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Month: May 2009

The Lesson of Unintended Consequences

The Lesson of Unintended Consequences

Those of you interested in economic policy who are not familiar with Henry Hazlitt's fable of the broken window, now is the time to learn it.  I was reminded of it, and the late, great Hazlitt's wonderful book "Economics in One Lesson," after reading a recent Economist editorial, "Piling On."   The fable, and the Economist editorial, both focus on the law of secondary (or unintended) consequences.  Simply put, any purposeful action will lead Read more [...]
The Bottomless Pit

The Bottomless Pit

Every month we think we're getting closer to the bottom of the housing market and when the data come out we inevitably hear the same thing: "We're almost there". Well guess what? Another month's worth of data on existing and new home sales and still no evidence the carnage has ended. Moreover, home foreclosure data suggest the housing market might not exit its free-fall for quite a while. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), nearly 1 in 25 mortgages were somewhere Read more [...]
A Little Ol’ Transmission Fable

A Little Ol’ Transmission Fable

At a meeting of western states on the subject of renewable transmission, one state official lamented that the major obstacle to new lines, in some specific cases, was the federal government itself, with disparate agencies creating multiple hurdles. I found the comment non-intuitive. Isn’t transmission siting primarily restricted by disagreements between states on cost recovery and a NIMBY mentality? Since the comment was made in an off-the-record setting, I filed it and moved on until substantial Read more [...]
Ouch, My Aching Greenback

Ouch, My Aching Greenback

A warning by Standard & Poor's about the possibility of a credit rating downgrade for the U.K. sent a shockwave across global bond and equity markets. With the U.K. government spending and printing large sums of money to resurrect the economy, analysts are expressing fears about the rapid accumulation of debt-with public debt possibly rising to a share of almost 100 percent of GDP within the next four years. Even the utterance of these words by a credit rating agency focused attention on Read more [...]
Why a Memorial Day?

Why a Memorial Day?

Memorial Day did not start out as a celebration day, a party day, a shopping day or even a time to thank those who have served or who are serving the Nation. It was meant as a time of remembrance and honor for those who had given the ultimate sacrifice in protecting us while in the service of this country. Originally called Decoration Day, specifically for Northern solders killed during our Civil War, it was later expanded after WW1 to include all men and woman who had made the ultimate sacrifice Read more [...]
Why Are We Even Talking About Card Check?

Why Are We Even Talking About Card Check?

Brian Worth, chairman of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, wrote an excellent editorial for the Washington Post in which he calls into question the need for the misnamed "Employee Free Choice Act" (HR 1409/S 560) or even a "compromise" designed to get around the problems with EFCA by proposing mail-in ballots, giving union organizers unlimited access to employees in the workplace, and mandating "quickie" elections. Some of the key points he makes: Unions are Read more [...]
NEMA Call to Action Legislation is Introduced

NEMA Call to Action Legislation is Introduced

Last week saw many months of effort by NEMA staff and member company reps rewarded by introduction in the US House of Representatives of HR 2420, The Environmental Design for Electrical Equipment Act ("EDEE Act").  This proposed legislation would codify into US law Phase I of the NEMA Call to Action, the industry's voluntary commitment to conform to substance thresholds set in the European RoHS Directive wherever NEMA products in the scope of that directive are sold.  The Read more [...]
Unofficial Smart Grid Week in Washington

Unofficial Smart Grid Week in Washington

This is Smart Grid Week in Washington. Not officially, of course, but considering the Smart Grid Leadership Summit held yesterday with Energy Secretary Chu and Commerce Secretary Locke, and today and tomorrow's NIST/EPRI Smart Grid Roadmap Workshops, more light is being shed in this town on modernizing our electricity grid than since the U.S. Capitol Building was first illuminated with electricity in the 1890s. The Summit included 70 top leaders from manufacturing, electric utilities, software, Read more [...]
O Recovery, Where Art Thou?

O Recovery, Where Art Thou?

Perceptions of the economy change quickly. Only a couple of weeks ago it seemed nearly everyone was spotting 'green shoots' of recovery all over the place. After receiving sobering reports this week on retail sales, unemployment insurance claims and industrial production, hopes of an imminent end to the recession appear to have been dashed. According to Wall Street Journal's most recent survey of professional forecasters, economists by and large expect the recession to end by the third Read more [...]
HPB Congressional Caucus Issues Recommendations on Federal Buildings Acquisitions

HPB Congressional Caucus Issues Recommendations on Federal Buildings Acquisitions

Several days ago the High Performance Building Congressional Caucus issued a series of recommendations regarding Producing High-Performance Federal Buildings.  The first one on the list asks Congress to require that for all Acquisitions of Federal Buildings True Life-Cycle Analysis and Decision - Making be performed.  The second would require total building commissioning for all the federal Building Stock. When translated into legal language this would change the way business is conducted Read more [...]