21. Good old American ingenuity shows the way with third options

Chapter 21: Restoring America’s R&D primacy in the people’s common interest




We are immersed in one of the most significant revolutions in man’s history. The force that drives this revolution is…relentless exploitations of scientific knowledge. That many of the transformations [from this revolution] have been immeasurably beneficial goes without saying. But, as with all revolutions, the technological revolution has released destructive forces and our society has failed to cope with them.
Kurt Gottfried, founder, Union of Concerned scientists


Our learning and research institutions are guardians of humanity’s endless quest to subordinate blind ideological belief to genuine knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Their enemy is the profit drive for quick return on investment.
Elmore Bland
            Always seek the third option.
Motto of the S-F Zetetic Institute



*    *    CaFMaC Fixes [almost] Everything    *    *


Section 75.        (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)

Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) A new Cooperative Research and Technological Development Administration (CRTDA) will direct and control all (meaning all) research in the USA in the best interest of the public common good for the nation and all its people. 2) At least five percent of the federal budget will be dedicated to basic and applied research. 3) The patenting process will be drastically modernized to ensure that no device or process is ever allowed to monopolize or predominate over the nation’s wellbeing and the common good of the nation. 4) There’s more. Read it.


The Congressional blather version:                The Cooperative Research and Technological Development Administration (CRTDA) is hereby created 1) to promote, coordinate and oversee all publicly funded basic and applied scientific and social research in the united States, 2) to ensure that no public university’s research endeavors are beholden to any business interest, 3) to ensure that conflict of interest and the appearance of conflict of interest are eliminated from all publicly funded research in the United States, and 4) to further ensure that all academic and other publicly funded research findings are freely distributed in practical manner and expeditiously to all cooperatives chartered in the United States, and to the public at large.


The CRTDA shall be budgeted at a dedicated amount equal to five percent (5%) of the federal budget, or a five percent (5%) annual setaside from the federal taxes paid by every co-op and other business in the United States, or three/tenths percent (0.3%) more than the research budget of any other nation, whichever is greater. Management and administration of the CRTDA shall be based on the model of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and DARPA shall be moved to and encompassed within the CRTDA command structure with a mission to significantly increase CRTDA investment in breakthrough technologies to fuel innovative, revolutionary new technological capabilities and employment throughout the United States. DARPA shall contract annually with Mensa, among others, for input of feasible creative new ideas.


The Congress hereby directs the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is herewith transferred into the CRTDA, to terminate immediately the patenting of anything whatsoever concerning the human genome and/or living material of the human body, plants or animals. Such patents previously issued are hereby declared null and void.

For all other patents, where a patented concept has been moved to working prototype or commodity at an affordable price, a patent-holding inventor shall be entitled to not less than fifty percent (50%) of all surplus deriving from that patent for a maximum five (5) years, after which the patented concept shall be in the public domain. Reflecting the sense of Congress that we’re all in this together and that all created wealth is Common Wealth, in no case shall a patent be issued where the candidate invention or idea is so important to the nation’s wellbeing that monopoly patent rights would be detrimental to the common good of the nation and of equal treatment and opportunity for all U.S. citizens.


Section 76.        (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)

Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) Every conceivable form of subsidy for fossil fuels – and there are many – is dead. Abolished. Immediately. 2) The highest United States priority is full independence from fossil fuels and imported energy within seven years, and forty percent of the U.S. research budget plus an equal amount diverted from Defense is dedicated to achieving this goal. 3) Major research efforts will be focused in poor Appalachian counties, Native American tribal areas, and other areas with chronic high unemployment resulting from phased-out coal, long-term societal neglect, and shipping U.S. jobs to foreign nations. 4) The Appalachia Leads America Initiative will include, among other things, the Appalachian Organic Truck Farming Project. 5) The National Dirigibles Project and National Cisterns Project will be developed and tested in Appalachian counties with chronic high poverty and unemployment.


The Congressional blather version:                Every form of subsidy for entities engaged in any aspect whatsoever of the business of fossil fuels, whether as tax credits, tax reductions, direct payments, indirect incentive payments, sneak-ins in final conference committee, or top secret line items vaguely insinuated within the top secret codeword national intelligence budget(s), and by no means limited to these particular named forms of subsidy, is hereby abolished, and the Congress directs that implementation or allowance of all such subsidies shall cease immediately upon enactment of this Act into law. Pursuant to a United States national goal of becoming fully independent of fossil fuels and of any foreign nation for U.S. energy needs, there is hereby allocated to the broad field of renewable energy research not less than forty percent (40%) of the federal research budget, plus an equal amount which shall be diverted from defense expenditures wheresoever they may be overtly or covertly budgeted, for achievement of this national goal within seven (7) years or less, and no other research priority of the United States shall be equal to the priority of this goal until it is fully achieved.


