Mario Burgos

Clear thinking and straight talk from the top of a mountain.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tax Food Then Light

The unemployment situation in New Mexico continues to grow bleaker in New Mexico with the latest job cut announcement:
About 700 employees are expected to be out of work starting in two weeks. That means more people out of work in a town that's already suffering from a high unemployment rate. The city's unemployment rate is sitting at 8.9 percent as of January of this year.
Yet, in the spirit of the Sheriff of Nottingham, the Democrats in the legislature pushed a food tax increase on the unemployed and our Democratic Governor is poised to sign it. As if that wasn't bad enough, now they are going to make it even harder for struggling families to keep the lights on, and for those poor souls with electric stoves, cooking their newly taxed meals will also come at a premium:
In general, the state would set greenhouse gas emission caps based on its reduction goals. Companies would be allowed to exceed state-set emissions caps by buying "allowances" from others that reduce their emissions more than required.
        

Critics argue that a cap-and-trade program will drive up the cost of electricity and other fossil fuel energy sources, and say they make no sense at the state level.
        

The Environment Department announcement this week was accompanied by a lengthy and highly technical "white paper" on the program and solicitation for public comment regarding the basis for the cap, distribution allowances and rate of cap reduction.
        

It did not address potential costs or economic impact. 
 Well, let me help fill the void and address the potential cost and economic impact.  It will cost those already struggling to get by even more money.  See, when you raise the cost of energy source providers, they pass those costs onto consumers of energy. What makes this particular "hidden tax" increase so abhorrent is that it is an end run around the legislature. 


We already know that the Democrats holding the legislature hostage have no problem raising taxes on struggling working families and the unemployed, but even they had the sense to avoid passing the nonsensical statewide cap and trade tax that has been introduced in the last few sessions. Yet, the Governor and his minions are once again showing a lack of respect for our legislative process and adopting a dictatorial decree (AKA regulatory law making) approach to increasing taxes.

The thing is... the people have had just about enough of this.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Energy Lessons for Healthcare

What, you weren't persuaded by my Clunker Lessons for Healthcare post? Ok, how about we look at another one of government's "great ideas" put into action:

Researchers used to agree that farm-grown fuels would cut emissions because they all made a shockingly basic error. They gave fuel crops credit for soaking up carbon while growing, but it never occurred to them that fuel crops might displace vegetation that soaked up even more carbon. It was as if they assumed that biofuels would only be grown in parking lots. Needless to say, that hasn't been the case; Indonesia, for example, destroyed so many of its lush forests and peat lands to grow palm oil for the European biodiesel market that it ranks third rather than 21st among the world's top carbon emitters.

In 2007, researchers finally began accounting for deforestation and other land-use changes created by biofuels. One study found that it would take more than 400 years of biodiesel use to "pay back" the carbon emitted by directly clearing peat for palm oil. Indirect damage can be equally devastating because on a hungry planet, food crops that get diverted to fuel usually end up getting replaced somewhere. For example, ethanol profits are prompting U.S. soybean farmers to switch to corn, so Brazilian soybean farmers are expanding into cattle pastures to pick up the slack and Brazilian ranchers are invading the Amazon rain forest, which is why another study pegged corn ethanol's payback period at 167 years. It's simple economics: The mandates increase demand for grain, which boosts prices, which makes it lucrative to ravage the wilderness.

Classic. Of course, what is most amusing to me is the article embraces the idea of global warming as fact, and does propose, as a means of achieving efficiency, the use of alternative energy such as wind farms. Truth of the matter is that we know that wind farms also introduce their own set of problems.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Small Businesses to be Hurt by Cap and Trade

Despite intense pressure from Governor Richardson, the regional cap and trade legislation was not passed. At the time I wrote:
Make no mistake this is an additional fee that will ultimately be passed on to you and me - the consumer - at the pump. Whenever government seeks to impose fees to help with some grand scheme, we are the ones who find ourselves squeezed. This time will be no exception. What makes this flawed policy even worse is that the negative impact of this misguided legislation will be felt not once, but twice by hard-working New Mexicans.
Well, it looks like at least one Democratic Congresswoman realizes this will not only hurt consumers, but negatively impact small businesses throughout the nation if the Democratic controlled Congress and President are successful in this misguided effort:
Small businesses need rebates to ease the higher energy costs that may result from capping carbon dioxide emissions, the chairwoman of House Small Business Committee wrote today to the Democratic sponsors of the legislation.

