Michael Tavoliero: Your tax dollars get spent in ways unaligned with your values

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By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO

Taxes being redistributed contrary to taxpayer intent is a concern within the context of environmental funding.

While taxpayers may expect their tax dollars to be used to directly address environmental issues, the actual distribution and use of these funds often diverge from their intended purpose into political and ideological intentions.

Government funding earmarked for environmental protection is subject to allocation decisions made by policymakers, bureaucrats, and special interest groups. As a result, taxpayer dollars end up supporting initiatives and organizations that are not aligned with priorities or values of those paying the taxes.

While China (1.412 billion people) and India (1.408 billion people), countries with populations significantly larger than the United States population (331.9 million people), produce greenhouse gas emissions that greatly surpass the United States, there is little evidence of environmental groups gaining traction in those countries, due to lack of funds as well as lack of political influence.

In the United States, however, the labyrinth of the federal and state government bureaucracies and the lack of transparency in the allocation process make it difficult for taxpayers to track how their tax dollars are being spent, as well as comment their agreement or dissent. The lack of accountability leads to inefficiencies, waste, and even corruption within the environmental funding system.

Lobbyists and special interest groups distort the allocation of funds, as they advocate for initiatives that serve their own interests rather than the broader goals of environmental protection. 

Alaska entities like Chugach Electric Association and Matanuska Electric Association are examples.

The boards of both Alaska energy entities are influenced by special-interest groups whose prime intent is to affect the policy direction of intermittent renewable energy resources like wind and solar, over firm renewable energy resources like hydro, thereby impacting the economy of Southcentral Alaska. 

The phenomenon of “mission drift” is also a concern. Organizations originally established to address specific environmental issues gradually expand their scope or shift their focus to attract more funding as well as drive more policy influence. This results in resources being diverted away from critical environmental priorities towards less urgent or tangential activities.

Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent and to have a voice in shaping environmental policies and priorities. Without safeguards, there is a risk that environmental funding will continue to be influenced by factors other than genuine environmental stewardship, undermining the effectiveness and legitimacy of environmental protection efforts.

While we elect our representatives to champion our welfare and the success of our progeny, there is a genuine lack of direct oversight. Taxpayer dollars allocated for environmental protection flow through governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, research institutions, and regulatory bodies.

One issue is the overabundance of influence of special interest groups. The environmental sector attracts stakeholders, including environmental advocacy groups, industry associations, and lobbyists. These entities exert influence on the allocation of environmental funding to advance their own agendas or priorities.

As a result, taxpayer dollars are directed toward initiatives that serve the interests of powerful stakeholders, rather than addressing pressing environmental issues and taxpayer concerns. Environmental targets of these influences are directed at vaporous concepts which cannot be influenced by human beings.

Governmental bureaucracies responsible for managing environmental funding are prone to inefficiencies, red tape, bias and administrative bottlenecks. The complex processes involved in allocating, disbursing, and monitoring funds hinders the timely and effective implementation of environmental programs, resulting in suboptimal environmental outcomes.

Private environmental organizations and initiatives funded by taxpayer dollars experience mission drift over time. Originally established to address specific environmental challenges, these entities may gradually expand their scope or shift their focus to attract additional funding sources. While this bolsters their financial sustainability, it can dilute their effectiveness and divert resources away from core environmental priorities.

As an example of both being a governmental bureaucracy and an environmental entity, the National Park Service plays a crucial role in protecting and preserving America’s natural and cultural heritage, the organization has become susceptible to mission drift over time due to various internal and external pressures, including reliance on taxpayer dollars, changes in political priorities, and competing stakeholder interests.

Meaningful public engagement and participation are essential for ensuring that environmental funding reflects the priorities and values of taxpayers. However, the limited opportunities for public input in the decision-making process has marginalized voices of taxpayers and communities most affected by environmental issues. Empowering taxpayers to actively participate in shaping environmental policies and priorities may help ensure that environmental funding aligns with their interests and aspirations.

The challenges associated with the redistribution of taxes contrary to taxpayer intent in environmental funding must start with a concerted effort to enhance transparency, accountability, public engagement, and efficiency within the environmental governance system. 

In today’s vernacular, the unfortunate consequence of any pushback to self-serving agendas by taxpayers often become opportunities for bullying and intimidation. By fostering greater transparency and public participation, policymakers can help ensure that taxpayer dollars are effectively and responsibly utilized to address pressing environmental challenges and safeguard the planet for future generations.

