Bathroom Bill Stinks

In January 2016, Oklahoma State Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow) filed Senate Bill 1014 because “The fear is… we say it’s okay to be where you want to be, then we’re not going to know who’s hanging out in the women’s restroom,” Silk told NewsChannel 4. “So, if I send my 8-year-old daughter into the restroom at Pizza Hut, I really don’t know who’s in there.”

However, Mr. Silk’s irrational fear of transgender men and women has no basis for state codification. According to Identities.Mic, “Spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union told Mic that no statistical evidence of violence exists to warrant this legislation. Vincent Villano, the director of communications for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told Mic in an email that there isn’t any firm data to corroborate these lawmakers’ claims, and that NCTE has ‘not heard of a single instance of a transgender person harassing a non-transgender person in a public restroom. Those who claim otherwise have no evidence that this is true and use this notion to prey on the public’s stereotypes and fears about transgender people.'”

Furthermore, Identities.Mic writer, Marcie Bianco adds, “The Advocate noted the same glaring fact last month regarding Texas’ bathroom legislation: ‘There has never been a verifiable reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person; nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators pretending to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.'”

Likewise, “Alachua County Crisis Center victims advocate Ashley Flattery told the Miami Herald, “This kind of idea that somebody is going to be assaulted in the bathroom by someone, and claim they have the right to be there because they are trans, is imaginary.”

Can ANYONE recall ever having been accosted in a public restroom by a transgender individual? Prior to corrective surgery, I was always reluctant to use a public restroom for fear of being harassed by some self-appointed panty patrol. In fact, I sought out under-utilized public facilities in order to take care of my “business” in privacy. By my estimates, these same feelings would be somewhat universal. What’s more, there are existing laws that would be more appropriate for the prosecution, considering the degree of crime committed. I doubt supplementing their case with violating the law as proposed in Senate Bill 1014 would lengthen sentences or derive greater justice.

This underhanded discriminatory “Bathroom Bill” is nothing more than a shallow attempt at soothing fundamentalists’ fear-mongering under the guise of “public safety.” What is especially annoying and a fundamental shortcoming in the proposed legislation, which is further indicative of the author’s ignorance of the issue, there is no definition of what determines a person’s biological gender. The bill states, “A. It shall be unlawful for a person to use a gender-specific restroom when that person’s biological gender is contrary to that of the gender-specific restroom.”

Is biological gender determined by chromosomes or physical anatomy? Is it psychological? Researchers have still not concluded whether or not there are physiological (biological) differences between a transgender individual’s brain and the larger human sampling. Who’s going to make that determination? Are post-operative transgender individuals compliant? Who’s going to be checking the privates?

Another blistering statement by Mr. Silk claims, “his constituents voiced fears of male pedophiles, for example, ‘identifying’ as females and walking into the women’s room.” This statement is outrageous. There is absolutely no evidence correlating incidence of transgenderism with pedophilia. And with all the ongoing attempts across our nation to further isolate and oppress transgender individuals, if there was any evidence that pedophilia occurred at higher rates in transgender people, everyone in America would know by now. I promise.

Having lived–and survived–through more discrimination and adversity than I ever thought possible during the last twenty-five years, I hope I can assure Americans that transgender individuals are not innately criminals, sexual predators or pedophiles. We are your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. We did not ask to be transgender. Nor do we know why we are. We simply are. Inevitably, we all reach a time in our lives where we must either face our True Self and find happiness or live a lie and die, either by our own hand or a slow, miserable death of self-loathing. That’s if we aren’t victims of a hate-crime.

A 2013 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs indicates 72% of victims of anti-LGBT homicide were transgender women while only comprising 13% overall. This statistic indicates transgender women are almost 7 times more prone to an anti-LGBT hate-crime murder.

UCLA Law’s Brad Sears and Lee Badgett’s Beyond Stereotypes: Poverty in the LGBT Community document that transgender people are “four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed” as most people in the U.S. Nearly a fifth of transgender people experience homelessness in their lifetimes, and 90 percent report having been discriminated against or harassed while on the job.”

Speaking from experience, this is SO true. Clearly, what the transgender community needs now is the inability to use a public restroom without fear of reprisals or even arrest. Not. This junk legislation is currently working its way through the Oklahoma legislature, PLEASE ask your elected state representatives to trash this highly discriminatory bill before it grows legs and spreads its acridity across our nation further dividing us. Thank you.

Broke: The New Black?

Wow. Are these strange times or what? The once-prosperous American nation is in debt upwards of $100 trillion; no one really knows for sure how much. It seems no clear consensus of methodology or even which data to include. Meanwhile, the US government is still spending more than $1.3 billion daily to support intervention in our global neighbors’ efforts of self-rule. Aside from obvious moral implications, it’s not like we need to expand our debt even more with increasingly larger portions of our federal budget siphoned away by the American military machine apparatik. Does the Fall of the Roman Empire ring a bell?

Sadly, the American people have largely ignored the inexplicably clear results of our failed federal policies in education, welfare, health care, fiscal and monetary affairs, the environment; you name it. And I’m not just talking about the Obama Administration. I’m indicting all of them, the whole bunch. Ever since Roosevelt’s New Deal, it’s been a slippery slope with politics winning out every inch of the way.

Unbelievably, right here in the good ol’ USA–the global stalwart of civil liberties with freedom and equal opportunity for all–our centralized banking system, along with its many cohorts in DC and around the world, is trying to convince us that up is down, black is white, good is bad, and so forth. But as truth endures, reality demands we acknowledge each and every dollar the American citizens (you and I) allow our politicians to authorize our government to borrow from the Banksters (Federal Reserve), another nail is driven into the coffin’s lid, entombing American prosperity, freedom and self-determination for generations to come.

The Federal Reserve, along with most our politicians and bureaucrats, would have us believe that the American taxpayers and their slavemeisters are all one big happy family. The Fed returns all “excess” profits to us. We’re one and the same. Our debt is their asset. Group hug Yet there are no checks and balances protecting the American citizens from the power of this privately held, non-government monopolized financial gateway to the U.S. Government’s issuance of debt in its entirety.

It is common knowledge that the Federal Reserve perpetuates the world’s largest Ponzi scheme ever created, legally sanctioned by the U.S. Government. What laughable plot could be grander for Hollywood moguls? Is it any wonder the Fed finally elects a woman to their chairmanship just as the global financial house of cards threatens to collapse into a decades-long depression of epic scope? They probably figured we’d spare the noose.

