Green Energy taking us to a George Orwell 1984 Future?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 8th, 2011

Smartphones so Smart they know where you’ve Been

The digital world leaves a lot of digital footprints.  And there’s a lot of money in those footprints (See Apple, Google to face lawmakers in privacy tussle by Diane Bartz posted 5/8/2011 on Reuters).

Tech companies such as Apple and Google are hoping the tracks of millions of mobile device users will lead to billions of dollars in revenue.

But where they see dollar signs, lawmakers see red flags.

Following us around and keeping track of where we went?  I don’t know.  Sounds a little creepy to me.  But I guess if everyone knows they’re doing this and voluntarily agree to it, I guess there’s no problem.

Smartphone and advertising companies argue that they use data on what users like (which they know because users use the phone to check prices); where they are (which they know because of contact with cell phone towers); and who their friends are (which they know from social media like Facebook) to give their customers ads for products they are most likely to buy…

But the discomfort comes with the failure of companies — ranging from smartphone makers, to app makers, to advertisers — to disclose to customers what information they are collecting and what they will do with it, said a staffer for Democratic Senator Al Franken, chairman of the online privacy subcommittee that will hold Tuesday’s hearing.

What we like?  Where we are?  Who our friends are?  Without our knowledge?  Sure, we clicked to approve the 50 million-word user agreement to activate our stuff so we could get on with our lives.  But we’re not all lawyers.  And some of us work.  We don’t have the time to read these agreements and then to hire someone to explain what they mean. 

It’s still creepy but as long as it’s not for nefarious purposes…

Franken’s staff has been concerned by reports that insurance companies have explored using location tracking to calculate insurance rates by noting where people go — for example if they go to a gym or a donut store…

“The fact is that they’re creating these sort of mobile digital dossiers based on what you do on your mobile phone and where you are,” said Jeff Chester, head of the Center for Digital Democracy.

Whoa.  This is just a little too KGB-like police state.  The government is right to step in stop this Orwellian activity.  Thankfully, we can always trust government to do what’s right for the people.  I mean, they would never consider tracking our whereabouts like these untrustworthy corporations.

Government Considering getting Deep into our Private Lives

Actually, as it turns out, they would.  Track us.  Or, rather, our cars.  Which typically only go where we go.  So it’s a lot like Apple and Google.  Only, unlike them, the government won’t be trying to persuade us to buy something.  They’ll just be taking our money (see Pay per mile: A timely tax idea, or a privacy threat? by Tom Curry posted 5/5/2011 on msnbc).

Department of Transportation officials have drafted legislation that would study a vehicle tax to track how far drivers travel and charge them by the mile. The proposal would create a “Surface Transportation Revenue Alternatives Office” to conduct trials of the concept.

The draft proposal was first reported this week in Transportation Weekly, a trade publication. A White House spokeswoman told The Hill newspaper that the draft “does not represent the views of the president” and is in no way an administration proposal.

To ‘track’ drivers.  Rather ominous.  Government tracking our whereabouts.  That’s more something out of 1984 than the United States of America.

A tax or fee on miles driven could possibly supplant the gasoline tax, which has has lost a third of its purchasing power since it was last raised by Congress in 1993. Since 2008, according to a Congressional Budget Office report, the money available in the highway trust fund has not been enough to cover federal spending on highways, requiring an additional injection of about $30 billion from the federal treasury. 

Yes, “supplant” the gas tax.  If there is one thing Americans are familiar with is the way government eliminates taxes that they don’t need any more.  And by ‘familiar with’ I mean it rarely ever happens.  Because new taxes are implemented to fund ever growing government spending.  And eliminating a tax just makes it harder to fund ever growing government spending.

But raising the tax when a gallon of gas costs more than $4 in many parts of the country is a nonstarter for most members of Congress.

And the gasoline tax is pumping less money into federal coffers over time, as automobile companies continue to improve the fuel economy of cars they manufacture.

So even though we are paying more for gasoline than we ever have and more people are driving than ever before, it’s not enough to fund government.  How much do you want to bet that gas prices will go down after they implement the new ‘government tracking your whereabouts’ tax?  Don’t bet.  Because they won’t.  And if you were about to bet that they would you should probably have someone else handle your money.

With the Obama administration encouraging people to buy fuel-efficient vehicles, “there’s a total contradiction in current government policy” in how highways are funded, said energy consultant Geoffrey Styles, who writes the widely followed Energy Outlook blog.

Styles said policy makers need to address this issue “before there are 20 million electric vehicles on the road.”

“If we’ve waited that long, and all those folks have been used to driving those cars without paying any energy tax, then trying to change what we do is going to be a big disconnect,” he said.

