Yesterday's defeat of the Keystone Pipeline means that US Senator from Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, is finished as a politician. Facing a runoff election against Republican Bill Cassidy, Landrieu basically asked the still-Democratic senate for a break in trying to get legislation passed for the Keystone Pipeline, a popular piece of legislation in the Bayou State.
Well, that didn't work. Instead, the environmentalist wing of the Democratic Party once again showed its ugly face, killed the bill, and pretty much ended this Southern Democrat's career. Another Senate seat goes to the Republicans.
Never mind that every environmental study said that the Keystone Pipeline, like the millions of miles of other pipelines going through the country, is quite safe. Never mind that the Keystone Pipeline will be approved once the Senate goes Republican. Never mind any of that. Mary Landrieu was sacrificed on the altar of climate change religion.
So while Keystone's initial defeat is just a minor setback for the pipeline, it marks yet another conservative Southern Democrat effectively kicked out of a party increasingly stacked with environmentalists, race-baiters and divisive feminists. And unfortunately there seems to be little room for anyone else under 'The Big Tent.'
If liberals are scratching their head as to why they lost so bad in this year's election, look no further than what happened to Mary Landrieu. She is a microcosm of what's going on. Southern Democrats, "Blue Dog" Democrats and working class whites are all being shoved out of the Democratic Party. They're not listening, and they do not care.
That fact probably makes Germans uneasy. They're far more comfortable with the idea that the world still hates them. Have you ever seen Germans at a soccer game? They can't even cheer for their own country without feeling guilty.
And for the last 20+ years Der Speigel has been writing articles that claim Germans are 'learning to like themselves again.' If anything, that's just evidence that Germans still aren't able to. Poll after poll has also shown that most Germans consider themselves "European" before German. But if that were true Germany would have opened its labor market to Poland as soon as the latter joined the EU. It didn't. Germans would have had no problem bailing out their fellow Europeans in 2010. Most were against doing so. Germans say they view themselves as Europeans first. Yet they behave in a very different way.
That's always been the problem with Germans, hasn't it? How can a man ever learn to like himself if he isn't honest about what he is?
"Don't cheer so loud, OK? We fear what we might do if we get too passionate about our country..."
Germany is the strongest country in Europe and an economical superpower, yet it refuses to project that power in the world. Even when doing so is in Germany's national interest. Why? Because of World War II.
Germans have a unique culture with a brilliant history and they know it! Yet they try to pass themselves off as 'just European' and 'the same as everyone else.' And then they wonder why foreigners can't integrate into Germany. Kinda hard to integrate into a culture that the host can't even talk openly about. Because of World War II, of course!
Germany insists that it is an open, democratic country. Yet, it has overt political censorship laws that rival North Korea. Germany today actively censors and persecutes minorities... because in the past it actively censored and persecuted minorities. Because of World War II.
Germany's entire national consciousness is about World War II. Yet World War II is the very reason why the mere mention of 'national consciousness' makes most Germans uneasy... On account of World War II.
Germans are a living paradox. A high-context culture where up is down and yes is no. World War II is the centerpiece of the German mindset and the key to understanding that paradox. Yet, Germans themselves will try and shoo you away from that understanding at every turn. They've "moved on" and "only wish you would too." It's only fitting that the key to 'getting' Germany is exactly what Germans hate to talk about most.
And of course, they haven't "moved on." The paradoxical world that Germany resides in today is evidence enough of that.
But the next time you see a German, try telling them that Germany is now the most well-liked, highly-regarded country in the world. Nothing makes Germans more uneasy than a foreigner telling them that Germans are exceptional and the best in the world. That's OK, though. Do it anyway. Germans need to hear it.
What would you do if your utility bill was 25% lower? The price of electricity in the US is steadily going up, and it's low-income people who are bearing the greatest impact.
Usually when the economy is slow, energy prices drop and provide some kind of natural stimulus. Indeed, prices of both coal and natural gas have been low over the last few years as global economic growth has lagged. Unfortunately, your utility bill has kept going up: Residential electricity costs have risen by over 3% per year for the last ten years despite reasonable natural gas and coal prices.
What's to blame? Renewable Energy Mandates' that most states have adopted over the last ten years.
It's no secret that wind and solar carry higher costs per kilowatt hour than coal and dry gas do. Just two years ago, ten states had residential electricity costs below 10 cents per kilowatt hour. Now only three states remain under 10 cents. Rising electricity rates in a time of stagnant income has added to the misery of millions. Thanks, green energy.
Louisiana is one of the few states that said 'no way.' And, surprise, surprise, Louisianans enjoy 25% lower electricity costs than the national average. On average, Louisianans pay only 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour for their electricity. Even Texas has adopted renewable energy mandates, and cost per kilowatt hour there is 12 cents.
As of 2012, natural gas, nuclear and coal accounted for 8,500 GWh of usage in Louisiana, while renewables accounted for well under 500.
Economical energy generation has not only helped keep the bills low, but it is also partly responsible for the petrochemical renaissance in southwestern Louisiana, which has put thousands of people to work. There are currently an unprecedented $47 billion in petrochemical plant projects in the Lake Area right now.
Cameron LNG plant under construction near Lake Charles
Lower electricity prices are a direct shot-in-the-arm to low income folks who spend the greatest portion of their paycheck to keeping the lights on. It's a 'tax cut' that goes right to their pockets. Unfortunately, Democratic legislators have widely pushed state renewable energy mandates and have raised electricity prices on low-income earners at a time when wages are stagnant at best and unemployment is high.
Repealing these hurtful 'renewable energy mandates' should be a high priority for a Republican-majority congress. However, I have a feeling that this issue will fall right through the cracks if voters don't put pressure on their representatives. One way or the other, these renewables mandates need to go.
A neat article from the Guardian on Taiwan offering direct payments to boost its birth rate. Direct payments have been tried before in several other places and its effect has been marginal at best. Alarmingly low birth rates are a problem much deeper than just income and money. Religious conservatives try to spin it to "abandoning the traditional family," but that's not really true either. Countries which inflexibly cling to old values about work and family: Japan, Germany and Korea, have some of the most stubbornly low birth rates in the world. So that's not it.
Developed countries with high birth rates have 1) reasonable housing and 2) flexible work arrangements. Developed countries which don't have that, for whatever reason, will have lower birth rates.
Taiwan fails on both counts. Home ownership in Taiwan is shockingly expensive, not least because most good jobs are centered in Taipei. Imagine if, in America, you had to move to the New York metropolitan area to get a decent job? How many of us would be able to afford starting a family? Not many.
Work culture in Taiwan is nothing short of atrocious. Employees have no real rights. They often work twelve hour days, not because they're actually needed for twelve hours, but because there's this sick culture of "If you aren't suffering, you aren't a good worker." Six day weeks and unpaid overtime are the norm in Taiwan.
When I worked in Taiwan (in several places, mind you) I would clock out as soon as my work was done. I soon learned that this was a big no-no. My boss "encouraged" me to "stay with my fellow employees" until the hours they left.
So let me ask you: If you're a woman, you're working 10-12 hour days, six days a week, you're constantly stressed out and to top it off you can't in your wildest dreams ever afford a home... Are you going to have kids? And would a direct payment of about $1,000 sway you? Probably not.