Texas continues to lead the way in wind energy, but don’t tell anyone

Texas leads the way in wind energy, but for some reason this is not common knowledge, nor is broadcast. First, a few statistics from the US Energy Information Administration.

“Texas produces more electricity than any other state, generating nearly twice as much as second-place Florida. In 2021, Texas accounted for about 12% of the nation’s total electricity net generation.

The share of electricity generated from wind in Texas has shot up from zero to 24 percent between 2001 and 2023.

In 2021, Texas produced about 26% of all U.S. wind-powered electricity generation, leading the nation for the 16th year in a row. Wind power surpassed the state’s nuclear generation for the first time in 2014 and exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time in 2019.”

Just picking the numbers 24% and 26%, the oil rich state of Texas gets about 1/4 of its electricity from wind energy and it provides about 1/4 of the wind powered electricity in the country.

Why? Four main reasons.

1)Texas provided powerlines to rural areas starting back at the turn of the century to harness electricity from such sources to meet a renewable energy goal of 15%.

2)Texas wind energy developers pay an annual rent to ranchers and farmers to put wind mills on their property. The number I recall is $5,000 per annum per windmill. One ranchers said he gets $55,000 per year for his eleven windmills which is huge supplement to his income.

3)Per now-deceased oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, he said on “60 Minutes” about ten years ago that wind is the future of energy in the middle of America; natural gas is just buying us time. Iowa gets about 43% of its electricity from wind energy with several other states getting over 1/3 of theirs.

4)The production of wind energy has dropped in cost to be as cost-effective, if not moreso, than coal energy. Natural gas put the first nail in coal’s coffin, with wind and solar energy adding two more nails.

The reason I love this story is it surprises people. But, it also shows how an oil rich Texas planned ahead and now is seeing the dividends. It should be noted because of these four reasons, other utilities not based in Texas have wind farms in that state. Not only is wind renewable, it is not a zero-sum provider of electricity. My wind energy does not affect yours.


Playing chicken with the debt – letter to the editor

While we need to deal with our debt in a holistic fashion, playing chicken with the debt ceiling gives the illusion of good governance, but is rushed. For example, one of provisions of the Republican bill on the debt ceiling would increase the debt by $120 billion. From an article called “GOP’s cut to IRS funding in debt limit plan would backfire” by Brian Faler of Politico:

“Republicans’ proposal to rescind $71 billion in IRS funding pushed through by Democrats last year would cut projected tax receipts by $191 billion over the next decade, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates. The result: The government would find itself an additional $120 billion in the hole.”

This provision is designed to help aggressive taxpayers who benefit greatly from their efforts to mask income. So, it runs counter to the goal of reducing the debt while helping the wealthy.

Comments on US debt from Maya MacGuineas director of Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Note, this is a repeat post from January. It has increased in relevance since that time. From the desk of Maya MacGuineas of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. I will offer no additional comment as it speaks for itself.

“Today, the Treasury Department announced that it has begun engaging in a set of accounting tools known as “extraordinary measures” to avoid breaching the nation’s $31.38 trillion statutory debt limit. Those measures are expected to delay that breach until at least early June and possibly later.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Without qualification, the debt limit must be increased or suspended, and it should be done so as quickly as possible. Ideally, we would return to the practice of lifting the debt ceiling without relying on extraordinary measures – which have become all too ordinary – and refrain from making the increase anything close to a last-minute showdown.

The debt ceiling is too important to turn into a game of chicken, and default should never be suggested by those with a fiduciary responsibility to govern the nation. Politicians who are rightly worried about the nation’s unsustainable borrowing path should take a hard stance against new borrowing and oppose legislation that would add to the debt while offering specific solutions to control the debt already on the books, rather than threatening not to pay the bills on borrowing that has already been incurred.