For the record, the Federal Reserve, in addition to providing financial services to banking institutions, foreign and domestic governments, and facilitating our payment system, the Fed is charged with maintaining low unemployment and ensuring monetary stability. Unemployment aside, which I’ve never understood to be justly within the central bankers’ surveyance, with the help of their media minions, the latter task has descended into a rather B-movie quality circus act of propaganda, innuendo and speculation. All the Federal Reserve governors (Citigroup, Chase, JP Morgan, among their largest shareholders) have to do is balance greed with future prospects, avoiding extremes at either end–deflation vs. inflation–as they manipulate man and market to their bidding.

Not saying that’s an easy task. The self-serving, powerful forces of greed are not easily tempered by the possible threat of revolution. Cash in hand easily carries more clout than obscure causes for war in a perhaps never-to-come distant future. Plus, as a nation, we’ve sort of painted ourselves into both a monetary and fiscal corner. Too many zeros. Not enough bills. Liquidity in the American economy is at great risk. There is hardly any velocity of money. People are hunkering down, intuitively feeling the unforeseen calamity to come, saving what little possible and scrimping to get by in hopes of future relief. Unfortunately, a national epidemic of poverty and under-employment is approaching. The almighty King Dollar’s reign is almost over. No one escapes the scales of economic justice forever. $100,000,000,000,000. I just wanted you to see the number minimally depicted as the amount of our national debt. But that’s only the tip of the economic iceberg we’ve created.

In fact, the U.S. Government (again, you and I) is pretty much between a rock and a hard place when it comes to covering our national debt’s interest payments (much less, paying down principle), while simultaneously directing global military maneuvers, wars, and intelligence operations; paying more than 50% of our population some form of government support; implementing an illegal and ill-conceived, windfall-profit laden, corporate healthcare system; neglecting investment in overwhelmed, aging air, land and sea transportation infrastructures: ports, docks, high-speed rail, highways, bridges, airports, air traffic control systems; buying our own debt with free money conjured from thin air, documenting proof of its existence in the form of more decimal places in our national ledger’s liabilities column; and on and on, to incredible heights of unimaginable malfeasance by each and every successive administration, irregardless of political party, since that seemingly innocuous passage of the Federal Reserve Act that late wintry evening of December 23, 1913. Of course, initially, legislation had not yet bared the teeth soon to grow long and sharp. Alas, a century of continued meddling sprouts seedlings of subterfuge, nurtured and pruned to perfection by generations of stealthy slim fingers foraging our pockets and purses for coin, spared the day’s demands, lying unprotected in our personal places.

Yes, quite the quandary. How does the Fed support their needs and wants with a teetering global financial imbalance poised for collapse? Darest they even hint a 25 bps rate increase possibility with the mess they’ve created? They must.

Ignoring the market collapse in China; national defaults of Greece, Puerto Rico, and thanks to Oil Wars, most assuredly, soon-to-be a growing number of EM government and corporate debts; the military conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Kashmir, N. Korea, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.; global implications of continued harsh economic sanctions and subsequent gross depreciation of the ruble on the Russian people and their allies, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Iran, cause where would one stop or start? That’s just the backdrop.

The problem I’m talking about is the silent, gargantuan wealth transfer occurring in our financial markets in the absence of honest price discovery for commodities, equities, bonds, and other investment vehicles. With the Fed suppressing interest rates near zero since 2008, investors have no sense for value relativity. Savers are penalized while spendthrifts and speculators are rewarded. Yield spreads narrowed between junk bonds and sovereign debt while overbought media-hyped equities soared. IPOs flourished. The $4 trillion QEs pumped into the U.S. economy, corralled by too-big-to-fail international speculators and financiers, Wall Street suits, and other elitists privy to free money, has transferred more taxpayer wealth into ruling-class bank accounts than are retired banksters in the Federal Reserve system.

Meanwhile, the poor blokes working to make it all happen continue to feel the pain of government-denied inflation. Families struggle just to send their children to a broken public education system. They go without proper medical and dental care due to exorbitant costs, much less utilizing preventative care options, and are forced to eat unsafe GMOs laden with artificial additives, preservatives, coloring agents, superfluous sugar, and other cancer-causing, health-destroying chemicals and agents. And this is over-simplification.

So it goes without even the slightest tinge of sympathy for the Fed’s plight of “Do I or Do I Not?” raise rates, being the question, that I suggest to the American proletariat, all three of you (Mom, Linda and Roger) reading this, we continue shouting loudly our resounding dismay and contemptuous disapproval of the sorry state of our nation’s financial affairs the Federal Reserve has co-conspired with our elected officials to create. One cannot point the finger at either without indicting the other. For the finger that pulls the trigger bears no more guilt than the hand with the gun. There can be no easy way out from here. That’s a given. But the longer the American people delay taking the necessary and painful steps to end our misery, the greater harm will come. We allowed this evil, as in “not good,” monumental financial preponderance to occur. We cannot allow this travesty to be shouldered by the innocents yet to be born.

Knowing full well the gravity of my words, “We must right the wrong our inattentiveness has created.” It is humanity’s moral imperative that we rise to the occasion and begin the long, arduous journey of deleveraging our economy. It makes no sense to continue down the path of excesses without concern for our brothers and sisters around the planet or of those yet to be born. Americans have always done the right thing, once our attention has been gained. Please help spread the word. A dynamic national debate of our fiscal plight is necessary before a lasting solution can be found. Each of us must cast our voice into the mix. That is our contribution to the cause. I’m trying to do my part. Will you help? Please? The challenges are many and the tasks difficult, but as a people, we can do this. Let not history judge us harshly. Thank you.

New World Order?

Yesterday at Davos 2015, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the international attendees to commit more resources in the fight against terrorism to preserve and protect current world order or “…if we don’t make those investments today, we will pay far more for it down the road.”

But world orders change. That’s what they do. Just as our natural planet continuously morphs from forces both without and within, humanity’s social orders evolve in outcroppings of the times. And naive desperate, self-serving efforts to stem this universal flow with ever more debt, death and destruction are destined for failure.

Embracing the suffering, the downtrodden, “the People,” enabling them to rebuild their lives and forge their own future carries a far lesser price tag in every aspect than wielding bombs and bullets in a testosterone-induced fighting frenzy, keeping score with bodies and buildings.

Isn’t it time for the matriarchal spirits present in this existence to unite in a common cause for humanity, tear down political walls and neuter the swollen autocratic audacity currently crashing our future? Our nation’s egomaniacal paranoia is robbing future generations of their rightful inheritance. Not only that, but we’re unilaterally destroying the God-given lives of human beings, depleting Mother Earth’s precious natural resources and polluting her beyond all repair.

Who in their right mind thinks this is a good plan? It’s time for a different approach. But there is no existing public platform for fresh, meaningful discussion. Mass media’s talking heads merely lipsync hidden voices and the unlimited potential promise of the Internet is quietly draining into a septic tank of propaganda, advertisements and unproductive time-sinks of entertainment. The major political parties are top-down driven. Grassroots efforts have no chance against the system. Besides, Big Brother will soon be your new neighbor. Police shooting unarmed people. Tanks. Armored personnel carriers. Drones. Is there no end to our fear?

