On December 8, 2010, following the failure to extend subsidies for renewables (and before they found another way to subsidize profits), I wrote the following to “my” Senator Jay Rockefeller (WV):
To Senator Rockefeller
I am extremely disappointed to find you supported the amendment to extend funding to renewable energy.
In the best of economic times it makes no sense to invest taxpayer money in energy sources which are unreliable, costly and cannot provide electricity on-demand.
Happily, the amendment failed.
Please reassess your position on this failed technology and do not support further funding of industrial wind and solar.
Vote no on any further funding for these inefficient, costly and failed technologies. They cannot exist without subsidies and our money is better spent on energy sources which will provide reliable and secure power sources to drive manufacturing and create real jobs.
Thank you for your consideration,
Michael C. Morgan
Yesterday, this email arrived:
Thank you for contacting me regarding tax credits for renewable energy programs. I always enjoy hearing from a fellow West Virginian and I welcome the opportunity to be in touch.
On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in law. Section 1603 of this legislation’s tax title appropriated funds for payments to persons who place in service specified renewable energy property such as wind turbines, biomass facilities, and solar systems during 2009 or 2010. Participants are eligible to receive payments equal to 10% or 30% of the basis of the property, depending on the type of property. This program was designed to temporarily fill the gap created by diminished investor demand for energy tax credits.
Energy tax credits are a win-win for jobs, the economy and our energy policy. Most recently, the Senate passed H.R. 4213, The Tax Extenders Act of 2009 which includes an amendment that I introduced that links the 2010 Energy Star standards to the Windows Tax Credit Program including significant tax credits for energy efficiency home retrofitting and improvements. This legislation will not only increase demand for energy efficient products and help consumer but it will also create and retain jobs at energy-efficient producers like Simonton Window, which employs over 1,500 West Virginians.
I will continue to fight for energy efficient programs and tax credits that benefit consumers and manufactures in West Virginia. During these tough economic times any incentive that will stimulate jobs and aid in the economic recovery while increasing our energy independence is beneficial.
As always, I wish you the best.
With Warm Regards,
What the …???
One would think the Senator would at least pretend to read my mail. I know he can’t personally read or respond to every constituent letter, but at least he could instruct his staff to make up two replies. They could have the one above for folks who agree and another to send to folks who don’t. After all, it’s fairly easy to fool us (as if the Senator didn’t know that already) so they could just add one line like, “Sorry to see we don’t agree” to the beginning of the boilerplate reply and heck, we’ll think someone at least glanced at the content beyond the subject line. C’mon, how hard can it be?
But after reading the Senator’s reply, and unless someone can explain how it connects to my original note, I can only come up with three options:
A: The Senator is too lazy to read my letter
B: The Senator suffers from a case of confirmation bias
or, of course,
C: Both A and B
If this were the first time I received a totally disjointed response from Senator Rockefeller, I might have written it off. Unfortunately, on two other occasions when I wrote in disagreement with his position on issues, I received very similar canned replies. Surprisingly, or maybe not, other folks told me of their similar experiences.
Based on this, I chose C. I’m convinced that my Senator doesn’t give enough of a damn what I think to take the time to read my comment. And, for future reference, I have to realize that, unless what I say coincidentally fits his already-formed position on the issue, I should expect his reply to be equally patronizing.
But then, if the Senator does (as seems evident to me) have this “confirmation bias” thing going on, I perhaps shouldn’t be too critical. After all, I voted to send this man back to the Senate! And what is the definition of crazy? Yep … doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
But folks, I’m up for the cure. Senator Rockefeller’s current term expires in 2014. If the Democratic Party is foolish enough to nominate him again, I’ll vote against him in the general. I might still be considered crazy, but it won’t be for voting to send this man back to DC.
Finally, you might have noticed the Senator’s comment in the opening paragraph, “I always enjoy hearing from a fellow West Virginian and I welcome the opportunity to be in touch;” to which I find myself saying, all evidence to the contrary, Senator!