Sunday, August 24, 2008

Change Idea #18 - Sugar

I like soda pop and Knots Berry Farm strawberry preserves.

It has been suggested and somewhat proven that High Fructose Corn Syrup is bad for you. If you look at the foods that should have sugar in them it has been replaced by HFCS. Soda pop and my favorite preserves are an example.


Because there is a law that protects the farmers of sugar beets in the US. We do not want them to suffer because sugar prices are so low in the rest of the world. Another reason is that Cuba makes sugar and we definitely do not want to support Castro?

Chicago used to be the candy capital of the US. No longer. Candy is now made in another country because sugar is so expensive in the US.

I doubt that America’s sweet tooth will abate anytime soon. The time for sugar subsidies needs to end. The time for sweetened products to have sugar in them needs to return.

This would be a change that would help America’s health.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Change #17 - Sunset Laws

Sunset laws, many of us have heard of them but not many of us know about them.

They are not enacted because it would cause our politicians to have to do work.

If anyone is paying attention our federal lawmakers put in less days of work than they have ever put in.

A sunset law would mean that Social Security would come up for reauthorization every 15 or 20 years depending on how long you want the sunset to be. I don't want Social Security not to be reenacted. But I am a firm believer that even the best program can be made better. With Social Security being such a political cow that can never be touched, a sunset law would mean that it would have to be touched. Improvements would have to be made. We know now that funding is coming up short and that would have to be addressed. Since it has been a Republican position that we should not have social programs like Social Security, then they would have a chance to end it as we know it and put in something better or have nothing. A change could be made, depending on your view it could be better or worse.

Every funding bill would have to get reauthorized. Every government official would have his job scrutinized every 15 years. Just like in business or as I call it “the real world” management would be expected to perform to certain standards. If they do not then the program that they are administering would be ended and their jobs ended with the program.

Sounds like a change that may cause some problems but long term could produce a better government that represents the will of the public.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Change #16 - Better utilization of land

I live in the Illinois .

When we have gone on vacation out west I have noticed that the median strips are used for growing grass and appear to be harvested by the local farmers.

I realize that growing grass in cities is impractical, but out on the highways it is not. In Illinois and eastern states I have not noticed the practice of growing and cutting “hay” on the highways.

If it was done it would save the taxpayers money. Eliminate politically connected jobs to have someone cut the grass on a regular basis, and cut down on fuel costs to cut the grass. I am sure that the farmers would only cut the grass when it was ready to be cut, and not on a schedule for purely aesthetic reasons. With ethanol becoming more prevalent, grow corn on the median strips. I don't need to see what is on the road coming the other direction. That might even stop the gawkers from slowing down every time anything happens in the oncoming lanes.

At some point in the future every inch of land that can have something grown on it will be utilized. By changing now we get ahead of the curve.

Change #15 - Turn off those lights!

Space photos of Earth at nightPickens Plan is to replace the natural gas we use to generate electricity with wind power. We can then use the clean burning natural gas to power our cars. That would reduce our oil usage and importation.

The one sentence of the plan that caught my eye is that Mr. Pickens is building a wind farm that could replace 4 power plants.

Yet if we replace our refrigerators with new ones we could have 35 power plants idle.

I like his plan because it can be part of a plan to reduce our oil dependency.

I have another change that would accomplish some of what Mr. Pickens wants and could be accomplished immediately.

I will start with a question.

Does anyone really need to know where stores are in the middle of the night?

Is anyone going to Radio Shack at 3am? Then why is the Radio Shack sign on?

Why are all the mall parking lot lights on in the middle of the night? There are no cars parked.

Conservation was what was hoped for in the seventies when lights had to be turned off. Now we have conservatives telling us that they can spend their money on what they want and there should not be any rules on what they do. They call it a free market. I think they miss the point. By not having enough energy for all they make the commodity scarce and the price higher for everyone. Their selfishness hurts all of us.

Lets start to look at the changes that I have so far proposed.

I use natural gas to heat my home. By insulating I reduce that amount of natural gas used. That amount could be used to fuel a car. I would save on my electricity bill in the summer by reducing the A/C that I would need to keep the home cool.

I have bought new refrigerators and have reduced my electrical consumption.

I have slowed down and increased my gas mileage.

New electronic toys are no longer “instant on” and takes some getting used to, instant gratification has to wait.

New proper sized furnaces would save another 20% of my natural gas usage.

Having solar cells could double our electricity and could be mounted on everyone’s home.

The technology is here. The commitment to achieve energy independence is not. The

Pickens plan can be a change that we could embrace, but there are other easy or low hanging fruit that could be harvested at the same time that would give us the same results faster.

I am still waiting for my one seater electric car that will average 100mpg.

Change #14 - Energy-efficient appliances

When you listen to news shows and other things on the radio or TV at times a single sentence you hear that is out of the ordinary.

I have heard that if we figure inflation the same way as under Jimmy Carter then inflation is at 10-11%. That is why things are so expensive. Information that explains high food bills and explains other economic problems.

I heard something else that would affect our daily lives and help us with our energy needs. I heard that if everyone in the US bought a new energy efficient Refrigerator that the energy saved would be equal to 35 power plants.

I do not know if these power plants would be equal to a nuclear power plant, but if they are then we could save 35% of the new nuclear power plants that has been proposed by John McCain, without the environmental hazards of nuclear power.

Something as simple as getting a new refrigerator can lead us to energy independence.

The easiest way to get new power is to use the power that you have more wisely. In other words CONSERVE.

What a change that would be.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

change #13 - Road construction

Road construction. . .

we have all sat in the traffic caused by road construction. What is exasperating is that the same roads get rebuilt every 5-10 years. Why don't roads last longer? Is it the cost or do we plan obsolescence. Is this a political ploy to keep construction workers busy?

