2008-11-01 / News

There's no free lunch!

Once again, Ohio is one of a handful of states that will likely determine the outcome of our presidential election. Our beat is the Buckeye Lake area, but, like four years ago, the stakes are too high to ignore this election. Four years ago the critical issue was domestic security. Now it is our economic security.

We've been hearing a lot about "change." Sen. Barack Obama is promising to "bring about real change…" But "change," in and of itself, isn't necessarily beneficial. For example, Fidel Castro promised "change." That "change" impoverished millions of Cubans and made them prisoners in their own country.

Obviously, the key question is what kind of change is Obama promising. A review of his campaign website and his major speeches paints a picture of an impossible utopia where we all have good jobs, college degrees, great health care paid by someone else and on and on. The old adage - "there is no free lunch" - still applies, no matter how beautiful Obama paints "change."

So what kind of "change" can we realistically expect from Obama. That's not an easy question to answer, given his very limited legislative record and his 129 "present" rather than "yes" or "no" votes in the Illinois legislature. "Who is and what does he really believe?" are still very valid questions less than a week before the election. Clues can come from those closest to him.

A key issue nationally and particularly for Ohioans is economic development, which can be simply stated as MORE JOBS. Economic activity and jobs create the wealth to support your family, pay for health care, buy a home, educate your children and pay taxes. Politicians, like doctors, need to follow a key premise of the Hippocratic Oath which is "to do no harm." Unfortunately, Obama's "New Energy for America" will do just that, particularly to Ohioans.

Just as the scientific evidence mounts that so called "global warming" is part of a cyclical pattern that has been occurring long before industrialization, Obama wants to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The first step, according to Jason Grumet, a key Obama policy aide, is to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to classify carbon as a dangerous pollutant early next year. That would allow EPA to regulate carbon emissions under existing law, eliminating the need for any messy votes in Congress. US EPA provided a glimpse of those regulations this summer with a plan that took detailed carbon regulations down to the level of "lawn and garden equipment." So if you liked $4.50 per gallon gas for a few weeks this summer, you will absolutely love EPA's carbon reduction requirements. That $4.50 per gallon gas will look like a real bargain!

Obama's proposed cap and trade program will tax coal out of existence if EPA's carbon rules don't eliminate it first. Most of Ohio's electricity is generated from coal. According to the Energy Information Administration, Ohio's electricity prices in 2006 (most recent available) were 15 percent below the national average. If we want to see what electricity costs when we can't burn coal, we can look to Massachusetts (100% higher) or Connecticut (92% higher). Actually, the cost to switch away from coal will be much higher, since the price of all fuels will be increasing and Ohioans will also have to pay for new generating plants.

Some readers might be surprised that nearly one million Ohioans (18 percent of those employed) still work in what the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services classifies as "goods-producing industries" which includes manufacturing, construction and mining. A good chunk of the 82 percent working in "serviceproviding industries," which includes transportation, wholesale and retail trade and food service are dependent on those "goods-producing industries."

The deadly combination of significantly higher energy costs (fuels and electricity) from cap and trade programs and outright prohibitions due to carbon regulation will drive most of our remaining "goods producing" jobs right out of the country. Most will end up in China or India, who wisely refuse to destroy their economies by arrogantly believing they can affect long-term cyclical weather patterns caused by the sun that's some 92 million miles away. Ohio could easily lose 20-30 percent of its current jobs thanks to "New Energy for America."

Obama promises to create five million new "green" jobs. Even if that were possible, that is a national pledge and Ohio's share would be a fraction of what was chased away. Unless your idea of a "green" job is sorting recyclables from trash in a material recovery facility, there won't be anywhere near five million new jobs making windmills, solar cells and panels, bio fuels, electric cars and so on. For example, one of the largest solar module providers in the world is Suntech which is a Chinese company.

If your idea of change is a return to high gas prices, sky-high heating bills every winter, doubling to tripling your electric bill, having EPA regulate your lawn mower and watching your property values plummet while 20-30 percent of your fellow Ohioans lose their jobs, then vote for "change" on Tuesday.

If you think someone else can pay for all this - the five percent who Obama claims will be the only ones getting their taxes increased, while 95 percent will get a cut - think again. IRS data for 2006 (latest available) shows that the top 5 percent earners filed 6,785,958 returns, paying $617 billion in income taxes which represents 60.14 percent of all income taxes collected. Total income for the top 5 percent was $2.97 trillion. So even if we took every dime from this group, it wouldn't even cover CURRENT federal government expenses for one year, much less all the billions more Obama wants to spend for our new utopia. Of course, confiscating the income of the top 5 percent earners can only happen once.

Another old adage applies here - "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." This country isn't perfect - never has and never will be. We have real problems affecting real people. Unfortunately, there is no magic "change" wand that will make everything right, nor huge cash hoards that we can take away from greedy corporations and the rich to pay for everything. If our country is to continue to prosper, it will be done the same way it's always been done - through freedom, hard work, ingenuity, individual responsibility, respect for property rights and rewards for taking risk. There are no short cuts, nor magic "change" wands. Don't be fooled with promises that can't be kept.

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