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Straw Man Arguments and Heartbeat Bills

A “straw man argument” is a well-known logical fallacy in which one person refuses to address the actual issues and instead sets up a different argument to attack. The recent “heartbeat bills” that prohibit abortion after a heartbeat can be detected have spawned some good examples of this fallacy. Here is a quote that is being copied and pasted all over the Internet this week:

If you are a woman who supports this, then you are essentially tying your own noose. These laws go so much further than criminalizing safe abortions. In Georgia, a woman who miscarries can now be interrogated and investigated, and ultimately charged with murder if they find ANY way that she could be liable for the death of the baby. Tripped and fell down the stairs – how can we prove it was an accident? Liable. Found out you were pregnant at 6 weeks and stopped smoking immediately, only to miscarry a week later? There’s nicotine in your system, liable. Ohio has a bill under way that would make birth control pills, IUDs, etc, illegal. Going deeper, this has an even larger fall out than women’s health. Violations of these laws are felonies. Felons cannot vote. Do you see where we are going?? These laws that are passing attack women, and they threaten every single one of us. They take away our rights that were already hard-won. I am terrified of where this leads. Feel free to copy and paste.

Copypasta 5/22/19

The “heartbeat bills” that have now been signed into law in Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Kentucky all declare an embryo with a beating heart a “human being.” Most of these new laws specifically exempt the mother of that embryo from any criminal or civil penalties for seeking an abortion. Georgia does not specifically prohibit such penalties in the text of the law, but the bill’s sponsor insists that it was never the intention to prosecute women and many of Georgia’s district attorneys have already made it clear that they have no intention of prosecuting women who seek abortion. The intent of each of these “heartbeat bills” is to make it a crime to perform an abortion on a human embryo with a detectable heartbeat, not to seek an abortion.

The Internet meme argues that women who seek abortions will be deemed felons, who will then lose their right to vote, and will then be subjugated by majority rule. That would be a powerful argument–if it were true. With hundreds of thousands of abortions every year, the political balance of power could be changed if women were systematically disenfranchised. That would be an assault on our democracy that must be opposed!

But the “straw man” here is just not true. A woman’s right to vote is not in danger, even if she has an abortion. Instead, this is a time for women to decide how to cast that vote. Some women will choose to vote for Democratic politicians who want to make abortion legal up until a baby’s due date. (New York just passed such a law; Virginia tried to do so; every Democratic Senator running for President in 2020 voted against a bill that would require a child born alive after an abortion to have a doctor of his or her own.) Others will choose to vote for Republican politicians who want to recognize the unborn child as a human being. Still others will prefer leaders who support the kinds of laws that are typical in Europe, where abortion is generally legal in the first trimester, significantly restricted in the second trimester, and unthinkable after a fetus becomes viable in the third.

Women of America, your right to vote is not under attack. But your ability to vote for your own values is under attack! Your ability to vote for what you believe in is compromised each time you fall for a fallacy. Don’t let anybody else trick you into voting against your conscience!

Why Social Media Kills Competition

The social media giants (Facebook, Twitter, Google) have grown quickly. That’s great! This new tech has created a new economy in which “users” (that’s you and me) provide “data” (about us) that gets turned into a “product” (mostly targeted ads) that are sold to “customers” (the people who pay money).

The problem with this new economy is that there seems to be an unlimited “economy of scale.” That’s the term economists use to describe a situation where bigger is better. If I open a “Mom and Pop” convenience store, I can only shelve so many items. If you’re looking for something I don’t have, you’ll drive right past my store to the box store on the strip mall. The big box store can buy in bulk, offer discounts, and run ads. That means that even if Mom and Pop have the item on their shelves, many of their neighbors will drive right past them to get the same thing cheaper elsewhere. That’s not a bad thing for the consumer–it’s just how “economies of scale” work.

Targeted ads seem to have unlimited economies of scale. The more “users” I have in my system, the more ads I can sell. The more data I have on each user, the more effective those ads become. A “Mom and Pop” social media platform may be able to reach their little community, but the social media giants can reach the same users even better. Here at Storybook Farm, we raise heritage chickens and mini-Nubian dairy goats. We are active members of a number of online groups for goat and chicken people. If you wanted to sell me a better frost-free chicken waterer, you could place an ad at “BackYardChickens.com” and you might reach catch my attention. It’s possible that I would see the ad and remember it a few months later when the weather gets cold. But it’s easier, faster, and cheaper to buy a Google ad for anybody searching for “frost chicken water.” That ad will pop up as soon as I go shopping. Mom and Pop can’t compete with the big boys.

That’s not bad for the user! If I want a frost-free chicken waterer, I want it when I need it. I’m happy to have a social media giant collect the data and make money on the process.

There is a problem with such economies of scale, however. They can stifle competition. Once Google owns the search engine market, it’s hard for a direct competitor like “DuckDuckGo.com” to break in. That’s why a lot of new entries to the social media market offer something different. That’s called “innovation,” and that’s great! But that hasn’t quite worked out as planned.

Social media success has enabled the social media giants to gobble up their competition. Facebook became successful and people couldn’t compete with it directly, so they invented WhatsApp, Instagram, and a host of other products which Facebook then acquired. Google became successful so people invented YouTube, Picasa, Blogger, and a host of others that Google gobbled up. Twitter became successful so people invented Periscope, Twitpic, etc. Twitter owns them now.

The social media giants consume their competition because they use their ever-expanding data set to sell their products. A tiny code-sharing app (if such a thing exists) might serve a tiny group of geeks; but link that up to Facebook’s data on who is learning to code in Python and you can multiply the value of that app. A company worth $1 million a year without Google’s gigantic database could be worth $5 million the minute Google acquires it. It’s hard to create competition to the big companies when the economics reward the big guys every time.

With great power comes great responsibility. Facebook got into hot water in the 2016 election. Twitter and Google have been subject to conservative criticism over claims that they are censoring conservative speech. These new companies benefit from a special provision in the Communications Decency Act which allows them to censor constitutionally protected speech without liability. Big media could hack the 2020 election if they want to.

The bottom line is this: the unlimited economies of scale in social media are good for people who want to buy frost-free chicken waterers but they may not be good for America. Section 230 currently allows Twitter, Facebook, and Google to censor political speech and silence political voices. It’s time to limit their economic power in order to protect our political process.

A Progressive Media Tax

Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, said the government must hold the social networking giant accountable and break it up. European lawmakers argue that Google has become a monopoly that is stifling competition. Twitter has repeatedly purged a number of conservative accounts for allegedly violating “terms of service,” while liberal accounts which are doing the same (or worse) go unchecked. What, if anything, can be done about the social media giants?

Paul Romer, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2018, has proposed a tax on targeted digital ads. This tax would apply to revenues (not profits), and would be “progressive” (which means the tax rate would increase as revenues got larger). To use Twitter as an example and a simple tax of 1% more on each additional billion in ad revenues, Twitter’s $3B revenues would generate:

  • $0 for the first billion
  • $10M for the next billion
  • $20M for the third billion

This progressive media tax makes sense to me for a number of reasons. First, the very existence of the big social media companies is due to an extraordinary privilege granted by Congress in section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. 42 USC § 230(c)(2)(A) shields social media companies from liability for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” This gives social media an explicit right to censor private speech.

What Congress gives, however, Congress may take away. When the big social media companies silence political speech that they don’t like, they lose their claim to the special privileges and immunities conferred by statute. 47 USC § 230(a)(3) states that the Internet and other interactive computer services “offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”

A “Progressive Media Tax” would have the following components:

  • It would apply to all corporations that sell targeted digital ads which elect to operate under the protection of 42 USC § 230. Corporations could avoid the tax by electing not to claim that protection, or reduce it by shifting from “freemium” services (funded by ads) to “premium” ad free packages.
  • The tax would apply to all targeted ad revenue generated from shared data, whether that data is owned by the corporation or is shared with others. For example, Facebook owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and several dozen other services. Facebook could spin these services off yet continue to share data with them. Under the proposed law, the tax would be computed on the total revenue of all ads generated by the data set. regardless of the owner; individual corporations would then pay their share of the total tax.
  • The tax rate would be set to promote competition and reduce corporate threats to individual privacy, not to maximize revenue.

A Progressive Media Tax is easy to impose, possible to administer, and directly addresses the new challenges of our 21st Century media.

Congress will not enact a progressive media tax in the next two years, but the next eighteen months may be critical. Social media is so powerful that it has the potential to tilt American politics. If Facebook, Twitter, and Google realize that Americans want to limit their power, they may use their power to make sure that cannot happen by “hacking” the 2020 election.

Economist Paul Romer suggests that state legislatures lead the way. With some minor modifications, state may impose a progressive media tax. If you would like to promote such legislation in your state, leave a comment or contact the author on Twitter (@GreenNukeDeal).

Diatomic Sequestration

The Green Nuclear Deal addresses ways that nuclear power can lower CO2 emissions, but atomic power is not the only way to lower CO2 concentrations. We can pull carbon out of seawater and send it to the bottom of the ocean if we are willing to use the power of the diatom.

Diatoms are single-celled organisms that build their cell walls out of silicon instead of cellulose. These little plants literally “live in glass houses.” Given the right conditions and nutrients, they can double their numbers every 24 hours. Thus, if you start with just one diatom and fertilize it (and its offspring!) in a sunny place, you could have a thousand diatoms in ten days, one million diatoms in twenty days, one billion in thirty days, one trillion in forty days, and so forth. Keep shoveling in the right nutrients and you could cover the entire planet in diatoms by the end of one growing season.

Assorted diatoms as seen through a microscope. Public domain image.

