Letters: 2/28/19

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

On Venezuela

In today’s mainstream media, meaning among Hillary Clinton Democrats and all Republicans, Trump’s aggression against Venezuela is being viewed as a bold stroke for human freedom. But Venezuelan rightists are more fascist than freedom fighter, and unfolding here is another ugly episode in “regime change” and modern American empire. Washington’s rationales are preposterous, particularly its claims to have international law on its side.

An analogy: somewhere, from this world or elsewhere, there is an immensely powerful nation; its military power dwarfs even ours; it doesn’t like the United States, or at least, our government. Thus, SuperNation launches an economic blockade against our country, crippling us. It claims it’s doing this for the most noble reasons, mind you: they’re incensed at the way President Trump is treating the American people. And in their deep compassion for us, they want to help, to be a good and strong older brother who will see that right is done.

So, of course, they decide to recognize House Speaker Pelosi as our new president. She’s delighted, can’t stop passionately pounding her chest, her heart pulsating with “liberty” and “freedom!” Incredibly, many other governments, often at the insistence of SuperNation, now recognize Pelosi as our legitimate president.

But there’s resistance from some misguided souls in the American military and among a huge portion of the people; thus, SuperNation decides to send 5 million troops to sit on the Canadian border — for our own good, of course. As for generals who haven’t yet gone over to the “good guys,” they can be bought for five million apiece — mere pocket change for SuperNation. Congratulations, President Pelosi! And thank you, compassionate SuperNation, for saving us from the “bad guys.”

What our analogy leaves out is SuperNation’s desire to control Venezuela’s oil. Thus, Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, says overthrowing Venezuela’s government will allow American oil companies to “really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”

And how is it that democracy, the rule of a nation by its people, can mean submitting to the domination of a foreign power? Just what kind of “democracy” are we fostering in Venezuela? I believe the phrase is “puppet government.”

Those living in imperial nations are taught to believe that they’re making the world a better place, doing something noble and humanitarian. But there’s nothing vaguely democratic, humanitarian, decent or kind about running an empire; it’s the moral equivalent of owning slaves and running a plantation. Let’s free our “slaves” and wash the blood of neo-colonialism off our nation’s hands. Negotiations in Venezuela (as endorsed by the Vatican, Mexico and Uruguay) and an end to the blockade and all forms of aggression against that nation.

Paul Dougan/Boulder

Danish wrong on the
Green New Deal

Once again, Paul Danish seems more interested in scoring rhetorical points than providing realistic ideas to address the problems we face (Re: “The Green New Deal and the mother of all Kinsley gaffes,” Danish Plan, Feb. 14, 2019).

You know what? Nobody of consequence — left, right, center or otherwise — is going to support policies that provide income to those unwilling to work.

You know what else? Scientists tell us we are running out of time to prevent an absolute climate catastrophe. We’re already seeing a drying of Colorado’s climate, devastating fires and heat waves in California, and more powerful hurricanes. The humanitarian disasters in Syria and Yemen are partly the result of droughts caused by climate change. In a few years we’ll see refugees from regions with inundated coastlines. 

This is not hypothetical for the young people demanding action on climate and leading the effort for a Green New Deal. They’ll have to deal with what we’ve already seen, and much worse, for their entire lives.

Legions of those of us with kids, as well as those who just plain care, are working to leave our children a livable climate. We owe them nothing less, and a Green New Deal would be an outstanding down payment.

It’d be great if Paul Danish had something constructive to contribute. Right now he looks like a selfish bystander, sneering from the sidelines.

