Supermoon

sm-supermoon-03-jpg_040834

Super-size—no I’m not talking about a large order of fries at McDonald’s. For those of you who are enamored by the moon and the stars, November 13 and 14 will provide a real treat with what is referred to as a Supermoon.

A Supermoon is when the moon’s elliptical orbit around the earth brings it to its closest point. There are three full moons in 2016 that meet the definition of a Supermoon – October, November, and December. But this November 14 full moon is the most super of the Supermoons! A super-duper moon!

At its furthest, the moon is 406,662 km (252,687 mi) away from the earth. This year’s orbit will bring the moon to within 356,509 km (221,523 mi) of the Earth. A difference of 31,164 miles.

elipse

The last time that the moon was this close to Earth was on January 26, 1948, when it came within 356,461 km or 221,495 miles of the earth.

Even to the naked eye, the Supermoon will appear quite a bit larger than a regular full moon, but it is difficult to judge just how much larger. The two photos below were taken during a regular full moon and a Supermoon from the same vantage points and using the same camera settings. You can see from the overlay how much visually larger the Supermoon is to the naked eye.

While beautiful to see, Supermoons also have a dramatic effect on the earth. For those of you living along the coast, the Supermoon will bring dramatically super high and low tides. Each month, on the day of the full moon, the moon, Earth, and sun are aligned, with Earth in between. This line up creates wide-ranging tides, known as spring tides. High spring tides climb especially high, and on the same day, low tides plunge especially low. Anyone up for digging clams?

Whether coincidence or not, a number of catastrophic events have also been linked to the timing of a Supermoon, within a few days before and after the actual event.

  • Christchurch, NZ earthquake of February 22, 2011 (Supermoon Feb. 18)
  • Hawke’s Bay, NZ earthquake of February 3, 1931 (Supermoon Feb. 3)
  • Japan 9.0 mega-quake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 (on Feb. 18, 2011, there was a Supermoon and on March 19, 2011, an extreme Supermoon)
  • Hurricane Katrina, August 23, 2005 (Supermoon Aug. 19)
  • Haiti 7.0 earthquake January 12, 2010 (On Dec. 31, 2009, there was a Supermoon and on Jan. 30, 2010, there was an extreme Supermoon)

It is also said that full moons have an effect on people and animals. It is said that a full moon brings out the crazy in people. Again, it may be coincidence, but on November 8, 2016, a new President of the United States was elected—just six days before the biggest Supermoon in 68 years.

Posted in Environment, Sustainability | Tagged | Leave a comment

Grandfathering Solar Customers

Since the December 2015 decision of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to lower the amount paid to net metering customers from nearly 12 cents per kilowatt hour down to 2.6 cents for residential rooftop customers over the next 15 years, there have been pleas to grandfather the existing customers under the old rate. On February 12, 2016, made the following statement to the PUCN against grandfathering.

download

My name is Craig Ruark, and I have been a resident of Las Vegas since 1975. I am not an architect or an engineer; I am a journalist. But, I am also one of the few NON-technical LEED Accredited Professionals by the U.S. Green Building Council. I have been writing about environmental issues since 2008 and have been following this political folly on solar energy since the introduction of SB374 in the legislature.

A few months back I spoke before this commission to urge you to make your decision on the new guidelines for the purchase of residential rooftop solar generated energy by NV Energy, based on what is called the “Value of Solar” (VOS) tariff.

For NV Energy to pay nearly 12 cents per kilowatt hour for residential rooftop solar is probably too much. But decreasing the amount down to 2.6 cents per kilowatt-hour is a huge underestimate of the true value of rooftop solar. I would say that the true valuation is closer to 10 cents than it is to six cents per hour.

Currently, there are over 17,000 families that have installed rooftop solar on their homes. Those families represent less than 1% of the total number of families served by NV Energy and its subsidiary’s.

For the past few months, we have seen hundreds of these everyday people, just like the people in attendance today, as they stepped up to this microphone and pleaded their hearts out, many with tears in their eyes, for justice. These passionate people told stories about how their passion for the environment and assessment that going solar was the right thing to do in the fight against global warming. And they are right! We need to set up a system that makes good economic sense for more people to join these environmental pioneers and start covering more roofs throughout the valley.

That is why I am speaking again today. To ask you NOT to grandfather these people in for the next twenty years.

NV Energy has it figured out. They grandfather these current customers for the next 20 years, and these 17,000 families go home satisfied and vindicated. They got their solar system and their money; they are fat and happy, and you never hear from them again for fear of upsetting the apple cart.

Meanwhile, we still have a problem with global warming and NV Energy still wants to build more infrastructure in order to continue to line their pockets.

I don’t want to see these people grandfathered because I want them to be lean and hungry. I want to see them continuing to fight for the rights of the rest of Nevada’s population to be able to install solar on their roofs. I want to see them continue to fight for a fair compensation that will allow for a reasonable payback on the return of their investment and continue to lower their energy costs. I want to see them with tears in their eyes and passion in their hearts as they talk about the environment.

Without the continued voices of the current solar customers, NV Energy will be able to quietly let this small 1% ride out their solar contracts for the next 20 years. And without opposition, NV Energy will be able to effectively make it financially impossible for other families to afford rooftop solar and water down their utility base.

We need to look for a fair compensation—not a payoff for silence.

Posted in Solar Energy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Value of Solar Tariff

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission has been holding public hearings on the value of residential rooftop solar and this morning I stepped forward with the following statement to the commission.

nv_energy_puc_switch_meeting_pict_1433961435231_1354912_ver1-0_640_360

 

My name is Craig Ruark, and I have been a resident of Las Vegas since 1975. Currently, I work as a freelance writer and have written several articles that have appeared in the Las Vegas Business Press, on the topic of Net Metering and rooftop solar. The following represents my views and not necessarily those of the Business Press.

I am here to discuss the basic issues.

First of all, NV Energy from 2006 to 2011 has spent $4.3 billion to build, expand or buy eight power plants, more than doubling its generating capacity to 5,862 megawatts. That is a huge investment to bring reliable energy to the citizens of Nevada. And even today, NV Energy continues to invest the funds necessary to maintain the transmission lines and infrastructure that makes up the local grid.

The complaint that NV Energy has about rooftop solar customers not paying their fair share for the grid is legitimate. One of the problems that NV Energy faces is that they must plan the amount of power that they generate based on the needs of all customers in the valley regardless of whether they have solar or not. The reason for this is they never know how much solar energy they will be receiving from the residents at any given time. One home with a seven kW system might contribute four kW of that energy to the grid, and another may contribute one kW back to the grid. The variables are dependent upon the time of day, the number of resident’s home during those times, and the amount of electronics in use, in addition to air conditioning comfort preferences.

The electronic components that make up the power grid do not like power spikes and surges. So when NV Energy generates power based upon the number of connections, and solar starts throwing a few thousand extra kilowatts back into the system there is a problem.

That said, the other side of the coin is that distributive generation is far more efficient than building more centralize power plants. And when calculating the contribution made by residential and commercial rooftop solar the PUCN needs to take a number of things into consideration.

  • It reduces the need for expensive new power plants and transmission lines;
  • less energy is lost in transmission because much of the power is used right where it’s generated;
  • it requires no fuel and so provides a hedge against future fossil fuel price increases;
  • the kilowatt hours produced by solar does not require water
  • and it could allow utilities to meet state renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission goals without paying for utility-scale solar and wind farms.

The recent passage of SB374 shifted responsibility from the Nevada Legislature to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to evaluate what is called the “Value of Solar” (VOS) tariff and establish new guidelines for connecting rooftop solar to the grid.

This may be a logical solution assuming that the PUCN attaches a proper value to the energy generated by residential and commercial solar.

To make this work, all solar customers would purchase all of their energy from the utility company at the utility’s retail rate which includes all of the costs of power production and/or the purchasing of power, as well as, the transmission and distribution of the power.

Second, the solar customer feeds 100% of its generated power into the grid and is compensated by the Utility, based on an established VOS rate in dollars per kilowatt hour. The VOS calculation generates a long-term leveled value rate that is looked at annually, based on factors that may include:

  • Utility variable costs (fuel and purchased power)
  • Utility fixed costs (generation capacity, transmission, and distribution)
  • Distribution system and transmission line losses
  • Ancillary services (to maintain grid reliability)
  • Environmental impacts (the reduction of carbon and other pollutant emissions)

With those factors in consideration, the value may not be the current 11.6 cents that are being paid under net metering, but it is far more than the 3.1 or 5.5 cent numbers proposed.

By instituting these two items, the utility company now has a constant base of power that is provided by solar and can then plan appropriately the amount of power that is needed from their central plants and purchased from the grid.

The goal of the calculation process is to estimate the total value of a unit of solar energy generated in the distribution grid, at or very near the point of consumption thus eliminating long distribution charges and limiting transmission line losses for a more efficient method of energy production. The result is a conservative estimate of the cost that the utility would face for a unit for energy with the same character as that generated from a local commercial solar facility.

In other words, the residential solar customer also becomes a source of power generation for the utility, and as such, the total amount of power generated can be more accurately calculated and relied upon for servicing all of the utility’s customer needs. This is greatly different from the current Net Metering system where the solar customer bleeds off power for their own needs and then pushes any excess power (in unknown and inconsistent quantities), into the grid causing spikes and fluctuation that wreaks havoc with the utility’s transmission and distribution equipment.

Under the VOS tariff system, the solar customer is billed for their energy use exactly as all other customers within the utility. They, however, will have an amount deducted from their monthly bill based on the amount of energy they produced and sold to the utility. One advantage that the VOS tariff system might give to the homeowner is the ability to secure better financing for the installation of their system based on the long-term projection of income.

One variable on the investment side is that each year, a new VOS tariff would be calculated using current data, and the new resulting VOS rate would apply to all customers entering the tariff during the year. Changes such as increased or decreased fuel prices and modified hourly utility load profiles due to higher solar penetration could be incorporated into each new annual calculation.

And finally, I would like to point out that the PUCN has published a document titled Choosing Wind or Solar. In that document, there is an analysis to “Determine how much energy the system could potentially produce, in kilowatt-hours in a year.” The mathematics assumes a 6-kilowatt system x 8,760 hours in a year x 24% efficiency based on inclement weather, cloudy skies and of course darkness at night for a total of 12,614 kWh per year multiplied by $.13 equals an annual savings of $1,640 off your energy bill.

This is a straight calculation without net metering.

The flaw in that calculation is that 80% of that energy is generated while children are in school, parents are at work, and the household is fairly quiet. Most residents have their air conditioners turned to a higher temperature so as not to waste energy; the television is off as are most of the lights, etc. So in reality, depending on the time of year, and the outside temperature, the home is generating an abundance of energy that is not being used. Without some sort of compensation such as net metering or Value Of Solar Tariff, the homeowner is not receiving near the value in the PUCN example and therefore the payback of the system is far greater than the 11 years used in the example.

Without fair compensation for rooftop solar, the proposition becomes a 30 to 40-year payback and for residents in particular that is not a doable situation.

Posted in Solar Energy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Very Sustainable Birthday Present

On May 28, 2015 I celebrated my 60th Birthday. It passed without much fan fair, a simple dinner with a friend at the Tommy Bahama restaurant along with two tickets to the Smith Center to see James Tormé in the Cabaret Theater on Saturday the 30th.

Perhaps one of the most interesting and coolest gifts that I have ever received in my 60 years of having birthdays came from my sister, Pam, in Austin, Texas.

