Sunday, December 11, 2011

Don't Cut LIHEAP Funding!

US monthly propane Residential price (per gallon):

January 2004: $1.496
January 2007: $1.992
January 2011: $2.782

Increase from January 2004-January 2011: 86%

US monthly heating oil Residential price (per gallon):

January 2004: $1.566
January 2007: $2.369
January 2011: $3.431
Last month: $3.913

Increase from January 2004-January 2011: 119% (Until present: 150%)

US monthly natural gas Residential price (per thousand cubic feet):

January 2004: $9.71
January 2007: $12.17
January 2011: $9.76

Increase from January 2004-January 2011: 0.2%

US monthly electric Residential price (per kWh):

January 2004: $8.24
January 2007: $10.06
January 2011: $10.99

Increase from January 2004-January 2011: 33.4%


Percent of LIHEAP Households Using Major Types of Heating Fuels, United States, April 2005

Natural gas


Fuel oil





"The National Energy Assistance Directors' Association was set to announce February 9 that 8.9 million households are expected to qualify for financial help this winter, up from 8.3 million last winter."

The amount of funding for 2011 is... $5.1 billion

In 2007 LIHEAP provided $2,467,475,108 in funds for 4,925,646 people


So onto analysis.... Home heating oil has risen the most over the past six-eight years. It was not triple as I said during the winter... although it is slightly higher than the 150% that it is in the winter during the summer months, of course you use less. Doubling the funding for heating assistance is a good thing and that shouldn't be belittled. However, with the costs of other things also going up, people are increasingly dependent on home heating oil assistance plans.

Funding per person in 2007 was $500.94 per person (dividing the money available by the number accepted to the program that year from above). However, there is overhead on the 2.4+ Billion funded in 2007 as well as assistance given for cooling and other issues... LIHEAP claims to have given an average of $265 per person for heating in 2007 or 53% of the funding available. (, p.51)

If the same funding model holds true today (and it should), that means that using the same math but on this year's numbers... There is available $573.03 available per person before overhead (et. al.). After overhead and non-heat funding on the current model (47%) you are left with $303.71 per person this year.

NOW.... This is a 14.7% increase in funding over 2007!!


1. People using natural gas on LIHEAP (60%) have seen a 19.8% decrease in prices for a net gain of 24.5% in gov't aid.
2. People using electric heat on LIHEAP (19.0%) have seen a 9.245% increase in prices for a net gain of 9.76% in gov't aid.
3. People using propane heat on LIHEAP (5.2%) have seen a 39.66% increase in prices for a net LOSS of 24.96% in gov't aid.
4. People using oil heat on LIHEAP (12%) have seen a 44.83% increase in prices for a net LOSS of 30.13% in gov't aid.

So, data shows that the current rates of coverage for LIHEAP families has gotten better for those using natural gas and heat (79% ofL IHEAP homes). But, it is still lagging for the 17.2% of families that use either propane or oil heat.

Cuts in government aid will shrink the amount of money that each family gets. Some families are doing worse than they were in 2007, some are doing better. Either way, these cuts are going to hurt. Taking into account that food, health care, and so on also costs more than it did in 2007 and that wages are stagnant or have fallen (depending on industry) since then, that unemployment is still very high and a large number of people are out of unemployment insurance, ANY cut in funding for this vital program is detrimental to our LIHEAP Americans. Those who will be hurt most are those that use propane and heating oil. But everyone will still be hurt.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Well this place certainly has changed!

I bet that I am the last person to realize the format change for blogger.  Well, as I mentioned years ago, all hail our google overlords.  At any rate at least they haven't deleted my blog, to their credit.  Although I suppose they never actually delete anyone's.  Regardless and such and another forty dozen phrases people use to mean something they should just say or omit instead of saying unclearly.

Let's not beat a dead horse.  I've been gone for quite a while.  At least the good news is that I am more apt to be back than ever before.  We'll see how well that goes, but here's hoping I suppose.  As I was saying, or at least as I am intending on saying, I had tried too hard to tackle big issues or to wrap things up in neat little packages.  I realized this evening that this isn't my style.  It isn't what is effective for me.  Writing is a tool that helps me relax and it should not be restrained by what others may think, by rules or structure, or anything else for that matter that will inhibit me from expressing myself in a satisfactory manner.  In short, I cared too much for the trees and forgot about the forest.  Without the rewards of the beautiful vistas that I was originally rewarded with, this place lost its meaning to me and became more of a chore than a hobby.  Well, at least now I know the problem, or think I do.  Of course, two weeks from now I could realize it's a completely different issues, but that's fine too.  It's best not to get too worked up with the how and the why when things are starting to work out in the writing category.

Of course, writing has always been part of my life.  I am very expressive in that way.  It provides me with pleasure and relaxation.  Of course I always look to grand and then dump the project when it gets to cumbersome.  At this rate I might use Twitter or something... of course then I'd worry that my hundred odd characters aren't special enough and will logjam my mind with the same pressure to write and my actions with the inability to follow through with it.  Let's hope that doesn't happen again.

So let's let this place be somewhere I can be the person I am.  Not perfect by any means, but happy and content.  Who knows where this might take us?

And, as always,


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Balanced Budget Amendment Hurts Americans- Revise Free Trade Instead

You know, at first the idea of a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution seems like a good idea, maybe even a cure all great idea that will end our debt issues for good. This is what small government Republicans want you to think. And, consequently, it is completely FALSE.

As near as I can tell, the purpose of this amendment would be to be a budgetary safety net during bad economic times. It would keep spending at or below revenue in times of low revenue.

Those words are key "in times of low revenue". It also needs to be stated that constitutional amendments supersede all laws .

So let us apply it to our federal budget today. We are in a place where revenue is much lower than expenditures. It seems that this kind of amendment would be helpful now right?


In balancing the budget currently, it is clear that cuts need to be made and/or revenue needs to be found. It is a mathematical certainty that to balance the budget (as required by our fictitious amendment) that one or both of these two things need to be done.

Let us start by looking at "raising revenue". In the short term, this can only be accomplished by raising taxes or selling assets. I think we would agree that selling assets is the shortest term solution we can come up with as it is finite in quantity. The United States did this historically with lands in the Western United States for a variety of reasons. But, it really isn't a viable long-term option. We can't make land to sell.

Raising taxes will also raise revenue if done correctly. But, raising taxes on the consumer will actually harm the economy further. We currently have an economic situation in this country where there is plenty of supply of goods and not enough demand for those goods. Taxing the middle and working classes will cause them to have less money to spend, causing the government's revenue to decline in other areas (corporate and small business tax revenue).

Taxes can be raised on the wealthy and on corporations. However we also run the risk of businesses fleeing the country or else sending jobs over seas if it is raised too high. In the short term this is bad, but in the long term it can be good, IF we as a nation revise our import tariffs.

In theory, free trade is the best thing we can have. HOWEVER, the table isn't balanced. So long as foreign nations have the ability to undercut American businesses, free trade agreements are a catastrophic failure. We need a free trade affirmative action plan to balance the tables. We need to raise prices on goods that are imported so that American companies can compete. Detractors will say that this makes things more expensive for Americans. It does. BUT, it also provides them with the quality income that they will use to pay for it by creating higher paying jobs in America. The way it is today, a lot of people can't afford what is imported either. They have no job. There is plenty of supply but no demand.

Getting back to the budget amendment, we have a second option in regards to our hypothetically existent balanced budget amendment, and that is to cut spending. So where do we cut spending exactly? We can end tax subsidies to companies that undercut American producers. That would be a very good idea. We could remove tax loop holes which allow corporations like GE to pay NOTHING in taxes while receiving BILLIONS in federal subsidies. This would help, but it wouldn't solve the entire problem and it wouldn't solve the immediate debt issue.

We need to balance the budget this year (in our hypothetical). We have several major expenditures that we can cut that will solve the remaining budget shortfall. Those include in alphabetical order: disaster aid (FEMA et. al.), education, federal law enforcement agencies (including the CIA, DEA, FBI, and TSA, etc.), Medicaid, Medicare, military spending, Social Security, and other similar sources.

