Mark Sardella at Garcia Street Books

My work in energy is profiled in a new book entitled "Voices of the American West" by Corinne Platt and Meredith Ogilby, and I'll be at Garcia Street Books in Santa Fe this Saturday to sign copies. I am very proud to be included in this book alongside energy pioneers such as Amory Lovins and Randy Udall. The book is currently #4 on the Denver Local Bestsellers List!

Courtney White, Executive Director of the Quivira Coalition, is also profiled in the book and plans to be there on Saturday as well.

Corinne and Meredith are coming down from Colorado for the event, so come on out on Saturday at 2:00 for a discussion and refreshments and to get a signed copy of the book! See you there!

For details, call 505.986.0151


Because mandatory auto insurance is working so well?

I have always fought against energy industry attempts at forced-purchase laws, because I think one of the most important aspects of fair markets is for the consumer to have the right to say "no thanks". It's hard to jack consumers too hard when they have the ability to walk away and not purchase at all.

So naturally I am anxious about the passage of mandatory health insurance laws, and this week I received a good reminder about how well mandatory auto-insurance is working out. Check this out:

Despite a perfect payment history and a 791 credit score, Chase Bank decided last month to lower the credit limit on one of my charge cards to a level just slightly above the balance I have on the card. Holding a balance close to your limit is seen as risky by the industry, so rating agencies responded by lowering my credit score. My automobile policy holder, Travelers, noticed this and decided to jack the premium on my auto policy by 17 percent, despite our seven-year history together with no claims or traffic violations. They sent me a very nice letter explaining that this is accepted industry practice but they can't tell me how or why they did it, because the methodology by which they determine auto risk based on consumer behavior is a secret.

It's bad enough that borrowers who don't pay and drivers who have accidents must suffer abuses from shifty creditors and insurers, but now even those with perfect records are apparently fair game for punishment too.

The market for products that are mandated by law or non-discretionary simply cannot be entrusted to profit-driven providers. Mandatory, for-profit health insurance will be a disaster for consumers -- largely for reasons that aren't discussed in debates or reported on the nightly news.

For a better understanding on how we can help one another learn to end the cycles of abuse that pervade our society, check out Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire.