S-A-F-E  Letters

 

 

Letters  2012

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

December 15, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Joe Biden essay was campaign propaganda

I have just finished reading a fairy tale, only it wasn’t a fairy tale.  Vice President Biden’s op-ed piece in the Dec. 10 News Journal [is] what in polite society would be identified as malarkey, or perhaps baloney.

If the president is really serious about reducing the federal debt, as Biden claims, he would not be proposing expansion of federal expenditures and tax cuts for the middle class.  Mr. Biden, as you say, the math is simple.  The top two per cent do not have enough money even if you took all of it, much less [only made them] “pay a little more in higher tax rates.”  In addition, higher rates promise more than they deliver.  The millionaires and billionaires will figure out ways to avoid actually paying much of the taxes that higher tax rates promise.

So, folks, don’t believe what is campaign baloney.  If the president is serious about reducing the federal debt, middle class Americans will have to pay higher taxes.  That is where the real money is.

James R. Thomen, Montchan

It seems doubtful that the president is serious about reducing the deficit, let alone reducing the debt.  And while the logic of seeking to bring down the deficit by raising taxes would inevitably lead to higher taxes for middle class Americans, the only viable route to budget balance is to cut spending.

See also “Big government creates a web of dependency that impedes the termination or reform of unwise policies,” http://www.s-a-f-e.org/delaware_chatter.htm (12/10/12).


December 10, 2012

Delaware State News

Getting the country beyond fiscal cliff

by William Whipple III

Unless our political leaders strike a deal soon, the country faces a half trillion-dollar tax increase plus a $109 billion sequester (across-the-board cuts) of discretionary spending (half defense, half other) for 2013 with comparable adjustments in subsequent years.  Few people relish the prospect of paying higher taxes, and economists warn that going over this “fiscal cliff” might throw the US economy back into recession.  Gee, why don’t the president and Congress stop the posturing and make the problem go away? 

The government cannot safely continue running trillion-dollar deficits, however, and as though to remind us of this fact, another increase of the debt limit (raised by $2.1 trillion in 2011) will be needed around February 2013.  Even if going over the fiscal cliff cut $600 billion from the deficit, which is unrealistic because the resulting economic slowdown would have a partially offsetting effect, an annual deficit of some $400 billion would remain. So what should be done?

In my opinion, the government needs to cut spending by considerably more than the amount of the sequester – not less, as some people think. And the time for action is not unlimited.  If lenders conclude that the government has lost control of the fiscal situation, they will demand much higher interest rates and trigger a financial crisis. “After fiscal cliff comes fiscal avalanche,” Senator Mike Lee, Washington Times, Nov. 23.  

Also, constant tinkering with the tax system has bred complexity, uncertainty (about the future of temporary tax provisions and rates), and a host of breaks for special interests.  Some of the tax increases on tap should be deferred in favor of a systematic overhaul of the entire tax system.

With these points in mind, here is a proposed plan of action:

TAXES – Allow some of the scheduled tax increases to take effect, notably expiration of the payroll tax holiday ($125 billion) and targeted tax preferences ($40 billion), plus new Obamacare taxes ($36 billion). On the other hand, extend the Bush tax cuts ($156 billion), Alternative Minimum Tax “patch” ($88 billion), and accelerated business expensing ($48 billion).

Then, the House Ways and Means Committee should get cracking on a comprehensive tax system overhaul.  By way of illustration, Secure America’s Future Economy’s tax proposals would lower income tax rates (but tax tables would remain progressive, and there would be ample opportunity to discuss whether high earners are paying their “fair share”), abolish almost all tax preferences and the AMT, and drastically simplify business taxes. (http://www.s-a-f-e.org/the_simple_tax.htm)

SPENDING CUTS – So far, politicians and pundits alike have focused primarily on raising taxes.  We think a basic change in attitude is needed, and here are some ideas for bringing it about.

(A) Lift the defense funds sequester that is scheduled to start on Jan. 1, as the military budget has already been trimmed, but uphold the domestic spending sequester. 

(B) Ensure budgets will be approved in accordance with congressional rules by providing that members of Congress and the White House won’t be paid during any fiscal year until a budget is in place.

(C) Establish a Joint Entitlements Committee tasked with finding ways to reduce Social Security & healthcare outlays; instruct the JEC not to recommend any tax increases and set a reporting deadline of June 1, 2014.

As for where to reduce discretionary spending, it’s time to forget across-the-board cuts and start eliminating government programs or activities that do more harm than good or are not worth the amount of money they cost. Many such targeted cuts are proposed on SAFE’s website, e.g., eliminate the Energy and Education departments, agricultural subsidies, and corporate welfare.

DEBT LIMIT INCREASE – According to House Speaker John Boehner (on May 15), the next debt limit increase should be accompanied by an equal or greater amount of spending cuts and/or tax “reforms,” just as happened (counting the sequester, which some people are still fighting) in 2011.  To this end, we would suggest that the agreed amount be recovered through the congressional budget process.  Thus, the Fiscal Year 2014 budget should provide for verifiable spending cuts (over 10 years) of the remainder of the $1.2 trillion sequester from 2011 plus $1 trillion (or whatever the number might be) to cover the debt limit increase in 2013.

A CLOSING THOUGHT – The foregoing recommendations may seem difficult from a political standpoint, but the fiscal problem is deadly serious, and it cannot be fixed without major changes.  Instead of a search for compromise between two manifestly inadequate positions, our political leaders need to start looking for new ideas and better answers.  Otherwise, this country does not face a happy future.

Editor’s note: William Whipple III, a Middletown resident, is president of Secure America’s Future Economy, a Delaware-based group that has been advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996.

To respond to this guest commentary, go to http://delaware.newszap.com, go to “U.S. government budget” in the State of Delaware Public Forum.

November 28, 2012

Editor, The Delaware State News

Big changes needed to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff

I see no good reason to delay making the large changes needed to balance the federal budget, and [begin] paying off the debt.  ASAP! Start with the low hanging fruit.  Declare a moratorium on new business rules and regulations.  Put regulators to work removing present rules and regulations that are counterproductive or of dubious value.  This will help with business formation and expansion.

Consider a federal government hiring freeze.  For Social Security, change future beginning ages based on life expectancy.  With Medicaid, let the individual states take full responsibility.

Regarding President Obama's insistence that the wealthy pay more in taxes.  I hope not higher tax rates, because that could result in less income to the government. Higher tax rates would cause some of the victims to either cease operations, or move their business overseas.  Rather than punish the wealthy for their success, it would be more productive to eliminate tax breaks.

I suggest taking tinkering with the income tax off the table.  The income tax code is so massive and complex that it cannot be cured, so it should be killed and a stake be driven through its heart. 

The federal income tax should be replaced with a national sales tax.  The Fair Tax provides a good model.  However, its rebate feature to "untax the poor" should not be included.  It would then be a straightforward consumption tax, and all of us would be in it, as we should.

These suggestions may seem drastic, but they are not in view of the looming fiscal cliff.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

We agree with two exceptions:

 (1) The FairTax is not a good idea, even with the suggested change, as the inevitable result of proposing it would be the emergence of a two-tax system – income tax + a consumption tax – versus the substitution that is envisioned.  Aside from political resistance, there is no reason the income tax system could not be fixed.  See http://www.s-a-f-e.org/the_simple_tax.htm

(2) The basic solution for Social Security is not raising the retirement age, etc., but creating individual retirement accounts (thereby making SS a defined contribution plan vs. a defined benefit plan). http://www.s-a-f-e.org/social_security.htm


November 24, 2012

Editor, The Delaware State News

Delaware could help federal government dig out of hole

I changed my registration to vote for Governor Markell in the primary election.  I regret that now, because he has wasted a lot of money bribing companies to come to Delaware, or to stay in Delaware.

Rather than bribing companies, I hoped Gov. Markell would help make Delaware the friendliest state for business by adopting the libertarian solution of eliminating unnecessary and counterproductive rules and regulations.

That could result in more jobs, and more income to the State of Delaware.  In that case, the increased income should be used to move away from dependence on money from the federal government.

We’re in the peculiar situation wherein Delawareans send money to Washington, then, federal bureaucrats spend part of it determining how much Delawareans get back – all of this while the gargantuan federal debt hole is about to get even deeper, and we may all fall into it.  Desperate action is appropriate.

How about this?  Medicaid costs are now shared between state and federal governments.  Delaware should offer to take complete control, and pay all of the cost for Medicaid for Delawareans.

Delaware would be the First State, and the leader among states, by helping the federal government in its efforts to stop digging the debt hole even deeper.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

The proposed rejection of federal assistance for Delaware’s Medicaid programs would represent a 180- degree turn from current Markell Administration policies.  Compare 10/29/12, story A, http://www.s-a-f-e.org/delaware_chatter.htm.


November 20, 2012

Bloom deal continues to be bad for Delaware, John A. Nichols

Given the dismal state of the Delaware economy, Gov. Markell and a willing legislature wanted to be seen as doing something to create jobs.  Toward that end, in June of 2011, they rushed to subsidize alternative energy by financing Bloom Energy in Delaware.

Unfortunately, they chose the worst possible method – a European style “feed-in-tariff” – which functions as a regressive “tax” added to each ratepayer’s electricity bill.  The goal was to assure Bloom Energy built a new manufacturing facility in Delaware subsidized to the tune of $500 million to $750 million dollars of over-market electricity cost.

One of the more troubling aspects of the Bloom subsidy is the long-term nature of the tariff, providing 21 years of subsidies for an already antiquated solid oxide fuel cell technology.  No thoughtful businessperson would commit Delaware to such a deal when potentially new and less costly alternatives are likely to develop in the next two decades.

Moreover, according to an independent analysis provided for Seattle Light in 2010, fuel cells are “extremely expensive, with the more cost-competitive running about 15 to 20 times the cost of a typical gas turbine generator”.  At the time, most politicos were unwilling to understand the Bloom “jobs bill”, hoping that it would create jobs instead of wrecking the economy and hurting those who can least afford to pay the added tax on electricity. 

To make matters worse, the Bloom bill includes a “poison pill” provision.  If a future General Assembly ever modifies or repeals the legislation, Delmarva Power is authorized to immediately collect from their ratepayers all the money Bloom Energy would have been paid over the entire 21 year term of the tariff.  This is to be paid in lump sum without any discount for early payment.  This was probably done to help Bloom with their initial public offering, which has yet to materialize. 

The consequence of all this meddling is the Bloom bill will drive energy-intensive industry from the State and compel other employers to reduce their workforce or delay hiring because of the rising cost of electricity.  History confirms the outcome even if Delawareans choose to ignore it.

Feed-in tariffs originated in Europe to spur development of wind and solar energy by awarding long-term contracts to generators at prices far above the free market cost for energy.  The hope was eventually that these non-competitive energy resources could reduce their design, development and operational costs to compete without subsidies against reliable energy resources like coal, nuclear and natural gas. This has not occurred.  

Electricity became incredibly expensive.  However, the promised “benefit” was the creation of new jobs in the wind and solar industry which would justify the higher cost of electricity making the subsidy a worthwhile “investment”.  So, what was the European job experience with their feed-in tariff program? 

According to a study by the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain has subsidized alternative power since 2000, spending nearly $725,000 on each green job.  But these programs have destroyed more than 110,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy for a ratio of 2.2 jobs lost for every green job created.  Consequently, unemployment in Spain remains persistently above 25%.  In the UK, Verso Economics has concluded that for every green energy job created, 3.7 jobs are lost.  This experience has been repeated around the world with the same outcome.

Markell was well aware of this problem.  Delivering the keynote address at the “Creating the Clean Energy Economy” conference on Dec. 13, 2010 at the University of Delaware’s John M. Clayton Hall, Markell said that “Spain was absolutely booming with respect to its solar industry as a result of its pretty aggressive implementation of its feed-in tariffs but it looks as though it may have been booming but now it’s busting.”  Note that this was only six months before the Bloom feed-in tariff bill was introduced into the Delaware legislature.  To try to create something that is “consistent and predictable,” a problem Markell noted in Spain, Bloom Energy was given 21 years of predictable over-market subsidies that equaled or exceeded the level of subsidies in Spain.

‘Predictability’ is not the problem with alternative energy subsidies.  It is the coerced diversion of capital to non-productive assets by bureaucrats who attempt to game the system to their own political or personal advantage.  Of course, the real damage occurs after most of them have left office and citizens must deal with the economic carnage left in their wake.  This is not capitalism; it is pure fascism and it always ends badly.

John A. Nichols of Middletown has challenged the Bloom deal in court

This column was prompted by a statement of Catherine Rossi, a staffer for the Markell administration, that was quoted in the News Journal on 11/11/12: “Mr. Nichols is a litigant who wants to stop a project that will bring hundreds of good manufacturing jobs to Delaware.  He is hardly in a position to comment on the productivity of Delaware economy.”

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November 19, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Don’t punish the wealthy for their success

A News Journal's Nov. 10 article referred to the "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations, and President Obama's insistence that the wealthy pay more in taxes.  I hope not higher tax rates, because that could result in less income to the government. Higher tax rates would cause some of the victims to either cease operations, or move their business overseas.  Rather than punish the wealthy for their success, it would be more productive to eliminate tax breaks as mentioned in the Nov. 12 story.

I submit that tinkering with the income tax should be taken off the table.  The income tax code is so massive and complex that it cannot be cured, it should be killed and a stake driven through its heart.  The federal income tax should be replaced with a national sales tax.  The Fair Tax provides a good model.  However, its rebate feature to "untax the poor" should not be included.  It would then be a straightforward consumption tax, and all of us would be in it, as we should.

Since President Obama will remain president, I see no good reason to delay making the large changes needed to balance the budget, and start paying off the debt ASAP.  Start with the low hanging fruit.  Declare a moratorium on new business rules and regulations.  Put regulators to work removing present rules and regulations that are counterproductive or of dubious value.  This will help with business formation and expansion.

Consider a federal government hiring freeze.  For Social Security, change future beginning ages based on life expectancy.  With Medicaid, let the individual states take full responsibility.

These suggestions may seem drastic, but they are not in view of the looming fiscal cliff.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

We agree with two exceptions: 

 (1) The FairTax is not a good idea, even with the suggested change, as the inevitable result of proposing it would be the emergence of a two-tax system – income tax + a consumption tax – versus the substitution that is envisioned.  Aside from political resistance, there is no reason the income tax system could not be fixed.  See http://www.s-a-f-e.org/the_simple_tax.htm

(2) The basic solution for Social Security is not raising the retirement age, etc., but creating individual retirement accounts (thereby making SS a defined contribution plan vs. a defined benefit plan). http://www.s-a-f-e.org/social_security.htm

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October 2, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Financial alternatives not adding up

The election is shaping up to be focused on what Americans want regarding the size of the federal government.  At one extreme, no government would result in chaos: no law and order.  We would all fear for our lives and property.  At the other extreme, the government controlling everything would result in the loss of all freedom and greatly reduce our well being as citizens found no reason to produce.

