Recycling: few benefits but we feel good


The San Francisco City Board of Supervisors has approved a trash law that would make it illegal to throw away compostables or recyclables, according to The San Francisco Chronicle:

Throwing orange peels, coffee grounds and grease-stained pizza boxes in the trash will be against the law in San Francisco, and could even lead to a fine.

The Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 Tuesday to approve Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposal for the most comprehensive mandatory composting and recycling law in the country. It’s an aggressive push to cut greenhouse gas emissions and have the city sending nothing to landfills or incinerators by 2020.

“San Francisco has the best recycling and composting programs in the nation,” Newsom said, praising the board’s vote on a plan that some residents had decried as heavy-handed and impractical. “We can build on our success.”

The ordinance is expected to take effect this fall.

The legislation calls for every residence and business in the city to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost and black for trash.

Failing to properly sort your refuse could result in a fine after several warnings, but Newsom and other officials say fines will only be levied in the most egregious cases.

Unlike the busybodies running the city of San Francisco, the Coyote Blog actually makes an attempt to analyze the cost-benefit analysis of such foolishness.

“… advocates will say that recycling saves money.  Well, it is not clear that it even saves the state any money but it certainly does not save you and I any.  In fact, the only way people can even fool themselves into believing there is any economic benefit is to assume that the value of your and my time is $0.  We are indentured servants, working for the state as trash sorters for no compensation.”

Adds the Coyote Blog: “Assume there are 110 million households in the US, and each household has to spend 5 minutes a week sorting trash.  And assume that the value of folk’s time is $20 per hour (and I can guarantee you the marginal value of my free time is a LOT higher).  This is $9.5 billion of stolen labor each year.”


Using hot air to gin up support for wind


The South Carolina Policy Council’s new blog has a post on a $109,000 grant the federal government has given the SC Energy Office “to help generate market acceptance for offshore wind energy development in South Carolina and Georgia.”

“State and federal officials believe that a concerted, multi-faceted effort from various statewide stakeholders will be necessary to obtain public support for offshore wind energy development along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia,” according to a press release from the SC Energy Office.

As the Policy Council writes: “One has to be just a little wary when government officials admit ‘a concerted, multi-faceted effort from various statewide stakeholders will be necessary to obtain public support’ for any program.”

What is it about today’s politicians that they can’t let programs and ideas stand or fall on their own virtues? If an idea has economic merit, investors will gladly pour money into it in hopes of a lucrative return and government assistance will be unnecessary; if there’s no economic merit, no amount of subsidy is likely to provide it.

This appears to be a modern phenomenon, too. Somehow, it seems unlikely, for example, that the Ulysses S. Grant Administration had to whip up an expensive public relations effort to get Americans to buy into the idea of embracing petroleum in place of whale oil.

First National to seek heavy share dilution


Struggling financial services company First National Bancshares will hold its 2009 annual meeting July 14 at the Spartanburg Marriott at Renaissance Park.

Besides the usual business of electing board members, the company is proposing an amendment to its articles of incorporation to increase the number of authorized shares of common stock from 10 million to 100 million.

Since its organization in 1999, the company has issued approximately 9,150,000 shares of common stock. The ability to issue additional shares could play a crucial role in helping keep First National afloat. From a filing made with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on June 15:

During 2008, adversity within the financial services industry and the economy in general contributed to an increase in the bank’s nonperforming assets and eroded our earnings. Based on the recent deterioration in the housing and real estate markets, including falling real estate prices, increasing foreclosures, and rising unemployment, and the negative impact these events have had on the financial services industry and banks’ loan portfolios, we believe that it is prudent to take all necessary steps to strengthen our capital position. In response to the decline in the residential housing market, we have taken what we believe to be an aggressive approach with respect to determining the probability of losses in our loan portfolio. In order to concentrate our efforts on the timely resolution and disposition of nonperforming and foreclosed assets, we have formed a special assets management group. This group’s objective is the expedient workout/resolution of assigned loans and assets at the highest present value recovery. To that end, we have been carefully exploring a variety of capital-raising alternatives including issuance of additional shares of common stock.

The company will need to raise additional capital to absorb the potential losses associated with the disposition of its subsidiary bank’s nonperforming assets and to increase capital levels to meet the standards set forth by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”). Due to the financial condition of the bank, the OCC has required that our board of directors sign a consent order with the OCC which conveys specific actions needed to address certain findings from the OCC’s recent regulatory examination and to address our current financial condition. We entered into a consent order with the OCC on April 27, 2009, which contains a list of strict requirements including a capital directive, which requires the bank to achieve and maintain minimum regulatory capital levels in excess of the statutory minimums to be well-capitalized, specifically to achieve and maintain Tier 1 capital at least equal to 11% of risk-weighted assets and at least equal to 9% of adjusted total assets by August 25, 2009.

Additional common shares may be issued by the company in connection with equity financing to raise capital, current or future equity compensation plans for the company’s directors, officers, and employees, and other corporate purposes. As of the date of this proxy statement, the board of directors does not have any understandings, agreements, or commitments to issue common stock of the company or to reserve additional common stock for issuance under the company’s current or future equity compensation plans.

First National has the discretion to offer the additional shares of common stock to whomever it chooses and is not obligated to first offer the shares to existing shareholders. That means current shareholders can expect to see common stock value and earnings per share diluted if the amendment is approved and additional shares issued.

First National, the parent of First National Bank of the South, lost $44.8 million in 2008 and another $1.4 million during the first three months of this year. Its stock trades for around $1 a share.

First edition of Federalist Papers for sale


An Indiana National Guard officer training for his second tour in Iraq could reap a windfall for a 1788 first edition of “The Federalist,” which he bought for $7 while in high school.

Capt. Nathan Harlan was 16 when he bought the 227-page book in 1990 after his mother spotted it among book stacks as they browsed at a South Bend, Ind., flea market. Harlan’s high school history class happened to be discussing “The Federalist” — also known as “The Federalist Papers” — that same week, so he knew the book was special, according to The Associated Press.

It could sell for tens of thousands of dollars when it’s auctioned tonight by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas.

“The Federalist” was a two-volume set published months after the Constitution was drafted in September 1787 in Philadelphia. A series of 85 essays, it helped rally support for ratifying the document that provided the federal government’s framework, said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at The Library of Congress.

The essays were written under a pseudonym by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to focus attention on their pro-ratification arguments.

Madison is generally credited as the father of the Constitution and became the fourth President of the United States. Hamilton was an active delegate at the Constitutional Convention, and became the first Secretary of the Treasury. Jay became the first Chief Justice of the United States.

After displaying his find in a shadowbox for 19 years, Harlan decided in April to sell it on eBay in part to make some money but also because no one else in his family appreciated the book, according to The Associated Press.

Harlan did an Internet search for “The Federalist” just before listing the book on the online auction site. He changed his mind about eBay when he saw that Heritage Auction Galleries sold a complete two-volume set last year for $262,900 — a lofty price aided by the fact that it was in its original form and had been owned by a Revolutionary War soldier.

Harlan owns just a single volume, and its leather cover has been replaced, but the auction house estimates it will sell for $8,000 to $12,000. James Gannon, Heritage’s director of rare books, calls that range “very conservative” and says bidding could push the final price between $20,000 and $30,000 because the book is sought-after, The Associated Press reported.