Sunday, January 4, 2009

40 - Answer(s)

Q: Brett Gobe - Are there any boxing matches on Boxing Day?
A: In case anyone doesn't know, Boxing Day is a public holiday in Canada, England, Australia and other countries. It almost always falls on December 26th but that is not always the case. It is roughly the equivalent of Black Friday in the United States in that stores reduce prices and hold sales to lure shoppers.

I checked the ESPN Boxing homepage on Boxing Day and did not see any boxing matches here in the US or anywhere else. There were cricket and soccer matches, but no boxing. I think that having a boxing day boxing match is actually a good idea. Someone could probably make a little money on the event if they put one together.

Q: Jarsh Beckstein - When is it when people are talking green updates to their homes all they think of is the "payoff"? What about the fact that you are producing your own power rather than buying it from the electric company? Or even reducing your (gasp) carbon footprint?!? Chances are a system is about the same as your electric bill per month with. Current incentives (NYS currently has some of the best) and financing, especially of you can incorporate the cost into your mortgage.
A: Since I can't speak on behalf of the human race, or even of the Jolinko community at large, I'm going to answer this question entirely from my point of view. I am interested in one day installing one of these systems in my own house and so I will consider your question with my own interests and thoughts in mind. Hopefully what follows will answer your question.

As I interpret your question, you're wondering why people are interested in the monetary payoff of installing so-called green technology rather than other considerations. My initial answer is that money is the most important factor in the decision, which is why people are interested. We live in a capitalistic society. We work so that we can earn money that we then spend on goods and services. One of these services is electricity. Now, most people are interested in saving money. They shop for the best phone plans, clip coupons for groceries, and wait for sales on things that they want to buy. Along those lines, if one reduces one's need for electricity then one will pay less for it. That is one incentive to reduce power usage, and one that I practice in my own life. With the addition of some solar cells or a wind turbine to one's house one can generate electricity and further reduce their need to purchase power from someone else. Since these systems cost a good deal of money, it's natural to consider how long it would take to pay for the installation of the system with the savings in one's electrical bill. If someone isn't planning on living in their house for very long, then they may not want to pay the money to install a system that they won't get the full benefit from.

As to your larger point, I'll admit that I hadn't fully considered the issue until you asked. Money was the most important factor to me, but as I thought about it other factors rose in importance. The fact that by installing one of these systems I'd be generating my own electricity and thus be more self-sufficient than if I were relying entirely on the power company was very appealing to my libertarian instincts. I don't like to be dependent on anyone for my well being, or that of my family when that time comes. That independence can be considered a "payoff" in its own right, a benefit weighed against the cost of installing the system. I would fall into that category. I'd seriously consider installing a system that was capable of providing most of the power to my house if for no other reason than I wouldn't have to depend on RG&E for my electricity.

You mentioned reducing one's "carbon footprint" as an incentive to installing one of these systems. Because I do not believe that man contributes significantly to global warming/climate change/environmental crisis du jour, reducing my carbon footprint is not something that I think about. Does this mean that I go around recklessly dumping garbage in the streets and polluting whenever I feel the need? Of course not. I do things that make sense to me such as recycling and being responsible with the care of my house and my car so that I do not cause more pollution than necessary. But I don't believe that reducing my carbon footprint is a virtue. I find the pursuit quite silly in fact. I look at it as a form of penance to repent for a sin against nature. If you disagree then that's your prerogative, and if that desire to reduce your carbon footprint leads you to install a power generation system then I have no objection. As I've said in previous answers I'm a live-and-let-live kind of guy. "Your freedom to swing your arm ends at my nose" is a euphemism that I try and live by. But that means that I believe in liberty, which in turn means that I believe that people should be free to pursue whatever makes them happy without my interference. Want to install solar panels? Great, good for you. Want to mandate that for everyone? Now you're interfering with my freedom.

So what's the conclusion to draw here? I would say that the "payoff" that you speak of does in fact constitute more than just money. Money is the most important factor to most people, as it is to me, but other factors do have an impact. It's up to each person to decide what factors are most important to them and to make decisions based on those decisions.