S-A-F-E  Letters



Letters  2011

SAFE members have written numerous letters and columns over the years, of which the following is a representative sampling (most recent first):

December 17, 2011

Editor, News Journal

Obama is mistaken about Bush tax cuts

I find it odd that so many on the left are talking about repealing the so-called Bush Tax Cuts for “millionaires and billionaires.” It seems there is some revisionist history taking place.

Perhaps they are forgetting that tax brackets were lowered.  A new 10% tax bracket was created that primarily benefitted lower income taxpayers. 

Maybe they are also forgetting that families had more money to spend because of the increase in the per-child tax credit. Most married couples saw reduced taxes through an increase in the standard deduction.

In short, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts put more money in the pockets of Americans of all income levels, and not simply the millionaires and billionaires.  And like previous tax cuts, e.g., in the 1920s (Harding), the 1960s (JFK), and the 1980s (Reagan), the 2001-03 tax cuts sparked an economic recovery that lasted until the housing bubble burst (for unrelated reasons) in 2008.

In a recent Kansas speech, however, the president called the Bush tax cuts “two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history” and claimed they produced “the slowest job growth in half a century.” As Edmund Burke (a noted English statesman of the 18th Century) once observed, “ill conclusions can only flow from false propositions.” http://bit.ly/rCXnFt

Or to use a more contemporary reference, “garbage in: garbage out.”

The president and the left have set up some false propositions to justify the conclusion they want to reach.

R. Jerry Martin, Wilmington


December 14, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

To create jobs, cut taxes on businesses, red tape

I have never met Delaware state Rep. Gregory Lavelle, but I congratulate him here for his opinion column, “State must attend to job fundamentals.”  He really hit the nail on the head.

Lavelle points out that special grants from the state government come with red tape for the recipient[s] and more bureaucracy for the government to administer the grants.  Instead, he recommends reducing taxes for small business and cutting red tape and interference from the state government.  His ideas apply to the federal government as well as the state government.

Expanding on those ideas, with a focus on the federal government, efforts should start now to create jobs nationwide by reducing government interference with the free market.  I believe President Barack Obama could do this with executive orders but do not think he believes in the free market.  So, if I am right, it must be done by Congress by whatever means is available to them.

No doubt there is a lot of low hanging fruit there – regulations and red tape that could not survive if subjected to critical review.

This would be a good start toward more jobs, as entrepreneurs start and expand small businesses.  However, members of Congress must also face the fact that spending must be cut.

William E. Morris, Wilmington


November 26, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Cain, not Obama, merits our respect, support

We are told that we are to respect the president of the United States.

My question is why?

Respect is a two-way street, and it is quality earned, not just handed to someone.  For example, President Barrack Obama does not respect the likes of me because I believe and practice personal responsibility.

He thinks we should all depend on his big socialist government ways for handouts and dependency.

He does not respect those of us who have, for all of our lives, paid way more than our “fair share” of taxes to support our bloated and corrupt government.

He does not respect what made America the greatest nation on earth, due largely to the capitalist-entrepreneurial spirit, which he and his fellow Democrats and their Occupy Wall Street dupes decry.

I do not respect those who hate my country, and who are purposely trying to destroy it.

And for any out there who may say this is just a right-wing racist rant, let me say that I support, and have contributed to, Herman Cain, the black Republican candidate for president.

He does deserve respect.

James A. Venema, Hockessin 

[SAFE expresses no view on the characterization of the politicians mentioned in this letter, but we applaud the writer’s ringing support for personal responsibility and the capitalist-entrepreneurial spirit.  Further, while the office of president should be respected, the occupants of that office are and should be judged based on their values, their ideas, and their accomplishments.]


November 24, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Supercommittee failure could have lasting effect*

There will be lots of political posturing and recriminations about the supercommittee deadlock.  But the problems the committee wrestled with have not gone away, and a failure to start working on them now could have disastrous consequences. 

That’s not to say the budget can be balanced in one “grand bargain,” and some of the issues will surely carry into the 2012 elections or beyond. But it would be foolhardy to put the matter on the shelf for a year.  Here is a suggested alternative. 

[Under Congressional rules,] the US Senate is supposed to produce a budget resolution every year, but it has dispensed with this requirement since April 2009 [(re the Fiscal Year 2010 budget).]  I suggest the Senate end this incomprehensible fiscal abdication by doing one of two things:  Approve the budget for Fiscal Year 2012 that was passed by the House in April; or offer its own [budget] proposal so Americans can compare the two visions and weigh in as to which of them they prefer.

William Whipple III, Middletown

* Submitted title was “The fiscal path forward,” and material in brackets was deleted by the editors.


October 26, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Bold action the only way for US to alleviate debt

The committee of 12 US senators and representatives is having difficulty in agreeing on how to meet their goal of $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.  Even if they do agree, this is only one-tenth [one-sixth per current projections] of what is needed to stop adding to the $14 trillion US debt.

The basic problem is that many Americans refuse to give up something now to avoid very serious consequences later.  AARP and other seniors’ organizations pander to this shortsightedness by refusing to give up anything.  It’s like a rowboat drifting toward Niagara Falls on a hot day, and the rowers refusing to pull to shore because they’ll get sweaty.

I see two solutions.  One is for more Americans to realize the necessity of bold action – even if it means short-term pain – required to avoid financial disaster.  The other solution is for Congress to get out in front and take the bold action required, even if the American people are not on board.

When America regains its greatness, the responsible members of Congress will deserve the gratitude of all Americans.

William E. Morris, Wilmington


October 26, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Kaufman just another career politician

Columnist Ted Kaufman [formerly a US senator from Delaware] excuses the formation of the Marxist Occupy Wall Street crowd based on the actions of large banks.  Nowhere in the column is there a single mention of the actions of Messrs. Frank and Dodd and their collaboration with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

This is a great example of one career politician protecting other career politicians.  They do stick together.

Charles Oertel, West Grove, PA


October 21, 2011

Editor, The Delaware State News

EPA must act responsibly

"Environmental Protection" has a good sound.  Certainly, we need to protect our environment.  However, the EPA has gone way overboard in the name of protecting the environment.  Example:  Banning DDT, a relatively benign chemical that is extremely effective in killing malaria-spreading mosquitoes.  The ban spread to other countries, resulting in the death from malaria of millions of African children.

The EPA's designation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant is outrageous.  Carbon dioxide is crucial to human life, and its increased concentration benefits plant life, helping to feed the Earth's people.

Now, the EPA plans to regulate mercury from coal power plants, when the amount emitted by the coal plants is less than one percent of that going into the environment from other sources (Pombo & Givens, US House Resources Committee, Feb 2005).  If coal power plants are shut down, we'll have electrical outages.  Lost light and heat.  We can't afford that, especially now.

Job-killing regulations are being added by the EPA at an increasing rate, when we need more jobs.  The EPA has too many employees, and too large a budget.

Extreme measures taken in the name of environmental regulation are expensive, harmful, and counterproductive.  The EPA appears to be in the political pocket of extreme environmentalists, and is doing more harm than good.  Unless it can be reformed, the EPA should close its doors.  We'd be better off.

William E. Morris. Wilmington


September 26, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Esteemed scientists reject warming claims

It is rare that I’m compelled to respond to a reader’s view.  Specifically, I found Fred Schueler’s Sept. 15 letter promoting “the huge problems caused by global warming” to be misinformation of the highest level.  I did my research.  Apparently, Mr. Schueler did not.

It has very little to do with national politics.  It has everything to do with the integrity of some misguided segments of the scientific community.

I started my career as a research engineer at a local chemical company.  I’m one of over 31,000 scientists that simply do not embrace Al Gore’s alarmist theory.  My voice is very small, but consider others that share my thinking.

Ivar Glaever, a Nobel laureate, resigned last week from the American Physical Society in protest over the lack of evidence that man-made global warming was “incontrovertible.”

University of California Emeritus Professor of Physics Harold Lewis resigned last year.  He called man-made global warming “the greatest and most successful fraud I have ever seen in my long life as a physicist.”

The list of dissenters includes experts from Stanford and Princeton universities.  Add in Nobelist Robert Laughlin and Antonino Zichichi, president of the World Federal of Scientists.

Jerome Towe. Hockessin


September 23, 2011


The News Journal, Delaware Voice column

Subsidizing fuel cells is a bad deal for Delawareans

Gov. Jack Markell, the Legislature, and Delaware Department of Natural Resources Secretary Colin O'Mara are proposing to use Delaware’s electricity rates to subsidize solid oxide fuel cell development at the site of the old Chrysler plant located in Newark.  Their focus should be on developing less expensive new natural gas generation in Delaware, to keep electricity costs affordable and to help attract and retain real unsubsidized jobs. 

Instead, the proposed fuel cells cost at least 2 to 3 times more than combined cycle natural gas. This increased cost of electricity will translate into higher prices for everything and will destroy jobs in other sectors of the economy.

Fuel cells generate electricity by creating a chemical reaction when exposed to natural gas.  Solid oxide fuel cells, using natural gas as fuel, have been reclassified as a “renewable resource.”  This enables them to qualify for ratepayer subsidies under the Renewable Portfolio Standard reflected in the tariff.

Bloom Energy also expects to receive a special federal grant, if they receive swift approval.  This [would be] paid to them with borrowed money, at a time when the country can least afford it, further worsening the growing Federal deficit.

These crony capitalism deals enable Bloom Energy to be financed, and everyone pays above market rates for the electricity sold to the grid. Bloom intends to use the money to proceed with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of their stock. 

It is difficult to learn much about Bloom’s finances because it is a private company.  However, it seems reasonable to conclude, if Bloom had a viable business plan, they would head directly to Wall Street instead of using the political system to secure additional capital the private sector seems unwilling to provide.     

Further, if the Bloom tariff is “modified” by the legislature, they are paid the full amount of the 20-year tariff, collected from the ratepayers by Delmarva Power and paid to Bloom in a lump sum. Without this contractual guarantee, Bloom could not proceed with their IPO. This is a sweetheart deal for Bloom and a lousy deal for the ratepayers.

The governor, the Delaware Legislature and Washington have decided to use the citizens of Delaware to finance their gamble on Bloom, forcing them to pay higher electricity rates. If the technology was cost-competitive, it would not require their money.  Hopefully, with the recent bankruptcy of Solyndra, citizens will want to learn more about how the state and federal government[s] are “investing” their hard earned money to benefit special interests.   

Everyone who desires affordable electricity should attend the Delaware Public Service Commission meetings. When they discover how much each "green job" costs, they may decide they have better uses for their money - and they need to elect better representatives.        

A hearing examiner of the Delaware Public Service Commission will conduct public comment sessions concerning the application at the following time, dates and locations:

·   Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m., Public Service Commission office, located at 861 Silver Lake Blvd, Dover.

·   Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m., Carvel State Office Building auditorium, 820 N. French Street, Wilmington. 

·   Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m., Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus, Arts and Sciences Building, Georgetown. 

Public comment sessions are for the purpose of receiving statements from persons concerning the application and other related matters that are the subject of the commission's investigation.

Anyone who plans to attend a session is cautioned to consult the commission's website that day for possible changes in date, time, and location. People who wish to comment but are unable to attend one of the sessions may file written comments with the commission no later than Sept. 30.

Please direct written comments to Kevin Neilson, Regulatory Policy Administrator, Delaware Public Service Commission, 861 Silver Lake Boulevard, Cannon Building, Suite 100, Dover, DE 19904. Comments may be sent electronically to Mr. Neilson at kevin.neilson@state.de.us

John A. Nichols, Middletown, DE


September 19, 2011

Editor, The Delaware State News

Bigger changes are needed to lower debt

The bipartisan Committee of 12 is supposed to cut the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years.  Big deal!  That would solve less than 10 percent of the problem.  Deficits would still be over $1 trillion per year. [A bit exaggerated according to the official projections, which may however be based on overly optimistic assumptions about economic recovery and/or interest rates on government debt.]  Much bigger changes are needed.

Without waiting for the Committee of 12 to do their little thing, there is a huge opportunity for the federal government to jump-start the economy, create many jobs, and increase income to the government without raising taxes.  Federal regulations cost the economy $1.75 trillion per year, according to a Small Business Administration study.  Small businesses pay over $10,000 per year per employee for regulatory compliance, and new rules are being added at an increasing rate.  This needs to be reversed, and rules removed that are not absolutely critical.  That would let the free market work its magic.

In addition to regulatory reform, huge spending cuts will be required to stop the bleeding.  The big cuts may be hard to take.  However, they will be a walk in the park compared to destruction of the American dollar and families going hungry.

So far, the federal government and the rest of us are considering changes that are much too small to address the problem we have.  A little back-paddling won’t help as we approach Niagara Falls.  We’d better pull for shore, hard and fast. [The Niagara Falls analogy was suggested in a 1996 statement by SAFE published as part of our first newsletter. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/nwsltr/nwsltr01.htm.]

William E. Morris, Wilmington


September 18, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Taxpayers will be paying for Bloom for a long time

Bloom Energy is due to get over $70 million in subsidies.  Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Colin O’Mara thinks Bloom has a winning product, but what he fails to mention is that the product costs over eight times the incumbent technology, combined cycle natural gas plants.  Bloom’s product is competitive only with dramatic subsidies.

Subsidies are great for the few that receive them and can then sell high-cost products for a competitive subsidized price.  However, the Delaware taxpayer and residential electrical customer will pay $70 million more for power than if the politicians had simply stayed home.  While Bloom pledges to create over 1,200 jobs in part with those subsidies, the hundreds of thousands paying the subsidies will have $70 million less to save for retirement, spend on new cars, pay for food and housing and everything else.

Meanwhile, these initial subsidies only cover three Bloom boxes to be used by Delmarva Power.

New Jersey is concerned that businesses considering locating there are turning away due to high power costs.  Delaware is actively raising its power costs by adding in the cost of subsidies to Bloom.  How many jobs will be lost over the $70 million in higher costs?

George Jurgensen, New London, PA


September 9, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Americans must start taking debt seriously

The federal government will continue borrowing 40 cents for every dollar it spends, unless significant spending cuts are made.  We are on a path to disaster, and had better start taking the problem seriously.

We are not being serious when we thank our members of Congress for bringing money from the federal government, such as for a trail along the Canal.

We are not being serious when we allow government regulations to grow faster then ever, when they already cost over $10,000 per year per employee for small businesses.  It’s no wonder that new jobs are not being created.

We had better get serious quickly, or we might have riots such as those [in] London, in Greece, and elsewhere.  As inflation accelerates, people will be desperate to feed their families.

We will be serious if we demand that the government slash job-killing regulations, and do it quickly.  More jobs will mean more income to the government without increasing tax rates.

We will be serious if we let our state government know that we want them to take full responsibility for Medicaid, now shared with the federal government.

We will be serious if we let our representatives in Congress know we are willing to give up a significant percentage of our “entitlements.”

We have the choice.  We can insist on the big changes that are necessary to get out of this mess.  Or, we can let Congress pretend big changes are not required, and suffer the consequences.

William E. Morris, Wilmington


September 9, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Democrats have never defined what “rich” is

We constantly hear the Democrats claiming that the rich do not pay their fair share of federal income taxes, but never do they identify “the rich” or define what a “fair share” is.  So to any thinking American, this is only political class warfare demagoguery.  They want to increase taxes on families starting at $250,000 income; are such people rich?  Perhaps to a minimum wage worker they may seem to be but not realistically.  Perhaps an income [of] $1 million might qualify but certainly nothing less.

Then what is a fair share?  The most recent data I have show that the top 1 percent of income earners (truly rich) paid 40 percent of the total federal tax revenue.  The top 5 percent (possibly rich) paid 60 percent.  Do the numbers support the claim that the rich are not paying their fair share?  Finally, currently the bottom half of wage earners pay virtually no income taxes.  Is this what the Democrats consider a “fair share” with the top half carrying the full load?

Periodically the Democrats trot out survey results showing that a large majority of respondents favor raising taxes on the rich.  All this proves is that people are willing to increase taxes on “others” since statistically very few, if any, among those surveyed would be rich.

All of the above shows what lengths politicians will go to in deliberately misleading the public in order to advance their agenda.

Harry Kenton, Wilmington


September 6, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Social Security “robbers” should be jailed

By eliminating the Department of Energy we would save about $39 billion annually and probably wind up with energy initiatives that make sense.  By eliminating the Department of Education we would save about $70 billion annually and help to prevent the further destruction of our public education system.  Between the two we would save $1 trillion in the next 10 years – and be better off for it.

I would be willing to give up 20 percent of my Social Security and Medicare if those officials in Washington who robbed the piggy bank – the “lock-box,” where our money was supposedly kept safe – would be jailed for grand theft, and their total idiocy put on public display.  Have they never heard of the baby-boom?  They blew our money on all their vote-buying giveaways – [and] gave us worthless IOUs.

