↓ Archives ↓

Posts Tagged → gas

PA wildlife: damned if we do, damned if we don’t

Like every other state in the Union, Pennsylvania protects, conserves, and manages its wildlife through a combination of user-pays fees like hunting and fishing licenses on the one hand, and a helping of federal funding collected from user-self-imposed federal taxes on hunting and fishing equipment like boats, guns, ammunition, fishing rods etc on the other hand (the same people who buy the hunting and fishing licenses).

Yes, 100% of the nation’s citizenry benefits from the self-imposed taxes and fees paid by just 1% of the population: the hunters, trappers, and fishermen.  Yes, you read that right: just 1% of the population is carrying 100% of the public burden.

And yes, as you are correctly about to say out loud, you and I will not see this bizarre and totally unsustainable arrangement in any other area of public policy. Not in roads, not in schools, not in airports, not in museums, not in anything else official and run for public benefit. And so, yes, it is a fact that wildlife agencies across America are perennially underfunded, and have been for so long that it’s now accepted as the way America does its wildlife business. Here in Pennsylvania, despite endless rising costs and endlessly more expensive public pensions, both houses of the PA legislature have long blocked the PA Game Commission from getting a hunting license increase in decades. So the PGC is even more behind the financial Eight Ball than most other state wildlife agencies. Hunters and wildlife managers in other states look at Pennsylvania and shake their heads. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is.

Despite the obvious imbalance and weakness inherent in such a unique and faulty funding arrangement, for fifty years this approach worked pretty well, nationally and in Pennsylvania, with some states occasionally putting new money into holes that opened up in the regular wildlife funding support. Those states with significantly increasing human populations tend to be forced into dealing with inevitable wildlife-human conflicts more than other states, and when Mr. and Mrs. America are increasingly hitting deer with their cars, you can bet that they will demand their home state do something about it. So more money is found.

So along comes the Pennsylvania Auditor General, to investigate the management and expenditure of money at the PGC. And why not, right? The PGC is a public agency, and hunting license revenue is a public trust. So sure, go ahead, look into it, audit the agency. And so it was done, and some interesting things emerged just a bit over a week ago.

In the “Atta boy” column is the fact that there appears to be no corruption, graft, or misuse of scarce sportsmen’s dollars at the PGC. By all accounts, PGC is transparent and well run. Given how much the sportsmen are always scrutinizing the agency, we all figured as much. But it is nice to have our beliefs and trust confirmed like this. We love the PGC even more today than before the audit.

In the “Aww shucks” column is the revelation that PGC staff do not immediately deposit oil and gas royalty checks when they are received, nor does the PGC ascertain for itself if those royalty payments are accurate in the first place, instead trusting the oil and gas companies to do what is right on their own. Hmmmm….This is a potential problem area, and we are all glad the auditors found it.  Anyone who knows the PGC can bet money on the fact that PGC staff are right now doing all of this payment followup with a vengeance. Look out, oil and gas companies!

But then there is the big weird issue, the biggest issue of all, where the auditors “discover” that the PGC is sitting on $72 million in the bank. And accordingly, the auditors immediately and erroneously ascribe this to bad money management. After all, they say, public money is meant to be spent. “If you got ’em, smoke ’em,” goes the ancient and totally irresponsible government approach to managing public dollars. After all, under normal budgeting culture, agencies that do not spend the money budgeted to them risk losing those dollars in the next budget cycle. Failure to spend money is correlated with a failure to implement an agency’s mission, and for senior agency managers, there is the usual ego factor; the bigger the budget, the bigger the…you know. This is the old approach to managing government funds, and it is wrong, and it certainly does not fit the PGC’s reality or targeted way of doing business.

Let’s ask you a question: If you knew your family was going to be receiving less and less money going forward, and yet your family costs would be held steady, wouldn’t you begin to bank any extra money you had, in preparation for lean times ahead? If your family is responsible, then yes, this is what you do, it is what we all do. And it is what the PGC has done, thankfully.

But as a result of the audit, this single fact is being used to beat on the agency, to coerce the PGC to adopt unsustainable policies and irresponsible money management, despite the agency sailing through ever less sustainable funding waters every day. Seems like now every elected official and every Monday morning quarterback sportsman has some variation on the foolish theme that PGC has more money than it knows what to do with. Wrong!

