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This is the time of year when people waste hours of time and energy preparing tax returns. I have never met a single person who enjoyed preparing a tax return. I have never met a person who felt it was a productive use of their time. So why do we all do it? Why do we pay income tax? We do it for two legal reasons: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the right to both “…lay and collect taxes,….” and, The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified on February 3, 1913, states, “The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on income,….” So, in short, we are required by law, forced to pay taxes. Our government, the one we have formed and which answers to us, the citizens, forces us to pay taxes.

So what is the story behind “voluntary filing” of taxes? Here is what the IRS says: “The term voluntary compliance means that each of us is responsible for filing a tax return when required and for determining and paying the correct amount of tax. The tax law is found in Title 26 of the United States Code. And, 26 U.S. Code Section 6012 makes clear that only individuals whose income falls below a specified level do not have to file returns. While our tax system is based on self- assessment and reporting, compliance with tax laws is mandatory.” (

The simple truth is that there is nothing voluntary about compliance with tax law or filing of individual taxes. Both compliance with tax law and tax filing are required by law. You must do both or you will be subject to punishment. In other words, you are coerced to file and pay taxes by negative reinforcement. If you don’t do what they say, either you will pay fines or do time, or both. It is a simple Bully-with-a-stick forcing you to do what you don’t really want to do. As a result, most people do what they can to pay as little as they can, legally. In other words, the government gives us great incentive to avoid paying an extra cent.

Just imagine if the government decided, instead, to incentivize tax payment by saving you the cost of tax return preparation. Let’s imagine if the IRS each year sent you a tax bill, with the detail of their justification for the total bill. It would be much like the bill you get from VISA, with each individual transaction detailed. Or maybe it would be like the receipt from the person who sold you your latest car. It would list the cost of the base car, each of the individual add-ons, the cost of delivery, the cost of financing, etc., and the total you needed to pay for the car. At the end of the invoice it would show terms: Pay this exact number within 15 days of receipt – Late payments are subject to penalties and fines. Why can’t the IRS do that? If they know all of your income through receipt of the filings of each employer, each company paying dividends, each bank paying interest, etc., wouldn’t it be just as easy for the IRS to prepare the statement for you and send you the bill? Wouldn’t most people just take the discount (the savings in tax preparation costs), and, pay the bill like they do their VISA or utility bill?

I’m serious. Wouldn’t this save hours and hours of wasted effort on the part of the tax payers, not to mention the hours spent by the IRS to verify the filing? We have a huge tax-prep industry (estimated at about $11 Billion each year in revenue), including H & R Block, Jackson-Hewitt, Turbo Tax, etc., doing a big part of what the IRS is required to do by Congress – lay and collect the taxes. Just a note here – the IRS budget, coincidentally, is just over $12 Billion. Do we need all of the time, effort, and money spent preparing the tax returns, AND, all the time, effort, and money spent by the IRS confirming that the returns are correct?

thanks to

Here is how I think it works: First, the individual tax payer collects all the required information and forms. Next, he or she either enters the data into a computer program or takes it all to a tax preparer, or picks up the forms and instructions and fills out the return. He or she then sends the filing and any payment to the IRS. The IRS processes the filing to see if it agrees with the data they already have. They either find fault with the filing and communicate what they have found to the taxpayer or they agree with the filing, accept payment, and consider the matter closed. It seems to me that the IRS has both the technology the legal power to do a more accurate job of preparing the tax return. That, if true, would mean less communication between the IRS and the taxpayer. It would be up to the taxpayer to either hire a tax expert or to himself or herself challenge any errors that he or she finds in the IRS calculations. Wouldn’t that greatly reduce the amount of time spent by taxpayers and the IRS each year for the sole purpose of billing the public for their taxes? How many other countries have a similar system of “voluntary compliance” and individual preparation and filing of tax returns???