Not less than forty-five percent (45%) of these total energy research moneys shall be expended in those Appalachian counties, and another fifteen percent (15%) of total energy research moneys shall be expended in those Native American tribal areas across the nation, and in certain other areas, which have the highest rates of chronic unemployment resulting from phasing out the use of coal, and/or from long-term societal neglect, and/or from shipping U.S. jobs away to foreign nations, as applicable and as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services. This energy independence initiative shall integrally include an Appalachia Leads America Initiative (ALAI) focused on massive creation of new businesses, new research capabilities, innovative and diversified forms of new jobs, organic farming initiatives, and other permanent new ways of earning adequate living incomes throughout the multi-state Appalachian region, in the aforesaid tribal regions, and in certain other areas of the nation adversely affected by the demise of coal mining and/or long-term societal neglect of those communities’ wellbeing and prosperity and/or the export of good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs to foreign nations whose people more easily submit to working for slave wages.


For the fifteen years following passage of this Act into law, the Appalachia Leads America Initiative specifically shall include, and is not limited to, the national budget’s highest priority on developing 1) new information technologies, including incentives to attract entrepreneurial enterprises away from Silicon Valley, 2) new and innovative educational opportunities from preschool through post-doctoral research in Appalachia and tribal areas, 3) new tourism development featuring these regions’ natural beauty where it has survived, and strictly prohibiting any (meaning any) new golf courses, 4) significant niche manufacturing, not limited to crafts, suitable for the Appalachian and tribal regions, and 5) the Appalachian Organic Truck Farming Project (AOTFP).


The Appalachian Organic Truck Farming Project shall proceed with wartime priority and development speed to repeatedly place very deep (twenty (20) inches or more) layers of compost and mulch over the vast areas made artificially level by mountaintop removal, and shall apportion such naturally enriched fields among local residents who contract to enroll in organic farming classes and raise thereon high-quality organic vegetables and fruits for distribution to local/regional grocers, restaurants, schools and other food outlets. High efficiency windmills shall be expeditiously constructed on or near all such leveled areas which meet minimum windspeed standards, including large numbers of vertical-shaft spiral windmills which attain very high wind-to-output ratios. Additional contracts and training in organic farming and organic home yard-gardening shall be made widely available to all residents in all counties throughout all of Appalachia.


Major Appalachian niche manufacturing initiatives funded under this Act shall include, and are by no means limited to, the National Dirigibles Project (NDP) and the National Cisterns Project (NCP), both cited as national priorities elsewhere in this Act. Primary development and testing for both projects shall be accomplished in those Appalachian counties having highest chronic poverty and extended unemployment, beginning in Owsley County, Kentucky. The five-year performance target for heavy-lifter dirigibles shall be straight-line delivery, for long distances over any terrain, of industrial-scale payloads and large numbers of passengers in volumes comparable to the carrying capacity of multiple loaded rail cars and river barges. The ten-year installation target for expanded national use of cisterns, after testing in Appalachia, shall be one hundred percent (100%) of all residential and commercial buildings in the nation’s most arid regions and seventy five percent (75%) in other areas that are suffering extended drought; this target shall be succeeded by a follow-on five-year target of ninety-six percent (96%) of all residences and business structures in the remainder of the United States, including densely-built areas such as Manhattan.


Section 77.        (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)

Plain English for the Voting Citizen: The following dozen practical innovations will create well over a million good-paying new American jobs: 1) Sustainable energy and smart grid technologies will be defined as Essential Public Infrastructure. 2) Smart grids and sustainable energy development, and maintaining bridges, have higher priority than maintaining interstate highways; 3) No (meaning NO) new federal highways will be built for the next twenty years, and as much of that money as needed will be budgeted instead to highway maintenance. 4) The National One On, One Off (NOOOO) policy will take a fossil-fuel-based facility offline every time an equivalent new sustainable energy facility comes online.


More Plain English

5) All U.S. government departments and agencies including the armed forces, and all their contractors, plus all co-ops, are directed to meet eighty percent of their energy needs from sustainable energy within three years. 6) NASA will lead a Railed Jet Sled Project (RJSP) to sling securely hardened capsules containing nuclear wastes into earth orbit at escape velocity sufficient to carry them on into the sun. 7) After all our nuclear waste is so slung the RJSP may charge other nations to sling theirs. 8) The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which gave Shell Oil Corporation approval to drill in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, is abolished and its staff reassigned as support staff to the RJSP.