Finally, the British newspaper The Guardian said on Aug. 10, with respect to riots in England, “this is a generation with a false sense of entitlement created by the victim culture fostered, and overall leniency displayed, by the criminal justice system.  It’s just a glorified mugging conducted by people who ask not what they can do for themselves, but what other people should have done for them, and who may have mugged before on a small scale, and found it to be without consequence.”

It’s time for the American people to wake up.

Jim Venema. Hockessin


August 26, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Stop preaching about climate change “gospel”

On August the 15th, the Delaware Division of Energy and Climate announced that Tom Noyes stepped down from his role on the legislatively created, Renewable Energy Taskforce Advisory Committee and that John Sykes, a Delaware environmental activist, is taking his place. 

The task force also announced that Mr. Sykes has been working to establish a Delaware Chapter of Interfaith Power and Light.  A link to the website was also provided via task force notification. 

The mission of Interfaith Power & Light is to be “faithful stewards of creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.”

Their “track record” of tangible results is the education of “hundreds of thousands of people in the pews about the important role of people of faith in addressing this most challenging issue.”

Thus, it appears that Delawareans should expect to see the “gospel” of global warming preached from the pulpit, with the “salvation” of the earth (not people) to be solar panels and energy efficiency.

When people can’t afford to heat or cool their homes, due to the failure build adequate reliable capacity and the waste of scarce resources on solar panel subsidies, they can thank the Delaware Division of Energy and Climate and the legislators who created the agency. 

It is time for people to wake up and vote for real energy independence, not energy scarcity – fueled by the hoax of sustainability and climate change.

John A. Nichols, Middletown

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August 25, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Stop the presidential debt crisis blame game

Under the guise of presenting “the facts,” Tuesday’s Delaware Voice column offers the following conclusion: “George W. [President Bush] increased the deficit by $5.07 trillion. President Obama, by comparison, has increased the deficit by $1.44 trillion.” 

On the same day, a column in the Los Angeles Times reported that the national debt has risen by $4.2 trillion since President Obama took office and is growing at a rate of about $3 million per minute. 

Which view is closer to reality?  I would go with the Los Angeles Times on the premise that presidents should be held responsible for the fiscal results of years governed by budgets they submit.

If they are allowed to complain about alleged mistakes of their predecessors, e.g., Medicare costs too much and it’s LBJ’s fault, there goes any chance of accountability.

The deficits for FY 2002-2009 (covered by Bush budgets) totaled $3.5 trillion. 

That is a sorry eight-year result, but President Obama is on track to log deficits of $4.8 trillion in half the time (FY 2010-2013) according to the Office of Management and Budget data.  Our political leaders need to start doing a whole lot better than they have been, which in my view means coming up with some very big spending cuts.

William Whipple III, Middletown



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August 21, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

US must live within its means or face disaster

In a recent “Delaware Voice” piece, Lucretia Young, AARP state director, argues for a “thoughtful, reasoned, and broader conversation about retirement and American values.”

Given the critical importance of the subject for the future health of our nation, it would be advisable for us all to enter that conversation without bringing in the demagogical platitudes mentioned by Young.

The super committee of 12 that will be deliberating soon in Congress should start by focusing on the “fiscal gap,” defined by the CBO as the present value of all future internal government expenses, including paying debts, minus all future taxes.

That number is an incredible $202 trillion, as estimated by Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University, and makes our external debt, now at about a mere $15 trillion, pale by comparison. [http://bit.ly/aPFei7]

Approximately three-quarters of the “fiscal gap” is driven by Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security “promises.”

Faced with such incredible numbers, reasonable people will quickly conclude that such a future will never materialize, and that our nation will be forced to make government spending adjustments of incredible magnitude.

One would hope that such adjustments will be made through a process of “thoughtful, reasoned conversation,” but less optimistic folk would be worrying about our national looking like Greece in the not-too-distant future.

Stopping tax breaks and closing tax loopholes, as Young proposes, are [necessary steps], and should happen right away. But we cannot just hope that by doing that all our future problems will go away, given the magnitude of the fiscal gap.

Great as our nation is, we have embarked on a future spending course that we just cannot afford.  When a household does that, it either cuts expenses to meet income, or it faces bankruptcy.

Our national and state governments are not exempt from such arithmetic.

It is just as simple as that.  Platitudes will not change the numbers.

As a nation, we will have to live within our means.  When we do that, we will be in control of our future.  Hopefully, we will get there without major social convulsion.

Jose R. Alvarez, Wilmington

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August 13, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Politicians have failed aging Americans

America’s S&P downgrade is a sideshow to the real fiscal problem – an aging population and a government that does not have enough money.

Since the early 1980s the government has received far more in Social Security taxes than it has paid in benefits.  The surplus went to the Social Security Trust Fund, which is supposed to pay benefits when the huge Baby Boom generation makes the entire nation look like Florida and Arizona.

But as Allan Sloan of Fortune magazine has pointed out, the trust fund won’t pay a penny.  Congress has credited the trust fund with IOUs equal to that surplus, and it has spent the cash.

As of 2010, the US Treasury will have to redeem Social Security IOUs with borrowed money, which means the trust fund has zero economic value.  Because of this kind of fiscal dishonesty, America has unfunded liabilities of close to $60 trillion, or $520,000 per household.  Both parties are responsible for this fiscal catastrophe.

That may change.  Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor have said entitlements must be on the table.  We will soon learn whether Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will help end our addiction to debt, or if they will continue terrifying seniors for electoral gains.

Phil Mink, Newark

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July 20, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Getting out of debt hole takes hard work by all

We are in a bipartisan hole, dug with shovels for many years, then with bigger equipment under the George Bush and Barrack Obama administrations.  It’s going to take hard, sweaty work to get out.

