Letters: 1/5/17

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Keep it up

Thanks for the terrific article written by Zach Evens on the exhibit Weathering Climate: Art, Science, and Sustainability at NCAR in the Dec. 22, 2016 issue of Boulder Weekly [Re: Boulderganic, “The union of science and art.”]

Some tiny tweaks and omissions likely due to lack of space are: the exhibit will be up until January 15th; it was part of HOVAB (History of Visual Arts in Boulder) — thanks for covering other HOVAB exhibits in BW!; Lisa Gardiner, from the UCAR Center for Science Education, and I co-curated the exhibit, pulling from a selection of arts/science works commissioned by EcoArts Connections since 2007.

What was especially good about Mr. Evens’ article was how he described the arts/science collaborations, interviewed some of the collaborators, and was able to weave in information about climate change, renewable energy and other topics.

As Aviva Rahmani, one of the artists interviewed wrote after reading the story: “What a fabulous article drawing attention to our imminent dangers at this critical time in American history.”

Thanks BW and BW writers for all your work!

Marda Kirn, EcoArts Connections/Boulder

Tweeting wisdom from a PEOTUS?

Give us a break.

One cannot govern (or even communicate) effectively in 140 characters or less.

It would appear that some Americans have just selected a spoiled 12 year old with a VERY thin skin and a short attention span as leader of our previously well respected nation… SAD.

So very sad indeed.

Tommy Holeman/Christiansted USVI

Minimum wage negative effects

By a wide margin (55-45 percent) Colorado voters approved hiking Colorado’s minimum wage in stages to $12 per hour by 2020 and increasing it thereafter based on inflation. Voters in three other states (Arizona, Maine and Washington) also approved minimum wage hikes on November 8th. The outcomes of these elections were no surprise. Hiking the minimum wage is popular at the ballot box. It almost never loses.

Voters want do the right thing by voting for minimum wage increases to help the working poor, but is hiking the minimum wage really effective at keeping people out of poverty?

The poorest of the poor are unemployed, and therefore increasing the minimum wage can’t possibly help them because they don’t have jobs. Increasing the minimum wage makes it more difficult for the unemployed poor to obtain employment. If someone can’t find work at $8.31 per hour, they’re going to have greater difficulty finding work now that we’ve increased the minimum cost to employ them.

The minimum wage doesn’t guarantee anyone a job. In fact it prohibits employment of anyone whose labor is worth less than the minimum.

If someone’s labor is worth only $6 per hour but the minimum wage is greater than $6 per hour, they will be forced to be unemployed. They’ll be denied the opportunity to gain job experience and on-the-job training that could eventually make their labor worth more than the minimum. The minimum wage could lock them into perpetual poverty.

If the minimum wage is an effective poverty-fighting weapon with no downside, why be cheap and only increase the minimum to $12 per hour? Why not increase the minimum wage to $30 per hour and thereby lift the poor well into the middle class? If fighting poverty is as simple as raising the minimum wage, why don’t poor countries, such as Haiti, solve their poverty problems by increasing their minimum wages to $12 per hour or higher?

Some people claim that increasing the minimum wage doesn’t have a negative impact on jobs, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that increasing the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to President Obama’s proposed $10.10 per hour would most likely result in about 500,000 lost jobs. $12 per hour is nearly 19 percent more than Obama’s proposed increase, and its negative impact on jobs will be all that much greater.

Minimum wage’s strongest supporters are labor unions, but most union employees earn much more than the minimum wage. Why then does minimum wage have such strong support from labor unions? It’s not because labor unions have compassion for the working poor. It’s because they don’t want low-wage low-skilled poor workers competing with their highly-paid skilled labor. Low-skilled poor workers are actually getting screwed for the benefit of highly paid union members by minimum wage.

Chuck Wright/Westminster

Danish’s electric bill

Paul [Re: Danish Plan, Dec. 22, 2016] has completely left out the immense efficiencies of modern technology and miniaturization that can greatly reduce our electrical usage:

1. LED lights use 10 times less energy than incandescents and less than half what CFCs do.

2. A modern LED TV uses less than one-third what an old fashioned TV the same screen size did.

3. Miniaturization means that for a solo person like me, a big-screen smartphone and a tiny keyboard replace an entire office (typewriter, computer, phone, fax, scanner and files) AND entertainment/living room: it’s my TV, clock, radio, player and a room of records, CDs and tapes, not to mention a connection to libraries of newspapers magazines, books and the entire internet.