Here we must take a short pause in my story for a brief history lesson; it helps if you read this with an Irish accent or perhaps imagining Sean Connery reading aloud:

Several years ago, Pam and I had discovered that we had both been researching the family history. I had been documenting my findings in a Word document, but she was more advanced plotting her findings on Ancestry.com.

The Ruark name has roots and history dating back to the 12th century and is mostly Irish and English and can be found throughout history in various transformations, O’Roark, O’Rourke and Rook being the most dominant. In early days, our land was in Leitrim County, Ireland

The family was at its height in the 12th century, when Tigernán Ua Ruairc was king of Ireland900Bréifne. In 1256, a great battle was fought between the O’Rourkes and the O’Reillys near Ballinamore. This led to the division of Breifne between the O’Rourkes and O’Reillys. The Bréifne region was split into East Bréifne and West Bréifne. The Ó Ruairc kings (O’Rourke) maintained lordship over West Bréifne (mainly Co. Leitrim). The Kingdom of Bréifne region was part of the kingdom of Connacht up until the time of Queen Elizabeth I. In that time, it was shired into the modern counties Cavan which became part of Ulster and Leitrim remaining a part of the province of Connacht The ÓRuaircs were effectively lords of Breifne O’Rourke through the turbulent 16th century.

By the way, Breifne is said to derive from an obsolete Irish word meaning ‘hilly’, a description that describes the topography of this part of Ireland

Now back to my 60th birthday present from my sister.

So after returning from a breakfast meeting with my editor, I find a box at my door. It is rather light and sort of flat with the Amazon.com logo. Inside were birthday cards from my mother and sister. Pam had also written a letter; that was sealed in her card.

When I opened the letter, I immediately noticed the stylish letterhead. It was from Lady Pamela J. Ruark, Lady of Glencoe and addressed:

Dear Lord Craig,

 Happy Birthday? You’re probably wondering why such an unusual gift and how in the world I even thought of it; well, I’m going to tell you.

 A little more than a year ago I checked out a website that intrigued me.  I could own land in Scotland for a small amount of money and legally be called a lady. Ha! I thought that’s the only way Mom would ever get one out of me, so I investigated it further. Suffice to say I bought an “estate” and can now be legally known as Lady Pamela. However, I didn’t tell Mom because I knew she’s laugh at me – now that I have told her, I can say I was right.

 What really drew me to buying the land is the conservation aspect – the fact that hundreds of people own the land so that it’s impractical for a company to come in and try to develop it. That, and to say I own land in Scotland. Come on, let’s be real, that’s just way too cool! So I bought a plot of land for you too. With your LEED certification and your writing skills, I thought that this might make an interesting subject to write about.  Perhaps a story by Lord Craig Ruark could be perceived as gimmicky but it would certainly catch the eye.

 I told Mom that I thought you would enjoy this gift, even if it wasn’t something you’d buy, because of your interest in genealogy. Actually, you have two plots as they were running a special with I bought yours, probably to complete the last of the Glencoe plots.  You have a 3’x3’ plot in a new section called Lochaber and a 1’x1’ plot in Glencoe. I have a 3’x3’ in Glencoe – which when you really think about it is only about enough space for two people to stand side by side! The website is http://highlandtitles.com.

 I know this is probably the most unusual gift you’ve ever received, but at least it’s yours in perpetuity or until you sell or bequeath it away! I really hope you like it.

 Love,

 Lady Pamela

In the box was a black folder with a Tartan plaid stripe from Highland Titles.

Highland Titles 02

Inside the folder, a separate deed to each property, identification cards, and a document showing that a tree had also been planted in my name…a donation to Mother Earth and Father Time.

IMG_20150605_191457523

Along with the deeds and other paperwork, is a Scottish Landowner’s Handbook, that HT Handbookamong other things, talks about the titles of Laird, Lord & Lady.

The owner of a Scottish estate is styled “Laird.” The dictionary definition is simply “one who owns land in Scotland.” A Laird is said to hold a lairdship. A woman who holds a lairdship in here own right is styled with the honorific “lady.”

