If anything is holding back environmental improvements to energy in the U.S., it could simply be that not enough folks know about them.
For example, a recent study by Pike Research found that approval of renewable and alternate energies seems to improve with age and educational achievement.
Americans widely support the concepts of renewable and reusable energy, especially those which are more well-known to the general public, according to Pike’s “Energy & Environment Consumer Survey.”
Take solar energy, for example, which 79 percent of all Americans favor, the study found. Only 52 percent of adults without a completed high school education approve of solar energy, though, while 83 percent of those who attended graduate school do.
Same thing goes for age; 71 percent of consumers under 30 years agree with solar power, but this approval reaches 86 percent for those aged 45 to 64.
While 75 percent of the overall population states approval of wind energy, another well-known alternate power source, only 50 percent of those who didn’t complete high school do, and only 65 percent of adults between 18 and 29 years of age regard it favorably.
While 64 percent approve of hybrid vehicles, which can be powered by both gasoline and non-polluting fuels, only 39 percent without a high school diploma approve. Seventy-two percent of those with education beyond a bachelor’s degree favor hybrids, though, and 68 percent of senior citizens like them compared to 61 percent of the under 30 group.
And differences in educational achievement could have substantial impact on reception when it comes to electric cars, too. Only 43 percent of Americans with less than high school education approve of them, but 69 percent of those with graduate school educations do.
So are experience in life in general and education in particular relevant to environmental awareness?
Well … that remains just a strong possibility, says Pike Research analyst Bryan Davis, who explains that while the study may support that conclusion, it was not conducted with sole purpose to confirm it.
“That is a possible theory,” says Davis, “but there’s no way to confirm it from the survey data,” which breaks down information quantitatively by respondent demographics, but not fully qualitatively.
Also, there are particular enviro-friendly energy sources that are more well-known by younger Americans, Davis noted upon Pike’s blog.
For example, consider LEED; favorable reception of this “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” a rating system on home and building construction operated by the U.S. Green Building Council, is highest for those under the age of 30.
This LEED example could indicate that age of respondents is possibly interrelated to the youth of particular energy concepts. While the relatively-new LEED program is known best and respected most by younger Americans, energy sources of longer standing such as nuclear energy have highest favorable reception from seniors.
While this particular summation could indicate need for improved public knowledge of enviro-friendly energy sources, a general assessment of survey results might indicate this best: overall, an average of 21 percent of Americans admit unfamiliarity with alternate energy concepts. And, and Pike Research’s study alludes, those who are familiar widely approve of them.
By improving education of energy efficiency and environmental awareness, the consumer public could improve practice of these concepts, especially within the youth who will be tomorrow’s leaders.
Pike Research’s “Energy & Environment Consumer Survey” was released on February 7, and is available for download from its website.
Like many researchers, I indulge in demographics. I maintain statistics as my status quo. I numb my noggin with all those numbers. And I enjoy the hell out of all those figures, too.
Getting such data about those who see my very own blog page, though, is a numerical fantasy come true.
Following my recent registration with Quantcast, I was awarded opportunity to learn more about who views ROBservations:
Congratulations! You're well-off and smart, even if you are middle-aged and then some.
And what does this information tell me? Well, that I should use much more multisyllabic terminology, for one thing, you being so intelligent and all that. And I guess I don't have to watch my language all that much, since so few of you will be at risk of having small children in your home as you're viewing.
So let me make a quick practice run using the data I now have: Think of what the House GOP is doing to our soon-upcoming retirement that we invested so much of our high income in preparation for! That narcissistic, callous Boehner ... he sure is one magnanimous dumbass, ain't he?
Being an international celebrity didn’t help Alvin Greene in his latest campaign.
In yesterday’s special election primary for the State House District 64 seat, Greene finished a distant last behind three other Democratic opponents, taking only 37 votes from a pool of 3,892.
Kevin Johnson, mayor of Manning, SC, won the nomination with 61 percent of the vote.
