Danish misses point
On Boulder’s electricity municipalization issue (“Municipal power is cheap in Longmont, but not in Boulder,” Danish Plan, July 28), Paul Danish writes that Boulder will face much higher costs than the Longmont municipal power utility because of Boulder’s priority on renewable energy. He attributes this higher potential cost to the present differential between coal and renewable sources, but it does not follow that Boulder will pay more. Unfortunately he misses the fundamental distinction between base-load generation and renewable generation. A basic paradigm shift is taking place in electricity today. Since the beginning of electricity over 100 years ago, the dominant paradigm has been based on a dependency on steady-state, fixed, baseload generation using coal or nuclear plants that are not (and cannot be) quickly turned up or down. Quickresponse natural gas-fired turbines have been mainly used as a “peaking” source to back up the coal baseload when sudden demand arises.
However, a new paradigm is now emerging that is based on renewable sources that are inherently variable, distributed and unpredictable. Renewables must be complemented only by quick response backup sources such as gas turbines, hydro or storage sources. In shifting to renewables, the concept of baseload generation becomes fundamentally incompatible with renewable generation because the base-load generation is inflexible and requires that renewables be “curtailed” whenever they produce too much energy. “Curtailment” is turning off wind (or solar) in order to burn more coal.
The challenge to be faced by the new Boulder municipal utility will be how to gradually reduce dependency on base-load generation (as used in Longmont) while increasing agile use of wind, solar, with natural gas fill-in as better storage technologies become available. Danish over-simplifies and polarizes the problem by referring to “base-load renewable power” — an oxymoron. Rather, the problem is actually one of how to move gradually from a base-load coal-burning system toward a smarter variable renewable source system, over time. Boulder is less seeking cheaper electricity (as in Longmont) so much as moving as rapidly as possible toward renewable sources over time, while keeping parity with present Xcel rates. Danish is not alone — the fundamental conflict between base-load dependency and renewable generation is one of the most poorly understood concepts in the discussion today.
In any case, the overriding issue in the Boulder municipalization ballot [question] is where these policy decisions will be made — in Boulder or in Minneapolis?
In his article on Aug. 11, Paul Danish thinks he smells a rat — “several in fact.” (“Banning corporate personhood would destroy U.S. economy,” Danish Plan.) Unfortunately, he never follows up on this analogy — just as he fails to supply any logic to his bizarre and exaggerated claims regarding the economy and politics. I would like to point out how they are without merit, and seem to be based on emotion and myth rather than logic and fact.
I would also like to point out that I am the primary organizer for the Move To Amend affiliate in Boulder, part of the national organization (movetoamend.org), and so felt at pains to respond to Mr Danish.
The myths that Danish seeks to promote are multiple and, frankly, outlandish; here’s a summary:
• that banning corporate personhood would destroy the economy • that liberals seek to “rig American election laws in their favor” • that corporate personhood is one of the “defining characteristics of the corporation” • that corporate personhood is “tightly bound up with … limited liability” • that corporate personhood “made possible … capital accumulation that gave birth to … the industrial revolution and the modern economy” • that banning corporate personhood would inhibit corporations’ ability to raise capital and therefore “stick a dagger into the heart of the American economy” and as a result we “would be plunged back into the 17th century” • that such a referendum is “an all-out attack on the American economic system” Not one of these statements is even remotely true, as anyone familiar with the economic history of the United States knows. Were this a magazine article instead of a newspaper letter, there might be space to cite all the evidence to soundly refute them.
Instead, I would like to point out to Mr. Danish, and his proud libertarian ways, that the American revolution was in large part fought against large English corporations that monopolized the colonial economy on behalf of an English king, and whose soldiers enforced that economic order. Thus it was that corporations were kept on a very short leash for the first 75 years of our country’s existence, and I believe our economy did just fine. It was not until the post-Civil War era, when the railroad barons sought to enlarge their empires, that corporate lawyers began to establish, solely by court precedent, the legal fiction that corporations are entitled to constitutional rights. Such corporate “personhood” has never been voted on by any American legislative body, anytime, anywhere, and the word “corporation” is not mentioned at all in the Constitution, nor in any of its amendments, nor in the Declaration of Independence.
Unfortunately, we seem to now be in the position of again mounting a revolution to retake our economy back, this time from a plutocratic corporate elite instead of corporations charted by an English king, who seeks not only to dominate our economy and our culture, but our political and legal system as well. Not to mention periodically wrecking the national economy with their speculative investing, and sucking the blood out of the middle class through slashing of services, outsourcing of jobs and wage repression in every possible way.
The Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, which allowed corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to politics, and said that by doing so corporations are exercising their First Amendment rights, which they are as fully entitled to as any American citizen, was the last straw. Many Americans agreed that such a decision will be the undoing of democracy in the country — meaning one person, one vote — and stepped up in reaction to that decision to take part in this nationwide, truly grassroots campaign and say, in one voice, “We move to amend!” I am in great hopes that Boulder will take that step this fall, when the people of Boulder will get to vote on it.
Setting record straight
(Re: “Clear-cut case,” Cover story, Aug. 4.) I regret my actions being characterized as “Burch bought his way out of a five-acre clear-cut listed on the initial plan.” I have posted a piece called Living with Wildfire on my blog here: http://godsfaintpath.com/living-withwildfire.
These excerpts share my view.
When the local Forest Service began working on the James Creek Fuel Reduction Project, we took interest. This project affected the National Forest around our home, so we got involved.
For three years, we attended meetings and worked on solutions. Many of our neighbors reacted negatively to the proposal. Thinning efforts in the past did not end well. I didn’t want to antagonize officials charged with creating a plan, but wanted to minimize the ecological damage done.
We enrolled our property in the Forest Ag program, and for years have been thinning our forests. At the same time, I was going to meetings about the Forest Service’s plans, I was also mitigating our land, learning more than I ever wanted about forest ecology.
After their environmental assessment, the Forest Service published plans. I and many of my neighbors submitted comments, but not much changed in the plans. One change did come about. The original plan called for creating 15- to 25-foot crown spacing. Given the dense forests, the result would be removal of the trees. The locals went ballistic. Last time thinning like that was done, the winter winds blew down the rest of the tress. They listened and changed the plan to remove 30 percent of the trees, and then come back in a few years to thin again.
I still found the plan unacceptable.
The officials said, “In 50 years, you won’t see any scarring from this work.” They took the long view, didn’t mind leaving a huge visual mess. This meant we would be stuck with a horrible mess in the forests around us for the rest of our lives. The plan prescribed mechanical treatment and a five-acre patch cut on our property line. Patch cuts are landing zones for quarter-acre piles of logs and slash. I began to consider legal action.
We attended another meeting, with our regional forester, Christina Walsh. I asked her if it were possible to do a private/public partnership for the treatment of the mountain behind us. I was willing to invest $20,000 in reducing the damage by doing hand-thinning. She responded, “I’ll have to look into it.” I told her, “It will cost me that much to sue you and make you do the right thing. I would rather invest that money in a solution, rather than a fight.” The conversation ended. Yet, in the final plan, patch cuts on our side of the mountain disappeared. So, I dropped the matter.
I exercised my legal rights as a citizen in this process. Describing it as you did implies corruption. I take offense at the implication.
Gregg Burch/Gold Lake Road
I read Pamela White’s article titled “To cut or not to cut” (Uncensored, June 23) on male circumcision that accompanied the phallic cover by Susan France. The history of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg is a fascinating glimpse into America’s masturbation aversion of the late 19th century and the use of circumcision to eliminate this “evil” practice. I have a copy of Plain Facts for the Old and Young, dated 1882, by Dr. Kellogg. On pages 428-429, under the heading “A Dreadful Sin,” is the following:
“The sin of self-pollution is one of the vilest, the basest, and the most degrading that a human being can commit. It is worse than beastly. Those who commit it place themselves far below the meanest brute that breathes. The most loathsome reptile, rolling in the slush and slime of its stagnant pool, would not demean itself thus. It is true that monkeys sometimes have the habit, but only when they have been taught it by vile men or boys.” (Italics added.)
The Boulder Weekly may want to alert the Denver Zoo to be on the lookout for vile men and boys teaching masturbation to the other primates at the zoo. It gives Bedtime for Bonzo a whole new meaning.
On a more serious note, although Ms. White did a great job, as usual, in covering the topic, I was disappointed that she concentrated on the Jewish practice rather than the Islamic principles of male circumcision. The Islamic religion-government represents nearly one out of every four humans on the planet. Demographers tell us that due to Muslim immigration and high birth rates, Muslims will become the majority population in Europe during the 21st century. As a consequence, male circumcision will become the rule, not the exception, in Europe. With that said, I suspect the issue of male circumcision will be the least of native Europeans’ worries as they try to cope with being a minority living under some form of “Sharia” (Islamic law) in their own countries.
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