 Laird is not a noble title, but a ‘corporeal hereditament’ (and inheritable property that has explicit tie to the physical land) and cannot be bought and sold without selling the land. It does not entitle the owner to sit in the House of Lords and is in this sense the Scottish equivalent to an English lord of the manor.

The Glencoe property is located on a bluff overlooking Loch Linnhe. The road below is tree lined which makes for a beautiful drive but does not allow for a view of either the bluff above or Loch Linnhe below.

Glencoe Property

Glencoe View

The Lochaber property is much more open and is located on the east bank of Loch Loyne.

Lochaber Property

My property is just inside the first row of trees.

Lochaber view 2

According to the letter from Highland Titles, thousands of landowners visit their properties each year. In fact, I read about an annual convention of landowners. To make each landowner’s stay more enjoyable, Highland Titles has partnered with a variety of local service providers “who will be glad to offer you preferment when you visit.” VIP privileges can be found at http://experience.ht.

One of the places on the list is this wonderful old world hotel called The Ballachulish (I would give you a phonetic pronunciation but I haven’t a clue).

Ballachulish-Hotel-Exterior-728x300

So what can I do with this extraordinary gift? According to my landowner’s handbook, I am entitled to visit anytime I please. I can take a walk in Glencoe Wood, take photographs of my “estate” and picnic by the river. I will be able to enjoy bird watching, fungi spotting, and country pursuits in a tranquil setting. I am also welcome to plant a tree or scatter ashes. I can also display the Arms of Glencoe and wear the Glencoe Tartan (perhaps I will learn firsthand, what they wear beneath those Scottish Kilts).

Regardless of what I do, I am now…with gratitude to my sister…a conservator of a small piece of nature.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Green Tips for Existing Buildings

By Craig A. Ruark

You don’t need to build a new office building to become green. In fact, building a new building is quite counter-intuitive to the basic premises and mantra of being green, “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.” The following are suggestions that require a time investment and perhaps a modest upfront cost but will help your company become more environmentally friendly and in some cases, put money back in your pocket. You can start with the simple things at the top of the list and work your way down. However, no matter how simple the task it can quickly fall apart if you don’t engage every member of the office staff, from the top all the way down, and make them part of the environmental plan. By sponsoring “green” activities outside the office and encouraging employees to develop their own green ideas, you can also build teamwork and communication that will translate into other aspects of your business.

Recycling is perhaps one of the simplest ways you can contribute to a cleaner environment. However, in order for this program to be successful, it must be convenient for all employees by issuing desk side paper recycle bins, as well as centralized recycle containers. Make sure that items that can be recycled are actually recycled – office paper and cardboard, plastic, glass and many other items are recyclable in addition to batteries and computer equipment. Items that are wet, such as paper towels in the restroom or your lunch waste, is not recyclable and should be thrown away. According to Tracy Skenandore of Republic Services Las Vegas, “We can provide a free waste stream audit of your business and provide educational handouts and signage for employees or tenants that will help with implementing a recycling program. In most business cases, recycling can be a cost effective and affordable option.”

Printer Ink cartridges are expensive, but you can save money by recycling your old printer ink and toner cartridges and not contribute to landfill waste. Local office supply stores offer discount credits when you turn in your used printer cartridges for recycling and if the cartridge can be refilled they will do it for nearly half the price of a new one.

Go Paperless, recycling is great but in reality the mass of paper and waste that many companies accumulate on a daily basis is unnecessary. Make a stand and use your company as an example of how green business can be done. Take advantage of the small opportunities to go green – use email rather than the Post Office and save files electronically rather than printing them, and if you must, then print double sided.