For the record, government cannot protect you. No one can. You are going to die. I promise. But that’s not what’s important. It’s how you live your life. That’s what it’s all about. Live and let live. Plant a tree. Lend a hand. Read a book to a child. Visit a parent or grandparent. Lift up those around you. Let’s make the world a better place one person at a time. So reach out and touch someone today. You’ll both be blessed.

Now that’s a new world order worth preserving.

Walmart Receives $6.2 Billion Free and I Just Want a $30k Small Biz Loan…

Maybe not today or tomorrow, but as one-time cheap labor markets continue to disappear in the face of rising standards of living in the far corners of the globe, I suspect, perhaps truthfully, hope, Walmart’s opportunistic business model of strong-arming suppliers, importing products halfway around the planet and underpaying employees with their big-box, be-everything-to-everyone retail stores will crash and burn. Meanwhile, someone please explain to me why a $250 billion market cap company earning $15 billion annually receives $6.2 billion by employee proxy in government subsidies. What’s wrong with $9 billion annual net income? Half of that goes directly to the Walton family while the remaining half of shareholders divide up the rest. It’s truth or dare time.

 

Personally, as far as I’m concerned, Walmart can go the way of the dinosaurs. Recalling the Sixties and early Seventies, I liked it when Americans owned and operated their family stores on Main Streets across our nation. It gave us pride in our communities, provided a level of customer service long gone and supplied small towns with steady sales tax revenues. Today, small towns everywhere are being abandoned. Shoppers barely slow down to avoid running over the neighbor’s dog as they rush to Walmart Centers twenty miles away to spend their hard-earned money, assuming a penny saved is a penny earned. Unfortunately, that axiom may have worked in the world of Benjamin Franklin, but in today’s economy, dollars have to circulate to keep us all financially healthy. If we export dollars from our hometowns to the larger hub communities blessed (or cursed) with Wally World’s, we further weaken our own communities.

 

Speaking of, I recently applied for a loan to refinance my 2400 square foot brick office building on Main Street in my hometown in Oklahoma. I owe $17k, but the building needs a new roof. Since my small publishing business and used book store cannot afford a mortgage and an improvement loan, I had hoped to consolidate. Armed with a $14k estimate from a prominent local roofer, I crossed my fingers the property would appraise for $40k, which with the 80% loan cap instituted since the 2007 financial crisis, would have enabled a $32k loan, making my world a little better, at least, drier. I know $16.67/sq ft was a lot of money back in the 1910s when my building was originally constructed, but in this economy, I wrongly mistook it for a deal. But in fact, the appraiser withdrew, saying no one wanted old buildings on Main Street any longer and my banker bowed out, as graciously as possible. What about me? Don’t I count? I want one. I venture to say my building couldn’t be replaced for less than $80k. At least, that’s the opinion of my insurance company.

 

That’s the state of affairs in small-town America. Thank you, Walmart. Do you need any used books or furnishings? I have a building full of them that need a home. I can’t afford to fix the roof and am now losing my building. Perhaps I could get a government subsidy to the tune of say, $14k? No. Don’t want it. Uncle Sam can keep it. I’ll be alright. Just hate the thought of parting with all my books.

An American Dream or Not Too Big To Fail?

Within a week of the IMF report suggesting major American financial institutions shift assets to form a new business model and partner with Main Street in the real economy, CitiGroup announces plans to spin off its high-risk, non-prime One Main Financial holdings and close consumer banking services in eleven markets. In addition, today Wells Fargo and JP Morgan report steep declines in new mortgage originations. Of course, these announcements are lagging indicators of previously-held decisions, but they certainly underscore the IMF’s accuracy in pinpointing structural weakness in U.S. banking regulations as modified by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLB), passed in 1999, a year after an illegal 1998 merger between CitiCorp and Traveler’s Group for which the Federal Reserve had already granted a temporary pass. In other words, non-elected private banking officials were allowed to nullify consumer banking protections enacted by the 1933 U.S. Congress in the Glass-Steagall Act. To codify the Fed’s over-stepping maverick action, the 1999 Republican-led U.S. Congress rubber-stamped their removal of key Glass-Steagall protection provisions and President Bill Clinton signed into law, stating “[GLB is]…modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down these antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority… This is a very good day for the United States.”

 

For those unfamiliar, the GLB allowed commercial banks, Wall Street firms, insurance conglomerates and investment banks to consolidate under the general heading of bank while simultaneously withholding regulation authority from the SEC, the only federal agency with the necessary funding capable of competent oversight. In fact, even today no federal agency directly oversees the banking industry. The privately held for-profit, non-government-agency Federal Reserve System “regulates state-chartered member banks, bank holding companies, foreign branches of U.S. national and state member banks, Edge Act Corporations, and state-chartered U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s website. In turn, the $10+ trillion Federal Reserve System is regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) with 1/10 the annual SEC budget.

 

This further fleecing of the American citizens’ wealth was not only immoral and undemocratic, but high theft at levels only made possible by governments. As a result of the Fed’s spectacular defiance of the U.S. Constitution, in less than a decade sophisticated, over-leveraged and unregulated financial instruments, including almost a $1 trillion in sub-prime and no-doc mortgage securities, of which almost half were written off as losses, created the 2007-09 Global Financial Crisis. Meanwhile banking execs still took home lofty bonuses while the American taxpayers took on $500 billion more debt. Unfortunately, the scope of the impending financial crisis due to another $4 trillion of worthless paper money injected into these same unregulated banks’ coffers by their buddies at the Federal Reserve is unknowable. There are securities upon securities. In fact, the true size of the paper mache pyramid will only be measurable after all the pieces currently aloft in the cloud have fallen to the ground, no government, no financial institution with net sufficiently-sized, save the IMF with a relatively empty balance sheet.

 

All this gets rather entangled the further one delves and most Americans couldn’t care less, but politicians and bureaucrats depend upon that fact. So remember when the crapper runs over and its contents hit the fan, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a pickle. The American people have long neglected their fiscal housekeeping duties and allowed the world’s greatest democracy to be bankrupted by a small minority besieged with greed and/or incompetence. Perhaps it’s not too late, but for sure, the U.S. can either begin implementing sound national fiscal policies or share a fate with the many examples throughout the last five-thousand years from which one can draw all-too-similar comparisons. None end well. But maybe that’s the best. Let the current U.S. government bankrupt itself, dissolve our obligations and reorganize. That’s the way corporations do it. We have the power of “We the people” to rebuild, make America stronger, defend our sovereign right to create an asset-based currency (gold standard) instead of debt-based, implement a flat tax, eliminate lobbyists, cap campaign contributions, enact term limits across the board and do away with all federal subsidies, the IRS and the U.S. Dept of Education, shrink our military to a manageable size, reward environmental stewardship and penalize polluters. Did I mention firing all the politicians in DC?

