Letters: 5/4/17

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May’s flawed logic

Mr. May uses flawed logic in his article [Re: Guest Column, “Xcel went fishing and caught a few fish,” April 20] stating there will be $1.6 billion of Xcel profits over 20 years which Boulder County can claim for taxpayers. As a taxpayer, it would be nice if he was correct, but alas no. First, much can happen in 20 years and most forecasts fall apart after one or two years, let alone 20.

Second, profits don’t just appear automatically; government costs almost always surpass their private alternatives, as governments are not are designed to profit; think Colorado health co-op.

Third, comparative advantages give reason for businesses and people to specialize and trade. For example, I’d rather buy an iPhone than try to build one, or read Boulder Weekly than try to edit it myself. Among other reasons, it would cost a lot more.

If Boulder County decides to become a power company it will be an experiment, but it is unrealistic to think it will run as cheaply as Xcel. Xcel’s net profit margin is a moderate 10 percent. The County will have a hard time claiming any of that hypothetical $1.6 billion. It may still makes sense to municipalize even if it costs more. Opening up the grid to renewable energy is a worthy objective, but let’s use accurate statistics to decide on this important issue.

Duncan Coker/Boulder

A vicious cycle

I am concerned by several articles in the Camera recently. One dealt with a man in Longmont, released from prison who has been unable to find a place to live or a job. No one will hire him or rent to him because of his record. The other article concerned a man who was convicted of sexual assault and now cannot find a community to accept him.

What does it say about our society when a person has supposedly paid their debt by being incarcerated, but upon their release they are unable to be reintegrated? A vicious cycle starts when the intention is not to rehabilitate, but to punish. When the offender comes out, they have limited skills and perhaps justifiable anger at their treatment in prison and the lack of helpful programs.

Our system makes us complicit in this cycle because we are then fearful of them and unwilling to tolerate them in our communities.

At the Conference on World Affairs I was fortunate to hear James Bell speak about repairing our criminal justice system. He talked about how one of the most important things we must learn to do as a society is to work with our own fear. I believe this is a challenge that we need to consider carefully if we have any hope of fixing this shameful system.

Ellen Stark/Boulder