“Green” Products and Free Market Conflicts

Paul A. IbbetsonIn recent years the move toward green products and technologies has gone into overdrive. Everything from the expansion of windmills and solar technologies to the hard rush toward passenger vehicles that run on alternative fuels is in the media. Few people disagree that America needs to continue to develop more efficient and cost-effective products. However, what has been a bone of contention with many consumers is the way in which many within the “green” movement have gone about attempting to integrate these new technologies into the market.

The primary problem with the green movement is that it is often inhospitable to the mechanisms of the free market. Many of these green products cost more than they are worth. Then there is the strong-arming. As soon as one hears of the wonders of a new green technology, it is not long before government intervention follows with either manipulating buyers with rebates, which come straight from the tax payers’ pockets, or penalties for those that fail to comply with new green mandates. What is completely missing from this picture? It is the freedom of choice that comes with the free market.

American buyers welcome innovation and creativity. The expansion of green technologies would be no exception if they were presented fairly within the market place. That is, new technologies such as hybrid cars can and will do well if they can be designed to be cost-effective and equal in quality to their current competition. If not, they will and should fail and no government rebate will change that. When the government attempts to subvert the free market, products that should have been colossal marketing failures are wrongly saved and kept from their deserved and natural extinction. Let us illuminate a conflict between the pushers of green products and the free market.

Light bulbs — they are a major part of American life. No one will argue that a traditional light bulb has too short of a lifespan. Everyone who reads this article, who is honest, will admit to doing the “light bulb shuffle.” That is, taking a working light bulb to different rooms within the home when there is a shortage of working bulbs but still the need for light. There is no shame here, just the realization that the technology could be improved. Here is a bright example where the green industry could work to fill a very needed and practical niche in American life. The criterion for success here is simply creating a better product for a competitive price.

Unfortunately, those pushing this green technology fail to embrace the free market and turn to the government to create buyer appeal. Despite the reasonable argument against energy waste when comparing new bulbs to traditional incandescent ones, the government decides to strong-arm the American consumer with an upcoming ban on 100-watt incandescent light bulbs even though the nearest LED alternative light bulb is reported to come in at a cost of $50 apiece. This is ridiculous. The “green” compact fluorescent light bulb brought about by the current environmental push is even worse. Why? They are not only expensive, they are dangerous!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, breaking a CFL light bulb is the equivalent of creating a hazardous material spill. Due to the poisonous mercury powder and vapor released when a green CFL is broken in common household settings, the EPA recommends that all humans and animals evacuate the room. Windows should be opened and the room should be aired out for five to ten minutes. Heating and air conditioning units should be shut down to limit contamination spread. Remains of the broken CFL should be placed in a glass jar with a metal lid and taken to a disposal location. Vacuuming the location of the CFL break incident is reported by the EPA to potentially spread mercury powder or vapor. In other words, if your new environmental friendly “green” light bulb doesn’t kill your pocketbook, it might kill you personally. What were they thinking?

Bottom line, we are a free market society and Americans have an engrained expectation of being able to decide what products are worthy of their purchasing dollar. Currently many of the green products and technologies being marketed to the public cost too much, under-perform, are at times unsafe and are presented to the public under government mandate. This formula will at best yield weak economic results in the marketplace, and at worst will bring about strong resistance from the American people.

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The Beatable Obama: The Less Media-Driven Story

Paul A. IbbetsonDo you enjoy B-rated horror movies that are high on amusement but low on plot and believability? Maybe you’re into science fiction thrillers with their wild, futuristic villains and out-of-this-world heroes. Well, turn on the TV because you’re in luck, you have reached the highest point of media creativity where the biggest and most fantastic stories are spun for the viewing public. Yes, the presidential race has officially begun.

If you’re a liberal this is likely to be the best part of the political season. That is, the speculation period where the Democrat Party, sure of its candidate for the general election, can for all intents and purposes sit back and watch the opposition struggle through the process of developing a lineup of presidential candidates. For the liberal media that will be working overtime to support Barack Obama’s re-election, their candidate will never be as politically strong as he is now while he faces no clear opposition. The media is making the most of this moment.

