Monday, November 09, 2009


CALL IT GREENING RUN AMOK. Or, more forgivingly let's call it poor planning combined with petty penny pinching by a large greedy corporation with another bright idea that feels more like a swindle to consumers.

FirstEnergy, an Ohio utility, sent two $3.50 energy-saving compact florescent light-bulbs (CFLs) to customers, and then charged them $21 for the bulbs—whether they wanted them or not. According to news reports, the remaining $14 was to pay the utility back for the electricity customers would not be using because they had the new bulbs. But if customers don’t use the bulbs, or if they already have their own, they still have to pay the fee.

The scam program, which was set to begin October 12 but has been “postponed,” was FirstEnergy’s response to the state’s new energy law, which requires investor-owned electric utilities to reduce consumption by 22.2 percent by 2025. The bulb distribution was supposed to help FirstEnergy’s customers meet the new requirements.

FirstEnergy, which was a little startled by the outcry, pointed out that customers would save $60 over the life of the bulb. It was unclear if this figure was before or after the $21 fee. This isn’t the first such maneuver by a utility: about two years ago, Allegheny Power sent energy-efficient bulbs to its 220,000 Maryland customers without letting them know they would be footing the bill.

Bulb brohahas may become more frequent, as states require utilities to reduce consumption and/or use more renewable energy sources, which are typically more expensive. Critics have argued that such sweeping initiatives will raise costs and/or lower profits for utilities, who will then turn to their customers to make up the difference—some more gracefully than others. But if demand is reduced, should utilities really be repaid for the lost profits? Or should reduced consumption be seen as merely the cost of doing business in a more energy-conscious country? The issue is akin to Saudi Arabia’s demand that it be repaid for lost revenues, should oil consumption drop. In this country it’s called decoupling, and it’s a hotly debated topic. We at the TFQ call it madness, pure and simple.

FirstEnergy, headquartered in Akron, OH, is the nation’s fifth largest investor-owned electric system with 4.5 million customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If the company sounds familiar, it might be because FirstEnergy was fingered in a massive East coast blackout in 2003. Failure by the company to adequately maintain transmission lines led to a cascade of outages that left millions without power for days.

These hidden fees are taxes by theft, and amount to grand larcency, and should be stopped! This is not capitalism, OR American pride, This is madness, greed gone pathological, pure and simple.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009


LET US ENGAGE IN A SIMPLE thought experiment (an adaptation):

A young man erupts in rampage, shooting over 100 rounds into a crowded reception center on a military base, killing over a dozen and wounding many more. Afterwards, it is learned that the shooter was a soldier himself, a fairly high ranking officer in fact. It is also discovered that he has long held Nazi sympathies, and has posted on Neo-Nazi websites. Journalists uncover evidence that he had been distributing Nazi leaflets and copies of "Mein Kampf" on the morning of the attack. When the press finally gets around to interviewing survivors of the incident, they confrim that the shooter shouted "Heil Hitler" as he opened fire.

Given this forensic data would there be any question about whether or not the shooter's actions were ideologically driven?

Would the reportage weave a narrative of his supposed victimization, or would it raise alarms at the presence of avowed Neo-Nazis in our miltary ranks?

Would we be warned "not to jump to conclusions" by our political leaders, or would we be told to fear the threat of an oncoming wave of similar attackers spawned by right-wing radio?

Would his neighbors and superiors have been more likely to report his rantings to the authorities?

More than the attack of one lone jihadi, the answers to the above questions are the bullets that truly scare me...

Aside from the fact that when Muslims kill in the name of their religion and the first thing Muslims en masse (plus those useful idiots like Geraldo Rivera) then do is worry what sort of blowback will happen to them, while going "postal" to my knowledge has never been done in the name of Jesus, Yahweh, etc. These secular tragedies are not motivated by religious sentiments as are killings committed by Muslims the world over in the name of Islam. It's apples and oranges here.

As I've often opined, when the day comes again that Presbyterians, Lutherans, Buddhists, Jews or just about any group of believers but Muslims start committing heinous crimes in the name of their religion, I'll rethink matters on the ground. Until then, I observe only one religion out there that inspires people to kill in its name. You know which one. I know which one. Even many of the PC folks out there on the nip tuck know but won't even admit it to themselves. Stupid world.

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