Friday, December 10, 2010

Tax Debate or Obfuscation...???

One of the most intriguing parts of the tax debate is the dramatic inability to articulate the differences in positions distinctly enough to allow for making a clear choice. This leaves the American public mystified. On the one hand, tax cuts will be problematic to the government budget thereby perpetuating deficits. And on the other hand, it seems tax cuts are stimulative albeit with diminishing effect as one goes higher on the income scale. That is why a compromise may be made. And that is why opinion polls show American public support of extending the Bush tax cuts for all brackets. Who benefits from this confusion? Why is the American public opinion important anyhow? Do they even understand what's going on?

To illustrate, it isn't clear how an individual who makes millions of dollars annually will add jobs with the extra take home pay if they aren't a business owner. They'll have more disposable income but the increased likelihood (think marginal propensity to consume) of them spending that disposable income dollar by dollar diminishes. In fact, as one climbs that income scale, the propensity to spend diminishes & the propensity to save increases. Now, while an individual may save by leaving the funds in a savings account, purchasing a CD, investing in a mutual fund, etc, this is all savings. And while the term investing as used in an individual's case may connote investing, it actually is counted as saving in economics. In economics, individuals save and firms invest. And so, in saving how is this money being used to create jobs? Well, a bank may use the funds on deposit to extend a loan to a business to expand operations. Or help a business move part of their operations overseas. So, perhaps one can say there is a 50-50 chance that these proceeds will be used for either domestic uses or foreign uses. But many businesses aren't expanding operations domestically because they already have a situation of overcapacity.

Okay, so lets say this person is a business owner. It is unclear how likely a business owner is to take tax cuts and re-invest it into their business. For a businessperson to substantiate an investment activity in their company, there must be the attendant return. At this point, with so much capacity unused, what is the incentive for a business to expand their operations? And if they're expanding, as in the case of a small, growing business, what is the likelihood of them using funds from taxes vs getting a loan or an investor? And does all expansions include adding a position for a person to fill? Typically in times of a recession, there is an oversupply of labor that itself threatens those who continue to hold a job. At any moment one can lose their job or be replaced by a more willing candidate seeking a job – especially at a lower rate. So, employers tend to find willing, more helpful employees to take on more responsibilities. This is part of what typically leads to improved productivity in these times. So, how indeed does paying less taxes aid a business owner in adding more jobs? Or more pointedly, why would a business owner take their increased income and invest it into their company?

So, what we have illustrated here is the inability to distinguish between a business & an individual tax situation, between saving & investing in economic terms, the different tax usage implications, etc to get to the point of understanding how these issues affect the economy. I intentionally didn't answer all of the questions posed to demonstrate the added complexity of these issues. In my estimation, these issues are too complex for the American public to know enough to have an opinion. But this also demonstrates that taking a stance entails answering these questions. And depending upon how one answers these questions, one may see how a position is taken.

Overall, one gets the impression that much of the debate is intentionally obfuscated to create a smoke screen in order to get what is desired – keep tax the cuts across the board. And, good or bad, that is what they may be getting.

Friday, December 3, 2010

To Whom Do The Benefits Accrue?

In economics, an important question that is asked in economic analysis is: "To whom does the benefits accrue?" After making that determination, a value judgement typically yields a policy formulation. In the current state of economic affairs, we find ourselves saving more thereby spending less on consumer goods, paying down debts, etc. If there is any wonder why we're still in the "pain zone" so to speak, its because we're in a transition space with implications of structural realignment. But take a look at one aspect of the benefit accrual analysis: saving more means more money in bank accounts for banks to lend & lending is historically low, spending less on consumer goods is keeping jobs at bay as businesses still have untapped capacity and so lack an incentive to hire, households are paying down their debts and in doing so forgo opportunities to make consumer purchases that further complicate the situation. So, with more money in the bank & consumers paying down debts, this begets the following question(s): To whom does the benefits accrue? What is that money doing in the bank? Where does this money that is paying down debt going to? Who is benefiting from all of this?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pursuit of Happiness

The other day I watched Pursuit of Happyness Starring Will Smith et al on TV and it struck me at how ignoble the protagonist's wife responded to the lack of happiness in their life. The protagonist told her how weak she was on account of her inability to cope with the lack of happiness. What she didn't get... What he got... was that it's a pursuit... not something you get & hold onto... And what of the journey? There will certainly be ups and downs. And believe it or not; it is healthy to experience the full spectrum of human emotions. How are you responding to tough times?!