The debt ceiling does offer the opportunity for all lawmakers to pause, assess the fiscal situation of the nation, and take action as necessary. And it is necessary. The debt as a share of GDP is at near record levels. We are on track to begin adding $2 trillion per year to the debt by the end of the decade. Interest payments are the fastest growing part of the budget and are projected to start costing $1 trillion annually in only a few years. The Social Security and Medicare Hospital Insurance trust funds are headed toward insolvency. And last year alone, Congress and the President passed bipartisan legislation that added nearly $2 trillion to the projected national debt. This is an urgent problem that is not getting the attention it needs.

An ideal solution would be for Congress to lift the debt ceiling as soon as possible and at the same time put in place measures to improve our fiscal trajectory. This could include specific policies or processes such as a fiscal commission.

Attaching fiscal reforms to the debt limit was common practice in the past when both policies and processes to improve fiscal responsibility were included as part of a deal. More recently, in a jaw-dropping act of fiscal irresponsibility, politicians in both parties pivoted to support debt ceiling increases along with legislation that made the debt worse. Under President Trump, the debt ceiling was lifted three times with bipartisan support and included legislation that added in total a stunning $2.1 trillion in new borrowing to the debt.

Congress should return to the past model of a debt ceiling increase, legislation to improve the fiscal situation, and a broad based understanding that the debt ceiling must be increased in a calm and timely manner. We must not threaten default. The cost is simply too high.“

Monday morning you sure look fine – May, 2023

With all due respect to Fleetwood Mac, let me once again borrow these lyrics this Monday in May. Typing Monday in May reminds me of another song lyric by Three Dog Night, “I’ve got pieces of April, but it’s a morning in May.”

Now that I have provided two ear worms in one paragraph, let me throw out a few thoughts:

– the US debt ceiling increase has once again become a game of playing chicken; my strong advice to all concerned – GET IT DONE. Then, spend the needed time with data and look at both tax increases and spending cuts as both will be needed. I am not sure what frustrates me most, the playing chicken with the debt or the callous disregard for a thoughtful exercise to address the problem. Republicans have shown they only care about the debt when not in power and Democrats need to think through some spending cuts that can be made, along with tax increases that the GOP abhors.

– the environmental concerns we have caused are becoming more apparent as the detection of forever chemicals are cropping up in more places. I have often cited Dr. Sandra Steingraber, who is a biologist, ecologist and bladder cancer survivor. We humans do not consider enough the role the environment plays on our health often focusing only on hereditary concerns. When we do focus on them, we tend to consider the impact on a 50 year old man, when we should be considering the impact on children who are closer to the ground, mouth breathe more, place hands in their mouth more and whose lungs and brain are not fully developed. The exposure and impact is simply greater for a child than an adult.

– speaking of children, we owe it to them to crank up the efforts of dealing with climate change in an all hands on deck manner. There are several examples of action in motion that should be accelerated with funding. We must stop putting as much carbon in the air and start taking carbon out of the air. We also need to deal with the increase in methane that is escaping from vented natural gas sites and through the arctic ice as it melts. There are natural carbon eaters such as mangroves along the shore, large forests, offshore kelp farms, etc. that can be nurtured. Plus, they are investing more in renewable energy sources that take advantage of the natural elements to a region be they solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, etc. Progress has been made, but a lot more is needed, now.

These are only a few key things we need to discuss. I am tired of politicians who flitter from various sensational issues and causing problems rather than solving them. If hurting our children by not dealing with toxins, destroying our planet or leaving them with our debts is not sensational enough, I don’t know what it is.

Let me close with an example. Living in North Carolina, I have been aware of the push on the Department of Defense for decades to effectively deal with the toxic water at Camp Lejeune that was killing US Marines and their families. The base families finally got their attention when they served the ugly looking and odorous water to the leaders when they came to visit. It should not take that long to address these issues.

Do not default on America’s debts

Note to Democrat and Republican leadership – DO NOT DEFAULT on America’s debts. That is beyond poor stewardship and borders on malfeasance. And, it certainly is not a conservative principle.