The question is where are we most likely to cut funding? I contend that with our current Congress, funding is most likely to be cut ON SOCIAL PROGRAMS first, leaving a vast majority of federal agencies and military spending completely or essentially intact. I believe that a balanced budget amendment will FORCE GOVERNMENT TO SHRINK.

With a balanced budget amendment kiss the following programs goodbye: federal student loans, heating oil subsidies (for consumers), public school funding, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security payouts, food stamps, welfare funding, national parks, free and reduced school lunch and dozens more.

The wars will continue. Military spending will continue. Federal subsidies of corporations will continue. The American people will bear the brunt of this proposed amendment. WE WILL BE HURT AND CORPORATIONS WILL CONTINUE TO PROFIT.

There are other solutions, as I have mentioned above, we need to create a sort of affirmative action plan for free trade agreements that balances the table for us. This will bring jobs back to this country, bring consumption back to the middle and working classes (as they will have the money to do so again), and the government will return to a budget surplus as tax revenue will soar. With this extra money we can pay off our debts, protect our elderly, children, and under-served, AND leave this nation in a good economic condition for our children and our children's children.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Life, The Universe, and Everything

We have two scientific theories...  The Law of the Conservation of Energy, which states that the amount of net energy in a closed system remains constant (nothing spontaneously creates or disappears) and the Law of the Conservation of Mass, which states the same but for mass.  Essentially, both state that in a closed system, things do not appear or disappear.  The amount of mass and energy in the universe is the same as it was at the dawn of man and will be the same at its demise, granted that energy and mass will take on different forms, but the quantity of energy and mass remain constant.  I would add that mass can become energy (such as gasoline combustion) and energy can become mass (such as weather).  They are interchangeable if the correct conditions are present--in the case of weather that condition would be sunlight; in the case of gasoline combustion that would be fuel, oxygen, and ignition.

When you die your body decomposes and the electrical impulses throughout your body break down into less complex forms of those entities.  Your body gives off heat until it is the same temperature as its surroundings; your body decays until it is comparable to its surroundings.  The prior process can only take a little while.  The latter could take centuries or millenia to complete fully.  Eventually even your bones disintegrate.  Eventually you become indistinguishable from your surroundings (the earth you were buried in for instance). 

Mineral enriched soil grows plants or else remains part of the earth (even if only impactful based on the infinitesimally minute gravity your disintegrated remains provide).  The universe moves on.  We do too.  Just as a different type of existence.  Nothing leaves or enters the universe ever.  Mass and energy are funneled through our bodies throughout life and those things sustain us as we are.  We are a vessel for the transference of energy to mass and of mass to energy.  These entities impact us, their vessel.  Energy and mass grow us in our sex cell form from preexisting systems in our parents' bodies (which were also nourished by energy and mass), at conception energy and mass add more to build a human being.  We eat food and gain energy and mass throughout our lives to grow and to change.  Even as we age, our cells divide and are replaced periodically using the energy derived from food which were derived from bundles of mass called seeds or embryos, nourished by the sun (energy).  We are part of a cycle of transference between energy and mass.

One may ask, when did the mass-energy cycle start.  I believe that it is cyclical, as nothing ever enters or leaves the universe, just transfers from mass to energy and back again.  The universe has no beginning or end.  The Big Bang is just a violent movement from energy to mass.  The accelerated growth of the universe is an illusion based on the creation of new "space" from energy along the skeletal structure of the universe.  Blue shift is the transfer of "space" from mass into energy en masse.  Red shift is the opposite. 

If there is no beginning or end, then there is no creator.  I have shown a way in which the universe does not need a creator.  I have shown a way in which the universe does not need anything "beyond" the universe to exist, continue, or change.  It is a self-sustaining unit that has no beginning or end and no heaven or hell.  "After we die" is comparable to "before we were born" in experience for us in terms of how we should view it.