We would also save time and money if we changed a few of our taxing benchmarks. One opportunity would be the the over 88 Million income tax returns that are filed by people with income of $0 to $50,000 in the year. Do they all really pay enough in tax to justify the cost to prepare and file? Those 88 Million filers pay about $65 Billion in total to the IRS, out of $1.54 Trillion income tax collected/paid in 2018 . That is under 5% of the total tax dollars collected/paid in 2018. Yep. 88 Million tax returns (about 58% of the total) are prepared by/for those who pay only 5% of all income taxes collected. (above data from here)

So here are a few of my questions about our tax system:

Are there good reasons why the IRS doesn’t just send out bills, like any other enterprise?

What do other countries do?

Why do we have both a vast tax preparation industry (revenues of $11+Billion per year) and the IRS (budget of $12+Billion per year) plus the untold Billions of dollars expended in time and effort by taxpayers? Is there not a more efficient way?

And my final question, and probably the most important one, is: Why do we bother collecting a mere $1.92 Trillion dollars in income taxes (of the total 2021 U.S.Federal revenue of about $3.8 Trillion) to run our government for a year when Congress decides on a whim to print and spend much more than that each year (estimated to be just over $6.8 Trillion in 2021)?

I really would like answers to these questions.

In 2010, I wrote a quick blog post, Boiling Frogs, that I think is as relevant today as it was then.

This week, I read an opinion piece, D.C. Swamp Deeper Than Ever, in Newsmax that reminded me of the Boiling Frogs tale. It was written by George J. Marlin, a former Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and author of Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st century Tragedy. In my view, Mr. Marlin’s piece is a must read for every American. Please use the link and look at it. This is the ultimate Frog Boiling Scenario which tops my list of significant under-reported stories of our lifetime.

Here are a few of the eye popping statistics from D.C. Swamp Deeper Than Ever:

The U.S. Government directly employs about 2.8 million people. Depending on your source, the USA has approximately 150 Million jobs. That means that just under 2% of all jobs in America are on the Federal payroll – paid with tax dollars. This, of course, does not include State and Local tax funded jobs which are estimated to be almost 20,000,000. It also does not count the jobs contracted out to private companies.

The Department of Defense has almost 700,000 employees and the U.S. Postal Service has about 20,000 fewer: 678,000.

Of the 1.4 Million Federal Employees in the Executive Departments of our government, more than 500,000 of them are paid in excess of $100,000 per year. That is on top of 11 paid holidays, 13 paid sick days, and 20 paid vacation days. That doesn’t even count the substantial pension benefits that average over 50% of the average of their highest three years of salary. The median income for all Americans is closer to $50,000. So we pay our public servants 2-3 times what we get paid ourselves?

Federal employment is growing at a rate of over 3.5% per year, doubling the number of Federal employees about every 20 years.

The source of much of Mr. Marlin’s piece was the Annual Report of Open the Books/American Transparency American Transparency is a very interesting project intended to shed some light on the size and costs of our government. The Chairman of that organization, Thomas W. Smith, wrote: “Whenever human beings gather to accomplish a task, any task, without strong and effective oversight, a natural evolution takes place. Whether it be in business, academia, philanthropy, or government, every activity morphs from the original goal to self-aggrandizement (my emphasis). In government, this process is particularly toxic. There are no profits, let alone a profit motive. No concern with productivity. No incentive to turn off the proverbial lights. No measure of success. No motivation to end counterproductive activities.

Add to this mix the influence of public employee unions. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman were opposed to them for reasons that long ago became apparent. The goal of all unions is self-preservation – just as management’s is to maximize profits. But public employee unions add two other noxious elements to the mix: (1) defending job incompetence and (2) heavy-handed involvement in the electoral process in a search for pliant politicians who can help them achieve their objectives by spending ever more of the public’s money.”

Today, approximately 38% of all Federal employees are represented by a Union.

In my view, our current path to a loss of our freedoms is not the path to Socialism or Communism. It is the takeover of our freedoms by politicians, bureaucrats and unions, bent on gaining power and control. They continue to grow, cancer-like, to subjugate all human activity to their policies, regulations, and control of the political process. Every new administrative rule, every new government form with the ever increasing demands for your private information, and every new code or regulation limiting your freedoms requires ever more bureaucrats to count, file, even to study them.

