Posts Tagged ‘government

Cost of Washing Reusable Bags

Posted in Insightson Aug 20, 2014

According to this USA Today article, you should wash your reusable grocery bags once per week to avoid getting sick.  How much does it cost to wash your bags?

Suppose you wash all your bags in a separate load of laundry, once per week.  That load of laundry requires:

  • About 1.1 kWh of electricity to wash in a front-loader and 1.4 kWh to dry for just 20 minutes.
  • About 15 gallons of water for your front-loader washer
  • Laundry detergent.

In Fort Collins, water rates are $2.53 per 1000 gallons, sewage rates are $3.34 per 1000 gallons, and about $0.09 per kWh of electricity.  Member’s Mark liquid detergent from Sam’s Club costs $0.11 per load.

For an entire year of washing reusable bags every week, you would use:

  • 130 kWh of electricity
  • 780 gallons of water (and sewage)
  • 80 ounces of laundry detergent.

For a total cost of: about $22 to wash your reusable bags once per week.

Fort Collins recently passed an ordinance requiring stores to charge $0.05 per disposable bag.  For the $22 cost of washing bags, a person could instead “buy” 440 plastic bags.

Environmental Cost: The main motive for charging for disposable bags in Fort Collins was the environmental impact of those bags.  What is the environmental impact of washing the reusable bags?  What is the environmental impact of producing the reusable bags?  What is the environmental impact of reusable bags that are worn out and thrown away?

Why I’m against SOPA and PIPA

Posted in Politicson Jan 17, 2012

There are bills underway in the U.S. Senate and House that have very dangerous consequences for the Internet. SOPA and PIPA are meant to protect intellectual property online, but they give far too much enforcement power to the government.

The bills allow the government to immediately shut down entire websites because they didn’t filter user content that might help someone obtain an illegal copy of something. For example, Wikipedia could be shut down immediately and without warning because someone posted an except of a book that they didn’t have permission to post. Facebook could be shut down because someone posted a link to a picture that was copied without permission.

This would be like the government shutting down and entire mall because someone walked through it with a copied CD in their pocket. According to these bills, the mall should have searched people before they entered the mall to make sure they didn’t have any illegal copies of media on them.

These bills go beyond punishing those who illegally copy intellectual property. They will also punish anyone who allows any communication about such piracy. Since the Internet was built on the ideals of allowing people to freely communicate, punishing people who allow free communication will severely hinder the Internet. These bills would mandate censorship of the Internet, punishing people who allow free speech.

On Wednesday, Wikipedia and other web sites are going dark in protest of these bills. I support their protests. While shutting off access to the sites may seem extreme, it is only an example of what could happen to those sites if these bills are allowed to pass.

The latest U.S. government debt debate was very painful, and congress should but probably won’t, learn from that pain.

The problem is that our government spends way more than it collects (from taxes).  To make up the difference, the government takes out more and more loans to pay for all that spending.  After years and years of spending like a crazy college student with their first credit card, the government has racked up tons of debt.

The latest round of some members of government begging for the ability to take out more debt, and other members of government trying to put conditions on the increased debt allowance, should teach congress that nothing is free.  Every bit of spending comes at a price.  With the latest debt debate, congress took a quick glance at the price tag of all that debt they’ve racked up, and it hurt.

So hopefully the next time congress wants to approve some amount of spending, start a new program, or join a new war, they will remember the price of spending.  The next debt debate, which is right around the corner, will be a lot more painful if congress keeps on agreeing to spend more and more.  We know that more government spending cuts are coming up, so congress needs to realize that every dollar spent now means an additional dollar cut from other programs like medicare or social security.

Why are taxes complicated?

Posted in Politicson Apr 3, 2010

I have a new theory why taxes are so complicated. They are purposefully complicated because the government wants you to use a tax return preparation service. They want someone else to do your taxes for you because they want you to be less aware of how much taxes you actually pay, and if you aren’t crunching the numbers yourself, then fewer people are going to know how much they really pay.

It follows the same reasoning why taxes are deducted before the pay check is cut, because people tend not to miss money they never knew they had.

I think people should have to send the government a check every month, in the same way they might pay a utility bill. If people inked out a large dollar amount to the government each month, I think they would be less supportive if new government programs and the politicians that sponsor them.

Trust in governement

Posted in Politicson Aug 17, 2009

Under President Obama, our government has been busy on new programs and policies, the largest of which is a new public health care program.

I recently came across this poll, which shows how much American’s trust their federal government.  Except for just after September 11, 2001, American’s in large do not trust their government, sometimes by a 2-to-1 margin.

Graph showing large distrust of government

If there is so much distrust to our government, why would we trust them now to create a huge government project like public health care?  That is not to say that something shouldn’t be done about health care, but is government the most trusted organization to fix the problem?

Even if people trust the current government, what is to say that they will trust the government in 4, 8, or 80 years?

If we can put a man on the moon

Posted in Politicson Aug 13, 2009

Way too often, I hear phrases like, “If we can put a man on the moon, then we should be able to accomplish some other great feat.”

For example, a quick Google search for this phrase in the last week resulted in 171 pages, which included the following:

Marvin Eisenstein leaving a comment on a NY Times blog:

If we can put a man on the moon I am sure we can solve the health care problem.

Kent Halla, in a letter to the Silver City Sun-News:

Why, if we can put a man on the moon can we not cure cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.?

An anonymous comment in a forum asks:

If we can put a man on the moon in less than a decade, could we not help repair the only planet we’ll ever know by showing the same dedication and bearing the same burden of common purpose?

But the problem is, we can’t put a man on the moon.  According to a Washington Post article, “NASA doesn’t have nearly enough money to meet its goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020.”

Our government no longer has the ability to put a man on the moon.  Although President Obama appointed a special Human Space Flight Plans Committee, the committee found that the governement would not commit enough resources or dedication to put man on the moon anytime in the next decade.

So we are stuck with a government who can’t do what they did 40 years ago: put a man on the moon.  I don’t know why they think they can take on the governement, make cars more efficient, cure cancer, fix healthcare, etc.  We pretty much have a government that is incapable of doing much of anything other than consuming tax dollars.

Update (December, 2014), XKCD Comic:

Don’t ride alone

Posted in Funnyon Sep 30, 2008

From the national archives exhibit, “Powers of Persuasion,” comes this government publication to promote car-pooling.