S-A-F-E  Letters



Letters  2014

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

October 1, 2014
The Conservative Caucus of DE newsletter

It’s time to make a difference in Delaware

The Conservative Caucus of Delaware has a solid message, but are we selling it?  Not only does the Democratic Party have a commanding state registration edge over the Republican Party, which traditionally has been viewed as the conservative party, but many Republican leaders don’t seem all that conservative anyway.

Thus, proposals to expand the size and reach of state and local government have often sailed through with only token opposition, as for example de facto taxes that have been imposed on fossil fuel energy to support subsidies for “renewable” energy.

And while everyone claims to support economic liberty and free enterprise (e.g., the governor has called himself  “a card carrying capitalist”), the rhetoric is often not backed up in practice.  Many business people in Delaware complain of burdensome regulatory requirements that unnecessarily slow the wheels of progress and make doing business in the First State more expensive than it needs to be.

Keeping Delaware’s operating budget balanced has been a struggle because spending demands are growing faster than the state economy and there is continuing pressure to raise existing taxes and/or impose new levies.  The Medicaid program (about half of which is paid for by the state) looks to be unsustainable, and the test scores for Delaware students are anemic vis-à-vis the state and local funding provided for public schools.

Also, Delaware pensions are underfunded by an amount that may (depending on return assumptions) dwarf the state’s annual budget.   Delaware’s public employees’ retirement system, Eileen Norcross, Mercatus Center, 2/5/13. http://tinyurl.com/p2ojafb

. . . when valuing Delaware’s pension plans on a fair-market basis—that is, as a government-guaranteed benefit based on a 2.03 percent US Treasury bond yield—the average funding ratio for Delaware’s plans drops to 40 percent and the unfunded liability rises to $11 billion. This amount is several times larger than Delaware’s total outstanding general obligation debt, reported at $1.62 billion in FY 2013, and the state’s current budget of $3.58 billion.

Without attempting to offer specific policy changes in this column, it would seem fair to say the outlook for the state can’t be significantly improved without some attitude adjustments.  More support for individual choice and free enterprise – less reliance on government regulation to impose preconceived ideas on the residents of the state. Explaining the real budget outlook versus attempting to reassure the public by leaving out uncomfortable truths – pressing to eliminate wasteful spending instead of routinely perpetuating government programs and policies. 

Such changes would produce a lot of pushback, and they couldn’t be made without powerful and sustained pressure from the general public. It may seem farfetched to even imagine such pressure being mobilized.  Study: You have “near-zero” impact on US policy, Wynton Hall, breitbart.com, 8/12/14. http://tinyurl.com/q8ktb57

A startling new political science study concludes that corporate interests and mega wealthy individuals control US policy to such a degree that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." 

Indeed, many people act as though they don’t have the time or inclination to get involved in the debate (and others support ideas that would make things worse), but keep this in mind.  The minute conservatives say “it can’t be done,” the ultimate triumph of our intellectual opponents is assured – and that would not bode well for the future of this state (or by extension the nation).   

Make no mistake, “ordinary people” can move mountains if they make up their minds to do it.  The point was demonstrated during the American Revolution, and a group of gun rights activists in Colorado recently showed that it still holds true.  Colorado voters deal blow to gun control with stunning recall of 2 Democrats [in Colorado’s first-ever legislative election despite a 7-1 spending advantage by gun control proponents], Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 9/10/13. http://tinyurl.com/nlsrlw2

The ousted legislators complained of voter confusion, but the truth was quite different.  “Self government won.  Demagoguery lost.”  And it was local citizens who got the ball rolling, not GOP establishment types.  The epic meltdown of the gun-grabbers, Michelle Malkin, Human Events, 9/13/13. http://tinyurl.com/krujj8v

Could something like this happen in Delaware, say about economic and fiscal issues rather than guns?  Who knows, but it would be interesting to see what happened if someone gave it a try.

Bill Whipple

September 30, 2014
The News Journal

Depend on real science, not propaganda

The News Journal misinforms readers by gross exaggerations regarding sea level rise and not saying what sea level rise has actually been.  The paper has relied on misinformation from environmental groups instead of information from scientific journals.