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." -- (John) Calvin Coolidge 30th President of the United States

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Florida will keep AC rebate money but program frozen

By Diane C. Lade, Sun Sentinel

7:34 p.m. EDT, September 28, 2010

U.S. Department of Energy officials say Florida will not lose federal grant funding for its "cash-for-clunker" air-conditioner rebates if state officials miss the Thursday deadline to authorize spending the cash. But the program still is frozen and probably will remain so until the Florida Legislature returns to Tallahassee in November.

Republican legislative leaders continue to insist a full legislative vote is required to get the rebates rolling to Florida homeowners who replace their central air-conditioning units with higher-efficiency models. Gov. Charlie Crist still contends such approval is not required and could be done by the legislative budget committee.

Representatives with the Department of Energy said Tuesday that the deadline for the state allocating the money was flexible and the agency did not want to pull the grant.

"We have not received any definitive response as to when the money would go back to Washington if it's not spent. So we are hopeful the Legislature will act soon," said Sterling Ivey, Crist's spokesman.

In the meantime, homeowners whose air-conditioning installations are completed can send in their rebate applications. But new forms no longer can be downloaded from the program's website at

So far,1,480 applications have been submitted. They are being logged in by their arrival day so rebates can be issued on a first come, first served basis as promised, Ivey said, but they are not yet being processed.

The Governor's Energy Office, which is managing the program, has said the $17.5 million allocation from the 2009 economic recovery act would be enough for about 10,000 rebates statewide. Homeowners could receive $1,500 back on new energy-efficient units that they purchased beginning Aug. 30 through the end of the year or until the money ran out.

Now consumers must decide if the upgrade is worth the risk. Cheryl Harris, executive director of the Florida Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Contractors Association, said member contractors are cautioning their customers that the rebates are not guaranteed and the program could be killed.

About 30 percent to 50 percent of clients with jobs in the pipeline have canceled them or put them on hold, Harris said. The state could lose about $4 million in sales tax revenue, Harris said, as well as millions in income tax revenue and permit fees.

Most consumers who go ahead with new systems before Dec. 31 still will qualify for the expiring federal energy tax credit, which is 30 percent of purchase price with a maximum of $1,500. But if they want to gamble on getting the state rebate, too, they'll need to spend an extra $350 to $700 for duct testing, and possibly more for duct repairs.

The federal tax credit has no duct testing requirements.

Along with the air–conditioning-rebate allocation, the disputed grant also contained $13.9 million for the Florida Solar Rebate Program. That initiative, which opened four years ago, racked up $52 million in backlogged rebate payments before it was officially declared out of money — and has been a controversial target.

Some legislators have called it help for the wealthy few who can afford solar systems. But other lawmakers have said the 10,000 home and business owners who installed solar panels or water heaters did so assuming they would get rebates.

State Rep. Maria Lorts Sachs, D-Delray Beach, last week urged the Senate and House leadership to immediately allocate the air conditioning rebate money but said nothing about the solar program. Ivey said it would be possible to approve the programs separately.

Diane Lade can be reached at or 954-356-4295.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Preamble to US Constitution

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A/C rebates up to $1,500 Begin Monday Aug 30

A new program will give Florida residents who buy energy-efficient air conditioners a $1,500 rebate -- as long as no more than 15 percent of the cool air leaks out of their ducts.
Get them while it's hot -- and save $1,500.

Starting Monday, Aug. 30, Florida will offer about $15 million in rebates for Energy Star-rated air conditioners, air source heat pumps and geothermal heat pumps. Each rebate is worth $1,500.

People who buy units from Monday, Aug. 30, through Dec. 31 qualify unless the money has run out before then. Purchases before Monday don't count.

Despite this summer's scorching heat, and the availability of other discounts including a federal tax credit, the state expects the money to last for a while.

New central air conditioners can cost several thousand dollars, and the state's program requires duct testing to make sure no more than 15 percent of the cool air a unit produces is leaking. That will require buyers to hire someone to test their ducts and possibly make repairs to qualify for the rebates.