Investors Possess Power to Turn CEOs Green

Coal plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The recent announcement of Australian National University (ANU) to divest its investments from the coal industry and companies with ecologically unsound business practices is garnering attention. Although the $15 million shift in assets does not represent a significant portion of ANU’s $8 billion portfolio, it is creating a stir and several companies are proactively seeking guidance from fund managers for making amends.

 

By comparison, according to the American Benefits Council, Americans have over $3.8 trillion in 401 (k) retirement funds. IF we demanded our fund managers invest primarily in environmentally responsible companies, corporate bad behavior could possibly be eliminated much quicker than any politically driven solution. It will take years, if not decades, before government can force change, but fund managers rewarding company’s practicing responsible earth stewardship can drive solutions only as capitalism and private investment can do.

 

We must not wait on government. Private entities must take leadership roles. The burden to create environmentally sustainable business operations falls upon the private sector. Do we want government unilaterally dictating environmental regulations upon business or do we want to utilize America’s vast intellectual and scientific resources to implement best practices within our own industries? If corporate America doesn’t take a leadership role, who else can accomplish the necessary paradigm shift in the short amount of time left? Corporate leaders who actually lead this movement will be amply rewarded by loyal customers and investors. Green begats green.

 

Immigration, Unemployment and Who’s on First?

Today I saw an ad, maybe on TV while I rode the exercise bike or could have been on the Internet, but it doesn’t matter. The ad’s point, a critical view of President Obama’s immigration policy, was made by railing against 1) possible amnesty granted to two-million illegal aliens and 2) the proposed increase on immigration quotas. I can see where some might feel threatened by youthful, desperate immigrants desiring a better life, a chance for gainful employment and becoming an American citizen, but there is no doubt in my mind, had I been born and living in many of their same circumstances with only a single, shallow river between a whack at the American dream for my family and a harsh, impoverished life in the world’s second largest megacity’s slums, call me whatever you like, but I’d be proudly dripping wet down my back as I crossed over. Still, many Americans look down upon these illegal immigrants, but one need only consider historical precedence and current fiscal realities to better ascertain their contribution to American society.

 

As the LGBTQ movement entrenches within mainstream media, politicians are less interested in making gay marriage an election issue. Stealthily, abortion is under attack and drawing attention to it will only stiffen “liberal” resolve for preserving women’s reproductive rights. Slamming Obamacare no longer delivers the same political mileage since Americans with pre-existing conditions gained access to healthcare, college students can remain longer on their parent’s health insurance policy and more Americans have access to affordable healthcare than ever before. So really, not a lot left to distract American voters from the more important, bigger issues. The fossil-fuel industry’s anti-climate propaganda, though successfully employed as a distraction in the past, hasn’t a snowball’s chance in an Antartic summer of taking foothold in a 2014 election. Could be a few other minor plays here and there, foreign policy–Ukraine, Iraq, West Africa, N. Korea, Iran, Syria, to name a few, and ISIS, ebola, federal debt, Social Security, banking reform, campaign reform, the list goes on, but of all these and more, there’s one issue that ALWAYS stirs voters up as reliably as a rooster crowing at the sun.

 

Yep, you guessed it. Illegal aliens. Not the extra-terrestrial ones. Extra-nationals, with employable skills. Even more importantly, desirous to join the American system, work, pay taxes and build a better life for themselves. Compare that to recent numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating America’s total employed has fallen more than three percent to 59% since 2004. In addition, everyone knows we Boomers are entering retirement years and since the U.S. government has already spent our collective Social Security retirement fund, the only hope amid predicted rising interest rates, stretching our ability to cover interest on the roughly $100 trillion national debt, including unfunded pensions, is for them to successfully continue their legalized Ponzi scheme of using current workers’ SSI deposits to cover their obligations to pay retiring Boomers’ hard-earned Social Security benefits.

 

Is any of this starting to shape up for you? The problem, for those who haven’t got it yet, without an influx of taxpaying immigrant workers, there’s not going to be any retirement. The system is near death, struggling on life-support as I speak (whisper). As American citizens, we have been nonchalant about our elected representatives’ fiscal management of our nation’s business. We have allowed them to continuously overspend, unfairly tax and regulate small-business and the middle-class, and give away our hard-earned tax revenues to other nations while our overburdened, underengineered transportation system falters, until we’re so far into debt, if the U.S. weren’t the only game in town printing the global currency from thin air (talk about a monopoly), no one would buy our debt (U.S. government bonds)–at any price. We disproportionately consume the world’s resources because we can (we got the military to back us up) and then cast a disparaging eye on anyone wanting to join the party.

Illegal immigrants 2

 

“Get in line.” I’ve heard that before. Tell that to a twenty-something couple with ambition and courage, but no opportunity and an extra mouth or two to feed. Immigration laws. Visas. Quotas. National boundaries. These are mere abstractions. Man has overcome much greater. What prompted early hominids to venture from the safety of caves to feed their families, for common sense surely warned, “Stay inside. It’s safer.” Likewise, illegal immigrants are brave enough to venture from their dark dwellings of poverty and hopelessness to survive. These adventurers are fearless human beings, spiritual, glorious examples of the highest form of life on this planet, possessing the full spectrum of innate rights and privileges bestowed upon us all. I ask, “By what right do we invoke to belittle or begrudge them the same opportunities? Because we were here first?” Not.

 

According to the Census Bureau, 49%, almost half of all Americans, receive some form of government subsidy. Think about that a moment. Where is all the money going to come from? Who is the government going to take money away from to give to the 49%? I’ll give you a clue. It’s the 51% left. So do the math. More Boomers retiring, less Americans working, higher annual budget deficits, higher national debt, higher interest rates; it gets ugly fairly quick. It can’t all just keep going higher and higher. At some point, the bubble pops. Other governments and private investors stop buying our bonds because we reach a point where we can no longer pay high enough returns to justify the risks of America defaulting on her debt and filing bankruptcy, leaving investors’ fate in the hands of the IMF, free to charge some or all off, with possibly years before being sorted out. Instead, money will flow into the EU, China, India or any number of other emerging markets with more promising fiscal policies. And ladies and gentleman, at that point, many Americans’ assets, including bank accounts, IRAs, 401ks and precious metals like gold, silver and platinum will most likely be seized by international bankers and foreign investors as collateral. It’s been done before–FDR confiscated all privately owned gold in 1933 during the Great Depression. Furthermore, international flight of capital and even possibly, American citizens themselves, will be subject to unilaterally imposed limitations.

