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Government intervention into our lives

Published November 05. 2011 09:01AM

The government continues to intrude into our daily lives in a myriad of ways. For example, they want to reduce the amount of power we use and make us pay dearly for it. The recent escalation of smart meter implementation enables the government to control the amount of power we use and to spy on our activities. Using the data from smart meters they will know when we are home, when we are out, when we are sleeping and when we are doing laundry. The objective of the smart meter is to reduce consumption by enabling utility customers to monitor and voluntarily reduce their use of electricity. If it does not reduce electricity by the amount the government wishes, then the power company will be empowered to turn off devices in our houses. For instance, if I run my air conditioner in August, which I need for health reasons, the utility can shut it off.

To add insult to injury, the government has forced utilities to charge a smart meter fee to pay the cost for swapping out the old meter and replacing it with a new smart meter. Many of us have paid this fee for over a year but may not have noticed it on our bill. The smart meter fee (approximately $2 a month) is clustered at the bottom of the invoice with other taxes and surcharges. With over 5 1/2 million households in Pennsylvania, this seemingly minor charge amounts to approximately $11 million per month. In addition, in areas where smart meters have been installed, the utilities often charge more for using power during the day and early evening.

In a related example, the Environmental Protection Agency wants to eliminate coal power plants. Pennsylvania has an abundance of inexpensive coal. It has been used for generations to provide reasonably priced electrical power. The power companies have installed scrubbers to remove the pollutants from coal-fired power plant emissions. Not only is coal cheap, but with the use of scrubbers, it is also very clean. In this country, we have a 200-year supply of coal. Despite this, the Energy Department and the EPA want to encourage the use of nuclear power. They contend that it is cheaper, cleaner and safer. I suppose they never heard of Fukushima and the meltdown that happened in March of this year. Today, uncontrolled nuclear fission continues to be a problem at the disaster site. (

Chernobyl, which melted down in 1986, continues to burn. Workers are still building a sarcophagus over the radioactive furnace in an attempt to control the release of radioactive gas. A 30-kilometer radius from the plant is uninhabitable and will remain uninhabitable for the next 20,000 years. I have never heard of a coal-fired generatingplant causing an accident that makes the surrounding area inhabitable for2,000 decades! ( time/health/article/0,8599,2067562,00.html). We have had several nuclear accidents here in United States including Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

I haven't heard our politicians complaining about oil-fired plants. Oil is far more expensive than coal and is also a pollutant. In addition to the gases produced through combustion, we also have the risk of oil spills damaging the environment? The EPA does not appear to be pushing for converting oil-fired plants to natural gas, which burns cleaner and is plentiful in Pennsylvania. Could it be that our government is in the business of making Middle Eastern oil sheiks rich? In my opinion, our government is under the mistaken belief that we can avoid conflict in the Middle East by buying off the Muslim nations in the Arabian Gulf.

The government must get out of the power business. Let market forces prevail! As I drive around Pennsylvania, I see new solar panels and even a few windmills. Green energy can help produce the electricity we need, but it is unlikely that it will ever be the primary source of electricity. Coal and natural gas will remain the main source of safe energy in Pennsylvania. Government efforts to shut down plants and monitor how and when we use electricity in our own homes must stop. Let your elected representatives know your position on this so that they won't lead us down the path to a major nuclear disaster.

In another example of government infringement in our personal lives, two Democrats (Harkin and DeFazio) are introducing a bill to implement a financial transaction tax. This tax will raise hundreds of billions of dollars in new money each year. The European Union passed a similar tax that will go into effect in 2014 and is pressuring our government to implement it as well. By not passing this tax, not only do we make it less expensive for Americans to invest in their future but we will be able to profit from the increased volume as the European transactions are processed here in America.

Here's an idea! Instead of inventing new ways to gouge the American people through excessive taxation, simply balance the budget. In addition, it is time to stop fighting wars where there is no American interest. This year, we will spend $1 trillion fighting to protect the poppy fields of Afghanistan, the oil fields of the Middle East, and overthrow the governments of Libya and Central Africa. To save even more money, close our overseas bases. There is no need for our troops to be stationed in over 150 countries.

Another suggestion is to cut the size of government rather than cutting entitlements for the needy. Our target should be a 40 percent reduction in the number of federal employees. This can be accomplished over the next decade or so through attrition as employees retire. As the size of the government shrinks, the surplus buildings and land can be sold. The proceeds from these sales can go to the Treasury for debt reduction.

In summary, the government needs to stop placing burdens on us whether through smart meters, financial transaction taxes or mandating power plant conversions. Instead, the government should be run more like a business. Downsize surplus staff and sell unneeded facilities. The financial world knows that the United States is overwhelmed in debt that could lead to a financial disaster. They will move their investments to countries with fewer regulations and greater potential for profit. Our jobs will migrate to countries where the smart money is invested. We can no longer stand on the sidelines. We must take action to prevent an economic disaster and increased unemployment.

© 2011 Gordon Smith - All Rights Reserved

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