What is the purpose of the universe then?  There is no point of the universe in terms of what the universe would "think" the point of existence is.  There can't be.  Why do we exist?  To others we exist for companionship, love, as a writer, parent, teacher, employee, etc.; but, we don't exist for any reason for ourselves.  Our "purpose" is only in relation to others.  We do not have a purpose in relation to ourselves, the same as a computer doesn't have a "purpose" except in relation to humans or the ocean doesn't have a "purpose" except in relation to that which lives in it.  The same is true for the universe.  The "purpose" of the universe is dependent on the needs of those entities residing within it which have needs that it can fulfill.  As the universe is everything and a closed system, the purpose of the universe to us and to everything in the universe is "everything".  Everything is the purpose of the universe.  Remember that nothing ever enters or leaves the universe.  It is self-sustaining and self-providing.

The only question that I have is whether there is a finite or infinite number of possible forms for mass and energy and for interactions between mass and energy.  If there are a finite number of forms of mass and energy and a finite number of ways that they can interact, then the universe never changes permanently.  This is the theory I am leading to.  Like a pencil sketch, what is formed can be erased, no matter how long it is there or how grand or complex it is.  This theory suggests that the universe does not have a "net evolution", in that eventually any changes change back to their previous states.  This also means that there can be no "greater meaning" or "purpose" for the universe insofar as permanent growth.  That which is built will eventually crumble.  Judging by examples on the human scale, I tend to believe this is the most likely scenario.

The second scenario states that there are finite number of forms of mass and energy but that there is an infinite number of ways they can react.  This scenario is illogical to me as it breaks with my perception that the universe as we know it has constant laws.  Science has many such "constants" such as E=mc2 or C2H4 + 3 O2 + Energy -> 2 CO2 + 2 H20 + ENERGY.  These constants and a million others are examples of evidence for universal laws-- i.e. that the universe is governed by a set of rules (granted it would be a fairly large list).  I do not believe that the force of gravity in Area A would ever be different than in Area B if all conditions are identical.  Therefore, this scenario does not seem plausible.  If there are a finite number of forms for mass and energy and an infinite number of ways they can react, then there is no method to the madness so to speak--the entire universe and everything in it would be completely random.  Observational evidence suggests otherwise-- that there is a set quantity of rules that are constant.

The third scenario states that there are an infinite number of forms of mass and energy and a finite number of ways it can interact with each other.  This scenario is interesting in that it cannot be proven or disproven.  There is evidence, however, that it is not the scenario that the universe runs by.  For this proof, lets look at mass, which is generally visible or at least we can comprehend its existence.  Energy is too illusive to us currently; we do not yet know its true nature.  Note this, as it is important in that without all the information we cannot prove this scenario right or wrong.  So, in regards to mass, we have the periodic table as a good starting point.  Of course, the universe is actually made of strings of vibrating energy, but we are sticking only to the levels which we can physically see and will then make generalized educated guesses about that which we cannot yet comprehend.

The periodic table has grown over time to include an increasing number of elements, however the higher we get on the table the more unstable these elements are.  Indeed as we get to the 100's we see elements which cannot exist except for brief moments and in high-pressure situations.  The universe tends towards low-pressure--entropy--when existing as mass.  It is safe to say that there are far fewer areas of high pressure than low pressure in the universe with even a cursory glance of the night sky.  The centers of stars and laboratories can create high pressures, but for the most part they don't exist.  Therefore, the higher end periodic atoms also cannot exist except for in increasingly less likely higher pressure situations.  (The higher the pressure you need to maintain the atom, the less likely it exists.)  Therefore we can say that in all likelihood, the interactions which mass and energy can take must tend towards finite even if it cannot be proven to make it to that point.  There comes a point where the likelihood of additional kinds of interactions becomes nearly infinitesimally unlikely.  Therefore, I believe this scenario is wrong.

The final scenario is one in which there are an infinite number of forms of mass and energy and an infinite number of ways in which they can interact.  I believe this scenario to be impossible based on the reasons why scenarios 2 and 3 are impossible.  There cannot be an infinite forms of mass and energy because there are laws which govern the universe and there cannot be an infinite number of interactions between mass and energy because there comes a point when the quantity of types of interactions tends towards the finite and the likelihood of there not being any new kinds of interactions nears infinity.

With a finite number of forms mass and energy can take and a finite number of ways they can interact, eventually every possible combination will happen.  This is a reincarnation of a sense isn't it?  Perhaps I should think more on this next time.