Some businesses “will not be able to insulate themselves from such rapid energy price increases and could experience serious economic disruption,” Democratic Representative Nydia Velazquez of New York wrote to Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey.

The federal government keeps bailing out big businesses to the detriment of taxpayers and small businesses. When is enough, enough?

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Why is This so Hard to Understand?

I was vehemently opposed to regional cap and trade legislation introduced this past session because it would put New Mexico at an economic disadvantage and drive one of the cornerstones of our economy, the oil and gas industry, to other states while accomplishing nothing to deal with the global warming obsession that has been so heartily embraced by the left.

Quite honestly, rushing through national cap and trade legislation during a time of economic crisis would be equally foolish. Heck, for that matter, rushing through any far-reaching legislation on the federal level during any kind of crisis sets a bad precedent. So, my hat is off to Senator Jeff Bingaman:
Bingaman, who has worked for years to pass climate change legislation, joined Republicans for last week's vote because he did not want to short-circuit the deliberation needed to come up with a workable bill, spokeswoman Jude McCartin said.

The rules being considered would have allowed climate change legislation to be folded into the Senate's consideration of the federal budget, which allows limited debate and requires 51 votes for passage.
There are those who believe the world is warming on and on the road to an impending doom (I'm not one of them), but at least cooler heads have prevailed in the Senate.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Simply Brilliant, Tax Them When They're Down

New Mexico, like the rest of the country, is feeling the squeeze of the economic crisis. And, what priority have some legislators and the Governor come up with for this legislative session?
New Mexico legislators are considering a bill that would, for the first time, set up state controls on greenhouse gas emissions. But the change of administration in Washington, and the resulting prospect of federal regulation, has raised questions about whether the state effort should proceed.

The measure's backers say there are still good reasons to impose a state "cap-and-trade" system as part of the Western Climate Initiative, a regional effort by 11 U.S. states and Canadian provinces to place a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and set up a market to allow industry to trade emissions credits.

The system would cap the overall emissions from the state's 100-or-so largest industrial greenhouse gas emitters. A trading system would allow companies to buy and sell emissions allowances, tapping market mechanisms to find the lowest-cost way of making the needed reductions.

The ridiculousness of this proposal is mind-boggling to me. Assuming you have embraced this whole chicken-little-the-world-is-getting-too-hot-we're-all-doomed global warming nonsense, then you'd at a very minimum have to agree that it is a GLOBAL phenomenon.

Keeping this in mind, that idea the 11 Western (and for the most part sparsely populated) states are going to reverse "the global warming trend" is just absurd. Even more insane is that one of those states, our own Land of Enchantment, which heavily depends on oil and gas revenue to stay afloat, is going to consider taxing the heck out of those industries at a time when they are at a serious low.

Make no mistake, that is exactly what a cap and trade program is - a new source of tax revenue for bloated governments in need. That is the only reason that these states think "there are still good reasons to impose a state 'cap-and-trade' system" instead of waiting for a federal, or better yet, global solution.

Now, I have to admit. If New Mexico were to move forward with this, the may in fact succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Why? Well, because they will drive those "100-or-so largest industrial greenhouse gas emitters" to one of the 39 states in the Union that do not have this tax system in place.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Udall and Heinrich Out of Touch

When it comes to increased access to domestic oil and natural gas resources, a new poll clearly shows that Congressman Tom Udall and Congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich are apparently out of touch with the majority of New Mexicans:

A new survey finds that 59% of New Mexico voters support increased access to domestic oil and natural gas resources.