Still More Plain English

9) The Nuclear Fusion Initiative offers a $50 million dollar reward to whoever succeeds in safely making electricity by nuclear fusion ASAP. 10) Within two years the nation’s ten largest recycling centers will be built and commence operations in the nation’s ten worst urban blight areas, and each center will be run by a local co-op. 11) Hundreds and perhaps thousands of simple horizontal-tube turbines in linear series will be securely submerged near the banks of all major American rivers, constantly generating electricity while rising and falling with the rivers’ level, thereby exploiting the endless power of flowing water to generate virtually free electricity for much of the nation in megawatt quantities vastly beyond any capacity previously imagined. 12) With valuable methane (natural) gas being so widely and destructively fracked from the ground over much of the nation, Congress intends to investigate why only two hundred and forty (240) of America’s two million (2,000,000) farms find it economically feasible to collect and use the copious amounts of bovine methane (cow farts) constantly produced by the nation’s cattle, given that the two hundred and forty (240) farms alone produce enough electricity to power approximately seventy thousand homes, while another 1,999,760 American farms don’t bother. The question seems important in a nation with such reputation for innovation as ours enjoys, deserved or not.


The Congressional blather version:         Permanently sustainable energy-producing processes and devices, such as but not limited to solar, wind, geothermal, river flow motion, Great Lakes and coastal wave motion, biogas capture, and other naturally sustainable energy potentials which are or may become practical alternatives to consumption of oil, coal and natural gas, and related systemic innovations including but not limited to distributed energy generation and input by homeowners and other energy customers as well as smart-grid technologies using computerized management of semi-independent but interconnected regional grids, plus all bridges in the United States, are hereby defined as Essential Public Infrastructure (EPI). Until the United States achieves complete and total independence from fossil fuels obtained both domestically and from foreign sources, developing sustainable energy EPI and bridges shall have a federal budget priority greater than the priority for maintenance of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System excluding its bridges.


Effective immediately upon passage of this Act, and in Congressional certainty that new interstate highways change our society quite as much as they respond to societal changes, no (meaning no) construction of new federal roads or interstate highways, including rerouting of existing roads, highways or interchanges shall be initiated for twenty (20) years, and all (meaning all) funds presently appropriated or encumbered for new road and interchange construction shall be immediately rebudgeted to maintenance of existing roads and bridges, until energy independence from fossil fuels is fully achieved.


Effective upon passage of this Act, no new fossil fuel-based facility for generating electricity, or new facility for processing or transporting coal, oil or natural gas, shall be constructed within the United States, its territories or possessions. There is hereby enacted a national One On, One Off (OOOO) policy whereby every instance of bringing on line a new alternative power facility which adds sustainable power into the national grid shall be matched by taking offline an equivalent existing fossil-fuel-based facility which uses, refines, processes or transports coal, oil or gas in any form whatsoever, beginning with the dirtiest, heaviest-polluting fossil-fuel-based facilities. All One On, One Off openings and closings shall occur on the same day, at the same hour, attended by local, state and national publicity of each One On, One Off event.


All departments and agencies of the U.S. government, and all private co-ops and other organizations under contract with U.S. departments and agencies, are hereby directed to mobilize as necessary, under guidance by the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, to meet eighty percent (80%) of their energy needs from fully sustainable energy processes and devices within three (3) years after enactment of this Act, cost bedamned, Congress hereby reminding the nation that three years is substantially longer than the single year our Greatest Generation needed to fully mobilize military production facilities throughout the United States after Congress declared war in December 1941, and further reminding the nation that all costs of this provision pale in comparison to the costs of losses inevitably impending from global warming if we do not act effectively and quickly to this environmental crisis unknowingly brought on by our forebears in their pursuit of an obsolete economic paradigm and more recently knowingly perpetuated by ourselves for a variety of unworthy reasons. No prospective biofuel that after three (3) years of federal subsidy fails or has to date failed to output at least five (5) times the energy input used to produce it shall be sold in the United States or receive further subsidy from tax dollars.


A Railed Jet Sled Project (RJSP) is hereby established within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The RJSP shall employ existing aerospace and logistics technology to install, in a large flat unpopulated area within the United States, a railed jet sled capable of slinging securely hardened capsules containing radioactive nuclear fission wastes into earth orbit at an escape velocity sufficient to carry said capsules directly on into the sun. Upon completion of RJSP installation and testing with benign materials, said slinging shall commence and shall not cease until all nuclear wastes in the United States have been so slung, whereupon RJSP services shall be offered at appropriately high fees to other nations with a nuclear waste problem. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which approved oil drilling in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea by Shell Oil Corporation, is hereby abolished and its staff reassigned to the RJSP.


The Congress hereby creates the Nuclear Fusion Initiative (NFI) under which there is offered a reward of fifty million ($50,000,000) dollars to any person or group of persons on earth who present a plan and design for safe and absolutely failsafe generation of electricity by nuclear fusion. If the NFI ever achieves complete success, and in the Marshall Plan’s helping-others spirit of peace and brotherhood among all children of God worldwide as is so often remarked upon around Christmastime, the United States shall give the fusion technology design free of charge to every other nation on earth, and will physically assist with the building of fusion power plants in any twenty of the world’s poorest nations that have maintained democratic governance for not less than twenty five (25) years if any such nations can be found.