An analysis of recent US economic history suggests somewhere near 18 percent of gross domestic product would be an optimal level of government.  While much of what the advocates for larger government [want] may seem desirable, increasing the proportion of our productivity consumed by government [above] 18-20 percent actually reduces the resources available to government.

This leaves us in the position of needing to gradually reduce government spending and control, which will lead toward [revival] of the private sector, resulting in a growth of our economy which, in turn, will provide greater resources for government.  The alternative of failing to reduce government expenditures is either to continue to borrow or to raise taxes.  Neither alternative bodes well for America.

James R. Thomen, Montchan

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September 10, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Competition between parties is healthy

I was disappointed by an Aug. 31 editorial (Here’s the vision, now where are the facts?), which effectively dismissed the Republican convention as a bunch of hot air and implied that the Democratic convention won’t be much better. 

1. With polls showing some 60% of Americans believe the US is on the wrong track, it’s hard to believe there are “relatively few in-betweens.”  [As for the efficacy of educating undecided voters with dueling campaign ads, see Ted Kaufman’s recent column!]

2.  In addition to attacking failures of the Obama administration, the Republicans offered some positive ideas. Notably, Romney pledged to “cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget” as he is previously said to have done in Massachusetts. 

3.  Paul Ryan voted against the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan (which he accuses the president of ignoring), but he subsequently supported House budgets that would have cut deficits by a comparable amount. In a September 2011 video clip, Democrat Erskine Bowles lauds Ryan as a budget whiz who is honest, straightforward and sincere.

4. Romney’s tax reform plan resembles the tax overhaul approach outlined in the Bowles-Simpson plan.  Agreement on the details might prove elusive, but such an effort would beat the current bickering about individual provisions of the tax code.

5.  The Democrats will be offering ideas of their own in Charlotte.  Such competition is healthy, and I for one look forward to hearing what they have to say.

William Whipple III, Middletown

This letter was published as a single run-on paragraph, numbers deleted, which was hard to follow – the original formatting is shown here for clarity.  The bracketed sentence re political ads was deleted, and point 5 was reworded (perhaps because publication of the letter, submitted on Sept. 2, was delayed until the DNC had taken place) as “The Democrats offered ideas of their own in Charlotte.  Such competition is healthy.”

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September 9, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Job created didn’t help Delawareans

Thanks, in part, to the Bloom feed-in tariff, Jack Markell has succeeded in creating jobs. 

According to a recent job posting on LinkedIn, Bloom Energy, or Diamond State Generation Partners, LLC, as it is known in Delaware, is looking to hire an experienced Lab Manager to supervise technicians and engineers in their “characterization lab”.  One of the many new employees Bloom has hired.    

It sounds just like one of those high paying jobs, Gov. Markell and Delmarva Power executives promised when only Delmarva Power ratepayers were forced to subsidize Bloom Energy. This should certainly help spur the economy in a positive direction and should be heralded as great new development, except for the position created is in Mumbai, India. 

If Markell is granted another 4-year term, he, and his Washington handlers, can outsource even more Delaware jobs offshore.  All he needs is a little more time and ratepayer/ taxpayer money.  The electorate should deprive him of both or consider moving to India. 

John A. Nichols, Middletown

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August 24, 2012

Distortions Fuel Climate Change Advocacy

David R. Legates

A recent News Journal editorial touted a “new report by NASA scientist James Hansen regarding climate change.  In reality, there is nothing new about Hansens report, except that this time he is using the nationwide drought to scare people (again) into believing we can abate or prevent climate change and extreme weather events by drastically reducing hydrocarbon use.

Whenever an extreme weather event occurs, Hansen and others say we must act immediately to prevent such events.  However, there is no clear scientific evidence that humans are responsible, future climate changes will be calamitous, or slashing energy use will avert anything.

Hansens analysis is biased by his decision to focus only on the period from 1955 to 1999, conveniently ignoring the warm period during the 1930s and the lack of an increase in temperature since 2000.  Indeed, climate history tells us that Americas droughts of the 1930s were longer and more severe than the current drought – and human-caused greenhouse gas emissions clearly were not the culprits eighty years ago.

Our climate is changing because it always has changed.  It is foolish to believe that the climate should remain constant or claim that energy policies will somehow achieve “climate stabilization.

Delawares climate has changed over the years, but not in ways the News Journal asserts.  Data from the New Castle County Airport in Wilmington – the longest, most consistent record available – show that summer maximum temperatures are not significantly warmer, recent winters are not drier or less snowy, and storms are no more frequent on average.

Floods are more common in Delaware, not because of climate change, but because of increased storm runoff due to more impervious surfaces like asphalt and concrete.  Water shortages primarily reflect the increased demand for water by a growing population, not climate change.  The Palmer Drought Index used by climatologists to quantify climate-induced changes in drought cycles, frequency, and severity shows no long-term trend for Delaware.

Sea levels continue to rise globally.  However, as an article in the journal Science observes, satellite records over the last eighteen years show no net increase in mean sea level for the Mid-Atlantic region.  A recent study for the Chesapeake Bay confirms this and notes that any apparent sea level rise can be attributed to coastal subsidence, not to climate change.  

Hansens latest alarm is intended to promote his view that fossil fuels should be more expensive and less available.  The News Journal joins him by advocating a “carbon tax to force people to curtail their use of fossil fuels.  However, such a tax would primarily hurt the poor in Delaware by making it more expensive to commute to work, to heat and cool homes, to use televisions and computers, and to buy food, goods, and services that are made more costly by soaring transportation and production costs.

The poor do not have the luxury of purchasing high-priced solar panels, even with government subsidies.  Thus, they would become more dependent on welfare and food stamps and have less of a chance of becoming middle-class.

Activists like Hansen say we must act now to “prevent climate change,” even before full scientific certainty can be established.  This gives carte blanche for policy-makers to take extreme steps to “save the planet” even if scientific, economic, and overall human welfare facts argue otherwise.

This is the wrong approach.  Actions to abate climate change should not be implemented until it can be demonstrated that they will actually achieve their intended results without creating new problems or exacerbating existing troubles.  Imposing immediate, draconian programs like a carbon tax would have few, if any, beneficial impacts but would create numerous unintended adverse consequences.

Paraphrasing S.J. Perelman, the News Journal says, “I may not know anything about climate science, but I know what I like.”  In other words, they want to replace science-based policy with advocacy-driven solutions that will harmonize with their editorial stances and legislative agendas.

We must return to true science-based assessments of potential risk and use them to develop appropriate solutions to problems over which we have some control.  Delaware cannot afford anything less.

David R. Legates is a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware and has studied climate change for nearly thirty years.

NOTE: The News Journal published a slightly different version of this column on August 25 under the caption “Distortions fuel the advocacy of climate change.”

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August 19, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Natural climate factors, not climate change

Contrary to a News Journal editorial claim, James Hansen’s new paper “Perception of Climate Change” is just propaganda.  It is being widely and rightly criticized for its faulty science.

Hansen used statistics to try to claim that extreme weather events are occurring more frequently now than in the these past.  But these claims are directly refuted by NOAA data showing no increases in tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, ice storms or extreme snowfalls.  Other authors find global cyclone activity is at a historic low. 

Hansen claims that the cause of extreme weather is man-made but provides no evidence for this.  Contrary to Hansen’s claims, NOAA scientists who study extreme weather have found that recent heat waves and droughts were the result of natural climate factors, not climate change.

Commenting on Hansen’s paper, one of those NOAA scientists said “This isn’t a serious science paper.  It’s mainly about perception, as indicated by the paper’s title.  Perception is not a science.”

A carbon tax advocated by the editors to correct this non-problem would not be a “real solution.”  It would be a real tax doing real harm to real people with no real benefits.

John E. Greer, Jr., P.E., Wilmington

See previous letters by Greg Inskip (http://bit.ly/IS7Ktq, 8/13/12) and Jerry Towe (8/16/12) on the same subject.

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August 16, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Skeptical of Hansen’s view on climate change

The lead article “Study: Climate shift dramatic” (Aug. 7) featured the viewpoint of Dr. James E. Hansen, a climate change activist highly acclaimed by his fellow peers that continue to forecast “gloom and doom” for our civilization.  Dr. Hansen has been a frequent adviser to President Obama on climate change legislative needs.  One should understand the majority of Hansen’s opinions and conclusions are based on his data from the 1950s through 2011.  May I remind our readers that during the 1965-75 period he and his “so called experts” were predicting a global “cooling.”

Did the authors of your article know that Hansen was arrested three times for his political activities?  Yes, I’m a skeptic; I look to an acclaimed MIT scientist, Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, for his long-term view of climate change from the Dark Ages, which were hotter than today, when London did not flood, to our present day.

Jerome Towe, Middletown

Dr. Lindzen, along with colleagues William Happer of Princeton and Roger W. Cohen of the American Physical Society, authored a letter that was published by the Wall Street Journal on 8/14/12.  Their letter (presumably not known to Jerry Towe when he wrote his letter) suggests, among other things, that “repetition of a fib does not make it true.”  Also, “it is increasingly clear that doubling CO2 is unlikely to increase global temperature more than about one degree Celsius, not the much larger values touted by the global warming establishment.” And “there are persuasive arguments that the mild warming and increased agricultural yield from doubling CO2 will be an overall benefit for humanity.”

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July 26, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Beck and Craig team gets bitter letter

When economists Stacie Beck and Eleanor Craig write a column for the News Journal, there always seems to be a vitriolic response.  Perhaps this is because they are about the only “conservatives” on the UD faculty – and therefore viewed as traitors to the “liberal” cause. 

Most recently, Professors Beck and Craig authored a column entitled “Obamacare’s negatives outweigh the positives” (News Journal, 7/16/12).  The column explains why this legislation will not help the economy and suggests some alternative ideas for healthcare “reform.” It is a generally sound analysis, in my opinion, although reasonable minds might differ on some of the points.  

“Surely Stacie Beck and Eleanor Craig are a comedy team,” goes the first sentence of a letter published soon after*, “and not University of Delaware economics professors.”  The ensuing commentary amounts to a litany of whining and excuses for current economic problems, which the writer apparently feels should be blamed on anyone or anything other than the president and his economic policies.  Beck and Craig’s discussion of the healthcare legislation is ignored.

I’m not sure why “hit pieces” like this one should be published; they certainly do not contribute to public understanding of the issues.

William Whipple III, Middletown

*(As indicated by this letter as submitted, the “hit piece” appeared in the News Journal the day after the Beck/Craig column was published.

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July 23, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

CO2 not a factor

Most of the news media have accepted climate-alarmist claims that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major cause of global warming.  That’s too bad, because the result is laws making electricity more expensive and less dependable, by requiring use of windmills, solar panels, etc.

If the alarmists were really sincere, they would provide expansion of nuclear power, which is not polluting and does not emit CO2.

It has been hotter than usual this year, but within the range of the Medieval Warm Period and earlier warm periods.  Alternate warm and cool periods have occurred many times before.  There is nothing special about the current warm period.  Here are two of the reasons why the current CO2 is not a significant factor in the current warm period.

First, almost all of the greenhouse effect of CO2 occurs at concentrations well below that at the beginning of the present warm period.  Additional CO2 has very little greenhouse effect.  The major factor is water vapor.

Second, global temperature has increased in spurts.  For years, there is no change; then, the temperature has increased appreciably, then, there is no change, etc.  During this time, the CO2 concentration has steadily increased.  If CO2 were a major factor causing global warming, there would have been a steady increase in global temperature.

News releases about climate-change studies follow a familiar pattern.  They claim harm from global warming and repeat the unproven assumption that human-caused CO2 is a major factor causing warming.  The object of this exercise appears to be to obtain the next government grant.  Follow the money.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

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July 20, 2012

Editor,The News Journal

Wrong decision to expand Medicaid

I am disappointed that Gov. Markell is supporting a plan to expand Medicaid, using money from the bankrupt federal government.  This is exactly the wrong way to go, adding to inflation which can destroy the American dollar.

Instead of taking money from the federal government, the individual states should be taking more of the load.  The cost of Medicaid is now shared by the federal and state governments.

The cost, responsibility and authority should be assumed by the individual states.  This would be done if we were realistic about the deep hole of debt the federal government is in.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

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July 19, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

President Obama increasing power in D.C.

Our nation is undergoing a slow, but inexorable and accelerating, rot, which is emanating straight out of Washington or, to be more precise, directly from President Obama, his true believers, and the mass media.

What we are witnessing is not only outrageous, but may become irreversible if our dictator-in-chief is re-elected.  He was elected in ’08 by what I contend was mass ignorance – if reelected, it will be by mass ignorance squared – encouraged by so-called “mainstream” media. 

He told us in ’08 that his goal was to “fundamentally transform America” – he didn’t tell his admirer-voters, and those he was able to otherwise dupe, that a nightmare was in store for them.

If anything in America really needed transforming, it was a bloated and too powerful central government – and all he has done is increase its bloat and power.  (It was government programs and dictates, dating back to the Carter years, that caused the housing collapse and its consequences – the banks and mortgage companies were just secondary players).

But to be totally honest, Obama is not to blame.  It is the ignorance, which is growing like a cancer in our society, thanks largely to the leftist media and a monumentally failed educational system, which has been more interested in giving everyone an “A” for self-esteem than teaching good hard-core fundamentals – values, patriotism, history, economics, self-reliance, etc.  All Obama, and others like him, have to do is play to the self-esteem factor – “you’ll feel good about yourself if you vote for me because I’m one of you.”

James A. Venema, Hockessin

SAFE is concerned with government policies, not politics as such.  However, the president did promise (on the campaign trail in 2008) to “fundamentally transform America,” and he has supported the steady centralization of power in Washington since taking office – with the Executive Branch playing an increasingly dominant role vis-ŕ-vis the other two branches of government.  “The imperial presidency returns,” http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog_archives.htm#June_-_April_2012 (6/25/12).  

Americans might be well advised to consider these points before going to the polls this November, as well as asking themselves whether Mitt Romney would do any better.

