Perpetual motion? Driving cars to make energy?
Listen to internal watchdogs, donít silence them
We trim, blend, and append four 2009 articles from: (1) USA Today, Jan 6, on cutting waste; (2) by a leader in the Canadian Green Party, Jan 6, on redirecting spending; (3) from EDIE, Jan 5, on government making money; and (4) the Green again on ending recessions.
by Mike Carney and by Frank DeJong and by EDIE
Carney: Feds could save $26B by heeding internal watchdogs
Democrats on Capitol Hill say the U.S. government could save nearly $26 billion if it just implemented the recommendations that agencies have received from their internal watchdogs since 2001.
In a new report, the House Oversight Committee says "the Bush Administration has failed to implement more than 13,800 [IG, inspector general] recommendations made since 2001." Democrats say some of those recommendations would save money, streamline operations and safeguard the nation.
Examples of unimplemented IG recommendations with potential monetary benefits include:
In April 2006, the Social Security Administration IG estimated that the agency could save more than $2 billion annually by ceasing payments to people who no longer meet the eligibility criteria for disability benefits due to medical improvement or employment status.
In July 2007, the Defense Department IG estimated that the Pentagon could recoup $837 million in overpayments by establishing effective recovery audits for military telecommunications contracts.
In February 2007, the Department of Homeland Security IG concluded that FEMA could recover $16 million in excessive billings and questionable costs resulting from poor management of a contract for base camp services associated with Hurricane Katrina.
JJS: Even the total $26 billion is a drop in the bucket compared to how much waste could be halted. The worst is military spending, especially overseas bases. Yet governments around the world add to the waste, bailing out Big Business.
DeJong: Bail out the Planet, Not Dirty Industry
Have you noticed? Astonishingly, everyone agrees the recession cure is green think and green tech. Usually getting out of a recession means more nature destruction. Normally it's de rigueur to build more freeways, bridges, dams, nuke reactors, or even start a war, but this time it's different. This time everyone is talking about renewable electricity, electric cars, local food, transit, green infrastructure, buying locally, healthy living and poverty elimination as the preferred ways to revitalize the economy. As George Fredrick Handel would say "Hallelujah".
JJS: Hereís one public investment that might even make the public some money.
EDIE: Traffic could make electricity
A possible new approach to creating electricity in Ireland has been suggested, as engineers claim to have developed a type of road that can make the power from traffic.
Developed in Israel, the road surface contains thousands of tiny piezoelectric crystals that generate electricity when squeezed together.
It is argued that 400 kilowatts of power, enough to run eight small cars, could be created through the surface being fitted to a one kilometre stretch of road.
The Environmental Transport Association (ETA) has stated that if the method does work then all motorists will be doing their bit towards supporting a cheap power source.
Andrew Davis, director at the ETA, said: "Government predicts a massive shift to electric cars, and it may be that roads themselves will provide some of the new fuel -- certain vehicles could be powered entirely by the roads on which they drive.
"If these electric roads can be put in place without harm to the environment they would be a silver lining to the problem of heavy traffic."
The electric road will be tested for the first time next month.
JJS: Running electric cars on a road generating electricity might as close as humanity ever comes to perpetual motion. Equally as idealistic -- and practical -- is ordering our economy so to spare ourselves the upheavals.
DeJong: It's the Stupid Economy
Recessions are not natural or necessary, and can be prevented. They occur because our tax structure punishes entrepreneurs and rewards monopolists and speculators, and since we are all directly or indirectly entrepreneurs and speculators, we all contribute to the problem. Since there is more profit in monopoly control of finite resources (like oil, trees, land, water...) than in the production of goods or services, more money is "invested" in nature than in enterprises. When too much money chases too few assets, like land, oil and other resources, it inflates prices, tying up cash, causing unemployment, and creating speculative bubbles which ultimately must deflate causing recessions. A green economy is a smart economy that minimizes bubbles and recessions. A smart economy is a stabile economy that taxes bads not goods, that untaxes jobs and businesses and instead collects the wealth (economic rent) that accrues to monopoly ownership of nature, at once conserving nature and eliminating booms and busts.
JJS: Indeed, if government did adopt such a geonomic revenue policy and charged full value for the privileges it grants -- such as land titles and resource leases -- itíd suffer a different kind of embarrassment, one of riches. Then our challenge would be, gee, what do we do with all our bountiful public revenue?
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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