Our new national sport, which is finding ways to grab headlines, has claimed fracking as a victim in California. You know, that place not far from America?
The myth today is that fracking - pumping water, some chemicals and sand into oil-bearing shale so oil and gas can be produced - is dangerous. It pollutes the water wells if any are nearby. It ruins the environment, etc.
So California has leaped on the "sky is falling" bandwagon and has virtually banned fracking. They did it the sneaky legislative way. Those horrible oil companies have to disclose all the chemicals used, go through a labyrinth of permitting, pay tidy new fees and so they will generally go away.
It joins New York, Maryland and Vermont in tossing science and evidence under the bus. Colorado, newly enlightened, is not far behind.
California is particularly sad because it is an oil-producing state. The geologic data says the Monterey Shale formation alone has as much recoverable oil as one-half that of Saudi Arabia. You just have to frack to get the oil, and that's a no-no now.
Guess California (and the rest of America) doesn't need to develop their own oil and gas resources; let's just keep paying the Arab states their ransom. Let's just have our elected leaders blather about "energy independence" being a smart national policy, as long as it's not that dirty old oil.
The other day I ran across this quote. Speaks volumes about this place we call America.
"The most dangerous citizen is not armed, but uninformed."
The reason that little phrase resonates is because we continue to see silly folks pushing us into being bleating fanatics. For example, we have the good and wonderful New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spending some of his own money on an advertising campaign to persuade other mayors and lots of citizens that banning those awful "assault rifles" will actually stop "weapons-free zone" massacres. Of historic interest, the once "shootings-happen-daily-here" dangerous streets of New York were cleaned up by a cop; the treatment was "stop and frisk." Of course, that was racist and violated civil rights and Lord knows what else. But the shootings diminished amazingly.
Chicago holds the lead these days with nearly two gunshot deaths a day on the streets, mostly the South Side.
Wonder if banning a group of guns (assault rifles) that are not the street weapons of choice will stop the killings in Chicago, New Orleans and Oakland?
Are we ever going to reform the tax code in America? With another April 15 suddenly coming into view, maybe it's time to write/call/email our Washington politicians and demand a change.
Why you ask?
Well, for one, the tax "code" that the IRS follows is so convoluted even the IRS can't understand it. If you have tried to read any part of it recently you know what I say is true. Despite the mental swamp of trying to deal with it, are there other reasons to simplify?
1. The time spent by businesses and people amounts to something like 2.5 MILLION people working full-time, every year, to deal with the paperwork.
2. The IRS budget alone is up to more than $13 BILLION, larger than Departments of Commerce and Interior, and the State Department.
3. There are more than 105,000 employees in the IRS. This make it larger than the CIA, the FBI and the DEA combined.
4. We don't have to worry because if only the rich paid their fair share we would have a balanced budget. Sure.
5. Sadly, our IRS says "rich" can be anyone with an income over $50,000 a year. Hello, America, we're overdue to simplify the tax code!
Ken is founder of the Grand Junction Free Press and former owner/publisher of The Daily Sentinel. He spends his time between the Grand Valley and California.