Apparently not taking the loss lightly, last night Greene reportedly chased local television reporters from his home and refused to respond to telephone calls from national media.
In last year’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Greene’s mysterious win stunned South Carolina voters, leading to formal hearing before the state’s Democratic Party. Although it requested Greene to yield his nomination, SCDP chose not to respond.
It wasn’t just his upset of the well-known Vic Rawl that got him attention, though; following his primary win, information about Greene’s recent arrest on charges of felony obscenity made national and international news.
For this year’s special election primary, Greene apparently employed the same campaign method he used in 2010’s primary: he did absolutely nothing. Greene made no campaign appearances and was absent for a debate, he had no campaign signs or literature, and his opponents say he did no canvassing.
Yesterday’s special election primary was held following the death of state Rep. Cathy Harvin, the Democratic incumbent who passed away on December 3 due to complications from breast cancer. Harvin was unopposed last November in re-election to a third term.
Greene was the first Democrat to declare interest in Harvin's seat, registering for the race only five minutes after filing began on December 24.
Sonny Sanders won yesterday’s Republican primary for this house seat, which covers Clarendon County and parts of Williamsburg County.
The General Election for State House 64 takes place April 5.
Nikki Haley started the year in a position most politicians would crave.
She took an office left by a publicly-ridiculed predecessor, which left the doors wide open for Haley to quickly gather positive approval from voters, if only in comparison to the philandering Mark Sanford.
Those doors only slammed in Haley’s face, though. Her first weeks in the governor’s mansion only lead to the doghouse.
A recent Public Policy Polling survey, conducted less than three weeks after Haley’s first day on the job, found South Carolina voters to have higher approval of ex-governor Sanford (39 percent) than the new governor (36 percent).
And if she’d like to continue that role into a second term, Haley might try correcting her poor start as soon as possible. According to the same poll, 55 percent of respondents state they would “definitely not” vote for Sanford again, indicating that re-election of lower-approved Haley could be a steep hill to climb.
Forty percent of respondents remain unsure about Haley, according to the survey, which – interestingly enough – also found that female Carolinians approve of her even less (only 33 percent in comparison to 39 percent of male respondents). Haley is the first female governor of South Carolina.
Breaking her campaign pledge of reduced government spending, yesterday Gov. Nikki Haley added millions to the state debt by authorizing additional spending and debt.
And she did so in a way that may have violated the state constitution.
Along with the governor’s Budget and Control Board, Haley attributed $100 million to the state’s Dept. of Health and Human Services budget for the current fiscal year.
According to Article X, Section 7 of the 2010 South Carolina Constitution, “expenditures of state government may not exceed annual state revenue(.)”
Should any exceed such revenue in a fiscal year, the state congress must respond by “levying a tax in the ensuing year sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency of the preceding year together with the estimated expenses for such ensuing year.”
In short, the State Assembly may now need to add an additional $200 million in taxes for the next fiscal year budget - $100 million to accommodate last year’s deficit and $100 million to cover this year’s expenses.
Even if Haley’s move could be deemed constitutional, “there is still the concern about the Budget and Control Board and the Executive Branch usurping legislative authority,” says the House Democratic Caucus. “(L)egislators would still need to pass a supplemental budget for DHHS to be able to spend any additional monies.”
South Carolina is already shy $830 million in funding for the upcoming fiscal year.
As South Carolina heads into a new fiscal year that’s $830 million short its proposed budget, there’s lots of debate in Columbia on how to correct the situation, mostly about additional programs to cut or drop altogether.
But instead of harming state schools and hospitals, perhaps the State Assembly could simply correct the budgetary errors it’s directly responsible for itself.
Using The State’s online interactive graph for selective measurement, reinstatement of previously-removed fund sources could balance the budget and then some.
In particular, bringing back particular sales taxes that Republicans in state government either dramatically reduced or completely repealed would produce the missing funds.
And not only would those formerly-used tax rates bring money back to the coffers, but they would do so fairly at flat percentage rates. Some of the current taxes are unfairly applied, and hurt middle and low-income residents most of all.
Take South Carolina’s current vehicle tax, for example. It’s currently calculated at five percent rate to a ceiling of $300.
The sales tax a consumer pays for a $6,000 used automobile, then, is the same amount he or she would be charged for a $600,000 new car.
In other words, you can be a cash-strapped mom buying a 2002 Chevy Malibu or a money-dripping heiress acquiring a 2011 Lamborghini Enzo; the vehicle sales tax you’ll pay is the exact same amount. That $300 might not be more than a happy meal to the heiress, but it can cover a year’s worth of liability insurance for the mom.
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, motor vehicles make up 12.3 percent of all retail sales in South Carolina. These current tax rates generated only $42 million from car sales (new and used) in 2009, resulting in an average of only 0.86 percent.
An additional $60 million could be generated if the $300 cap rate would be repealed, according to the state’s Taxation Realignment Commission, more than doubling the amount currently produced.
Just the source of that information itself should indicate its non-partisan foundation, please note. TRAC is chaired by none other than noted Republican Burnet R. Maybank III, who was appointed to that position by Republican state Sen. Glenn McConnell, was director of the state Dept. of Revenue under Republican Gov. Mark Sanford and Republican Gov. David Beasley, and who was legal counsel to Republican Gov. Carroll Campbell.
And even though I agree with TRAC that the regular vehicle tax should be reinstated, I still disagree with it on one crucial point: this could generate much, much more than another $60 million.
Considering new cars alone, South Carolina produced over $3 billion in sales for 2009. That was a very stale year, too; for example, over 200,000 new cars were sold statewide in 2007, but only 120,000 in ’09.
But had the normal five percent rate been applied in that last reported year, the amount of sales tax produced on new cars alone would have been $152.566 million. That’s another $110 million, almost four times more than the state collected in taxes on the sales of all vehicles, both new and used, for that year alone – and almost one-fifth of the total amount South Carolina now finds itself short.
So if the State Assembly is serious about correcting the budget, the one thing it should think about is undoing the budget breakers its Republican majority started in the first place.
All it has to do is consult The State’s interactive graph to see how easy it would be.
At the moment, South Carolina’s Sen. Jim DeMint is only thinking about entering the next presidential race, but he could be counterproductive to the state’s Republican Party if he does.
A recent survey of Palmetto State voters, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that Obama would lose South Carolina in a General Election by six and seven percent if facing major potential candidates Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, respectively.
The spread between the president and DeMint, however, is only two percent – 45-47 in favor of the senator. With a remaining eight percent undecided, the doors would be wide open for Obama to become the first Democrat to win South Carolina’s electoral votes since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
The same survey also reports Obama leads in the state over Sarah Palin (47-41) and Newt Gingrich (44-43).
DeMint told media “no, I’m not” running for president on January 26, less than one week after placing sixth in the New Hampshire Straw Poll without any campaigning.
The very next day, however, his advisers said the possibility was still open, and state GOP consultant Terry Sullivan said DeMint “would certainly be the odds-on favorite here.”
According to another recent PPP survey, Republican voters would select DeMint in a South Carolina presidential primary race with 24 percent of the vote, followed by Huckabee (20), Romney (17), Palin (12), Gingrich (10), Ron Paul (4), Tim Pawlenty (3) and Mitch Daniels (2 percent).
Without DeMint in the lineup, the order would remain the same with Huckabee taking a 26 percent plurality.
In South Carolina’s 2008 GOP presidential primary, Huckabee came in a close second (29.8 percent) to winner and eventual nominee Sen. John McCain (33.2 percent). Romney, who was endorsed by DeMint, placed fourth in that election, three-tenths of a percentage point behind Fred Thompson’s third-place 15.6.
McCain went on to take South Carolina in the ’08 General Election, leading Obama by nine percent.
The recent news and rumors resulted in a “Draft Jim DeMint” group, which now has a website covering progress on DeMint’s potential campaign.