``Air conditioning systems are not like kitchen appliances where someone will replace them when they feel like it. A homeowner will wait until their system dies before they replace it because those systems are so expensive,'' said Brenda Buchan, chief analyst in the governor's energy office. ``Because we are requiring the homeowner have their ducts tested to qualify, there will be some customers who do not want to be bothered.''

Duct testing must be done by a Florida Class 1 rater, Florida licensed mechanical contractor or recognized test and balance agent.

The state estimates that about 12 percent won't qualify because their duct systems can't be accessed for repair. The money, enough for nearly 10,000 rebates, is from the federal stimulus law passed in early 2009 that was given to states. The state is using $63,000 of the money to run the program, Buchan said.

To qualify, units must meet the requirements for a federal tax credit also designed to encourage energy efficient purchases. The tax credit is worth up to 30 percent of the price of a new unit, including installation charges, up to $1,500.

Single-room or window units are not eligible for rebates. They were included in a state appliance rebate program earlier this year.

At All Air of South Dade, Operations Manager Robert Dibenedetto said he welcomes the new program.

``It will be definitely be a little help,'' he said. ``Anything that reduces cost to the customer is a good thing.''

Duct testing can cost about $350, he said, and can be useful. Leaks mean ``you're air conditioning areas that don't need air conditioning.''

Dibenedetto said all manufacturers offer qualifying units, which must be rated at least 16 SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency rating, and 13 EER, or energy efficiency rating, for split system air conditioners.

Requests for rebates must include the application form, which will be available Monday, Aug. 30, at

An application must be accompanied by a copy of the receipt for the new unit with the make and model clearly identified, a copy of the permit issued by a municipality for replacement of the system, a copy of the first page of the ACCA Manual J program and a copy of the Air Distribution Test System Report that shows a leakage score of 0.10 Qn.out or less. Only Florida residents are eligible for the rebates.

They will be issued as American Express Prepaid Cards, which will never expire or have monthly fees. The cards can be exchanged for checks or an electronic deposit.

The rebates can be combined with manufacturer rebates, electric company rebates and the federal tax credit, which requires new cooling systems be installed at primary residences.

Energy Star ratings are created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Read more:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

energy shouldn't be... STRUGGLE

Energy shouldn't be struggle. But it is.

We come into sparse contact with the production of energy such that it is out of sight & thus out of mind. It is often an afterthought until we have to pay a bill, fill a tank, etc. But we pay very close attention when events create a higher state of awareness. For example, a power outage, hurricane damage, fires, earthquakes, other natural disasters, shortages, price hikes, oil spills, coal mine explosions, refinery fires, etc.

A few years (2005) back in South Florida, there were three hurricanes that hit the area: Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, & Wilma. At this point my growing interest in energy related matters was already about a year old. And I'd have conversations about these issues. As a result of these storms, many local residents lost power. Some for a few days. Others for a few weeks. These storms came through at a time of rising gasoline prices at the backdrop. And after storms, there would be long lines at gas stations for fuel & at supermarkets for ice. It can be tough as we've all grown accustomed to having these things. But losing it gives us the ready reference of appreciation.

Anyhow, an acquaintance shared how he was uncanny in being able to avoid much of the chaos. He told of how he had two generators that was sufficient to run the refrigerator, lights, & a couple of fans. He ran them 12 hours at a time switching them out to change the oil & refueling a few times during the course of operation. At the time gas prices were around $3 per gallon and the talk was of it reaching $5 per gallon. It never did. So, this acquaintance told of how he filled up his boat he had in the backyard with fuel before the storm to help weigh it down for the storm & to have fuel for the generator in the event of power loss. Lucky him. Two generators and a readily available, headache free fuel source. He ran this routine for the 5 days he was without power.

So naturally, interested in how this translated in dollar terms, I started asking pointed questions of how much it cost. He was also interested because he thought it was such a great feat to have power and avoid these harrowing lines. After much discussion, we discovered that for changing the oil, filter, & refueling the generators (@ abt $3/Gal), he spent the equivalent of $300 in 5 days. Multiplying this daily amount ($60/day) by 30 days equates to $1,800 per month. His typical monthly electric bill was $250.

What does all of this say?

In a time of need, he was willing to pay over 7 times ($1,800/$250 = 7.2) his normal electric bill to power a portion of his electrical needs. He didn't think about the cost, he knew he just needed power for his "basic power needs."

Why is this important?