Illegal immigrants

 

I’m not a doom-and-gloomer crying wolf. I’m just telling you; the national debt is a big deal. And we should be grateful for the addition of two-million workers contributing taxes to our federal and state governments. We need many more. Besides, if we ever start investing in rebuilding our bridges, highways, rail system and seaports, we’re going to need them. Most Americans can’t or won’t do those construction jobs. America today is a result of more than 500 years of immigrants coming to this country. I’m not advocating throw back the gates to our borders and indiscriminately grant citizenship carte blanche to everyone able to walk, crawl or drive across the border. The real solution to this problem is already forming as Mexico opens up its natural resources for private investment. One day in the not-so-distant future, Mexico will enjoy the same status as Canada. Meanwhile, I trust Immigration officials to practice due diligence in determining those who are superior candidates for citizenship and those not. And if they choose unwisely and an immigrant breaks the law, besides for being here, justice will prevail in the courts. Otherwise, the more the merrier. We’ve got the space. We’ve got the need. They’re part of the solution. Every baseball fan knows if you want to drive a runner home, somebody has to sacrifice or get to first base. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, we need a runner on first.

Texas Lightnin’ w/Soundtrack

 Texas Lightnin’

Audio Credits:

  • Track I – Burnt Out by Sunflower,
    Vocals/Percussion/Guitar by Sunflower,
    Produced by Sunflower Nashville, TN 2004;
  • Track II – Asteroid by Sunflower,
    Vocals – Sunflower,
    Synthesizer – Eddie Hicks,
    Percussion – Matt
    Bass – Unknown
    Recorded/Mixed by Penn Roberson & Farah Bazzrea Nashville, TN 2004;
  • Track III – Counting Stars by Ryan Tedder,
    Vocals – Rebecca,
    Guitar – Ben,
    Bass – Shane,
    Produced by Ben Bazzrea Austin, TX 2014;
  • Track IV – Broken Wings by Ben Bazzrea,
    Vocals – Rebecca,
    Guitar – Ben,
    Bass – Shane,
    Produced by Ben Bazzrea Austin, TX 2014;

Video Produced by Farah Bazzrea

Electric Motorcycles Deserve Equality

BMW C Evolution

In this day of mostly equal rights for all, an unsightly au contraire lurks in the annals of Texas  government helping the people vis-a-vis financial incentives to purchase electric cars. This  slight embarrassment would probably pass quietly into the archives without public attention and I might not otherwise mention it but for its revealing of a likely contributing factor to the  less than enthusiastic public shift toward mass adoption of electric vehicles. I know I should be thrilled that Texas is being so darn pro-active, considering the shale oil and gas boom. Of course, the state’s $2500 pales against the IRS’s $7500 Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit program, but in conjunction, hey, it’s better than a poke in the eye. Right? Wrong. It’s not much difference for  most Texans. Check out the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) website  listing eligible vehicles for the $2500 Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive  Program. Four of the approved nine auto manufacturers, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Cadillac offer nine of the sixteen eligible models.

I know it wouldn’t be fair to exclude the buyer of an $845,000 base-price, 887 HP 918 Porsche Spyder from receiving $2500 from the good taxpaying citizens of Texas. Heck, without it, he (must be) surely couldn’t afford to reduce his emissions with that half-a-million dollar, plug-in hybrid powertrain. I’ve heard of the trickle-down theory but last I looked, it doesn’t work. But that’s another story. Anyway, the point is capping the purchase price for a more narrowly targeted demographic, those who really need financial incentives to buy an electric car–real-worlders like the Chevy Volt, Ford Focus BEV or Nissan Leaf–might enable our state’s tax dollars to actually stimulate more sales. Higher rebates offsetting the costs of mass-produced electric vehicles for the proletariat is a much more effective tool at reducing emissions than giving smaller rebates to those who can already afford luxury models.

So you’re probably asking, is that the equality case I’m trying to make? Nope. Help out those poor near-indigent folks buying a $136,600 BMW i8 if you want. That’s okay, I suppose. There’s not a lot of volume there. But what’s up with no rebates for two-wheel electric vehicles? Get this: It’s not about reducing emissions of the nation’s 62 million registered cars versus reducing emissions of 9 million motorcycles. It’s about inverting the ratio–making 15% of the vehicles on the roads electric cars and 85% electric motorcycles. It’s a little stretch, I know. But you get the point. Just switching 62 million car owners to coal-powered electric 2-ton transports isn’t the solution; alternative forms of transportation, not alternative fuels is key. This will only happen with aggressive government incentives. Americans love their cars. Who wouldn’t? Put any second or third-world citizen in the seat of a typical American vehicle and ask if they like it. But we’re setting a poor example for the rest of the world with over-consumption. The Earth cannot sustain a global Westernized lifestyle like ours. It physically cannot filter our air and replenish its resources at the rate that would be required.

So whether we like it or not, we’ve got to adopt a more fuel-efficient, more sustainable transportation paradigm. Go to Asia, Europe, South America. Many of those countries have superior public transportation infrastructure with a much higher use of two-wheel transports, and in case you’ve been in a coma for the last decade, the truth is, we don’t have a lot of time. The Union of Concerned Scientists have made an excellent case for expediting our transportation shift. The nation’s 15% two-wheel vehicle market niche is ripe for charging forward (pun intended) in this assault upon the status quo.

By now, everyone that is going to has read Geoffrey A. Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. To gain mainstream adoption, the electric vehicle industry needs to establish a beachhead. Incentivizing the purchase of smaller, more affordable two-wheel electric vehicles with grant rebates will draw more devotees away from the dark side into the light–fossil fuels to electrons–than giving away $2500 to a multi-millionaire (or billionaire) buying $1 million go-fast electric toys. Btw, it’s worth noting the $75,000 Tesla wasn’t on the Texas list. Check it out for yourself.

Hyundai Concept Vehicle

That’s my case for equality. We cannot afford to ignore the two-wheel electric vehicle market. If we wait on our culture to shift, it will be too long. Government must shift Americans from a car-culture to a less-is-more mindset before the rest of the planet’s population follows us down an eight-lane superhighway into extinction. Plus, riding electric mopeds, motorcycles and their e-bike bantam cousins are quietly exhilarating.

I’m so jazzed that major motorcycle and automobile manufacturers are turning an eye to electric two-wheel alternatives. Let’s get ’em across the chasm. Our future is bright. We just need to stay focused. We’ve got a world to save.

Just saying…

Human Stewardship… and ISIL: Nowhere to Run

A praying mantis - Southeastern Oklahoma.
A praying mantis – Southeastern Oklahoma.