Find a way to get it done and then talk in greater detail about doing things to reduce the debt and deficit. You could start with listening to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Like the Simpson Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee, this group advocates both tax increases and spending cuts. Otherwise, the math simply will not work despite what politicians say.

Both parties have left something to be desired on dealing with our debt. Yet, it is the Republicans who have been the worse steward having increased debt by $2 trillion with a tax cut in 2018 when they led both chambers in Congress and the White House and unbalanced a surplus budget when the younger Bush took over for Bill Clinton again with a tax cut Bush’s Treasury Secretary said was unneeded.

The grandstanding needs to stop. Playing chicken with a very serious matter has to stop. Pretending to only care about the debt when not in charge has to stop. First pay our bills, then fix the problem with a holistic solution.

It is hard for Cruz to be part of the solution (a reprise post from 2016)

I read this morning that Senator Ted Cruz has once again said defaulting on the debt would not be a problem for the US. This is the second time to my knowledge of his saying something like this. About eight or nine years ago, he single-handedly brought the US within twenty-four hours of defaulting on its debt. It took ten female senators from both parties to tell him to get out of the pool, it is time for an adult swim as they solved the impasse. Let me be crystal clear – the US defaulting on its debt is not only an unconservative idea, it is an inane and imprudent one. Here is a post about Mr. Cruz that I wrote seven years ago.

Saying people are angry with Washington is sloppy reporting and does a disservice to the problem. There is a large group who is angry for the legislators not collaborating enough to get things done. Then, there is a group who is angry that their representatives are not strident enough in their convictions to only get things done their way. Let’s set aside the veracity or lack thereof of those convictions.

The latter group has been tapped into by the two men leading the GOP race. The problem is they are angry at the wrong people. Senator Ted Cruz is one of those leaders of the strident group and advocates that he is the solution. That is difficult for me to fathom, as Ted Cruz is part of the problem.

Cruz is a grandstander who has made an effort to not work with his colleagues at any level. He has ridiculed the leadership, embarrassing them on occasion. As a result, his senate colleagues will not go to bat for him. It should be noted when Senator John McCain’s birth in the US Panama Canal Zone became a minor issue, the Senate passed a bill that said just to make sure, this is not a problem. With the issue over Cruz’ birth in Canada becoming an issue, he should not expect a hall pass from the Senate. That speaks volumes.

And, he personally shut our government down for 16 days. The President had to cancel his attendance at two important international trade meetings, which is a key role for the position of President. If it were not for ten female Senators, the US would have defaulted on some debt, which would have been a horrible move per other countries and the head of the International Monetary Fund. This is as good an example of why Cruz would be such a disaster as President.

Yet, if we get back to what I set aside, Cruz is also part of the problem based on his positions. His bellicose rhetoric about carpet bombing shows his ignorance of the challenges of the Middle East. While not as blatant as Trump he has demonized more than a few groups of people. And, Cruz tends to overlook facts when he criticizes policies. If it is not his way, then it cannot be working.

Most Americans want Congress and the President to get things done. They want collaboration. Cruz just wants the attention. He wants it to be his way or no way. He is not the solution. Ted Cruz is part of the problem. And, that is even before he bailed on Texans to Cancun during a storm.

Friday follies and foibles Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo. For a no-longer-drinker, have a Corona or margarita for me. Those days are long behind me, thank goodness. Just a few miscellaneous follies and foibles to start the celebration.

I saw where The Donald is considering testifying in his rape trial. The judge has given him until Sunday at 5 pm to decide. Oh, I hope he does. When your history is one of making things up, getting in front of a judge and jury is not the best action Trump could take. An attorney once said he got Trump to change thirty or so statements during one deposition to avoid perjury. One deposition – 30 or so lies.