A recent article, “Dire Flood Warning” [9/16/14,] shows a map of Wilmington with areas flooded by a 9-foot sea level rise in 20 years based on a report by Climate Central, a rate rise of 45 feet per 100 years. Climate Central’s website claims they do “data driven research,” that sea level rise has risen 8 inches since 1880 “because of global warming,” and that “the rate of rise is accelerating.” 

But the actual data show that sea level rise at Lewes, Delaware, has only been about 1 foot per 100 years and is not accelerating.  At this rate, sea level would rise less than 3 inches in 20 years, not 9 feet.

A report, “Tide gauge location and the measurement of global sea level rise,” in the May 2014 issue of the journal Environmental and Ecological Statistics, statistically examined data from over 1,000 tide gauges worldwide, with data from 1807 to 2010.  They found that the average sea level rose only about 4 inches per 100 years over this time and found no evidence of sea level rise acceleration.

The authors also found that sea level rise is local rather than global, and concentrated in a few areas including the Atlantic coast of the US.  Sea levels were not changing in 61 percent of tide gauge locations, rising in 35 percent of locations, and even falling in 4 percent of locations.

The local nature and lack of acceleration indicates that relative sea level change is primarily the result of land height changes, not global warming which would result in more universal sea level rise.  In the Atlantic coast area, the land is thought to be sinking slowly due to post-glacial rebound – look it up.

Before deciding on policy, we should better understand the real science of sea level change and not be misled by grossly false information.

John E. Greer Jr., P.E.

September 23, 2014
The News Journal

 “We the People” not doing well at all

 This year’s Constitution Day essays (Sept. 14-17) painted a generally glowing picture.  In a nutshell, “We the People” are doing just what the Founders intended by supporting a big government agenda. 

 Many people disagree, witness polls showing that a majority of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction.  Among their concerns are wasteful government spending, onerous taxes, burdensome regulations, slapdash foreign policies and soaring debt.

To better understand the Constitution, one should read the entire document instead of fixating on the 52-word preamble.  There is no indication that a national mission “to promote the general welfare” was intended, else the Founders would not have taken such care to enumerate the powers of Congress, the president, and the judicial branch.

Although the Enumerated Powers Doctrine was put to rest during the New Deal era, the checks and balances between the three branches of government (which only 1/3 of Americans can identify according to another poll) remain viable. 

We should insist on their observance instead of viewing them as a hindrance.  Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time until “We the People” find ourselves under an authoritarian government. 

William Whipple III

August 25, 2014
The News Journal

Global warming arguments fall short

Nature is not cooperating with efforts by the United Nations, the National Wildlife Federation and other climate alarmists to convince the public of “unequivocal” evidence that global temperatures are rising due to human use of fossil fuel.  The best records of recent temperatures are prepared by scientists at the University of Alabama at Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems, based on satellite measurements.  Both data sets show there has been no net global warming for 17 years.

NWF does not acknowledge the lack of observed warming, and implausibly asserts that a grab bag of pests (deer ticks and Lyme disease, Asian tiger mosquitoes, brown marmorated stink bugs, fire ants, algae blooms and poison ivy) are “symptoms of climate change.”  In fact, the mosquitoes stink bugs and ants (and probably the Lyme spirochete as well) became problems because they were introduced from other continents to North America, where they don’t belong.

Similarly, algal blooms on Lake Erie and elsewhere were caused not by warming (Lake Erie is much colder than usual this year) but phosphorus pollution from runoff.

Finally, the NWF warns that “poison ivy thrives with rising CO2 levels.”  So do soybeans, corn, wheat and other plants of value to people and wildlife, because CO2 is a plant fertilizer.  The NWF’s preferred “renewable” alternative – ugly, destructive wind power development sprawling across the countryside – is a cure far worse for the environment than the supposed disease.

Gregory A. Inskip
August 25, 2014
News Journal

Demand tougher teacher standards

We have been hearing a lot about school reform for a long time now.  There always seems to be a new program to distract us from the ongoing deterioration of student acquisition of knowledge and thinking skills.  The one thing that has remained constant is the control of public education by the teaching profession.  Today, in New Castle County, the school boards (Red Clay, Colonial, Brandywine and Christiana) are all dominated by members who are members of, or have significant connections with, the teacher’s union.

Until taxpayers vote to change this, no changes of significance will happen. Until control is wrestled away from union apparatus and returned to local principals and superintendents who have both the authority and direct responsibility for results, improvement will not happen.  This undoubtedly means turning down federal aid and shaking off the shackles that come with federal money.

All the players in the system – teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards support the status quo.  They have a vested interest in the current arrangements.  That is why we have a failed system. While voters can have a positive effect over the long haul, immediate change can be achieved through legislative action, now.  For example, state financial support could be made contingent on a teacher pay scale that recognizes good performance and penalizes poor performance.  No new funds would be needed – just more equitable distribution of existing funds based on contribution to student learning.  I hope I live long enough to see such change.  In the meantime, I’ll watch the exodus of students from regular public schools to the schoolrooms of private and charter schools.

James R. Thomen 

Linking the teacher pay scale to performance might not have the desired effects unless current deficiencies in evaluating performance were also corrected. Delaware Chatter, 8/24/14.

See below for a response that appeared in the News Journal:

8/27/14, A7, Unions don’t control school boards, Harrie Ellen Minnehan, Newark – The writer takes issue with Jim Thomen’s Aug. 25 letter for stating that:

“The one thing that has remained constant is the control of public education by the teaching profession.  Today, in New Castle County, the school boards (Red Clay, Colonial, Brandywine and Christiana) are all dominated by members who are members of, or have significant connections with, the teacher’s union.”  Her proof to the contrary: A teacher cannot be a board member in the district in which they teach.  She personally is a member of the Christina Board of Education, but retired as a teacher in 2010 and has no ties to the union now.  And “no other member of the Christina Board even comes close to having a ‘significant connection’ to the teachers’ union, unless he calls being a parent of a child taught by a teacher who might be a union member a connection.”  Also, the union’s function is to represent its members, “not to establish, direct or manage board policy.”  As is well known, school board elections are purposely scheduled on a day other than the general elections and turnout is small. A reasonable surmise might be that the intent is to allow teachers and supporters to control the outcome in most cases. 

August 10, 2014
The News Journal

Why do we ignore the real impediments to school reform?

We have been hearing a lot about school reform for a long time now.  There always seems to be a new program concocted by educators to distract us from the ongoing deterioration of student acquisition of knowledge and thinking skills.

To list some of the buzzwords of the day – new math of the ‘60s; No Child Left Behind; Race to the Top; and now Common Core.

All of these are diversions.  The one thing that has remained constant is the control of public education by the teaching profession.

Today, in New Castle County, the school boards are all dominated by members, who are members of or have significant connections with the teacher’s union.  Until control is wrestled away from union apparatus and returned to local principals and superintendents who have both the authority and direct responsibility for results, improvement will not happen.

This undoubtedly means turning down federal aid and shaking off the shackles that come with federal money.

While voters can have a positive effect over the long haul, immediate change can be achieved through legislative action.  State financial support could be made contingent upon a teacher pay scale that recognizes good performance and penalizes poor performance.  No new funds would be needed – just more equitable distribution of existing funds.

As unfortunate as this is, nothing will change until citizens decide to vote for legislators and school board members interested in restoring a school system that serves our students, not the existing establishment.

James R. Thomen 

July 27, 2014
The News Journal


If the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruling (2-1) in Halbig v. Burwell holds up, it could capsize the already troubled Affordable Care Act.  Supporters of the ACA are making the obvious arguments:  the statutory language was ambiguous so the administration’s interpretation should be accepted, two of the three judges were appointed by Republican presidents so who cares about them, and the US Supreme Court will never buy it. 

However, the statutory language seems clear.  The tax credit is provided to subsidize the purchase of healthcare insurance on an “Exchange established by the State under Section 13ll of the [ACA].”  Nothing is said about subsidizing healthcare insurance purchased on a federal exchange, and the definition of “state” does not include the federal government.

Yes, the confusion about implementing the ACA is unfortunate, but let’s put the responsibility where it belongs. Given the text of the statute, the administration’s decision to start doling out billions of dollars in healthcare insurance subsidies for policies procured through federal exchanges was reckless and irresponsible.  The proper course was to go back to Congress and discuss a resolution instead of ignoring the problem.

William Whipple III

July 6, 2014

The News Journal

Climate change remains questionable

In the name of fighting “climate change,” unelected bureaucrats in the Environmental Protection Agency are attempting to take control of the energy economy.  In his [6/29/14] column former Sen. Ted Kaufman asserted that Americans who resist are “endangering their future with climate change denial.”  “Denial” is, however, the only correct response to the false alarms in his article.