I was watching a great documentary about India’s natural world this evening when I was reminded of the animal kingdom’s predominant everyday reality of “eat or be eaten.” As human beings, for the most part, our lives do not contain everyday fears of being killed or eaten alive, but this is nature’s fundamental mechanism for survival on the planet. Truly, it is a race.

Being born human is an experience of the highest order on this planet. We have dominion over all that is. Yet, considering the present condition of our habitat, this ever-shrinking, beautiful blue globe floating in an unfathomably unending, transparent sea of time and space, we fail to express our appreciation for this unsurpassed gift in any detectable way.

We are the world. The world is one. We destroy the world; we destroy ourselves. Of course, this is basic stuff, but obviously, someone is not getting it. Individually, we care. Collectively, we care. Corporately, personal and collective responsibility is destroyed. When corporations start acting like responsible citizens, devoid of short-term stock appreciation concerns, humans will preserve our planet, along with all the living things marooned upon it with us.

More about this later…

oil well

America and her allies have a distinct advantage seeking out and destroying ISIL versus al-Qaeda. ISIL’s greatest asset, occupied income-producing crude oil fields, is their greatest weakness. Tangible targets financing the self-proclaimed Jihadists can be easily identified and retaken. Al-Qaeda had no particular residence. They were like ghosts—here one minute, gone the next. But an occupying hostile force must keep boots on the ground. Governing occupied lands requires residency.

I have complete confidence America’s technology, in conjunction with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, will methodically identify, isolate and destroy ISIL forces. President Obama’s studied and consensus-building approach to dealing with the ISIL terrorist group reflects well upon his statesmanship and ability to manuever adeptly on the global scene. I’m grateful our president is not allowing politics or ego to rush our country into another decade-long quagmire of wasted human lives and resources.

Sounds like some nation building going on, too. New multi-alliance Iraqi government cooperating with the Kurds to regain control of their country’s borders? Nothing like working together for a common cause to coalesce diverse people into a nation. I like it.

Near Field and Artificial Intelligence Filling the Gap

Near Field mobile communication technology is the missing link between the cloud’s unlimited processing, networking and storage capacity and us. Right now, we’re interfacing primarily via smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktop monitors. We’re mostly visually connected. If we cannot see a visual navigational path to initiate some sort of action, very little is done. Forthcoming Near Field communication technologies are soon to dump this antiquated (<30 years) paradigm on its thick head. Once emerging Near Field and AI technologies are implemented around the world, the subsequent explosion of personal assistant software—enabling near-effortless personal management of the world around us with simple default settings and occasional audio (text optional) exchanges via google glass 4.3, wearables, watches and jewelry—will guide humans into an era of unprecedented technological sophistication and ease of existence. We walk into our homes as lights turn-on with preset defaults, easily voice-adjusted, turn on the stove or run the bathwater based upon our instructions. We see a friend reading an interesting book and order it from Amazon without so much as glancing at a screen. We’re in an accident and our wearables automatically dispatch EMTs, providing life signs and location. The ramifications are expansive. Questions, unlimited. This is not tomorrow, but it is coming soon to a world near you. Thoughts?

Brammo Slashes Electric Motorcycle Prices–Good or Bad?

Christopher DeMorro raises a good point in his article linked below, “Unfortunately, this move has upset some recent Brammo buyers, and there are legitimate concerns about what this does to the resale value of this early electric motorcycles.”

It also raises others. For one, it’s a blatant loss-sales attempt at generating revenue and growing a customer base for a planned public offering. Hmmm. I wonder how many of those IPO investors will bother to look deep enough into the company’s books to see their sales numbers are rigged. In today’s Wall Street world of excessively abundant near-free money and bulls to-no-end, I doubt many. “How can it go wrong?” But truthfully, I’m not so concerned about the company’s obvious irregularity—maybe not—in their fundamental business strategy, but more the larger, glossed-over issue slated to be ignored by such actions.

But since the issue was raised by Mr. DeMorro, I feel the need to weigh-in on the price slashing. In my opinion, Brammo’s original, loyal customers should not have to absorb the company’s failed pricing–marketing strategy. And “if” is not even a question. Of course their Brammo bikes are going to depreciate much more now. So I ask Brammo, “If you could sell them for $5,000 less to begin with, why didn’t you? Or say, maybe just $3,000 less?” Surely analysis for the proper price point was part of your business plan. Perhaps a rebate is in store for existing owners and customers? I don’t know. Same ol’ same ol’ as far as I can see.

Now, getting to the bigger question, “Why aren’t the Brammo, Zero, Mission, ZEV electric motorcycles selling in America’s metro areas?” It cannot be price alone. Look at Tesla. According to the Federal Reserve’s latest demographic stats, the 10%ers have been doing pretty well. I’m pleased for them; I aspire. But I’m making a point. Probably more Teslas in Austin than electric motorcycles. So if it’s not just price, what is it?

There are multiple reasons: Availability and ease of recharging for commuters pushing the current range envelope is one. Cool factor is another. Loud Harley Davidson motorcycles have a lot of history. Unfortunately. The other day one came through the neighborhood and was so loud the cats awoke and bound from atop the cars to cower underneath, peering from around the tires. The rider was too cool to notice, or too deaf. Anyway, there are a number of reasons why electric motorcycles haven’t caught on in America yet, but I suggest the number one disrupter in the inevitable progression of personal transports into renewable energy sourced, zero-emission vehicles is a lack of dealer sales and service availability.

New unproven technologies are not bedfellows of the masses, yet they’re the market segment that counts most. Early adopters are fine, great, necessary even, but not a significant economical force. Innovative products require mainstream market acceptance to successfully transform an existing paradigm. The only way that is going to happen is to put butts on seats. Once people can sit on an electric bicycle, motorcycle or moped, drive it and know there’s a service facility to take care of them if they have a problem, EV dealers and manufacturers attempting to cross the chasm will have a much better rate of success. So in that vein, Brammo cutting prices to put people and products together is a good thing, taking a term from Martha.

I know that’s an easy philosophy to adopt with no skin in the game, but if you’re an investor interested in pursuing an EV business in Austin, let me know. You bring the cash. I’ll bring the wherewithal.

You can read Mr. DeMorro’s original article here.

Clovis, California Police Department Buys Five Zero Electric Police Motorcycles

Police departments across the nation are recognizing environmental, economic and law-enforcement advantages of electric motorcycles. Steadily, one by one, electric motorcycle manufacturers are gaining ground in their pursuit of penetrating the conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycle market. As volumes increase, evolving technologies and manufacturing-costs reductions will continue awakening the sleeping giant–American two-wheeled transportation market.

For details on the most recent action, click here.