And there is that most coveted tax of all.  The energy tax.  And the electric car makes it the fair thing to do.  It kind of reminds me of that line in the movie Patton.  Near the end when Patton is talking on the phone with General Bedell Smith.  Patton is just itching to start a war with the Russians.  And says that he can.  That he can start a war with the “sons of bitches” and make it look like it was their fault.  General Smith calls Patton mad and hangs up.  Now I’m not saying that the government planned to pass the energy tax by making it look like the sons of bitches (i.e., we the people) asked for it.  I’m just saying it reminds me of that line in Patton.

As experts have recognized, many Americans would be wary of the idea of a government agency tracking their vehicle in order to tax the miles they drive.

“The problem comes the minute you introduce a device in the vehicle” because people “do not want the government to know where they are and where they are going,” Styles said.

That’s right.  Our privacy is sacred.  So sacred that the government is convening hearings to look into Apple and Google for violating that sacred trust.  Because targeting advertising at us threatens the very foundation of a free society.  Unlike an all-powerful government using its power to track what we do in our personal lives to extract tax payments.  Or, perhaps, to let them know we’re going somewhere they’d rather we didn’t.  No, that they’re okay with.

Green Electric Cars may Track you.  And Strand You.

These electric cars are more trouble than they’re worth.  Invasions into our private lives.  And a justification for more taxes.  Like that ever elusive energy tax the government so wants to implement.  Because energy is everywhere in a modern society.  Well, almost everywhere (see Electric car charging points ‘shortfall’ by the BBC posted 5/8/2011 on the BBC News UK).

Only 704 of the 4,700 expected by the end of the year are in place and two-thirds of towns with a population of over 150,000 do not have any public charging infrastructure.

David Martell, of charging supplier Chargemaster, said the lack of points can be very stressful for drivers…

Mr Martell said many electric vehicle drivers suffer from “range anxiety”, which concerns their fear that they run the risk of running out of power due to a lack of charging points.

As if fearing Big Brother might catch us going somewhere ‘inappropriate’ (a casino, a lingerie/sex toy store, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Republican fundraiser, etc.) wasn’t enough, now we have to worry whether or not we’ll ever be able to make it back home when we venture out in our electric cars.  And what may happen to us if we don’t.  I don’t know about you, but that internal combustion engine is looking better and better all of the time.  It sure delivers the liberty enshrined in our Founding Documents.  Unlike that ‘police state’ green technology.

Green Energy adds to Electrical Demand while Reducing Electrical Supply

Range anxiety may not be our only anxiety.  Because with the move to green energy sources there’s a good chance that even if you find a charging point, it may not have any juice in it to recharge your battery (see Wind farms produced ‘practically no electricity’ during Britain’s cold snap by Rowena Mason posted 1/11/2010 on The Telegraph).

The cold weather has been accompanied by high pressure and a lack of wind, which meant that only 0.2pc of a possible 5pc of the UK’s energy was generated by wind turbines over the last few days.

Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), gave warning that this could turn into a crisis when the UK is reliant on 6,400 turbines accounting for a quarter of all UK electricity demand over the next 10 years.

He said the shortfall in power generated by wind during cold snaps seriously undermined the Government’s pledge on Friday to build nine major new wind “super farms” by 2020.

“If we had this 30 gigawatts of wind power, it wouldn’t have contributed anything of any significance this winter,” he said. “The current cold snap is a warning that our power generation and gas supplies are under strain and it is getting worse.”

This is from a January 2010 Telegraph article.  That’s not one winter ago.  That’s two winters ago.  They are well aware of this problem.  Yet they move forward building windmills.  And with plans to shut down safe, reliable coal-fired plants.  Because they’re too dirty. 

In an effort to save the planet it is the human race that constantly has to make concessions.  They’ll walk back our standard of living right back to the 18th century when there were no cars.  No internal combustion engines.  No electricity.  To a time when the earth was a happier, cleaner place.  Where human and horse feces covered the streets and sidewalks.  And famine was just a part of life.

Our Green Future:  Higher Electric Bills, Service Interruptions and Big Brother

We bought more fuel efficient cars to protect the planet even though we wanted those big SUVs.  Then even though we were driving those small cars and using less gas we were spending more money for gas.  So some of us spent more money for an electric car and drove less.  But because we did and bought less gas there may be a new mileage tax.  Calculated by a little black box in our cars.  That tracks where we go.  To be fair.  So everyone pays for the amount of roads they drive on.  Which will probably negate any cost savings made by moving into an electric car.

And if that wasn’t enough, there will have to be a huge investment to install an electric car charging infrastructure.  All paid for by the new mileage tax.  Probably.  Or maybe the gas tax.  Or some new tax.  And when we put this huge new demand on our aging electrical grid that we’re trying to make green, we’ll probably pay higher electrical bills.  Or suffer through service interruptions when the wind doesn’t blow.

Well, that’s about as cheerful a future as poor old Winston Smith had in Orwell’s 1984.  And if you’re interested in seeing what that future is, you can read the book.  Or see the movie.  You know, while you can.  Before they consider these too inappropriate for us.  Like the SUV.  Because Big Brother will soon be watching and judging what we do.

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