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Archive for February 25th, 2009

It is no surprise that I am often skeptical of government’s ability to get things done. There are often other options that are much more effective, but government can be the mechanism to accumulate the necessary funds and direct them to effective non-governmental agencies. We have an opportunity to make this happen with hunger assistance in Delaware.

The Delaware Community Foundation, which manages charitable funds for individuals, families, businesses and organizations, and distributes income from the funds as grants to humanitarian, educational, health and cultural entities throughout the First State, has issued a grant to the Food Bank of Delaware, who distributes food to the hungry people in our community through over 235 member agencies and operates the Culinary School at the Food Bank as well as a food market and a dozen other programs. This is a win-win for Delaware.

This afternoon I was able to participate in the announcement of this joint effort between these two great groups. The Delaware Community Foundation has given a significant grant to the Food Bank of Delaware to fund the Delaware Anti-Hunger Coalition. The task of this coalition will be to identify goals, objectives, and measurements leading to a collaborative effort of identifying and engaging key partners in order to make a significant contribution toward alleviating and in many cases eliminating hunger in Delaware. 

The coalition will develop a Plan of Action for addressing and resolving many of the issues identified in Delaware.  For example, all of the Federal Food Programs (There are 9 of them) are currently underutilized in Delaware or utilized ineffectively as detailed in a report that was distributed to elected officials by the Food Bank of Delaware. The coalition will focus comprehensively on all the programs that contribute to the need for food by individuals and families. The coalition includes bipartisan representation as well as participants from all levels of government, the business community, and the non-profit community.

Knowing the key drivers of this effort, the results will be very good for Delaware, and given the current economic situation, this effort couldn’t come at a more opportune time.

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First Solar, Inc., (FSLR: NASDAQ) had a double great day, yesterday. First, it announced that it had “reduced its manufacturing cost for solar modules in the fourth quarter to 98 cents per watt, breaking the $1 per watt price barrier.” 

“This achievement marks a milestone in the solar industry’s evolution toward providing truly sustainable energy solutions,” said Mike Ahearn, First Solar chief executive officer. “First Solar is proud to be leading the way toward clean, affordable solar electricity as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.”

Then, in his speech last night, President Obama declared that he wanted a carbon tax implemented within the year and plans to invest billions into alternative energy. Specifically, President Obama said, “I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest $15 billion a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.”

The fly in the ointment was that  First Solar also stated that “the short-term outlook for solar PV has never looked more difficult.” First Solar’s stock price is down 20% today.

How can this be?  Maybe Speaker Pelosi should have spoken with actual green industry leaders before writing her pork-laden “stimulus” bill. Maybe increased government debt and central planning aren’t the savior that we thought. Short-term government stimulus, especially in an economy that has become as large and complex as the global economy, simply won’t work. (Note: I have previously posted that I believe that moving to alternative energy is one of the country’s most important national security imperatives. In truth, I’d like to see more, long-term investment in this area which would be cheaper than trying to extend our military reach to hostile regions of the globe.)

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Obama’s Speech

Following the seech last night, CNN commentator David Gergen described the President’s speech as summoning FDR’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Gergen very much liked the speech and said he has never seen a president combine the two spirits into one masterful performance.

Personally, I thought the speech itself was good, even if I strongly disagree with the policies contained in it. I was hoping he would ad lib at some point in the speech and tell those present to “stop the cheering and the clapping, we have serious business to address and I want to make sure you and the American people here every word I say.” It wasn’t to be.

Long and short of it, lets see how it plays out and pass judgment then. I think Nancy Pelosi got the most out of the entire speech with her highly regimented workout of standing, sitting, standing, sitting every three words, jumping up like a child at Chuk-E-Cheese.

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