• Pay To Play – With the Climate

    It’s an open (but quiet) secret that the US government is owned and controlled by the wealthy.  There’s some interesting… and very painful effects of this coming and in discussion now.

    A recent article by The New Yorker describes a ‘pledge’ created by the Koch brothers.  Here’s the pledge.  And here’s the list of signatories.

    The pledge sounds innocuous.

    No Climate Tax Pledge:


    I, ______________________, pledge to the taxpayers of the state of _______________ and to the American people that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue

    This sounds weird, why would we want to increase revenue?  Well, the way that the government increases revenue is by taxes.  What this pledge says is “I will not support a carbon tax.”

    One third of the current US House of Representatives have signed this pledge (including the entire GOP leadership).  One quarter of the US senate and dozens of state leaders.  This is a problem, because these people have real power.

    The Kochs spent $1.3 million dollars on congressional campaigns in 2010.  Now, it seems it’s time to pay that money back for all these legislators.

    It’s no secret that the Koch brothers have made their fortune in petrochemicals.  Science and technology that improves non-fossil fuel programs is a direct challenge to their power.

    The US House recently voted to cut the budget to the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency by 80%… from $252 million to $50 million.

    The ARPA-E was signed into existence by president Bush, but wasn’t given any money until two years later by president Obama.  (The old, “Sure, I support this… but not enough to actually provide money for it” ploy.  Also known as the ‘budget veto’.)

    The research grants awarded by ARPA-E are directly responsible for the doubling of the energy density of lithium ion batteries and a very impressive compressed energy storage system.  Both of which are critical to the better use of renewable energy power.

    Like the attempt a few years back to cut NOAA (and all that the do), it’s a massive reduction in our ability to accomplish things for a minimal improvement in the budget.  Consider that the $200 million cost savings for ARPA-E would improve the US budget by one hundredth of one percent.

    As a comparison, not building the Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers would save 1% of the US budget (at about $21 billion a pop… not including aircraft… and the $7 million a day operating expenses).  That last one is pretty stunning.

    ARPA-E at it’s full $250 million budget runs at 1/10 the daily rate of the aircraft carrier and produces valuable products and technologies.  The aircraft carrier blows stuff up.  I love carriers, the Ford class is really cool.  But we already have more than we need.  And maybe we shouldn’t be playing in everyone’s water anyway.  But I digress.

    The Koch brothers are playing the “money is equivalent to reality” game, but it’s not them that will have to pay the price.  They have theirs so screw the rest of the planet.

    Category: BusinessGovernmentResearchSocietyTechnology


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat