Thursday, October 1, 2009

ZEITGEIST: The Poor Man's Green Agenda

By Marc Forgang

The current green agenda involves congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle and special interest groups, vying for stimulus money and tax breaks for green companies (wind, solar, ethanol and any other company that can convince Congress that they deserve it).

I have come up with my own poor man's green agenda that I plan to send on to Congress if you, the reader, agree with me. I am part of the over taxed middle class that will bear the most burden from the entitlement programs that our wonderful government has come up with.

The following list requires some local tax dollars to enforce as well as common sense from ordinary citizens. I hear conservatives complaining about government interfering with our lives and I say bring it on:

1. Commuting - Companies should reward employees that bike, carpool or take transit to work. Americans believe that they own the road and they have the god given right to drive by themselves in gas guzzling automobiles. If you give them a little cash incentive they may comply. I would add that companies could receive tax breaks however that would require the government to hire even more people to oversee the program.

2. Conserving water - Most American communities continue to build homes and business without accounting for water needs. The community I live in uses well water and is finally coming to the realization that you can't keep building if you have no idea where the water will come from. It is time for local government to enforce certain rules (not the federal government). Only allow lawn watering once a week in areas where there is a surplus water supply. Homeowners should come to the realization that having the greenest lawn on the block does not yield you any reward other than a few compliments. They should reduce their water usage and find ways to collect rain water for use in watering their lawns. In areas of the southwest, desert landscaping should be required for areas where there is a deficit in the water supply. This practice is common in Las Vegas, NV.

3. Reduce fertilizer run off - Run off from over fertilizing lawns in many U.S. communities is a threat to water quality and aquatic life. There are a number of commercial lawn services that claim you need 6 to 10 lawn treatments every season. This is not true and local government should put limits to the amount of chemicals used in lawn treatments. Homeowners should take a second look and realize they can cut treatments in half and put that money into savings.

4. Reduce energy use - A number of energy companies offer meter hookups to automatically shut off your air conditioning on days of high usage, and digital thermostats that can be timed to adjust temperature when no one is home. Local government should make this mandatory for every household. Homeowners should take it upon themselves to reduce their energy usage as well. A home thermostat should not be set below 78 degrees during the hottest time of the year and not above 68 degrees during the coldest time of the year.

5. Recycle - All communities in the U.S. should enforce a recycling policy, fining homeowners that continue to throw away recyclables. Recycling reduces trash by at least 30 percent just by simply throwing bottles and newspapers into the blue container instead of the trash can. I know its an extra trip to the curb once a week but we could all use the exercise.

6. Bulk trash pickup - With the savings from reducing the amount of trash to deliver to the landfill, local governments should use that money to hire a bulk pickup contractor to pickup old appliances, computers, tube televisions, fax machines, printers, cell phones, old lawn mowers, sofas, mattresses and many other things we just don't know what to do with. Some intelligent Americans choose to drop those things off on the side of the road or dump them in streams and rivers across this great nation. Bulk pickup contractors are able to recycle these items and reduce landfill waste.

7. Eat less - Americans are the most gluttonous creatures on this planet. I learned this on my latest visit to a Vegas buffet. If we reduced the amount of food we intake we would not have to produce as much livestock thus reducing methane gas. We could grow more trees instead of crops as well. Furthermore, restaurants should take it upon themselves to reduce portions to reduce food waste. This would also decrease our healthcare costs.

I am all for solar and wind energy however this should not require tax payer dollars. Remember those companies that made a ton of money when speculators drove the price of oil over 130 dollars a barrel last year and the government told us it was supply issues and unrest in a number of countries. Well those companies (BP and Exxon to name a couple) should take some of that profit and find a way to bring solar and wind to the common people as a thank you for our support.

If I were Obama I would set the healthcare debate aside and come up with a much simpler poor man's green agenda that asks Americans to start helping out instead of whining about the entitlements they think they deserve. After that he should get rid of special interest groups as promised in his campaign and then go after AIG, Bank of America, Citibank and many of Wall Street's finest and get us our money back including those obscene bonuses and fat CEO paychecks.

Marc Forgang is an Information Technology professional and is self taught in personal finance and investing. Marc is also author of Top Nine Ways To Personal Financial Enrichment available through Marc can answer any of your personal finance questions at

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