S-A-F-E  Letters

 

 

Letters  2013

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

December 18, 2013

 

The News Journal

 

Educators should confront unions

 

Much has been written in the News Journal lately regarding efforts to improve K-12 educational outcomes.  The News Journal has emphasized the need for leadership among the principals/administrators group.  Money does not seem to improve results significantly.

 

The elephant in the room is the teacher’s union insistence on tenure and uniform pay independent of teacher performance.  Several months ago I sent the 24 members of Brandywine, Christiana, Colonial and Red Clay School districts school boards this question: “Do you or any of your immediate family belong to a union or have union connections?”  I received six responses; all but one acknowledged being union related or a member.

 

I presume most of the nonresponders are [also] union related.  Principals/administrators have union-represented teachers below them and union-related board members they are responsible to.  Thus, it is not surprising that union attitudes prevail throughout the system.  Until these change, nothing will.

 

I hoped the Rodel Foundation might be a change agent, but it appears unwilling to confront the elephant.  Their mantra is “cooperation, not confrontation.”  Perhaps civic associations such as Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and Optimists should come together to identify and support non-union school board candidates.  This could be the means by which these organizations make a very real contribution to our communities.

 

Again, provide the means by which principals/administrators can lead.  Give them functional authority and responsibility to hire, terminate and pay for performance, not time and degrees which require no judgment. 

 

The elephant in the room needs to be removed and put out to pasture.  Who is going to do it?

 

James R. Thomen 

Montchan

 

One constructive change might be to have school board elections coincide with other elections, rather than taking place separately and drawing very low citizen turnout.

 


November 26, 2013

Editors, The News Journal

Congress’s lust for spending isn’t helping

Ted Kaufman’s Nov. 17 column predicted dire consequences unless the House/Senate budget conference agrees to “dump sequestration.”  Those included kids dropping out of school, tax revenues lost, tax cheats going free, fewer advances in treatment for diabetes or cancer, and cuts in government research and development that is vital to economic growth.

Personally, I’d put diminished US military readiness at the top of the list, but the general point is sound.  Sequestration is a crude way to cut spending, and the budget conference committee should look for a better approach.

Sequestration is the only lever that has helped rein in spending, however, everything else has just been talk.  Accordingly, those who would repeal sequestration (proposed by the White House and enacted in the Budget Control Act of 2011) should propose a suitable replacement. Kaufman’s column fails to do this.

There is lots of waste in the nearly $4 trillion budget, and the BCC members could surely agree on a list of specific spending cuts to replace it.  Maybe we don’t need all those duplicative programs documented by the GAO, multiple tax refunds going to foreign addresses, or government ads about incandescent light bulbs being obsolete. 

Some BCC members are not out to cut spending, however, their goal is to raise taxes and start new spending programs. Unless they back off, look for sequestration to continue.

William Whipple III

Middletown

See Prospects brighten for small-scale budget deal, A3, 11/26/13.


November 16, 2013

Editor, The News Journal

Climate [actually manmade global warming theory] skeptics believe change is natural

Editor John Sweeney deserves credit for not banning all letters to the editor by climate change "deniers" as requested by "accepters/believers" who think that "skeptics/deniers" don't understand the science (11/5/13).

The "believers" put their faith in computer models and the United Nations IPCC.  But the models are not evidence and do not match reality.  And nothing could be less scientific or more political than the United Nations.

The problem for "believers" is that the actual scientific evidence does not support them, so they resort to attacking and trying to silence their critics.

"Skeptics/critics/realists" recognize that climate has always been changing, naturally, and any human effects are small.

A major new extensively documented scientific study supports the skeptics: http://climatechangereconsidered.org.  The report concludes that:

1. "No unambiguous scientific evidence exists for adverse changes to the global environment caused by human-related CO2 emissions."

2. Computer models greatly exaggerate the effect of CO2 and underestimate or ignore other known natural factors.

3. Strong empirical evidence correlates climate change with solar variability, not CO2.

4. 20th Century climate variations such as temperature, storms, and sea level rise are well within past natural variations.

5. Earth has not warmed significantly for the past 16 years.

6. Forward projections of solar cyclicity imply the next few decades may [be] marked by global cooling.  

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

Wilmington


October 28, 2013

The News Journal

Core curriculum another Washington plot

To all the liberals who might be reading this, rejoice in the lousy performance of the US economy; you will be enjoying many more years of poor performance.

The socialist programs, and the massive intrusions of the federal government into every aspect of our lives ensure an economy tied down as surely as Gulliver was tied down.  With federal money comes federal control.

Have our schools improved since establishment of the federal Department of Education?  NO, nor should we expect improvement anytime soon – not until we throw off the shackles of big government and let local school districts innovate on their own.

The current hot school topic is Core Curriculum.  There probably is not much terribly wrong with the contents of this curriculum except that it is driven from Washington with a Washington agenda, which is certain to die just as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have failed.

For you conservative readers, you will continue to get policies out of Washington until you exercise your right to organize and turn out of office senators and representatives that promise the moon and enact socialistic programs that will not work, e.g., Delaware’s congressional delegation.

Socialism never has and never will work.

With all its faults, capitalism and free enterprise beats all other economic systems for improving the lives of all of us, at all levels of economic well being.

Let’s get America back on the road to its exceptionalism.

James R. Thomen, Montchan

See also “Will Common Core standards enhance US education?” 8/5/13.


October 2, 2013

The News Journal

Stop giving us such left-wing editorial spin

Only two things surprised me about your editorial “Another stupid, partisan and useless budget crisis” (Sept. 21) – you didn’t blame it all on George W. Bush, and you didn’t conclude it with a “Hail Obama.” Other than that it was standard left-wing tripe.

The blame is now on the national tea party, which has become totally responsible for Obama’s failures.  Frankly, I think it is time for another real tea party – the first one helped to give birth to our great nation, and another one might just save our Republic from Obama, “our boy Joe,” and their fellow socialists.

You said the tea party folks wanted to “slash spending without any thought to the consequences.”  I don’t recall reading anything in your paper criticizing Obama et al. for massively increasing spending without any thought to the consequences.  You criticized Republicans for trying to cut food stamp spending, telling us how many people depend on it but saying nothing about the massive fraud and abuse involved in the program.  You cite 47.5 million Americans living in poverty, but say not one word about how many of those got there thanks to Obama and his [supporters].

You criticized Republicans for pushing for a “continuing resolution,” saying that “is not a budget.”  When have the Democrats submitted a budget?  To cap off your nonsense, you try to [denigrate] the Republican efforts to rein in spending by subtly suggesting it’s similar to the sequester, failing to remind low-information voters that the sequester was Obama’s idea.

James A. Venema, Hockessin


October 1, 2013

The Conservative Caucus of DE newsletter

Nicely played, the GOP shows signs of life

“All’s fair in love and war,” as the saying goes, and perhaps that applies for politics as well.  In any case, we see nothing wrong with the Republican attempt to defund GovCare (aka Obamacare) during the recent budget showdown.

The other side saw things differently, of course, and was not shy about saying so.  Thus, in his September 18 remarks to the Business Roundtable, the president expressed outrage that “a program that was voted on, passed by both chambers of Congress, ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, is two weeks from being fully implemented, and that helps 30 million people finally get healthcare coverage” had been made “the primary roadblock to resolving the budget.”  http://1.usa.gov/189gF8H

This summary failed to mention that GovCare had been enacted without a single Republican vote and that portions of the law (notably the employer mandate) had already been delayed by administrative fiat.  Even assuming GovCare would ultimately be implemented, moreover, a host of legal (e.g., propriety of requiring taxpayers to pick up the tab for members of Congress and their staffs to acquire healthcare insurance coverage through government-run exchanges) and administrative (data base security, verification of claims for healthcare insurance subsidies, etc.) issues needed to be resolved first.

More broadly, the battle over budgetary matters had been raging since Republicans recaptured the House in the 2010 elections, with GOP demands for meaningful spending cuts and deficit reductions being repeatedly rebuffed.  Despite professed willingness to agree to big spending cuts as part of a “balanced solution,” the party in power had shown far more interest in raising taxes and launching new programs than in slashing spending for programs and activities that could not be justified on a realistic cost vs. benefit basis.

As further evidence of the partisan divide on fiscal matters, consider this comparative recap of the House and Senate budgets (the president’s budget proposal is similar) for fiscal year 2014 et seq.

House v. Senate budget plans, 2014-23, $ in trillions

Outlays

Revenues

Deficit

2023 Total Debt

41.5

40.2

1.2

20.4 (79% of GDP)

46.4

41.2

5.2

24.4 (94% of GDP)

Granted that the defund GovCare strategy was aggressive, who could blame the GOP for trying it after their political opponents had demonstrated – again and again – that they were unwilling to have a realistic discussion of the fiscal problem or entertain any constructive suggestions about the impending healthcare disaster.

It’s good to see conservative politicians standing up for what they believe instead of taking a dive when the going gets tough.  Let’s hope the “tea party” rebellion has some good effects over the longer term. 

Bill Whipple, SAFE


September 29, 2013

The News Journal

Yes, global warming is getting “cooler”

Congratulations to The News Journal for the front-page reference to the “slowdown” in warming during the last 15 years or so. (“Climate report authors weighing the warming lull,” Sept. 20). Readers should reflect on the following in order to put this article in its proper perspective:

The warming rate of increase is essentially zero, not a slowdown. Reference to the previous decade as the warmest on record intends to leave the reader with the impression of warmest ever. Not so, as temperatures were much warmer during the medieval warm period.

But more importantly – satellite photographs show a whopping 60 percent increase in Arctic polar ice sheet from August 2012 to August 2013. About 20 yachts are trapped in the northern passage now as they believed recent predictions of total ice disappearance. Good reporting, however, it must include all [relevant] facts, not just what suits political or ideological purposes.

Jose R. Alvarez, Wilmington      


September 26, 2013

The News Journal

Democrats have fiscal accounting to do, too

A Sept. 21 editorial blames congressional Republicans for “another stupid, partisan and useless budget crisis” while absolving Democrats of responsibility for rejecting the GOP’s demands.  An accompanying column by Eugene Robinson likens House Republicans to “a bunch of 3-year-olds playing with matches,” thereby forcing the president to act as “the disciplinarian in this dysfunctional family.” 

But the September 30 deadline is only looming due to previous failures to reach agreement, so let’s review the bidding.  The House budget approved in April projected elimination of the deficit within 10 years.  Debt would keep rising until 2023, but at least there would be light at the end of the tunnel.  The Senate budget (and the president’s budget as well) projected $5 trillion more spending, $1 trillion in tax increases (on top of those enacted in January), an extra $4 trillion in borrowing, and deficits as far as the eye could see.  Sorry, but that’s the road to national bankruptcy!

The Republican attempt to defund “Obamacare” implementation may seem aggressive, but this legislation is not ready for show time.  Why not postpone implementation by a year, as was already done for the employer mandate, and use the time to address the administrative and legal issues that have surfaced?  As for other GOP demands, why should Democrats get a pass for saying no to clearance of the Keystone Pipeline, revenue neutral tax reform, and a long overdue discussion of targeted spending cuts?

William Whipple III, Middletown


July 29, 2013

The News Journal

“Stand your ground” law real issue in Fla. case

The people who disagree with the Zimmerman trial verdict fall into one of two categories.  They either don’t understand Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law or they choose to ignore it.

If George Zimmerman believed he was faced with imminent bodily harm, he had a right under this law to use his gun to defend himself.  An exception would be in the event he physically attacked Martin first.  So, the deciding factor in this case was who threw the first punch.  Inasmuch as it was factually established that Zimmerman suffered a bloodied nose, lacerations on the back of his head from hitting the concrete and Martin was astride him pummeling him, whereas Martin had no injuries except the eventual gunshot damage, it is a reasonable conclusion that Martin attacked Zimmerman.

Furthermore, Zimmerman had no reason to attack Martin.  His role was to ask Martin questions about his presence there.  But Martin may have resented this “(expletive) cracker,” as Martin described Zimmerman to his girlfriend, interrogating him and reacting physically.  Unfortunately, black leaders, such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who make a living beating the drums of racism, leap at any opportunity to fuel racial tensions.

It is a legitimate question to ask whether the “Stand Your Ground” law is too broad and should be modified.  But that is the only honest question in this case.

Harry Kenton, Wilmington

The defense relied on traditional principles of self-defense - saying Zimmerman was powerless to retreat after being attacked – and did not cite Florida’s SYG law.  But we would certainly agree that the verdict was consistent with the evidence, which this letter summarizes.  


July 26, 2013

The News Journal

Cartoon fell flat, missed point of our democracy

It’s hard to explain what makes a joke funny, but I’d say one ingredient is a kernel of truth.  By that standard, a recent political cartoon [NJ, July 24] fell flat. 

The cartoon used side-by-side panels to liken “Bankrupt Motown” (an old style car with Detroit written on the side, sitting on cinder blocks) to “Intellectually, Financially and Morally Bankrupt Congress” (Capitol Building). 

Problem No. 1 is that the US auto companies are still in business; although they have more competition than they did in the 1950s, it’s the Detroit government that is bankrupt.

Problem No. 2 is that Congress is only one element in the gridlock that is gripping DC.  Maybe if the president spent more time working with the loyal opposition and less time jetting around the country to make speeches, things would be going a bit better.  And by the way, if Congress were so terrible, what would the alternative be?  

William Whipple III, Middletown

Here is a better cartoon for the Detroit bankruptcy, which we subsequently spotted in Net Right Daily. http://bit.ly/18zVPPd


July 15, 2013

The News Journal

Obama’s plans too dangerous for US

In 2008, Obama vowed to “fundamentally transform America.”  Too few people took him at his word and he was elected, then re-elected, by the Low Information Voters and Kool-Aid drinkers.  Oxford defines fundamental as “affecting or relating to the essential nature of something,” and transformation is “a through or dramatic change in form.”  [As for America, this] refers to the greatest nation this world has ever seen.

So what did he mean in ’08, and what have he and his [supporters] practiced?  Combining the above definitions even the LIVs and KAD can conclude he wanted to change the essential form of America, i.e., destroy what existed and replace it with something else.  He is well on his way to fulfilling [this] promise – [unlike some others that he made].

Others say it much better than I can.  Thomas Sowell, an economist at Stanford University, said: “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong,” and, “I think this man (Obama) really does believe he can change the world, and people like that are infinitely more dangerous than mere crooked politicians.”

Our Founding Father, George Washington, said: “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.  Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

James A. Venema, Hockessin

This video clip documents the president’s 2008 statement, and places it in context. .   http://bit.ly/yuhz10  Some might say the promise was to save America by supporting the middle class against the financial interests, not to destroy anything, but it would be hard to characterize the economic policies implemented since 2008 as successful.


June 16, 2013

The News Journal

Put overblown climate change in perspective

The human race has been very lucky, because of the unusually long time between two big ice ages.  During this time, there [have been] alternating warm and cool periods, each  cycle lasting about 1,500 years.  Before the present warm period, was the Little Ice Age, which followed the Medieval Warm Period.  The Medieval Warm Period and previous warm periods reached temperatures warmer than we have now.  This has two implications:

• The present elevated level of carbon dioxide does not appear to be a significant factor in the present warming.

• Our present climate may continue to get warmer.

If carbon dioxide is not a significant factor, we are just wasting money when we subsidize undependable, inefficient energy sources to limit carbon dioxide emissions.  If the climate warms further, the best response appears to be to adapt to the change, as did our ancestors.

The slowness of climate change provides perspective for our reaction to it.  The warming/cooling cycle lasts about 1,500 years, so a new cooling cycle could last about 750 years.  Assuming 30 years per generation, a cooling phase could last about 25 human generations.  With this perspective, climate change doesn’t appear to deserve much priority.  We have short-term problems to consider.

William E. Morris, Wilmington


June 6, 2013

The News Journal

When we conserve energy, utility companies raise rates, John A. Nichols

Most citizens don’t understand how Delmarva Power earns revenue.   They need to learn, because the cost of delivering electric power to their homes and businesses will become increasingly expensive due to policies that focus on reducing demand.    

[The state law that deregulated electric power generation required Delmarva Power to sell all of the company’s generation capacity in order to continue operations as a distributor.]*  Most of Delmarva’s revenue comes from charging their customers for the “delivery” of electric power.  The “supply” side of the bill, which is the customer’s greatest expense, provides almost no revenue for the utility.  

Delmarva is basically a “delivery service,” which charges a fee for moving a product (electric power) from one location (point of purchase) to another location (the consumer).  The Public Service Commission (PSC) determines the fee. The delivery charge is set to enable the utility to earn a 9.75 percent return on equity - if business expenses are properly managed and the projections for electric power sales are accurate.  Mismanagement may draw regulatory scrutiny if there are numerous service complaints or frequent rate increases are requested.   

If the volume of electric power delivered declines, the utility experiences a revenue shortfall.  The PSC can be petitioned for a “rate increase”, which, if granted, will allow the utility to collect more revenue for each kilowatt hour of electric power delivered.  The typical response is outrage from consumers, already hard pressed to make ends meet, and feigned indignation from legislators – whose policies helped create the need for a rate increase in the first place.

To reduce requests for frequent rate increases, utilities should attempt to distribute more electric power, thereby spreading distribution costs over a broader base.  Such growth strategies have traditionally fueled the engine of American prosperity.

However, Delaware legislators and regulators have been seduced by green energy fanatics and the crony capitalists who have aligned with them.  The new paradigm is to adopt laws and regulations that encourage energy conservation and mandate the purchase of high cost renewable energy. 

Other states have fallen for similar ideas, but Delaware’s electric costs are higher than average and we have forfeited an opportunity to significantly improve the state’s attractiveness as a place to do business.  Then, to make up for high electric power prices and other factors, Delaware politicians have attempted to lure businesses to the state by offering expensive subsidies – a desperate and ill-advised approach.

To quote [chapter and verse,] Title 26 of the Delaware Code, Section 1020 (enacted in 2009) requires that utilities such as Delmarva Power “first consider electric power demand response and demand-side management strategies for meeting base load and load growth needs” and “preferentially obtain electric power demand response resource.” Very soon, ratepayers will learn the “demand response resource” is the planned, initially, voluntary reduction of their own electricity use during “peak demand hours”, with a bonus paid to them for not using electricity.

Planners argue it is less expensive to pay ratepayers [to not] consume electricity, using their own money to pay them, of course, rather than build new generation to meet increased demand.

If this sounds like a formula for success, a more thorough understanding of the phrase “Ponzi Scheme” is required. The law also requires the use of “cost-effective renewable energy resources before considering fossil fuel generation.”  

In other words, Delmarva Power is required by law to buy more “cost-effective renewable energy” (an oxymoron) while reducing the volume of electric power sold. The idea of cost-effective capacity expansion is placed dead last.

Ironically, many Delaware legislators urged the PSC to oppose Delmarva Power’s recent request for a 5.75 percent rate increase, even though they were directly responsible for causing it.  Barring a policy reversal, the uninformed, and therefore gullible, ratepayers can look forward to many more rate increases to support rising distribution costs and increasingly expensive electric power.  

Utility executives have contributed to the problem by failing to educate their customers about what is going on.  They clearly understand that lower power sales mean higher distribution costs per kilowatt-hour, but they have chosen to operate on a “go along to get along” basis. 

If Delmarva Power’s customers want a better deal, they should let the company and the legislators know they have had enough of these misguided economic policies.

John Nichols, a citizen who advocates for science-based solutions to meet complex energy needs, lives in Middletown.

*In the column as published, this text read: “After deregulation, the law required Delmarva Power executives decided to sell all of company’s generation capacity.” 

May 15, 2013

The News Journal

These kind of voters are easy to dupe politically

Rush Limbaugh refers to those with little or no knowledge of important issues as “low-information voters,” who like lemmings just pull the “D” lever.  In my opinion this is the result [of] a bankrupt public school system, certainly not bankrupt in the amount of money it blows through and wastes on union and stupid federal program demands, but in the product it produces.  Equally to blame, perhaps more so is [the president’s] bought-and-paid-for leftist mainstream print and broadcast media.

[The White House press secretary is in charge of damage control, and he] certainly earns his $170,000 or so salary.  Carney spews forth [talking points] and [the media buys them hook, line and sinker.] They are no longer in the reporting business except for pop-culture trivia and, just as more and more major universities, they are in the brainwashing business.  Hence, low-information [voters.] 

Now, with all the [misinformation about Benghazi,] where four Americans were murdered, some elements of the left-wing media are, hopefully, finally waking up.  Maybe these ignoramuses are reading some history and finding out that President Nixon resigned under impeachment threat because he lied about [an office] break-in that produced no casualties.

[I fear] that low-information voters will simply dismiss it by saying, “It’s all Bush’s fault.”

James A. Venema, Hockessin

We toned down this letter for posting purpose, no change in substance.


May 8, 2013

The News Journal

The federal role in education hasn’t worked

Several weeks ago a letter suggested that two federal agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and early education efforts such as Head Start (with benefits that have disappeared by third grade) could be discontinued with no loss to society, but with important savings for taxpayers.  Rather than going through the federal budget page by page, as promised, [the president] has chosen to suggest cutting spending where it would have maximum visible negative effect on citizens, e.g., air traffic controllers.  A better choice would be the Department of Education.

Entry of the federal government into the education business has been a disaster.  The GI Bill has been hailed as a wonderful investment.  It was [initially], but [within a very few years] universities raised tuition to match the benefits for veterans.  The result was higher tuition for all students and no net benefit for veterans.  For example, in 1949, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology raised its tuition at the Sloan School of Management exactly equal to the married veteran’s benefit.  The GI Bill had become a “pass-through.” 

Today, student loans subsidize universities filled with professors who teach very little.  On the local level, it is federal money and its accompanying rules, regulations and protocols and therefore control of K-12 education that sucks the oxygen out of the classroom.  It is not surprising that three decades of reform have accomplished two things: very large increases in costs, and deteriorating results.  Abandoning the federal Department of Education would reverse these undesirable results – achieving improved results at lower costs.  To paraphrase, “money corrupts; federal money corrupts absolutely.”  It is time for the average taxpayer to support abolishing the federal Department of Education.

James R. Thomen, Montchan

The letter referenced in the first paragraph was Thomen’s 3/8/13 letter.


April 26, 2013

The News Journal

Nuclear power a safer energy source than most

A recent editorial, “Nuclear safety report raises valid concerns,” prompts me to respond with my own concerns. I am concerned, because special evacuation plans for those living within ten miles of a nuclear plant could easily do harm, but no good. The smallest part of the harm would result from side effects of a massive movement of scared people.

The larger part of the harm already results from unjustified concern about low-level nuclear radiation. That concern is based on an assumed straight-line extrapolation of harm from massive radiation, to zero harm from zero radiation. That “linear, no threshold” assumption has been blow out of the water many times.

It has been proved many times that lower level radiation is not harmful, but beneficial. This phenomenon, called “hormesis,” occurs widely. Just one example: one aspirin can cure a headache, but a thousand might kill you.

Because of hormesis, with nuclear radiation, the 10-mile radius “evacuation zone” is unnecessary. But much worse is the blockage of nuclear plant construction based on the false “linear, no threshold” assumption. This unjustified concern about nuclear radiation has cost each of us a lot of money.

Nuclear energy has been one of the safest, if not the safest, source of energy for many years. Recently, it has become even safer. [Terrestrial Energy, a 2008 book by William Tucker.] Rather than considering extension, the 10-mile “evacuation radius” should be cancelled. More important, a realistic re-evaluation of the safe level of nuclear radiation is needed. A realistic re-evaluation should result in much cheaper nuclear power and a lower cost of electricity.

William E. Morris, Wilmington


April 18, 2013

Delaware State News

Let’s focus on basic budget issue

Some observers support the president’s proposal to run deficits averaging $0.5 trillion per year over the next decade.  Others say the current borrow and spend party must end, lest it result in a financial crisis.

I think the goal should be to balance the budget, not just nibble away at the deficit, and here is why.

1. Massive government borrowing may be necessary during true emergencies, e.g., a major war.  If borrowing is habitual, this option will not be fully available when it is most needed. 

Just “a little borrowing” won’t hurt, it is suggested, but remember the tendency to underestimate future deficits. Thus, the February 2008 outlook for fiscal year 2013 was a $29 billion surplus.  The figure changed to a $533 billion deficit in 2009, given the onset of a major recession, and the projected FY 2013 deficit is now $973 billion.

2. Interest rates are being restrained by highly stimulative monetary policies.  As a result, the government’s interest expense is running about $220 billion per year, a mere 1.8 percent of the roundly $12 trillion of debt in public hands.

The president’s budget projects interest expense nearly quadrupling by 2023 as debt grows while interest rates return to more normal levels. And this assumes a steady inflation rate of 2.2 percent, which seems overly optimistic. 

If an inflationary spike developed as economic activity speeded up, the Federal Reserve might keep the printing presses going or slam on the monetary brakes and abort the recovery.  Either way, projected budget deficits would soar.   “State-wrecked: The corruption of capitalism in America,” David Stockman, The New York Times, 3/30/13.

3. Borrowing to help fund government operations anaesthetizes the public to the costs involved, thereby promoting a higher level of spending without the need to propose tax increases.  Politicians love this scam because it is exhilarating to spend other people’s money for favored programs. 

But the cost of debt must be paid, whether in the form of interest charges (sticking future generations with the tab) or inflation (primarily penalizing the middle class).  Candid acknowledgement of this fact would contribute to an informed discussion of what levels of government spending should be supported. 

Perhaps it is time to give the House budget plan – which would take a real stab at cutting spending and balancing the budget – a serious look.

William Whipple III, Middletown

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

April 17, 2013

Editors, The News Journal

Assessment of Obama budget is nearly correct

Saturday’s column by Charles Krauthammer, “Obama’s budget only has the appearance of reform,” provided some useful counterpoint to other News Journal coverage of the president’s budget proposal.

Would the president’s plan reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion, with spending cuts outweighing revenue increases 2-1?  (April 11 story)  Krauthammer pegs the proposed deficit reduction at $0.6 trillion – all from tax increases. (Based on my reading, the president’s plan projects deficit reduction of $1.4 trillion, $1.0 trillion from tax increases.)  

Do the proposals to curb entitlements stamp the president’s plan as a commendable compromise between the House and Senate plans? (April 12 column by Ruth Marcus) Well no, says Krauthammer, noting that the president’s plan calls for even more overall spending than the Senate plan. As for the much discussed “chained CPI” proposal, it has been recommended by “just about every deficit commission of the last 15 years” as an “obvious gimme.”

Was the president so forthcoming in this proposal that it would not be politically feasible for him to sweeten the offer? (April 14 story) Krauthammer suggests the president should consider offering something more substantive, such as raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare to match longevity.

The only jarring note is the conclusion that it is now time for “a major GOP concession on revenue.”  Et tu, Krauthammer!

William Whipple III, Middletown


March 22, 2013

Editor, The News Journal

Delaware politicians like the bunglers in Cyprus

The [leaders] of Cyprus, not unlike their counterparts in other socialist European countries, are spending themselves into bankruptcy.  Their solution – tax the bank holdings of their citizens [and offshore depositors] to the tune of 6 to 10 percent – just steal it!  The Cypriot people told those [leaders] where to go – a place much hotter than Cyprus – and they backed off.

It’s about time the people here in the once-great nation of America wake up and tell our [leaders] in Washington and Dover where to go.  [The president is seeking to fundamentally transform our country], and he’s already stealing from our children’s and grandchildren’s piggy banks to the tune of about $1.5 trillion [$6T debt increase in four years] annually . . .  And his lackey, including “our boy Joe,” continue to march to his tunes.

To the Democrats in Dover, likewise marching to [the president’s] tunes, it only has to be hinted that there be some extra money coming in [and] they shout, “How can we spend it?”   At the same time, they are planning to make permanent several “temporary” taxes, which are due to expire this year.  Essentially these “leaders” are telling Delawareans where to go.

I have a degree in economics, earned in the ‘60s.  I have to wonder if our wizards in Washington and Dover ever cracked an economics book and, if so, did they read and study it?  Highly doubtful.  Churchill one time said, “Beware of great events and little men.”

James A. Venema, Hockessin

The above letter rightly attacks chronic, large-scale deficit spending as immoral. However, the language in the published version was rather colorful, and we toned it down a bit for posting purposes.


March 14, 2013

Editor, The News Journal

Why does government push “green energy”?

Here’s good news!   The government plans to slash funding for domestic solar panel manufacturers and encourage mergers to reduce aggregate indebtedness.  This step recognizes the downturn in the global market for solar panels and will allow market forces to determine the winners and losers.

Good news for the US? No.  This happens to be the stance taken by China’s State Council – not the US government – according to the Wall Street Journal, March 7.

Why does our government continue to try to pick “green energy” winners?  Given its track record in so doing, this might be a good time to profit from China’s example.

R. Jerry Martin, Wilmington


March 8, 2013

Editor, The News Journal

Cutting government is easier than officials say

It is too bad that our elected officials can’t find government programs to cut that are of no value rather than the meat axe approach being used by the Obama administration.  I can identify two that would represent a small start but would indicate that our politicians are serious about saving our country from financial unraveling as we borrow 40 cents for every dollar spent. 

First, strange as it may seem, there is no evidence that OSHA [Occupational Safety & Health Administration] has been of value.  OSHA was established in 1970.  U.S. occupational death rates have come down since then; however, death rates were dropping much more rapidly in the 40 years before OSHA than they have since OSHA.  I am not saying OSHA has had a negative effect; just that OSHA has not had any measurable effect and therefore if it were abandoned we would be no worst off and a lot of money would be saved. 

Secondly, again strange as it may seem, Head Start and other early learning efforts have had no lasting effect on our children’s education.  Study after study have demonstrated [that] the positive effects of these programs fade out by the time a child reaches third grade—that children from these efforts are performing no better than their peers by the time they reach third grade. This is not surprising.  These programs do not result in children being placed in first grade rather than kindergarten, for example, so they just repeat what they presumably have already learned,  I was the product of “early learning,” but I was not allowed to repeat so was placed in first grade at age 5, not 6.  I seem to have grown up OK.  So, OSHA and Head Start, etc. could be abandoned with no harm except to those who are employed in these unproductive activities.  Just a start.

James R. Thomen, Montchan


March 5, 2013

Editors, The News Journal

Gun ownership as protection is overstated

Based upon my experience with guns, I should have some empathy for the emotions displayed by gun owners.

I also loved guns, owned one and even had a holster strapped on so I could practice my “quick draw.”  But I was 12 years old and it was a cap gun.  By the time I had grown into adulthood, my fascination with guns had evaporated along with my childhood and to this day I have never owned another one.

I have no desire to turn my house into an armed fortress or to engage in a shootout with an armed intruder.  He can have what little I have in the house.  Besides, I could never fire away like Clint Eastwood, gun in each hand, killing all the bad guys in a matter of seconds.

Realistically, considering the millions (billions?) of homes in existence, what are the odds of mine being chosen by an intruder? How often does this occur during any given year?

And although the [current president strikes me as dangerous], I don’t feel the need to have a cabinet full of high-powered, rapid fire guns so that I am ready when I am called upon to join the militia to protect us [when the government] attempts to take over the country, which was the purpose and intent of the now obsolete Second Amendment (if its introductory clause is not ignored as the Supreme Court obviously did).

Harry Kenton, Wilmington

We cannot agree that the Second Amendment is “obsolete,” as there continue to be valid reasons for the right to bear arms.  The decision to own a gun is a matter of choice, as the writer rightly suggests, but the fact that some people do – and intruders don’t know who they are – is a deterrent to crime.  Creating a situation in which only criminals and law enforcement will have guns is a bad idea, witness rising crime rates in gun-ban countries like the UK


February 25, 2013

Delaware State News

Go for the low-hanging fruit

We are in a pickle because of the huge and growing federal government debt.  It is obvious that both entitlements and the size of the military must be addressed.  While they are being addressed, I am suggesting some low-hanging fruit be taken now.  This includes federal government activities that many believe are doing more harm than good.  Here are two:

First, rules and regulations that make it difficult and expensive to start or expand a business are being added at a greater rate.  This must stop, and those that are harmful or unnecessary must be repealed.

Second, the activities of the Department of Education do more harm than good.  They get in the way of local educators who can be more helpful to individual students without spending time meeting DOE guidelines.  Improvement in education is more likely with local control.  When people are asked what the federal government can do to improve education, many will answer, “Get rid of the DOE.”

While working on the necessary large changes, whey not get some momentum going now by harvesting some of the low-hanging fruit?

William E. Morris, Wilmington


February 2, 2013

Editors, The News Journal

NEWSPAPER’S BIAS SHOWS IN WHAT IT DOESN’T COVER

Given The News Journal’s series last September about whether the US Constitution is broken or not, one might have expected prominent coverage of a federal appeals court ruling that three “recess” appointments [to the 5-member NLRB] – made by the president in early 2012 at a time when Congress was clearly not in recess - were unlawful and therefore invalid.

In addition to being interesting from a legal standpoint, the decision may raise some awkward questions about the validity of actions taken by that agency and others [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] over the past year or so.  [It was the top news story in the Wall Street Journal on January 26.]

But so far, the News Journal has not deigned to mention this embarrassing setback for the administration. Careful, your partisan slip is showing.

William Whipple III, Middletown

Bracketed material was not included in the letter as published.


January 29, 2013

Editor, The News Journal

Obama administration is destroying America

Vice President Biden has been given the task of formulating some type of gun control measures which will suit the president in his inexorable quest for dictatorial control over every aspect of our lives.  Our nation – its economy, its values, its culture, its very being – is being systematically destroyed by this administration, and unwittingly [destroyed] by those who re-elected those for four years have demonstrated their ability to totally screw things up.

It will be recalled that during the recent presidential campaign the vice president, speaking to a largely black audience, said of Republicans, “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.”  Guess what – we are all on the path to being put into chains, the chains of big and intrusive government that smothers not only the economy, but the very soul of the nation and its citizens.

When the vice president took his oath of office, yet again, I hope that he really paid attention to these words in the oath: “I will support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” paying particular attention to the “domestic.”

Who, Mr. Vice President, is attempting to subvert the Constitution on an almost daily basis?  He has publicly repeated [shown?] his total disdain and contempt for the Constitution – it gets in his way.  And don’t forget his 2008 campaign promise to build his own security force “that is just as well-armed and just as well-funded as the US military.”  (Guess that means they’ll have guns, huh?)

James A. Venema, Hockessin

The president has not publicly characterized the Constitution as an outworn document, as a professor at Georgetown Law School recently did (http://bit.ly/YIXJ8X).

And the 2008 comment about a powerful civil defense force was arguably just a bit of overheated campaign rhetoric – which didn’t show up in the published transcripts, although it was captured on the video. (http://bit.ly/C8xPr).

Clearly, however, the president has aggressively tested the limits of his powers in several instances.  One example was four recess appointments in early January 2012, at a time when Congress was not in recess. A federal appellate court has now concluded that these appointments were unlawful. http://bit.ly/W7tEBD So far, the administration’s reaction has been defiant – time will tell whether the public holds them accountable.


January 17, 2013

Editor, The News Journal

Middle class will pick up new $4 trillion tab

“Ask not for whom the bells toll, they toll for thee” (John Donne).  English poet Donne was not talking about the middle class, but who else is going to pay for America’s debt?  The “rich” don’t have enough money to make a dent in the debt, or for that matter our annual deficits.  President Obama, with consent of Congress, has now signed a bill that will add $4 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years.  I read this latest bill [raises taxes $41 for every dollar of spending cuts http://bit.ly/Z6C3IM].

President Obama doesn’t seem to give a fig about deficits or debt – just spend money and let future presidents worry about the problem – the middle class will pay for his [profligacy], but not on his watch.  So, dear reader, the bell tolls for thee – America’s middle class.

James R. Thomen, Montchan

The projected $4T increase to deficits and debt over the next 10 years is primarily due to making most of the Bush tax cuts permanent, whereas budget projections previously assumed they would expire at the end of 2012. But as the letter suggests, this purported exemption of the middle class from tax increases will not stand because it can’t.


January 16, 2013

Editor, The News Journal

Free market policy favoritism is needed

The primary cause of the financial meltdown has been U.S. federal government policy, as explained in detail by John A. Allison in his excellent book, "The financial crisis and the free market cure".  Allison has great credentials for writing the book.  The financial services company that Allison ran until retiring recently, BB&T, has not had a quarterly loss during the last five years.

The claim that the financial services industry was deregulated is a complete myth, according to Allison.  Such regulations are selectively applied, with "Crony Capitalists" gaining personal advantage from their government regulator friends.

Allison points out, convincingly, that when government regulators take action aimed to lessen he pain of adjustment to a downturn, the result is a long delay in the recovery, and much more harm in the long run.

I am reminded of the 1921 U.S. Depression.  The federal government delayed taking action.  By the time they were ready to act, the depression was over.

We are in desperate need of a free market, to provide productive jobs and help us recover from the present downturn.  Unfortunately, the federal government is going in the wrong direction, adding rules and regulations at a great rate, costing more than a trillion dollars per year.

We have too many government employees, doing too many counterproductive things, and costing us too much money.  We need to shrink the government, take the chains off business, and again become a vibrant America.

William E. Morris, Wilmington

The editors assigned the above title. “Free market is needed” might have been clearer.

John Allison is the new CEO of Cato.  Here’s his bio: http://bit.ly/Su6fsD


January 11, 2013

Editor, The News Journal

Actual sea level rise 1/8 inch/year, not increasing

“A newspaper’s obligation is to tell truths” says the News Journal “Special Report Climate Change on the Coast” Dec. 30, 2012. But the paper fails this obligation by not giving the plain truth about sea level:  actual measured sea level rise off Delaware has only been about 1/8 inch per year and has been nearly constant for many years.

Sea level has been measured directly by tide gauges at Lewes since 1919 and Reedy Point since 1956. The gauges show an average rise of 1.1 feet/100 years, trends which have been nearly constant for 93 years and not increasing.  The data from these gauges and hundreds of others is given by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends. Trends from the longest records globally show sea level rise has been nearly constant for over 150 years and not accelerating.

The threat is not the slow sea level rise of 1.1 feet/century but the sudden storm surge of 4 or 5 feet in a day. Such storms are nothing new but have always happened. Is the paper afraid to print the plain truth about sea level rise because it doesn’t fit their agenda?

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

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