Monthly Archives: February 2007

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Al Gore

Al Gore, environmentalist.

Or maybe not:

Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.

Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh-more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh-guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.

But don’t you see, energy conservation is for the little people.

H/T: Drudge

California’s Experiment With Cigarette Prohibition

In July 2005, California bannedall tobacco products from it’s state prison system. The results have been about what you’d expect:

There are no ifs, ands or butts about it: California’s ban on tobacco in prisons has produced a burgeoning black market behind bars, where a pack of smokes can fetch up to $125.

Prison officials who already have their hands full keeping drugs and weapons away from inmates now are spending time tracking down tobacco smugglers, some of them guards and other prison employees. Fights over tobacco have broken out — at one Northern California prison, guards had to use pepper spray to break up a brawl among 30 inmates.

The ban was put in place in July 2005 to improve work conditions and cut rising health care costs among inmates, but it also has led to an explosive growth of tobacco trafficking. The combination of potentially big profits and relatively light penalties are driving the surge.

In other words, a black market. And along with the black market, comes the corruption:

At the fortress-like Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, a felon sneaked back onto prison grounds hours after being paroled. He was found with a pillowcase of almost 50 ounces of rolling tobacco — worth thousands of dollars on the black market. The plan was to throw it over the facility’s fence.

“It’s almost becoming a better market than drugs,” said Devan Hawkes, an anti-gang officer at Pelican Bay. “A lot of people are trying to make money.”

And that includes prison workers.

Last year, a corrections officer was put on leave at California State Prison, Solano, for smuggling tobacco. The guard made several hundred dollars a week through tobacco, officials say.


“There’s quite a bit of money to be made,” said Lt. Tim Wamble, a Solano prison spokesman. “In a department this size, you’re gonna have people who will succumb to the temptation.”

The same thing happened with alcohol during prohibition, and it happens every day with the War On (Some) Drugs. One of these days, people will learn that you can ban products that people want but, in the end, you really can’t prevent them from getting those products if they really want them. Until then, we’ll have more nonsense like this.

H/T: Hit & Run

Further Evidence In Favor Of Postal Privatization

In case you haven’t heard, the Post Office wants to raise rates and make it easier for them to do it in the future:

WASHINGTON — Say goodbye to those pesky 1- and 2-cent stamps that used to clutter up desks and purses every time the price of mailing a letter went up. A new “forever” stamp _ good for mailing a letter no matter how much rates go up _ was recommended Monday by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. The panel also called for a 2-cent increase in first-class rates to 41 cents, a penny less than the post office had sought.


Under legislation approved by Congress last year the commission will develop a new, less cumbersome system of raising rates for use in the future, and also has more authority to regulate postal activity.

Of course, if the Post Office were a private business, they wouldn’t need to ask Congress for permission to raise rates and they’d be better able to respond to the market. Instead we’ve got this system. Rates will go up to 41 cents, for now, but you can bet that they’ll keep going up as first-class mail becomes more and more of an anachronism.

So we could continue doing what we know doesn’t work, or we could try something new:

If you really want to fix the Postal Service, Senator, here’s what you need to do:

  • Eliminate the USPS monopoly on first class and all other mail. Allow FedEx, UPS, DHL, and anyone else who wants to get into the game to deliver first class mail, magazines, or anything else to do so. In the long run, it will result in better service, more competitive pricing, and more innovation
  • Eliminate the regulations that require the USPS to deliver first class mail at a uniform rate. It makes no sense that it costs the same to mail a letter from New York to Boston as it does to mail it from New York to Honolulu. Let the market decide how to price these services.
  • Get the government out of the business of providing pensions to Postal Workers. We don’t do it for the guys who work for Ford and General Motors, there’s no reason we should do it for the guys who deliver the mail.

All of this, and more, has been proposed before but Congress continues to try the same old solutions that never seem to work.

Yep, the same old story.

Virginia General Assembly Strikes A Blow For Property Rights

While all of the attention during the final hours of the Virginia General Assembly session was focused on the transportation bill, the Senate and House of Delegates passed a bill aimed at restricting local government’s authorty to use the power of eminent domain:

RICHMOND — After more than a year of work on the issue, the General Assembly on Saturday passed legislation that restricts government’s power to seize private property by invoking eminent domain.

The Senate and House of Delegates agreed on bills that define “public uses” under which government can take private property, stripping out a Senate provision that would give housing and redevelopment authorities greater ability to condemn property in blighted areas.

The passage of House Bill 2954 and Senate Bill 1296 nearly completes lawmakers’ efforts to strengthen eminent domain restrictions in the wake of a 2005 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London. In that case, the court upheld a Connecticut city’s condemnation of a homeowner’s property for a private development project.

The bills define five “public uses” for which private property can be taken. The legislation allows eminent domain for eliminating blight, but only if the property itself is blighted.

The bills would not affect current plans of redevelopment and housing authorities if they file petitions for condemnation by July 1, 2009.

The text of the relevant bill can be found here and it limits the power of eminent domain to the following situations:

(i) the property is taken for the possession, ownership, occupation, and enjoyment of property by the public or a public corporation;

(ii) the property is taken for construction, maintenance, or operation of public facilities by public corporations or by private entities provided that there is a written agreement with a public corporation providing for use of the facility by the public;

(iii) the property is taken for the creation or functioning of any public service corporation, public service company, or railroad;

(iv) the property is taken for the provision of any authorized utility service by a government utility corporation;

(v) the property is taken for the elimination of blight provided that the property itself is a blighted property; or

(vi) the property taken is in a redevelopment or conservation area and is abandoned or the acquisition is needed to clear title where one of the owners agrees to such acquisition.

Not perfect, but still a fairly good start and even the definition of “blight”, which is an area where local governments have frequently gotten away with murder, is fairly restrictive:

“Blighted property” means any property that endangers the public health and safety in its condition at the time of the filing of the petition for condemnation and is (i) vacant and constitutes a public nuisance or (ii) an individual commercial, industrial, or residential structure or improvement that is beyond repair or unfit for human habitation or use.

Like I said, a good start. Hopefully, Governor Kaine will do the right thing on this one.

More coverage over at Bearing Drift

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

Ron Paul In New Hampshire

The Manchester Union-Leader has an article today about Ron Paul’s visit to the home of the nation’s first primary:

Paul – who had been in New Hampshire since Thursday – found himself treated like a rock star at yesterday’s event, and a couple of hundred people were on hand to hear him speak at the Free State Project’s New Hampshire Liberty Forum. About half the 350 people who attended the days-long conference, at the Holiday Inn on North Main Street, were from New Hampshire, organizers said.

Paul, who received a standing ovation before and after his remarks, touched on many points during his address. For instance, he noted his long-standing opposition to the war in Iraq, which he said stemmed from his belief there was no security threat to America and the vote authorizing the war represented an illegal transfer of power to the president. He also called for the United States to withdraw from Iraq.

“The worst thing that could happen to al-Qaeda is for that war to end,” Paul said.

Among other issues, Paul also voiced support for abandoning the war on drugs, allowing gold and silver to serve as legal tender, repealing the Seventeenth Amendment  ” which lets voters directly elect U.S. Senators ” and ending the practice of withholding taxes from one’s pay. Instead, taxpayers would have to actually write checks to pay their taxes, a move Paul figured would soon end what he called the present tax-and-spend philosophy of government.

If there is one state where Paul’s message could resonate it’s New Hampshire. The question is whether he’d be able to get himself heard above the media blitz sure to be unleashed by the likes of McCain, Giuliani, and Romney.

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