Boulder Busybodies Hit a Road Block…Freedom

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Global Warming, Government | Posted on 13-02-2010

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I don’t think I’ve shaken my head as much reading an article as I have reading this Wall Street Journal article. I literally almost had to stop reading, thinking of all the busybodies who think their big ideas should be imposed through “incentives” and ultimately at gun point.

This spring, city contractors will fan out across this well-to-do college town to unscrew light bulbs in thousands of homes and replace them with more energy-efficient models, at taxpayer expense.

City officials never dreamed they’d have to play nanny when they set out in 2006 to make Boulder a role model in the fight against global warming. The cause seemed like a natural fit in a place where residents tend to be politically liberal and passionate about the great outdoors.

Instead, as Congress considers how to encourage Americans to conserve more energy, Boulder stands as a cautionary tale about the limits of good intentions.

Lol, “City officials never dreamed they’d have to play nanny….”. Isn’t setting out to be a role model being a nanny in the first place? You are trying to force all your citizens to abide by some vision that they would not have otherwise chosen for themselves.

Also, I’d love to know what the carbon footprint of all these city contractors fanning out to unscrew light bulbs is compared to the light bulbs they are unscrewing. If it’s like any other liberal idea, it’s probably worse.

“What we’ve found is that for the vast majority of people, it’s exceedingly difficult to get them to do much of anything,” says Kevin Doran, a senior research fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder. ….

But Boulder has found that financial incentives and an intense publicity campaign aren’t enough to spur most homeowners to action, even in a city so environmentally conscious that the college football stadium won’t sell potato chips because the packaging isn’t recyclable.

Can someone tell Mr. Doran that free people will do what is in their best interest based on what they believe is in their best interest. The government doesn’t need to “get them to do” anything.

You have to love the logic here. I can just see the bureaucrats now, “How can we not get our vision implemented? I mean I told the vendors we can’t sell potato chips because of the packaging. You would think with people accepting that, they would open their wallets and doors up to contractors so we can be a role model. Now how are we going to get ourselves on the news and get Obama to talk about us?”

Since 2006, Boulder has subsidized about 750 home energy audits. Even after the subsidy, the audits cost each homeowner up to $200, so only the most committed signed up. Still, follow-up surveys found half didn’t implement even the simplest recommendations, despite incentives such as discounts on energy-efficient bulbs and rebates for attic insulation.

About 75 businesses got free audits; they made so few changes that they collectively saved just one-fifth of the energy auditors estimated they were wasting.

Hey, you didn’t waste enough money yet. Let’s waste some more. How about we give free light bulbs and labor to change them at tax payer expense. Then when we followup and we find that people bought cheaper, less efficient bulbs to replace our free bulbs, we’ll sit around and postulate how we can force them to buy only our green bulbs. Maybe you can have a green inspector stop buy once a month to check!

“We still have a long way to go,” says Paul Sheldon, a consultant who advises the city on conservation. Residents “should be driving high-efficiency vehicles, and they’re not. They should be carpooling, and they’re not.” And yes, he adds, they should be changing their own light bulbs—and they’re not.

Eh boy. Paul Sheldon must have been endowed by our creator to decide what we all should be doing. Darn idiots in Boulder should listen to Paul Sheldon. I’m sure he has a degree in government planning or at least saw “An Inconvenient Truth”.

In 2006, Boulder voters approved the nation’s first “carbon tax,” now $21 a year per household, to fund energy-conservation programs. The city took out print ads, bought radio time, sent email alerts and promoted the campaign in city newsletters.

But Boulder’s carbon emissions edged down less than 1% from 2006 through 2008, the most recent data available.

By the end of 2008, emissions here were 27% higher than 1990 levels. That’s a worse showing than the U.S. as a whole, where emissions rose 15% during that period, according to the Department of Energy.

More proof of Quinn’s first law, that liberalism always generates the exact opposite of it’s stated intent. While Quinn says liberalism, I think you can pretty much apply it to all government action. After wasting all that money, they did worse than the rest of the US.

In Freakonomics, the author talks about how parents were routinely a little late picking their kids up from a day care. In order to discourage this, the day care implemented a small fine (forget the exact amount). After the fine was implemented, tardiness by parents increased substantially. The moral of the story was that parents assumed by paying the fine, they were paying for the service, so they did not see a problem with being late. This is probably the same thing in Boulder. In pursuit of being a role model and being the first to tax their citizens for living (carbon tax), their citizens probably assumed that because they were paying their tax, they were already doing their part. Why change your behavior. By the looks of it, they even increased their carbon output assuming they were offsetting it with their carbon tax.

OK, here it comes. Here comes the gun!

City officials are frustrated—and contemplating more forceful steps. (Here it is!)

The City Council will soon consider mandating (Here it is again!) energy-efficiency upgrades to many apartments and businesses. The proposals under review would be among the most aggressive in the nation, requiring up to $4,000 a rental unit in new appliances, windows and other improvements. Owners of commercial property could face far larger tabs.

The goal: to spur $650 million in private investment in efficiencies over the next three years. (Sounds so nice doesn’t it?)

“Everyone needs to do something,” says Councilman Matthew Appelbaum.

I’m not sure if I can make it through this post. Reading this article the second time is torture. Ok, I’ll keep going. So what is there solution?

In the program, dubbed “Two Techs in a Truck,” as many as 15 energy-efficiency teams will go door-to-door. They’ll ask home and business owners for permission to caulk windows, change bulbs and install low-flow showerheads and programmable thermostats—all at taxpayer expense. The techs will set up clothes racks in laundry rooms as a reminder to use the dryer less often. They’ll even pop into the garage and inflate tires to the optimum pressure for fuel efficiency.

If they spot the need for bigger projects, such as insulation or a new furnace, the techs will help homeowners make appointments and apply for rebates.

Really? They are going to have idiots going door to door intimidating people into doing what they want.  Ok, that’s enough. I can’t continue. Click over to the Wall Street Journal and read the rest if you can stomach it. There is nothing worse than a government idiot with an idea!

via Boulder Struggles With Energy Conservation – WSJ.com.

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Comments (2)

Nice one! Well done. I’m a pot smoking hippie Boulder liberal freak, but I do enjoy a good discussion. Some very good points raised here. Cheers.

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Richard, I love a good discussion too, so keep the comments coming. I’m sure as a “post smoking hippie” you know how stupid government can be. Our drug laws provide an abundance of examples.

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