Archive for January, 2009

First off let me say that I am proud of Susan Collins for voting against Tim Geithner’s nomination to the position of Secretary of the Treasury. On the other hand, our other Senator, Olympia Snowe, who probably won’t get my vote if she runs again, voted in favor of his nomination. Politics is a dangerous game, and with the Great B.O. in power, things are going to be changing even more, and not for the better. True Conservatives are going to be able to regain lost power as the true agenda of the OWG crowd starts to become too heavy a burden upon the American taxpayer. I still think he will be a one termer. Unless of course he suspends the US Constitution and elects hisself Prez fer life.

State-wise, I see that rules were passed in the house prohibiting text messaging while in session. Good idea. Problem I see with it that the Lobbyists might not be able to manipulate discussions on the floor. How the hell is Hannah P. and the rest of the leftists going to know what to say?

One of the new items coming from Augusta is a product of the left called An Act to Ensure Fair Pay. The law is supposed to allow 180 days for a worker to challenge a paycheck the worker thinks is discriminatory. Question I have is how is the worker supposed to know if his pay is discriminatory? The only way to find out is to compare the workers pay against other workers in the company in a similar situation and see what they are getting paid. However, doesn’t that mean that the employer has to divulge confidential information to the worker questioning the discriminatory paycheck? I mean, an employee’s files are considered personal and confidential, so if a third person looks at what that worker is making, isn’t that a breach of confidentiality? Would that not open the employer open to a lawsuit from the employee(s) whose payroll information was divulged?

I don’t have a problem with equal pay for equal work, everybody should receive a fair wage for their work. But I also believe the Feds are going too far in creating a society whereby the regulations discourage the growth and investment in the workplace. Way too many laws on the books today, and the leftist’s are still not happy.

Yesterday David Cole, Maine’s Transportation Commissioner, said that Maine could well inherit 139 million from the stimulus package being debated in Washington, provided the Congress follows what the plan says to do in doling out the bucks. 139 million ought to go a long way towards fixing up Maine’s infrastructure.

The stimulus, passed tonight by the house in a 243 to 189 vote is going to cost you and I 819 billion dollars, that’s 819,000,000,000.00 tax provided dollars. Let’s illustrate it another way; a dollar bill is six inches long, so if we put them end to end, they will reach 4,914,000,000,000 inches, or 409,500,000,000 feet, or maybe even136,500,000,000 yards. That’s a whole lotta touchdowns. A mile is 5,280 feet, so all of those bills would stretch out to 77,556,818.19 miles. Hell, the world is only 24,901 miles around so we could wrap the world thirty one times with that much cash. That’s just an approximation, and I think the math is slightly off, but you get the picture

But anyways, Cole says that maybe the money could go towards resurfacing 295’s northbound lanes, like they did the south lanes last year. I don’t know what it would cost, but since asphalt prices are dependent upon oil prices it should be substantially less. However, once the roadway is paved, where does the money go? It goes to give some construction workers a few weeks of work, and a big paving company some bucks for the till, but that’s all it does.

If Maine is going to compete in a dying marketplace for new businesses, how come the stimulus money is not going towards actually stimulating the economy? One of the options would be to reduce the tax burden overall, or develop some sort of reduced tax burden benefit for new companies. How about using the money as a no or low interest loans to hire new employees in startup companies. Maybe loans to by new equipment that would increase productivity and improve our GDP?

There are lot of ways my tax dollar could be spent, but every one of them is going to cost me more money. It will raise my tax burden. Maybe the best way to stimulate the economy would be for the governments at both the Federal and State levels to reign in expenses and cut taxes. Cut jobs at the state and local level that are non essential to the operation of the states infrastructure. Individuals and families across Maine are cutting expenses and making do without in order to make ends meet and weather this recession/depression or whatever you choose to call it. It’s the sensible thing to do.

But no, not in Maine. An AP article says “The leader of the labor union representing state government workers says Maine lawmakers should consider raising taxes to avoid job cuts.” Apparently Bruce Hobson, president of the Maine State Employees Association, pulled Comrade Baldacci aside saying that “lawmakers should consider raising revenue from those who can afford it.” Typical socialist drivel. Take from the rich and give to the poor. Robin Hood was just a fairy tale, just like Baldacci’s budget. Maybe instead of stimulating the economy, we should think about stimulating these morons.

Apparently these people are not aware of the fact that it is those who have money that provide jobs for those that don’t have any. Mr. Hobson and the rest of the union activists should bear in mind that it is we, the taxpayers who pay for his salary and all those benefits he enjoys, not Mr. Baldacci. And we, the taxpayer are getting pretty P.O.’d at having to pay more and more taxes so people like Mr. Hobson can have a pretty easy life.

Bailout News…..

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E10, The Fools Fuel?

Posted: 23/01/2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I’ve been off for a few days, but I’ve still been tracking some of the happenings around Maine. Particularly the issue of E10 as we now have it available state-wide, or pretty darn close to it by now. I had mentioned a price hike of 5% by the end of the second week of January, and pretty near hit it dead on for a change. I fill up at the same location every Friday, and the price from when I made the prediction went from $1.639 per gallon for 87 octane up to $1.759 per gallon, a .12 cent increase, or about 7.5%, rounding off to the nearest penny.

But that’s OK because the drop in mileage helps to take the bite out of the pricing increase. I’ve lost about 2 ½ miles per gallon on average. But what makes it even easier to bear is that fuel blended with alcohol isn’t even mandatory in Maine. Figger that one out, pardner! So why the hell are we even getting stuck with this water as gas fuel product?

Ostensibly, the reasoning behind blended fuel use is to introduce an oxygenate into the fire and reduce noxious and toxic emissions from your tailpipe. I’m all for that, but really, this isn’t the way to go at all. If just adding an oxygenate to your gas would do the trick, why then do they not eliminate 87 octane fuel, and just allow the hi-test to be sold, which has a higher octane rating of 89 or so? But that’s not really the true reason for watering down the whiskey now, is it?

You see, we’ve all been scammed by the UN and their favorite global catastrophe mouthpiece, comrade Gore. We have had the myth that global warming is caused by mans needless use of fossil fuels, and the only way to reduce the nasty CO2 emissions is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Not gonna happen anytime soon folks. We need oil and coal, whether we like it or not. And petroleum based fuels are the most efficient fuels on this planet to date. Except maybe for nuclear power, but who wants to drive around with a nuclear reactor under the hood?

There are some basic problems with using a blended fuel at the current ratio allowed, which is the E10 blend, or ten percent alcohol and ninety percent gasoline. Actually, the problems are so severe that while some aircraft are allowed to operate on automobile grade fuel, all aircraft are prohibited from using fuels with alcohol as a blending agent. A sputtering car on the turnpike is bad enough, but just imagine a sputtering airplane at 10,000 feet! And sputter they do. Newer cars are of course engineered for alcohol blended fuel, but older ones, like mine are not. So I either have to plunk down a huge wad of lucre for a newer model, or be punished for not being able to afford to do so.

I have lost a lot of the oomph when starting from a dead start, especially on the really cold days. It’s that noticeable. But let’s take a look at a document that tells us exactly what kinds of problems to expect;

  1. The addition of alcohol to automobile gasoline adversely affects the volatility of the fuel, which could cause vapor lock.
  2. ·Alcohol present in automobile gasoline is corrosive and not compatible with the rubber seals and other materials used in aircraft, which could lead to fuel system deterioration and malfunction.
  3. ·Alcohol present in automobile gasoline is subject to phase separation, which happens when the fuel is cooled as a result of the aircraft’s climbing to higher altitude. When the alcohol separates from the gasoline, it may carry water that has been held in solution and that cannot be handled by the sediment bowl.
This is from the FAA’s bulletin CE-07-06 titled Special Airworthiness information Bulletin. Again, alcohol blended auto fuel is prohibited from use in aircraft. So why is it OK for your car? The stuff is corrosive, decreases volatility, causes phase separation in increasing severity as the temperature decreases, (perfect for when it gets below zero) and has a hard time being handled by the filters on your car. Are we that stupid as a nation that we let these political flunkies tell us what to do? Apparently so.

