Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This is a recent letter I wrote to the Free-Lance Star (the local Fredericksburg, VA newspaper) regarding the proposed bill in the Virginia legislature that would extend HOV exemption for hybrid cars for another year. The provision is set to expire in July of this year, and it was originally supposed to expire in 2004.

To the editor,

There is currently a bill in the Virginia House of Delegates that would extend the HOV exemption for hybrid vehicles for another year (despite an original expiration of 2004). This affects a large number of people in the Fredericksburg area who commute up to the DC area. Those of us who commute smartly take vanpools or carpools, so as to reduce the number of cars on the road and to allow for a quicker commute. That is, after all, the whole point of the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes -- to encourage pooling of rides. This exemption for hybrids has the unintended consequence of clogging up traffic in the HOV lanes when vanpooling/carpooling should be rewarded with a faster commute for reducing the numbers of cars on the road.

From an emissions standpoint, hybrids operate completely on gasoline when in “highway mode.” Environmentally speaking, a carpool of three people is going to have a better effect than three people in separate hybrid cars. In fact, three 51-mpg hybrids will use the same amount of gas round-trip as one 17-mpg SUV with three people in it. We need to encourage carpooling and vanpooling, and the way to do this is to allow the hybrids exception to expire. The hybrid owners are also certainly capable of forming carpools with their more efficient cars.

We need to start demanding common sense from our state government. I encourage your readers to write letters and emails to our local delegates demanding that they vote against this exemption.

Very respectfully,
Ben Bursae
Fredericksburg, VA
My recent commentary when forwarding this news story about the proposed "economic stimulus" package. (The only thing I can see it stimulating is my gag reflex.)

What this story does not say at all is whether the "rebate" is going to come out of next year's tax returns (the way the last one did), thus reducing next year's return by that same amount. Not much of a rebate if it isn't an actual tax cut. If so, are those people who get $300 despite having no income tax burden going to have to pay that money back, since they normally would not have even paid $300 in taxes throughout the year? This is utterly ridiculous. It promotes a nanny state mentality...and then there's the Dems complaining that unemployment isn't being extended. Like we need actual hardworking Americans footing even more of the bill for people who haven't bothered to get a job in 26 weeks to continue to sit on their asses. Yeah, that'll help stimulate the economy!! What stimulates an economy is more productivity...not less. Hence, the tax breaks for capital investments actually makes some semblance of sense, though I still have a problem with the government getting involved at all. They're only getting involved with that type of thing because they're already too involved as it is. And then there's Rangel (good old Rangel, who wants to reinstate the draft!) saying he cannot "accept" the resistance of President Bush and Republican leaders to including an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are without work through no fault of their own?!? Apparently, no one acts of their own accord anymore. Apparently, people don't choose where they are going to work, and thereby don't have to deal with it when their workplace cannot afford to continue to employ them. Apparently people cannot make a choice to go out and get a job. And apparently, people are *entitled* to live a life without risk, as the government is SO willing to spend *other people's money* to provide such risk reductions! But, this is the Party of No Accountability we're talking about here. This is the Party of Collective Mentality (yes, there is a paradox there, since there is no such thing as a collective mind), the Party of the Nanny State.

Also, while I don't agree with the rebates in any form, I especially disagree with the argument that says giving these rebates to the poorest is going to stimulate the economy by encouraging them to spend. The majority of people are going to use this money to pay a bill, rather than go out and buy something material. If anything, it would be people that are more well off who would likely use the extra disposable income to consume. The key phrase there is disposable income. Many of the poorest people don't have much disposable income to begin with. And, economics tells you that productivity will stimulate an economy, not consumption.

I grow sicker and sicker of the socialist mentality of so many "leaders" in this country. If you made it this far, thanks for putting up with my rant. I copied you all on this so that, in case this makes sense to you, it might give you some ammunition for writing your legislators to oppose this before it's too late. It's probably too late anyway. I'm done now. :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Here is an article by Mike Adams, a writer and blogger, that promotes a private program aimed at making teenage drivers better drivers. It is called Street Safe, and its website is here. It is a privately run solution to educating teenagers about the various risks of driving with the stereotypical teenage habits (text messaging, drinking, talking on cell phones, etc.). Please pass the word about this program, and if you feel like it, make a charitable contribution to this organization. It is privately run, so it will depend on donations, as well as individual and corporate sponsors.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In (supportive) response to a 1/16/08 article by John Stossel ("Hating Free Enterprise"):

The common sense here is almost too much to take! ;) This article could apply in so many other areas of our lives. For example, getting rid of the monopolistic regulatory power of the FDA, making it at most a certifying authority (but not the ONLY one allowed). Why should they have the monopoly on deciding what is "right" for each and every individual?! If a person dying of cancer wants to take a risk on a potentially life-saving drug (and also potentially help others by becoming a case for its success), why can they not do it? Answer: Because the FDA hasn't allowed the drug to be used yet. If anything, make the FDA a certifying agency, like Underwriters Laboratories, who privately inspects and certifies electrical equipment (just look for the UL emblem). That way, if a person saw that the FDA had certified a certain drug, it might give them more confidence in the drug, just as people look for the UL emblem on electrical equipment. I'm sure private certification agencies could do the job more efficiently than the FDA, but since it already exists, why not take advantage of its existence while at the same time reducing the role of governmental interference in our personal lives?