Office Cleaning operations have a huge impact on the environment. In the United States alone, 6 billion pounds of cleaning chemicals are consumed annually along with 4 ½ billion pounds of paper, 35 billion plastic trash can liners and millions of pounds of discarded janitorial supplies and equipment. Consider using green chemicals that contain fewer toxins and lower Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), as well as cleaning techniques that save money and waste for janitorial products. The next time you are buying cleaning products or equipment, consider how long the product can be used and the type of container it comes in, and consider using recyclable microfiber clothes instead of paper towels. In addition, by using entryway mats you can keep 80 to 90 percent of dirt out of the building, increase the lifespan of flooring and can also save on cleaning costs.

Indoor Air Quality can affect employee productivity and your energy bill as well. Have maintenance personnel keep a log and regularly check air vents to clear them of debris such as papers and dust buildup at the same time they replace the air filters to ensure good indoor air quality. According to ENERGY STAR, it takes as much as 25% more energy to pump air into spaces if vents are blocked. Whether you have adopted a Green Cleaning system or not, you will also want to restrict the use of air purifiers, chemical air fresheners, and candles, as they add chemical pollutants and ozone into the air. Some offices also ask employees to minimize the personal use of colognes and perfumes as they may be irritating to some individuals

Conserving Electricity is another way to lighten your environmental footprint, as well as save money. “Lighting,” according to Jennifer Turchin, of Coda Group, a Las Vegas-based architecture firm; ”accounts for over 40 percent of a typical office buildings’ electricity use in our Southern Nevada climate zone, and addressing lighting efficiency can have a huge impact on energy efficiency and a business’s bottom line. LED lighting can typically save 30 percent or better compared to fluorescent lighting and lasts years longer – saving additional money on maintenance costs.“ In addition to changing out bulbs, easy to install room sensor switches are available at your local hardware store. These sensors automatically turn lights on when you enter a room and then off when a room is not in use.

“In addition,” said Turchin, “a typical desktop computer with monitor uses 200 watts per day and, while this might not seem like a lot, if computers are left on overnight, even in sleep mode which uses half the power, this could add approximately $30.00 per computer to your power bill annually. If you have lots of computers, this can really add up and is just one example of a plug load that can be reduced through education of your employees.”

Solar Heat Gain is a huge issue in our solar heavy climate,” said Turchin. “One of the best ways to deal with this in buildings is with a white or light colored roof. This will ensure that solar heat is reflected away from the building instead of being absorbed into it. White roofs can reduce summer energy use anywhere from 10% to 40% depending on the surface you are replacing.”

Energy Loss through Office Windows can account for 10 to 20 percent of a building’s heating and cooling costs. Check the caulking around windows to make sure there is a good seal and consider window treatments such as shades with good R-Value and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient factors that can reduce your heating and cooling costs.

Posted in Business, Energy, Green, Green Energy, Indoor Air Quality, Recycling, Sustainability | Leave a comment

The Children Are The World

Feed the ChildrenThe other night my wife and I were watching television when a familiar humanitarian plea appeared.  There was the face of a little girl, saddened and dirty from hunger and poverty, the underlying lyrical song…”The children are the future”…and a voice over by some current day celebrity, a crackle in her voice, as she spoke about the millions of children around the world who are suffering.

My wife looked at me and said; “Really!…I don’t mean to be crass, mean hearted, or cruel; but how long have we been sending money to help save these children?…Thirty, forty, or fifty years and we still have a problem?…With all of the technology, innovation, and experience we have, why are we still doing this?…Seems like we need to change the way we are doing things.”

I looked at my wife and said; “You are absolutely right.”

We talk about Corporate Social Responsibility, and a whole lot of “Green” certifications that not only protect the environment but the farmers and workers in foreign nations that pick and process crops, sew and manually manufacture goods, yet the faces of starving children still stream across our television screens.

Massive amounts of money is spent by consumers, charitable organizations, companies, and governments in efforts to solve problems yet, they still exist and are compounded almost daily by forces of nature, war, and population growth.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day…teach him to fish and you feed him for life.”

Are we just giving or are we teaching?

How do we change this cycle?

Is there an answer?