So the real outcome of the audit is that Pennsylvania wildlife are damned either way, because the PGC is the useful straw man whipping boy for every aspiring demagogue in Pennsylvania politics. No matter what the PGC does, our wildlife resources are going to suffer. If PGC carefully, frugally husbands its limited resources, preparing for rainy days and needy wildlife, then the agency’s critics say the agency is miserly and hoarding, and they seek to punish the agency. And on the other hand, if the PGC immediately spends every dime it has, and has no money left over to deal with yet more unfunded mandates like Chronic Wasting Disease, then critics say the agency is wasteful and ineffective, and they seek to punish the agency.

And either way, the net result is the PGC’s critics damn and condemn our wildlife. Because that is the true result of all this second-guessing and monkeying about with the PGC budget and funding streams. Plenty of elected officials use their criticism of the PGC to artificially burnish their “good government” credentials, when in fact they are demanding the worst sort of government, and a total disservice to the sportsmen and wildlife everyone enjoys.

Many years ago, sportsmen were organized enough to react strongly to political demagogues who threatened our wildlife resource (and PA’s $1.6 billion annual hunting economy) with their petty politics. This latest iteration of the politics of wildlife management indicates that we need to get back to the old days, where sportsmen were unified and forceful, even vengeful, in their expectation that their elected officials would not politicize or hurt our commonly held wildlife resource.

Time to regulate the social media utilities

Social media companies like FakeBook, Twitter, Google, InstaGram, etc. have become the modern day information equivalents of the first power and public service utilities.

Instead of water molecules, gas, sewer, or electrons (electricity) entering and exiting your home to keep your life running, today’s digital social media companies transmit photons and ones and zeros to your laptop and handheld device. The net result for the end user is that all these things are all one and the same utility service, and they serve the same function.

Just like the power company, say PPL, and the gas company, and the water company cannot discriminate against users of their services, so the same applies to the digital information companies above.

For example, you do not come home at night, flick the light switch on your wall, and remain in darkness because you got a call earlier in the day from PPL saying “Sorry, Jane, we have turned off your electricity, because we have determined that your political views are contrary to our arbitrary and vague terms of service and our company’s values.”

PPL and other utilities must provide their services and products equally to all who pay for them.

It is time to hold digital utility service providers to the same exact standard. No discrimination against users.

Presently, Google so obviously fakes its search results to favor political candidates and campaigns the owners of Google favor. Google’s politicization of search results on every subject and person is egregious.

Like Google, FakeBook also obviously discriminates against conservatives, engaging in shadowbanning and hiding messages its liberal owners do not want the public to see. Worse, Fakebook has made a lucrative business charging its users for advertising, but the person who pays for that service never knows just how far their investment went, because FakeBook deliberately withholds information about its actual efforts.  It is a blind item, exactly the opposite of what it should be: Open and transparent.

Twitter’s legendary war against non-liberals is the most public form of censorship. As illiberal as this censorship is, liberals still cheer.

These companies and the many other liberal book-burners in the digital media business have declared war on ideas and people they simply disagree with. It is time to end this assault on the First Amendment rights of American citizens who have entrusted these companies to abide by universal free speech standards.

It is time to regulate these companies like the public utilities they have become, to prevent them from illegally discriminating against people who merely disagree with their owners.

Treat us all the same legally.

Israel’s Independence Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, So Where are We Today?

Israel Independence Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day are here.

Obviously these two milestones are related in the sense that out of the ashes of the European genocide against Europe’s Jewish minority (not to be confused with the similar and nearly simultaneous Muslim Arab ethnic cleansing of the Jewish minority once living in the Middle East, now presently applied to Christians there) arose the modern state of Israel on the soil of the ancient state of Israel.

Here in America most Jewish communities spend a full 24-hour period on Holocaust Remembrance Day reading the names of Nazi victims. By reading their names, they are in some small but meaningful way not forgotten. And by remembering them as people, larger society is supposed to remember what happened so that people, and government, do the necessary things so genocide does not happen again.

This is all sound logic to me, although it is questionable whether it works, or not.

Why am I sounding a bit skeptical here? Because the evidence isn’t supportive that this approach works, in the sense that it does not inspire humans around the globe to treat one another better, much less treat Jews any better. The evidence in front of us demonstrates that Holocaust Remembrance Day, with all its universalist activities, primarily appeals to Jews, their friends, and liberal-minded news reporters. Meanwhile, plenty of genocide is going on ever since, namely in Rwanda, Bosnia, Kurdistan, and now once again in the Middle East, where Muslim Arabs are sadistically rampaging among the religious and ethnic minorities among them.