First, there must be agreement on a new debt limit.  Here’s an idea for a debt limit agreement: Cut spending by stopping “stimulus” and other spending that can be stopped by executive order.  Increase income to the government by increasing jobs, with a pro-business program to eliminate all but the most important business regulations.

Make sure the debt limit doesn’t have to be increased again by taking the problem seriously.  Reduce the role of the federal government in accordance with the 10th Amendment to the Constitution:  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” 

We can get out of this hole with enough libertarian-minded Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans in Congress.  When most of us are willing to be realistic about the problem, the details will fall into place.

This letter expresses some thoughts of one Libertarian.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

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July 19, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Stop perpetuating the CO2-climate myth

The June 19 editorial (“The Crisis Indifference Cycle”) bemoans the fact that lawmakers and the public have become complacent about the “sustainable energy” and “CO2” crises.

Actually, a few politicians (like New Jersey’s Gov. Christie, but unlike Delaware’s Gov. Markell and most journalists) have learned that CO2 is only 4/100th of one percent of our atmosphere (that’s all the “350 parts per million” really is) and is actually both tiny and beneficial to plant (food and forest) growth – so CO2 is clearly not harmful, as has been alleged by Al Gore and his fellow crisis mongers.

The “ClimateGate” scandal, which proved to be a massive misrepresentation on a global scale, should have opened the eyes of more politicians, journalists and environmentalists, who had desperately wanted carbon dioxide to be a “bad guy,” responsible for climate changes, natural disasters, etc., etc.  And sadly, many scientists had already been biased by years of large “grants,” so [they] continued to help support the massive CO2 misinformation effort.

Canceling expensive and ineffective alternative energy programs is not “indifference,” it is recognizing the facts.

William Day, Newark 

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July 11, 2011

Editor, The News Journal 

Too much left unsaid regarding Obama

I recently read a book by Neal Boortz titled “Somebody’s Gotta Say It.”  He describes a number of issues, most of which cannot be discussed out of concern for “political correctness.”  Unfortunately, he wrote the book in 2007, before President Barack Obama was elected.  Just in case he is planning a sequel, here are a few things he can add that today cannot be thoroughly investigated or discussed because of political correctness.

President Obama’s administration is socialistic (to be kind) – voter ignorance of economics, politics and history is what got Obama elected.  It is the same set of sad affairs, thanks largely to “public education,” that allows the Obama Administration to disregard the law and hate the Constitution.  There’s much more, but Boortz could start with these.

I also recently read “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” by William Shirer.  In a nutshell, my impression was that the “fall” was ultimately inevitable, but the “rise” was totally avoidable – but only if the German people had early on stood up to the lies and deceit foisted on them by their leaders.  As the old saying goes, if we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.

James A. Venema, Hockessin

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July 8, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

“Balanced” deal with more taxes misses the point

At current spending rates, the government will need a debt limit increase of $2.5 trillion to keep going until after the 2012 elections.  The hottest political issue of the season is how to “pay for” the increase.

The Biden task force identified $1 trillion or so in spending cuts over a 10-year period, but negotiators are deadlocked over tax increases.  Side A demands a “balanced” deal with some tax increases.  Side B refuses to consider anything except more spending cuts. 

Some observers say Side B should back down because any delay in raising the debt limit could have dire consequences. (See Ted Kaufman’s Sunday column, “Debt deadlock should have all of us afraid.”  

Other observers believe Side A is off base.  My reasons for feeling this way follow.

1.  The 10-year fiscal gap for the president’s FY 2012 budget is $9.5 trillion (estimate of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office), and even  the supposedly draconian Ryan Plan shows a 10-year gap of $5.1 trillion.  So why should Side A balk at $2.5 trillion in spending cuts, which is far less than would be needed to balance the budget?

2.  Granted that the government needs more tax revenue, the most effective way to get it would be to promote economic recovery. Raising the depreciation life for corporate jets from 5 to 7 years, repealing LIFO accounting for oil companies, phasing out tax exemptions and deductions for “millionaires and billionaires,” etc. would complicate our already Byzantine tax system without significant revenue gain.

William Whipple III, Middletown

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June 24, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Corporate taxes would have negative effect

We read and hear many, including the News Journal, stir the cry of increasing taxes on greedy corporations, suggesting among other things that profits are illegal and immoral, and therefore such corporations should be punished for being successful.

The truth is that corporations do not really pay taxes.  It is the people who pay for their products and services that do.  [Income] taxes are levied only on corporations that make a profit.  Those that do not make a profit do not stay around very long.

Corporations pay taxes in proportion to their gross profits: then both taxes and net profits are included in the price of their products or services.  It is the people who buy the products or use the services that ultimately pay the taxes.  The corporations simply move the money from their gross profits to the taxing governments.

Remember, the same people who are taxed indirectly through corporate taxes are taxed directly on their incomes.

So-called corporate taxes are negative influence on the prosperity of our nation.  Publicly owned corporations pay dividends to their stockholders from their after-tax profits.  Stockholders are negatively influenced by such taxes.  In addition, the higher the so-called corporate taxes, the lower the competitive position of many corporations as they attempt to sell their products and services overseas.

All these factors hurt the country overall, and negatively impact the corporations’ ability to expand and provide growing employment and better wages.

Jose R. Alvarez, Wilmington

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June 22, 2011

Editor,  The News Journal

Microturbines dominate Bloom’s technology

DEDO head Alan Levin and DNREC head Colin O’Mara should resign.  Promising $11.25 million [$16 million?] to a manufacturer that promises to build devices that produce electricity at a capital cost of 8 to 15 times as much as incumbent technologies is patently absurd.