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July 19, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Housing crisis brought on by government

[Former] Sen. Ted Kaufman’s op-ed piece in the News Journal several weeks ago again demonstrated an interesting phenomenon.  That is, the ability of intelligent, well-educated people (Sen. Kaufman holds an MBA from Wharton) to fall victim of their ideological beliefs rather than their rational thoughts.  Sen. Kaufman put the blame for the housing fiasco on the banking industry.  He knows better; he had a front row seat at the beginning of the housing bubble.  He knows that the beginning began when Congress began punitive action against prudent bankers for “red lining” portions of their market area indicating that loans in these areas were not prudent, i.e., the likelihood of mortgages within the “red lines” were not a sound investment for the bank.

As a consequence, banks began making loans – now called sub-prime – within the red lines.  These were bad loans that the banks did not want to continue to hold in their portfolios.  Lo and behold, guess what?  They packaged these bad loans – securitized them – into securities and sold them to investors.  The banks got these loans out of their portfolios.  And guess again, why did investors and other parts of the banking industry buy these bad loans?  Through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, these loans were implicitly guaranteed by the US government, i.e., we the taxpayers.

The housing crisis is a government-induced phenomenon, and yes, the banking industry facilitated bad government policy, and yes, some in the industry made a lot of money in the process.  The banking industry may be guilty of knowingly facilitating bad government policy, but in the beginning it was government coercion that began the process.

Sen. Kaufman seems to have overlooked this history in his efforts to pin the blame on Wall Street.

James R. Thomen, Montchan

A blanket policy of “red lining” would seem hard to justify, but as often happens well intentioned government regulations were pushed way too far.  Kaufman’s analysis ignored this point entirely.

Also, unwarranted “easy money” policies of the Federal Reserve under former Chairman Alan Greenspan fueled the housing and mortgage bubble that popped in 2007 et seq. 

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July 18, 2012

To the editor of Harvard Magazine,

As should be well known, this nation's government was designed to be a republic (rule of law) rather than a democracy (rule of the people).  It's rather off point to write about "America's Damaged Democracy" (July-August issue), therefore, as opposed to the undermining of the republic that has taken place. And the four political system articles in the issue seem to contemplate doing away with the American republic entirely, not repairing the damage that has been done.  James Madison et al. would be shocked!

A comprehensive analysis has been posted. "Professors facilitate national decline," Secure America's Future Economy,  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm (scroll down to 7/2/12).


William Whipple III
Secure America's Future Economy

SAFE has been advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996, and now you can follow us on Twitter.

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June 26, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

“Fast & Furious” not “Wide Receiver”

Eugene Robinson’s Saturday article seeks to equate the “Fast & Furious” operation with the George W. Bush program “Wide Receiver.”  In “Wide Receiver,” all the weapons had imbedded devices to allow tracking on the ground and by fixed wing and helicopter aircraft.  The attempt was to track the weapons in order to nab the crooks.  It also directly involved the Mexican government.  “Fast & Furious” had no means of tracking the weapons and did not involve the Mexican government in any way.  “Wide Receiver” was terminated when it was found the Mexicans had found a way to disable the tracking.  US Attorney General Eric Holder has stonewalled US Rep. Darrell Issa’s committee for 18 months [re “Fast & Furious”] and now, the president, who initially said he know nothing about the program, has cited executive privilege to prevent crucial documents from being sent to the committee.

So we have a new Nixon in the White House covering up critical information the public has a right to know.  Lies and stonewalling at the highest levels of government.

Edgar W. Fasig Jr., Wilmington

It remains to be seen whether and in what way the White House was involved in F&F, but Rep. Issa’s committee is quite properly trying to determine who was responsible for this operation and/or tried to cover it up.  The imperial presidency returns, 6/25/12. http://bit.ly/f3oa9Z

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Editor, The News Journal

June 20, 2012

CCNG more efficient than Bloom Energy

Citizen activist John Nichols lost an appeal on Bloom Energy but the real losers will be everyone in Delaware not associated with Bloom because of the higher costs and higher emissions of Bloom electricity compared to the logical alternative, Combined Cycle Natural Gas (CCNG). Bloom claims reduced emissions but this is only true by comparing it to old natural gas technologies, or burning coal or oil. CCNG is more efficient than Bloom, using less natural gas per kilowatt and generating fewer total emissions.

Bloom claims they emit fewer emissions because it is a non-combustion process but this is just semantics. The net chemical reaction is the same: CH4 (methane) plus 2 O2 (oxygen) yields CO2 plus 2 H2O. The company claims it will create jobs with its Newark fuel cell factory, but to sell fuel cells they must convince customers to buy power with higher costs and higher emissions than well-known proven alternatives.

Bloom claims it will help the economy, but by charging three times what the power is worth, Bloom will take out more than they bring in.

Bloom’s high costs would be a drag on Delaware’s economy for years.

John E. Greer Jr., P.E., Wilmington

John Greer belongs to Climate Common Sense, a SAFE ally.

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June 10, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Romney earned this wealth, not so for others

With all the attention being given to Mitt Romney’s wealth, it is noteworthy that no concern was heard over the Kennedy fortune or John Kerry’s.

That this is just one more example of liberal media bias is revealed by a recent study showing that ABC, CBS and NBC combined mentioned Kerry’s wealth only twice when he was a candidate [for president in 2004] whereas they have already covered Romney’s 27 times. 

If the media are going to dwell on a candidate’s wealth, perhaps it is of interest to note that John Kennedy inherited his, Kerry married his, but Romney worked for his.

Harry Kenton, Wilmington

SAFE does not endorse Mitt Romney or any other political candidate.  However, media bias is one of the many items on our worry list because biased coverage can distract the public from the real issues. Also, Harry had his facts straight. http://bit.ly/MtnF6M

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May 31, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

US debt crisis requires painful choices from all

Politicians and the American public have acted together to put the federal government deeply in debt.  There is a significant risk of destruction of the American Dollar.  This could happen quickly, and the consequences would be unpredictably bad.

We cannot wait for the politicians to solve this problem - members of the American public must act.  In my discussions with friends, I find a resistance to accepting any pain, unless everyone else is doing the same.  I call this a dangerous logjam.  Some of us have to get out in front and break this logjam.  I don't care how the logjam is broken, but I want to see it done quickly, for the welfare, and even safety of my family.

I am sticking out my neck, and suggesting a possible logjam-breaker.  I receive Social Security and will support a small cut in Social Security payments.  Ouch!  Nobody wants that, but as another writer concluded his letter:  " The solution is some pain now to avoid a disaster later."

There is no painless way to correct for our previous bad habits, as anyone who has had to destroy their credit cards can tell you.  So, we had better break this logjam.  If you know a better way to break the logjam, please let it be known, and I'll join you.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

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May 30, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

School reform efforts require refocusing

We have been “reforming” our public school system for a half century.  “Why Johnny Can’t Read” was published in 1955.  As I think back on the various reform efforts, I notice two things that have remained constant: increasing centralization of control and increased unionization of teachers.  Perhaps these are where our reform efforts should be focused.

Let’s start by adopting a financial plan that weans our school districts off outside sources of funding that take away from local control of schools.  Doing so will precipitate a conflict with the teachers’ union.  So be it.  It is clear that the teachers’ union sucks the lifeblood of initiative and responsibility out of our school system.  Let’s transform our school boards by electing persons who are not beholden to the status quo, federal money and unionized teachers.

