Spending cuts won’t fix budget
In response to the Cal Thomas column in the Sunday edition of the Roswell Daily Record I would like to offer a different view regarding his comments as to the cause of our deficit problems. Our nation is on the path of probably the most rapid decline of any world power in the history of the world. Unfortunately, our decline is being accelerated by the single minded, uninformed, but readily expressed, opinions of the media.
His claim that it is not a lack of revenue driving the debt, but a lack of spending restraint is very much misleading. I really don’t think he could offer any reliable data in support of this statement. According to the 2011 Economic Report of the President the estimated revenue for fiscal year 2012 is 13.3 percent of the gross domestic product with an expense of 23.5 percent of GDP.
Another very misleading claim is that by not reforming entitlements, in reference to welfare, we are somehow robbing future generations of their right to economic independence and economic growth. Again he would have a very hard time finding reliable economic data to support this statement. Considering the total welfare program is slightly over 2 percent of GDP even a 50 percent reduction would give only a slight reduction in the deficit.
This obsessing over entitlements by the leadership of the Republican Party is a smoke screen to keep the focus off tax increases for their wealthy constituents. The massive deficits we are seeing are caused by the Republican tax cuts and the loss of tax revenue caused by the Great Recession. The deficits are absolutely not caused by entitlements, and cannot be resolved by reducing entitlements.
It’s a given, no one wants to pay more taxes, but we have made the debt. At some point we are going to have to get serious in resolving the deficit issues. Considering that we have added the Department of Homeland Security, the Prescription Drug Program for seniors, the expense of the Afghanistan War, and a large increase in national defense within the past 12 years the 23.5 percent of GDP is really not far out of line even though there is definitely room for improvement. The 13.3 percent of GDP in revenue is the primary cause of our large deficits as it amounts to a shortage in revenue well in excess of a trillion dollars.
Our nation is in deep trouble. It is time for the Republicans to recognize and follow the recommendations of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Their recommendations are discretionary spending cuts, comprehensive tax reform and health care cost containment. It is fantasy to think we can solve this problem with spending cuts alone.
Beyond today’s nuclear
Technology always has a next generation which improves on the previous. Computer hardware and software has been a great example of rapid technology releases to stay competitive in today’s market. However, some technologies are so much more complex than computers that they will take longer to cycle through changes. Some of those complex technologies also have a lot of government regulations and both make next generation very difficult and time consuming. Sometimes, even bad decisions are made and the wrong technology is the result.
The nuclear age has experienced two really bad decisions by the government. The first was made by President Nixon who favored the dirty uranium solid fuel pressurized water reactor (PWR) over a much cleaner thorium molten salt reactor (TMSR), because the military wanted plutonium for their bombs, so Congress defunded further RD&D of TMSR technology.
The second bad decision was made by President Clinton for defunding RD&D to dispose of the nuclear waste generated by Nixon’s bad decision.
Here we are now with tons of dirty radioactive materials and no bridge to get rid of it. There are only two options; bury it or burn it. Nobody wants it buried in their backyard so we are left with investing in RD&D to come up with solutions to burn it.
The next generation of nuclear reactor has been dubbed Gen IV and there are already several designs being consider. There are at least four criteria that must be met with Gen IV and they are: to eliminate radioactive waste, past, present and future by more complete burning into energy; replace the uranium fuel source with a cleaner thorium fuel; remove the need for solid fuel pressurized water reactors with safer liquid fuel molten salt reactors to prevent meltdowns; and politically, remove the potential of proliferation. There are many other improvements and benefits depending on which design being considered. One of those designs I have mentioned before is the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). The LFTR is modular and scalable to right side the application whether it is to generate electricity with gas turbines or provide intense heat for industrial use such as desalinate sea water, crack water to produce fuel for hydrogen power, manufacture cement, gasification of coal into diesel or jet fuel and even separate the oil from the oil sands.
National Energy Policies around the world will include some combination of nuclear, hydrocarbon, renewable and load balancing smart grids.
Germany is one of those nations that have solidified an energy policy where electricity will be co-generated by renewable sources and hydrocarbon and nuclear will be removed as a base load source for electricity. This means that energy efficiencies have to come from the load balancing grid and conservation (life style change).
Russia, India and China are moving more toward the most efficient energy, nuclear. Other nations have other policies. When I try to determine what the U.S. energy policy is I still see hydrocarbon as a priority for many decades with natural gas replacing some of the older coal plants and older nuclear plants. In my opinion, based on months of research, I have concluded that base load energy should come from the next generations of nuclear, supplemented by renewable with smart grid and hydrocarbon. The government should only subsidize RD&D for new technology, not production implementations. Private business and venture capital should bring new proven technology to market and let the market do its work.