Fans of a powerful federal government have been applauding the Democrats takeover of two of our auto companies, and meet every criticism that we’re watching the socialization of private industry by responding, “well, the companies didn’t do such a hot job themselves”.
True enough, which is why many of us thought we should let them go belly up and see better companies replace them. Instead, we have Congress deciding where cars will be built, what cars will be built, how much they will cost (we taxpayers will be forced to subsidise the difference between cost of production and a low sales price), who should run the companies, how much they can spend on advertising, etc. And our government is just warming up – wait til plant closings are proposed for a powerful politician’s district.
None of that sways big government types, who can hardly wait for the same politicians to bring their cost-cutting skills to medical care. Well while they wait, the New York Times reports today on how the Stimulus funds are being spent, and you might want to read it before signing off on Obama’s health plan, if he ever reveals one.
As a result of a political compromise with Sun Belt lawmakers last decade, the enormous expansion of the weatherization program will invoke a rarely used formula that will devote 31 percent of the money, nearly double the old share of 16 percent, to help states in hot climates, like Florida, save on air-conditioning.
Many environmentalists say cutting electricity use for cooling is just as worthwhile as reducing the use of oil or gas for heating. But there are substantial questions about whether it is the most efficient way to save energy.
The nation spends twice as much on heating as on cooling, according to the federal Energy Information.
Repeated questions have been raised about the effectiveness of weatherization in hot-climate states. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which evaluates the program for the Energy Department, released a study last year questioning the program’s results in Texas, which will get $327 million in weatherization money from the stimulus law. The laboratory found that insulating homes did not save a significant amount of money on cooling, a finding it said was consistent with previous studies.
Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit group that favors weatherization, said the spending formula reflected the tension in balancing national goals with regional interests. “If you were doing it on a national basis,” Mr. Nadel said, “you’d do the most cost-effective jobs first, which would mean doing a lot in places like the Dakotas and Minnesota.”
It is this same political body that we are counting on to pay for reducing medical costs by wringing waste and inefficiency from the system. Can you say “rationing”? “Confiscatory taxes?” I thought you could.