Because their cell walls are made of “glass,” diatoms that float in water while they are alive tend to sink to the bottom when they die. (The average life span of a diatom is six days.) The ocean floor has layers of dead diatoms that are as much as a half mile thick.

Diatoms grow where there are sufficient nutrients. Like almost every other species of green algae, they need iron for photosynthesis. Unlike other species, they also need silicon. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust (after oxygen). The ratio of elements in a diatom is as follows:

  • 106 carbon atoms
  • 15 nitrogen atoms
  • 16 silicon atoms
  • 1 phosphorus atoms
  • trace amounts of iron, magnesium, etc.

Shrimp farmers routinely fertilize shallow waters to promote diatom growth. We need to consider fertilizing the empty waters of the deep ocean, which is a biological “desert” due to the lack of necessary nutrients. If humans “farm” deep water diatoms, we can send six carbon atoms to the bottom of the ocean for every silicon atom we transport.

Diatom farming could be one of the cheapest carbon-sequestration options available. It is a low-technology process–all you need is the right species of diatom, lots and lots of fertilizer, a freighter to transport it, and a mid-ocean platform to dispense the fertilizer over time.

The environmental impact of diatom farming can be minimized as long as the operator provides the right balance of nutrients. The limiting factor for green algae in the deep ocean is iron. The diatom farmer should provide iron and silicon to promote the growth of a species of diatom that reproduces rapidly, dies off quickly, and sinks to the bottom of the ocean with a minimum of carbon loss. But the farmer must take care to replenish certain other nutrients that diatoms consume; otherwise the ocean water will be unable to support other species later on.

There are at least five deep ocean areas that are optimal for diatom farming. The North Pacific Gyre is a vast area that is poor in nutrients but high in CO2. It has been called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” because human debris gets sucked into this giant whirlpool and never escapes. Adding nutrients to the middle of this vast rotating “desert” would have minimal effect on the surrounding areas.

The surface waters of this area are very low in nutrients, but the deeper waters (and the ocean bottom) have more of the minerals required for life. A solar concentrator on the surface could be used to heat a fluid and then pump that heat into deep water using a simple “closed loop.” This should cause an upwelling of more-fertile water to the surface. This would dramatically reduce the amount of fertilizer that must be shipped from the shore; humans would only need to provide those nutrients that are not already present in deep waters.

With a Green Nuclear Deal, the mid-ocean platform would house a Gen IV reactor to provide vast amounts of power at a minimal cost. Electricity from the reactor could power a heater on the ocean floor, which would create a mid-ocean “oasis” of life. The “farmers” on this platform would harvest this marine life; freighters (ideally, nuclear-powered freighters!) would transport fresh fish to shore and bring essential nutrients back.

CO2-Neutral US in 10 Years

I have accepted the challenge of spelling out how the US can reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2029. For brevity’s sake, this document does not address related issues (methane, sea level rise). I do not endorse all of the steps I propose below, but I submit them with the conviction that these steps are simpler, cheaper, faster, and more effective at reducing CO2 than the “Green New Deal” proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourke’s “Climate Plan.”

roposed by Alexandrio Ocasio-Cortez and the Beto O’Rourke “Climate Plan.”

Green Nuclear Deal

Step 1 is to deploy nuclear power on a large scale. I have laid out one version of a Green Nuclear Deal here. Here are the time-sensitive components of that proposal:

  • Begin deploying small modular reactors on military bases ASAP, relying on President’s statutory authority to utilize nuclear reactors without a license from the NRC.
  • Deploy small modular reactors on cargo ships operating under the authority of the US Navy, to be deployed in “safe harbors” outside the US.

Telework Initiative

All publicly funded colleges and universities shall offer a program leading to a “Telework Certificate.” This program must be available online. The Fair Labor Standards Act shall be amended to require employers to pay overtime wages to any onsite employee with a Telework Certificate who is doing a job that is Telework Qualified.

Emissions Are Not Deductible

The tax code shall be amended to phase out tax deductions for expenses on goods or services that emit CO2. Businesses that fully offset their CO2 emissions may deduct such expenses (plus the cost of offset); businesses that do not must take those expenses out of their after-tax profits, not their pre-tax expenses.

Allowable mileage rates for business use of vehicles shall distinguish petroleum-based vehicles from electric, hydrogen, or other non-emitting transportation.

Federal Permits and Guarantees

The US Department of Energy shall issue permits and guarantees for qualified programs and facilities that directly reduce CO2 emissions. These include new non-emitting power plants (wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and nuclear) and carbon capture and/or sequestration facilities.

Expedited Decision-Making

The Department of Energy shall establish an administrative procedure modeled on US bankruptcy law which gathers all claims affecting a proposed program and/or facility into a single administrative case, which shall weigh the competing interests and issue a judgment in accordance with federal law. Appeals from this proceeding shall be made directly to a new federal district court specifically created for and dedicated to energy cases. This court shall be sufficiently staffed and funded to create a “rocket docket” that can reach a final resolution within 90 days or less. The losing party to any suit in this court shall pay attorney’s fees for both sides. Appeals from this court shall be made on an expedited basis to the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia.

A Green Marshall Plan

Introduction

After World War II, the United States provided massive aid to rebuild the shattered economies of Europe. Most experts believe this “Marshall Plan” was an overwhelming success. Most Americans at the time believed that sending aid to Europe would provide more jobs for Americans in the long run.

World War II is long gone, but the world now faces another enemy–the specter of climate change. Whether you believe we only have 12 years to live or that “global warming” is just a Communist plot, nations and international alliances are under unprecedented pressure to respond to rising levels of CO2. Some Americans support a “Green New Deal” which would spend countless trillions to decarbonize just one economy–our own. Others oppose this, arguing that this “green new dream or whatever” might do more harm than good, especially to disadvantaged people around the world. Solar powered scooters in the US won’t prevent India and China from building new coal-fired plants, and won’t keep poor people in Haiti and Gambia from burning their last bush to cook their last meal.

We believe a Green Marshall Plan can solve more problems for less money than the Green New Deal. Read on to find out what it involves!

A Green Nuclear Deal

Step one towards a Green Marshall Plan is a “Green Nuclear Deal” here in America. This would be a grand compromise between left and right; between skeptical “climate deniers” who don’t think CO2 is a problem and skeptical environmentalists who don’t think nuclear power is the only solution. As we adults fight over our old partisan differences, our children live in fear of the future. It’s time for us to act like grown-ups and come up with solutions.

The broad outlines of a Green Nuclear Deal have been addressed elsewhere, but the essentials are that:

  1. New reactors (“Gen IV”) can be built which can’t melt down; they also consume nuclear waste.
  2. No matter how inherently safe a reactor may be, it must be protected from terrorists, tsunamis, tornados, and other foreseeable threats. Every reactor needs to be adequately protected.
  3. Property values surrounding reactor sites must not suffer; neighbors deserve tax or other incentives to make up for the impact on their homes.
  4. More reactors produce more nuclear waste, but more reactors can pay for a National Greencycling Center that will initially store and ultimately transmute hazardous isotopes into safer forms of matter.

An International Carbon Tariff

Once the United States adopts the Green Nuclear Deal, it will be on its way to decarbonizing the economy. Some other nations are well ahead of the US; France has already converted the vast majority of its electrical grid to fully nuclear sources. Other nations are capable of decarbonizing but do not choose to do so. Still others lack the capital to invest in nuclear or renewable power.

The United States can impose a carbon tariff on goods produced by carbon-intensive means in countries that can afford to decarbonize but do not choose to do so. China and Russia both have large economies and nuclear capability, for example. A tariff on Chinese goods would generate a new stream of revenue that the United States can use to help the countries that can’t afford atomic power.

Safe Harbors

The United States State Department should lease cargo ships and equip them with small modular reactors that can operate on board ship. These “Greenpower” vessels should be anchored in “safe harbors” in the developing world where they can provide power to the mainland while staying safe from natural and man-made threats.

There are thousands of ports, bays, and natural harbors around the world that are sheltered enough to keep a ship safe during storm surges or other weather events. Not all of them can be protected from concerted terrorist attacks, such as happened to the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya. The State Department should consult with the national government of each host country to ensure that US forces will be allowed to protect the Greenpower ships if they are suddenly attacked, and that the ship will be free to leave the harbor if there are long-term threats.

Two of the many possible sites that could host a Greenpower vessel are (1) the mouth of the Gambia River, in West Africa and (2) Bahia Intera de Santo Tomas in Guatemala (near the border of Honduras and not far from Belize).

Trash to Treasure (and Dawsonite)

A Greenpower vessel in a safe harbor can provide plentiful, affordable energy for the citizens of the host nation, which should stimulate some economic growth without any other incentives. But the Green Marshall Plan funds can pay for a major Dawsonite plant at each host location. Dawsonite (chemical composition NaAlCO3(OH)2) may be the most cost effective way to remove CO2 from the environment. Using only seawater, aluminum scraps, and electricity, a Dawsonite plant can remove over 800 million tons of CO2 from the environment each year.

The Green Marshall Plan would pay to ship mixed recyclables to the developing nation, where nationals would sort the materials which would then be turned into steel, glass, plastic, etc. by means of the plentiful power from the reactor. Unusable aluminum would feed the Dawsonite plant, which would run at nights when power is not needed for other purposes.

States and countries with carbon offsets should pay handsomely for Dawsonite–which is good, because it has no known uses, at present. In time, scientists may discover a way to turn millions of tons of this inert material into something valuable.

Exit Strategy

Gen IV reactors may be dramatically safer than earlier models, but they still contain hazardous materials that could be used for dirty bombs or other evil purposes. The Green Marshall Plan includes a transition to an energy supply that cannot be misused. When and if fusion power becomes effective and affordable, the fission reactor shall be removed and replaced. The cost of decommissioning shall be recouped over time from the sale of power from the replacement plant.

Fusion power may not be available for some time, however, and national governments need to be able to say “no” to America, even when America comes bearing gifts. For this reason, every Green Marshall Plan agreement with a host nation shall include an optional plan to transition to some renewable power source (wind, solar, hydro, or biofuel power) under the exclusive control of the host nation or a corporation with a majority ownership of that nation’s citizens.

Incidental Advantages

The Greenpower ships in safe harbors don’t just provide opportunity for the poorest people on our planet. They bring down the unit cost of each new reactor and spread the burden of cleaning up nuclear waste. Each Greenpower reactor would need to generate enough revenue to pay the National Greencycling Center to warehouse and (ultimately) transmute any waste generated.

Americans after World War II believed that their economy would benefit if they helped Western Europe. Subsequent events have proved them right. Americas would probably benefit from global growth under a Green Marshall Plan, as well. People in Gambia save up their money to buy a machete to chop down firewood today; with a Greenpower vessel floating in Gambia Harbor, they might be buying iPhones or electric cars instead.

One final, sobering thought–the Green Marshall Plan would address the underlying issues that lead some to want a Wall with Mexico or a ban on travel from Muslim nations. Whether you think such notions are exactly right or a violation of human rights, you probably agree that they merely treat the symptoms of distress instead of curing the disease. Providing power to the people of Gambia (96% of whom are Muslim) would reduce the risk of a Gambian terrorist attack here in the US by giving Gambians something to live for. Providing power to Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize with a ship in Saint Thomas Bay would give the migrant caravans a better place to go.

Conclusion

The United States is the most generous nation in the history of this planet, and the richest. Some argue that our generosity has helped us prosper. It certainly did with the original Marshall Plan. The Green Marshall Plan draws on the best of American history, technology, and national spirit to lower CO2 and lift up hope around the world. Support the Green Marshall Plan today!

How Can I Support the #GreenNuclearDeal?

If you got here, you probably already believe that Gen IV nuclear reactors can’t melt down, consume nuclear waste, and emit zero CO2. Whether you think climate change will kill us all in 12 years or think the whole “global warming” thing is a Communist plot, you agree that a #GreenNuclearDeal is the common sense solution. So how can you help?

First, look at the following list and choose the category that best describes you. Click the hyperlink, read it carefully, and make the world a better place!

  1. Twitter user with less than 100 followers
  2. Twitter user in the developing world

Twitter User With Less Than 100 Followers

Every person on Twitter can make their voice count, no matter how few people follow them. That’s why hashtags were invented. When you post or retweet something with the #GreenNuclearDeal hashtag in it, you add to the measurable activity of that idea. Right now, #GreenNewDeal gets about one tweet per minute. #GreenNuclearDeal gets about one tweet every ten minutes. If you and nine other people keep pushing that hashtag, we can outperform the Green New Deal in activity. (We’ve already outperformed in in viability!)

Bonus–if you are one of the activists who keeps promoting the message, you won’t have less than 100 followers for long! So keep reading.

Twitter User in the Developing World

The “Green New Deal” spends up to $93T and does nothing that directly helps poor people around the world. By contrast, the #GreenNuclearDeal could include a “Green Marshall Plan” that puts Gen IV reactors on board ships and stations them in safe harbors in the developing world. The US can pay for this by imposing a “carbon tariff” on big economies that could decarbonize (but won’t) in order to help small economies that can’t decarbonize without some help.

A picture is worth a thousand words on Twitter. Send pictures that help people understand that the debate isn’t just whether to buy a pickup truck or a Tesla in prosperous America. It’s between chopping down the last tree in the last forest and having plentiful power, clean water, and a vibrant economy.

A Green Nuclear Deal

Introduction

A specter is haunting the planet–the specter of climate change. Millions of young people recently marched in the streets to demand immediate action to save the planet. Whether you agree that humanity has 12 years to prevent a climate catastrophe or believe that “global warming” is a communist plot that will plunge us into civil and/or global war, the fear is palpable. Humans need to figure out what we are going to do about CO2 emissions. The simplest and safest way to solve our problems is with a Green Nuclear Deal.

New Designs Solve Old Problems

Mark Schneider, a retired Navy nuclear technician, was the first to use the #GreenNuclearDeal hashtag. Schneider, who understands the latest technology, argues that new reactors solve the two biggest problems associated with nuclear power in the past. First, the new “Gen IV” reactors cannot melt down in the way older reactors could. Second, Gen IV reactors consume the reactor byproducts that were such a problem with older designs. Twentieth century nuclear waste can be radioactive for 100,000 years. Gen IV wastes are only reactive for about 300 years.

Americans who don’t know about the Gen IV breakthroughs are evenly balanced on the subject of nuclear power.

