Archive for the 'Capitalism Against Capitalism' Category

Scoundrel CFL makers lobby against consumers

March 9, 2011

Light bulb makers, in the form of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, will be testifying against a repeal of the 2007 federal light bulb law on March 10 before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The trade group and its member firms have been making their lobbying rounds on Capitol Hill this week. According to the Clean Energy Report,

In arguing for keeping the standards, industry is citing the potential for any repeal to increase energy costs for consumers and undercut years of preparation by the industry for the new standards.

There is no evidence that these standards are anything but a giant consumer rip-off — i.e., we pay more for faulty and inferior bulbs under the false guises of saving the planet from global warming and energy efficiency.

Who wants to sponsor a “Boston light bulb party”?

Shell wants you to walk

March 2, 2011

At the annual Rentseekers Ball (aka the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics Conference), Royal Dutch Shell gave attendees room-warming gifts — pedometers, with a note that was headlined “Take the First Step.” If they want us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so much, why do they sell us gasoline?

Arizona Public Service proposes ratepayer rip-off

March 1, 2011

Arizona Public Service is proposing a rate package that includes “decoupling” — i.e.: Read the rest of this entry »

EPA-GE waiver story not over yet

February 4, 2011

Kudos to Tim Carney for exposing the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions waiver for the proposed Avenal (CA) power plant which intends to buy gas and steam turbines from General Electric. Read the rest of this entry »

Milloy, Cavuto discuss Obama’s Immelt pick

January 24, 2011

Obama and GE: New Industrial Superstructure

January 24, 2011

By Steve Milloy
January 21, 2011, Investor’s Business Daily

The choice of General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt to chair the new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness must be one of President Obama’s most ironic appointments.

The purpose of the council is to advise the president on “finding new ways to promote growth by investing in American business to encourage hiring, to educate and train our workers to compete globally, and to attract the best jobs and businesses to the United States.”

Of Immelt, Obama said: “Jeff Immelt’s experience at GE and his understanding of the vital role the private sector plays in creating jobs and making America competitive makes him up to the challenge of leading this new council.”

The White House further burnished Immelt’s credentials by adding in its media release that “Mr. Immelt has been named one of the world’s best CEOs three times by Barron’s, and since he began serving as chief executive officer, GE has been named America’s most admired company in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine and one of the world’s most respected companies in polls by Barron’s and the Financial Times.”

This praise should make us wonder if there is another Jeff Immelt leading another General Electric in some parallel universe .

When the Immelt-we-know took the reins of the GE-we-know from the legendary Jack Welch in the days before the Sept. 11 attacks, GE’s stock price was in the $40 range. More than nine years later, GE’s stock price is struggling to get back to the $20 level. And during the March 2009 depths of the financial crisis, GE’s stock dipped to below $7.

GE was in such bad shape at that time that it required a $139 billion bailout from taxpayers in the form of Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. backing of GE Capital debt. GE then cut its dividend 68%, from 32 cents per share to 10 cents per share.

Its dividend has since recovered to 12 cents per share, and shareholders may get a couple of more pennies per share in 2011, but GE’s financial performance under Immelt is anything but a success story.

Adding to the irony is the president’s notion that Immelt knows about creating jobs and increasing competitiveness.

Immelt actually eliminated 18,000 GE jobs in 2009, despite receiving untold millions in government stimulus and subsidies — like $60 million to build a “technology center” (office building?) in Michigan and $55 million to build a hybrid locomotive battery plant in New York.

As to competitiveness, consider the rather tawdry August 2009 e-mail solicitation of GE employees by GE’s political action committee (GEPAC), which read in part:

“The intersection between GE’s interests and government action is clearer than ever. GEPAC is an important tool that enables GE employees to collectively help support candidates who share the values and goals of GE. … We have made great strides toward convincing key lawmakers that GE Capital should remain a part of (GE). … On climate change, we were able to work closely with key authors of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill. . .. (It) would benefit many GE businesses. … GE is working relentlessly to ensure funding for F136 Engine, which is a critically important program for GE Aviation.”

One hundred years ago, Thomas Edison innovated to earn profit for GE.

Now Jeff Immelt lobbies for profit because there is no market for failed businesses, higher energy prices and duplicative military hardware.

That GE is so dependent on government largesse should raise the specter of Immelt’s obvious conflict of interest. Will he advise the president on what’s good for America or what’s good for GE?

The Obama-Immelt partnership is best envisioned as two drowning men clinging to each other in order to stay afloat. The failed CEO needs the president’s central planning policies and favor to keep his job. The struggling politician needs the mega-company CEO to camouflage and smooth over his anti-business beliefs and tendencies.

This symbiotic relationship may work out for Obama and Immelt as individuals, but we ought not hold our collective breath waiting for two men without track records of nonpersonal success to create jobs, increase our competitiveness or to fix what’s ailing our troubled economy.

Milloy publishes and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).

Obama picks loser CEO to head economic council

January 21, 2011

President Obama has picked General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt to head a new White House economic group called the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Here’s what Immelt has accomplished since taking the helm of GE in September 2001:

  • GE’s stock price was about $40 per share when Immelt took the reins at GE. Today it is about $18/share. The stock price went below $7/share in March 2009.
  • GE needed a $139 billion taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis (the FDIC backed GE Capital debt).
  • GE gave 18,000 employees the ax during 2008-2009.
  • GE’s dividend is 63.5% lower than it was two years ago.

Any way you measure GE’s performance under Immelt, he’s been a disaster. What will he do for our economy? We shudder to think.

GE was one of the founding members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership — a coalition of rent-seeking big businesses and radical environmental groups lobbying for cap-and-trade. I suppose we should be glad Immelt participated in that — it failed, too.