And Israel has been under sustained and increasing attempted genocide from the day it was founded in 1948. Every libel, slander, lie and contrivance has been drummed up to delegitimize Israel and to justify the ceaseless murders of unarmed Jews within and outside Israel. Boycotts, divestment from Israeli companies, and sanctions against Israeli academic institutions and the government of Israel are proof that Israel, and Jews, receive an incredibly harsh and unjustified treatment from a world that really ought to know better.

Making things even worse, and totally odd to me and to most people I know, is the overwhelmingly liberal mindset American Jews maintain. Their liberal political views, on a policy-by-policy basis, are completely contrary to the Torah (the Bible) to which their ancestors swore loyalty and which created Western Civilization.

Abortion-on-demand and as a form of birth control, faith in big government, rejection of religion’s role in good government, gun control, you name it, every single one of the politically correct issues that liberal Jews believe in are at odds with their own founding document, the Bible.

One would logically conclude that a group of people who had recently undergone such incredibly painful and devastating attacks, round-ups, shot on sight, murder in the street, painful medical experiments, gassing, bodies burnt to hide the atrocity, and so on, you would think that the survivors and heirs would adopt a more self-preserving view. That is the conclusion that their friends have arrived at and said is needed many times, and asked why Jews don’t, for many years.

You know, why do most Jews vote for people and policies that are against their own interests? Like for Obama, or against gun rights?

That American Jews are overwhelmingly supportive of intense gun regulation is without question. Public surveys show it. Even more to the point are the lists of leaders on gun regulation; nearly all of them are Jews – Past and present US Senators Feinstein, Schumer, Metzenbaum, Lautenberg, Boxer – joined by an endless list of Jewish members of Congress, and not to mention the actual leaders of gun regulation, Josh Sugarmann, Shira Goodman, to name but a few, and not to mention the Jewish donors to anti-gun rights groups, like Bloomberg and Hechinger, to name but a few.

More locally, two years ago I sat in on a meeting between my then-newly elected state senator Democrat Rob Teplitz and a group of citizens gathered at a local Harrisburg synagogue. As the morning Boy Scout function there was the drawing attraction, and not everyone there was Jewish, there was one group of men who had just completed their prayers and who had then gathered to join in the following meeting with Senator Teplitz. Either the first or second question of the event came from a man in that group, who asked Senator Teplitz when he was going to become an ardent and active advocate for serious gun regulation. Heads nodded in agreement around the table, and Teplitz responded that he would be neither “too pro gun nor too anti gun.”

Further confusing many Americans is how vociferously anti-Israel so many American Jews have become. Whether by strongly supporting an obviously anti-Israel Obama or by actively participating in anti-Israel actions and activities, lots of American Jews clearly are at war with the one nation designed to protect them should the very things they are remembering now begin to happen once again.

Why would a tiny group of people, who have experienced such awful tragedies and injustices over and over again, seek to both disarm themselves and their fellow citizens in favor of big government, which has never anywhere been a friend to Jews or liberty, and also disarm and undermine the one country capable of protecting Jews should the you-know-what hit the fan?

Folks, I know you are moved by recalling victims and inured to maintaining victimhood. It is practically the Jewish identity to the point where “Holocaust worship” has been decried by the more religiously observant Jews; you know, the Bible believers.

If you really want to remember the European Holocaust and say “Never Again!” in a way that means something, then be able to defend yourself. Get a 12-gauge pump shotgun, learn to use it with buckshot and store it safely, and support a strong Israel capable of easily defending itself against all attackers. That’s it.

Otherwise, you just make people ask “Do Jews today really remember what happened, and do they really understand how important Israel is to them?”

In other words, people just must ask “are Jews really so smart?”

A Severance Tax, now?

Talk about an addiction to spending other people’s money.

Yesterday in southeast PA, far away from the communities where this issue is most important and the citizens might not be so welcoming, Governor Tom Wolf staked out his position on creating a new 5% “severance tax” on natural gas from the Marcellus shale feature.

Right now, natural gas is selling at historic low prices, especially here in Pennsylvania.  The financial incentive to drill more or spend more money to get more gas is very low, and drill rigs have been disappearing from across the region for a year.

The Saudis began dumping oil months ago, in an effort to punish competing oil producers Iran and Russia, with the secondary effect of dropping gasoline prices so low that the natural gas industry got hit from that side, too.

