Letters 4/7/22

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Definitions first, please

Thanks to Mark Fearer for addressing the current dire situation for renters in Boulder. Rents have been rising dramatically along with housing sale prices, but renters tend to be of lesser means than potential buyers, and in general price increases will hit them harder. So it’s appropriate to give their burdens more of our attention.

Mr. Fearer focused his opinion piece on rent control (RC). This is a good topic to discuss, but it can cover a wide range of regulations, from limits on exorbitant rent increases all the way to locking rents at current rates. Mr. Fearer never specifies just what he means by RC, leaving us only to guess. This is unhelpful. Reasonable renter protections are well-justified and worth considering for Boulder. Rigid controls, on the other hand, have been failures in cities including New York and San Francisco, resulting in problems like “ghost tenants” (the rental equivalent of vacation-home owners) who benefit to the exclusion of everyone looking for an apartment to rent.

Mr. Fearer also fails to fundamentally understand economics. He says that housing supply doesn’t affect prices. But economics doesn’t say supply affects prices; it says the relationship of supply and demand affects prices, and there’s gobs of evidence to demonstrate this, including in the housing market. In fact we have a recent, tragic example: the Marshall Fire destroyed over 1,000 homes, while demand stayed roughly steady. The result was prices immediately went up. On the flip side, if we could magically conjure up 1,000 homes (or more!), again keeping demand steady, prices would fall as landlords and sellers competed for renters and buyers.

Our housing crisis is dire enough that we need both sensible regulatory responses and market responses. Be suspicious of anyone who dismisses either out of hand.

Kurt Nordback/Boulder

Wake up from woke nonsense with Russia

Putin’s recent military actions and his outrageous speech hinting of nuclear conflict and comparing Ukraine’s government to Nazi’s (quite remarkable when their Jewish President was elected by 73% of the vote) proves that his intentions are only motivated by a manic attempt to re-assemble the geography of the former Soviet Union rather than a desire to protect his own people.

However a big part of the blame for this war is the ineptitude of the Biden Administration in not applying pre-emptive sanctions coupled with meaningful diplomacy. There is no coincidence that both Russian incursions into Ukraine were committed during Democrat administrations that Putin saw as feckless and weak. By the time our commander in chief “woke up” it was too late, the invasion had already begun.

There are further steps we can take with truly meaningful sanctions. We can cut off Russia from the world’s foreign currency markets and cancel Russia’s access to SWIFT transfers that would cripple their economy.

We must also reverse the lunacy that the left wing Democrats have created in destroying our nation’s energy independence. This has not only shut down our pipelines but also destroyed tens of thousands of American jobs. It also created grave foreign policy failures by causing our allies to have to rely on Russian gas and oil exports rather than our own. This was done with two strokes of Biden’s pen when he cancelled the Canadian/American Keystone XL Pipeline and then approved the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Europe. This is exactly what gave Putin the currency to fuel his war machine and his leverage to threaten cutting off Europe’s gas supply if they agreed to sanctions.

What is truly lost on our leadership, but not on the people of America, Europe and the Ukraine, is this fight is fundamentally about freedom and the type of world we desire our children to grow up in. Today I heard an interview with a Ukrainian mother, Olena Gnes, carrying her 5 month old baby in her arms. She talked of freedom and Putin’s desire to steal it from her country. She also spoke of the threat Putin poses to the rest of Europe. A common citizen who loves her children has spoken more eloquently than any world leader.

—Brett Kingstone/Orlando, Florida

Convert all oil companies to utility companies

​​Americans should ask this fundamental question: What is the difference between what a public non-profit utility company provides and what a private for-profit oil company provides? After all, they both sell energy to all United States citizens. The difference is that natural gas and electricity are sold in the form of a public good, whereas oil is sold in the form of a private good. Accordingly, on the grounds of promoting national security, the U.S. Congress should convert all oil companies to utility companies. This would eliminate the windfall profits and force the oil industry to earn just enough income to cover operating expenses just as natural gas and electric utility companies are required to do. The resulting drop in gasoline prices would further stimulate the economy and lighten the energy stranglehold upon the United States by the Middle East. It would also eliminate the influence of the oil lobby. In this case, desperate times call for deliberate measures. But as pathetic as the energy policy is in the United States, the effort to develop alternative sources of energy won’t really be accelerated until the oil dries up and the Saudi’s place solar cells all across their desert and then sell us the electricity.

Joe Bialek/Cleveland, OH

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