Taxing sunlight in Spain

Just when you think  you’ve seen everything…

A post on Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis reveals the truly jaw-dropping audacity of some politicians in Spain. They have decided to levy a consumption tax on those who use solar panels. The tax is called a “backup toll” and the sole function of this tax is to make it financially unfeasible to use solar power.

I almost don’t know where to even begin.

The logic behind the law is completely flawed, beyond even what some of the lunatics here in the US have proposed and even passed (both at state and federal levels). It’s never been easier to get real news and the supposed lampoons of the news that come out of sites like The Onion mixed up.

The purpose of the tax can’t be to actually collect money like most taxes. It would indeed be the ultimate irony if the expense of collecting the “backup toll” is higher than the revenue, or if the people decide simply not to pay it en masse. I’d like to think it’s unlikely the plan to tax solar power out of existence will actually work in practice.

The other point I’d like to ponder is, how fast can Spain get rid of this stupid law when the oil, coal, and other non-renewable fuel markets take a dive and become financially unfeasible? Will they be able to even get rid of it fast enough? I’ve noticed this about a lot of laws: they tend to stick around a lot longer than they are useful or sensible. It took what seemed like forever to get rid of the regulatory walls between cable TV and phone service (at one point in the US, if you sold one you couldn’t sell the other).

We need more renewable energy, not less. Spain is moving in the wrong direction entirely. The perplexing thing is, I’m not sure what exactly the rest of the world could or should do about it. Maybe someone out there has an idea.

Breaking the language barrier, or making it even tougher to overcome?

A recent story on (KPRC-TV) describes an executive order signed by Houston mayor Annise Parker, calling for the “translation of essential public information” into no less than five other languages besides English. While on its face the move seems like an admirable attempt at accessibility, I suspect the actual result will be the exact opposite.

The more things are translated into another language, the less incentive new residents have to learn English. Less incentive means fewer actually do, in turn meaning that trying to patronize a business in some parts of town becomes an exercise in frustration. And thus the problem I run into, where I walk into, say, a restaurant, and have a bunch of Spanish babbled into my face (apparently people think I’m Hispanic-looking enough; I self-identify as white, and I don’t know what I can do to make myself look more white and less Hispanic.

Maybe it’s just me slowly becoming a curmudgeon, but I consider it downright rude to start talking some other language based on such an assumption. It’s either that, or the waiter/waitress really does not know much English. I can’t tell the difference, and honestly I feel like if we have reached the point where it’s acceptable to try Spanish first, then we’re damn close to the point that those that fought for the independence of Texas and for the entirety of the current state of Texas to remain part of the United States did so in vain.

This isn’t a race issue. It’s the same for anyone who speaks a language besides English, which should be the official language of this country, being the language the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the laws, and the road signs are written in. It’s high time that “for English, press 1” and similar over-reaching attempts at accommodation of non-native languages go the way of the rotary dial telephone. The less information is available in other languages, the faster those who don’t know English get the message that they need to learn English to function in the United States. The faster they get the message, the better the result is for all of us.