Eric Johnson/Boulder

Anderson wrong on Latin America

Glad to hear this opinion (Re: “Changes in Latin America,” The Anderson Files, Feb. 21, 2019) does not reflect that of the publication. I find the information above selective, of course reflecting the author’s opinion and political leanings, but unfortunately not inclusive of the “whole” truth. A reminder that:  Bolsonaro was elected in free and democratic elections; that previous left leaning leaders have presided over wide spread corruption, uncontrolled crime, and poverty, while making themselves ever wealthier with graft, money laundering — please Google “Lavajato” and “Odebrecht” for examples. Ex-president Lula da Silva (Workers Party) has just been indicted and is serving 13 years on various counts of corruption. Having lived in S. America myself, for many years, I would also like to state that while there have certainly been despotic military regimes, military governments have not always had a negative effect on their countries..and in many instances, were involving in combatting guerrilla warfare. Having been a general does not imply de-facto despotism  In fact, you need not look further than the United States, for an instance of benign military leadership, in which a general, Eisenhower, became President.

Jan George/via internet

Where’d money go?

Some announced Democratic candidates for president and a few freshman Congresspersons have urged higher marginal tax rates on those who have the means to pay more — much more. These ideas have drawn a good deal of attention. Conservatives can stop their hand wringing and get over their apoplexy now by realizing how this can work.

Consider a $50 million asset portfolio growing by 3 percent annually (exclude the primary residence, naturally). At a 70-percent rate the tax on that $1.5-million throw-off would be $1,050,000, leaving 450 grand of net new money. No retreat here; there’s still growth.

With similar brackets in effect during the late 1930s we still won World War II. So why are the wealthy whining?

Excessive concentration of wealth leads to economic calamities. It happened in the early 1870s and again in the 1930s. The one per cent contains nearly all of its wealth; they don’t throw it around the (“ordinary”) economy. How many steak and lobster dinner can one person eat daily? These folks invest the money; hence, it is in effect “frozen out” of circulation. And only money moving greases GDP.

But does this investment “create jobs?” Anyone who has looked long and hard at that sees (1) the lion’s share of the jobs doesn’t lasst; and (2) the employment register, read through the lens of payroll, is significantly skewed. Say the top five executives pull down $3 million each, not counting stock options, and the other 30 people draw $40,000 to $100,000 each. Make the total for that group, say, a bit north of $2 million. That makes the money score 15-to-2.

Provate schooling for Muffie and Skip may employ a couple of teachers, but who could say unequivocally these could not find employment elsewhere? Teachers may move for a number of reasons. The embarrassment of riches is a zero-sum game (Paul Krugman and Lester Thurow tell us), and don’t wish you can believe differently.

And don’t assume wealth automatically grants wisdom.

Gregory Iwan/Longmont

On the new NAFTA

The revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will soon come up for a Congressional vote to approve or disapprove.  The House of Representatives will be the principle battle ground over Trump’s recently renegotiated trade agreement for the US, Mexico and Canada.  The question is whether our representatives will stand up for the people or go along with Trump on a bad deal. 

Remarkably, there are some good points in the new version.  Shadowy international tribunals that enable corporations to sue governments and override democracy will be eliminated for the most part.  There are new requirements on the Mexican government to raise wages for Mexican workers so that loud sucking sound of American jobs leaving the country for super low Mexican wages will quiet down a bit.  Countries will no longer be forced to endlessly export precious natural resources.

But like all things Trump there are serious shortcomings.  Worker and environmental protections are spelled out, but with no enforcement.  The phrase “climate change” is nowhere to be seen in that document.  Food inspections at the border would be watered down risking more outbreaks of noxious food-borne diseases. Worst of all, Big Pharma has been offered a slew of extreme patent protections that would virtually guarantee higher drug prices and fewer generic substitutes.  The impact on public health in all three countries would be dire indeed.

Congress has the power to improve the revised NAFTA or kill it outright.  Congressional action may happen soon so it will be important for citizens to be vigilant.  Tell your representatives you want “fair trade” that benefits people and the environment not corporate-friendly “free trade” that profits large corporations at the expense of everyone else.

Ken Bonetti/Boulder

Powering Boulder on renewables by 2030

In an event that has received little general notice, the city has

reported the results of its Request for Indicated Pricing for

electricity provided by established, independent power producers to a

possible Boulder municipal electric utility. Among several price

proposals the city reported receiving, one has caught my attention: 100 percent

renewable electricity to be delivered to a Boulder municipal utility by

2030. This proposal lays to rest any claims that Boulder cannot get

affordable 100 percent renewable electricity in the foreseeable future. As

reported, in eleven years, our electricity can be 100 percent renewable, not

the 30-plus years proposed by Xcel. Furthermore, the wholesale cost of

this 100 percent renewable electricity would be substantially less than the

estimated cost of that provided by Xcel. The results of the Request for

Indicated Pricing and comparisons can be found through links on

bouldercolorado.gov/pages/latest .

Steve Whitaker/Boulder

Action on climate change

I am a student at CSU and an intern for the climate action group Defend Our Future. As a young professional seeking to join the workforce, these are times of great uncertainty. My generation is uncertain about the careers we will enter and the families we will start, and we have to wonder if the world will be healthy enough to support those careers and families in the coming decades.  This is not an exaggeration, and many young people feel real anxiety surrounding the future state of our planet if climate change is not addressed.

Last week, President Donald Trump spoke for an hour and twenty two minutes in the State of The Union Address and failed to mention climate change even once. Almost every president dating back to the elder George Bush has acknowledged the need to act on climate issues and the threat it represents to the United States and the world. In the past year, we have witnessed unprecedented weather events and two comprehensive reports regarding the urgency of the climate change. Last week, President Trump squandered an opportunity to unite an uncertain generation that clamors for action.

This is an issue that dwarfs the threats expounded on by the current administration. Climate change is the real national emergency. We need stronger leadership from the White House, but instead this Administration continues to ignore the threat. That’s why we need our Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, and our new Congress to demand action on climate change.

Braden Carey/Fort Collins

Russia aligns with GOP

Russia offers nothing that the GOP hasn’t been fighting for in decades.

Voter suppression, caging and gerrymandering are well-established GOP ploys that undercut our democracy, a word that you rarely hear exiting their mouths because they don’t believe in democracy anymore. By asserting that corporations are people, Citizen’s United, a right-wing Supreme Court product, gave corporations unlimited advantage to influence voters in our elections. Commandeering votes from the courthouses, porches and mailboxes of the aged and unsuspecting are well established and recently exposed GOP crimes to try to overcome the fact that their message is no longer palpable to the youth, minorities and the educated. Cheating them is not a weakness, it is a necessary muscle used to pry wins away from the rising democratic majority. That Russia is willing to jump in and lend a hand squelches no morals that haven’t already been squelched. “God made him president so we must follow and swallow” are comments I don’t swallow from those who have previously claimed that “Our country has lost its moral compass.”  Truth is Vladimir Putin helped make Trump president because the GOP couldn’t do it all on their own and are now finding themselves desperately without a moral compass. That we are sliding into Fascism is OK to the GOP as long as whites only are in control. No more messy voting, women’s rights, minority equalities, religious freedoms or gay rights to consider. All gone for good. Yeah, yeah, what could be better?… Freedom and democracy would be much better but not easier as we were told by our forefathers who had seen the worst in the old country then gave us a template and the vision to realize the importance of always fighting to keep freedom and democracy alive.

Tom Lopez/Longmont

Proud to move forward with muni

For me and many young Boulderites, the main reason to support

municipalization is the possibility that it will help the City reduce

our greenhouse gas emissions. We also certainly care about giving

ratepayers a fair shake, and even if we haven’t personally experienced

decades of rate hikes by Xcel, we all find the cost of living in Boulder

burdensome to the point that a lower electricity bill is an exciting

prospect. I and many of my friends are also excited about energy

democracy and the potential for new technologies to give individual

citizens meaningful control over their energy, and I’m optimistic that

municipalizing will make our grid decisions more democratic and enable

more of these innovations. However, ultimately climate change is the

greatest shadow hanging over every policy conversation I have with other

young people. We would, to a person, be unwilling to pursue lower rates

or more democratic control if they came at the cost of increased

emissions.

That’s why we were excited on Thursday when the City released the

results of its request to energy providers for indicative pricing

bids. At long last we learned the prospects for affordable renewables

under a municipal utility, and they’re all we could have hoped for.