We all take it for granted that we will always have readily available energy sources. And, at times, we don't always act responsibly with it and waste it. We also know how it impacts our daily lives & the environment. And we talk about making changes. Yet the only thing that has changed is perhaps the seriousness of the dialog. Change has been slow, lethargic even. Many talk about these issues but few are really equipped to sort through all the issues to even understand the complexities of the energy debate. And the layperson doesn't have time to get into technical details of what's what. The need as illustrated in my story is very clear. The need to act is unquestionable.

We sell & install solar in South Florida and here is some of what we hear:

It's the future.
The price needs to come down.
The government needs to do more to help.
I want to put solar panels on my home.
I'm tired of waiting.
I want to do my part.

When you're in business to supply solar panels & installation, and not enough folks are buying. You cannot justify staying in business. So, it shouldn't be any surprise that some have already closed their business. No one wants to be a statistic. VES will be okay because we have a robust mix of offerings. But, with these mixed consumer signals, it leaves one to wonder:

When will the need for solar be very clear?
When will we need solar enough to just act?

The promise of a clean energy future can be fleeting. And Energy shouldn't be struggle. But it is.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


When the incentives are such that it pushes you in the wrong direction, you can take a step back and say: "No this isn't right" and stop & change course. But when you see that many are being rewarded for complicity, it makes it all the more tougher the next time. That knaws at your conscience. Over time, diffusion of responsiblilty in a bureacratic environment makes it easy to rationalize doing something whether right/wrong/borderline. And that gives rise to such events as recent bank failures, malfeasance, oil spills, etc. Even so, many would agree that some bad actors got off scottfree and even rewarded with bonuses.

Yea, yea...Life's messed up...big deal... right?

Shirley Sherrod, stood before an audience and gave an honest assessment of her past experiences with racism, how it affected her, and how she overcame it. And her remarks were taken out of context resulting in a political whirlwind. She was, in short, being persecuted for her honesty. Just about everyone knows the story about how snap judgements were being made, etc... lack of due process... and on and on...

While all of this was going on a few things came to mind. They're disjointed thoughts that you can link yourself. Here they are:
1) When someone is being honest about something, take a moment to ensure you're not persecuting them for their honesty. There is a difference between a well meant shortcoming and blatant malfeasance. Also keep in mind, we make it too easy to lie & cheat vs stand tall and tell the truth. I have found that telling the truth is the most disarming way to diffuse a situation. In the end, we are humans continually striving for perfection and continually falling short of it.

2) Gone are the days when a Captain goes down with his ship. And his biggest care is against damage to the ship, cargo, & harm to his crew. Gone are the days... Today, one can run a ship aground, hurt some people in the process and walk off that ship and go to another job with minimal consequences to deal with... In my youth, that didn't exist even as a least that I was aware at the time.

3) When I was a Plebe at USNA, we used to read inspiring citation stories about brave warriors... you'd hear phrases like: "going above and beyond the call of duty," "reflecting good credit upon him/herself, unit, ...," and so many more! A few of my classmates exemplified this in Iraq & Afghanistan. Why can't we celebrate this more?! Why do we have to tear each other down and cast aspersions upon one another?! Why do we have to talk so much about all these negative stories?! Why?!

4) I've been exposed to many types of injustices. And I've been exposed to very, very, very, very, very, very mild forms of racism a couple of times. Of all the forms of injustices I've experienced, it is one of the most unhinging experiences. I lost all mental coherency and shut down. Don't do that to a person. It's undignified, manipulative, and unfair.

5) Until we alter the course, we'll keep heading straight for where we're going... DO YOU WANT THAT TO BE SO?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Companies pile up cash but remain hesitant to add jobs

If corporations are sitting on so much money, why aren't they hiring more workers?

The answer to that question has become a political flash point between the White House and big business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which held a jobs summit Wednesday and accused the Obama administration of dumping regulations on businesses. That has created an environment of "uncertainty," which is causing firms to hold back on hiring as the unemployment rate has hovered near 10 percent, the Chamber said.

In my industry, we need the US Congress to act on legislation that will create the certainty required for investment flows that will aid in driving growth. An excerpt from Tom Friedman's NY Times Op Ed for today illustrates this sentiment:

...Lew Hay, the C.E.O. of NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Power & Light, one of the nation’s biggest utilities, e-mailed to say that if the Senate would set a price on carbon and requirements for renewal energy, utilities like his would have the price certainty they need to make the big next-generation investments, including nuclear. “If we invest an additional $3 billion a year or so on clean energy, that’s roughly 50,000 jobs over the next five years,” said Hay...