Speaking of lawsuits, I am delighted to see Disney suing the autocratic governor of Florida for infringing on their business. The governor is picking on the largest tourism destination in a state run by sales tax revenue using them as a scapegoat for wokeness, which many cannot define. The term is used as a weapon like any name calling term, but at its heart it is good to be universally accepting and supportive of all people’s rights. To me, this is just one of the many infringements the governor and his party are imposing on people.

Between, DeSantis and his twin Greg Abbott in Texas, two of the largest states in the US are so poorly governed. Abbott does not get the national press DeSantis gets, but he makes a similar habit of not taking criticism well, saying derogatory things and infringing on the rights of those who do not look like our Europeans immigrants that came here.

There are imperfect people in the Democrat party, but I can argue policy with them or ask why they have not followed through on campaign promises? Trump created a bigger mess at the southern border than existed before he became president, but Joe Biden has not made things better. We need to hold him to what he said he would do, as we are not holding to our ideals as we make it very difficult to come here.

Finally, we need to deal with our debt problem, but not paying our bills is not the solution. It is the result. We need serious fact based discussion on a variety of solutions including raising revenue and cutting expenses. Grandstanding changes as the Republicans in the House have done is not the way to go about this. We should remind Republicans, they are not very good at solving our debt problem especially when in charge. Think George W. Bush cutting taxes to eliminate a surplus budget and Donald Trump cutting taxes to increase the debt by $2 trillion. Anyone can cut taxes, but we have to pay did things and watch spending both.

Thursday thoughts and theories

As I sit down searching for a topic to which I want to devote a post, I am at a loss. I usually do better when I have started a post or at least recorded a title or pasted a link to an article to use the days before. So, with an eye toward alliteration, here are some random Thursday thoughts and theories.

First, I wonder who got shot last night in America? Someone did as we simply cannot help ourselves. Someone rang the wrong doorbell with a hand of a darker color or they may have just pulled in the driveway. Or, they may have been jogging or walking in a neighborhood wearing the darker color on their skin. Or, they just were at the wrong place at the wrong time when a disgruntled former employee, racist or mentally unstable person came a calling with a weapon that could kill many at one time. Or, maybe two old friends or relatives got into an argument over something stupid and one is now shot dead. Or, maybe a four year-old found daddy’s weapon and shot his older brother, sister, mother or father.

Second, it is truly amazing how an entity who just committed to pay one person it defamed $250 million and another entity it defamed $787.5 million with yet another pending lawsuit of $2.7 billion for defamation, can be non-specific as a news agency for what has transpired. I wish the settlement could have included an on air apology from Fox News. “We are sorry we lied to our viewers about Dominion Voting Systems and to cover for the lies of the former president.”

Third, in a state where tax revenue comes from sales tax built on a large engine of tourism, picking on the company which owns the largest tourist attraction in the state which feeds other tourist attractions is not the wisest of moves. The reason the governor does not like them – they are outspoken about treating all people fairly. Such a shame to actually follow that golden rule thing that some guy named Jesus talked about.

Fourth, speaking of governors, it seems to me the states of Florida and Texas are having a race to see who can restrict the most rights of non-white Americans. Sometimes it is not as clear as to the motivation, but each has embraced contrived or exaggerated issues to use as weapons to divide and limit. They also have embraced The Big Lie of the former president about the election being stolen from him to use as a reason to limit voting. Please read the above about Fox News’ defamation cases and the written evidence they knew they were gaslighting their viewers and public pushing Trump’s BS.

Fifth, we have an immediate crisis facing us with our debt ceiling in the US. If we do not raise this ceiling, we will default on some debt. We need to reduce our debt and deficit, so I do not mind discussions to do so, but what I detest is the gamesmanship. If the debt is such a big deal, why did nothing get done when Republicans ruled both chambers and had the White House, other than make the debt worse by over $2 trillion for the next ten years? Quite simply, dealing with the debt will require revenue increases and spending cuts, but neither side is willing to speak to both sides of this issue. Who says this? – the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and do not let ANY politician tell you we can reduce the debt with one or the other.