Michael Tavoliero is a senior writer at Must Read Alaska.

10 COMMENTS

    • Michael,
      That’s because the Democrats don’t have any values, unless you imagine that child sex changes, brainwashing, history revision, racial bating, lying, cheating, environmental fraud, and pornography carry any human value credibility.

  1. “Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent and to have a voice in shaping environmental policies and priorities.” Tell me again what rights you have when your money is taken from you under the threat of force?
    ” Organizations originally established to address specific environmental issues gradually expand their scope or shift their focus to attract more funding as well as drive more policy influence.” Those organizations were originally established to further the marxist/maoist/globalist agenda. Only useful idiots believe otherwise.

  2. This is true in any representative society. It’s why we should be taxed as little as possible and for only the most necessary things.

  3. The dollars are far bigger at the federal spending level, but Alaska state government is rife with the left-wing agenda spreading throughout all 3 branches. Democrat legislators employ environmentalists who are between federal grants and need employment. One or more currently serving Alaska legislators serve on environmental extremist organization boards.

    Because the state employee classified level stretches up through the deputy director level most spending decisions and staffing level decisions are actually made at the supervisory bargaining unit tier. So we see on Facebook the State of Alaska health department people parroting the anti-hunting bullet rhetoric of the Brady Campaign (FKA Handgun Control, Inc.) telling us that lead core bullets are killing bald eagles and endangering children that eat game shot by Alaska hunters. We saw ADF&G devote 3 FTEs to shutting down the pulp mills under the banner of protecting salmon streams, and the listed originators of the 2018 anti-mining ballot measure were almost entirely recently retired ADF&G managers and biologists. Because of the union bargaining agreements no Republican governor can do anything whatsoever about this even if he/she isn’t lazy.

    ADF&G was the major proponent of switching Alaska waterfowl hunters to so-called nontoxic shot but I have never talked with anyone who saw one bird harmed by ingesting lead shot. And the enforcement did not extend to rural Alaska, only to the so-called urban hunters.

    Apart from the public employee union power over the agenda, the Dept. of Law employs the majority of anti 2A people and environmentalist attorneys in the state. Until this governor stopped the millions of state money going to Public Broadcasting every year we saw that left-wing organization receiving state oil and Permanent Fund money every year.

    The only remedy I can see is to reduce the size of government. Instead, each year we see state government increase in size and in spending levels. The hold the NEA has on what is being taught to K-12 students in Alaska is an entirely different topic but is another example of the same problem.

  4. Many people perceive our culture as a two dimensional of left vs right. However, it should be more accurately described as those populating the government bureaucracies, the establishment media, political parties and politicians, etc vs the common man. Every day the divide between the elites and the common man becomes more and more apparent. It is approaching a breaking point.

  5. Great article Michael.

    We’ve been slowly conditioned over time to accept these new special interests as acceptable.

    Non profit NGOs sound so harmless. In actuality, they’ve become powerful invitees into every aspect of this state’s business. It is reprehensible.

    Horrific examples were on display during last year’s tree bill that was passed. The process should anger and disgust everyone. Left wing radical environmental NGO Blue Source/TPG Anew was actually contracted and paid to prepare the powerpoint presentation that was used to sell and formulate the bill that eventually became law. It was garbage and still is Gretaesque carbon control grifting garbage.

    Verra, a WEF partner radical carbon trading company was trotted out as the primary “expert testimony”. Several citizens called in during testimony warning truthfully that Verra was nothing but a globalist, fraudulent carbon cartel. Legislators sat starry eyed at the promise of millions of dollars to come during their propaganda time share presentation and actually WALKED OUT during public testimony.

    In a rare display of purchased, coopted, caucus ridden obedient non-partisanship, the bill is now the law of the land. Who is participating in this grift and fraud and at what levels goes unreported. We’ve not heard a peep but soon after the bill was passed Verra’s CEO resigned amidst reporting of 90% fraud rate.

    Fast forward to today. We see on social media the likes of NGO Launch Alaska posts of them standing on the steps of the capital with huge grins proclaiming success at giving the governor and legislature their priorities. Yes, we know.