The growth in depth, breadth, and power of our government significantly limits our freedom and will lead to a state of government regulatory control of our lives. It is time we get serious about cutting government involvement in our lives. Let’s start by barring unions from all forms of government employment.

I wonder how much good has actually come from the mountains of regulations created by our government bureaucrats? It makes me wonder how we have made it this far.

Today, the predominant media is filled with positive articles about all the great reasons why you should consider an electric vehicle or EV. If you are swayed by this positive input and are considering buying an EV instead of an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle, some of the following may be helpful.


Here are five top reasons to buy and some of the questions you might want to ask yourself:

  1. Annual cost to operate – Is an EV really less expensive to operate? – a – First is the cost of electricity vs. the cost of fuel. In general, the electricity to power an EV is cheaper than the fuel to power and ICE vehicle. If or how much you save is almost entirely a product of where you live and where the vehicle will be driven. In the Northwest, fuel prices are among the highest in the country (just under $4.00/ gallon for regular gas at the end of 2021) and electricity prices are among the lowest (some places as low as $0.75 per gallon equivalent). That means for the average driver who puts 12,000 miles on a car each year and gets 20 miles per gallon, you would spend $450 for electricity to power an EV vs. $2,400 for your fuel, a savings of $1,950 a year. In the Northeast, electricity is more costly and petroleum fuel not quite as expensive so the numbers are not as good. In Connecticut there are places where fuel is about $3.00 per gallon and electricity is almost $2.00 per gallon equivalent. You could save barely $600 per year. (see this article) – b – In an EV you will not have to pay gas tax and this is often billed as an additional operating cost savings. Unfortunately the gas tax is paid at the pump and is already included in the savings calculation so don’t count it twice. – c – Also remember that most states are scrambling to replace gas taxes lost to increases in EV usage and as such have enacted or are considering annual EV road use taxes. – d – You will likely save the cost of 2 or three oil changes each year which pending the type of oil and the type of car could be as much as $200 to $300 per year saved. Very few articles that you read will tell you that this savings will likely be offset by the increased cost of brake replacement. With the EVs extra weight to stop and regenerative brakes (energy captured in braking to add to the efficiency of the EVs power system), brake pads last less than half as long as on ICE vehicles. – e – And few articles will tell you about the increased tire wear (again largely due to the increased weight of the EV). Think of driving an EV as it would be to drive an ICE vehicle that was always loaded with a full load of cargo and/or passengers.
  2. Initial cost to own an EV – Most EVs cost between 20% and 40% more than their ICE counterparts. This means you will pay between $6,000 to $25,000 more for the privilege to drive an EV. This penalty is normally believed to be repaid by lower operating costs and the offset of rising fuel costs over the life of the vehicle. There are numerous government incentives (tax credits and tax deductions) that can often help reduce this initial cost, again much of this is dependent upon where you live.
  3. Good for the Environment – The majority of the articles written about EVs highlight the ‘fact’ that EVs are good for the environment. We are told they have zero emissions (see this article). In general, it is true that the operation of an EV produces fewer emissions than the operation of most ICE vehicles. What you will see in very few articles is the environmental cost to produce the EVs which is far greater than what is required to produce ICE vehicles. To name a few: the environmental cost to mine the lithium for the batteries, mostly controlled by China which has one of the world’s worst records of protecting the environment; the environmental cost to mine the cobalt, also used in the batteries, mostly done in the Congo but the processing is done in China; the fact that EVs are, on average, more than 20% heavier than their ICE equivalents increasing energy use and pollution from producing that much more product; excessive tire wear and road wear caused by heavier vehicles, etc. If you are truly concerned with the environment, you need to ask the questions not being asked in the media to see if you are really convinced that the EVs represent an improvement over ICE vehicles. Do you wonder about recycling of lithium ion batteries? As of today, there is no available, reliable way to reclaim value from LI batteries so what will happen to them when they are replaced? Do you wonder how the electric grid, already taxed to the limit in many part of the country, will hold up to the huge increased demand for electricity to power EV batteries? What will be the environmental cost to expand the power grid to meet the new EV demand?
  4. Lifetime Cost to Own – Much is made in the media about how in spite of the fact of higher initial cost, EVs have a lower lifetime cost to own. Most reports show a lifetime of 200,000 miles of use see this article which I found was the basis of many pro-EV articles that I found) 200,000 miles is the equivalent of 16+ years of driving for the typical American driver. Make sure to ask yourself if you are likely to keep the vehicle that long. “While the average new car buyer holds onto their car for 8.4 years, there is a wide variety of cars that owners are more likely to keep longer,” said iSeeCars. If you change the lifetime cost to own calculation from 16 years to 8, the cost to own picture is not as kind to the EVs. Or, if you add the cost of a full battery replacement, $12,000 to $15,000, almost no EV sold today pencils out to save you much or anything over its lifetime. Most EV manufacturers warranty their batteries for 8 years or 100,000 miles. That is a good indication of how many years you should be able to drive before the costly replacement. EV batteries don’t understand miles, or years. They age based on cycles and how you drive and how you charge your batteries will have a big effect on whether your battery system will need replacing in five years or twelve.
  5. Lifestyle and Social Credit – If you do most of your driving in town, the current lack of convenient charging options should not be a big concern. Charging stations are being built in most highly populated areas. And you will rarely be far from you home and its charging station. However, if you live in a rural area and much of your driving is between places not served by charging options, this should be a big concern. I like to equate the geographical reasons in favor of owning an EV to those that favor using public transit. Where there is a dense enough population to support convenient public transit, there is now or will soon be enough charging option available to make EV ownership a reasonable choice. You may want an EV because in your social sphere, ownership of an EV is a symbol of an Environmentally responsible person. If that is the case, an EV may be a good choice but wouldn’t riding public transit be a better choice for the environment?