It seems that the rest of the country shares the same view. Polls from Pew, CNN, Zogby and others indicate that the majority of Americans from coast to coast are in support of more energy exploration in the United States.

This is a critical shift in public opinion, and one that our leaders in Washington need to recognize. According to federal government data, the United States has enough oil to fuel more than 65 million cars for 60 years and enough natural gas to heat 60 million homes for 160 years. But current policies restrict access to 85% of the outer continental shelf and 83% of onshore federal lands.

If Congressman Udall is elected to the Senate, you can be sure that he will stay true to his record of doing everything in his power to restrict access to offshore oil and gas as well as that which can be found on federal lands. Even worse, if Martin Heinrich is elected to Congress, Tom Udall will have an ally in ignoring the needs of the majority of everyday New Mexicans.

They'll be living high on the hog off our tax dollars
. What do they care about the pain we're feeling at the pump? It's easy to be an environmentalist supporting higher energy costs when you're pulling down a six-figure income paid for by taxpayers.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Why is Tom Udall Afraid of an Energy Debate?

I don't get it. Congressman Steve Pearce challenges Congressman Tom Udall to an energy debate, and Tom Udall runs away from the challenge? (subscription):
With gas at $4 and the energy crunch a topic of daily conversation, Steve Pearce says it’s high time for him and Tom Udall to debate energy issues in their U.S. Senate race.

Udall says it’s too early, but his supporters already are hounding Pearce on the same subject.

An environmental group backing Udall has a rolling billboard of sorts — a Toyota hybrid — portraying Pearce as a poster boy for big oil.
This debate should be a no brainer for Congressman Udall. Prices at the pump are at $4 and rising. Tom Udall and his backers believe that oil companies are to blame, and that alternative sources of energy are the solution to the economic pinch everyday Americans are feeling at pump.

This should be a topic on which Tom Udall should feel confident about debating Steve Pearce any and every day of the week. After all, Mr. Udall comes from a long family tradition of environmental conservationists and has been able to capitalize on his father's name to achieve political success. Sometimes people forget that, like others, he is from one of those dynastic political families - think Lujan, Block, and yes, Bush.

By contrast, Steve Pearce worked his way up from very humble beginnings in the oil fields of Southeastern New Mexico to achieve the American Dream. A self-made man for whom public service has always been a way to give back to a country that has given him so many opportunities.

Steve is not known as a great orator or debater. He is just a regular guy who has worked hard, served in the military, built a business and speaks frankly from the heart. In any debate Steve is going to be at a distinct disadvantage against Mr. Udall's polished debate skills - honed over decades as a lawyer.

I'm sure in any energy debate, Tom Udall would be successful in portraying Steve Pearce as the poster child for the New Mexico oil and gas industry. Udall would probably point out that if it were not for the opportunities presented by the oil and gas industry, Steve Pearce would have never pulled himself out of poverty. Instead, he would have remained struggling and poor in Southern New Mexico and politics would be properly left to the political families - handed down from father to son in true monarch fashion.

Undoubtedly, Tom Udall would point out all that the oil and gas industry has taken from the state of New Mexico and its residents:
The industry provides New Mexico schools, roads and public facilities with more than $1.3 billion in funding each year. It is the state's largest civilian employer. Each night, 23,000 New Mexicans come home to their families from jobs related to the oil and gas industry.

It is the state's leading educational supporter and provides over 90% of all school capital investment through the Permanent Fund, saving New Mexico's taxpayers an excess of $800 annually. The oil and gas industry also makes up 15-20% of New Mexico's General Fund revenues. These are distributed to public schools and state colleges, fund the construction of public roads, buildings and state parks, and help keep New Mexico's government operational.

Yes, I'm sure that Steve Pearce would be left mouth agape and without response as Tom Udall heaped attack after attack on Steve's connections with such a destructive industry operating within our borders.