Gallup Poll March 27, 2019

Support for nuclear power is not a particularly partisan issue. While Republicans may be more eager for it, 42% of Democrats and Independents favor it. That is good news for a nation with divided government–Nancy Pelosi’s House of Representatives and Mitch McConnell’s Senate may be able to agree on a bipartisan plan that actually solves problems and saves money.

Outlines of a Green Nuclear Deal

I. The Green Guard

Gen IV reactors are dramatically safer than twentieth century models, but even a perfect reactor can be affected by outside events. Any nuclear installation needs to be protected from terrorists, tornadoes, tsunamis, and other foreseeable threats. That is why the first new installations on US soil should be on existing military bases. 

Step 1 of the Green Nuclear Deal is for the President of the United States, acting in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, to order every US military installation to develop a plan to acquire all electricity from an emissions-free source within a reasonable time. Depending on state and local laws, some bases may be able to install small modular reactors to achieve this goal.

These “Green Guard” reactors shall be used to power the base and provide free power for all residential consumers within a radius of 10 miles. Any excess electricity during peak demand hours shall be sold to electric utilities at a fair rate. During off-peak hours, these Green Guard reactors shall be used to run desalinization plants, carbon capture units, hydrogen electrolyzation plants, or other environmentally useful, energy-intensive projects.

Funding for the Green Guard may come either from an allocation of federal funds or by means of federally-guaranteed private sector financing. Personnel for the Guard shall be actively recruited, trained, and retained (nuclear power operators are in high demand now and will be in much higher demand). The President shall ensure that this project is headed by individuals with demonstrated success in projects requiring rapid expansion, as authorized by Executive Order 12344.

2. The Green Fleet

At the risk of offending members of the Army, which effectively “owns” the color green, the United States can and should build a new generation of nuclear-powered ocean-going vessels to “wage war” on CO2 emissions.

Title VIII of the Fiscal Year 1975 Defense Appropriation Authorization Bill requires, as a matter of policy, that new construction on “major combatant vessels for the strike force of the United States Navy” be nuclear-powered. This Title allows the President to request conventionally-powered ships instead of nuclear-powered ones.

Citing this authority, the President, acting as Commander-in-Chief, should immediately order the design of an ocean-going vessel capable of housing a small modular reactor and a sufficient contingent of Marines to protect that reactor from all enemies, foreign and domestic. These vessels should be designed for sufficient economies of scale to make them a cost-effective platform for portable power stations.

Carbon capture technology can now pull CO2 out of ionized seawater, which can then be used to create jet fuel for about $7/gallon. The President should instruct the Navy to design a new class of nuclear-powered tankers to support aircraft carriers. If the technology permits, these tankers should eventually supply all the fuel needed for conventional vessels, too.

The President shall also instruct the Secretary of the Navy to contract with civilian owners of container ships to lease such ships and configure them to carry a small modular reactor and housing for enough troops, specialists, and construction workers to implement the Green Marshall Plan, below.

3. The Green Marshall Plan

While the Navy is developing Green Fleet vessels and US military bases are using small modular reactors to safely provide power to consumers in the United States, the President shall order the State Department to consult with friendly, stable, developing nations to determine which, if any, are willing to harbor Green Fleet vessels carrying small modular reactors.

The Green Marshall Plan is intended to help friendly, stable, developing nations become more friendly to US interests, more stable politically, and more likely to develop their own industrial infrastructure. Power shall be sold to consumers at a fair market rate, in order to generate revenue for American citizens (see below) and to prevent disruption within the developing nation. The Green Marshall Plan is intended to retire aging and inefficient local power plants and to attract new development to sources of safe, clean, reliable power.

The Green Marshall Plan is primarily intended to wean developing nations off the “dirtiest” forms of energy, but is also intended to relieve the human suffering associated with lack of economic opportunity. Many Mexicans and Central Americans have left their homelands in order to seek a better life in the United States, whether they have entered the US legally or not. The President shall instruct the Secretary of State to give special consideration to undocumented Mexican and Central American nationals who voluntarily leave the US to work at a Green Marshall Plan site in their home country.

All Green Marshall Plan sites shall be designed to transition to fusion power when and if that technology becomes available. The intent of the plan is to hand over the assets to the developing nation as soon as the power source cannot be used to manufacture weapons, including dirty bombs. At that point, the original fission reactor shall be removed from the site, all nuclear wastes removed from the premises, and control of the operation shall be turned over to the citizens of that nation.

The Green Marshall Plan may be funded in part of whole by carbon tariffs imposed on goods imported from advanced economies that culpably neglect or refuse to address their own CO2 emissions, as determined by the President.

4. The National Greencycling Center

Nuclear waste consists of a relatively small amount of radioactive material mixed in with a vastly larger amount of harmless material. On a small scale, it is most economical to warehouse these contaminated materials. In theory, radioactive materials can be separated from inert isotopes similar to the way that rare earths are separated from the material around them. We can build a “disassembly line” that removes one element at a time from a stream of contaminated material.

The President shall order the Department of Energy to authorize the creation of several regional Nuclear Waste Transfer Stations around the country, each of which shall be designed to use pyrochemical methods for separating actinides and fission products from nonradioactive components. The hazardous materials shall be shipped to a Nation Greencycling Center; the inert materials shall remain at the transfer station, where they shall be monitored for safety on an ongoing basis.

The National Greencycling Center shall be designed to study and process concentrated nuclear wastes. Mass spectrometers are capable of separating materials into their separate isotopes, one atom at a time, but use a great deal of power in the process. The National Recycling Center shall be equipped with at least one small modular reactor for its own power needs, and as many breeder reactors as the Secretary of the Department of Energy may deem necessary to permit the study and processing of concentrated nuclear wastes.

5. Green Enterprise Zones

No matter how safe nuclear power may be, it may continue to affect the property values of the people who live near a reactor. Even if one believes that nuclear power is the only effective way to reduce CO2 emissions to net-zero or less, it seems unjust to force some people to bear an unfair share of the economic costs of that action.

There is no way to eliminate the psychological impact of a nuclear reactor in one’s neighborhood, but it is possible to axtually boost the property values around reactors. The President shall ask Congress to enact legislation creating “Green Enterprise Zones” within the “emergency planning zone” (“EPZ”) surrounding each new domestic nuclear reactor.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines a “plume exposure pathway” EPZ around each existing reactor site. For reactors now in service, this EPZ is a ten mile circle surrounding the reactor. (Next-generation reactors, including small modular reactors, may have a different size EPZ.)

The President shall ask Congress to draft and pass legislation that will create sufficient federal tax incentives to raise property values around each new reactor. The reactor shall provide free electric power to all residential consumers, free electric vehicle charging stations at all parking lots serving retail stores, and free or reduced-cost electricity to all industrial consumers within the EPZ.

In addition, every new civilian reactor shall be required to carry sufficient “Greensurance” to guarantee that in the event of an emergency, (1) every home and business within an EPZ shall be bought for three times its fair market value, (2) every person located within the EPZ at the time of the emergency shall receive free medical care for life, and (3) every radiation-related death (whether in the EPZ or beyond) shall be immediately compensated by $1M.

With these incentives in effect, industrial and commercial users should flock to these Green Enterprise Zones. Shoppers from miles around will drive to a store where they can recharge their electric vehicle for free. Energy-intensive industries should flock to free electricity and lower taxes. Rich people will be eager for the tax breaks, working class people will want the jobs. People who were raised with the specter of nuclear war and other disasters may never get over those fears, but they will be able to sell their real estate for a handsome profit. Meanwhile, people all over the world will be able to breathe easy, knowing that we are on track to lower CO2 levels instead of raise them.

6. Green Social Security

Depending on the success of the Green Defense Project and the Green Marshall Plan, Congress may choose to invest additional federal funds into nuclear energy and related infrastructure. It is impossible to project the total federal expenditure at this point, but it will be well below the $93 trillion that some claim the competing “Green New Deal” would cost. And unlike the Green New Deal, every dollar spent on the Green Nuclear Deal intended to be an asset that pays actual cash dividends to the American people who invest in it.

All federal funds invested in the Green Nuclear Deal are intended to serve as an investment in America’s future and the planet’s health and safety. The President shall order the Department of the Treasury to treat all federal expenses and resulting revenues as a “profit center,” and assign an equal share of the net profits, if any, to the Social Security account of every living, lawful resident of the United States plus all overseas military personnel. The Green Social Security account will ensure that these expenditures will return to the taxpayers with interest.

Unlike the “Social Security Trust Fund” concept of earlier generations (which was never more than an accounting device), the Green Social Security program will invest in physical assets that will generate actual profits for generations to come.

Without limiting the ultimate amount of investment that Congress may ultimately choose, the budget for the Green Nuclear Deal shall be set at $20,000 per US citizen, which is just over six trillion dollars. At a reasonable rate of return, this should pay $1,000 into every Social Security account every year. While this falls well short of Presidential Andrew Yang’s proposed $1,000/month “Freedom Dividend,” the “Green Social Security” account has the advantage of being fully funded and completely sustainable.

Steps Forward

National Energy Leadership Act (Senate Bill 903)

The National Energy Leadership Act, sponsored by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, has fourteen co-sponsors in the US Senate. Among other useful items, this bill invests in training for a new generation of nuclear engineers and power plant operators, which is essential for any serious transition to nuclear power.

Last year, Murkowski’s bill was cosponsored by seven Democrats (Booker of NJ, Durbin and Duckworth of IL, Bennet of CO, Coons of DE, Whitehouse of RI, Manchin of WV) and three Republicans (Risch and Crapo of ID, Moore of WV). The bill has been reintroduced this year, with five more Republican cosponsors: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Cory Gardner of Colorado. (One Democrat, Senator Durbin of Illinois, is no longer listed as a co-sponsor.)