Of course there are many more important comparisons that you might want to make. aSafety, for instance may be a big plus for occupants of the much heavier EVs. In general, in accidents, the heavier vehicle comes out better than the lighter one. However, heavier vehicles, in general take longer to stop or change direction so are less likely to avoid crashes. b – Cargo, is another issue to consider. Most EVs carry less weight than their ICE equivalent vehicles and some also have far less cargo volume due to space taken up by batteries. – c – Ground Clearance and turning radius are also impacted by placement of batteries and are worth considering pending the type of driving you do. – d – Resale value is a real unknown. There is the possibility that increased demand may make for high resale value. Just as likely is the possibility of low resale value due to battery age or lower demand than projected.

Last, I think we all need to understand that electric power for a vehicle represents a very flexible fuel profile. The electricity may be generated using solar, wind, coal, hydroelectric, biomass, oil, natural gas, or nuclear. In all cases, the electricity must be moved from the point of generation to the point of use. In the transmission of electricity, most estimates are that about 6% of the energy is lost (2% in transmission and 4% in local distribution). So, the price of this flexibility is a loss of efficiency. In fact, EVs are only less polluting if the source of their energy is less polluting. China, the biggest market for EVs and the fastest growing one generates between 70 and 80% of their electricity from coal. Will China’s big change to EVs really reduce the amount of pollution that they produce? Depending where your electricity is made, you may be driving a coal fired car or a natural gas fired car or a solar powered car. No matter where you are, we still don’t know what effect 250,000 more EVs each year will have on our power grid. Nor do we know what the environmental cost (each year) will be from the recycling (or not) of 250,000 or more huge lithium ion batteries. Lots to think about and not many people asking the important questions.

Before you buy your new EV consider all of the costs, not just those that are advertised and which favor EV ownership.

Mike M., a friend who occasionally participates in email discussions/debates with a group of about 10 of us, sent me the following today. I have often intended to write a post on Universal Conscription (the closest I have come is this) : but I would be hard pressed to write anything as eloquent and sincere as what Mike wrote. I agree with him wholeheartedly.

Mike’s note:

First, let me state my unequivocol opinion about “Conscription” or, what we more familiarly have known as “The Draft”….IMHO I believe that we did an enormous disservice to ourselves as a society when we abolished “The Draft”! 

I was conscripted into the Vietnam War in January of 1966 (which I believe ranks as the biggest Draft month in history!). Believe me, I didn’t want to go! I went, as we said in the vernacular of the day, “… like a man – handcuffed and hog-tied.” It turned out to be one of the seminal moments in my entire life! In one fell swoop, I became a piece of something much, much bigger than from whence I came. I was now in very close quarters, sleeping and eating next to, struggling with other members of our population with whom I would never have come in contact were it not for being “Drafted” – all colors, all ethnicities, all levels of education – Puerto Ricans from NYC, Hillbillies from Tennessee, Mexicans from East L.A., Blacks from Mississippi, even married guys – with kids! Suddenly, we were all pretty much the same – facing the very same future (we knew we were all going to Vietnam where we were going to be killed!), experiencing the very same sort of treatment and suffering the very same conditions; we learned to achieve seemingly impossible things by working together, as a team. But, the lessons learned greatly transcended the mere physical – we learned about ourselves! We now had a broader perspective, a greater “frame of reference” by which we could measure ourselves, realizing that in the big scheme of things, we all had more in common with each other than we might have thought before! 

I’ve been to College and have BA and MA Degrees on my Resume. But, I can honestly say, what I learned in College does not even approach what I learned in the Army! The College “theoreticals”, strewn from the Ivory Tower, cannot hold a candle to the lessons I learned while a member of our Military and I am so proud of and appreciatiative for being given the opportunity to serve our nation…. all because of “The Draft”.
Now, “service” does not mean only the Military. It can come in many guises – but, two(2) years in the Peace Corps, VISTA, a re-establishment of the historical WPA, etc. should be mandatory…. but, the commonality with all modes of “service” should be the same – a “military” level of discipline and standards, military-style housing, uniform treatment, attire, compensation…. The great social philosopher, Eric Hoffer, opined that no one should be allowed to go to College immediately after graduation from High School – they should first have to contribute to the workforce for a few years first. I agree with that wholeheartedly!  Seeing how the “real world” works will make the college experience, if chosen, much more meaningful and valuable and engender a level of “Critical Thinking” that is not being being taught in college. I have two close friends, both of whom are PhD Professors – collaborative partners in the publishing of “the best-selling” textbook in the entire U.S. college network in their field; they are considered “Gurus” of “Management” and have reaped great financial benefits as a result! And yet, ironically, neither one has EVER worked anywhere but the University – they have never managed anything – never managed a business or even a small business unit, never managed employees, have no practical experience “leading” and “motivating”, never had to make decisions that would have repurcussions…. and, yet, they are regarded as “experts”? If I had to compare them to Sergeant First Class Chang from Hawaii, one of the greatest leaders I have ever encountered, their societal contributions pale in comparison. I will always gravitate towards the “meat”, knowing the “sizzle” is merely specious.

Thanks, Mike.

I’ve driven from Oregon to Montana and back 6 times this year. Each time I drive through the Columbia Gorge, I see hundreds of huge windmills. I know very little about them: how much energy they convert from wind to electricity; what they cost to operate compared to the energy converted; why it so often appears that many, if not most are idle; how long will they continue to produce; etc. Similarly, when I see acres of fields covered with solar panels. I wonder how efficient they are. How much electricity can they convert from the sun’s rays when they have a thick coating of dust overing them? How much did they cost to manufacture and what is the operating cost?

Today I received an interesting piece from a friend, by an author I do not know. I think it is worth considering.

from the Daily Caller “New York Spent $5,000.000……”

The Shocking Naked Truth

Bruce Haedrich

When I saw the title of this lecture, especially with the picture of the scantily clad model, I couldn’t resist attending. The packed auditorium was abuzz with questions about the address; nobody seemed to know what to expect. The only hint was a large aluminum block sitting on a sturdy table on the stage.