Based on the results, Boulder could receive 89% of our power from

renewables by 2024, and at about two-thirds the cost of the power we get

from Xcel ($83.9 million vs. $123.6 million). This proves that the work

the City has done so far to municipalize our gird has been an excellent

investment, and it feels good to be part of a community that has

weathered years of doubt and uncertainty in order to do the right thing

on climate.

Conor J. May/Boulder

Shocked to agree with Danish

I cannot believe this. For perhaps the second time in the current century I agree with Paul Danish, who wrote of water supply (Re: “How to increase Colorado’s (and Arizona’s) water supply,” The Danish Plan, Jan. 3, 2019.) He is so spot-on here. I have often mused over state and local governments imposing building moratoria until water can be assured over the life of the mortgages at the least. Fat chance. Out here in Marlboro country property rights are WAY more important than property wrongs.

So, working on the growth (demand) side could make a good deal of sense. I was trained at the graduate level in urban and regional planning. I can entirely relate to intelligent control. Think “1,000 friends of Portland.” I have occasionally observed and thought about a parcel at the northwestern corner of the town of Firestone, where a realtor’s “for sale” sign was up with the onset of the great subprime crash. That sign’s paint wore off (to windward); now there is another. This parcel, roughly 40 acres, is flat as a billiards table. BUT, the water taps are reportedly $70,000 a pop. That’s right. Good and bad news here. Demand and supply push prices up. But tap prices may have little to do with water, per se. They have everything to do with policy, or the lack thereof.

Imagine if the land, selling (I haven’t checked on the current ask) for $250,000 a building lot, accounts fully for the assured [? This is the era of climate change, pardner!] domestic water supply. “Domestic” is the water use accorded the highest priority in the Colorado hierarchy of appropriations, other factors being equal. But there is a “rule of thumb,” wherein the lot price works out to 5-20 percent of the total “value” of the property once built. How many $1,250,000 homes do you think Firestone can swallow? What does that do to “affordability?” I use quotes here because that’s a pipe dream, in Firestone and nearly everywhere. Unless wages rise to $60 or even $90 per hour. Go ahead and wait for that.

We in the northern Front Range have heard of a “fix” for the water compact conundrum faced by the Colorado River Basin. Really! Good luck, gamers. Too bad our negotiators got rolled back in the 1870s. Or perhaps Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico (Territory) and Arizona (Territory) simply saw us coming. It’s a little bit late to allocate scarcity. No one wants any of it.

That leaves growth management as our way to a sustainable [dream on!] future. If you have confidence in that, I have this bridge in New York I need to show. It’s for sale. Cheap. Hey; they moved the London Bridge to Arizona; why not?

Gregory Iwan/Longmont

Beware the democratic socialists

I agree with The New York Times when they warn Nancy Pelosi not to give too much power to the newly-elected House Democrats who call themselves “Democratic Socialists.” They will be a minority of the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

I don’t enjoy being unkind or insulting toward anyone, even the Republicans in the Congress, a sizeable minority of whom are really scary “Survival-of-the-Fittest” Social Darwinists whose dream it is to abolish all of the safety-net programs, but, to me, you have to be a total and complete moron and idiot to call yourself a “democratic socialist,” and that includes Bernie Sanders who I like and agree with 90 percent of the time.

First of all, they are not true socialists because they do not advocate abolishing our capitalist economic system.

Second of all, if you believe that anyone can be elected president of the United States who calls herself/himself a “socialist,” then you must live in DreamLand and have drunk the Kool-Aid.

Third of all, where I do agree with them is in their belief that our federal government should do more and spend more to help the poor, the near-poor, the lower-middle-class, and the middle-class who are struggling to survive and to pay their bills.

They need to inform and educate the public to the fact that almost every single one of our traditional allies (if not all of them) have federal governments that do more and spend more (in proportion to their population sizes) than we do in the U.S. to help their citizens.

And, to paraphrase Al Pacino in the movie “And Justice For All,” for us in the U.S. to be right about this, all of these many other countries have to be wrong.

I don’t think so.

Stewart B. Epstein/via internet