Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Towards self-sustainability

David has been working on a project for me; he's been working on it a little bit at a time. Hidden between the shed we brought in and the barn that's stood for 100 years were two very old, metal clothesline poles. One came out rather easily because David had put it there 5 years ago after salvaging it from the mule stall; the other had stood in its place, helped by concrete for who knows how many years and, well, that one took a great deal of labor to get out of its hole. The two poles have been the support for the canoe for most of our life here, but this week, they're going to be moved and used for their original intent.....laundry.

I do a lot of laundry; four of us live here year 'round and one comes home every now and then with what seems like a college semester's worth of dirty clothes - some of which I swear are folded exactly like they were the last time I did his laundry ~~.....

I could write about how I'm going to hang out my laundry because I love the smell of air and sun dried clothes and how I'm going green and so forth and so on ~ and that would be true ~ but it would only be a part of the truth. The truth is our energy bill...yesterday, today and in the future.

When we moved here in 2004, our monthly bill was around $160 a month....and we never thought much about conservation - by 2005, the hurricanes of 2004 had increased the bill a great deal.....i.e. in July of 2005, we used about 100kw less then the July of 2004 - yet we paid $80.00 more for that bill......today, our average monthly bill is about $225 and that is with a constant eye on our usage. This past winter, with the record cold temps we had - one month went as high as $425 and was followed by three $300.00 monthly bills....again, with our being conservative - turning off computers and monitors and using those new fangled energy saving light bulbs and programable thermostats and wearing sweats in the evenings instead of using the heaters.

I've been watching the raging debate about Cap and Trade Energy Plans....and I'm more than a little bit stressed out by it all.....if I'm having trouble keeping our bill affordable now, what about after that tax hits American households in the back pocket? And how much will it really be?

The Environmental Protection Agency and Sen. Waxman state that the tax will cost us about the price of a postage stamp a day or about $8 - $24.00 per month ($98 - $140 annually) - okay, I can live with that.....but wait a minute....the Mass. Institute of Technology says in their study that it will cost each household about $66.00 a month ($800.00 per year - there goes the tax cut for 95% of Americans eh?)

The Heritage Foundation says "no, its more like $125.00 per month" ($1500 per year) and the Congressional Budget Office says its going to be even higher than that - about $133.00 a month or $1600.00 a year per household. And then today, I read where its actually going to be closer to $258.00 per month ($3100 per year) per household.

So which is it? As I fret about it, I wonder how in the world we can afford to pay an additional $100 or $200 per month for our energy bills when I can't seem to get it under control as it is. And then, I take a look at our gas bills creeping back up.....a few months ago, gas was about $1.60 a gallon and now, it goes up every day, sometimes more than once......and Obama's Administration has made it clear that they will eventually begin to increase the gas tax to make it more inviting to purchase the newer Government Motors energy efficient cars (which will cost an estimated $2100.00 more).......and heath insurance benefits taxed as income.....

Everyone I talk to has either lost their job, or is looking at a possible layoff, or has lost overtime and/or bonuses, or had the work week cut back to save their job and everyone I speak seems to to be already having trouble meeting their monthly bills - a friend of mine has lost her job and her home, others are behind on their mortgages and perhaps about to face foreclosure. We wait and wait to hear how David's employer is going to handle the future; a second round of layoffs are rumored, complete shutdowns are rumored. A job we thought would see him through to retirement now looks a whole lot less secure than it did even a year ago.

And here we sit, watching as amendment after amendment put forth by the Republicans to try to limit the burden this cap and trade will place on the middle class are rejected by the one party government that we exist under today. Amendments to protect jobs by keeping the unemployment rate under 15% if it turns out that cap and trade is losing jobs before it creates them; amendments to control the costs to American households if they turn out to be too high - all of these are voted down by the party that said it cared about the working class Americans who make up the majority of the middle class. They offer subsidies to help offset the increased tax burden but only to households where $20.00 per hour is the total individual or combined income - the rest of us are on our own whatever the actual cost of this tax actually turns out to be......

The promise that no household making under $250,000 per year would feel the effects of any Obama Administration tax increase is obviously forgotten - any household making more than $42,000 will get no help in paying these taxes and $42,001 is a great deal less than $250,000 isn't it? That's the majority of the middle class left to absorb this tax hike....but you gotta give Mr. Obama some credit - he promised his changes would be painful and require sacrifice - he just fooled a whole lot of folks with that $250,000 cut off point.

I'm all for this country moving toward being green; we've been doing it ourselves as we can....but this cap and trade is a very scary thing......in an already scary time of job insecurity, rising costs of food and gas.....

So, I make decisions to control what I can control....I can air dry my laundry and hand wash my dishes and set my thermostats to 81 degrees when I absolutely have to run the A/C......I can bake our own bread and grow our own veggies and have lovely chickens and lovely eggs......and pray that something happens to turn all of this around before its too late......

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't/doesn't think that Obama is the solution to all our country's problems. Record government deficit spending and government involvement in business make me very nervous about what the future will bring. Hopefully it's not as doom-and-gloom as what it looks like from here!


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