Sen. Kaufman blames fossil fuel for Hurricane Sandy, but there is no evidence that the massive use of fossil fuel in the last century resulted in more or bigger hurricanes.  The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published last September, noted that “No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes . . . have been identified over the past 100 years in the North American basin.” 

Sen. Kaufman also blames fossil fuel for the possibility that, someday, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may slide into the ocean, flooding low-lying coastal areas.  Whether or not this danger is real, it is not our fault.  A study published in last month’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is being melted from below by geothermal heat, not by climate change caused by human beings or otherwise.

Sen. Kaufman has not shown any climate crisis that would justify further EPA supervision of our lives.  Our children and grandchildren will be served best not by more command and control regulation, but by a healthy, free economy fueled by cheap, reliable energy.

Gregory A. Inskip


June 29, 2014

The News Journal

Why are politicians indifferent to marijuana health hazards?

According to an August 2013 poll conducted by Gallup, 38% of Americans have tried marijuana, but only 7% identified themselves as current marijuana smokers.

A report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Department of Health and Human Services states, “Just like cigarettes, the use of marijuana can produce adverse physical changes and can be addictive.”

Further, “…people who smoke marijuana frequently, but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers do; many of the extra sick days were for respiratory illness.”  Also, “Marijuana smoke contains a greater amount of carcinogens than tobacco smoke.”

In spite of the well-documented health problems associated with marijuana use, many Delaware state legislators (all Democrats at this point) seem intent on decriminalizing marijuana use so that a minority of the population can use it without fear of incarceration. 

Meanwhile, many state legislators and the Markell administration have supported draconian tightening of ambient levels of fossil fuel created particulate matter (or PM 2.5) - ostensibly to protect the health of the general public.  The inconsistency between these policies is apparent, and it can only be explained by political considerations as the health hazards of marijuana use are far better documented than the harm from relatively low levels of PM 2.5 in the atmosphere.

Multiple studies confirm regular marijuana use causes respiratory illness and mental and behavioral change. If the decriminalization of marijuana results in increasing use, the cost associated with the treatment of these illnesses, and missed workdays will become increasingly substantial. And remember that the second largest (and most rapidly growing) segment of the state budget is healthcare outlays.

In contrast, there is only one EPA published study to justify elimination of coal-fired power plants (which would dramatically increase electric power costs) to reduce ambient levels of PM 2.5.  And the details of that study are rather disturbing.  

In a February 2012 letter, then EPA Assistant Administrator, Gina McCarthy said: “…there is no threshold level of fine particle pollution below which health risk reductions are not achieved by reduced exposure.”  The adverse health effects, which according to the EPA include “immediate death,” are said to be associated with increased PM 2.5 exposure. 

The EPA findings are based on one published study, which exposed 41 human test subjects to PM 2.5 levels more than 21 times the EPA’s 24-hour standard. According to Steve Milloy, a citizen activist who broke the story on the EPA’s Mengele-like experimentation, “The experiments were stopped in only two cases.”

In one case, the EPA experimented on a 58-year old woman with a personal medical history of Stage 1 hypertension, premature atrial contractions, osteoarthritis, gall bladder removal and a family history of heart disease (her father had a fatal heart attack at age 57). The experiment was stopped when she experienced atrial fibrillation.   Another subject experienced no clinical effects, but the EPA stopped her experiment after researchers detected a momentary increase in heart rate.

Aside from recognizing the obvious ethical problems created by deliberately exposing humans to levels of PM 2.5 deemed to be potentially toxic, what more can be learned?  One possible conclusion is that the law of diminishing returns is applicable in the case of restricting atmospheric PM 2.5, as is true with other air pollutants, and the EPA has been exaggerating the health benefits of incremental reductions in exposure.

In summary, the amount of tar and other noxious substances in inhaled marijuana is far greater than the level of pollutants dispersed in the atmosphere.  

Why, then, are some politicians so indifferent to the health of citizens who choose to smoke marijuana, while applying entirely different standards in the context of environmental regulations?  This is a question they should be expected to answer before their positions are taken seriously.

John A. Nichols

John A. Nichols is a resident of Middletown.

June 6, 2014

The News Journal

Who is holding politicians accountable?

