lot and it was a good place to have respectful informed conversation (albeit virtual).

Eventually I found it to be taking to much of my time so I stopped visiting and the site later closed down (presumably not because I quit visiting).

After that my primary exposure to political commentary came from facebook.  The quality of the conversations couldn’t have been more different.  There the political comments were almost always mean-spirited and shockingly uninformed.  I saw disturbing sides of people that I hadn’t known existed.  It was an ugly mess. Winston Churchill once said that the best argument against democracy is a 15 minute conversation with the average voter.  Perhaps now the best argument against it is facebook.

I’m using the past tense because I eventually started blocking anyone who made political posts. For a while I responded to many of them, often with links to Snopes.  It was astonishing to me how willing people are to believe even the most ridiculous accusations, as long as they are directed to the politicians of the “other side.”  I ultimately concluded that it was better to just ignore the stupidity than to discredit it, so I started blocking my “friends” who put up political nonsense. That was a good move.

Because there is so little difference between the political parties on things of substance, like economic and foreign policy, or maybe because understanding those things requires too much effort, political attacks these days seem almost always to be ad hominem and absurd.  For example, according to many of my facebook friends, President Obama was born in Africa, isn’t an American citizen, is secretly a Muslim and is plotting to have the U.N. take away our right to own guns and to outlaw homeschooling.  I just checked a couple of their “timelines” and this kind of stuff is still there, being posted multiple times a day.  Evidently it isn’t enough to just express the opinion that he is wrong about something, instead the accusation is that he is evil and orchestrating some nefarious conspiracy.

I just finished reading a book that discusses how fear can be exploited by political factions and morphed into hatred.  The process involves demonizing and depersonalizing those perceived to be the enemy.  That spirit seems to be alive and well in America.

And while my facebook acquaintances may not be representative of the nation as a whole, just scan through the comments after any story on CNN.com and you’ll see that they certainly aren’t alone.  I imagine it is probably much worse on other news websites.

I try to avoid political discussions these days.  It is exceedingly rare, I think, for anyone’s opinion to be changed by a political argument.  In fact, there is evidence that being presented with contrary facts actually tends to harden the false opinion:

Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

– See more at: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/?page=1#sthash.OGBLLZ9q.dpuf

And as the article discusses, those who are passionately incorrect are the persons most likely to vote–an unhealthy combination.

I hope for a day when “the government” is irrelevant.  But in the meantime it’s sad to see so much energy that could be devoted to seeking meaningful change (or to preserving those important things that shouldn’t be changed) expended knocking down straw men and inflaming foolish passions.