The biggest reason we are forced to use E10 in Maine is due to the passage in 2005 of the Energy Policy Act which mandated an increase in renewable fuels. Sort of a fools fuel, because once you consume a fuel, how can you renew it? You can’t, so what they are really talking about is not actually a renewable fuel, but a renewable source for that fuel. Enter the bio-fuel market, stage left. The nation met this mandate by introducing 4 billion gallons of ethanol into the stream in 2006, and another 9 billion gallons in 2007. But like I said, Maine is not required to use ethanol, so why are we?

We are using ethanol because we are under a federal mandate to add an oxygenate to our gasoline, which ethanol does, and is. We had banned MBTE as an additive as we discovered that it does not get consumed in our motors, and was found in increasing levels in some groundwater sources in Maine. Question here is since MBTE is a known carcinogen, why was it used in the first place? goes back to the are we that stupid question, I guess.

Why is it so important to use ethanol? Check this out from the state of Maine webpage here; Maine Public Law 650 provides a state fuel tax incentive of 1 cent per gallon of E-10. A federal tax incentive for refiners and distributors exists for certain gasoline blends of ethanol (in the case of E-10 the “blenders credit is 5.1 ¢ per gallon of ethanol) , and has created an industry incentive to use higher volumes of ethanol;…

So to bring this discussion home, we find that overall, E10 has 3% fewer BTUs or so, which reduces our mileage and performance by a like amount. Hence the lower number of miles per gallon. If you have a gasoline powered engine from before 1980 you should seriously think about changing your plans for running it with blended fuel. It will cause some damage to your rubber O rings, gaskets and so on. It will also cause corrosion in steel, and especially aluminum tanks and fuel lines. Don’t even think about putting it into a fiberglass tank from what I have heard. Also plan on frequent fuel filter changes.

All that adds to the cost of running your engine, thanks to special interests in Washington getting preferential treatment. And tax breaks to boot. The problems are in fact bad enough that the state of Maine requires storage tank owners to inspect and replace their equipment if it is not compatible for use with ethanol. Adds to the cost of saving us from global warming that isn’t, doesn’t it? We give the producers of ethanol tax breaks and subsidize their operations, and they make us pay more for the use of that fuel. Makes a whole lot of sense to someone, but not to me.

Topless Coffee Shop Approved…

Posted: 09/01/2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,
Topless coffee shop. Well, it got approved unanimously by the Vassalboro powers that be. Wonder how hot the coffee will be?

Interesting that with all the crap and corruption going on in Maine today that this is the piece that gets national attention.

The Joseph Soley VS City of Portland Smack-down continues as tenants sue for costs of moving. In a PPH article from yesterday, Katherine McGovern was quoted as saying “I think our strategy is going to be to try to collaborate with the city to file a lawsuit against the landlord,” It’s seems pretty certain that Mr. Soley will be out a hefty amount of cash here. But questions remain to be answered. For one, since a fire in 2007 alerted the city to problems in the buildings, why have they waited so long to evict? Secondly, why hasn’t Mr. Soley done the responsible thing and taken care of the so called problems? Thirdly, why is the city forcing these evictions in such a short amount of time, after knowing about the situation for sixteen months? Fourthly, if the violations are rally as bad as the city claims, why did they not take the effort to alert the tenants that they were living in an unsafe situation, and that their lives may be at risk?

But the I have to ask again, are these violations really all that serious? Is the risk really as great as the city of Portland claims it is? Or is there maybe something else that’s not being addressed here? What’s hiding under the rocks in Portland’s back yard?

Unintended consequences pop up with nearly every action we take, sometimes good, other times…not so good. I read in the PPH that a long running ‘stand of opinion’ is coming to a climax in Portland’s Old Port this week. The gist of the argument seems to stem from a series of disturbances and complaints from as far back as 1998 with Joseph Soley, the owner of several commercial buildings in downtown Portland. Apparently, the breaking point for 10 Exchange St. came in September of 2007 when a small fire alerted fire dept. officials of the potential hazards in the building, according to the article.

