The story of Trump’s Tax Returns is not over yet.

Late Saturday night, the New York Times published the first page of several of Donald Trump’s tax returns that were filed in 1995. While his opponents claim triumph in establishing that Trump hasn’t been paying much in the way of taxes for many years. While anyone to the Left of Trump is calling this a victory, it needs to be emphasized that this almost certainly isn’t the information that Trump has been so desperate to hide from his supporters.

Continue reading The story of Trump’s Tax Returns is not over yet.

Thank you, Donald Trump! You’ve shown us how inadequate the 1978 Ethics Law is.

Here’s an idea for bringing about some sorely needed unity between the two parties, on January 20th, when (Hillary Clinton) the next President takes office, I propose that (she) they immediately sit down with the leaders of the House and Senate to amend the 1978 Ethics in Government Act with a new “Trump Rule” to account for newly discovered inadequacies in financial disclosure requirements. Shouldn’t be too difficult, since he’s on the bad side of both parties.

Continue reading Thank you, Donald Trump! You’ve shown us how inadequate the 1978 Ethics Law is.

Do Donald Trumps tax returns contain a National Security Risk?

Trump’s long time advisor and confidant Roger Stone has added his name to the long list of voices calling on The Donald to release his tax returns for public review, responding to a reporters question on the subject “I think he should release his tax returns immediately“.

Continue reading Do Donald Trumps tax returns contain a National Security Risk?

Make America Great Again? I Was Just Joking!

Amid misstep after misstep this week, the Donald attempted to turn it around by… blaming the media for not getting his “joke” one time, and misunderstanding his “sarcasm”. This isn’t even the first time the straight-talking, telling it like it is candidate has had to clarify that accusations he has leveled were merely jokes.

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Donald Trump being “sarcastic”.
Another Trump packpedal
Another Trump packpedal

After claiming that climate change was “a hoax” by the Chinese to ruin Western manufacturers, he backpedalled a few weeks later by saying the the had attempted to make a “joke“.

Makes me think, how much of his other blather has just been jokes that we just weren’t smart enough to get?.

Was he joking when said that the United States might not honor its obligations to its allies under NATO?

Was it just sarcasm when he allegedly inquired about the use of nuclear weapons?

Former Mexican president Vincente Fox clearly hasn’t gotten the humor in Trumps joke about building a border wall between the United States and Mexico, with (cue punchline) Mexico footing the bill of course.

It probably goes further. Former candidate and now Trump surrogate Ben Carson suggestion that the should Khan family apologize to Trump makes a lot more sense when you realize he was probably just joking.

Though he only rolled out his economic plan this week, he spoke about his ideas for it months earlier, telling CNBC: “I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts… I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.” At least the investing community understood it was a joke.

Still, even conservatives lambasted Hillary Clinton’s plan, mentioning (in apparent sarcasm) the amount of debt that would be accumulated in her vision, he went on to say that his intention would be to borrow as much as possible.

"Make America Great Again?" I was only joking!
“Make America Great Again?” I was only joking!

Letter to Town of Amherst Regarding Its Solar Aspirations

I wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper, laying out an alternative path for my town to take in its plans for going solar.

It was published on October 22, 2015, republishing here to preserve it.

Big dollars are at stake to the town and homeowners, property owners and business owners — and by extension to its tenants and patrons of local businesses.

Assuming 2 or 3 percent annual inflation, the town will likely pay $35 million to $40 million to Eversource between 2017 and 2036. SunEdison has put forward a proposal that could reduce that cost to $23.3 million over that period (and offer the benefit of providing 80 percent of the town’s energy needs by clean solar power.

I attended the last meeting and from the reaction of those attending, it appeared those two facts were enough to win people over.

But I am wondering if the town has explored the possibility of purchasing its own photovoltaic array rather than entering into a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SunEdison.

Assuming worst case numbers ($2 per watt of PV installed, and borrowing at a 5 percent annual interest rate), the town could purchase its own 7 megawatt solar array for $14 million plus $700,000 of annual interest over 20 years.

Assuming another $150,000 annually for insurance, maintenance and administrative costs, the total expense to the town over the 20-year term of the bonds it would have to issue would be $31 million.

However, by doing so, the town would own and be able to sell the solar renewable energy certificates — the SRECs — generated by the system.

Over the 10-year term that PV in Massachusetts can generate SRECs, such a system should generate over 68,000 SRECs, which should yield at least $14 million.

This means that the net outlay to the town would be in the range of $17 million — a 25 percent savings over the PPA route — and it would be able to enjoy the benefits of its solar panels for far longer than the 20-year SunEdison deal.

I am using worst case numbers: SunEdison estimated its cost to build the two landfill arrays at $11 million, and the town would likely be able to borrow at a far better rate than 5 percent. If the total cost of the project was $11 million and the town could borrow at 3.5 percent (both reasonable assumptions), the total net cost to the rown would be just under $8 million over 20 years, which includes the additional administrative/maintenance expenditures.

Long story short, if the town does nothing at all, it will pay at least $35 million over the next 20 years, while using conventional dirty fuels to do so. If the town goes with the SunEdison’s proposal, it would go green and reduce that expenditure to around $23 million.

But if Amherst purchased its own system, its maximum cost should be just over $17 million over the same 20 years.

There are many Massachusetts-based businesses just as capable as SunEdison at installing landfill arrays. Whoever the town chooses to advance its solar aspirations, it seems like it should look to the resources available within Massachusetts, before sending our dollars outside of the state.

For such an important project, it’s paramount that the town investigate all the angles.