Daily Archives: October 4, 2012

Federalist No. 5

Today we discuss Federalist No. 5. This is the fourth, and final, in the series of contributions by John Jay that we will be covering in our thirty-six part blog series. In this essay, Jay concludes his discussion of the dangers of foreign force and influence while writing to the people of the State of New York in the Independent.

In this piece Jay reminds us that weakness and divisions at home would invite dangers from abroad; and that nothing would tend more to secure us from them than union, strength, and good government within ourselves. In this essay, he reminds us that although it seems obvious to common sense that the people of such an island [as Great Britain] should be but one nation, we find that they were for ages divided into three, and that those three were almost constantly embroiled in quarrels and wars with one another. Then he asks would not the same thing happen if the people of America divide themselves into three or four nations. After all, would not similar jealousies arise, and be in like manner cherished? Instead of their being “joined in affection” and free from all apprehension of different “interests,” envy and jealousy would soon extinguish confidence and affection, and the partial interests of each confederacy, instead of the general interests of all America, would be the only objects of their policy and pursuits. Hence, like most other BORDERING nations, they would always be either involved in disputes and war, or live in the constant apprehension of them.

After spending time noting how likely this would be to happen when one of the confederacies became unquestionably more formidable than any of the others, Jay then goes on to note that the proposed confederacies [of the time] would be DISTINCT NATIONS and each of them would have its commerce with foreigners to regulate by distinct treaties; and as their productions and commodities are different and proper for different markets, so would those treaties be essentially different. Different commercial concerns must create different interests, and of course different degrees of political attachment to and connection with different foreign nations.

You’d have a situation where one confederacy was ready to declare war on a foreign nation for hostile actions, while another would want to do everything to preserve peace with its foremost trading partner. Just like neighbouring nations in Europe, acting under the impulse of opposite interests and unfriendly passions, would frequently be found taking different sides, so would the confederacies. What a nightmare! And given how much more easy it is to receive foreign fleets into our ports, and foreign armies into our country, than it is to persuade or compel them to depart, a situation of divided loyalties is the last situation you want to have on a continent.

So, to maximize safety, you need one nation, one Union. And for that Union to be true, the citizens must be of one mind and one heart. And, furthermore, so should the officials they represent to elect them. But that is a topic for other posts.

Want to discuss? Join The Federalists on LinkedIn. The open group has been created specifically to discuss the philosophical underpinnings of the governance of nations and their ramifications on the national and international economics and global trade.

Why Green Only Accounts for 6% of Electricity in the U.S.

A recent post over on the HBR Blog Network on the supposed decline of green energy did a good job when it noted that renewable energy production in the US has doubled in the past 4 years, and did a better job when it noted that it’s possible to get to almost 50% in a mere five years if a concerted effort is made (as Portugal went from 17% to 45% renewable in 5 years, and Germany generates over 25% of its electricity using renewable sources, to the point that it can generate up to 50% of its peak electricity needs on a good day), but fell short when it came to explain why the U.S. isn’t doing better.

Since I’m a cranky contrarian, I’ll tell you why. Because, collectively, the US, as with many other developed economies, is revelling in the seven deadly sins.

  • Lust
    We want the bigger TV. We want the margarita ville machine. We want the power hogs. So we have to crank up the energy production on the infrastructure we have in place as it takes time to build new infrastructure. And the need for more energy is only amplified by our
  • Envy
    for what our neighbours have. This is clear from the fact that the average American household debt is $117,951 and the average Canadian household debt is $112,329. We keep wanting more, and it requires energy, and we look the other way as production on the current infrastructure is cranked up to meet our demand.
  • Gluttony
    We want the temperature at a constant 21C. 23C? Better blast the air on full. Temperature drop to 19C? Crank up the electric furnace. The energy usage per person in North America is 4 times that of the global average! We absorb capacity as fast as we can add it and want more! And since we already have the infrastructure in place to burn coal and oil, it’s easier to just crank up the furnace even more.
  • Sloth
    Change the thermostat with a smart, programmable thermostat that won’t crank the heat until it drops to 17C or the air until it gets to 24C? That would require work! Walk around and open the windows or close them to manually regulate energy usage? That would also require work! Make sure we turn off the electronics when not using them? Why? When it comes to even doing the little things, we can’t be bothered.
    And then, we have the same problems in our plants and warehouses. Simple things, like timers and motion sensors to turn off lights, excess heat or cooling, etc. don’t get put in place and energy is wasted. Buildings aren’t properly insulated and heating or cooling will leak out almost as fast as the heat or cold air is produced.
    This is the real reason the pace of renewable expansion is being held back. Corporations, which exist for the sole purpose of generating profit for shareholders, are greedy, and investing in renewables takes a lot of up front investment. And while the math demonstrates considerable payoff over the long term, now that we barely think beyond the next quarter, no one wants to wait for the long term payoff anymore. Corporate shareholders want their return now, and taxing the current infrastructure is the quickest way to make a quick buck. Plus, the oil companies want their profits and the coal companies want their profits and the natural gas companies want their profits and, guess what, many shareholders of energy companies also hold shares in oil companies and coal companies and natural gas companies …
  • Wrath
    When the activists demand we do better, instead of taking a good, long look at ourselves, and the energy grid that was built as we passively looked the other way, we get angry that their protest slowed traffic and caused us to be late for work, because …
  • Pride
    We’re too proud to admit we’re wrong, that we haven’t been doing anything about it, and that we need to stand up and say I can make a difference, and, more importantly, I can force my nation to make a difference by spending my dollars on, and casting my votes for, green energy. We could be at 60% renewable energy on the grid by the end of the decade. But for that to happen, we have to really, really, really want it.