Now I only need to heat, clean, maintain and pay for a bedroom, kitchen and bath.

All I need for a basic kitchen is a 90-watt compact fridge, a 300-watt rice cooker and a 5-watt LED light. So that too can be put in the bedroom, along with the “office” and “entertainment” rooms.

4. Similarly my new electric bicycle will have 2 horsepower, go 40 mph-plus on the flats, use about 20 times less electricity than an electric car and 90 times less energy than a regular car. It takes 10 or 20 times less space to park, hardly contributes to congestion and gets out of harm’s way much faster than a regular bike. For solo trips in town it’s faster than a car and you can park it closer.

Lots of millennials live a very portable life like this and quite a few retired people like me. It’s very liberating. It’s not for everyone but it gives you an idea how we can all downsize and be happier. Why spend our lives housing, powering and maintaining dinosaur appliances?

The electric bike is WAY more fun than a car. No license registration or insurance.

Smaller houses are more easily solar heated, which would greatly reduce our natural gas usage in Boulder.

Unfortunately, City policy requires lots of insulation, but not the use of available solar energy for heating. If you’re in a sunny place, money is far better spent on big southerly windows, and some way to store the heat, than lots of insulation. All the new luxury buildings on the north side of Canyon Boulevard near City Hall should be solar heated but none really are.

Evan Ravitz/Boulder

Israel prospers as America declines

For the first time, an American administration has finally stood up to Israel with President Obama’s decision on Friday, Dec. 23 not to block a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements and colonization of the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has disingenuously called the resolution anti-Israel and in a pique summoned ambassadors from all 14 Security Council countries, including the U.S., on Sunday Dec. 25, Christmas Day, in protest.

This year Congress voted to give Israel $38 billion over 10 years or $3.8 billion a year; yet, Netanyahu wanted $50 billion. Israelis receive universal healthcare at American taxpayers’ expense; yet, in 2016, 48.6 million Americans were uninsured. In Israel, higher education is basically free. All of Israel’s nine public universities, and some of its colleges, are subsidized by the government, and students pay only a small part of the actual cost of tuition; yet, American students have to go into significant debt to get a college degree.

The U.S. is ranked 29 of developed nations for childhood poverty. Life expectancy in the U.S. is declining and families are deteriorating as Americans work harder just to survive. Why should average Israeli’s quality of life prosper, at American taxpayer expense, while the average American suffers and their quality of life declines? Wouldn’t it be more intelligent to spend $3.8 billion on subsidizing American healthcare and education than Israel’s?

Andrew J. O’Connor/Lafayette

New Year’s Resolution

New Year’s resolutions should be pretty obvious, particularly when it comes to diet: 2017 will go down in history as the year when plant-based meats have revolutionized the food industry.

A dozen start-ups, led by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are creating plant-based burgers and other meats that are more delicious, convenient, and healthy than the old-fashioned animal-based variety. They are backed by tech industry pioneers like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Google principals Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Even animal meat behemoth Tyson Foods has announced a $150 million venture capital fund to explore and invest in these products.

The plant-based food revolution is going mainstream. Hundreds of school, college, hospital and corporate cafeterias have embraced Meatless Monday. Fast-food chains Chipotle, Panera, Subway and Taco Bell are rolling out plant-based dinner options.

And American consumers are responding, with fully one third reducing their intake of animal-based meats, milks, and other food products.

Let’s make this New Year’s resolution about exploring the rich variety of delicious, convenient, healthy plant-based dinners, lunchmeats, cheeses, milks and ice creams available in every supermarket. The internet offers tons of recipes and transition tips.

Rudolph Helman/Boulder

The Russians and who else

Republicans are counting on the Russian email hacking controversy going the way, like Trump’s tax returns, of the 24/7 news cycle: here today, gone tomorrow. Foreign interference in an election is both illegal and unconstitutional. There is also a distinct possibility that the Russians were cued in by the Trump campaign, and one has to suspect that our own intelligence agencies were aware of the content of the Clinton campaign email messages.  Further, in the middle of the Comey controversy, conservative talk radio was spreading an alarm of coups and counter-coups within the FBI. Could a rogue faction of the FBI be involved here? We have a right to know.

Robert Porath/Boulder