Solar Panel Fraud

Solar Panel Fraud
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Al Gore’s new film, An Inconvenient Sequel, is a bit of a bust drawing fewer paying customers than expected. He’ll have to get friends to force showings of the film in schools. Captive audiences will be force-fed a viewing of out-and-out falsities in living color. They will have no choice but to sit there and take in a collection of misinformation.

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Mark Buckawicki, CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

One of Gore’s solutions to the non-problems his film describes is capturing energy through the use of solar panels. It sounds good until the costs and a variety of problems are considered. Career electrical engineer Art Crino claims government subsidies for different types of energy collection place solar power in the stratosphere. The handouts provided to obtain one megawatt-hour of electrical energy by burning coal, oil, or natural gas total $0.64. Gaining the same amount of electrical energy using solar panels starts off with subsidies totaling $775.64.

Taxpayer-supplied subsidies aren’t the only hidden cost faced by those seeking to capture energy from sunlight. There’s no sun shining during nighttime or when clouds and storms arrive leading to little or no gathering of energy. Partisans for solar power generation have even admitted that constantly redirecting the angle that solar collectors should be stationed is needed if peak efficiency is to be gained, a costly procedure needing constant maintenance. And the solar power promoters don’t like to be reminded that clearing away the snow after a winter storm might be necessary. Then there are costs associated with storage and transfer of energy acquired during peak hours of sunshine. And don’t forget that manufacturing and installing solar panels plus connecting them electrically and cleaning them regularly isn’t inexpensive.

The nation is being inundated with telephone salesmen seeking commitments to acquire solar power capability for single homes. It’s marvelously inexpensive they tell you while not mentioning the huge subsidies being the reason – which means you and your neighbors are really paying for it via taxation. If you aren’t bothered by unwanted telephone pleas, maybe you’ve been reading advertisements in newspapers or seeing ads on television about the wonder of solar power and its minimal cost to you.

Beyond all of this solar power promotion, you may have been victimized by the propaganda about the harm being done to the planet because “burning fossil fuels pollutes the atmosphere.” The culprit, say the propagandists, is carbon dioxide that causes global warming (or its new label, climate change). But carbon dioxide is food for plants. It isn’t bad; it’s hugely beneficial. As for it affecting the atmosphere, climate scientist Dr. Willie Soon says the amount of carbon dioxide produced nationally by burning fossil fuels is equivalent to adding two more attendees to the 100,000 fans packed into a football stadium. In other words, carbon dioxide produced by burning coal, oil, or natural gas is of little consequence – good or bad.

The United States is sitting on enough oil, natural gas, and coal to take care of our needs for generations – even while exporting to others. A few decades ago, U.S. engineers figured out how to generate electricity by splitting the atom in a nuclear reactor. But bogus scientists and political skullduggery have combined to demonize nuclear power. If France can generate electricity via nuclear plants for 70-plus percent of its electricity needs, why does the U.S. stay mired in less than 20 percent?

And, by the way, a megawatt-hour of electrical energy generated via a nuclear power plant receives a paltry $3.14 in subsidies. Recall the figure given above where the subsidy for the same one megawatt-hour generated by solar power is a whopping $775.64.

America should continue burning fossil fuels and using nuclear power to generate electricity. Those who want solar power should certainly be free to employ it – but without the enormous subsidy it currently relies on.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.

United Nations Wants Taxing Power

United Nations Wants Taxing Power
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

An independent panel created by the United Nations has reported that the world body faces a multiplicity of crises and a dearth of funds to deal with them. One crisis is the flood of refugees descending on Europe. But there are plenty more needing the kind of urgent attention the UN claims it supplies.

Let your congressmen know to sign onto the bill to withdraw the US from the UN.

So the nine-member panel, made up of representatives of donor nations, some corporations, and some international bureaucracies, suggests that the UN be allowed to place a small tax on international sporting events such as the soccer’s World Cup, concerts where famous artists perform, and more. They even included as a potential source of revenue a tax on Uber taxi fares. And the recommendations include a preference for cash, not for blankets and food. Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva, the current European Commission’s vice president for budget served as a member of this panel. She is being considered as a successor to current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Dues and donations from member nations cover the UN’s growing costs. This, of course, is something many UN officials would like to change. The behind the scenes desire is that if the UN is to meet its responsibilities, the organization should be able to gather its funds as a nation does – through an ability to levy taxes. So, we surmise, a small tax that hardly anyone would notice embedded in the exorbitant price to attend the famous soccer match or a rock concert might become a precedent for other taxes and eventual financial independence for the world body. How about the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the NBA and NHL finals? Once a taxing precedent is set, why not other taxes to fund the world body? What would such taxes pay for?

In 2010, the U.S supplied $26 billion for the UN’s peacekeeping operations, $1.5 billion for the UN’s World Food Program, and $0.7 billion for the refugee program. Each of these expenditures was beyond regular dues payments.

Right now, the United States pays the UN about $8 billion in dues and voluntary payments, far more than any other country. We pay 22 percent of the UN’s operating budget and 28 percent of the peacekeeping budget. As one observer noted, that’s more than the combined total supplied to the UN by 176 of its member nations. (There are 193 member nations in the UN.)