When the crowd settled down, a scholarly-looking man walked out and put his hand on the shiny block, “Good evening,” he said, “I am here to introduce NMC532-X,” and he patted the block, “we call him NM for short,” and the man smiled proudly. “NM is a typical electric vehicle (EV) car battery in every way except one; we programmed him to send signals of the internal movements of his electrons when charging, discharging, and in several other conditions. We wanted to know what it feels like to be a battery. We don’t know how it happened, but NM began to talk after we downloaded the program.

Despite this ability, we put him in a car for a year and then asked him if he’d like to  do presentations about batteries. He readily agreed on the condition he could say whatever he wanted. We thought that was fine, and so, without further ado, I’ll turn the floor over to NM,” the man turned and walked off the stage.    

“Good evening,” NM said. He had a slightly affected accent, and when he spoke, he lit up in different colors. “That cheeky woman on the marquee was my idea,” he said. “Were she not there, along with ‘naked’ in the title, I’d likely be speaking to an empty auditorium! I also had them add ‘shocking’ because it’s a favorite word amongst us batteries.” He flashed a light blue color as he laughed. 

“Sorry,” NM giggled then continued, “three days ago, at the start of my last lecture,  three people walked out. I suppose they were disappointed there would be no dancing girls. But here is what I noticed about them. One was wearing a battery-powered hearing aid, one tapped on his battery-powered cell phone as he left, and a third got into his car, which would not start without a battery. So I’d like you to think about your day for a moment; how many batteries do you rely on?” 

He paused for a full minute which gave us time to count our batteries.  Then he went on, “Now, it is not elementary to ask, ‘what is a battery?’ I think Tesla said it best when they called us Energy Storage Systems. That’s important. We do not make electricity – we store electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, or diesel-fueled generators. So to say an EV is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid. Also, since forty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. is from coal-fired plants, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered, n’est-ce pas?”

He flashed blue again. “Einstein’s formula, E=MC2, tells us it takes the same amount of energy to move a five thousand pound gasoline-driven automobile a mile as it does an electric one. The only question again is what produces the power? To reiterate, it does not come from the battery; the battery is only the storage device, like a gas tank in a car.”  

He lit up red when he said that, and I sensed he was smiling. Then he continued in blue and orange. “Mr. Elkay introduced me as NMC532. If I were the battery from your computer mouse, Elkay would introduce me as double-A, if from your cell phone as CR2032, and so on. We batteries all have the same name depending on our design. By the way, the ‘X’ in my name stands for ‘experimental.’   

There are two orders of batteries, rechargeable, and single-use. The most common single-use batteries are A, AA, AAA, C, D. 9V, and lantern types. Those dry-cell species use zinc, manganese, lithium, silver oxide, or zinc and carbon to store electricity chemically. Please note they all contain toxic, heavy metals.

Rechargeable batteries only differ in their internal materials, usually lithium-ion, nickel-metal oxide, and nickel-cadmium.

The United States uses three billion of these two battery types a year, and most are not recycled; they end up in landfills. California is the only state which requires all batteries be recycled. If you throw your small, used batteries in the trash, here is what happens to them.

All batteries are self-discharging. That means even when not in use, they leak tiny amounts of energy. You have likely ruined a flashlight or two from an old ruptured battery. When a battery runs down and can no longer power a toy or light, you think of it as dead; well, it is not. It continues to leak small amounts of electricity. As the chemicals inside it run out, pressure builds inside the battery’s metal casing, and eventually, it cracks. The metals left inside then ooze out. The ooze in your ruined flashlight is toxic, and so is the ooze that will inevitably leak from every battery in a landfill. All batteries eventually rupture; it just takes rechargeable batteries longer to end up in the landfill. 

In addition to dry cell batteries, there are also wet cell ones used in automobiles, boats, and motorcycles. The good thing about those is, ninety percent of them are recycled. Unfortunately, we do not yet know how to recycle batteries like me or care to dispose of single-use ones properly.

But that is not half of it. For those of you excited about electric cars and a green revolution, I want you to take a closer look at batteries and also windmills and solar panels. These three technologies share what we call environmentally destructive embedded costs.”

NM got redder as he spoke. “Everything manufactured has two costs associated with it, embedded costs and operating costs. I will explain embedded costs using a can of baked beans as my subject. 

In this scenario, baked beans are on sale, so you jump in your car and head for the grocery store. Sure enough, there they are on the shelf for $1.75 a can. As you head to the checkout, you begin to think about the embedded costs in the can of beans.

The first cost is the diesel fuel the farmer used to plow the field, till the ground, harvest the beans, and transport them to the food processor. Not only is his diesel fuel an embedded cost, so are the costs to build the tractors, combines, and trucks. In addition, the farmer might use a nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas. 

Next is the energy costs of cooking the beans, heating the building, transporting the  workers, and paying for the vast amounts of electricity used to run the plant. The steel can holding the beans is also an embedded cost. Making the steel can requires mining taconite, shipping it by boat, extracting the iron, placing it in a coal-fired blast furnace, and adding carbon. Then it’s back on another truck to take the beans to the grocery store. Finally, add in the cost of the gasoline for your car. 

But wait – can you guess one of the highest but rarely acknowledged embedded costs?” NM said, then gave us about thirty seconds to make our guesses. Then he flashed his lights and said, “It’s the depreciation on the 5000 pound car you used to transport one pound of canned beans!”

NM took on a golden glow, and I thought he might have winked. He said, “But that  can of beans is nothing compared to me! I am hundreds of times more complicated. My embedded costs not only come in the form of energy use; they come as environmental destruction, pollution, disease, child labor, and the inability to be recycled.”

He paused, “I weigh one thousand pounds, and as you see, I am about the size of a travel trunk.” NM’s lights showed he was serious. “I contain twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside me are 6,831 individual lithium-ion cells.

It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each auto battery like me, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just – one – battery.

He let that one sink in, then added, “I mentioned disease and child labor a moment ago. Here’s why. Sixty-eight percent of the world’s cobalt, a significant part of a battery, comes from the Congo. Their mines have no pollution controls and they employ children who die from handling this toxic material. Should we factor in these diseased kids as part of the cost of driving an electric car?”  

NM’s red and orange light made it look like he was on fire. “Finally,” he said, “I’d like to leave you with these thoughts. California is building the largest battery in the world near San Francisco, and they intend to power it from solar panels and windmills. They claim this is the ultimate in being ‘green,’ but it is not! This construction project is creating an environmental disaster. Let me tell you why.

The main problem with solar arrays is the chemicals needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels. To make pure enough silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone. In addition, they also need gallium, arsenide, copper-indium-gallium- diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, which also are highly toxic. Silicon dust is a hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.

Windmills are the ultimate in embedded costs and environmental destruction. Each weighs 1688 tons (the equivalent of 23 houses) and contains 1300 tons of concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass, and the hard to extract rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium. Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last 15 to 20 years, at which time it must be replaced. We cannot recycle used blades. Sadly, both solar arrays and windmills kill birds, bats, sea life, and migratory insects. 

Thank you for your attention, good night, and good luck.” NM’s lights went out, and he was quiet, like a regular battery.

NM lights dimmed, and he quietly said, “There may be a place for these technologies, but you must look beyond the myth of zero emissions. I predict EVs and windmills will be abandoned once the embedded environmental costs of making and replacing them become apparent. I’m trying to do my part with these lectures. “

If you took the time to read this in its entirety, thank you. I hope you found it worth your time.

Thanks to

Every Veteran wrote a blank check to us, the citizens of the United States. Many left the service better off than they were when they entered service. They got training and education and life lessons which made them better people, more capable of contributing to society. Some gave their lives, others gave limbs, and still others were left with psychological scars. All these wounds left a mark on the families of the service member as well as the service person. So in celebrating Veteran’s Day and saying “Thank you for your service” we need to also remember all the others who paid at least part of the cost of the Veteran’s service.

Thank you, Veterans. Without you and your sacrifices, we would be less free and less of a society.

