Upon gazing through this morning’s edition of the Reading Eagle, I happened upon an article that could well torpedo a portion of the agenda that Senator Obama has touted as a means to helping this country’s energy dependence and demand issues. The article outlined that several alternative energy companies and investment groups were going to either end or withhold future efforts or even curtail current projects, because of a basket full of tax breaks that are set to expire on December 31, 2008, if not re-authorized before that date.
Mr. Bingaman, a Democratic lawmaker, in Congress, came right out with the assertion that it is Congress’ fault for not granting continuation to the tax breaks for these alternative energy companies, if they fold up or stop moving forward with their much needed projects. A voice from the alternative energy industry voiced concern about the financial ramifications, if the need for their product doesn’t materialize, or if nobody wants it. I’ve got news for that person, we do want it, we need it, even if people get a knee-jerk case of “Not In My Back Yard” syndrome, or reduce themselves to being petty bickering fools over supporting alternative energy as somehow being about supporting a pro-liberal, or other type of odd lifestyle, and yes, there are those out there that would and probably do think that way.
While I do understand that some alternative energy initiatives are still in their infancy and some are more tested and proved than others to work on a large scale, some have been around for decades on a small scale, but with some legions of disciples and advocates and those who’ve invested or brought products and technology to market. Are they really saying that they have truly so little money or so little interest beyond their own greed that without any tax breaks they just can’t survive or are unwilling to do the right thing. I hope that’s not true, but absent evidence to the contrary that view seems somewhat likely, given what I read in the story.
Further, Mr. Bingaman could not be further from the truth that it is not Congress’ fault. It is the fault of our entire country and political establishment and business establishment that they have become so tied to notion that tax breaks must come with any commerce promoting program that without it, people would rather withhold their ideas and products that we may well very much need, as a form of perverse ransom.
Pennsylvania has for over a decade now, relied on many economic development programs, most notable the Keystone Opportunity Zone family of programs, having the elements of broad, multi-year or decade-long tax breaks or forgiveness entirely, in the name of developing what were supposed to be abandoned “brownfield” sites. While I can laud those efforts to a point of wanting to bring back into use those abandoned sites and giving aid to make them free of contamination or other site infrastructure needs, it is scandalous how willing states and the federal government have been to omit newly thriving or migrated business operations from paying billions in taxes, on the national whole for years and it continues to happen. Now the alternative energy crowd, once on the gravy train of tax breaks wants to extort its way into having more of that lotus leaf and will act like a spoiled brat if it doesn’t get its way. My what fine examples we are setting for children these days, but it is all MTV™’s fault or the internet, right. I don’t think so folks.
When I see this kind of continued nonsense from all walks of business, both mainstream and specialized industries, like alternative energy, it makes me further realize that labor needs to stay as organized as possible and keep a watch over its own, because those running the businesses are getting more and more away from anything resembling sanity and professional ethics. The1980’s may have been the decade where ruthlessness was the epitome of a good executive, and hostility was not only accepted but expected, but this decade has beat that one by a mile in my book, in terms of how out of line everyone with their hands on the reigns of business has become. Globalization has not made the world a more competitive place, where more alternatives have helped to make for a fair marketplace. It has become open season for hunting down competition and growing monopolistic conglomerations, with a hearty helping by our Most Favored Nation, China. Tax breaks have been given to companies that have waged and continue to wage this very type of assault on the seemingly sacrosanct philosophies of capitalism and free markets that are touted by business professionals and government officials frequently.
Tax breaks have their purpose and like any tool of government can be used wisely or abused excessively, and clearly we are in a time when abuse of this tool is rampant. The rest of the public is being held for ransom and it is another despicable case of business ransoming something we all need, to get a purely greedy grab for itself. This is not capitalism, this is economic extortion. If you break enough taxes, there won’t be anything left to fix what is needed to keep us going.
Obama and the Democrats can be the change we need, but only if they are willing to really make that change. The same can be said for selecting McCain and the Republicans. Yet, the real agents of change, must be each one of us, regardless of party or hometown, or other condition. We must ask ourselves why we settle for something, we do we choose to change something, what makes us tick, and to dare to be honest and complete in our self=inquiries. It is easy enough to sit down, read a paper or watch a news program and hear their news and simply believe or accept what is put forth. I urge all of you to have the character and the desire to look beyond it and build an wider understanding in your life. Otherwise, we are at the mercy of the next article, the next headline from the news anchor, or the next editorial we read.
Edited: To add minor content and typo correction 9-1-08 2:00pm EST