Monday, February 23, 2009

Eight Ideas that would work right now to get America into the 21st Century….

If I were King here are a few things I’d do to revive the U.S. economy and propel it into the future. Of course as King I’d need no consensus, no votes, no Congress, just my own very good judgment and the love of the people or a large group of thugs to enforce my will…. . Here they are, without any particular order:
1) Energy. We are tapped-out. Proof lies in the fact that every year there are brown and black-outs across the country. Hydro has been maxed-out; most rivers have been harnessed; cheap and easy oil is gone; alternative energy is a cruel hoax. There is no such thing as alternative energy. Energy and its use is subject to the Laws of Thermo Dynamics. Any power source, other than that provided nearly free by the planet, in other words, fossil fuel, requires more energy to get and produces less efficient energy in return than that obtained by just using oil directly. Ethanol, hydrogen, wind and solar are all costly fuels, in terms of energy in versus energy out. The only truly viable source of energy left is nuclear. Vast amounts of nuclear energy, providing relatively clean power is ours for the developing. We need it, unless we plan on eliminating a lot of people. Let’s put tens of thousands of highly skilled folks to work building Nuclear Power Plants. And hundreds of thousands more building the stuff that goes into those plants from valves to distribution networks.
2) Transportation. Airplane travel is relatively inefficient, whereas trains are very efficient. Modern high speed trains are an almost off-the-shelf ready to run technology now in use in Japan and Europe. We know how to make them, we know how to make them better. Their use is non existent in America. A system of Hub-To-Hub high speed trains is a must. Under my Kingship, nonstop routes would be built connecting the Airline Hubs already scattered about the country. I believe there are 35 or 40 of these airline hubs operating right now in the USA and Canada. The Airline Hubs are used less and less as Airlines consolidate and shrink. These hubs are ready right now to accept high speed rail lines. These existing hubs have facilities already in place to service large numbers of travelers: auto rental fleets, hotels, restaurants, freeway access, etc. Currently there are many unused terminals at many of these hubs. These terminals are ready now to receive and redistribute millions of travelers. Another beauty of train transport is that travelers could take their RVs and autos with them at relatively low cost. These trains should be powered by either nuclear engines such as those currently used on ships or by electricity. Plentiful electricity would be available from #1 above.
3) Banking. Not enough cash you say? Take the caps off of FDIC. Money would flow out of treasuries and into banks. Banks have to lend out money to make money. Currently CDs are insured to $250,000 and that higher number expires at the end of this year. This no way of inspiring trust or stability in the banking system. It does not allow long range planning by savers and investors. Get the money back into the banks now. Apparently the Federal government wants to inspire trust in banks... or why else are they forcing consolidation, flooding these banks with cash and forestalling bankruptcy? This being the case it's time to tell depositors that their cash is safe. All bank deposits, from checking accounts to CDs would be covered all the way limits.
4) Education. In my Kingdom, High Schools as we know them would stop at the end of the ninth grade. At that point students would have to choose an education that shapes their future in a more positive manner. High schools are essentially large baby sitting institutions housing people not yet ready for the adult world, not fully mentally developed but near fully physically developed. Sex is topic number one on most of their minds and only the truly studious serious students have much to learn beyond the ninth grade. The learning is marginal in any case. A better system would allow students to choose either a trade school or professional and academic schooling for the 10th, 11th , and 12th grades. High schools have become giant baby sitting institutions, a place to warehouse vast numbers of young people not yet ready to become productive members of an advanced society. Our society has no established apprenticeship system as was in effect in the pre-industrial world, but there is a need to train individuals in all the trades our society currently needs. It’s time to bring back “Shop.”
5) Service to America. Upon graduation from “New” high school, every able bodied graduate would be required to serve this country for minimally two years. This service can be in virtually any field from the likes of the Peace Corp, Job Corp, Military Service or to new services to be devised. This would allow those “graduates” time to develop their skills and to prepare for adulthood. It would give these people a chance to contribute to the country they live in, to have a stake, or equity in the country.
6) A New GI Bill. After a stint of say at least 2 years service to America an equal amount of free schooling toward a specific advanced trade or degree would be made available. At the conclusion of this period of training the New GI Bill would make home ownership available through low fixed interest rate long term loans.
7) Water. Tax it and distribute it. Right now water is still taken for granted. We all see water running down the gutters, misuse is widespread. I’d not punish those who wish to use it as a broom or to flood their gardens, but the price of this behavior would be enough to push one to conserve it. This goes for areas of the country that have plenty of it too. A Federal tax collected on water would be used to develop and distribute this precious resource to areas less blessed. Desalination plants, powered by nuclear energy would immediately be built in areas where saltwater is available and fresh water is in short supply.
8) Transportation Fuel. Since we do not have the electricity to power the long awaited electric vehicle of the future, CNG as a transportation fuel, would be immediately developed. Natural gas is widely available and current technology is available right now to convert our truck and automotive fleet to its use with minimal expense. With currently available hardware one could even fill-up at home in areas that supply natural gas to homes. This one is a no-brainer.
That’s it. This plan could be implemented quickly and comprehensively. It covers many areas of immediate and future concern. Let’s go, let’s build a new America, not with dole programs, not with make-work jobs, but with real solutions to real problems. All it requires is a Great King Mel!

1 comment:

  1. There is another component King Melvin that would be helpful in your Energy category. That is the one of design. There is a tremendous reduction of energy consumption available to all in the form of building and infrastructure design. This is commonly known as "Passive Solar Design" in the solar world. Many times it boils down to think work with little if any additional costs and sometimes (if the design is good) even lower costs. Many of these designs are environment specific. Those areas with abundant sunshine, make use of that. Those areas with abundant wind, make use of that. Those areas with hydroelectric availability, make use of that. It is a decentralized approach to power generation and generally makes use of relatively low tech components which are nearly always better and lower cost. This requires the "One size fits all" mentality. That approach benefits putting a meter on things, but is not usually the best for us consumers. The only viable trend is to funnel all power generation to an electricity grid. Vehicles would be added to this grid as the technology become viable. This means "Gas Stations" would also become recharging stations as this become viable. The bulk would be Nuclear generated electricity feeding this grid.