Delaware delays socialization of electric market

January 20, 2011

The Delaware Public Service Commission delayed Delmarva Power’s bid to decouple electricity sales from revenue pending greater “consumer education.”

Since 2006, Delmarva has been trying to work out a deal with regulators whereby its revenues would no longer depend on how much electricity it sells. The utility in effect would get to sell less electricity for higher prices, while consumers are forced into energy efficiency and smart meter schemes.

A Delmarva spokesman told Smart Grid Today that,

“We certainly understand the commission’s desire for additional customer education. The decoupling rate design is very complicated. We will hold workshops and put a plan together for how we’re going to get our customers up to speed.”

Decoupling should be rejected, however, because:

  • Pay more, get less. Consumers will wind up paying more for less electricity;
  • Rationing. Decoupling is the first stop on the pathway to electricity rationing; and
  • Anti-capitalist. Through government guaranteed revenues, decoupling undermines fundamental and traditional capitalist business practices and incentives.

You can also judge an idea by its advocates. Obama energy and environment czar Carol Browner, a former muckety-muck with Socialist International, promotes decoupling as means of forcing consumers to use less electricity.

USCAP to go into self-induced coma

January 7, 2011

The US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), the business-environmentalist lobby group that almost made cap-and-trade happen in the 111th Congress, is going dark at least temporarily.

Jonathan Lash of the USCAP member World Resources Institute told Carbon Control News that members,

“have agreed to keep USCAP in existence for the time being and reassess what is going to be possible.”

Apparently with cap-and-trade off the table and internal disagreement about whether to support or fight the EPA’s climate rules, USCAP members have reached an impasse as to what to do next.

So it’s lights out for USCAP for now.

USCAP members lobbied hard and successfully for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, but then saw disenchanted members fall away, including BP America, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, Deere & Co., Marsh & McClennan, Xerox.

Oddly (or perhaps not), USCAP’s lead lobbyist, Merribel Ayres is married to Dick Ayres, a longtime board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a radical environmental group that has long been a mortal enemy of most of the USCAP members. The NRDC was among the groups that sued the U.S. EPA to impose California’s emission standards on cars nationwide — a lawsuit that led directly to the EPA’s new and controversial greenhouse gas regulations.

USCAP is little more than a confederacy of dunces (the business members) and sharks (the green members). We look forward to the day when the plug is finally pulled.

In the meantime, let’s take a walk down memory lane and our campaign against USCAP. Do you remember:

  • the Carbon Criminal posters?
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer’s tirade against the posters?
  • Exelon CEO John Rowe receiving his “Carbon Bandit” bobblehead at a Senate hearing?

Exelon helps Obama attack coal — again!

December 8, 2010

Chicago-based utility Exelon is now funding efforts to help out the endangered Obama EPA in its jihad against the coal industry.

Last July, the EPA proposed its so-called “Clean Air Transport” rule to further regulate air emissions from coal-fired power plants. The EPA’s alleged concern is that the emissions travel interstate and reduce air quality (fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone) in 31 downwind states.

The rule was finalized in October and is scheduled to go into effect sometime in the spring — except that some coal-burning utilities are getting concerned about the timing of the rule and there is a new sheriff in D.C. (i.e., the GOP-controlled House with power over the EPA’s budget and the inclination to investigate the EPA).

The EPA estimates that the rule will provide anywhere from $120 billion to $290 billion in annual health and welfare benefits and avoid 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths annually. (It’s too bad that these estimates are entirely bogus, otherwise the EPA could solve our deficit problems almost singlehandedly. But that is a story for another day).

The transport rule, of course, is in addition to the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations that take effect on January 2, 2011 and the EPA’s January 2010 proposal to further ratchet-down the national air quality standards for ground-level ozone. This is a lot of expensive anti-coal regulation that places the EPA high on the new Congress’ “to do” list. So the Obama EPA has reason to be nervous.

Riding to the EPA’s assistance now is the Pacific Economics Group which just issued a report claiming that the EPA has actually underestimated the economic harm caused by interstate transport of coal plant emissions. According to the report:

Pollution from power plants that have failed to install pollution controls is causing nearly $6 billion in annual costs, because of higher labor expenses, lost work days, lost productivity, and higher insurance costs.

As a result of uncontrolled pollution in downwind regions, between 2005 and 2012:

  • Businesses will suffer over $47 billion in costs;
  • Over 360,000 jobs will be lost;
  • State and local governments will lose almost $9.3 billion in tax revenue; and
  • Families and businesses in polluted areas will pay $26.0 billion more for reformulated gasoline as a result of ongoing pollution.

Though the report was prepared on behalf of several no-name Pennsylvania-based “public interest” groups, it was funded by Exelon Corp., the operator of the largest fleet of nuclear power plants in the U.S. — the very same Exelon that is a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and that lobbied for cap-and-trade.

Exelon and its bobbleheaded CEO John Rowe had planned to make billions of dollars off cap-and-trade, bought John Deere’s wind operation for $860 million in August and hope to advance its nuclear power capabilities at the expense of the coal industry.

Exelon’s new report not only attempts to advance its anti-coal objectives by supposedly validating the EPA’s transport rule, but it also no doubt scores political points with the Obama administration for helping out the soon-to-be-embattled EPA. And then there is that Chicago connection… Oh and did I fail to mention that John Rowe is one of the signatories to a letter in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled, “We’re OK With the EPA’s New Air-Quality Regulations“. Rowe is a felony rentseeker.

This blog will soon begin a series exposing the junk science behind the EPA transport rule — which is perhaps even more appalling than EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases. Stay tuned!