Tuesday, June 4, 2024

How I Switched to Starlink for a Net Increase of Only $24.00 Per Month!

We bought our current house in 2020 and suffered through three years of misery with CenturyLink (now Brightspeed) internet. I won’t go through the whole drawn out story of this company having the worst customer service that I have ever encountered. Just suffice to say, the company advertised my area had 25 Mbps available, then said I could only get 10 Mbps and was provided a max of 6 Mbps. And that was on the best day, most of the time, during the day and on week-ends, there were constant service interruptions. Very rarely could I even think about streaming a movie until after 6 or 7 PM. Our DSL internet and landline phone cost about $70, which wasn’t bad, except the internet was just about useless.

I was on the waitlist for Starlink for quite a few months when they raised the monthly rate from $90 to $120 just as service became available in my area. I canceled the order and waited some more. Finally in August last year I was so fed up I told myself “to hell with it” and ordered it again. One of the best decisions I ever made and it didn’t cost as much as I thought!

While the equipment cost is substantial at $600, you own it and can resell at will, and, I believe you have time to return it for a full refund if not satisfied with the service. The monthly $120 dollar service seems pricey but here’s what I did. I had an unlimited data plan and hotspot on my cell phone for only one reason. That was to have the internet at home when Brightspeed was down, which was so frequently, it was beyond belief. I was paying $55 per month and switched to a $35 plan. Starlink is a month to month service which you pay by credit card on file and you can suspend or cancel service at any time, for any reason. There are no taxes or extra fees other than the $120 monthly charge. Since I get 5% cash back on my credit card, my actual cost is $114 monthly.

So, I canceled our landline and DSL internet saving $70. The only calls we got on landline were scammers anyway. My cell phone plan change saved another $20 per month, so my total savings was $90. Starlink dollars out of pocket is $114 minus the $90 saved equals a net cost increase of $24.00! And if I could convince my significant other to switch her cell phone to a cheaper plan, the household savings would be even greater, maybe close to the same previous cost!

And how is Starlink working? In the 10 months we’ve had it there’s been one 22 minute outage that occurred other than any standard utility power outage from storms. The router and internet will go down if the power goes out, but I solved that problem by getting a UPS battery backup with integrated surge protector for it. My download speeds are consistently well above 50 Mbps with uploads above 20Mbps. More than enough to do anything online without any issues. Of course if you have access to fiber or cable internet, that would be worth considering, but for us rural areas, Starlink is great. It’s sure made me a happier person!

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Sunday, February 25, 2024

21 Years of Stupid

Caption: After selling all the gasoline he was allocated for Novemebr, Daniel Bridger Thursday put up this sign and closed his service station until his new quota begins. Brigder's station is at 4751 N. Santa Monica Blvd. - Sentinel photo by Ron Overdahl

In 1973, OPEC cut off oil sales to the US and the west because of our support for Israel. I was a franchised Clark station dealer at the time. On Nov 30th, the Milwaukee Sentinel published a reporter’s photograph of my station being temporarily closed for lack of fuel. The second image shows the front page headline of that morning’s same newspaper. Little did I know the future consequences of what was about to happen.

Those events began a miserable 13 years of the insane national 55 mph speed limit. My livelihood was severely affected by the sporadic gasoline deliveries as well as my employees’ income, so I had a "dog in the fight”. What followed was a ridiculous national mandate by the federal government put in place by the Nixon administration. The law was widely ignored nationwide until many jurisdictions discovered a goldmine with fines/citations as a major source of revenue. Speed traps galore sprang up as a result. Those common sense states that refused to enforce the national speed limit were threatened by the Carter administration in 1977 with the loss of highway funding if they didn’t fall in line. The law was proven to be almost useless as far as conservation and soon took a back seat to the enormous revenue stream. Many fed up citizens avoided traveling on the safer limited access highways to run the back roads and avoid speed traps. The actual fuel savings computed by the federal government? Between 0.5 and 1%! This injustice dragged on until 1987 when they relented by raising it to 65 mph on certain limited access rural highways, finally repealing it altogether in 1995 after 21 years. 

So that's how it began.

I was incensed, feeling like we were being punished due to the US failure to protect our national interest and security. President Nixon actually first proposed a national 50 mph speed limit for motor vehicles and 55 mph for trucks. Of course POTUS would never have to cross Montana or Texas by car at 50 mph! By the time of Jimmy Carter’s 1977 crackdown, in my mid 20’s, I had become a militant “professional speeder”. With a progression of radar detectors starting with an Escort, then Passport, and eventually a Valentine One and CB radios, the war was ongoing. My mission was to travel using a reasonable speed based on weather and traffic conditions. Most of the time that highway speed was quite a bit above the “double nickel” that President Carter demanded we should travel. Note: I was reasonable, not reckless.

It was years before I even considered driving as a profession. Although I had numerous close calls with various Smokey Bears, Sheriff's deputies and "local yokels", I was able to maintain a reasonably clean driver's license which fortunately enabled me to pursue truck driving as a career a few years later.

I have long believed that using the decades old, scientific, "85th percentile rule" in setting speed limits was and should remain the national policy. I long ago sold my last radar detector because of the much more sensible speed laws in most states. But, alas, there is an ongoing movement underway by the “nanny state” trying to discredit the 85th percentile policy. Please support the National Motorists Association, a non-profit that advocates for the motoring public. You can Google them online if you wish to join or link here. National Motorists Association Newsletters are free to sign up for.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The True Cost of Electric Vehicles

First-of-kind analysis reveals true cost of owning, operating EVs without govt. subsidies

October 25, 2023 | by 

Article thanks to Vivek Saxena and American Wire News Service. Link to the original follows below: 

A study by a conservative think tank has determined that electric vehicles would cost oodles more if it weren’t for all the subsidies.

The study from the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) found, for example, that the average 2021 electric vehicle “would cost $48,698 more to own over a 10-year period without $22 billion in government favors given to EV manufacturers and owners.”

“EV advocates claim that the cost of electricity for EV owners is equal to $1.21 per gallon of gasoline (Edison Electric Institute, 2021), but the cost of charging equipment and charging losses, averaged out over 10 years and 120,000 miles, is $1.38 per gallon equivalent on top of that. Adding the costs of the subsidies to the true cost of fueling an EV would equate to an EV owner paying $17.33 per gallon of gasoline,” the report reads.

“And these estimates do not include the hundreds of billions more in subsidies in the Inflation Reduction Act (2022) for various aspects of the EV supply chain, particularly for battery manufacturing. It is not an overstatement to say that the federal government is subsidizing EVs to a greater degree than even wind and solar electricity generation and embarking on an unprecedented endeavor to remake the entire American auto industry,” it continues.

Yet, the report notes, the public’s response to this endeavor has been “tepid” primarily because most Americans can’t afford the upfront (not to mention the long-term) costs of an electric vehicle.

“Car lots are swelling with unsold EVs (Muller, 2023), and the Ford Motor Company is losing over $70,000 on each EV it currently sells,” the report notes.

The report’s overarching goal is “to analyze how regulatory credits, hidden costs, and subsidies disguise the real cost of electric vehicles (EVs).”

“With the Biden administration’s continued push for electrification and states such as California implementing laws to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, ‘Overcharged Expectations: Unmasking the True Costs of Electric Vehicles’ reveals the regulatory tricks at play and how these costs are socialized on to taxpayers and gas vehicle owners. This study was also submitted as part of a public comment on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s proposed fuel economy standards,” a press release from TPPF states.

The press release also includes a statement from the report’s author, Jason Isaac.

“The Biden administration and leftist states such as California have pushed for widespread electrification in less than 20 years through government subsidies and coercive regulations, but the price you see in the lot is not the true cost of an electric vehicle,” he said.

“Electric vehicle owners have been the beneficiaries of regulatory credits, subsidies, and socialized infrastructure costs totaling nearly 50 thousand dollars per EV. These costs are borne by gasoline vehicle owners, taxpayers, and utility ratepayers, who are all paying a hefty price for someone else’s EV,” he added.

The report also found that electric vehicles receive roughly 7x more in federal fuel efficiency credits than they actually provide in fuel economy benefits.

Also, the report determined that electric vehicle charging stations will cost roughly $11,833 per electric vehicle every 10 years — costs that will have to be shouldered by taxpayers, regardless of whether they personally own an EV.

In conclusion, the report argued that “the true cost” of an electric vehicle is light years ahead of the cost of a traditional vehicle.

“The stark reality for proponents of EVs and for the dreamers in the federal government, who are using fuel economy regulations to force manufacturers to produce ever more EVs, is that the true cost of an EV is in no way close to a comparable [internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV)],” the report reads.

“Without increased and sustained government favors, EVs will remain more expensive than ICEVs for many years to come. Hence why, even with these subsidies, EVs have been challenging for dealers to sell and why basic economic realities indicate that the Biden administration’s dream of achieving 100% EVs by 2040 will never become a reality,” it continues.

According to Fox News, the report’s publication comes as Democrats on both the federal and state levels continue to attack gas-powered vehicles while promoting EVs.