    We see NGO REAP (Greta renewable cartel) has been involved at every level of our precious energy infrastructure as an invited “stakeholder”.

    The word stakeholder should be evaluated with special scrutiny and legislation. I longingly reminisce about the good old days when the NGOs stakeholders and unions were considered radical special interests and not the citizen!

    It seems common practice that every single task force and committee hearing scrapes the bottom of the septic tanks for “stakeholders” who aren’t or shouldn’t be involved in spending our money, authoring legislation or courting our legislators!

    It is so weird how over a few decades the Marxist/fascist process of “stakeholderism” has been broadly accepted.

    Show me in The US Constitution or The Alaska Constitution where it mentions the den of slithering stakeholders at all? Where does it call for inclusion of or deferral to these non-profit (yeah, right) guns for hire?

    Full stop. It is a time for a call for realignment and prioritization with rules and boundaries. This free range access and infestation needs some controls placed on them.

    • Great article, great comment. Unfortunately I have more to add on TGP.

      “The climate crisis is the biggest challenge facing our planet today. We’re confronted with nothing less than the most significant global economic transition since the industrial revolution, which is going to require the complete transformation of the global energy system.” – Hank Paulson, TPG Rise Climate Executive Chairman.

      Paulson served as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Treasury and before that had over thirty years at Goldman Sachs as their Chairman and CEO.

      TPG is a leading global alternative asset management firm with approximately $139 billion in assets under management. In June 2023, TPG was ranked 6th in Private Equity International’s PEI 300 ranking of the largest private equity firms in the world.

      As you stated we first learned about TPG when looking at the players involved in the Carbon Management Legislation from the 2023 Alaska legislative session. We learned that a company called BlueSource was awarded a $500K contract by the State of Alaska in February of 2022 for Carbon Offset Consulting Services. Shortly after, in June of 2022, BlueSource changed their name to Anew‚Ñ¢ in a merger of Bluesource and Element Markets – the combined entity under majority ownership by TPG Rise. In Anew’s announcement they state “TPG Rise is proud to back Anew as it becomes a full service, first of its kind provider of comprehensive carbon reduction solutions,” said Marc Mezvinsky, Business Unit Partner in TPG Rise and member of Anew’s Board of Directors. “Climate solutions like carbon credits are an integral part of the decarbonization strategies underway at companies and organizations around the world. Anew will continue to be a trusted partner for those organizations and play a critical role in enhancing the origination process and marketplace for a broad range of environmental credits.” Marc Mezvinsky is married to Chelsea Clinton.

      “The Rise Funds are a core pillar of TPG Rise, TPG’s global impact investing platform. Founded in 2016 by TPG in partnership with Bono and Jeff Skoll, The Rise Funds invest behind impact entrepreneurs and growth-stage, high-potential, mission-driven companies that are focused on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Rise Funds deliver capabilities and expertise across sectors and countries at scale, focusing on climate and conservation, education, food and agriculture, financial technology, healthcare, and technology opportunities. The TPG Rise platform has more than $12 billion in assets across The Rise Funds, TPG Rise Climate, and Evercare Health Fund.”

      In July of 2021, the Silk Road Fund (SRF) participated as an anchor investor into TPG Rise Climate Fund. “An anchor investor is the first investor to commit capital to a new fund. Anchor investors can have an important influence on a fund’s ability to raise meaningful amounts of capital; our interviews suggest that an early endorsement by a respected investor has a catalytic halo effect on a fund’s future investments.”

      Per Wikipedia – “The Silk Road Fund is a China Government Guidance Fund to foster increased investment in countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, an economic development initiative primarily covering Eurasia. The Chinese government pledged US$40 billion for the creation of the investment fund established on 29 December 2014. The Silk Road Fund is the only one of China’s sovereign funds which was formed with an explicit geo-economic strategic mission. It was created by President Xi Jinping to advance the policies and priorities of the Belt and Road Initiative and has closely followed the BRI’s focus on infrastructure, connectivity, resource development, and developing industrial capacity.”