Rebooting America’s Transportation Paradigm

As recoverable U.S. shale oil reserves expand our economy and bolster our efforts towards energy independence, most Americans are unprepared to accept a future that fails to afford many blue-collar, retail, and food-service industry workers the luxury of owning, operating and maintaining conventional four-wheeled modes of transportation. As baby boomers wind down peak-spending years, young immigrant workers are prevented from joining our rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul social security system, and our nation’s birthrate is at an all-time low.1 These macro-economic factors are stagnanting wages, increasing our costs of living and driving more people to the government dole than ever before. In fact, latest numbers reveal only 56.7%2 of the population pays income tax. Soon there will be more people living off our government than contributing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude our nation’s economic future isn’t looking exactly rosy.

To counter these powerful trends, C-level folks in boardrooms from New York City to Los Angeles daily debate strategies to achieve reductions in capital requirements and operating costs in anticipation of this national, if not global, easing of commerce. One would like to believe, reducing their carbon footprints would also be on the agenda, but based upon efforts to date, I’m doubtful. Color me skeptic. But what may seem as, diverging goals, are not necessarily so. With our very existence at stake, Americans must reshuffle priorities for drastic reductions in carbon emissions or our ailing planet will force-feed us in a horrifying, mad rushed sort of way. Think French and Bolshevik Revolutions, except environmental catastrophic events will be global and in greater degrees than modern civilization has ever imagined. Apocalyptic. Think I’m a drama queen? Get real. It’s happening all around us. Our ground and surface waters, soils, oceans, skies, our Earth’s natural systems teeter on the verge of collapse under our calloused, heavy-handedness. Does anyone think we can exist independently of our planet’s ecosystems?

The way I see it, each of us have two options. We can be part of the problem or part of the solution. If you want to ignore me, pretend I’m just another left-wing, radical tree-hugger peeing on your parade, go ahead. But don’t think for a minute your children and grandchildren won’t have this sickening gut feeling when they realize their predicament and know you never even lifted a finger in protest. Much to my few conservative friends’ chagrin, I’ve always had an opposition to authority, never much caring for society and government’s top-down approach at control. But Biblical-like chaos and destruction on a global scale is definitely not my cup of tea, either. I’d much rather humanity start paying forward for solutions to the damages we’ve wrought upon our planet while there is still time to salvage the civilization built over the last five-thousand years than see us huddling in fear for our lives, struggling to merely survive. And the truly remarkable thing about this whole situation, is that most scientists believe there is still time. We’re not too late–yet. What’s more, the solutions are as simple as each of us making small willful efforts to reduce our carbon footprints while demanding key determiners of our global economies forge ecologically sustainable business models. I’m not pretending to know how to accomplish the latter; perhaps you do. But whether it will be accomplished by a global firestorm of civil unrest ignited by some unforeseen, unlikely spark or via a centrally planned process, this survival-driven engine of change will transform Americans’ lifestyles. The rest of the world has already embarked upon this transportation shift and it’s coming here, soon, whether we like it or not.

So now is the time to adopt clean-fuel modes of mobility. Tomorrow may be too late, not for you and me, but quite possibly for our children, and certainly, our grandchildren. Their future prospects will be precarious at best, more likely, bleak. Currently, the American economy remains afloat a bubble of false prosperity created by more than a trillion dollars of the Fed’s hot air huffed and puffed into the pockets of friends and family-like cohorts, buying up America with free money, no interest-charges included. The 1%ers are riding high, living large with gas-guzzling SUVs and luxury sedans, private jets, mansions and money to burn. But no matter how intoxicating this euphoria may become, highs don’t exist forever and this self-induced fantasy will inevitably rain down upon us all buckets of gloom and despair. And as the rest of the world checks us while we crash and burn, the challenge of securing the daily necessities for survival: affordable housing, food and clothing, will quietly usher the common man to a modest seat at the Chinese-made, throw-away table of basic existence. At that point, we will have no options. Our government’s means to invest in our future will have evaporated into double-digit inflation and millions of Americans will suffer and perish from hunger, disease and exposure to the elements. But if we act NOW and start making the tough decisions, there is hope.

IF each of us do our part, while demanding our nation’s leaders do theirs, taking individual steps, which when made together, united in war against mankind’s most formidable enemy, ourselves, we will make a difference. You may ask, “What can I do?” Let me tell you. Owning a car is a great expense. This is not unknown by those surviving in the bottom half of our nation’s economy, making typical $4253 monthly car payments, $1504 insurance, $175 fuel bill, plus any maintenance expenses. That’s minimally, $750 each month going for basic transportation. With the rising costs of food and housing, this traditional 25% household budget formula for getting from one location to another is unsustainable for the average American at or below the $44K median income.

Aside from earning a raise in salary, which we most often have little control over, there are several possible solutions to the problem.

  • Telecommute
  • Rideshare
  • Public transportation
  • Relocation
  • Change employers, if not careers
  • Start a home-based business

These are all possible solutions and each of them must be explored, but many people are locked into jobs and situations without the likelihood of any of them. It has become increasingly clear the practical choice for many median-income Americans will be to shift to less-expensive, smaller, lighter-weight transports. And from a practical standpoint, I ask, why move 1.5+ tons of metallic and synthetic encapsulation around the planet with us everywhere we go? Of course, a hundred years ago, things were different. And even today, legitimate needs for such luxuries arise from time to time, but there are far more cost-effective solutions than traditional vehicle ownership, and for everyday life, moving about with 250 lbs. is much more planet-friendly and a wiser use of ever-decreasing disposable household dollars.

Arguably, with recent technological advances, internal combustion engine (ICE) emissions are not as harmful to the environment as those manufactured as little as a decade ago. Studies reveal the carbon footprint from older coal-burning electrical generation plants, transmission losses and current battery lifecycle costs are not so much lower than second-generation, ethanol-burning EcoBoost engines. To make matters worse, traditional ICE cars and trucks’ electric counterparts are essentially unaffordable and/or impractical for much of the population, anyway. Until scales of volume, driven by innovative manufacturing technologies, lower the cost of entry and expand ranges, sales of mass-market, zero-emission vehicles will be a non-factor for years, if not decades, to come. Meanwhile, the planet’s oceans are rapidly becoming acidified as methane bubbles up from their depths; polar ice caps are melting as methane explodes from beneath the permafrost, and an increasing number of plants and animals are endangered and becoming extinct. Ultimately, there will be a tipping point.

So what to do? Quite simply, the human race is on. But what if the starter gun’s crack over a hushed audience, breaths held deeply, awaiting, hoping for the sudden surge forward and nothing happens? Maybe a few under-financed entrepreneurs step boldly forward, crossing the starting line with visions of great wealth and fame as well-heeled sophisticates loiter, shoving a few token contenders into the mix, spurred on by troubling government mandates. Shackled by fear, a lack of faith in an unseen finish line with unknown rewards for the victors, the masters of our future send forth their proxies ill-prepared, not knowing whether to run or sit, or even in which direction to go. Mission accomplished, smug with their half-hearted efforts, the beautiful people appease the crowds with their smiles and nods before returning to more important matters, drinks and polite conversation.

In this true tale of haves and have-nots, Big Business has so much invested in the status quo, no C-level executive in his right mind would risk his company and personal fortune to shift America’s social paradigm away from his bottom line. In America, our cars and trucks define us. With BMW, Mercedes Benz, Infiniti, Lexus, Cadillac, Audi, Porsche and a long list of other companies offering products to surround our egos in plush personal spaces as we sport about, where is the consumer’s motivation to go green? It’s certainly not the thought of being humanly vulnerable on a 250 lb. electric motor scooter running alongside two-ton projectiles, vying for the right to exist, much less astride a 50 lb. electric pedal-assist bicycle with the risk of under-arm embarrassment. I suspect with even the trillion-dollar Quantitative Easing, there’s not enough cash in this country for Madison Avenue’s best to coax the 1%ers out of their sexy, sleek mobile toys and onto the seats of electric scooters, motorcycles and bicycles.

So again, I ask you, where does this leave us? You and me. That’s who I’m talking to. And though I know I’m really talking to myself because you’re probably not listening, it makes me feel better to pretend. Anyway, something has to start the sustainable transportation movement. Ironically, I suspect it will be the quiet sounds of pragmatism leading us to a more sustainable and publicly accepted personal transport paradigm. In 1910, there were over 1,800 different automobile manufacturers in this country. Today, including the Big Three, there are approximately 30. The previous century of consolidation has served our nation well in reducing transportation costs and improving quality, but with the advent of widely available, inexpensive electrical motors and improving battery densities, the transportation landscape is once again shifting and I’m expecting a cottage-industry of electric transportation manufacturers to enjoy a renaissance of the likes we drastically need.

But it will never happen without us—you and me, again. It’s up to us. So please don’t resist the trend. Go with it. Own it. As Europeans, Asians and South Americans embrace this inevitable shift away from traditional modes of transportation, Americans must couragously step into our future alongside them with confidence. We can’t wait for the media or their annointed role-models to make it cool. That won’t happen unless they’ve already done an end-around and are waiting for us with open arms. And with their money invested behind us, there’s not much chance of them leading. It is the common folks, driven by practicality and personal responsibility, who will have satisfying everyday experiences with these new forms of transportation at work or play that will pave the way, set the trends and steer humanity’s course to survival.

Finally, as a disclaimer to my critics, who most undoubtedly will be most vocal, pointing out the flaws and foibles of my short essay, I concede this topic to be complex and multi-faceted. There are far too many ways to conserve energy, reduce pollution and save our planet for me to attempt to address them in this narrowly defined conversation on transportation, but at least, I have taken the time and made the effort to enter the conversation. And one more thing, I assure those choosing to bravely journey into the unknown atop a quiet, purring electric motor-driven transport while leaving your 2-ton status symbol in the drive, you will smile all the while, connecting with the world around you in a way you’ve never done before. Earth-friendly transportation doesn’t hurt. Girl Scouts Honor. Quite frankly, conserving our planet’s limited resources for future generations is both an enlightening and personally empowering experience. You might even have a conversation with a neighbor. Heaven forbid.

  1. Records date back to 1910. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005067.html
  2. http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/federal-taxes-households.cfm
  3. http://www.answers.com/Q/Average_car_payment_per_month
  4. http://www.answers.com/Q/Average_cost_of_car_insurance

New Zealand Study Reveals Bike Lanes Make Good Investments

Of course, some of us didn’t need a study to come to that conclusion. Fresh air, exercise and sunshine have seldom caused unhealthy reactions among their practitioners. But naturally, elected folks spending public dollars require due diligence and I can appreciate that. But now the jury is in. Case in point, the recent New Zealand study cited in Co.Exist.com. The popular ezine reports,

The Cities That Spend The Most On Bike Lanes Later Reap The Most Reward

Investing in a network of fully separated bike lanes could save cities huge sums in the long-term. But too little investment in wimpy infrastructure could actually decrease enthusiasm for cycling.

For every dollar spent to build new separated bike lanes, cities could save as much as $24 thanks to lower health care costs and less pollution and traffic, according to a new studyfrom researchers in New Zealand.

“At the moment in most car-dominated cities, it’s easy to justify spending transport money on new roads as a response to increasing car use, despite the negative impacts this has on the environment and people’s health now and in the future,” says lead authorAlexandra Macmillan. “We wanted to explore some policy choices that were realistic, affordable, transformative and healthy.”

While there’s already research backing up the facts that biking makes us happier, more energetic, better able to concentrate, less fat, and generally healthier–and that bike lanes make more people ride, and even boost local business–this study may be the first to look at how different types of bike infrastructure investments pay cities back later.

The researchers looked at Auckland, New Zealand, which is currently not a particularly bike-friendly place, and used computer simulations to model different scenarios for new bike-related investments, including regular bike lanes, lanes shared with buses, and fully separated lanes.

They found huge differences: If the city built a network of separated lanes and slowed down traffic speeds, it could increase cycling by 40% by 2040, but adding a few lanes in a few places might only increase bike traffic by 5%. The more people ride, the more the cost savings would add up for Auckland–the biggest factor being a reduction in health care costs. A smaller investment would have little impact at all; the city is so bike-unfriendly that major changes are needed.

In cities dominated by cars, a small increase in cycling tends to lead to more biking injuries and deaths, making other people more afraid to ride. The way to overcome that problem, the researchers found, is to make a bigger commitment to better bike lanes.

“We found that significant infrastructure investment is needed to overcome this dampening effect of fears about cycling safety; that high quality changes to main roads and local streets are the best place to start for cities with low cycling and high car use; and that these investments can have benefits an order of magnitude greater than the costs if you get them right,” says MacMillan.

Though the study focused on Auckland, the researchers think that the general principles would apply to other cities where cars rule the road. “Auckland is very similar in design and transport patterns to many US cities, so we expect our findings to be relevant to the US,” MacMillan explains. The exact savings would be different; the study wasn’t trying to predict exact numbers, but show how different scenarios compare to each other.

The study is already beginning to influence policymakers in Auckland, and the researchers hope that it will continue to make a difference. “The tide is turning, I believe, in New Zealand and in many other countries that have neglected the bicycle in the last two decades,” says Alastair Woodward, a co-author of the study.

“It makes sense in so many ways to bring back the bike, and this is happening. But only slowly. We hope our study, and others like it, will strengthen the arm of policymakers who are trying to shift the status quo.”

 

The original article is here.

In Lak'ech Ala K'in

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 579 other followers

%d bloggers like this: