Month: September 2008

Someone gets it! The ludicrous nature of National Grid requests

There seems to be a general sense of outrage against corporate interference in our lives and our government. it’s not something you’ll ever see in the mainstream media, you have to be able to think for yourself and realize that all this time we’ve never had control of our government during the last century and a half. Instead, we’ve seen the ascendancy of the corporation as ruler.

Read up on the history of what General Motors did to striking workers in the 1920’s. They essentially paid thugs to beat the crap out of those seeking better working conditions and pay. Nice huh? People say you can’t battle a nameless, faceless corporation. Not true, those corporations have two things that we can use to control them.

The first is that the officers of the company have liability. We’ve seen this over and again when the heads of corporations have been put on trial, sentenced, and served their time. But I don’t think this is quite good enough as the corporation goes on and on, barely buffeted by the event.

Instead, I’d like to see revocation of corporate charter. Without that you can’t hide behind the false legal identity of a corporation. Without that charter it would be necessary to liquidate corporate assets. Maybe take the money that was gained from liquidation and roll it into government coffers and use it to pay for universal health care, or maybe fix our crumbling infrastructure.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen far too many instances of utility and energy companies shitting upon their customers, and the customers paying for the ‘privilege’.

National Grid’s request for a rate increase to cover losses incurred through conservation efforts, when also coupled with their request that the ratepayers finance their advertising campaign to get more customers to switch to natural gas is just the icing on the cake.

It goes back to when it was Narragansett Electric. They were just beginning the I-195 relocation project and it involved moving high tension electric wires that ran over India Point Park. A long and lengthy battle ensued with the end result being that we the customer paid to bury those ugly cables.

How about the wasted effort and energy expenditure by the chief counsel for environmental affairs at the Department of Attorney General. I wouldn’t want to see Mike Rubin out of a job, but the crap he goes through just to get what was then PG&E to install scrubbers and water coolers is ridiculous.

It’s been proven time and again that installing scrubbers and other technologies would be a small cost for utility and energy companies. But through their insipid resistance, we see a change in our ecosystem. Cold water fish are migrating further out from Narragansett bay, all because a power plant operator doesn’t want to spend a little cash.

Put it this way, go down by National Grid’s power plant in downtown Providence and look at the water near it in the dead of January. Notice it’s still liquid and flowing? That’s the waste heat from the power plant. Even they won’t cool the water down before discharge.

Of course corporations in general don’t realize that if you keep stretching people, they’re going to break at some point and when they do, there go the profits.

I was talking to my father about this. He wants to go off grid with solar and wind but I explained to him that he should keep a close eye on the actions of the incumbent energy provider. Why? Read what I’ve written above about revenue protection measures for National Grid. Lets say my father goes off-grid and sells power BACK to the power company.

No way in hell he’d get from the company what he pays them for electricity. He’d be lucky if he got half. And I told him that he shouldn’t put it past the company to enact a tax the penalizes those going off grid. At least not when they have the stones that National Grid has where they asked for more money because of a revenue drop off due to conservation.

It’s similar to friends of ours. They have a cute house in the southern half of RI that uses a cesspool. Yet they still pay a sewer assessment because the pipe for the sewer runs past their house. I find it hard to believe the employees of the Warwick water board can keep a straight face when they tell people that even though they aren’t hooked up to the system, they still have to pay for it.

Anyhow I’m not the only one who gets it. Apparently Mr. Charles Pinning gets it too. This is why you have to read the editorial sections of the newspapers. Sometimes a gem like this pops up. But Pinning does have a reputation for being a crank, as evidenced in this google search.

Charles Pinning: What to tell National Squid

01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, September 20, 2008

CHARLES PINNING

THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT time of the year for me,” she said. “Don’t mind it if I buy you a box of crayons.”

It was Labor Day weekend, and she looked across to him. Her eyes were red and wet. Her daughters were grown-up and off on their own, but she talked about how much she had enjoyed getting them ready for school each year.

Fresh tears rolled forth. “Shall we visit them?” he asked.

She shook her head. “It’s not that. . . . I was at the Shaw’s in East Providence today . . . and the people — oh my God!”

“Just horrible-looking?”

She nodded.

“I don’t see these people. . . . I go to Whole Foods . . . East Side Market. God! They just looked — Aaaah! . . . ”

“Misshapen.”

She nodded again. “They were so skinny. . . .This one little man, his jeans were all bunched up behind,” and she pressed the heels of her palms together to show how small his bottom was. “Or they’re so fat!” she said, spreading her hands apart. “And their faces. . . . I have never seen faces like that. And they were filling their baskets with crappy food, and paying out their dollars one at a time. But they had their re-usable bags. That has been drummed into them. They are trying . . . but they don’t know where to begin. Go to Shaw’s — that’s where the rubber really meets the road.”

“I know, darlin’, ” he sympathized. “I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life living on the west side of Providence, seeing it every day.” “And the children crying and the mother’s slapping them and screaming at them and cursing and saying, ‘C’mon!’ ”

“I know, sweetheart. . . . It’s about education . . . and parents raising their children responsibly. Being home with them. Spending time with them. Reading to them. Guiding them responsibly. And being given a chance. They just. . . .” and she held her hands out, palms up, shifting them back and forth.

“Right — they’re always kept off-balance. It is the goal of corporations to do this. Deny traction, and you keep people herky-jerky, running in place and churning profits for you. Listen to this:” (He picked up the newspaper.)

“August 27, Business section, front page, headline: ‘National Grid asks rate hike of about 5 percent.’ It goes on to say . . . ‘National Grid also wants the Public Utilities Commission to restructure distribution rates in a way that would protect the company from revenue losses that result from the conservation efforts of its customers.’

“Got that? The raping has been so blatant for so long that National Squid feels it can come straight out and essentially say, ‘You can conserve all you want. We’re still going to squeeze the same amount of money out of you! We’re just shifting the charges to another area.’

“It’s the same thing that the Narragansett Bay Commission is trying to pull by asking the PUC to raise rates because of revenue loss due to customers’ conserving water over the past three years. People logically think they’re going to save a few bucks by using less water or less natural gas — but no! The utilities . . . Narragansett Bay . . . they’re petitioning the PUC to get the same level of bucks they want no matter how much water or gas you use. Where’s the incentive to conserve? We might as well keep nice and cozy and warm, or use as much water as we want because they’re gonna get the same amount of money, whether you use five therms of gas or five hundred; a thimbleful of water or a hundred gallons a day!

“How do I make it clear to people that these corporations have people on a gerbil wheel? That instead of being rewarded for doing the right thing, you will be punished.”

“Say it just the way you said it.”

“But will people hear it? Will they see that we are taking a screwing, so that Grid can show profits to its shareholders and pay its CEO Steve Holliday $3.6 million a year . . . so that Narragansett Bay can continue to funnel hundreds of millions to construction companies to dig a billion-dollar hole in the ground?”

“Just keep on telling it. Also, try to mention that natural gas belongs to everybody — National Grid only delivers it.”

“Oh, sweetheart — the Cherokee in you is coming out.” That brought the tears afresh.

Charles Pinning is a Providence-based writer.

A Nation of Village Idiots


What we’re seeing now is the complete and utter corporate greed and malfeasance manifesting itself.

We need to disabuse corporations of the notion that they have the same rights as we flesh and blood citizens. They don’t. The 14th amendment was never written to confer those rights on corporations. Instead, a comment in the 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad judgment assumes that corporations are to be treated as people.

What these corporations fail to realize is that promoting their own agenda through government is very detrimental to all of us. Right now we’re on the precipice of another depression. Yes I know, the Federal Reserve was formed to prevent that from happening, but the Federal Reserve is a cartel of all the big banks. Did we really think they wouldn’t act in anything but their own interests?