What's interesting about how the Chamber is projecting it's argument, is that it is focusing primarily on the Obama administration. However, their aim (in this instance) should also be at the US Congress. And more pointedly at those who are blocking this legislation in various ways. They're focusing squarely on one person/group (President/Administration) when there are more who are culpable for inaction.

At the end of the day, the US Government doesn't have the kind of control over the economy most think it does. And the main reason corporations are sitting on cash doesn't have as much to do with the uncertainty of current government actions as they're leading you to believe. This argument is mostly about political posturing by a group that disagrees with the current ruling party's policies. There's nothing wrong with disagreement, but surely they could point that out and maintain some semblance of integrity.

Taking a broader view: How is this any different from other areas of the economy that needs to be addressed? I think it's disingenuous to focus on only one person or group. And most agree that the politics of today -- on both sides of the political spectrum -- leaves much to be desired.

So, instead of playing the blame game and all this disgusting back-and-forth banter, lets get up and do the right thing. Not because we could demand it of ourselves. But because it's the right thing to do.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pass A Clean Energy Plan Today!

Brigadier General Steven Anderson (Ret.), Chief of Logistics in Iraq under General David Petraeus, calls for the U.S. Senate to pass a Clean Energy plan. He says, "Our troops are getting killed moving fuel we wouldn't need if our military was more efficient -- and our enemies know we're hooked on their oil?. That's why breaking our addiction must not only be a military priority, but America's mission, and why the Senate needs to pass a clean energy climate plan."

Anderson's call for more energy independence and a move off of fossil fuels is the latest in a steady stream of both active and retired military calling for a clean energy revolution.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Energy-Saving Measures Can Add $20 of Home Value for Every $1 of Yearly Energy Cost Savings

When it comes to home value, a solar power system may be your best “remodel” option. Based on a recent study by ICF Consulting (funded by HUD and the EPA) energy-saving measures such as solar can add $20 of home value for every $1 of yearly energy cost savings.

Find these articles here & here.

That means, for every $1,000 saved annually, a home appreciates in value by $20,000. Most states have property tax exemptions that protect you against paying increased taxes on such improvements. This is definitely a substantial economic benefit.

Thursday, July 8, 2010



The fine, fierce new documentary "Restrepo" tracks a year in the lives of a15-man U.S. Army platoon under fire in the Taliban-ridden Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. It's hard to imagine a less agenda­driven filmic experience than that of these soldiers' daily lives. The film takes its name from a platoon medic we meet at the beginning, whose fate provides the picture with its narrative spine.

I saw an interview with the filmmaker of this documentary film where he talked of how was asked by the soldiers: "Do you think they know we're out here?"



Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lets Talk Economics...

There is a lot of talk lately of tightening the belt. Much of that is based upon the notion that we spend too much individually and that we're doing so because of how we see our own government spending. That belt tightening, has now morphed into talk of austerity measures that our government should take in order to avoid the same fate as Greece.

I recently asked some friends & acquaintances via facebook, etc for their thoughts and they seem to echo this sentiment. When pressed, some were able to provide some insights as to why they've drawn their conclusions. As I press further and further, however, the conversation drops off. So, what I've found was that they do indeed have good points. These are things we really need to do -- at some point. When and how do we get there is probably the most overlooked issue and thus underaddressed.

For all the talk of austerity measures, not all of the discussion is based in sound economics and that can be disturbing. This is so because, if one draws circumspect conclusions without sound economic analysis, the implications can affect not just our entire nation but the world.

Lets forget about the world for a moment. There is already talk among economic circles of a double dip recession or even a depression. Not just that, there is also talk of deflation. There is lackluster job growth and the jobs picture remains disappointing. And there is also talk of the federal stimulus being insufficient & thus ineffective (perhaps not effective enough).

If we start a pullback of federal deficit spending, how can this affect the economy?