“Biden has set a goal of ensuring 50% of all car sales are zero-emissions by 2030 and his administration has pursued rigorous restrictions on gas-powered vehicles,” Fox News notes.

Most recently, the Biden administration announced new emissions rules that “are significantly more stringent and … cover a wider range of heavy-duty engine operating conditions compared to today’s standard,” as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The problem, according to truckers like JKC Trucking co-owner Mike Kucharski, is that the new rules could bankrupt truckers and thus destroy America’s supply chain.

Appearing on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” last month, he explained that the “regulations are not practical and impossible for five reasons,” including the fact that “the costs are astronomical” and “truckers will not be able to afford these things.”

“A new clean diesel long haul tractor typically costs in the range of $180,000 to $200,000. A comparable battery electric tractor costs upwards of $480,000. That’s about a $300,000 upcharge, [which] is cost prohibitive for the overwhelming majority of motor carriers,” he said in a separate statement to Fox News.

Link to the original article posted by American Wire is below:

True Cost of Owning/operating EVs

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Remembering Sox & Martin at Union Grove

I believe it was the summer of 1967 when my best friend Tom and I were both 15 years old. We didn’t possess driver’s licenses yet, but we were rabid car guys. Tom’s dad had a Ford and my dad a 1957 Chrysler with a 392 hemi in it. Of course, I was a big Mopar fan while my buddy was loyal to Ford. The Sox & Martin race team and Don Garlits were my drag racing heroes.
We lived in Milwaukee, Wi and my dad agreed to take us to The Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wi for the Olympics of Drag Racing contest one Sunday afternoon. Sox & Martin were running Super Stock that year in a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda, I believe.
We had pretty good seats fairly close to the starting line as Ronnie pulled up to stage for his first race. I don’t remember who he was racing against but when the green lit up, Ronnie came off the line pulling a huge wheelie while getting a holeshot on his challenger. He came right by us with the front wheels off the ground and in the lead as I jumped up from my seat and yelled “holy f**k!” I was between my dad and Tom when he (Tom) elbowed me in the side to shut up. I then realized in horror what I said and was afraid my dad was going to kill me, but he didn’t say anything. I’m sure he heard me and must have decided to let it go, but I was so embarrassed.
I believe they won the Super Stock title that week-end. It was pretty exciting for us two kids dreaming of getting our licenses soon! Ronnie Sox died of cancer at age 67 in 2006, I think Buddy Martin is in his late 80’s now.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Your Freedom to Travel is Under Attack

Article re-printed from The National Motorists Association newsletter last month. Please consider supporting them by joining at the links provided. These issues will affect all of us soon and they need our help to fight back. By Jay Beeber, Director of Policy & Research, National Motorists Association

From April 2,2023:  If there was any doubt before, now we have a clear indication that the WAR ON CARS is real –and it’s being waged at the highest levels of society by authoritarian culture warriors. These tyrannical elitists seek to eliminate our freedom to travel where we want, when we want, and how we want by impairing our ability to use our personal vehicles. While often promoted as “safety” measures, this campaign to “get people out of their cars” is, in actuality, a crusade against a middle-class lifestyle represented by single-family homes and automobiles.

Prompted by their cataclysmic view of climate change requiring a drastic reduction in carbon emissions, cars are activists’ favored target to reduce greenhouse gasses. Their “solutions” would mostly lead to a diminution of our standard of living and curtailment of our personal liberties. And those hurt the most will be the poorest among us, those disproportionately affected by traffic fines and often forced to travel longer distances to jobs and educational opportunities.

The “Paradise” of these collectivists’ dreams is the “15 Minute City”, a dense urban prison where everyone travels by bicycle or government-run transportation systems –and never ventures more than a few miles from home.

The War on Cars takes many different forms:

Vision Zero: Both an ideology and an organization based on the belief that we can make roadways so safe that no one ever dies in an automobile accident. Numerous U.S. cities have adopted Vision Zero as an official policy. Yet it has failed almost everywhere it has been tried. The original target date for zero deaths was 2018, then 2020, then 2025. It has now been pushed to 2040 – far enough in the future that the lack of progress and failure in policy is impossible to demonstrate. Of course, the logical conclusion to this ideology is that society must eliminate or severely curtail all motorized travel, starting with personal automobiles.

20 is Plenty: A policy that cars shouldn’t be allowed to go faster than 20 mph in urban areas –because at higher speeds, fatalities will occur if a vehicle hits a “vulnerable road user” like a pedestrian or bicyclist. In other words, 20 mph is plenty fast enough for you to drive. The 20 is Plenty policy has been implemented in many European cities and is now starting to roll out in the U.S.

Arbitrarily Lowering Speed Limits: It is well-documented that the number on the speed limit sign has little effect on travel speeds. Rather, it’s the design of the roadway that determines at what speed people feel comfortable driving. Traditionally, speed limits have been set at or near the speed 85% of reasonable drivers don’t exceed. This practice ensures that we don’t criminalize the behavior of the majority of otherwise safe drivers. But now, a movement is sweeping the country to eliminate this standard and set speed limits at whatever speed “feels right” for those vulnerable road users.

The USDOT’s “National Roadway Safety Strategy” sets a target date of 2024 to “Revise FHWA guidance and regulations to … [encourage] the setting of context-appropriate speed limits…” That means speed limits no longer must be rational. Instead, more arbitrary and politically motivated methods will be used. The $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law in 2021 provides funding to local jurisdictions to enforce those unrealistic speed limits with automated ticketing cameras.

The consequence will be that the majority of otherwise law-abiding drivers will unintentionally become violators. For the anti-car fanatics, this is a deliberate feature of these policies. They’re eager to criminalize the act of driving, and arbitrarily lower speed limits enforced by automated ticketing cameras is their back-door way of achieving this goal.

Expanded Use of Automated Ticketing Cameras: Anti-car extremists love these ticketing machines because they can penalize drivers for the most insignificant violations, such as driving a few miles per hour faster than an arbitrarily lowered speed limit or making a slow rolling-right-turn at 2 am when no one is around. Activists tout automated enforcement as a way to increase equity since cameras supposedly can’t racially profile. Yet, studies have shown that poor and marginalized communities are the ones often targeted by ticketing cameras. And their residents are the ones least able to afford the billions of dollars in fines that follow from these policies.

Complete Streets (aka Road Diets): Although over 90% of workers commute by auto, anti-car activists believe we dedicate too much roadway to automobiles. In their view, “equity” dictates that we reserve an equal amount of roadway space for other users, especially bicyclists. Many cities are removing half the number of car lanes on high-volume roadways and dedicating that space to bicycle lanes –notwithstanding that bicyclists are as rare as unicorns in many locations. These policies have created massive traffic jams and lost travel time. But again, for the fanatics, this is a feature, not a bug. For them, using the personal automobile is too fast and convenient, so we must impair their use to equalize travel times compared to bikes and mass transit. Think of it as roadway socialism.

Eliminating Parking: If you eliminate parking, people will give up their cars in favor of bikes and buses, and the world will be a better place. Many university urban planning courses teach this dogma as part of the “New Urbanism” of densification and elimination of suburban sprawl. The curriculum even fosters the foolish notion that cities should remove parking at transit stations so commuters can’t drive their cars to access trains and buses. Abolishing parking is a significant feature of the 15 Minute City.

Eliminating Right Turn on Red: The Washington D.C. City Council recently voted unanimously to impose a citywide ban on right-turn-on-red. Officials in Austin, TX, Berkeley, CA, and Cambridge, MA, are also exploring a prohibition on right turns at red signals. And the movement is growing throughout the U.S. If this crusade isn’t stopped now, in just a few short years, we could all be forced to idle needlessly at red lights, adding precious extra minutes to each trip’s travel time.

These two articles sum up the anti-car ideology perfectly:

Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out

Cars Are Death Machines. Self-Driving Tech Won’t Change That.

What used to be a fringe ideology has taken root in our mainstream institutions, from the Federal Highway Authority and NTSB down to local government. It has infected the organizations that make and recommend public policy, such as the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and university research facilities. The World Economic Forum heavily promotes this ideology. Whether you know it or not, it is coming to your city and neighborhood.

The invention of the personal automobile has been a primary factor in the human flourishing and massive increase in our standard of living, which has occurred over the last century. It has allowed humans to thrive in ways never before imagined in the history of the world. It has freed up our time to pursue economic and leisure activity, spurred amazing innovation, and allowed us to experience life in new and unique ways.

But we could easily lose all these benefits if we’re not vigilant.

With a renewed sense of purpose and vigor, the National Motorists Association is formulating a strategy to fight back against these anti-human policies and protect our freedom to travel. In the months ahead, we’ll share these plans and may ask for your assistance. In the meantime, if you still need to renew your membership, now is the time. And if your membership is current, consider gifting a membership to a like-minded friend or relative. If we are going to win this war, AND WE MUST WIN, we need an army – and that army is formed one driver at a time.

Join Supporting – National Motorists Association