So my question, based upon the article is multi pronged.

One; if the fire hazard was so great, why did the city of Portland wait so long to evict Soley’s tenants? I mean, if there was that much danger what would have happened if a fire had in fact broken out prior to this date? Who would have been liable for the ensuing deaths and injuries? The city, for failing to enforce code regulations? They knew about the situation, and did little to alleviate it.

Two; since there appears to have been a long running dispute between Soley and the city of Portland, does this appear to be more of an arm twisting action against Soley? Is the city of Portland evicting the tenants more for the reason of retribution, or is it more for the reasons of safety, which Portland appears to have ignored by allowing the building to be occupied for so long.

Three; why is it that none of the tenants seemed to be aware of the problems the building posed? Why did some of them seem to become first aware of the situation when eviction stickers were placed on their doors?

Why is it that we always let government officials do as they please here in Maine, with absolutely no level of responsibility for the actions, and the consequences of those actions? This situation should have been settled long ago. If the tenants were unruly, as the article implies, why were they not evicted years ago? Sounds to me as though Soley needs to take care of his tenants by fixing the problems, if they actually exist, and the city needs to stop using these people as hostages in their little spat with Soley. If they can get away with emptying 10 Exchange St. in their little war with this one landlord, what can the rest of Portland’s landlord expect in the future? More heavy handed threats? Do as I say or I’ll put you out of business! So sayeth the city of Portland. Or is that just another unintended consequence?

The economy is of course, the main event in Maine, always has been, always will be. I’ve been reading some clips from most of the states press about the rising enrollment in the local colleges. I’d like to say that’s a good thing because people are interested in learning new things. Not really so good though. The reason enrollments are up is that people are trying to develop new skills to get new jobs. Not a good thing. According to some reports, many Mainer’s are going to be locked out of some programs because of the high enrollments. But we’re not alone. This clip from Oregon tells more…

And of course, gas prices are a large part of this rural economy we have in Maine. The prices will be climbing back over the two dollar mark by springtime. I’ve said it before, so it’s no surprise the mainstream media are finally reporting on the hikes…

Some of my gas stations that I use are now up to $1.749 per gallon, up from $1.699 per gallon last week, so it looks like my 5% hike prediction is on target. We’ll see how close I am this Sunday.

The libs up in Augusta like to tag along behind the Left Coast Socialists in California, especially when it comes to taxes. Cal. State legislature has hiked the gas tax by .39¢ per gallon, and are threatening another $2.10 per pack tax increase on cigarettes. Are we going to be far behind, or are we going to finally stand up and say, no new taxes! I doubt it. We read in paper after paper that almost every state is making massive budget cuts, and raising taxes. Most states require that budgets be balanced, with the exception of Vermont, go figure.

But in arriving at their balanced budgets they too often raise taxes instead of reining in expenses. The state is not a business, it is not supposed to make a profit. So why do they behave as though they should? Instead of cutting non productive areas of expenditures like welfare and social engineering, they cut in places such as infrastructure maintenance and development. The budget battle is just getting into gear this week in Augusta, but I’m sure in a few days the headlines will be plastered with all of those Oh boo hoo special interest groups crying about how the state should give them a free ride.

Pretty disgusting, in my opinion. Put ‘em to work staffing the unemployment offices that are supposedly understaffed. Have them clean streets and work on beautification projects. I say no more free rides. The taxpayers of Maine can no longer afford to keep paying an ever increasing percentage of their incomes for these special interest social programs.

That’s Dan’s Maine View for Wednesday, January 07, 2009…

The top news in Maine today seems to be the topless news story from Vassalboro. An AP article has spread the word far and wide that Donald Crabtree has applied for a permit, but refuses to discuss his plans for a new coffee shop in a former Rte 3 hotel. The article says “Neighbors have mixed opinions. Some say Vassalboro is a rural town and that a topless coffee shop would bring the wrong crowd. But others say they’d like to see a business make a go of it there.”