Well, here is a brief explanation: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the measure of what we produce & sell and is essentially the value of what we earn as a country. GDP per capita gives us an understanding of how a particular level of income affects our standard of living. So, for a given level of GDP, if it decreases (c.p.), for the same size population, that translates to a lower standard of living than one is previously used to. The American Consumer accounts for 2/3 of GDP activity meaning they account for 2/3 of the consumption in the economic output. Inflation, the increase of price over time, is a necessary aspect of economic activity as it ensures value is added over time. However, if unchecked it can be damaging. And deflation is generally considered bad as it has the opposite effect as inflation. In economics, one also considers to whom does the benefit accrue. And in the case of inflation, the benefit accrues to the ones adding value. Whereas, deflation transfers the benefit to the purchaser of goods. This then disincentivizes a producer from engaging in economic activity as there is no value added incentives to that producer.

Okay, so as I explain more about economics in the above paragraph, it gets more and more complicated. And it is even more complicated than described here. So, how then can someone take a circumspect notion and make a decision that affects hundreds of millions? This previous post may help understand circumspect conclusions.

So, continuing the discussion... We have about a 9.5% national unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is defined as the number of people without a job and actively seeking employment. The natural unemployment level is around 4 to 5%. Natural unemployment is the number that we're stuck with even during expansionary economic periods. This 9.5% number is a bit dubious as it does NOT take into account those who are so discouraged they've given up looking for work. The real unemployed level may be around 15% or roughly three times the natural unemployment rate and growing. I say growing as there are people (such as high school or college graduates) entering the job market some of whom cannot find a job too.

After laying all of this out, here is an equation that will help illustrate what is going on:

Y = C + I + G + (E - I)

Y = Income or GDP
C = Consumption
I = Investment
G = Government
(E - I) = Net Exports

In order to maintain a certain level of GDP the variables on the right must change levels. Recall that GDP helps determine the level of standard of living for that population. Since consumption accounts for 2/3 of economic activity and approximately 10% less consumers (15% - 5%) are able to make purchases as they are unemployed, the Consumption variable decreases. Additionally, businesses put future economic activity on hold and Investments are down. Its common knowledge that we have a trade imbalance with developing nations such as China and of course we import more oil than we're able to produce. Therefore, Net Exports is negative although less negative than it would otherwise have been as we're not importing as much due to the downturn. Government spending has been high depending upon how you look at it. It is too controversial to get into, but, it has gone even higher to overcome the negative effects of the other variables.

In order for our economy to recover, we need to re-employ some of the unemployed so they can rejoin the ranks of the consumer segment. And this may precede business investments as consumer spending and thus demand must be at a level that initiates this action. There is a point at which government spending can affect Investments as it causes a crowding out effect for funding in financial markets. And that is tricky too. But after all of this, increased government spending has been the means employed to increase the right side of the equation to maintain GDP at or around its level necessary to maintain our standard of living, etc. This is being done at the expense of higher government debts that we will all have to help pay down. This future expense is taking us closer to being like Greece. However, if we don't emerge out of this economic situation and grow, we will be in an even dire situation than now. And it could accelerate our Greece-like experience. To avoid this, we need to emerge from this economic downturn and grow and make some structural changes.

Take a look at this exchange between both sides of the argument here. And this summation also.

This summation aligns closely with what I believe is a good remedy to the problem first proposed: When and how do we get there?

It is important we get this right because, as the world economic leader, what we do now can affect the lives of not just the hundreds of millions in our population, but billions worldwide. Simply put: too much is at stake for us to get this wrong.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Clifton Hotel is the First Hotel in South Beach to Install a Solar Powered System

The Solar Photovoltaic System is a 14,580 Watt Fixed-Tilt 150 mph Hurricane Proof System installed by VES. This system is a local engineering feat as it is a low penetration and a tilted system. All commercial flat roof systems being installed in the region are installed flat in order to meet the 150 mph Hurricane code requirements. If VES had installed a flat system at this site, it would have required over 300 roof penetrations. VES installed this system with less than 10% of these penetrations. The system is also a Fixed-Tilt system at 10 Degrees. This helps in improving the system's overall production. VES also installed 3 inverters, 1 for each row of panels to help mitigate any effects of shading. This also keeps the system producing if there is a problem with one of the inverters. If one inverter goes down for some reason, the other two will continue to produce power and continue to replace fossil fuel generated electricity.

The Clifton Hotel is a LEED Project that will be the first LEED Certified Hotel in South Florida. They are going for the highest designation -- LEED Platinum.