So now is not only a bad time for the gas industry, it is also a time of greatly diminished returns on investment and on royalties received.  Scalping 5% off the top of that is punishing to everyone, including gas consumers, who will see their rates increase proportionally.

Here’s the biggest problem with a severance tax: Pennsylvania already has a 3% impact fee on Marcellus gas, and a Corporate Net Income Tax of 9.99% (let’s call it ten percent, OK?).  Most of the other gas and oil producing states have no such additional taxes; their severance taxes are the one and only tax their oil and gas producers pay, not the multiple high taxes and fees drillers in PA pay.

Pennsylvania government is therefore already reaping much higher revenue from the gas industry than other gas producing states.  That means that the companies doing business here are already burdened much more than elsewhere.

So adding a severance tax now, at this economically bad time, without commensurately lowering other taxes, or the existing Impact Fee, makes no sense.  Unless the people promoting this have an infantile view of how America and business work.

And that right there is the problem.  Way too many advocates for tax-and-spend policies like an additional severance tax have a Marxist view of business; essentially, to them, business exists to pour money into liberal schemes.

And speaking of spending, who believes that spending more and more and more taxpayer dollars on public schools, public teachers unions, and public teachers’ pensions, actually equates with better education?

So many studies disprove that (see the Mercatus Center), but it is a liberal mantra that taxpayers must spend ever more of their money to support public unions that support political liberals.  And both parents of students and taxpayers alike now correctly see that system for what it is – simple, legalized political graft to fund one political party.

Public schools are mostly a disaster, yet teacher’s unions and their political buddies continue to pound on the table for more and more money.  Homeowners are essentially now renting their houses from the teacher’s unions, and proposed laws like Act 76 seek to fix that unfair situation by removing the vampire fangs from homeowners and letting the larger society pay for its expenditure.

Going door-to-door for political races year after year, property tax has been the number one issue I have encountered among elderly homeowners.  So many of them can no longer afford to pay the taxes on their houses, that they must sell them and move, despite a lifetime of investing in them.  This is patently un-American and unfair.

So Tom Wolf is moving in exactly the opposite direction we need on this subject, and instead of trying to fix the tax situation, he seeks to make it worse.  To be fair, Wolf campaigned on raising taxes.  He just needs to remember that he did not get elected by voters who want higher taxes, they wanted to fire former governor Tom Corbett.

 

Tom Wolf….you’ve got to tell us your plans

Tom Wolf may be a heckuva nice guy, and an ethical boss. By all accounts these are true.

But he has cruised to a lead for Pennsylvania governor on these two assets alone, and they’re insufficient.

On nearly every other political issue he is evasive, or committed to regressive actions that will harm Pennsylvania. Taxes is one of his evasive issues, and I’m not alone saying we are all taxed enough.

I’d like to hear Wolf make concrete commitments to lower business taxes equally if he seeks to raise a five percent gas drilling tax. Otherwise, he’s trying to kill the golden goose instead of patiently waiting for her to lay one golden egg at a time. Gas drilling has saved our economy, hands down.

My suspicion is that Wolf will remain evasive until the very end, and voters will move toward Corbett as a result. The election is likely to be a three point spread: Corbett by 1% or Wolf by 2%. The “Dewey beats Truman” mindset has already taken hold among Wolf’s supporters, and a huge upset is likely in the making if that continues.

Obama & Bill Clinton officially embrace imperialism, then poormouth liberty, independence, and freedom

As anyone paying any attention to politics already knew, neither Barack Hussein Obama nor Bill Clinton are committed to liberty, freedom, or independence, and like the good power-hungry statists they are, they openly embrace imperialism and military occupation.  When it serves their interests.

Today the mainstream media prominently ran two statements, one by each man.

Each statement began with a dissembling lie about how neither Obama nor Clinton really have anything to say about Scotland’s wish for independence from the mis-named “United Kingdom.”

You know, kind of a disarming warmup for the dagger-in-the-chest that is coming right behind it.

You know, they support the “united Kingdom” that was only united through Britain’s imperialism, deceptive diplomacy, military conquests, occupation, land theft, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and religious totalitarianism.

After the blase disclaimer, each man then goes on to say that Scotland should not become independent from its longtime foe, occupier, and vampire-like neighbor, England aka Britain, home of the Britons (not the Scots).

Both Clinton and Obama provide generic and vague sentimentalist goo as their supporting argument.  Both rely on some version of “We know you don’t like it, but it really is best for you, the little people.”