      The TPG Rise Climate Fund that the Silk Road Fund invested into -“targeting to reach $7 billion hard cap in total capital commitment, will take a broad sector approach and focus on five core sub-sectors: clean energy, decarbonized transport, greening industrials, enabling solutions, and agriculture & natural solutions. This investment represents another significant effort in ESG investment of SRF, through which SRF aims to expand its green investment coverage, promote high-quality green Belt and Road cooperation, and enhance cooperation in international green financing. Together with TPG and other international investors, SRF will join the global efforts to combat climate change, and accelerate and scale climate solutions. Since its inception, SRF has been advocating and practicing ESG principles in its investment, and is committed to contributing to achieve the globally shared goal of “carbon neutrality”. SRF will continue to play a positive role in catalyzing capital to combat climate change and increase its footprint in green investment, and promote green Belt and Road cooperation.”

      These relationships go both ways. In 2018, TPG’s Rise Fund made its first China investment – alongside co-investor Carlyle Group, in $1B in Baidu Financial Services Group. “TPG and Carlyle are trying to take a piece of the fintech, payment market in China which is basically a duopoly at the moment by Tencent and Alibaba,” said Ryan Roberts, an analyst at Hong Kong-based financial services advisory MCM Partners.” Baidu is the leading Chinese search engine site on the internet. Du Xiaoman Financial is Baidu’s fintech arm. According to the Rise Fund, they are expanding inclusion in China’s financial sector and “It’s time for everyone to access the financial sector.” In 2019 it was announced – Du Xiaoman Launches Personal Credit Rating Product Against Its Rivals. From EqualOcean – “According to Du Xiaoman, Xiaomanfen (short for Panshi Xiaomanfen) is a comprehensive evaluation system based on big data algorithm that can provide a comprehensive personal credit score based on users’ personal feature, credit history, compliance, and other dimensions. At present, the credit score of Xiaomanfen ranges from 350 points to 950 points, and the Xiaomanfen users with a score of 700 or more will receive exclusive rights and value-added services in Du Xiaoman’s financial product. Xiaomanfen services are continuously upgrading, with a variety of credit consumption scenarios adding in its ecosystem.”

      I don’t know about you, but something about surveillance, financial lending based on compliance and behavior just doesn’t sound very “inclusive” to me. Afterall, it is China. Remind me again why private equity groups headquartered in the United States are in bed with Communist China?

      Back to the United States- The highly controversial Summit Carbon Solutions project involves carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities, 2000-mile CO2 pipeline network where the CO2 will end up in storage wells underground “permanently.” The project impacts South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. The idea is to capture CO2 from biorefineries that produce ethanol, transport it through thousands of miles of pipelines, cutting their emissions in half. The incentive to be achieved by the owners of this scam project is borne by taxpayers in the form of the 45Q tax credit, which is rife with fraud – to the tune of over 90%. CO2 is plant food – we need it to survive. Carbon is not a pollutant, and this idea that it is has been weaponized against us since the Obama administration declared it as such in 2009 when the Environmental Protection Agency declared that CO2 is a pollutant and poses a “danger” to human health and welfare, and, therefore, it must be regulated. Ethanol itself is already heavily subsidized. Ethanol is trash for fuel and even worse is what it does to the cost of food. This venture is to no known effect to the climate, and the underground storage component has not been tested nor does it have environmental impact studies completed either. There are no federal environmental regulations that are specific to CCS projects or associated pipelines. Since it is not a state sponsored project and cannot use existing right of ways, Summit Carbon Solutions has to use private property for the pipeline. As landowners are saying no to easements on their private land, Summit Carbon Solutions, a private company, has initiated eminent domain claims as a “public carrier” to justify stealing South Dakotan’s private land. Summit raised over a billion dollars in equity commitments for this project. $300M of the funds raised came from the TPG Rise Climate fund, where China’s Silk Road Fund participated as an anchor investor. Another large portion of the funds came from big oil Continental Resources – at no point in time have they been the good guys. Summit Carbon Solutions was a platinum sponsor of one of Governor Kristi Noem’s inaugural events in early 2023. There are about 5,300 miles of CO2 pipelines in the U.S., but that number could grow to more than 65,000 miles in the coming decades unless this nonsense is resisted in masse.

  6. I have a simple fix.
    Not only will it get a lot more eyeballs on Government spending, but it will also get a lot more people interested in government, elections, etc… in general.
    .
    Stop allowing your employer to withhold taxes from your paycheck. All workers must write a check to the IRS (and any state/local governments) at least once a month.
    .
    I will bet a lot of people will start saying…”Hold on a second here, I am paying WHAT??? a month? What am I getting for this?”

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