Clifton Hotel South Beach

Monday, June 7, 2010

Better energy solutions

June 7, 2010

While the Gulf Coast oil disaster unfolds before us, Congress is considering a bailout for the oil industry. The Senate will soon take up a resolution to undermine the Clean Air Act — the law that protects the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The "Dirty Air Act" was crafted behind closed doors with lobbyists who represent oil companies, and it would roll back decades of progress we've made to reduce air pollution from dirty fossil fuels.

As a veteran of the U.S. Navy, one of my urgent priorities is to reduce America's dependence on oil. This is something I have personal experience with when I protected the Kawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal and the Al Basra Oil Termina during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. It was there that the USS Cole-type attack took the lives of several sailors and the first Coast Guardsman to die in combat since the Vietnam War.

We spend a billion dollars a day to buy oil from abroad, and that endangers our national security. The last thing we should be doing is another giveaway to the big oil companies.

Our leaders in Washington need to know there's a better way. The time for talk and half-measures is over. The Senate is considering comprehensive legislation to invest in clean energy and help end our reliance on fossil fuels. Our leaders need to reject the Dirty Air Act. And it's time for them to support policies that will lead us to a better energy future.

Russell Otway, Veterans Energy Solutions, LLC, Opa Locka

A 25kW Industrial Solar PV Install by VES for Niagara Bottling LLC

A 25kW Industrial Solar System installed for Niagara Bottling. Niagara bottles water for its Niagara label found in places like Lowes. They also do private bottle labeling for the likes of Kirkland, Publix, Winn Dixie, etc. Client was very pleased with the neat install. They said: "This is the neatest install I've ever seen!"

A 5kW Solar Project in Southwest Miami Dade

A 5kW Solar Project in Southwest Miami Dade we recently completed for a Professor at FIU.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Is there Logic in Politics?

When it comes to politics, I've found that most people have a simple, circumspect viewpoint. Whenever I try to understand their underlying logic, I only have to drill down so far to realize that their belief is driven by someone else's conclusions they've pawned off as their own. But they take it as a given & can get really angry when challenged.

Anyhow, that is probably the best indication of how a weak foundation in math & science is afflicting our society today. There is no rigor in analysis nor is there any visible evidence of hypothesis testing. Hypothesis testing doesn't necessarily have to be formal, however, one can suspect they have a notion of how something works out and find out more about it to see if that really is so. By doing so, you complete a few iterations in understanding your underlying assumptions. And you no longer have a shallow understanding of the problem.

Why is that important? Well for one, if you're going to get so emotionally invested in a perspective, then you should spend some time understanding why you feel that way. Otherwise, you're just getting angry for no good reason. We also need to elevate our level of understanding because the complexity of our problems today is increasing.

Another result of my findings is that there is a tendancy to use a modified form of DesCartes's "I think therefore I am" as "I think therefore it is" & that is the end of the analysis. This should be the beginning of the analysis as this is essentially the hypothesis. Or more pointedly, this is a prematurely drawn conclusion.

Lost in all of this is the fact that we have an oversimplified explanation for a more complex problem. If we can't shake off this apple is red associative logic then we cannot possibly solve the problems of tomorrow. Kids use fast mapping where for example, they associate the color of an object such as the apple is red to learn things. We need to be more mature in our analysis and move beyond simply associating things. For example, saying that government deficit spending is like consumer over-spending isn't necesarily true. It is an over simplification of how it would affect the economy and one should spend some time in understanding it before drawing conclusions.

One can argue that we have a moral responsibility to understand the conclusions we're drawing because they carry the motivation of our actions. Keep in mind that in Ephesians 6:12 in the Bible, it tells us that: we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Stop spewing hate & racial slurs. Learn more about math & science and sit down with Excel and build a model first before you start drawing conclusions. At the end of the day, the fighting men & women of our armed forces want to fight for a noble cause. They don't have a choice in the battle they fight -- our Political Leaders make that choice. But in other arenas we have a choice. And there is nothing more ignoble than fighting for a cause you don't understand.

Spewing hate doesn't impress me! Pick up a gun and go defend our country! That'll impress the heck out of me!!!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mr. Otway Goes to Washington

The Otways are available for interviews, by phone and in person.

Please contact Repower Florida Communications Director Blake Williams at

312-772-5253 or for booking.