Columnist Jonathan Bernstein argues (in a June 1 column) that ideology is killing the two-party system because compromise and cooperation are needed to make the system work. He indulges in a gratuitous reference to the “broken Republican Party,” perhaps meant to imply where change is needed, but at the end of the day fails to offer any credible proposals.

It is suggested that elections should not be about “which policy choices we favor” as “most of us don’t care or know much about most policies.”  Ergo, elections are popularity contests; let the wizards in Washington decide what should be done.  It’s not as though our political leaders have been doing a great job, however.  One has to wonder who will hold them accountable if Americans aren’t paying attention.

“Checks and balances” were built into the Constitution for the purpose of preventing any factions from becoming a permanent majority, true enough, but these safeguards have been whittled away over time. Today, neither Congress nor the courts can stop the Executive Branch if it wants to do something badly enough.  The only hope is that “we the people” will wake up in time. 

William Whipple III

May14, 2014

The News Journal

“Sustainability” is more about faith than science

Those who adhere to the notion that it is incumbent on the current generation to “conserve” resources believe only they can divine the needs and wants of future generations.  Divine is the proper word to use because the green movement is religious in its fever to promote sustainability. 

The word sustainability means whatever the user wishes it to mean.  Thus, it is a word without any meaning at all.  It is exactly the sort of word needed to achieve Orwellian control of people; in order to coerce them to believe 2 + 2, really does equal 5. 

To enforce compliance with the ideology, anyone who fails to adhere to sustainability doctrine is immediately labeled a denier, a skeptic, a “flat-earther” or worse.  Public ridicule follows, with attempts to demonize and marginalize opposition, to what amounts to a Green God.

Companies are so frightened by the specter of protests; they now have “sustainability officers,” who genuflect at the altar of the deity, without understanding they are worshipping, not promoting science.   

The intermediate goal of sustainability proponents is a reduction in the use of energy, but reality will soon catch up with the notion most people want to consume less energy.   Shockingly, most people want plentiful, reliable, affordable energy, and the jobs that accompany it.  They certainly do not want the promise of subsidized “green jobs” that never materialize, or the destruction of unsubsidized jobs elsewhere in the economy due to the rising cost of reliable energy.    

On April 10, at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on grid reliability, US Senator Lisa Murkowski made the statement, “Eighty nine percent of the coal electricity capacity that is due to go offline was utilized as backup to meet the demand this winter”. The premature closure of these coal-fired power plants because of questionable EPA air quality regulations will cause electricity prices to “skyrocket”, as predicted by candidate Barack Obama before he became president. 

As a consequence, available supply will not meet demand.  This will lead to brownouts, intermittent electricity supply, and potentially catastrophic grid failure.  These are the inevitable consequences of a deeply flawed energy policy and an EPA responsive to those who tout sustainability.   The real question is how much will citizens needlessly suffer before they elect new leadership to chart a course leading to real energy independence?

At its core, the goal of sustainability proponents is not about less energy consumption; it is about reducing the number of people on planet Earth. This is due to their belief the resources of the Earth are scarce, and therefore access to them must be limited, and their use equalized.   Limitations on the amount of carbon dioxide produced, the use of water, the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere, which in the US is less than nature intended, are just the first steps in the process towards total control of individuals.

If any society wants less people (a questionable goal on the surface), its populace needs access to affordable energy to create affluence. The greater the likelihood a child survives to adulthood and the more mechanized becomes agriculture, the fewer children born.

Japan, the US and Western Europe are barely replacing their population. Except for immigration, the US and Western Europe’s populations are shrinking.  The nation of Japan, with little immigration, is hosting parties where young adults can meet each other, in an effort to encourage marriage and childbirth, because the population is in decline.

Society does not need a word without meaning.  It needs a robust economy in order to promote peace and prosperity.   Sooner or later this reality is going to hit home, and the tyranny of the minority will come to an abrupt end.  For those who are unemployed or underemployed, it cannot happen soon enough.

John Nichols, a Middletown resident, advocates for science-based solutions to meet complex energy needs.  

April 28, 2014

Delaware State News

Delaware needs Newark Power Plant

Delaware is in desperate need of the new natural gas electricity generation proposed for development at the University of Delaware’s Star Campus, in Newark.

If a small but vocal minority, led by radical environmentalists and aided by University Delaware faculty, wins this debate and the project does not go forward, lives are going to be lost.