With all the roads and bridges that need repair would it not be best to not have to repair the same roads over and over? Our new I 355 extension here in Illinois is one of the worst new roads I have ever driven on. There are so many bumps and dips, it should be repaved right now.
Are there no standards? No quality control? Or does the state merely hope that a new road is built correctly?

Being around Chicago it is a possibility that someone made some money under the table to not look properly at the roads. The road construction company could be politically connected.
What needs to change is that the construction company guarantees that the road will last and will at its cost make any and all repairs if need be. If they try to declare bankruptcy, then people go to jail. Mandatory sentencing just as if they were drug dealers.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Change idea #12 - LED bulbs

At the moment, CFL’s are all the rage.

Compact fluorescent lights save energy because they put out 4 times the light as an incandescent bulb for the same amount of energy. The cost is finally coming down on CFL’s for the electricity savings.

I think that we should bypass this intermediary step. We should go direct to LED bulbs. You know those hockey puck-type lights they sell for under the cabinets, etc. They are also used on battery operated trouble lights. Manufacturers use LED’s because they give off a lot of light and can be run off of batteries. LED’s use a little bit of power.

Before the advent of computers and other electronic devices that are on all the time, lighting for the home was a big part of a homeowner's electricity cost. LED’s would greatly reduce that cost.

If we are to make a change in type of bulbs then lets make a big change.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Change idea #11- More nuclear power plants

Here is a change idea from John McCain.

John McCain has proposed that we should build 45 new nuclear power plants now and up to 100 new plants total.

McCain’s reasoning is that nuclear power would give us a clean source of energy. No emissions.

We should applaud McCain on the realization that we need more power and that cars of the future will be powered by electricity. His use of nuclear power will have zero carbon emissions. From my readings France has already gone the route of having nuclear power be their main source of energy. So the idea is feasible.

However, I have reservations about nuclear energy:

1) The cost to decommission a nuclear power plant is prohibitive. So far that cost has not been in any electric bill. When the cost of electricity doubles because of those costs, people will want to hang the regulators that did not allow those costs to be spread over the life of the plant. And/or the politician that put us on the course of nuclear power.

2) America still has no plan to dispose of nuclear waste.

3) Our nuclear power plants are not well protected now from terrorists, why would having 100 more be safer?

4) Companies are always trying to cut costs. This is not a plan that can fall into that mentality. My electricity company has been fined for not doing what they were supposed to do regarding training and maintenance.

If you all have ideas for change of your own, please post them.

Change idea #10 - hydrogen/electric small cars

Hydrogen cars are one option.
Here is how I have heard hydrogen cars work.
Hydrogen burns, creates energy that runs an electric motor that runs the car. Waste product is H2O. So what you have is an electric car with a different power source. It takes more energy (electricity) to break the bonds of H2O to get Hydrogen, than you get back when you make H2O. So having a hydrogen-powered car costs more energy than running an oil car. If we had 7 times the electricity that we have now then going to a hydrogen-based fuel makes sense (like having solar panels on every home).

But what is first needed is a credible electric car.
I would like to see a one-person electric car that can go 200 miles per charge. 200 miles because I live up north and batteries lose ½ their charge when it gets cold. Since I live 32 miles from work I would like to have a cushion of a few extra miles.

Cut the Smart Car in half and we have a car that is super efficient. I take myself with a lunch with me to work. Why do I need the extra space? Why does anyone need the extra space? Equivalent MPG would be near 100mpg. And I have read that the cost to charge the car would be $.50. You would have smaller car, that has less weight, shuts off at stop lights, is aerodynamic, and would be a perfect commuter car.

I must be still asleep, because this sounds like a dream because it makes to much sense.

Change idea #9 - Eliminate high school

High School is for sports, drivers Ed, and chasing girls.

Biology, Chemistry and Physics are College courses.

When you enter your first College English course the instructor tells you to forget everything that you learned in HS because it is wrong.

Every Mathematics course above Geometry is a College level course.

Accounting in a College course.

Foreign language studies are College courses.

The government requirement in High School can be met by taking similar courses in College.

Physical Education HS courses are a waste of time.

Study Hall in HS is a waste of time.

Lunch time in HS is a waste of time.

Dealing with unreasonable rules and teachers is what you learn in HS. Get a job and learn the same thing. Join the military and learn how to deal with unreasonable rules and superiors.

I just read that education is what will turn our economy around. Eliminate four years of useless education, provide for free State college tuition and the education level of Americans will rise.

(My three kids skipped high school and did as well those who went to high school, or better. Received their Associates Degrees while those of their same age were receiving high school diplomas. There are ways around the system.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Change idea #8 - More available drinking water

I live near Lake Michigan . We have Lake Michigan water to drink. This are probably has one of the drinking water on this planet.

Others in this country do not have enough water. Areas of this country are losing their aquifer because we are growing vegetables in the desert. At some time this source of water will dry up. What are we to do?

With as I have proposed, 7 times the electricity that we have now we could have desalination plants that could provide as much water as needed, where it is needed.

Solutions to many problems come from having the right resources to do what needs to be done. Changing our way of getting energy could provide many opportunities for economic growth that other countries could not match.

I do not believe that John McCain's $300 million dollar prize to make a new battery is an incentive at all, but by proposing a reward, that idea has been brought to the forefront of discussion. With discussion can come ideas, with ideas can come plans, with plans can come solutions. Our country needs to start solving problems, not putting up roadblocks to gain political points.

Change idea #7 - Line dry clothes

Simple ideas are the easiest.

Many municipalities will not allow residents to dry their clothes outside. Like mine.

Change the laws to allow this so that gas or electricity can be saved drying clothes.

Simple change, big returns.