Posted in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),, Globalization, Green, Investor Relations | Leave a comment

Corporate Social Responsibility…Where has it gone?

There have been a lot of comments about last night’s State of the Union address by President Obama.

One of the issues that the President has put on his agenda is current Federal Minimum Wage rate that businesses are obligated to pay their employees.  Of course this subject has raised the cackles of the Republican Party who think that there is too much government intervention into business already and is trying to reduce it even more.  The Democrats for the most part back the plan to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour, which based upon a 40 hour work week would equate to an annual gross pay of 21,008, up from $15,080.

FYI, the 2013Federal poverty guideline is an annual income of $23,550 for a family of four. This is the most commonly used statistic. Add $4,020 for each additional person to compute the Federal poverty level for larger families. Subtract $4,020 per person to compute it for smaller families.

I agree with most people that Government should not be trying to generate jobs or be involved in the process of employment.  Government should focus on the original intent of the Constitution.

However, a lot has happened since the writing of the Constitution in 1776; technology and population growth are two key factors.  In the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, the entire population was self sufficient, they plowed their own fields and grew their own food.  They hunted and trapped for meat and fur that they used for nourishment and warmth.  Whatever extra bounty they had from their efforts they sold or traded for things they needed and could not make for themselves.

When the nineteen hundreds came around we saw the industrial revolution.  People were brought hired in mass by factories to build things and these factory workers were then, in a sense, slaves to the companies that built the factories.  Factory profits were high and wages were low.  Workers lived pay check to pay check.  Enter the Unions who fought for the workers for fair wages and benefits.

After the stock market crash and the Great Depression, things started looking up for the American workers and throughout the 50’s and 60’s the middle class started building a little nest egg as corporate profits rose, so too did wages and benefits in appreciation of a job well done.

The 70’s were a bit rough with a few minor economic hiccups that economists call “market corrections.”

The real problem began in the 80’s when computer technology and automation began to replace human labor.  At first it was in the name of efficiency, accuracy, and speed.  But when corporate America found that they could increase profits by decreasing human overhead, then the layoffs started.

The 90’s were all about the “bottom line” and when cheep labor was found in Asia, most of the physical labor was shifted overseas leaving only administrative and high level jobs, sitting at a computer, the only real permanent employment available for the American worker.

Those people without the higher education skills were then forced to find other labor type jobs.  Enter the ever growing fast food and retail industry.

Fast food jobs used to be entry level positions for teen age workers to earn a little extra spending money.  But as more and more adults found themselves unemployed they turned to McDonalds, Burger King and other retailers for employment.  These adult workers not only displaced the teen age job seekers but were willing to work for the same teenage wages just to have an income.  With 40 hours worth of pay, they were barely getting by.

But a forty hour work week was hard to come by as corporations found that they could again reduce overhead by limiting workers to fewer than 30 hours per week and not be required to pay for insurance.  The result, a growing workforce of under employed and under insured that could not properly feed or care for their families.

Many of these workers sought to work two jobs in an effort to bring in enough money but that attempt was thwarted when their current low pay employer would not assign regular hour shifts but instead required them to be available, as needed, for any shift and making it impossible to know from one week to the next the hours that they would be working.

So what is the solution?  Just like the growing drug problem of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s; or the predatory interest charged by so called banks or loan company’s; there needs to be some sort of intervention to help bring workers back to their feet.

It is clear that corporations are only interested in their bottom line profits and pleasing their shareholders/investors and will continue to do whatever is needed regardless of how adversely it affects the workers.

Enter the Federal Government who must now referee and try to regulate something that the private sector should be doing on their own out of concern for their fellow mankind.  But alas, Corporate Social Responsibility is not a bottom line balance sheet item.

Both the growth in population and automation has lead to a disproportionate number of available full time jobs for the number of workers in need of jobs…and that gap continues to grow wider.

Posted in Business, Constitution Rights, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),, Employee Relations, Ethics, Government Incentives, Investor Relations | 2 Comments