A Heritage Foundation examination of the UN’s efforts in combating humanitarian crises found: 1) the UN’s aid efforts ranked among the worst in efficiency; 2) mismanagement, fraud and corruption are common in peacekeeping operations; and 3) UN personnel have been accused of sexual abuses in at least a dozen nations where they were sent.

In 2006, a Procurement Task Force established to investigate UN operations uncovered fraud, waste and shoddy management that led to firings and convictions of some UN officials. But the Procurement Task Force was abolished two years later. Nobody else is watching the UN’s operations with the result that no more incidents of such corruption have been discovered.

As discouraging as all of this truly is, the possibility of the UN having its own taxing ability is frightening. What should be done before the UN gains such power becomes more obvious every day. Withdrawal from the UN is the answer, just as it has been the answer for decades.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.

New Economics Guru, Same Socialistic “Solutions”

New Economics Guru, Same Socialistic “Solutions”
By JBS President John F. McManus

The book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has rocketed close to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. One report claimed that 200,000 copies had been sold almost immediately upon publication. Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman gushed that the book is the most important study of economics in at least a decade. And its author, Frenchman Thomas Piketty, has already met with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and other Obama administration heavyweights.

So what does “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” tell us? Its message is that too much wealth is now concentrated among too few people and that economic inequality invites dangerous reactions. He likens growing economic disparity in the West (especially in the United States) with conditions prevailing in late 18th century France when many of its wealthiest were brought to the guillotine.

Piketty bases his conclusions on years of studying tax records in Western nations and Japan. How anyone could survive such a prodigious poring over that kind of musty history is amazing in itself. But doing so impelled him to conclude that the rich are getting richer and opportunities for members of the middle and lower classes to become well-off are fading.

What does this one-time faculty member at MIT recommend? He thinks a global wealth tax is needed, not necessarily to benefit a global government but for providing local governments with an ability to share the wealth. Karl Marx would surely approve.

The just solution to inequality, of course, is minimal government. This is what formerly characterized America. Here upward economic mobility from generation to generation prevailed – and was expected. Not so anymore. There are far fewer wealth-producing jobs and many more fat cats earning their millions, not through productivity but through shifting around the contents of their portfolios loaded with stock certificates and other paper assets. Too many have forgotten that real wealth comes from productivity, not from financial manipulations.

The recommendations in Piketty’s book won’t solve the main problem he addresses. One can only hope that it will focus some attention on growing wealth disparity here and elsewhere, and then on the need for reductions in government taxation, regulations and controls over the people. It’s the stifling presence of too much government that has impeded wealth creation, especially here in the United States. The need here and elsewhere is to look back at how our infant nation speedily became the greatest producer with the largest middle and upper classes. Summarized, here’s what happened: America became great not because of what government did, but because of what government was prevented from doing by the Constitution.

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” addresses a problem but ignores its cause. We recommend viewing “Overview of America” to understand how America became great and could be even more so.

New Taxes in ObamaCare

New Taxes in ObamaCare
by JBS President John F. McManus

There are plenty of sound reasons why Congress and the Supreme Court should never have saddled the American people with ObamaCare. Beyond the simple fact that the federal government has no authorization to meddle in the fields of health and medicine, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) has provided several more reasons to detest the law.

He deliberately chose the widely dreaded Tax Day of April 15 to send a letter to his constituents about new taxes contained within President Obama’s invasion into the field of medical care. The Louisiana senator stated his awareness that April 15th “is always one of the most painful days of the year.” But he wanted to let fellow Louisianans know that ObamaCare has “20 new taxes.”

Pointing to what he termed “the more egregious” levies contained in ObamaCare,” Vitter listed only four of the twenty. These are:

  1. The Medicine Cabinet Tax. ObamaCare does away with a citizen’s use of pre-tax dollars in a health savings account, a flexible spending account, or a health reimbursement account to purchase over-the-counter medicines.
  2. The “Special Needs Kids” Tax. Many parents of special needs children have relied on allowable flexible spending accounts to pay for special needs education. The amount a family can use for this purpose has been cut significantly.
  3. The Employee Mandate Tax. Employers who do not offer health care coverage must now pay $2,000 or more for each full-time employee.
  4. The Individual Mandate Tax. Any person who does not have health insurance and doesn’t participate in ObamaCare will be taxed.

As painful as it may be to learn of these new taxes, Vitter then pointed to the outrageous arrangement whereby members of Congress have exempted themselves and their staffs from participating in the new healthcare program. Instead, as he noted, each of these federal employees receives a “lucrative health care subsidy” with which to purchase his own healthcare program. Obviously, these privileged government personnel don’t have to live under the provisions of ObamaCare. Vitter notes in his message that he has personally refused the subsidy.

The Vitter letter contains his no-holds-barred assertion that there’s a need to “repeal” ObamaCare. It’s comforting to know that a U.S. senator holds such a view because that’s precisely what is needed. But expecting the current Congress to take such a step is unrealistic. Perhaps membership of the new Congress scheduled for election in November will contain enough Vitter-like individuals who will, indeed, cancel one of the most dangerous, costly, and unconstitutional programs ever created.

Go to our “Choose Freedom — STOP ObamaCare” action project page to learn more about stopping ObamaCare and how your state legislature can nullify the ObamaCare law in your state.