Deciphering the truth from the jumble of media informing (?) us today is a real challenge. Whether it is due to bias, simple laziness in research, or malfeasance, much of what we read, hear, and see is far from the truth. We all fall prey to confirmation bias which causes us to find what we want in the news. But, should we not question much of what we read?

Below is an experiment you may wish to participate in to see how sure you are of your sources.

First, go to /2013/06/stairwell-magic/

Next, go to

Now, the most important part, please read the following

Does this make you question any of what the media provides to us? Any comments would be appreciated.

As a kid, I learned a life lesson while looking at leaves and bugs with my magnifying glass. A magnifying glass was a super present that I had received as a birthday gift from my grandfather. It was the basis of hours of fun in the back yard or down in the canyon by our house. Have you ever seen a kid’s eyes light up when first exposed to a highly magnified spider or the veins on the back of a leaf?

At some point while playing with it, a friend or maybe a friend’s big brother, showed me how to focus the sunlight through the lens to burn a leaf or start a fire. I was amazed that sunlight had the power to incinerate a green leaf by just focussing its energy. The tighter the focus, the faster the burn.

Yesterday, I opened the local newspaper and saw two articles on the front page about the hiring of a new Superintendent of Schools. That’s a really big thing in a small town. The first story was about the selection process and who was chosen, her background, what her salary and benefits would be, etc. The other article was headlined “Brockett focuses on equity”.

Throughout my life and business career, I have seen time and again that people with the ability and discipline to focus their efforts have succeeded while those who lack focus have struggled to make their mark.

As I look at our society today, I see most people, politicians in particular, wanting to be all things to all people. The result is a total lack of focus and an attendant lack of accomplishment. I have yet to see a professional athlete who got to where he or she was, at the top of the sport, who had not focused almost exclusively on the goal of success in that chosen sport.

My hope is that the article on “Equity” is just another example of a newspaper story that is really just an opinion piece. Hopefully it is just more ‘virtue signaling’ from our far left local rag. Certainly the new Superintendent will focus on Education. In this day and age when our State and Federal governments have burdened our schools with myriad non-education tasks (like feeding the poor, babysitting, public health, and political indoctrination), it will take all of her skill and experience to succeed in directing the education of our youth.

I also hope she does focus, but on education, because, if she does not, it is very likely that all children and all taxpayers will be ill served by her work.

I’m 74 and healthy. I am careful about contacts with others due to an excess of caution about Covid-19. I have read many sources who give proof that covid-19’s mortality rate is barely more than what we call the “common flu.” However, if I point out that a lot of the deaths counted as Covid-19 deaths are anything but, I am ridiculed as being a denier of science. I am more than skeptical about the numbers. When a friend’s father died, attributed to Covid-19, but in fact it was from his 4th heart attack, it took his family months to get the County Health Department to reclassify the death properly. When the total of deaths from all causes for the past year match almost exactly the numbers from each of the previous 5 years, it makes you wonder. It makes me want to ask:

If the USA has suffered 500,000 deaths due to Covid-19 in the past year, wouldn’t you think our deaths from all causes would have increased significantly?

If I suggest that I may not want to take an experimental vaccine just because my government says I should, is it fair that I should be forced to do so?

Why is it that the most aggressive voices saying that I must wear a mask and I must have the vaccine are the same who say that the government has no right to tell me I can’t get an abortion? “My body. My Choice.” Why not the same view as to other health concerns, like Covid-19?

Our government says it takes 8 – 15 years to develop a new drug or vaccine (see above Harvard chart) because it is unsafe until all the steps have been performed. That is the same government that says that it is completely safe to take a drug that has been developed in a year. Is it fair to ask, Why the mixed message? If the new Covid-19 vaccines are believed to save lives, and, as such, we needed to shortcut the “normal” process, may I ask, Why not allow the same shortcuts for numerous potentially lifesaving cancer drugs?

If the various Teacher’s Unions believe that it is unsafe for any teacher to return to the classroom until all teachers have been vaccinated is it fair to ask why children should be allowed back in class before all have been vaccinated? Or, is it possible that political power is the only good reason that the Unions have for withholding labor and shutting kids out of schools?

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