Microturbines exist which can burn natural gas, landfill gas, flare gas, etc. and, with combined heat and power technology, can be more than 80 percent efficient.  Microturbines cost a fraction of the reported cost of Bloom’s silicon oxide fuel cell technology and have all the efficiency, which is the supposed benefit of the Bloom technology.  I can’t wait to see the subsidies Delaware will want to offer fuel cell buyers to make this all work. [See SB 124, which is being pushed through in the waning days of this legislative session.]

George Jurgensen, Lincoln University, PA

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May 31, 2011 (News Journal)

A Wilmington School District won’t fix broken system

[title assigned by News Journal; does not accurately convey the thrust of the column]

The March 6 Sunday News Journal had a story entitled “Parents call for one city district,” and a Delaware Voice column by Jea P. Street, New Castle County councilman, entitled “Reforming Wilmington School District bad idea.”

As background for my comments on these pieces, I recite a bit of history with respect to our schools in New Castle County.

In 1978, federal judge Murray Schwartz ordered the dismemberment of 11 duly constituted and integrated school districts and forced them into a single countywide super district.

Even though Schwartz admitted that all the former districts were unitary (integrated) in themselves, he nevertheless was hell-bent on achieving some magical numerical racial balance through forced busing.

This, too, in spite of the fact that in 1967 the then department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) said that “Delaware was the first border state to completely eradicate the dual school system.”

Schwartz’s order forced Wilmington children to be bused to suburban schools for nine years and for suburban children to be bused to Wilmington for three years.

Tens of thousands of parents put their children in private or parochial schools or moved to nearby areas of Maryland or Pennsylvania or further south in Delaware.

I, too, put my children in private school because they had but one chance at an education, and I was not about to blow it for them by forcing them into a social experiment that was a total and abject failure wherever it was tried.  Mr. Street contends that a new Wilmington district would not receive adequate resources (code word for money), forgetting that the court record shows that the pre-1978 Wilmington district had the highest funding per pupil, the highest federal funding per pupil, the best pupil-teacher and teacher-administration ratios, the highest-paid teachers and a physical plant (condition and age of schools) equal on average to that in the suburbs.

Though throughout the court process little concern was given to education per se, since it was all about racial numbers, some expected that black achievement would miraculously rise if only Wilmington children could sit next to more white children.

We called this education by osmosis – and it did not work.  Educational nirvana did not occur, even after the countywide district was broken into the present four-district scheme in 1982.

What forced busing did do, among other things, was cause costs and taxes to skyrocket, such that, based on estimates we made, this fiasco cost a minimum of $500 million and, depending on what is included, as much as $1,000,000,000 (that’s billion with a b).

Much of that was from the leveling up of teacher and other salaries to the higher Wilmington levels, thanks to a teachers strike in 1978.

It is interesting to note that in a 1975 editorial, this newspaper said busing would only cost $1 million per year.

Mr. Street further contends that there is no educational position that city children would be more successful in a city-only district, forgetting that, likewise, there was no such position, other than from several discredited social scientists, that forced busing would prove successful.

He also does not point out that the old Wilmington district educated most recent black leaders in the city – how many have forced busing educated?

Schwartz’s order destroyed neighborhood cohesion in the city (as well as in the suburbs) and resulted in many city parents being unwilling or unable to participate in their children’s educational experience.

The group calling for a new city-only district disagrees with Street’s rational, contending that, under the current structure, the schools are re-segregated.

This always happens with forced busing.  In our case, it happened from 1971-81, which includes both pre- and post-implementation.

This is not to say that our system cannot be improved, and without detail, I’ll just enumerate several thoughts.

1. Get the federal money, federal control and federal bureaucracy out of our schools.

2. Revise teacher-union bargaining, totally getting rid of tenure.

3. Reinstate proper discipline in the schools – period.

4. Make districts more financially responsible and transparent.

With respect to money, in the present four districts, average annual per-student spending is well above $14,000 – that’s $168,000 in constant dollars for a 12-year education.

Then, every year, sometimes several times a year, we are told about new and wondrous “reforms” that, without question, are going to raise achievement levels.  So, new spending, (“for the kids,” of course) goes through the roof – but achievement remains stuck in the basement.

Yes – something definitely has to happen.

James Venema (past president of the Positive Action Committee and National Association for Neighborhood Schools)

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May 29, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Borrowing more hurts nation in the long run

Professor Laurence Seidman’s op-ed on fiscal stimulus and support of reforming the federal budget process (“Without a fiscal stimulus plan, recovery will falter,” May 22) is all well and good to a point, the point where it omits significant economic reality.  Fiscal stimulus, i.e., increasing the federal budget deficit, is appropriate when private savings exceed the government deficit, or alternatively, when government savings (please don’t choke) exceed private deficit.

However, when the government deficit far exceeds private savings, as is presently the case, expanding the government deficit is irresponsible and does nothing to stimulate the economy.

Saying that it does ignores the fact that such a deficit is funded by necessity [with money] borrowed from abroad and that foreign capital (financial) flows are, by definition, balanced by foreign product (goods and services) flows.

If running deficits beyond domestic savings was effective policy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and the other European peripheral economies, the former South American “banana republics,” and other countries with enormous federal deficits and large public debts would have low unemployment rates and not be the basket cases of economic despair we know them to be.

George Jurgensen, Lincoln University, PA

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May 14, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Older generation should pave way on debt issue

We have a very serious debt problem, but Congress is not taking it seriously.  They share the blame with those Americans who do not want to give up anything, and have punished those who voted for serious cuts in government spending. 

Regardless, there must be serious cuts in government spending.  If not, we are on a path to the destruction of the American Dollar.  A possible result could be empty supermarket shelves, and a breakdown of law and order. 

Cast aside any hope that "Something will turn up," and make the sacrifices required for the government to pay its bills.  Nobody knows how soon purchasers of U.S. debt might rebel, and push us deeper into the hole.