In the near future, it will be everyone who will suffer, not just the people who lived in Delaware’s tent-communities this winter because of a lackluster economic recovery. 

In March, the New York Times reported that the coal fired plants in the PJM Interconnection – serving Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other states – set a record for peak energy use this winter. 

On April 10, at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on grid reliability, Senator Lisa Murkowski made the statement: “Eighty nine percent of the coal electricity capacity that is due to go offline was utilized as backup to meet the demand this winter.”

The premature closing of these coal-fired power plants because of questionable EPA air quality regulations will cause electricity prices to “skyrocket,” as predicted by candidate Obama before he became president. 

Available supply will not meet demand, leading to brownouts, intermittent electricity supply, and potentially catastrophic grid failure.  These are the inevitable consequences of a deeply flawed energy policy and an EPA that is responsive only to special interests.

To help correct the supply-side deficit, and for all the other economic benefits associated with the construction of new utility scale generation, this electricity source must go on-line.

Concerned citizens need to stand up to the green bullies and demand that the power plant be built or they will suffer the consequences of their failure to make their voices heard.  

So far, this debate has pitted environmental activists against union members desperate for jobs.  Since the stated goal of DNREC and the Markell administration is the closure of all coal-fired electricity generation in Delaware, the real problem is this chronic shortage of in-state electricity generation capacity.   

DNREC based their decision to eliminate reliable coal-fired electricity generation in Delaware on unproven, unscientific models that tout illusory health benefits based on its supposed dangers.  Coal-fired electricity generation helped make the United States the most prosperous nation in modern history. 

Having access to plentiful and affordable electricity should be the position argued by Gov. Jack Markell, but he cannot make this argument. His silence is assured because of his unwavering support for Bloom Energy and his support of flawed environmental and energy policies, which are bolstered by state Democrats.

To limit opposition from the administration, some environmentalists have suggested Bloom Energy [fuel cells] as an alternative energy source for the data center. But they know that Bloom’s technology is antiquated and they are using this knowledge to silence Markell, to the detriment of all who live and work in Delaware.

The primary reason Bloom Energy is not a viable option for the Data Center is because it is four times more expensive than the proposed combined cycle plant.  Gov. Markell knows this, or should know this, but to acknowledge it would require him to explain the reasons why he foisted this expensive electricity source on Delmarva Power ratepayers.  

Meanwhile, university personnel feel Bloom’s comparatively “dirty” and expensive fuel cells support their “mission”, but they don’t want them deployed in their backyards.  This is pure hypocrisy.

Unless there is a massive turnout at tonight’s City Council meeting in Newark by citizens in support of the project, the City Council may be cowed by the vocal minority.

Delawareans need to understand this issue extends beyond the boundaries of Newark and the University of Delaware campus. It is a huge issue in Delaware for anyone who wants reliable and affordable electricity to protect the health and well-being of everyone.

John A. Nichols

April 24, 2014

Editor, The News Journal

Data Center plan far superior to Bloom

It is easy to explain why Bloom was not chosen for the TDC Data Center:  Bloom electricity would cost three times more and produce more air emissions than the TDC plan.

Delmarva filings show Bloom electricity is costing about 21 cents per kilowatt-hour while TDC's cost should be 7 cents or less. The difference would be $300 million/year higher cost and would kill the $1 billion project. 

The idea that Bloom has low emissions because it is "non-combustion" is false.  What matters is efficiency and technology.  The ultra-modern TDC power plant will use less gas and have lower emissions because of higher average efficiency, 60 percent vs. 45 percent for Bloom, and by using Best Available Control Technology and continuous monitoring.

Wind, solar, and the grid are inadequate for the reliability required.

TDC is committed to meeting air quality, noise code, and every other regulation and will be an economic boon to the area.  There is no reason to turn it down.  Bloom, on the other hand, is an economic drain of nearly $40 million/year, $500 million over the next 13 years. 

Bloom receives a direct subsidy from ratepayers of 17¢/kwh generated plus other costs.  Customer impacts were low initially only because generation was low.

Now Bloom generation is up to full rate and residential cost for 1000 kwh/month has averaged $4.90 for six months. These charges will stay high for the next thirteen years when the subsidy drops to 10¢/kwh. 

"Renewable Portfolio Standard" costs add another $2.20/month.  Justification supposedly is jobs building Bloom boxes but sustaining these jobs requires finding many more customers willing or forced to pay 21¢/kwh vs. 7¢/kwh with lower emissions.