Like a B-rated horror movie that splashes blood against the camera lens every five minutes, presidential campaign coverage is not about quality, it is about quantity. For the media, getting the public to buy into a political campaign is not done through compelling facts or undeniable logic but through repetition of presentation. Repeat something as fact over and over and in time, even the most ridiculous things appear to be true. This presidential cycle has an abundance of rather low budget but highly effective media-driven stories taking place. Let us observe a few.

While Barack Obama has no clear competitors, he is framed as invincible. Liberal talking heads convey that the president sleeps well at night due to his confidence in the inevitable outcome of the future election. Of course Barack Obama announced his candidacy for re-election early for the purposes of raising money. The President knows he will need these funds in what will be a tough re-election bid, but according to the mainstream media narrative being spun to the public, only kryptonite could weaken his chance at a second term. To strengthen the believability of Obama’s invincibility is the denigration of the still-forming Republican pool of presidential candidates. If a potential candidate decides not to run, they are framed as the best chance the Republican Party had to win. The media is now placing a halo around Mike Huckabee and touting that the Christian voting bloc now has no candidate to support.

Republicans, such as Sarah Palin, that have not yet decided on a run are demonized as being indecisive. Those that have made the decision to enter the race are framed as unworthy for a litany of reasons. Mitt Romney is too liberal and supported unpopular healthcare in Massachusetts. Herman Cain doesn’t have enough political experience. Newt Gingrich had a possible tax issue and has been married more than once. You name it, and most of the candidates are framed as weak when put up against Barack Obama.

The problem for the media is that this initial period of the presidential race will soon end and focus will be placed more evenly among the political candidates, including the president himself. The president’s bump in the polls from the Osama bin Laden liquidation will subside and Barack Obama will be left with high unemployment, out-of-control national debt, an albatross in his forced healthcare and no good alternatives to explain his way out of it. The “blame Bush” tactic has lost its believability along with trying to feel happy about the country’s direction when watching the numbers spin on the dial at the gas pumps. At election time, the majority of people who ask themselves if they are better off now than they were four years ago are going to say no.

The less media-driven story is that Barack Obama’s best chance to be re-elected is ironically a matter that is also out of his hands. When the B-rated theatrics of the media are stripped away, Obama will be re-elected only if Republicans refuse to place a true conservative candidate to oppose him. Despite what viewers will hear and see over the coming months from the liberal media, the country yearns for the AntiObama, a true conservative to lead the country from the brink of economic and moral destruction. The further a candidate is ideologically from Barack Obama, and the clearer that difference can be articulated to the American people, the more likely Republicans will win the presidency in 2012.

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Bin Laden Death Photo: Obama Breaks From History, America Losing Spine

Paul A. IbbetsonIt is said that a picture says a thousand words. When it comes to today’s politically correct world, presenting some pictures may say even more. President Barack Obama’s refusal to submit the death photo of the number one terrorist behind 9/11, Osama bin Laden, is a fundamentally flawed decision full of negative consequences. The President’s decision appears to be based on a concern that terrorists around the world will be inflamed to a higher level if bin Laden’s death becomes public through pictures. This argument is weak and without supporting evidence. Certainly the idea of withholding potentially inflammatory photos for fear of angering terrorists around the world went out the door years ago with the overwhelming photo coverage of human rights violations at Abu Ghraib. If documenting this portion of American history through photos was deemed reasonable, how can withholding Osama bin Laden’s death photo from the American people and history be justified?

The President also seems to believe that releasing bin Laden’s death photo is in itself an act of selfish aggression beneath the dignity of the American people, which he has termed “spiking the ball.” Someone should walk the president through American history, which is in complete opposition to this line of thinking. Historically, America has consistently used photos to chronicle the history of the deaths of those that have brought terror to this country. This has been a fundamental byproduct of our free speech that is recognized through our Constitution. This freedom to document history through published photos may not be pretty, but it was never feared nor denied to the American people.

In 1892, the infamous outlaws of the Dalton Gang were shot dead by local citizens in Coffeyville, Kansas. The death photos of these outlaws brought to justice were circulated through print worldwide. Documenting the deaths of bandits such as these through published images and photos was commonplace. Almost four decades later Americans would see death photos of gangsters such as John Dillinger to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in newspapers across the country. Americans recorded the photos of the deaths of fascists like Benito Mussolini during World War II, and decades later monsters like Che Guevara were placed into historical context through the same means.