Vision 2015 is a reform effort initiated in 2006 by the Rodel Foundation based on the idea that all participants in the school system would collaborate in the improvement effort – collaboration, not confrontation.  

James R. Thomen, Wilmington 

SAFE does not oppose teachers’ unions per se, but the principle of local school autonomy is of paramount importance.  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/education.htm

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May 5, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

US can’t keep sweeping debt crisis under the rug

A recent letter calls the path of fiscal austerity “insane” in the European context and little better here.  But who can say deficit spending of over $1 trillion per year is boosting economic output or creating jobs?

The 2009 stimulus package has not put the economy back on track.  Where is the evidence for claims that things would be even worse without the stimulus? Experience suggests tax and spending cuts are more effective to stimulate the economy than spending increases, which makes sense because job creation takes place in the private sector.

With rising debt, lenders will start demanding higher interest rates.  Consider what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in February:  “As we have seen in a number of [European] countries recently, interest rates can soar quickly if investors lose confidence in the ability of a government to manage its fiscal policy.”

[Should lenders feel confident in our government’s fiscal policy?] The president’s latest budget projects a $10 trillion increase in the national debt over the next decade (rising to $25.9 trillion by the end of 2022).  And while the House of Representatives passed a budget framework deemed so radical that Senate Democrats plan to stonewall it, even the House budget indicates a continuing rise in spending and debt.

[In sum,] the fiscal problem is serious business, [and this country must stop brushing it under the rug.]      

William Whipple III, Middletown

Words in brackets were deleted by the editors, making the letter hard to follow.

On the plus side, there is a clever political cartoon on the same page showing side-by-side panels of (A) Edward Munch’s painting “The Scream,” which was just sold at auction for a record amount (http://bit.ly/Ix2eiX) - caption “$120 million”; and (B) a jaws agape man staring at a piece of paper entitled US Debt – caption $15.7 trillion. 

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April 25, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Acidification theory has been proven inaccurate

A recent letter tries to perpetuate climate alarmist theories about “ocean acidification” which have been disproved by real-world observations.  Claims are made that ocean pH has changed from 8.2 to 8.1 because of CO2 emissions and global warming. This small change supposedly is causing dissolution of shells of shellfish, dying coral reefs, more jellyfish, and threats to the food chain base.  All [these claims] have been found to be untrue.

Investigations show that ocean pH has not been constant in the past but has varied from at least 7.9 to 8.3, with changes up and down that do not correlate with CO2.

Shellfish have evolved to endure these changes and their shells do not dissolve.  Corals have been growing faster, not dying. Investigations found no increase in jellyfish with more acidic conditions anywhere.

The base of the ocean food chain grows faster with warmer temperatures and more CO2 and is indifferent to the pH changes.  Researchers introduced corals and other species to more acidic waters near a volcano expecting them to die but instead most grew faster.

The benefits of CO2 to plants and therefore to animals including people are universal and indisputable.  Catastrophic predictions are speculations unsupported by scientific evidence.  [All this information and much more is extensively documented at www.co2science.org.]   

John E. Greer Jr., Wilmington

John Greer belongs to Climate Common Sense, a SAFE ally.

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April 9, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Carbon dioxide wrongly portrayed as harmful

Carbon dioxide (CO2), along with oxygen and water, is essential for life on earth.  Yet, CO2 has been demonized, using skillful propaganda, backed up by output from arbitrary computer modes.  It is falsely claimed that global warming will cause us harm, due to a rise in sea level.  Not true.

A one-foot rise in a hundred years is not a problem.  It is falsely claimed that emission of CO2 from burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of global warming.  Evidence indicates that warming and cooling periods result from changing output from the sun.

So, what is the harm of the unjustified attack on CO2?  The harm is the requirements forcing us to pay for energy from undependable sources.  The harm is all the government subsidies of inferior energy sources.

Actually, this is more than wasteful.  It is also harmful to the extent that it succeeds in limiting CO2 emissions.  Plant life is more luxuriant with more CO2.  It helps grow food fro the increasing population of the Earth.  With more CO2, plants grow in drier soil – it is making the deserts bloom.

We all need to stop demonizing CO2 and embrace it for the good it does.  We all need to admit – the more CO2 the better.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

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April 8, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Obama could help cut gas prices in long term

Rising gas prices threaten to slow or derail our fragile economic recovery.  Most citizens can decide to drive less or postpone a vacation. 

However, businesses that depend on trucks for shipping or deliveries or airlines will all be adversely affected by higher fuel prices. The president has done little if anything to reduce the price of oil. 

Admittedly, few steps are available that could have an immediate effect.  However, there are steps that would affect prices, longer term.  He could expedite approval of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, allow the Keystone XL pipeline to proceed, open up more federal land for drilling, including ANWR, and stop the effort to restrict “fracking.”

The verbal assault on “subsidies” to the oil industry is inappropriate.  First, equipment depreciation or oil depletion allowances are not “subsidies.  Moreover, to stop these allowances would result in even higher prices at the pump.

Second, we provided “subsidies” to Brazil to expand their offshore drilling program. And we may or may not even buy crude oil from Brazil! 

Third, we have poured money down the drain in an effort to create “green jobs.”

No net new jobs can be expected from this effort as Spain (over 20 percent unemployment) has learned the hard way.  Let the free market work to pick winners and losers.

R. Jerry Martin, Wilmington

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April 7, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Obama, in particular, has ruined America

In September 2008, this paper printed a letter of mine spelling out 13 things we could expect if Barrack Obama were elected, such things as further erosion of our education system, more ignorance of economics, a federal government run like Chicago, the destruction of our healthcare system, huge spending increases, more “Hate America” rants, etc.  Twelve predictions were on the money, big time.

The only thing that didn’t happen was “mandatory tire inflation inspections.”  In 2008 Obama said if we all inflated our tires properly then our energy problem would be solved.

Now he is suggesting that “algae” would do the job of gassing our cars.  So those in the suburbs should immediately begin digging backyard ponds to cultivate algae and then buy an “algae converter” to process it into fuel.  Those in the city with no yards better just buy hiking boots.  I’m certain Obama and his dupes in Congress and the bureaucracy will come up with tax credits for shovels.

Brain-dead Americans should remember that Richard Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment because he (get ready) – lied.  Now we have a president who lies every days, hates and evades the Constitution, breaks the law with impunity, loves our enemies, hates our friends and constantly tells us, along with his mini-dictator czars, what we can and cannot do.

President Ronald Reagan once famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

James A. Venema, Hockessin

SAFE’s goal of  “smaller, more focused, less costly government” has take a heavy hit over the past four years, as this letter indicates.  We take no position, however, on the political sentiments expressed.  

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April 6, 2012_

Editor, Delaware State News

House budget deserves serious consideration

The House of Representatives rejected the president’s budget proposal 414-0, but that did not stop him from lashing out at the alternative budget crafted by Representative Paul Ryan et al. as “an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.”  Really?

Versus the president’s budget, the House budget would cut spending over the next decade by $5.3 trillion. A major tax increase would be avoided, and the 2022 debt level vs. Gross Domestic Product would be shaved by 14 percentage points.  So far, so good!

Some say these results would be achieved through ruthless cuts to the social safety net, or as the president put it “social Darwinism,” but a review of the package suggests otherwise.  Take the proposal to block grant Medicaid, index the state grants for inflation & population growth, and eliminate the overlay of federal requirements that make it well nigh impossible for states to run their low income healthcare plans effectively.

Ever more money is spent on Medicaid, straining both federal and state budgets, yet the quality of healthcare services provided is typically mediocre.  And if the voters don’t like the cost and/or results, there is no elected official they can turn to – with the possible exception of the nation’s president – who has the authority to change things.  This is not a sound management model, nor is it how democracy is supposed to work.

So while this and other aspects of the House budget should be scrutinized rather than accepted on faith, opponents should not be allowed to dismiss the plan simply because it does not suit their political agenda.

William Whipple III, Middletown

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April 6, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Alternative energy not necessarily efficient

Supporter of alternative energy, like wind and solar, believe it replaces an equal amount of reliable energy in the form of coal, nuclear or natural gas. They generally understand solar energy is not available at night and that wind turbines don’t provide energy when the wind doesn’t blow. 

But, most don’t understand the consequences of intermittent energy and the difficulty it creates for PJM, the system operator in this region.  System operators schedule arrivals and departures of electricity, which must be kept in precise balance or risk system failure.  Based on experience, they know how much electricity is required to meet anticipated demand and plan supply accordingly.  With reliable sources of energy this is relatively easy.

However, because there is currently no cost-effective utility scale storage solution to enable the dispatch of wind or solar energy, each unit of alternative energy must be backed-up by an equal unit of reliable energy. 

This limitation means alternative energy does not add to overall system capacity value. Rather, it reduces the capacity value of the grid and lessens the ability to meet peak demand. Texas has the most installed wind capacity of any state, and during peak demand days power outages have occurred.  As the percentage of alternative energy penetration increases, these outages will increase in frequency and severity. 

Proponents of alternatives argue society must consume less, instead of building new reliable capacity. Thus, if demand is not voluntarily reduced, the consequence will be prioritized electricity delivery to protect the integrity of the grid.  The result will be less electricity availability, more expensive electricity, and less prosperity for America.           

John A. Nichols, Middletown

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April 2, 2012_

Editor. Delaware State News

Come to the rescue

When someone has spent the maximum possible on each of several credit cards, they have two choices.  One is to change their way of living drastically, save money and pay what they owe.  The other choice leads to bankruptcy, maybe losing a house, or even becoming homeless.

We have similar choices with our ridiculously high national debt.  We must cut federal government spending drastically, and start paying down the debt.  We must make significant sacrifices now, to avert much worse consequences later.

History tells us that the present policy of printing money and risking hyperinfla-tion can destroy the value of the US Dollar.  What then?  How do you feed your family?  How do you cope with the breakdown of law and order?

One serious part of the problem is the behavior of state governments.  They pander to desires of businesses and various organizations for government grants.  Every dollar from the federal government is a dollar increase in the national debt.

We must stop rewarding our members of Congress for helping to get money from the federal government, and start rewarding them for their efforts to cut federal spending.

As for the individual states, their proper role now is clear.  Rather than taking money from the federal government, they should be taking some of the load off the federal government.  An important move in this direction is to take over responsibility for Medicaid.

This, of course, requires shrinking or elimination of state government programs. This may seem drastic, but we are in a dire situation.  There should be no more bribery of businesses to move to your state.  Instead, entice them by making it easier to do business in your state.

Taking control will allow individual states to do a better job without concern for rules dreamed up by federal bureaucrats.

Up to now, the individual states have been part of the problem.  Please - come to the rescue.  Become part of the solution.

William E. Morris, Wilmington, Del.

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April 2, 2012

Editor, Oil & Gas Journal

Unaffordable waste

In the article, “US production of refined products entering new era,”Ben Montalbano points out that changes in the tax code and the adoption of biofuel mandates are costly. (GJ, Mar. 5, 2012, p.86)  This is a waste we cannot afford when we need to cut spending to avoid a financial catastrophe.

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was an important factor in starting us down this road.  It is full of misleading propaganda.  One example is a set of graphs of temperature and CO2 concentration for the last 600,000 years.  The graphs are very similar, and Gore states:  "When there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature increases because more heat from the sun is trapped inside."  However, close studies of the data show that the CO2 changes follow the temperature changes by about 700 years.  Therefore, CO2 changes cannot have caused the temperature changes.  Instead, temperature changes caused the CO2 changes.

Most of the CO2 on Earth is dissolved in the ocean.  As temperature  increases, the solubility of CO2 in the ocean decreases, and CO2 is emitted.  As temperature decreases, the solubility of CO2 in the ocean increases and CO2 is dissolved, going from the atmosphere into the ocean.  Changes in temperature on Earth are probably caused primarily by changes in the output of the sun.

The cost of using expensive, undependable energy sources is entirely wasted.  Even worse, if these measures were  to succeed in limiting the amount of CO2 emitted, there would be an additional cost because of the beneficial effect of CO2.  The rise in CO2 concentration has increased plant growth, which is beneficial in feeding the Earth's growing population.

Meanwhile, until more people catch up with the facts, the petroleum industry will have to cope with counterproductive regulations.

William E. Morris, Wilmington, Del.

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March 31, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Rising CO2 levels have benefitted plants

The recent warm weather was given front page coverage.  Widespread concern was expressed that a frost may follow this unusually early warm period.  The author uses the term “human-caused pollution emissions,” which undoubtedly refers to carbon dioxide, which is a benign gas, necessary for life on Earth as we know it, along with oxygen and water.  The EPA, which long ago put political motives ahead of real environmental protection, has called CO2 a pollutant.  How ridiculous.

The increase in CO2 atmospheric concentration from about 300 to 400 parts per million has been very beneficial to plant life on the planet, and has without question helped millions of us to avoid starvation.

Jose R. Alvarez, Wilmington

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March 19, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Federal redlining rule led to housing crisis

Former Sen. Ted Kaufman’s column several weeks ago again demonstrated an interesting phenomenon.  The ability of intelligent, well-educated (in Sen. Kaufman’s case, an MBA from Wharton) person to fall victim to their ideological beliefs rather than their rational thoughts.

He puts blame for the housing fiasco on the banking industry.  He knows better; he had a front row seat at the beginning of the bubble.  He knows it began when Congress began punitive action against prudent bankers for “redlining” portions of their market area, indicating that loans in those areas were not sound investments.

As a consequence of government coercion, banks began making loans – now called sub-prime – within the red lines, but because they were bad loans, the banks did not want to continue to own the mortgage.  They packaged these loans – securitized them – into securities and sold them to investors.

The banks got those bad loans out of their portfolios.  Why did investors and other parts of the banking industry buy those bad loans?

Through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the loans were implicitly guaranteed by the US government, i.e., the American taxpayer.  The housing crisis is a government-induced crisis.

The banking industry may be guilty of knowingly facilitating bad government policy, but in the beginning, it was government coercion that began the process.  Sen. Kaufman seems to have overlooked this history in his efforts to pin the blame on Wall Street.

James R. Thomen, Wilmington

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March 15, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Charter boasts high achievement standards

The state’s own statistics explain why Newark Charter School families want a high school.

In 2010, over 95 percent of NCS eighth graders met or exceeded the state’s reading standard, and 29 percent scored at the highest level..  Over 95 percent of eighth graders met or exceeded the math standard, and 61 percent scored at the highest level.  In science, 68 percent scored at the highest level.  Student demographics played a role in these numbers, but a rigorous curriculum and excellent teachers played a much bigger one.

