Welcome Back To The Grind, Utah
by Anthony Stasi
Jul 21, 2011 | 2470 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After two years, the State of Utah is scrapping a policy experiment that had most of its employees working a four-day work week (of ten hours per day) in order to save energy and build morale.

It was reported in various public policy publications, such as Governing Magazine, that the project is being shut down, but not for any particular reason. Some politicians cite there are government services that need to be available on Fridays, while critics say that the energy savings have not been as great as was reported (they reportedly saved $3 million).

But there are probably other offices that can switch over to a four-day work week. Maybe New York should think about this. It might be a good idea for state and city governments to conduct an audit of each agency and see which could be put on what Utah was calling a 4/10 schedule.

When we look at the New York City subway system (especially the long trek from Rockaway to Manhattan) is it not worth exploring better workforce options for people? The mayor has voiced concerns about conserving energy on more than a few occasions. With our MTA in the shape it is, it might be worth exploring ways to change the workforce around a little and free up some pressure on our transportation system.

The Only Way to Plan For Our Energy Future

Three years ago, John Hofmeister tried to get the attention of all of the candidates running for president of the United States. He met with one from each party, neither of whom went on to become their party’s nominee. Hofmeister wanted to discuss the need for a Federal Energy Resources Board that would operate like the Federal Reserve, only for energy policy.

Is Hofmeister an energy nut looking to talk to powerful people? Maybe, but he is also the former president of Royal Dutch Shell…as in Shell Oil.

For the last two years, Hofmeister has been canvassing the country talking to anyone who would listen - colleges, commerce groups, etc. - that our energy policy is in the hands of oil companies and politicians.

According to Hofmeister, most politicians do not understand the difference between political time and energy time. In terms of forecasting for viable energy sources, utility and oil companies look at the clock a little differently than politicians – they see energy time. Politicians want immediate action (political time), even when certain ideas are simply not ready for prime time.

Neither the energy companies nor the politicians are equipped to plan the future of America’s energy needs. Oil companies are not going to push for renewable energy and politicians get too much political capital by vilifying these companies.

What would our monetary policy look like if the only people setting policy were the House Finance Committee and the executives at the big investment banks? The Federal Reserve acts as a speed bump to regulate monetary policy. Even in the shape our economy is in right now, we would be worse off without a Federal Reserve (sorry Ron Paul fans).

Hofmeister sees a similar need for a federal body that oversees energy policy. He suggests a board of governors that would be picked by the president and okayed by the Senate, which is quite similar to the Federal Reserve process. Could this work for energy? Why not try?

Governors chosen by the elected to staggered terms might be a way to make the energy policy process less vulnerable to politics. Each candidate running for president should have to give their opinion on this idea, as well as lay out a long-term plan for energy regulation.

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