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Seattle Green Jobs Program Gets $20M, Creates 14 Posts August 30, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

A green jobs program in one of America’s greenest cities is being called a bust 16 months after a $20 million federal grant to weatherize homes in Seattle ended up putting just 14 people to work in mostly administrative jobs and upgrading only three homes in the area.

“The jobs are not there,” Todd Myers, who wrote the book “Eco Fads,” told Fox News. “So we’re training people for jobs that don’t exist.”

Seattle is not alone. The Department of Energy has allocated $508 million to 41 states for its Better Buildings Neighborhood Program and 600 jobs have been created or retained. 

“While communities are advancing their programs at different rates, we are pleased with the progress,” the agency wrote in a recent statement. 

One year into the three-year program, 9,000 homes have had energy audits and received some kind of upgrade. The goal is to weatherize 150,000 homes by 2013 and save consumers $65 million annually on energy bills.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says it’s too early to declare the program a failure. 

“We may have to adjust how we market it and the incentives we provide,” McGinn said. “Nobody has really cracked the green jobs code.”

Contractors who do the energy audits and home retrofits blame government for getting in the way. To be a participating business in Seattle, the contractor is required to pay workers $21 an hour with full benefits, including retirement pay. But according to several small business owners in the area, the prevailing wage for new workers who lay insulation is $12. per hour.

McGinn, however, insisted that allowing contractors to pay anything less than what the city has declared a ‘living wage’, amounts to a ‘race to the bottom’ for jobs. 

“The workforce agreements that were negotiated with contractors at the table made sure that some benefits of this work is going to local workers, and we’re going to pay fair wages for it,” he said.

But Myers and others say the biggest problem with the program is government is trying to create a market that consumers don’t want. The average homeowner in the U.S. pays about $2,000 a year for energy. 

The weatherization upgrades are aimed at saving 15 percent on energy consumption. If the retrofit costs $10,000 even with all the government incentives, it will take over 30 years to pay off through lower energy bills.

“The problem is the policies the politicians choose, whether green jobs or retrofits, are based on appearance,” Myers said. “They choose things that look good, rather than what’s best for the environment.”

Among the other cities having trouble fulfilling the green jobs promise are Toledo, Kansas City and Phoenix. So far, those cities have created a combined 72 jobs with $65 million in grants.

The difficulty is magnified on the federal level. President Obama once said he wanted to create 5 million green jobs over 10 years. The 2009 stimulus package included $5 billion toward that goal.

A chunk of that money went for weatherization programs, but according to a Department of Energy inspector general report one year later, “only two of the 10 highest-funded recipients completed more than 2 percent of planned units.”

Ron Paul: Bernanke Is Out of Options to Save Economy August 30, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

Chairman Ben Bernanke is not calling for another fix to the economy by the Federal Reserve because he’s already used up all the quivers in the Fed’s bow, Rep. Ron Paul said Sunday.

Paul is a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and supports the U.S. returning to the gold standard to protect its currency and force a balanced budget. He has been highly critical of the Federal Reserve and its chairman over plans for “quantitative easing,” a two-part program which flooded the market with dollars in an attempt to make money more available for borrowing and lending. 

 

Paul argued that Bernanke’s plan to buy bank assets and drop more than $2 trillion into the economy did not yield the results the chairman hoped, a conclusion that Paul says Bernanke implicitly acknowledged during a speech last week in which he offered no new bailout programs from the Fed. 

“He really hasn’t pulled back. Symbolically, he has and he is not having another QE3,” Paul said. “But he has maintained a (view) to keep interest rates low until 2013. You can’t keep interest rates low without monetizing debt because if somebody else doesn’t buy it, he has to buy it. So he’s continuously quantitatively easing.”

Paul said that artificially holding down interest rates was instrumental in the housing bubble that burst in 2007 and sparked the economic meltdown from which the U.S. economy is still trying to recover. 

He said if government — and its central bank — stopped trying to bail out its friends, then the economy would soon return to normal. 

“Let the people who live beyond their means, let them go bankrupt,” he said. “Hands off, give us a sound currency, free up the markets. Property rights. Enforce contracts. Make sure people go bankrupt when they go bankrupt and don’t bail out their buddies.”

He added that one good thing out of Bernanke’s speech is that he effectively returned the responsibility for the economy back to Congress and a fiscal approach.

“He at least sort of said, ‘Oh, it’s up to the Congress. It’s all Congress’ fault. They need to deal with it. So he’s sort of throwing up his hands. But all he needs to do is quit monetizing debt. Interest rates would go up and Congress would be forced to cut debt,” Paul said.

Paul has been holding steady near the top of the polls for the Republican nomination despite being described as “unconventional” because of his libertarian streak. The 12-term Texas congressman surmised that he’s in vogue now because many Americans realize it’s time to return to the principles on which the nation was founded. 

“I’m fascinated with your word ‘unconventional,'” he told “Fox News Sunday. “Isn’t it strange that we can apply that word to freedom and liberty and the Constitution and limited government and a balanced budget?’

Paul said that while some question whether he’s just in the race to be the “prophet” who guides the discussion, he’s definitely vying for the actual job of president. 

“I’m in it to win it. And you’re absolutely right, I do say that I am more interested in influence and power. As a matter of fact, as president I would reduce the power of government. I wouldn’t seek it. I would never take the power from the Congress. I would not go to war without
congressional approval,” he said. 

“I resent the power that has galvanized in the executive branch and in the judicial system and I would want to shrink the size of government,” he added. “That doesn’t mean I don’t want to win. That means I want a new approach at least from current standards for the presidency.”

Paul’s approach to foreign policy has also been called unconventional, or in some circles, isolationist. He has opposed most wars launched by the U.S., saying that it leads to too many unintended consequences, and has harshly criticized U.S. participation in NATO military action against Libya. 

Paul said that his approach to international relations rests on national security, not “pretending that we can pick the dictators around the world.” 

He added that the U.S. government should take cues from its military.

“The one telltale sign of the support I’m getting is because of my foreign policy. I get more donations from active military duty people than all the other candidates put together, which tells me a lot and tells the American people a lot,” Paul said. 

“Military people wanted to defend this country but they don’t want perpetual war when they are undeclared and you don’t see the end and you don’t know who the enemy is and it’s too many restrictions on how they retaliate against the enemies … Our (National) Guard units should be here taking care of us when we have floods, but no, they’re overseas and the military is worn out, it’s time for a change if for no reason than we’re flat out broke,” he said.