Nothing should be taken off the table.  Not even the military.  And not even Social Security. We present recipients should not be given a free pass.  We're in a position to break the logjam, so Congress will feel free to question all other areas of government spending. 

How about this sequence?  We let it be known that we are willing to give up a small percentage of our Social Security checks to help eliminate the deficit.  That way, we use our political clout to make sure that there are enough cuts in government spending to solve the debt problem. 

We Social Security recipients will be showing the way.  We'll be enduring some pain now, as insurance against much, much greater pain if the U.S. Dollar is destroyed.

So, how about it?  Will we Social Security recipients help protect our children and ourselves from the risk of destruction of the U.S. Dollar?  Will we be pro-active in solving this serious problem we have allowed to develop?

William Morris, Wilmington

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May 6, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Facts show solar panels are no energy solution

The truth finally won out at the last Renewable Energy Taskforce Advisory Committee, where it was revealed that the Vote Solar Initiative Study disclosed the capacity factor for photovoltaic cells (i.e., solar panels) was a whopping 14 percent in Delaware.

The capacity factor is the actual output of photovoltaics compared with their maximum output, if operated at full capacity for an entire year.

According to the Energy Information Agency, capacity factors for coal, natural gas, and advanced nuclear are all above 85 percent.  Moreover, photovoltaics receive, per unit of energy produced, more than 100 times the federal subsidies as compared to coal and 50 times that of natural gas.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard forces Delaware ratepayers to pay even more, with annual ratepayer subsidies (i.e., from Delaware’s citizens) to exceed $300 million in 2026 and beyond.  These legislatively mandated subsidies add nothing to energy capacity while simply forcing the cost of electricity supply to skyrocket.

Thus, solar energy is not a solution – it is a problem.  Our focus must be on reliable, cost-effective energy sources that make energy affordable to all.  Without a viable solution to store solar energy, photovoltaics waste scarce resources and make special interests richer at the expense of you and me, who shoulder the costs.

John A. Nichols, Middletown

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April 30, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Solar proponents lie about financial savings

As usual, solar-panel advocates appear to be blinded by the light, and so they lie to the public, failing to mention that the claimed financial benefits of solar power are in fact major losses.  If the Georgetown solar panels produce the claimed 413 killowatt-hours on a sunny summer day, the result would be a very optimistic 151,000 KWH per year.  If the panels were to last 25 years, the savings would be $643,000 total, at the present (Newark) cost of 17 cents per KWH, which is less than the $648,000 cost.

However, large interest costs have not been included – but the federal government must borrow money and pay interest for these grants.  Clearly, such a project will not “pay for itself.”  It will actually increase costs to taxpayers, adding to the national deficit.

Jose R. Alvarez, Wilmington

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April 23, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Many questions were sparked by the president’s deficit reduction speech, and in my opinion understandably so. 

To the extent he was offering ideas for putting the nation’s fiscal house in order, why weren’t they reflected in his fiscal year 2012 budget (February 14)? Presumably, the president deemed it politically expedient to hold back and force the Republicans to make the first move.

If the president wanted an “adult conversation,” why did he reject the Ryan Plan in such sharply partisan terms? Sample: “There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

Why did the president’s own ideas, with the notable exception of raising taxes, continue to sound so vague?  Sample:  He proposes to cut annual domestic spending by about $750 billion over twelve years, no details, yet still wants to “invest” in numerous spending initiatives (e.g., medical research, clean energy technology, new roads and airports, broadband access, education, and job training). 

Some observers (including the News Journal) say the two parties should stop playing political games, compromise their differences, and get on with things (e.g., reducing the deficit to a “sustainable” level).  Personally, I see nothing wrong with having a vigorous political debate – it has been a tradition in this country for a long time – and letting the best ideas win.  That would beat continuing to tolerate drift and indecision, only to learn one day that the United States had collapsed.

William Whipple III, Middletown

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April 3, 2011

Editor, News Journal

Could “green” inititatives be responsible for US debt?

TV and newspapers have reported on the large (and unsustainable) financial deficits of Spain, Ireland, Greece and other European countries, but have provided little or no information on the causes of these problems.

Here in the United States, our national and many state governments also have serious budget deficits, so the public would benefit from such information.

The February issue of Environment reported that the Netherlands, which has long used wind power to pump water, has decided to reduce its large subsidies for wind and solar electrical generation by 63 percent, saving the government of this small country billions of Euros each year.

Readers deserve to know if the overblown “global warming crisis” is a major cause of these deficits, and if politically correct “green” policies are responsible for large government deficits.

William Day, Newark

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March 27, 2011

Editor, Community News

Social Security key to erasing deficit

The U.S. debt is over $14 trillion, and still increasing.  The 2011 budget predicts deficits decreasing to $706 billion in 2014, then increasing.  This is way over the top.  It is unsustainable.

At any time, lenders around the world could start demanding higher interest rates on US bonds.  Inflation is worsening, and the value of our savings is decreasing daily, with no end in sight.  To stop the bleeding, we must cut our federal government spending significantly, and soon.  No more “kicking the can down the road.”

Politicians are afraid to make the big cut in spending that is required.  Individual voters must express their concerns, and their willingness to accept some sacrifices now, to avert the probability of much bigger sacrifices later.

All Americans must help, with everything on the table, including Social Security.  We recipients of Social Security can be of tremendous help in the effort to avert a meltdown by willingly giving up a small percentage of our Social Security checks.

Keep in mind that if the federal government doesn’t cut spending and balance the budget soon, they may have to take desperate action later, including elimination of our cost of living adjustment (COLA).  They could do that, because the Supreme Court has ruled that we do not have a legal right to Social Security.  If the government attempted to keep us up with surging inflation, we might get along OK.  However, younger Americans would be in misery, and very resentful toward Social Security recipients.