I don’t know how Crabtree will get with the idea, but it’s a fair piece to go just for a coffee for my money. Besides, what if he plans on hires nothing but gay men as waitpersons? To each his own, as they say, but if the wait staff is topless, how would they themselves get service when on break? After all, isn’t the state law, no shoes, no shirt, no service, or something like that?

Back to reality, and the now rising gas prices. I had mentioned previously of some goings on in the world of politics and the environment, and one thing that will really drive the cost up is this new regional agreement being hammered out between 11 eastern states over controls regarding carbon content of fuels. Apparently, the states are trying to reduce the carbon footprint and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. An article in the LA Times says that “Refiners would be forced to reduce the carbon content of their gasoline and diesel. Proponents hope to speed adoption of alternative fuels and clean vehicles in what would become a huge new market for such technology.”

Funny that I had to find the largest article on the subject so far on the Left Coast. What this means to our prices is that wholesalers will have to put more effort into blending, and that will drive the cost even higher than it would be. Mass energy Secretary Ian Bowles was quoted as saying “Working together, the 11 states from Maine to Delaware will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, spur the development of clean energy technologies like advanced bio-fuels and electric cars, and reduce our dependence on petroleum,”

Seems to me that if we really wanted to reduce consumption we would be looking at improving the entire transportation system. Maybe start developing a regional electric train system for commuters and travelers. Make it less convenient to drive around in the first place maybe?

But at any rate, we’ve bounced off the bottom of the deep end of the gas price pool, and prices are indeed on their way back up. Light sweet crude settled in at $48.58 per barrel for February delivery. The lowest price I could find was at a Gulf station inPortland for $1.559 per gallon, and the highest was a c-store in Dixmont at $1.999 per gallon.

It seems as if the only thing keeping the prices from skyrocketing over the Gaza situation is the fact that the US just keeps dishing out more bad economic news. With the volatility and fluctuations of the market these last few weeks, it’s hard to tell for sure what’s going on, except for the fact that it will be a very long year, financially.

In other energy news, Joe Kennedy’s good buddy Hugo Chavez has suspended donations to the Citizens Energy low income heating assistance program, reportedly due to money problems. I thought we were supposed to be reducing our dependence upon foreign oil. Kennedy says he’s trying to find help elsewhere, but it looks like just Mass. is going to get that line of assistance this heating season.

In other big news, at least in some minds, is the decision by Plum Creek to back out of the deal with the US Forestry Service to pave over logging roads over FS lands in Montana that lead to some or all of the Plum Creek developments in that area. A Washington Post article quotes PC’s Kathy Budnick as saying “When we heard about the concern for further input, we said, ‘Well, that makes sense,’ and we apologized and set up some [public] meetings,” It’s tough to decide which tipped the boiling pot over at this juncture. Rey tried to push the change in the lease agreements through as one of Bush’s last pieces of paperwork, and it certainly looked like it was going to be signed, so what happened? Perhaps the pressure is working?

And speaking of the Plum Creek/Moosehead issue, I have nearly completed my book, ‘Is Plum Creek Right for ME?’ Be watching here for more details later this month!

In a turn for the good, it looks like the US dollar is still gaining against the Yen and Euro, presumably due to the optimism created by the Great B.O.’s forthcoming stimulus package. Think the news is good now, wait till the tax bill comes in the mail. Somebody’s got to pay for those 600,000 new employees Obama wants the federal government to hire.

Perhaps housing will be the biggest issue here in Maine over the next eighteen months, since most people either own one or rent one here in Maine. Sales are down, and with it comes lower prices. Bad for the sellers, great for the buyers. But eventually things will even out and the prices will go back up again. This next piece from Wisconsin tells the story pretty well, although the numbers are different there than they are here in Maine.

Up or down, in or out, the economy is going to be a hard row to hoe for everyone. Here in Maine I do believe it will get worse before it gets better. Especially given the fact that our elected representatives do not appear to care squat for the taxpayers that voted in this last election. We really ought to let them know what we think about their tax and spend habits.

That’s Dan’s Maine View for today, January 6th.