See, Scotland owns a lot of oil and gas fields that will instantly give it financial independence from Britain, which in turn may become the weak sister, not the domineering exporter of bad TV and cute Cockney accents it is now.

I vote for freedom for Scotland.  I vote for independence from Britain, like we Americans have. I vote for liberty from Britain’s insane laws that have turned justice upside down.

If anyone from Scotland reads this, please know that we Americans love our independence from the damned British, and we hope you do, too.

“Full service,” re-defined

If you get gasoline in New Jersey, you can’t speed up the process and put the gas in your car at your own speed.

By statute, only station employees can dispense gas.

Its called “Full Service.”

In ages bygone, that meant full service, as in oil check, tire pressure check, window wash. You’d tip the guy fifty cents. It meant something.

Try asking for those services today. You’ll get a laugh from the young Sudanese guy working the pumps. He moves at his own pace. Fast but not quick.

And so here you are, a hostage in your car, ready to pay, ready to leave, but by law stuck waiting on the guy at the service end of the spectrum.

It’s just a bit assymetrical. It’s not what you’re paying for. It’s not what you need, or want, or used to get.

But, by God, it’s what the government is giving you, and you’ll take it. Or else. Check out the reports of irate drivers serving their own cars gas. They actually get arrested. Big crime!

New Jersey is one of the most liberal states in America. Expect more models of the Garden State’s “full service” to creep into your life in nearly every aspect of your life.

This is freedom, redefined.

Natural resource envy

Being a conservationist, I’m on a bunch of email lists about conservation, natural resources, environmental protection.

Why and how groups send emails decrying natural resource companies, while happily using those same resources, like oil, coal, and natural gas, is beyond comprehension.

Oil and gas companies serve a demand by consumers who want their cars to run, their stoves to cook.

Coal powered electricity is ubiquitous. It runs hospitals and schools, as well as your home and place of business.

Somehow, in a twisted way, the companies supplying the power are “bad,” and the consumers are off the hook. As if these companies operate in a vacuum.

Credibility suffers when you’ve got two or more standards for the same behavior.  It’s sad because environmental quality is important. My request to conservatives is to not dismissively abandon the field of battle, and don’t let the far left define or frame the issue, either.  And don’t let the leftist groups get away with demonization of companies the world depends upon, unless those same groups are willing to generate their own power and transportation fuels.

Syria contrasts a world upside down

The sadistically brutal civil war in Syria has highlighted key foreign policy issues, both on the right and the left.

First, oddly but on second thought, unsurprisingly, the left’s International Human Shields group has waited until now to announce its intention to field live humans to block potential American bombs in Syria. These folks never interceded to block Assad’s conventional or gas missiles falling on hundreds of thousands of women, children, and elderly, nor did they stand in Israeli schools and homes as tens of thousands of missiles rained down for years from Gaza.

Somehow, in their twisted minds, American bombs on Syrian military targets are bad, Syrian bombs on civilians are not an issue. The left hates American freedom, loves dictators. It’s been this way since the left’s embrace of the Soviet Union because it opposed the US. That wasn’t so logical either, but at least these folks are consistent. But when they say they are anti war, know that it’s untrue. Russia’s invasion of Ossetia and Chechnya didn’t warrant a peep. America invades the country that harbored Osama Bin Laden, and they raise hell.

Second, conservatives are driven by both genuine anti war concerns and also a desire to put Obama in a box. Obama is incompetent, but conservatives should not make matters worse. Rather, it stands to reason that conservatives stand against dictators gassing their own citizens. America can and should do much militarily to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, without opening the door to Islamic kooks. If there’s one thing America stands for, it’s a strong opposition to dictators gassing civilians.

Dithering and weakness as foreign policy goals, tools

The past weeks, really months, with the famous Obama Red Line, have been filled with incredible dithering and rudderless, terribly public waffling and indecision. America’s allies believe they cannot trust America, and America’s enemies are clearly unafraid of us. With a slavish mainstream media that seeks only to bolster Obama, somehow all this failure will be cast as a really slick foreign policy. What I did enjoy was how even the appearance of a threat of American bombing sent Syria’s army scurrying from its daily routine of raping, torturing, and pillaging civilians, and either deep into hiding, or deep into defection.
So in a way, we can say that even Obama’s dithering helped slow down the Assad regime’s murderous onslaught.
I’ll take what I can get, and give credit where it is due: Obama, you are the least qualified, most inexperienced person America has ever had as president, but even your incompetence can be occasionally helpful.
That’s it, Obama is like Inspector Clouseau…