How to solve the homeless crisis, the energy crisis and the banking crisis in Florida and around the world!

How to solve the homeless crisis, the energy crisis and the banking crisis in Florida and around the world!

In St. Petersburg Florida the taxpayers are being asked to take $450,000,000.00 (that’s about half a billion dollars!) of their tax money to build a new baseball stadium. In neighboring Hillsborough County, they are looking for a shelter to allow homeless people a place to sleep at night. Do you see a problem here?

Somehow the taxpayers are supposed to believe that bailing out millionaire baseball executives is going to be a better way to spend their hard earned money, than solving the issues of homelessness and a high crime rate. Meanwhile the monopoly electricity producers (TECO, PE, FP&L) are being allowed to gouge homeowners more on their electric bills (Largely due to fewer homeowners paying bills). And let us not forget, the banks are raising their fees and offering us less credit.

Recently a candidate for St. Petersburg City Council has suggested a “Half Billion Dollar Challenge” to the residents of his City. I believe we can solve all of the problems that I’ve listed, in St. Pete for less than that amount. And the rest of the State can easily follow the example, which can then be imitated around the Country and the World.

We begin by using the money to start up new businesses, instead of just building a shelter that continuously costs money and produces nothing. The business will be a day labor pool. Many homeless that I have met use Able Body Labor as their main source of income. We will be starting a competitor for this company that is run by and for the homeless. The business will be run out of a warehouse and will double as a homeless shelter, so those who can’t work will have a place to stay and those whole can work will run the various parts of the business such as the office, phones, accounting and the actual labor. The business; lets call it Home Labor Force, will be run like a co-operative. That means any profits will go back into the business, instead of being funneled up to a CEO who lives in another State. Another branch of this business will be exclusively used for producing solar energy products, lets call it Home Solar (Get it? They are no longer home-less). The factory will be another place that the homeless can use to sleep, as well as work to make money, get back on their feet and eventually buy a house. (Don’t let your local Rep tell you this can’t be done. They can create zoning for this. Zoning is what they do.)

The initial reaction some have to this proposal may be, “it’s just not that easy, this would take tons of training, planning and structure…and why would we give them the money!” Well, we will not be giving them the money. It will be a loan. The loan will come from a new Community Bank, that is funded by the taxpayers (we already fund the other banks, but with them we don’t get any small business loans or any benefits). State banks have been successful in places like North Dakota. They don’t gouge people with ridiculous interest rates and they also keep the peoples money local. There is no CEO stealing huge amounts of money for bonuses at the end of the year either. And as for the planning and structure, of course it will not be easy, but neither is building another baseball stadium. This can also be the best part. The City of St. Pete will get to hire all kinds of consultants and planners and business experts to help create all aspects of the plan. (Cities love to do this part, and can make sure to find ways for their cronies to get some of the dough. If they see personal gain, they might actually go for it.)

You see, I am suggesting that the money be used for creating a “for profit” business, not a “non-profit 501c3”. The reason for this is that Governments like St. Pete love to hand out money to businesses that are for profit, they are not so keen on giving money to those volunteer “do-gooders” of NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations). And as a “for profit”, the government gets the benefit of the tax revenue from the Home Labor Force and the Home Solar business, as well as the interest on the loans. Also as a business, it can have a drug free policy, preventing those who reside there from using. Those who still use drugs will be added to the group insurance plan and will receive drug treatment counseling. (There will be an initial need to interview and categorize people according to their abilities and disabilities, again allowing for more contracts to those organizations who will assist with this.)

The energy crisis will be solved by the solar energy products produced local by local labor (that will be expertly trained by hired consultants). The sales of these products will be boosted by the local government passing ordinances like they’ve done in Berkeley California, or by introducing the Feed In Tariff, that is now being used in Gainesville. The Home Solar Company can produce solar water heaters initially, as they are relatively simple to make and very low tech. The photovoltaic panels (PV) can be added products as capital funds in the company add up.

Both the “Feed In Tariff” and the “Berkeley Model” will likely raise major opposition from the local monopolies like Progress Energy. That is why it may be important to end contracts with these monopolies and have the City switch to a municipal utility company for production of power, like the City of Winter Park has done when they broke free from their franchise agreement with Progress Energy. When this is done, the would be profits of the electric production would go toward the general fund of the City and pay for street maintenance and parks and recreation facilities instead of lining a CEO’s pocket like Jeffery Lyash. Lyash, by the way is the CEO of Progress Energy and also chairs the committee known as “ABC-A Baseball Community” which is the group saying they can raise these enormous funds to build a new stadium. By doing this, they make each taxpayer “ABC-A Bailout Contributor”. This type of welfare to the rich from the middleclass is the basis of their entire business model. What I am suggesting converts this welfare into a low interest loan to the poor, and raises them up to middleclass status.

Let’s look at your electric bill for a moment. Pull it out, either for your home or business or both. Do you see the taxes there? Do you see the franchise fees? Take some time to consider this. It has taken a long time to get a grip on this one, even for myself, and I’ve been studying these agreements for some time. The franchise fee is a fee that is supposed to be paid by the utility company for the right to use the land that holds the poles, towers and transmission lines etc. However, it is not taken from the CEO’s profits (who by the way were fighting the PSA, to keep their paychecks secret). This fee is right there…on your bill…directly coming out of your pocket. Stay with me on this one. So, you are paying to rent your land from yourself! Now we could go into the other fees on there, but by now you should get the idea.  By hiding these kinds of fees in the monopolies utility bills, the City makes more money every time the monopoly raises its rates. This may help explain why you hear very little complaining from your City Officials when companies like Progress Energy hike their rates. The irony is, the City could actually save money from going the Municipal Utility route. (Also sometimes they hold on to the money and have to be sued by the City to get it) Winter Park started their “Muni” when they asked PE to put their power lines underground. PE said no, so Winter Park decided to take them back, as public property and generate electricity without PE. Winter Park is issuing municipal bonds to put the power lines underground. This concept could have been implemented in Tampa, when they asked TECO for the same thing, at the time of their renewal of their franchise agreement this year. (An agreement I believe had to be ratified by the electorate on the following election cycle. In my City, Tarpon Springs, we have ratified our past franchise agreements because we are mandated to do so in our City’s Charter. Tampa’s City Charter mandates the same thing, but they did not do it. I believe they can still implement this plan due to reversible error in the process, and violation of their City Charter.)

Of course the City of St. Pete violates the US Constitution in regards to free speech, so can we hope that a City like Tampa will choose not to violate their City Charter, which is fact their City Constitution?

I say yes. We can hope. We can also act. Take action by sending in records requests to the City Clerk where you live. Ask for all franchise agreements with electric power companies. Read these documents and find out when they expire. That is the best time to enact change, because there will be no need to break the contract if it expires soon enough. Write letters and meet with you local City Representatives. Make them explain in detail why they support or do not support these ideas. If they don’t agree, then help them come to a compromise position. In contracts, there is often a “severability clause”, that allows for any one item of the contract to be removed if it is found to be unlawful, without jeopardizing the entire document. I suggest my proposal has a severability clause, so if any one of you or your Representatives disagrees with any part of it, then you can still utilize the rest. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

Whatever you do, don’t just shoot these ideas down, without careful consideration of alternatives that you believe will work. Start the dialogue. Take action, even if your action is to simply find more information on the internet. Make calls, even if those calls are simply to a friend to discuss these issues. Spread the word. Send emails to all interested parties, either send them the link to this article or links to info you find elsewhere.

This will improve the conditions of all citizens. And we can finally begin to see the end to both the crisis of energy and finance, and help the homeless find a home.

You have the power to do this. Make it so.

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