That is all folks. Have a great day and weekend.

What a leader should do

Many moons ago, I read that a key role of leader is to open up new markets for trade. In spite of Richard Nixon’s crimes as US president, he should get credit for opening up trade with China.

Before he left office, Barack Obama had made in-roads in establishing a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) of eleven countries. Sadly, his successor took the US out of the deal, but the other ten countries moved ahead without the US. Later Donald Trump lamented about the inability to compete with China, which the TPP was designed to help with.

I use both ends of this latter example to show that the retrenching from markets and trade in agreements is the worst thing a leader could do. These folks who advocate pulling away from globalization are being harmful to our growth. Mutual commerce is not only the best way to grow, it helps to break through communication roadblocks based on other issues. If you have mutual commerce, parties will want to nurture and protect that. In so doing, it is also a way to lessen tensions. The European Union is a way to lessen military conflict across the continent. Sadly, “make our country great” promoters do not realize they are advocating less growth and putting people at risk.

Quite simply, you cannot shrink to greatness. The economist John Nash advocated this in his Nash Equilibrium for which he won a Nobel Prize in spite of his schizophrenia (watch “A Beautiful Mind” with Russell Crowe as Nash). In essence, if each party tries to maximize everyone’s revenue, the total pie will be larger than if everyone tries to maximize only their own.

Brexit and tourism

The economic woes of Brexit will linger on for the British. While tourism has come back post-pandemic, the anemic turn out by German and French tourists is noticeable. In short, Brexit has made it harder for European country tourists to visit.

In an article by James Tapper in The Guardian called “French and German tourists turn their back on Brexit Britain” the following paragraphs frame the story:

“French and German tourists are beginning to avoid the UK, tourism leaders fear, because of post-Brexit restrictions on travelling with identity cards.

Since anti-Covid measures ended across Europe last year, tourism has started to recover, but there are growing signs that significant numbers of French and Germans – two of the largest markets for UK tourism – are staying away.

Since October 2021, EU citizens have needed a passport to enter the UK. Previously they could use ID cards, but less than half the population of France and Germany hold a valid passport. People who run tourist attractions and businesses in the UK say that although Americans have returned in large numbers, the French and Germans have not.

Jersey’s government is so concerned that last month it announced a pilot project allowing French citizens to show their ID cards on day trips to the island. This year, walking tours in Oxfordshire, a significant part of the tourist trail for foreign visitors, are seeing bookings from France and Germany at half their 2019 levels.”

Brexit was predicted before the vote to leave to be dilutive (negative) to the British economy so said the banking sector. This should not be news today. The fall-off in tourism is just part of the reason. In short, when a country (or entity) makes it more difficult to do commerce, trade or visit said country, then people find other outlets. The Germans and French can simply find easier places to visit. And, when they don’t visit, they don’t buy products and services in Great Britain.

America found this out with tariffs that the previous president imposed on countries. Numerous studies have noted that tariffs do not work mainly because they disrupt both buyers and sellers. The buyers pay the passed along cost of tariffs with price increases and/ or they find other sellers not impacted by tariffs. Brazilian farmers benefitted with the tariffs on American farmers’ products, e.g. Sellers see a disruption in their sales chains, as well so they have to sell elsewhere. And, once set-up, they tend to stay that way for awhile.

Unless Great Britain makes it easier for others to deal with them, the economy will remain less vibrant. The country has already lost several European headquarters and downsized distribution centers who moved to Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, etc. And, if people travel less, the remaining distribution centers, restaurants, retail stores, transit revenue, may suffer.

To be frank, none of this should be surprising to British leaders if they only paid attention to what Brexit would entail. In business, I have seen companies who become so difficult to work with, they are driving customers away. Even my own company became so enamored with legalistic service agreements, its zeal to use them cost business. I once lost a $1 million sale that was our idea, because we could not ink a contract due to our stubbornness.

Commerce. Make it easier to happen. Good things will follow, including tourists.