Then, Tom Udall would undoubtedly go in for the kill. Tom would point out that if New Mexicans were to elect Steve Pearce to U.S. Senate, Steve would most assuredly continue in the tradition of Senator Pete Domenici in an unabashed effort to allow more domestic oil and gas exploration.

Sensing imminent victory, Tom Udall would then put the final nail in the coffin of Steve Pearce's candidacy for U.S. Senate by unveiling two damning photos that show the success achieved by Tom Udall and the environmental groups which support him in preventing more domestic drilling.

The first would be a picture of Dubai in 1990, when we believed drilling for oil and gas in America was still a good thing:


The second would be a photo of the same street in Dubai taken in 2003 after Tom Udall and his friends have successfully fought the continued exploration for domestic oil and gas:



Based on this scenario and its inevitable outcome, I don't understand why Tom Udall is afraid of participating in an energy debate.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Global Warming Myth Follow Up

Yesterday, I pointed out that single working moms can't buy milk for their four year olds because of questionable science and government intervention, which has foisted ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels. Even if you were to choose to ignore that New Mexico's economy would collapse tomorrow if it weren't for fossil fuels. You've got to recognize that ranching communities, including those in New Mexico, are suffering because of the high cost of feed as a result of such misguided efforts as federal subsidies for ethanol production. So, we've got rising milk prices. We've got rising beef prices. Oh, and did I mention that we have less jobs:

“Rural communities need both livestock and ethanol production,” says Lawrence, who was also a key BQS presenter. But livestock production is worth more jobs.

According to studies at Iowa State University, using a 50-million-gal. ethanol plant as an example, 18.5 million bu. of corn are required. The plant accounts for 35 workers directly, as well as 98 created and induced jobs, or 133 jobs all together. Funnel that same amount of corn through a feedlot, and you're talking 140 jobs before considering the employment created further downstream in packing and processing.

“Ethanol production is a low-labor business; livestock production is a high-labor business,” Lawrence says.

All of these changes are occurring because the government has embraced the idea that the world is warming. Now, for the global warming irony:
Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.

This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.

In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans.

Read that last sentence again, "Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans." This coming from a report on National Public Radio - not exactly a beacon of conservatism.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Burying the Culprit in the Last Line

The Law of Unintended Consequences is at play again. This time, it is making it hard for a working mother to buy milk for children (subscription):
Maybe instead of "thank you," the folks who have just checked out your groceries should say "sorry."

Not that it's their fault your food bill is wiping out your movie money and vacation fund. Checkers are also spending 37 percent more on eggs and 29 percent more on milk than they did a year ago. Industry watchers are saying 80 percent of grocery prices are likely to rise and stay high for years.

Moms are reporting they're cutting their children's milk consumption.

Elaine Martinez had just finished her shopping at Lowe's Super Save at Lomas and 12th. She considers herself lucky that her 4-year-old, Christopher, likes healthful foods, but he can't have as much as he used to.

"It's awful to tell him he can't have milk; he has to have water," she said. "It's not something as a mother I want to say to my child."
Now if you didn't read this whole article until the end, you might think this would be an article about economic recession. You know, something that Democrats might try to blame on the Republicans, but it's not.
But corn is also a factor. It used to be food for humans and cattle. Now a lot of it is used for corn-derived ethanol to replace gasoline. Fields previously devoted to wheat, soy beans and corn for human consumption are producing corn for ethanol.
That's right, producing food for human consumption has taken a backseat to dealing with the mythical global warming crisis. This is a result of the environmental hysteria created by people like Al Gore, which has in turn led to the nonsensical production of ethanol.

The next time you hear a candidate running on their environmental record and telling you how important it is that we use alternative sources of fuel for our vehicles, I hope you picture a 4-year old boy like Christopher who has to drink water instead of milk.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Glad I Live in the County

The next time someone from Albuquerque tries to push City/County unification on us, we would be wise to remember the financial burdens the City of Albuquerque likes to push on its citizenry in the form of regulations:
Homeowners will get a little more time before City Hall starts enforcing its new "green" building code.

