Monday, May 19, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

A Merry ‘Ol Soul
I read with interest Bill Stewart’s 2005 revised and republished article about alternative energy in last week’s paper. The argument makes perfect sense as he and several others have pointed out over the years, as our local power generation crisis has grown steadily worse.

Coal powered, steam driven turbine generators provide stable, reliable, cost effective electricity to most of the people on the planet. In our case it bears looking at for several reasons:

First, the cost of refined oil products, especially the expensive top grade diesel fuel our generator engines have been converted to burn, is going up and will continue to go up. Those price increases, already difficult to bear, will soon become impossible to bear causing ever more people and businesses to abandon the CNMI.

Second, the technology to build and run coal powered steam generators has been refined and honed to an easy to manage science over the years. They are simple and safe to run.

Third, it is fast (which we desperately need) and comparatively cheap to build steam generators. We can afford it.

Forth, the fuel, coal, is the most abundant and by far the cheapest form of fuel to be found on planet earth and is located in huge abundance nearby and at a cost we can afford to pay. It is easy to buy and easy to transport.

Fifth, we live on a tiny island and where the trade winds cleanse the air continuously. The tiny plants needed to provide us with affordable, reliable electricity can be built using environmentally sensitive technologies that won’t do substantial harm to the rest of the world either. We won’t notice and neither will they.

Sixth, if we don’t do something soon we will all be standing down by the beach rubbing two coconuts together.

I like the idea of alternative energy. Whether a modern version of nuclear as our researcher from Tinian suggests, harnessing the awesome power of the ocean by converting water motion into electricity, or using the alternative carbon based fuel, coal, each has an appeal. On a smaller scale, wind and solar can be used by individual households and businesses that want to help even more.

We need to ask, beg, cajole, and finally demand that our leaders stop putting their fingers in the CUC dike with short term band aid fixes and cure the root problem of insanely high power costs and increasingly unreliable electric power. The power house is worn out. The engines, once converted from the heavy oil they were intended to run on have never worked properly and are the primary reason for our current electric woes. Let’s replace them with a modern coal fueled plant and solve our problems once and for all.
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Wild Pigs
Do you know how to catch wild pigs?

You catch wild pigs by finding a clearing in the jungle and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day you build a fence down one side of the clearing. When they get used to the fence they begin to eat again and you put up another side of the fence in the clearing. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence erected and a gate in one side. The pigs, now used to the free corn, start to come through the open gate to eat some more. That’s when you close the gate on them.

At first the pigs run around and around inside the fence squealing in protest, but they are caught. They have lost their freedom. Soon, they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for food to feed themselves anyway, so they accept their captivity. There is only one reason why you would want to spend all that ‘free” corn to catch those wild hogs. You know it.

Think about it the next time you see someone cash in their food stamps, or hear about yet another ‘free’ government handout program, or feel inclined to seek a no-need-to-repay government grant. Think about it again as you line up at the TSA counter to be and show your ‘papers’ so you can travel. Think of it again as you see a man’s property confiscated without due process or see a farmer paid to not grow crops. Think of it when someone comes along and wants to decide for you who comes and goes through your borders or who you can employ and how much you should pay them. Think of it when you take that ‘free’ check from the government economic stimulus program in an election year. There ain’t no free lunch.
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Quotes of the week:
If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams (1957 - )

Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent. HL Mencken (1880 – 1956)

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