It will be much better for us to accept a small cut, and use our considerable political clout to make sure everybody does.  We Social Security recipients have the opportunity to be the key to getting America back on track.  Let’s not blow it.

William E. Morris, Brandywine Hundred

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March 19, 2011

Editor, News Journal

Writer missed the real point about U.S. economic history

Many observers, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s own Treasury Secretary (Henry Morgenthau, Jr., speaking in 1939), have pointed out that the policies of the New Deal failed to end the “Great Depression.”

However, a recent letter writer (“Republicans don’t know how to boost our economy”) suggests critics have missed an important point.  By 1944, he says, the economy was humming and the jobless rate was down to a miniscule 1.2 percent.  While some people say the Second World War ended the Depression, “they forget that military spending is government spending.”

Interesting argument, but it seems unlikely that President Roosevelt started World War II to get this country out of a Depression.  As economist Henry Hazlitt, who wrote for the New York Times during the Roosevelt years, observed: “No man burns down his own house on the theory that the need to rebuild it will stimulate his energies.”

True, with 12 million men in military service and the nation’s factories cranking out armaments at a prodigious rate, the jobless rate plummeted, but this is not the sole indicator of economic well-being. 

Real private investment and personal consumption sharply declined during the war years, and inflation-adjusted stock market prices in 1944 were lower than in 1939. It is also worth noting that the economy did not falter after the war as military spending was cut back.  To the contrary, there was a robust and long-lived postwar recovery.

Further, history does not agree with his claim regarding Republican leadership in the ‘20s.  When Harding took office in 1921, unemployment was almost 9 percent.  During his and Coolidge’s administrations, it dropped to less than 5 percent.

They reduced government spending and tax rates, which spurred this growth.

R. Jerry Martin, Wilmington

See New Deal or Raw Deal? Burton Folsom, Threshold Editions.


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February 28, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

Hoffman’s arguments on spending fall short

Last Thursday’s column by Professor Saul D. Hoffman on government spending characterizes the budget cuts proposed by House Republicans as “a textbook case of bad economics and bad politics.”  This sounds impressive, but the supporting arguments are a bit thin.

Spending should not be cut now due to the state of the economy?  Not to worry, it is too late to make a major dent in the $1.6 trillion deficit projected for the current fiscal year. But 150 economists did sign a recent letter to the president saying “immediate action is needed to rein in federal spending.”

The proposed cuts are politically motivated.  There is nothing wrong with the Republicans proposing the spending cuts they would prefer.  Perhaps the writer fears the voters will agree with them.

Defunding the EPA plan to regulate the emission of CO2, etc. would “raise ideology over science.”  Sorry, but claims about the perils of manmade global warming are more political than scientific. See, e.g., Gregory A. Inskip’s letter to the editor (News Journal, 2/24/11).

It is wrong to take taxes off the table.  Fair enough, everything should be on the table.  But why fret about piecemeal revisions, such as raising the income tax rates for high earners, when a comprehensive overhaul of the tax system is needed.

William Whipple III, Middletown

Letter was published basically as submitted, except for deletion of the sentence in blue re Greg Inskip’s letter.

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January 28, 2011

Editor, The News Journal

No dispute over Earth’s warming, just its cause

A Jan. 23 letter from a climate alarmist attacks those of us who are skeptical of the claim that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.

Like other alarmists, he implies that we dispute the fact that the Earth is warming.  We do not. We know there has been warming since the Little Ice Age.

There have been many cooling/ warming cycles in the past when humans could not have any measurable impact on climate.

Many of the warming cycles, including the recent Medieval Warm Period, reached temperatures warmer than we have now.  The first 20 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air exerts most of its warming effect.

At the present level of about 380 parts per million, additional carbon dioxide has essentially no effect.  The cause of cooling/ warming cycles is most likely variations in the energy output of the sun.

The misconceptions that unavoidable climate change is dangerous and caused by carbon dioxide have cost a lot of money through “cap and trade” schemes.

Even more waste is coming due to government rules requiring uneconomical, undependable, expensive windmills and solar panels supported by taxpayers’ money.  What a shame.

Jose R. Alvarez, Wilmington

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January 16, 2011

Editor, Brandywine Community News

Not on our dime

It is disheartening to see how many people have bought in to the assumptions that (a) global warming will have dire consequences, and (b) humans are causing higher temperatures by burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide. There is ample evidence that these assumptions are wrong. 

The global warming scare is of more than academic interest because it underlies the big push for wind turbines and solar panels.  Both federal and state governments are subsidizing these expensive and undependable energy sources – a poor use of taxpayer funds, especially for governments that are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

For the straight scoop, see “Clean Energy Boondoggle,” a slide show posted by Secure America’s Future Economy. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/energy.htm

William Whipple III,  Middletown

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January 16, 2011

Editor, Brandywine Community News

Let free market work

Members of Congress are saying that job creation is a high priority.  The question is: “How can you created jobs?”  The answer is: “Allow the free market to work its magic.”

The free market ended the 1920-1921 depression with its unemployment rate of 11.7 percent.  Fortunately, Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover was unable to convince President Harding to intervene promptly.  By the time Harding was persuaded, the Depression was over.  There were no bailouts.  Prices and wages were reduced.  Weak firms were promptly eliminated.  Unemployment dropped to 6.7 percent in 1922 and 2.4 percent in 1923.  Jobs were created by the free market, left free by government inaction.

Rather than interfering with the magic of the free market, Congress should require appropriate bureaucrats to eliminate as much regulation and red tape as possible.  This would result in formation and expansion of small businesses, and real job creation.

OK, Members of Congress.  Are you serious about creating jobs?

William E. Morris, Brandywine Hundred

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