Back to my point, if they do push hard enough that a depression occurs again, they’ll have committed the worst form of suicide. For avarice is one of the bigger sins out there.
More on Economy
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

RI Unemployment up to 8.5%

So the ProJo had another interesting blurb. Our reported unemployment rate is 8.5%. Now this is just people who are collecting on unemployment insurance claims, and don’t forget that RI just got an additional 13 week extension for the program. But it still doesn’t tell the real story.

I’ve got friends in many different disciplines, and one of them is in economics. I’m told by this friend that the reported rate is usually only 1/3 to 1/5 the real percentage of population unemployed. So we’re looking at true unemployment figures of 17% to 25.5%. Consider RI has a population of a million people, of that million I believe about half are the working population. So it’s anywhere from 85,000 to 127,500 people are out of work in RI.

Hell, I have to haul myself out to Massachusetts every day. There are no jobs here in RI and they don’t pay worth a god damned.

And in the article they mentioned the state should do a financial stimulus but since the state is in crisis it’s doubtful that will happen. Hell, I already explained why the state is in the mess it’s in.

Stop giving tax breaks to entities that don’t need them. Let CVS, Fidelity, BofA etc. pull up and move. It isnt’ cheap to do so. They have to weather the bad economy just like us.

This and that

Ok, so I feel its time to vent and maybe heap a little praise.

First, why do towns in MA only put sidewalks on one side of a street. I’ve noted this is fairly common in Braintree, MA. Not only that, they put crosswalks in the least convenient places. I guess I’m more sensitive to this because I grew up in a city where crosswalks are EVERYWHERE there is a corner, and even when there isn’t.

That said, in RI you take your chances in a crosswalk whereas in MA people will actually come to a stop to let someone cross the street at a crosswalk. Kudos to the MA drivers.

The other thing I’ve noted is that the telephone poles in Braintree mostly look like they’re going to fall over at any moment. I guess they couldn’t find straight enough wooden poles. Probably a deal they got when MA Electric was the carrier.

I have noted they’ve been doing better on the Red Line Braintree to Boston run. They push the hell out of the older cars now. They push so hard we go rockin’ down the tracks, seriously. But at least it gets me to South Station with anywhere from five to seven minutes to get to the commuter train back to Providence. And it’s been consistent so far this week. Amazing.

Another thing I’ve noticed is people in Braintree seem to be very friendly. That sort of takes me aback because I’ve got the old yankee reserve thing going on.

Troppe informazioni martedì numero uno centocinquanta due – rieseguire edizione (TMI #152)

I know, I know. I’ve been remiss with the TMI Tuesday thing. I’m finally getting into the rhythm of things with the long commute.

1. Ever been stalked an ex? Stalked an ex? Or stalked ‘a you’d like to be’?

Yes I have, as a teenager. This girl had the hots for me and she’d call my phone and tell me how hot she was for me. It got to the point where she realized I wasn’t interested in playing her game then she got nasty. I shot it right back at her, asking her how she could be so into me and then so against me when she knew she couldn’t have me. Drama!

2. How often do you reach orgasm during sex? Has then historically been true?

All the time and yes historically true. If you’re gonna start something you’d better be prepared to finish it.

3. Teeth when used during oral stimulation, good or bad?

Sometimes good, depending on what part of the body is involved. Usually not as welcome the further south one goes.

4. How many times is the most you have ever had sex in a 24 hour period? How many different sexual partners have you had in a 24 hour period?

In a 24 hour period, eight. Definitely eight. Different partners in a 24 hour period? Hmm, I’m not that debauched so I’d have to say three on that count.

5) Would you rather run naked through a crowded place or have someone email your deepest secret too all your friends?

The deepest secret to all the friends. They already know what it is anyhow or else they aren’t my friend.

Bonus: Have you ever kissed your partner on the lips after oral sex without brushing teeth, nor washing/gargling/rinsing out mouth? Turn on or off?

Sure have. And it’s neither a turn on or turn off. Now ass to mouth is a hotly debated topic. I haven’t had any experience with that of note so we don’t need to go there.

The origin of the Young Earth Creationists

So I’m reading Chris Impey’s book “The Living Cosmos” when I run across his mention of the origin of the young earth crowd.

It happened in 1654, James Ussher said that the genesis of Earth occured at 9:00AM on October 23, 4004BCE. And of course this was refuted by James Hutton in his “Theory of Earth”. But lot of good that did us. We still have morons around who believe that a 354 year old fiction is reality.

Just thought you’d like to know where it came from.

Why is the RI Budget $33.6 Million in the Hole?

Something appeared in the local rag which tells a story of why RI is $33.6 million in the hole.

Check this out:
TAX SAVINGS
Each company below received more than $1 million in Rhode Island tax breaks for the year ended June 30.

Name Amount
CVS $17,230,650
Fidelity Investments (FMR Corp.) $10,049,844
Brotherhood Productions* $5,484,600
Bridesmaid Productions* $4,144,901
Hachiko Productions* $3,006,463
UTGR (Twin River) $2,406,595
Bank of America $1,742,621
Total $44,065,674

* Movie/TV production companies
SOURCE: Based on report by R.I. Dept. of Revenue’s Division of Taxation

Tax breaks for business
The R.I. Dept. of Revenue studied six different types of state tax breaks to see which businesses claim them and how much those businesses receive:

Tax Break Summary Number of Recipients Total Amount
Tax rate is reduced a certain amount for every 50 new employees hired. 12 $21 million
Sales tax break for construction of new facilities. 13 $18.2 million
Tax credit for companies that film movies or TV shows in state. 4 12.8 million
Tax credit for business in distressed area “enterprise zone” that hires new employees. 87 $1.8 million
Tax credits as incentives for innovation and growth generally involving science and technology. 4

$300,000
Total $54.1 million

For year ended June 30, 2008
Source: R.I. Dept. of Revenue’s Division of Taxation

Now that you’ve seen the data, let me say a few things.

Should you so desire, you can total up the tax savings and tax breaks to come to a total of about $98 Million dollars. And the state is in the hole a third of that amount.

Next, why the hell do companies like CVS Caremark and Bank of America need tax breaks? Last I looked they haven’t exactly been beneficial to Rhode Island, they just take and take and take.

Then there is the Twin River property. The state through it’s ineptitude managed to completely destroy the economic feasibility of what could have been a premier gambling establishment.

Twin River was once Lincoln Downs. They used to have regular dog races there. Then someone got the bright idea to install Keno machines, then video lottery, then slots, and I’ve heard they now want to add table games.

But RI in it’s greedy grubby little fashion takes almost half the cut of the profit. Any company providing the service is automatically at a disadvantage since they have the debt service and the state gets half the take. A better solution would be to give the Narragansetts management over the facility. Then they get their casino that they want so badly.

The other thing that bugs me in the tax break section is that science and technology gets a measly $300,000 in breaks. If you ask me that chart is upside down in the last column. Leave the left hand columns as is but take the amounts in the right column and flip them upside down. Pump $21 Million or more into Sci/Tech and watch things take off. Providence by its nature is a science and technology incubator. We have vibrant groups like Providence Geeks, DC401, etc. on the computing and electronics front but we need much more. The RI Nexus is a good first step.

One of the problems I see is academia. It needs to step into the 21st century and become the incubator for the next great societal change. And in dealing with academia over my career I’ve found that they have their set way of doing things, and heaven help you if you try to change it.

So instead of growing science and technology we keep pissing away money to big companies and movie and tv production firms. And if one looks at their representative government, you’ll find that we the citizens have no voice in their actions. Instead people who proudly call themselves lobbyists do the bidding of their corporate masters. Personally I’m of the opinion it should be open season on the lobbyists and their corporate masters. We need to send a very clear message to our ELECTED representatives that they will do OUR bidding and not that of a corporate entity which I consider a fraudulent legal entity.

There are many things causing the RI deficit and the prime candidate is tax breaks. And to Governor Carcieri, no it’s not the state employees, and no it’s not the immigrants. Look back inward and see the real problem, unmitigated greed.