The CRDTA shall within its first two (2) years cause the nation’s ten (10) largest recycling centers to be constructed and to commence non-polluting operations within the centers of the nation’s ten (10) worst urban blight areas, respectively. Each recycling center shall be run by a local co-op, and if such co-op reach and exceed the Five Percent Rule limit, may be subdivided according to internal functions under a coordination by a local governmental authority. Each recycling center shall utilize, further develop and refine the world’s most sophisticated modern recycling technology to ensure its ability to receive, input to its process, and recycle as externalities, anything which may be sent to it for recycling, anything at all, other than radioactive nuclear waste which is to be recycled into the sun by the RJSP. At all ten (10) centers the recycled materials shall be converted and output as, at minimum, externality raw materials which are fully usuable for some useful purpose which demonstrably is productively beneficial to the American people. Each recycling center shall be surrounded by a green sward of not less than one thousand (1,000) acres featuring walking and bicycle paths, grassy areas, small grazing animals to fertilize and keep the grass short, wildflower beds, clean water in babbling brooks and/or frog ponds with lilypads, small forests and copses, performing arts served by electric busses commuting from perimeter parking, and other creative features and dynamic delights which build on the inspiration of Central Park in New York City.


In addition to these measures Congress hereby calls to attention the incalculable waste resulting from our continuing failure as a nation to exploit opportunities which exist everywhere around us and remain unexploited due only to inertia and lack of political will, for there certainly is no lack of natural creativity and initiative among our citizens. Nowhere is this failure more evident than our continuing unexploited potential for generating large amounts of very low cost sustainable electricity through the enormous constant power of water flowing downstream in our many large rivers, the constant motion of waves on our Great Lakes and along our coasts, and the capture of copious amounts of free biogas.


The waters of our Mississippi River, for example, flow southward at an average 12,000 cubic feet (90,000 gallons) per second in the river’s northern reaches, whereas at New Orleans the flow rate has increased to 600,000 cubic feet (4.5 million gallons) per second. A simple horizontal-tube turbine only slightly submerged into such natural power, secured among a linear series of such turbines one to two hundred feet in length and placed near the riverbank where it will not obstruct barge traffic, can quickly and cheaply replace our entire coal-fired capacity for generating electricity. Multiplying by hundreds of these River Flow Horizontal-Tube Turbine Series (RFHTS) along both banks of the Mississippi’s two thousand three hundred (2,300) mile length, and multiplying such tubes again along America’s many other great rivers, will exploit a vast source of constant and virtually free electricity-generating power beyond anything heretofore imagined, and all without need to build a single dam.


Comparably, Congress hereby takes special note of the fact that each adult cow in this nation, through its incessant belching and farting, emits thereby into the world’s common atmosphere an average 330 pounds of methane per year. That’s one cow.


On the negative side, this unstoppable output of a single contented cow (the cow’s “externality” in econspeak) has about the same annual environmental impact as driving three times between New York and Los Angeles. Our nation presently is home to nearly one hundred million such cows. The methane they cannot be stopped from emitting being the very same natural gas we obtain at huge expense by drilling and fracking, and being just as useful when put into a pipeline, it is the sense of Congress that we as a nation have not showed very good sense in leaving such a bonanza unexploited.


On the positive side, and further noting that this Bovine Methane Bonanza (BMB) is presently being captured by a mere two hundred and forty (yes, that’s just 240) manure digesters operating at only two hundred and forty (240) farms among the nation’s two million (yes, 2,000,000) farms, and that these few (only 240) methane digesting devices are producing enough electricity to power approximately seventy thousand (that’s right, 70,000) homes, the unexploited potential represented by the remaining 1,999,760 farms which are not presently capturing cattle gas rather takes our Congressional breath away.


We of the Congress, in wonderment as to why we as an ostensibly intelligent people did not long ago – decades ago – place throughout our nation simple horizontal tube turbines in linear series along both banks of all our major rivers, as well as manure digesters at every large cattle feeding operation, hereby declare our sense that such straightforward exploitation of readily available means of generating electricity is way, way past due and that we must now get on with it, in as many ways as possible, and with wartime urgency before global heating overwhelms us as, unopposed, it certainly will.


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READERS COMMENT: Your ideas are invited for dealing with the issues addressed in this post. These posts attempt to present new perspectives – THIRD OPTIONS – to move beyond the conservative-liberal divide that is so poisoning our national sense of shared community. New and wiser options are always available to make life in America better for all the people. What are yours? Be concise, use up to 200 words. Have a swell day.


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