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Cutting through the smoke screen

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: October 16, 2008 9:06 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Our baby, Caleb, is now 14 years old. He plays football over at Hart High and has grown about three feet in two months.

At 5 feet 11 inches, he is now almost as tall as me. He sticks out about six inches over the end of his bed.
His mother insisted that we buy him a new bed.

“A new bed?” I cried. “Why don’t we just lower the temperature in his bedroom to 40 degrees so he has to curl up into a little ball? Then he doesn’t stick out anymore.”

Needless to say, my lovely bride won that argument.

On the hunt
Off to our local bed-seller we went. The nice folks at Sit ‘n Dream showed us all of the wonderful models, all at “reasonable” prices.

There was the “Whispering Angels” twin-sized mattress at $1,300.

Then we saw the “Soothing Slumber” extra-firm mattress for $1,700.

And finally, my favorite, the “Extreme Dough Sucker” pillow model for $2,700.

I especially liked the owner’s claim that “he’ll beat anyone’s price or your mattress is Gratisssssssss.”

We went to another mattress store and found a surprisingly honest salesman. He told us a fascinating secret.

We had noticed that none of the models from the major mattress brands could be found in other stores.
When I looked for the “Soothing Slumber,” no one else had it. But they had models that were remarkably similar.

“That’s easy to explain,” offered our friendly mattress guy. “Each mattress manufacturer changes the names of the mattresses they sell to each retailer.

“This way, each retailer can say it has an ‘exclusive’ arrangement with the manufacturer. Your ‘Soothing Slumber’ is actually a ‘Restful Respite’ in our shop. Get it?”

This also explains how Mr. Gratisssssss can get away with his offer.

Since Sit ‘n Dream does not have any mattress named the same as any other retailer, no one can ever undercut him on price so he never has to pay up.

Very clever.

You have to get past the smoke screen to tell the truth.

Getting past face value
Obviously, the same applies to politics.

Proposition 10 is a wonderful-sounding initiative that promises to start us on the road to energy independence.

Prop. 10 authorizes the state to borrow $5 billion in the form of bonds to pay for various alternative energy initiatives.

After the interest is calculated in, we would pay about $9.8 billion over 30 years to finance this proposition.
Prop. 10 would cause the state to offer tax rebates of $2,000 to $50,000 toward the purchase of high-economy and alternative-fuel vehicles.  This is 58 percent of the money.

Thirty-one percent of the funds would be spent on the research and development of renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicle technologies.

The remaining 12 percent would be spent on purchases, training and education.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Like the “Soothing Slumber” mattress, we are lulled into a sense that the money will be spent in ways that will benefit us greatly, so we should rest easy.

The undisclosed truth is that this proposition is really the brainchild of one energy company, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which has paid more than $3.7 million to support the initiative.

Clean Energy Fuels is owned by T. Boone Pickens, who has lately made a big foray into the world of renewable energy. While Mr. Pickens’ fervor for a new energy future for our nation is admirable, it is clear that his company is in a leading position to benefit directly from this initiative.

Clean Energy Fuels is a leader in liquefied natural gas. The initiative is slanted to favor vehicles powered by this technology — $200 million is set aside for an LNG terminal.

Pickens stands to make a boatload of money.

Another person who stands to make a significant amount of money is our own Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

It was revealed in August that she is an investor in Clean Energy Fuels.

Why not benefits for all?
It is always a curious thing when people try to use government regulation to influence the free market in the United States.

Pickens could produce a car that runs on LNG, make it price competitive and build an infrastructure to support it.

However, he is trying to get you and me to finance it through the issuance of state bonds, then rake in the dough.

After all of the financial trials this state has been through lately, we don’t need another expensive publicly funded program that essentially benefits one business entity.

If Pickens wants alternative energy, let him develop the technology and sell it to the public directly.
If he builds a better product for a reasonable price, the people of California will buy it.

He does not need corporate welfare.

Join me, numerous Democratic Party organizations and the California State Republican Party and vote no on Proposition 10.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. “Right About Now” runs Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.


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