With 15 Senators sponsoring a bill with such broad, bipartisan support, it should be able to get the 60 votes necessary to survive a filibuster. As of this writing, there is no companion bill in the House of Representatives.

2020 Presidential Primary

For the next 15 months, Democrats will be competing to demonstrate their courage, intelligence, and leadership. Climate change is at or near the top of every candidate’s priorities. With so many candidates competing for attention in such a crowded field, it makes sense to support a plan that appeals to 42% of Democrats who already favor nuclear power.

At present, Sen. Cory Booker of NJ is the only announced presidential candidate who is a co-sponsor of NELA (see above), but Michael Bennet of Colorado may yet enter the race. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been reported to support nuclear power, but has not yet indicated her support for NELA. Andrew Yang openly supports nuclear power.

2021 and Beyond

Nobody knows who will control the House, Senate, or White House in 2021. If the Green Nuclear Deal becomes a grass-roots, bipartisan effort, it won’t matter. Cheap, clean, plentiful power is a win-win approach. Let’s start winning now!

Action Plan

Ordinary Americans have their greatest impact on their government during a truly contested primary. There has never been a better time to get involved. Here’s how you can make a difference, in baby steps:

  1. Read this article. (Comment to make it even better!)
  2. Search for and “Like” a tweet with the #GreenNuclearDeal hashtag.
  3. “Retweet” a #GreenNuclearDeal tweet.
  4. Write your own #GreenNuclearDeal tweet.
  5. Recruit a friend and ask him or her to repeat steps 1-5.
  6. Contact your two US Senators and ask them to co-sponsor NELA.
  7. Contact the Democratic presidential candidate of your choice and ask him or her to support the #GreenNuclearDeal.

Conclusion

With an investment of approximately six trillion dollars ($20,000 per citizen), the United States can insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. We can build a system that powers our future and pays real cash dividends to every citizen. We can banish the fears that keep our children awake at night.

Let’s do it!

Fun, Free, Easy, Efficient Logic Game Study Method

I love teaching logic games, but I don’t get to do it anywhere near as much as I would like. That is because J.Y. Ping has created one of the Seven Wonders of the Internet and put it up at 7Sage.com for FREE. With FREE video explanations of every LSAT logic game ever published, I limit myself to teaching my students the basics and then show them how to learn the most from the best… for free.

Here’s what you need to transform your logic games:

  • Approximately one hour of relatively-light concentration several times per week (perfect for full-time employees who have to squeeze in their studies after a hard day of demanding work)
  • A reliable notebook (and a demonstrated willingness to use it)
  • The ability to do some very simple logic games from start to finish
  • The conviction that there is a fast way to reliably get the right answer on most types of logic game questions
  • A stopwatch (or equivalent app)
  • At least a month before your test date
  • blank flashcards (optional)

The goal of this fun, free, easy, efficient study method is to transform your logic game experience. I want you to discover that you can do a simple logic game much faster than you imagine. Most of my students see their “easy” game times cut in half, and the skills you will gain as you achieve this goal are perfectly applicable to the harder games. 

So let’s do it! Here’s the method:

  1. Pick an “easy” logic game (that you own) from this list at 7Sage.com. Make at least three copies of it.
  2. Do the game and time yourself. (Let’s say you complete it in 9:37).
  3. Go watch the video explanation of that game at 7Sage.com. Pause the video often and write down everything J.Y. Ping does that you didn’t do.
  4. Study your notes. What did J.Y. do that you didn’t think of? Try to generalize from this incident. For example, “When the same entity appears in two rules, always check to see whether you can link them together.”
  5. If you use flashcards, you either have a card that addresses this situation or you don’t. If you have an appropriate card (i.e., “link duplicated entities”), then put a hash mark on it to indicate that you missed an opportunity to use it. If you don’t have a card that covers this situation yet, create one.
  6. Do the game again, use your stopwatch to time every step. How long does it take to draw your initial sketch? Code the rules? Make your initial deductions? Do each question?
  7. Study those times. Did J.Y. do any of those steps significantly faster than you did? Go back to your notes (or the video) to see exactly what he did that was different from your approach. Make plans to do that particular step or question the fast way on your next (and final) attempt.
  8. Do the game one last time and get a final time (let’s say, 6:02). The difference between your initial and final times is a measure of what you could do if you had made every right choice at every step of the game.
  9. Pick a new game at the same difficulty level and repeat the process until the difference between your start and finish times is under one minute.
  10. Pick a new game at the next difficulty level and repeat the process until test day!

The secret of this study method is that there really are not all that many tricks to the “easy” games. If you will take notes, create flashcards, and learn as much as possible from each game, your initial times will get significantly faster. That’s because you will be making the right choice the first time you do the game (because you learned how!) instead of after you see J.Y. do it.

I urge students to work on “easy” games until the difference between their initial and final times is under one minute. At that point, you should be making (almost) all the right choices the first time you see the game. Most of these right choices will apply to games at the next level of difficulty, so bump your game difficulty up a level and continue!