By contrast, only 68 percent of Christina School District eighth graders met or exceeded the reading standard, 32 percent were below it.  Less than 5 percent reached the highest level.

In math, 58 percent of the CSD’s eighth graders met or exceeded the state standards, and 42 percent did not.  The district’s troubling patterns continue in its high schools.  In reading, 51 percent of ninth graders met or exceeded the standard, 49 percent did not.  In math, 41 percent met or exceeded the standard, and 60 percent were below it.

Given Newark Charter’s impressive record, how could anyone argue against replicating that success in high school?

Phil Mink, Newark

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March 12, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Congressman deluded by “feel-good” politics

The March 2 op-ed by Delaware’s three congressmen, about supporting the poultry industry, is proof they are still deluded by party line “wishful thinking” as they continue to tell us that “[c]ellulosic biofuels will replace corn-based ethanol.

The reality is that, after decades of expensive taxpayer-funded subsidies, no researcher has succeeded in developing a cellulose-derived fuel that is even close in cost and usefulness to petroleum-based gasoline.

Our federal representatives should not imitate their compatriots in Dover who, following the “feel-good” party line, voted to allow a California company to build in Newark, after deciding to declare “Bloom Boxes” as “green power” generators, despite their required use of a “fossil fuel” (natural gas).  Both examples are proof that our representatives are more motivated by politics than [by] science or economics-based facts.

William Day, Newark 

See also: http://www.s-a-f-e.org/delaware_chatter.htm (3/2/12, A15)

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February 27, 2012

Editor, Delaware State News

CO2 is a good gas

In writing about climate change, some people mix two questions when they are separate: “Is it getting warmer?” and “Is carbon dioxide (CO2) a major cause of global warming?”

As a skeptic, I say: “Yes, it is getting warmer as we recover from the Little Ice Age.”  Within the warming trend, there are periods with no warming and periods with significant warming.  These shorter-term trends are correlated with the activity of the Sun.  Thus, the warming itself indicates that the Sun is a major factor in climate change.

There is a lot of evidence that CO2 is not a significant factor in global warming, including the fact that its greenhouse effect becomes less and less at greater concentrations.  The first 10 percent of the present CO2 level exerts most of the greenhouse effect that CO2 can exert.  At the present level, additional CO2 has very little greenhouse effect.  Almost all the greenhouse effect is exerted by water vapor, which is affected by the activity of the Sun.

So, CO2 is not a bad gas.  Actually, it is a very good gas.  The increase in CO2 concentration has increased growth of plants.  It helps plants survive unfavorable conditions, causing the greening of deserts.  It helps feed our growing population.

Current regulations requiring the use of expensive, undependable forms of energy production to decrease the emission of CO2 are actually counterproductive.  I hope that eventually, regulators will recognize that fact.  The sooner the better.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

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February 11, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Some sacrifices needed to avoid hyperinflation

There is an elephant in your living room.  Arithmetic tells us that the stated US debt of $15 trillion is equal to $130,000 per taxpayer.  If you can pay that, here is something that the government left out - the unfunded liabilities.  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and prescription drugs. 

What will be done now?  There are two possibilities.  Entitlements must be scaled back and/or we must have severe inflation so that the debt can be repaid in cheap dollars.  As if that’s not enough, we are in danger of hyperinflation.

 At some unknowable point, as inflation gets worse, people decide to dump their money in favor of anything tangible.  This happened in several countries, including Germany after World War I, and Germans said that it was worse than the war.

Is it possible to avoid hyperinflation?  I believe it is possible if enough Americans become willing to accept some voluntary sacrifices now, in order to avoid much greater involuntary sacrifices later.  If we get over that hurdle, there are plenty of ideas on how to attack the problem. 

William E. Morris, Wilmington

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February 3, 2012

Editor The News Journal

Leaders could reduce deficit with two steps

The Congressional Budget Office projects a $1.1 trillion deficit for the current fiscal year. Similar-size deficits are projected in coming years.  A Wednesday article said “it’s commonly assumed” that little will be done on the deficit issue this year.

Will all of this deficit spending “jump start” the economy?  The CBO report projects continuing economic weakness.  Thus, the unemployment rate is projected as above 8% in 2012 and 2013 and not declining to 7% until the end of 2015.

Granted this is an election year, as is every even-numbered year in our calendar, but the nation’s political leaders didn’t get anything much done in 2011 so maybe they should make up for lost time by taking two steps:

First, approve a budget for fiscal year 2013 well before Oct. 1.  Not only is such a budget called for by Congress’s own rules, but the discipline involved might prod some constructive thinking about wasteful programs and activities that can be eliminated.

Second, instead of arguing about whether millionaires are paying “their fair share” (a meaningless question in the abstract), it is time to overhaul the tax system from stem to stern.  The goal would be to slash tax rates, eliminate most tax preferences, and collect at least as much revenue as is being collected now with a lot less economic damage. 

Some may say this represents wishful thinking.  I would ask what’s holding us back?

William Whipple III, Middletown

NOTE: This letter is adapted from a 4-point plan SAFE sent to the members of Congress on 2/1/12. http://bit.ly/wcMHT8

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January 24, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Union, feds’ involvement stunting schools’ growth

First, let me commend Marvin Schoenhals of Vision 2015 for taking on the massive and largely thankless task of trying to makes something of our public schools.

When I spoke with him briefly about it several years ago I simply said, “Good luck.”  We have had numerous and costly “reforms” over the past several decades, and with the exception of some charter schools, with little or no return on investment.  Costs (taxes) keep going up while achievement remains static or declines.  We are one of the highest cost-per-student states, yet we rank close to the bottom in achievement.

Schoenhals faces three major obstacles before getting down to the parent-child level.  First is the Department of Education, a vast and useless bureaucracy that loads our schools with useless bureaucracy, mandates and, yes, indoctrination – all for, you guessed it, more taxpayer money, now disguised as “federal funds.”

Next is the teachers’ union, designed and run for the benefit of teachers by definition.  Where are the student and taxpayer unions? Schoenhals was correct in comparing this union to others that deal with the “factory floor.”  Where is the incentive for members to excel, to stand out, to overachieve?  How do we differentiate between lousy and good, or excellent, teachers? 

Third, Schoenhals says the legislature must create a “more flexible” system of funding schools.  Like others, is he suggesting getting rid of taxpayer referenda and allowing Dover to determine everything?  Bad idea, since most of those in Dover have been at least partly bought and paid for by – you guessed it – the teachers’ union.  So, once Schoenhals gets the feds out of our schools, is able to reform or remove teachers’ unions, and can get union money out of election campaigns – well, “Good luck.”

James A. Venema, Hockessin

See Delaware Chatter, 1/10/12, for further discussion of Mr. Schoenhals’s column.

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January 8, 2012

Editor, The News Journal

Climate has changed over thousands of years

A letter writer is certain that “Climate Change” is caused by the tiny amount of CO2 in our atmosphere, because he has been convinced by politicians (Ted Kaufman), politically correct professional societies (many of whose members are dependent on large government grants), and biased media articles.

Meanwhile, he has obviously failed to consider abundant historical evidence that “climate” has fluctuated many times over the eons, and has been warming slowly since 1800, long before power plants and motor vehicles, and the thousands of peer-reviewed scientific articles that disagree (http://www.climatechangereconsidered.org/) with the hypothesis that humans and fossil fuels are responsible.

William Day, Newark

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