South Carolina should host the fourth of national GOP presidential primary elections in 2012, taking place after February 18 and before March 5 of that year.
A bit of personal advice to political candidates: get a professional campaign consultant to do your Federal Election Commission filings. And make sure they don’t have a cat.To not follow the first suggestion will result in mad frustration, which will only worsen if the conditions of the second suggestion aren’t followed.
Don’t believe it? Just read on to learn more about how I came to these conclusions.
The last deadline for filing campaign financial reports was January 31, and for end-of-year records. Which I overlooked, I admit, having tons of end-of-the-month duties to complete. So I have to acknowledge some fault in this, I guess.
But that error isn’t exactly a Ken Ard case of spending campaign funds after the election on women’s clothing or trips to the SEC championship. I mean, I have a whopping balance of $15.82 from my mere $10,000 in election contributions, and only thanks to a partial refund I recently got from the Post & Courier (which apparently didn’t run my online banner ad as much I paid for, thankyouverymuch). There hasn’t been any other activity to report.
The mistake I made isn’t anywhere near the magnitude of errors within the filing program itself, either. There’s been something wrong with it since the first time I used it. There was a new wrong this time, too; the program is consistently changed and updated, but apparently harms itself (and filers) in the process. And I’m quite fed up with it.
Fuzzy before the FEC filing
I sat at my desktop this morning to begin the filing process I’ve come to dread. Fuzzy, a long-haired feline, climbed upon my lap to offer me the support I also sought from freshly-brewed coffee. But neither would suffice, even in combination.
The first problem arose from what I originally thought would be an improvement. “Click here to update the FEC filing program,” was the message received upon first opening my “FECFILE” folder. Hoo hoo! Get updated, brother, cuz me and Fuzzy sure know you need it!
But it somehow deleted the saved copies of my previous filings after I clicked, leaving me without the records I needed as reference. They were gone. Absent. Inaccessible. Missing in action from the folder.
Fuzzy offered consolation by rubbing her head upon my forearm, but it didn’t make me feel any better.
That left me with need to scramble up all the paper records and receipts and banking statements I have for reference (pushing the attention-starved cat off my lap in the process). But I couldn’t enter all the information in the correct entry categories, either. I clicked the “loans, payments and other expenses” tab to enter the $75 I returned myself, but the needed Line 19 for record of personal loan repayment wouldn’t show as an option. It only brought me to a dead end.
To hell with it, I thought; I can just report that meager repayment of $75 as a general expense, and list details of its self-loan repayment status in the option of text description. Let the FEC figure it out itself. Fuzzy meowed her agreement to my premise.
I then saved this latest report. It can’t be uploaded unless it’s saved, after all. But when I tried to upload it to the FEC, I got message of its rejection. The beginning date I entered (November 22) was the same as the closing date of the last filing period, the on-screen notice explained, thus the file couldn’t be accepted. Big deal, I thought. Just reopen it and correct the one digit to November 23, right? That’ll please those anal-retentive FEC folks, won’t it?
Wrong! The program wouldn’t let me! No modifications could be made to a saved report, said the error message. So, it wouldn’t let me upload the report because of that one small error, and it wouldn’t allow me to correct it, either. Not having any other visible option, I had to scrap that report and start all over.
I opened a new report file and re-entered the data, this time with the desired date, and proceeded to upload anew. The cat was then crouched in a corner of the desk, interested in keeping a close eye on what’s going on but too fearful to come within reach of my madly-typing fingers.
It was again rejected, though. This time, the error message stated that the candidate and committee IDs were incorrect.
I’m familiar with that problem from previous filings; the font used in this program makes zeros and capital Os indistinguishable, after all. That’s why, when completing this most recent filing, I took a path to avoid that problem. I selected an option that allowed me to search those numbers right from the FEC records and simply click on them for their direct entry into my report. But this time, it was the program itself that couldn’t distinguish them.
In other words, I asked the FEC for the ID and then repeated that same ID back to the FEC, but only to have the FEC tell me the ID it itself just gave me was incorrect.
That left me in the same position I was in for earlier filings – a series of hunt-and-peck operations using all the variations until I got the correct version, giving myself a crude nail clipping in the process as I stabbed the keyboard with my fingers.
“Why didn’t it tell me the same error on the first attempt?” I asked the cat, who now assumed a safer position near my feet. Fuzzy didn’t know the answer.
And what happened when I tried to submit this newer version of the report? That’s right – similar to my first attempt, it wouldn’t allow me to save the changes. So I had to scrap it and start anew. Which I objected to with frustration by waving my arms and stomping my feet.
By that point, Fuzzy was backed against a distant wall. She assumed the arched position of defense, but still retained enough cat curiosity to remain as witness in the office. She watched me slowly enter all the same information yet again, her ears folded back upon her head to buffer the volume of the vulgarities that spewed from my mouth.
Having all the information typed up once more, I quickly calmed down. I took deep breaths. This is it, I thought. It’s over. The third time’s the charm. I welcomed Fuzzy back into my lap so she could join me in witnessing the successful upload of the data.
But it still didn’t happen! This time, yet another newly-found, previously-ignored (and only alleged) “error” was reported to me, blocking the process again! Which only made me angrier and had me yell louder.
“Why didn’t it tell me of this error before?” I again asked the cat, now inspired by the program’s first-time notice of an absent electronic signature, and while wildly jabbing at the monitor with a cup of then-cold coffee, which proceeded to splash down upon the desk.
And upon Fuzzy, too, who responded in a way that must come as natural instinct for cats in stressful situations. She sunk her long claws into my legs.
Fuzzy after the FEC filing
Those punctures came about unexpectedly, causing me to yell and scream and thrash about even more. Which caused Fuzzy to hang on for dear life by clenching those claws deeper into my flesh. Which created a table-tennis match of stimulus-and-response between me and the animal – me yelling louder, causing her claws to extend further, making me scream even louder, inspiring her claws to dig even deeper.
Thankfully, she spared us both any additional torture by leaping from my lap before my coffee-dripping hands could grab her. And while I don’t know if it’s me or Fuzzy who gets the credit for re-gathering my focus, I immediately returned to the filing duties on hand.
Perhaps a blessing in disguise, the rapid flow of plasma from fresh claw wounds must have reduced my blood pressure, clearing my mind and giving me impetus and opportunity to complete the procedure one more time.
“A cat may have nine lives, but you have only four,” I warned the supposedly-updated and improved filing program. “Do it right this time … or else.” With bloody thighs and fingers I completed the report, which was finally accepted by the electronic filing system.
What made the difference on that last attempt? I still don’t know. All I can think about is the fact that I still have a chump-change balance, meaning I’ll have to do this yet again in the future (at a date I promise to remember). And I’ll be sure to have no cats or coffee present during the process, too.
Let me close this tale with a personal message to the FEC (which does not stand for “Fuzzy, the Elated Cat”): puh-LEEZE come up with a final, modified, properly-operating electronic reporting system.
If you don’t, my pet would like to have a word with you.
*** (In case you didn't know it, yes - I did accept a last-minute nomination to run for Congress in 2010. See that website here.)
We all know that the commercials aired during Super Bowls get more attention than the games themselves, sometimes. And one of those ads is already getting ample attention on the Internet because you can star in it yourself.
A commercial for HomeAway, a service that provides rental of single-family structures (instead of hotels) for vacations, is available for view on its website. You can upload a picture of anyone, who’ll play the sucker role in the funny ad.
Yes, that's me you see in the snag right here. (And flying through glass is sort of an everyday event for me.....)
You can make your own version, using any photo you care to upload, or just use your webcam to get a quick shot.
There are also three variations in the demise of your baby-self to choose from.
Just click HERE. After you sit through the spoof (probably with glee to see me decapitated and run over by a warehouse vehicle), choose the "customize your own" option to make your own.