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

Fortuitously, this letter was published on the same day as another report of misguided efforts to kill the TDC project.  Data Center controversy: Newark may pull support for grant, 4/24/14.

April 2014

The Conservative Caucus of Delaware newsletter

Bootstrap economics, by Bill Whipple

According to classical economic precepts, the government should support free markets while minimizing the burdens placed on investors and businesses.  Imposing mandates or taxes to fund social welfare programs will simply shift the cost to someone else, thereby at least offsetting the anticipated benefits. 

In other words, as Milton Friedman famously observed, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  Or to use another analogy, no one who is stuck in the mud can get out by pulling on his or her own bootstraps.

Everyone professes to agree, but big government fans keep offering arguments for ignoring the no free lunch principle in specific cases.  Consider the current debate about raising the federal minimum wage (hard on the heels of Delaware’s more modest increase).

Proponents say low-wage workers cannot live on $7.25 per hour (soon to be $ 7.75 and then $8.25 in Delaware), so the government should ensure that employers pay them more.  It won’t really cost anything, by the way, as the workers will spend the money and thereby boost the economy.

Won’t some workers lose their jobs?  Economic studies purportedly show “moderate” increases in the minimum wage don’t reduce employment opportunities for low-wage workers.  And even if some workers did lose their jobs (the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the proposed federal minimum wage hike would reduce employment by about half a million jobs), many more workers would have their pay increased.

Will employers raise their prices to cover the higher pay, to the detriment of the general public?  Seems logical, but proponents (and even opponents) of minimum wage increases often gloss over the point.  See, e.g., the dueling columns (by UD economist Saul Hoffman & National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru) and editorial (“Time to raise the federal minimum wage”) in the 3/23/14 issue of The News Journal.

Similar arguments are made in favor of renewable energy programs.  Not only will critical environmental benefits be achieved, but also these programs will create leading-edge new industries and well-paid “green” jobs.  All gain, no pain! 

The loss of traditional jobs and negative effects of higher energy costs are generally not mentioned.  Unless one truly believes that manmade global warming is a serious threat, however, these costs will outweigh the renewable energy benefits by a wide margin. The False Promise of Green Energy, Morriss et al., Cato Institute (2011).

Or take a look at the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2015.  Despite giving lip service to the idea of tax reform, it is proposed to increase taxes by some $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years.  And instead of being used to cut the deficit, the proceeds would go to keep the government spending party going. 

Some of the government programs offer economic benefits, no doubt, but the costs of pulling $1.4 trillion out of the private sector would be at least as large.  As we said at the start, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

February 16, 2014

The News Journal

Government growth strangles freedoms

Our forefathers inherited the freedoms of Englishmen – who after more than 450 years of off-and-on civil wars – finally established their freedom from oppression by their monarchs in 1688 (the Glorious Revolution), establishing three fundamental freedoms – representative government (Parliament), rule of law, not of men, and private ownership of property (capitalism).  These freedoms have resulted in unprecedented economic growth and citizen well-being throughout the English-speaking world.

However, they have been gradually eroded during the past 80 years as the US government expanded its intrusion into American lives and accelerated during the past five years under President Obama.  Almost every day we learn of government agencies and presidential executive orders exercising greater control over American life.

“I think he (Martin Luther King) understood that healthcare, health security is not a privilege; it’s something that in a country as wealthy as ours, everyone should have access to,” said President Obama.  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” said Karl Marx.  Do you see any similarities?

Marx was the father of socialism and “godfather” of Russian communism.  Socialism leads to serfdom, enforced by totalitarianism – big government as F.A. Hayek explained in his 1944 book, “The Road to Socialism.”  I fear, as we allow our government to continue its phenomenal growth, we are forfeiting our inherited freedoms and are relying on “The Road to Serfdom.”  It is time we citizens rein in our government and reassert greater control over our individual lives.

Let our congressional delegation know that in spite of their good intentions, enlarging the thrust of federal government is not in the interest of protecting our inherited freedoms.

James R. Thomen 

February 1, 2014

The News Journal

Credence in the manmade global warming theory will ultimately depend on actual climate data, rather than forecast data or clever arguments.  And in this regard, proponents of the theory have a bit of a problem – which has been largely overlooked in The News Journal’s coverage.

The frigid weather that much of the US has been experiencing this winter is not all that significant in the big picture, any more than the hot weather in Australia, but the trend of global temperatures over the past 16 years is another matter.

In 1998, 2013, and eight of the years in between, according to data from the NOAA website, average global temperatures exceeded the 20th Century average by 0.6º C.  The year 2010 was slightly warmer, at + 0.7º C; 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2008 were slightly cooler. NASA and the UK Met Office have reported similar (but not identical) results.  Ergo, global warming – which definitely was happening earlier – has stopped.

Some scientists believe the warming trend will resume with a vengeance, and they could be right.  But other scientists point to an unexpected lull in solar activity and/or longer-term climate cycles as evidence that a big drop in global temperatures – perhaps even a mini ice age such as began in the 1600s – lies in store for us.

Who is right?  So long as this issue is debated based on the evidence versus politics, l say let the best scientists win.  But in the meantime, this is hardly the time to mandate a costly makeover of this country’s energy infrastructure that could do a great deal to abort the economic recovery that everyone claims to want.

William Whipple III

Oops, this letter should have included 2011 in the years with slightly cooler temperatures.  Here’s the NOAA data series:



































*Excess over 20th Century average temperature in degrees Centigrade.

January 28, 2014

The News Journal

Why suggest “toxic” Social Security cuts?

After acknowledging an unresolved “budget crisis,” a recent column [1/12/14] by [Representative] John Carney rules out Social Security benefit cuts.  As there is no painless way to balance the budget, it might be more helpful to suggest some affirmative alternatives that would arguably be less harmful.

In addition, the discussion of how the Social Security trust funds factor into the equation is hopelessly garbled.  The “assets” in these funds will not be exhausted in 2033; there were never any trust fund assets in the first place.  And Social Security outlays are already exceeding the federal revenues earmarked for this program.

Mr. Carney’s column might be part of a campaign to persuade the administration to drop the idea - reflected in the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 - of using “chain-linked CPI” data in calculating cost of living adjustments to Social Security benefits.  (Democrats plead with Obama to abandon Social Security cut, The Hill, 1/11/14. http://bit.ly/1adJEd4)

The premise seems to be that Social Security cuts would be politically toxic, so why suggest them when the voters probably won’t notice whether effective steps to balance the budget are proposed or not.  If this is true, our future does not look very bright, as the politicians will never do the right things on their own.

William Whipple III

January 27, 2014

The News Journal

CO2 wrongly faulted as “global warming” source

The reason that most apolitical scientists don’t believe in human caused “global warming” is not that we are influenced by recent weather events (as suggested in “Climate change views difficult to sway,” 12/23/13, but rather that we are certain that CO2 or fossil fuels could not possibly be the cause.  And warming is a natural process – the most recent example started more than 100 years before “fossil fuels” began to be used.

Al Gore and other media “warmers” have long preached the slight increase in CO2 (from 250 to 400 ppm) is the cause, but it is clear (if converted to inches) that this is actually only a change from 21 feet (250 inches) to 33 feet (400 inches) per 16 miles (1 million inches) – about the distance from Newark to Wilmington.  CO2 at 400 ppm is actually only a tiny fraction (4/100th of 1 percent) of [the] Earth’s atmosphere.

William Day

Although CO2 is believed to have a warming effect, that does not explain how it could have become the prime driver of the Earth’s climate, which has cooled and warmed for eons without human causation.

January 19, 2014

The News Journal

We need leaders of constitutional loyalty

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

During the last presidential campaign the vice president, speaking to a largely black audience, said of Republicans, “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.  “We are all on that path – 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 takes his oath of office yet again [didn’t this happen in January 2013?], I hope he pays attention to these words: “I will support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” paying particular attention to the “domestic.”  He has publicly repeated his total disdain and contempt for the Constitution – it gets in his way.  Don’t forget his 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?)

I wonder if the gun control debate is going to include debates about knives, baseball bats, explosives, etc., and airplanes that can be flown into buildings.  Will he dig into the “Fast and Furious” scandal?  Given the situation with our economy those in DC, including our other Delaware politicians down there, might be better off taking refresher courses in elementary economics.

James A. Venema,

This letter was published in January 2013, and we posted it with our comments then. http://bit.ly/1idwVfo We’re not sure why the News Journal ran it again, although the thrust remains generally applicable.