But city executives aren't backing away from plans to require more energy-efficient furnaces, air conditioners and other equipment.

Albuquerque's Planning Department agreed this week to postpone enforcement of the new building code until July 1— three months later than scheduled. City officials say they're willing to consider technical amendments before then.

But minor changes may not be enough to satisfy critics who say the new code will boost the cost of replacing a heater or air conditioner by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars.
As the owner of a 30 year old home with two thirty year old furnaces, I'd hate to be forced to spend thousands upon thousands to replace them both. Mind you, I live in a home with passive solar heating, and I also use a a very efficient wood burning stove for most of the winter. Plus, I keep the house very cool all winter. So, my furnaces hardly go on.

Is all of this because I'm worried about global warming or being green? No, it's because propane is expensive, and I'm pretty frugal in this arena. In other words, economics drives my decision, not regulation. Hmm... I'm sure there is a lesson there somewhere.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Governor Richardson's 2008 State of the State

Today, Governor Bill Richardson gave his 2008 State of the State (pdf), and true to form, he laid out an agenda that is much too expansive to be dealt with in the time allotted. Not too mention, that it's not appropriate for a session which is supposed to be focused on budget issues. What makes this worse than usual is that he just got back in to town after almost a one-year hiatus.

They say when you run in a Democratic Primary, you tend to run to the left because the base is far to the left. Well, based on the Governor's State of the State address, someone forgot to tell him to stop running to the left:
It begins with insurance reform.

Today there is a unified voice from business, labor and patients alike -- demanding solutions to the ever-rising cost of care and insurance premiums.

My plan requires that at least 85-percent of premiums must be spent directly on care.

Not on overhead.

Not on bureaucracy.

Not on profits.


Our public programs already require this--private insurers must do the same.
First off, let's deal with the obvious. I'm a member of numerous business organizations, and I can tell you that when it comes to the health care proposal the Governor has put forth, there is NO unified voice from business community.

And, what's this nonsense about limiting profitability of insurance providers? Someone please remind Governor Richardson that it's still legal in America to make a profit. In fact, it - the free enterprise system - is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.

Then, the Governor goes on to say, "Everyone must pay their fair share." Gee, when was the last time you looked at your tax bill and thought, I'm not paying my fair share. The state budget has grown astronomically since the administration took over, and the Governor has the nerve to say "everyone must pay their fair share." What's next? "...from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

After his Socialist Health Care agenda, the Governor proposes:
A new mandate calling on utilities to invest in energy efficiency programs. Programs that will be cheaper and cleaner than building new power plants.
Now, he's telling the utilities how to run their businesses. Who do you think is going to pay in the long run for this mandate? That's right, you and me. We're going to end up paying higher rates. Can you say, "Hidden taxes."

I could go on, but I'm just getting frustrated. Maybe I ought to invest in the campaign to draft Richardson as Vice-President, it's got to be cheaper for me than keeping him in the state.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

How Not to Make a Decision

So, you'd think that Congressman Tom Udall, who would like to join Senator Bingaman in the United States Senate, might take heed when he is told by the junior, soon to be senior, Senator that something is not a good idea (subscription), but that does not seem to be the case:
On Monday, Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said they opposed Pelosi's decision to package the tax repeals and the utility mandate with the broader energy bill because it could doom the entire bill in the Senate.
Ok, a bi-partisan recommendation from two guys who definitely know a little bit about how to get energy bills passed in the Senate. And, what does Congressman Udall do:

Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said Wednesday he supports a massive energy bill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to bring to a vote today, in part because he crafted a key provision in the legislation.
You're kidding me, right? Congressman Udall is ignoring Senator Bingaman's advice "because [Udall] crafted a key provision in the legislation."

This self-serving approach to decision making helps explains why Congress
has an 11% approval rating.

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