The idea that a handful of government officials would withhold visual verification of the death of the biggest villain of modern times is only surpassed in outrageousness by the possibility that Americans will stand for it. The Obama administration’s purposeful denial of visual verification of this terrorist’s dead body needlessly sows the seeds for myth, folklore and conspiracy theories. Does this make America safer? Of course not. This bungling administration is confused about the proper priorities within the war on terror.

Our country’s history has not always been beautifully photogenic, but it’s been our history and many have given the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard the freedom we have to keep it accurate and truthful. When citizens see pictures of African Americans being hung from ropes along roadsides during the terror of the Ku Klux Klan, it is unsettling to view, but also a true part of our history. Should we remove these photos from public consumption because somewhere someone will be offended? Only cowards and fools would endorse such actions.

President Barack Obama should do the right thing and release the death photo of Osama bin Laden. It is an action rightly done, not for the purpose of blood lust or to celebrate death for death’s sake, but to place this part of America’s history into an accurate context. Americans can handle the photo as they have been seeing the end results of what happens to those that terrorize Americans since the days of the Daltons. Those that view our publications from around the world can take from it the valuable lesson that America is the land of the free, and free people need not be denied reality for fear of being politically incorrect. The issue of the Osama bin Laden death photo release is now less of an observance of America’s stomach or heart, but of the country’s spine.

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Osama bin Laden Killed by U.S. Forces, America Should Celebrate

Paul A. IbbetsonThe inevitable has taken place. Osama bin Laden has been killed by American forces. The details are still limited but as reported by FOX News, bin Laden was killed in a firefight on the ground in Pakistan. It is reported that no Americans were injured during the firefight that took bin Laden’s life. As I type this column I can hear the celebrations outside my window here in the heartland of Kansas. Celebrating the death of bin Laden calls for a short discussion on how Americans should act in the aftermath of the U.S. military operation in which a human life was taken. When it comes to the death of the nation’s number one terrorist, Americans should celebrate, should be happy. Allow me to expand on this line of thinking.

There are no illusions that the death of bin Laden will end attempts by terrorists to attack America. For some time terrorists have been trying, and at times succeeding, in acts of terrorism around the world. Many of these acts have been conducted without any input by bin Laden. The death of bin Laden will not end terrorism. With that said, the symbolic nature of bin Laden to terrorists has been twofold. The first being the successful attack on America he orchestrated on September 11, 2001, and the second being this terrorist’s ability to evade American forces. Bin Laden’s evasion from justice has had consequences on America and other countries as he continued to release periodical threat messages that received world coverage. The message to terrorists today with bin Laden’s death is that when you mess with America, it’s just a matter of time before you will be brought to justice. This is a powerful piece of symbolism in America’s favor that will inevitably outweigh attempts to frame bin Laden as a martyr. Now back to celebrating.

There will be some that will forward the idea that we should be restrained in our joy over the demise of a death dealer like bin Laden. Some will say that America’s celebration over a dead terrorist will provoke a higher response by al-Qaeda. Americans should brace themselves for the possibility that terrorists will attempt a response to the death of their symbolic leader. However, America’s avoidance of celebrating bin Laden’s death would not decrease radical Islamic terrorists from wanting to kill us. These radicals always want to kill everyone who does not think exactly like them. To the radical Islamic terrorist, a breathing American is a killable offense.

Next, some people may wish to diminish celebrations because Osama bin Laden was dispatched during the presidency of Barack Obama instead of George W. Bush. I would recommend against this for two reasons. First is the notion that withholding celebration when it is warranted somehow politically hurts a president with whom many do not agree. This is a false assumption that leads to poor actions. We can see this from history when liberals turned their backs on celebrating Americans when Saddam Hussein was ripped from his rat hole and brought to justice by U.S. military forces. Liberals withheld their joy during the capture of the Iraqi dictator simply out of spite against George W. Bush. These shallow political acts should not be repeated at this historical moment.

Lastly, celebrating the death of bin Laden is a hallowed bonding process by which Americans continue to remember the war on terror that was brought to our shores and the innocent lives that were brutally taken on 9/11. It is a time for us to give thanks to our military and for the country to come together to celebrate a long-awaited moment of justice. Osama bin Laden is dead; let the celebrations begin.

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