SAFE members have written numerous letters and columns over the years, of which the following is a representative sampling (most recent first):
December 23, 2010
Editor, The News Journal
THERE ARE BIGGER FISH TO FRY AND NOT IGNORE THAN TAX CUTS
Yesterday’s editorial (News Journal, Dec. 19) on the “tax cut” deal (TCD) got many things right, including the atmosphere at the signing ceremony. There is little chance of the TCD being acknowledged to have “worked” when 2012 rolls around, however, unless some other actions are taken in the meantime.
The president and his supporters will try again in 2012 to raise the tax burden on well-to-do taxpayers, witness Vice-President Biden’s characterization of the TCD in a Meet the Press interview as “morally troubling.” So why should one expect this temporary reprieve to put the people concerned in the mood for long-term investments?
What the TCD will do is to postpone a round of tax increases that would have tanked the economy, thereby providing a window of opportunity for other actions with longer-term impact. In a nutshell, the government must cut spending drastically (programs, even departments, not pay freezes, etc.), overhaul the federal tax system (versus piecemeal adjustments of tax rates), and rein in overly aggressive federal regulators (e.g., the EPA).
If these things are done, the effects on investment, economic growth, and with a lag employment will be dramatic. Otherwise, the economy will not be in much better shape in 2012 than it is now – and sooner or later, when the “bond vigilantes” sour on U.S. Treasury securities, things will get far worse.
Can the two parties work together? If so, that’s fine, but the key point is not making nice – it is addressing the country’s real economic problems instead of attempting to continue ignoring them.
William Whipple III, Middletown
[Title aside, this is the letter submitted. The News Journal edited out the material in blue font and made other superficial wording changes.]
December 14, 2010
Editor, The News Journal
We’ve had inflation so long that we are accustomed to it. It happens because Americans want “free” services from the federal government without paying for them. Congress has been all too willing to go along with that. This has gotten much worse in the last 10 years. With the huge debt, plus increasing “entitlements,” we’re in a deep hole, and still digging.
Present plans to decrease the federal government deficit are emphatically insufficient. We must make the changes required to obtain surpluses and start paying off debt as soon as possible. Increasing the tax rate would be counterproductive. The government must become more friendly to business, which will then provide more jobs, and thereby more income to the government.
Those of receiving “entitlements” should be willing to give up something to help eliminate the risk of hyperinflation.
Military spending can be decreased if we adopt a more realistic, more modest foreign policy.
The key to our avoidance of a financial meltdown is a strong economy, with jobs for those leaving the military and federal and state governments. Removal of government roadblocks to a vibrant economy must be a high priority.
How about starting Jan. 3, 2011? And start planning now.
William E. Morris, Wilmington
October 16, 2010
The News Journal
The risk of federal government default by inflation or hyperinflation is a risk of misery for everyone. We had better climb out of this hole now. We had better start paying off government debt. This will require hard choices, and we need to accept temporary discomfort now to avoid severe pain in the future.
Other governments have cut spending by 10 percent to 30 percent, and we can do the same. The federal government should be downsized, just as private businesses are. Some federal government activities and departments should be eliminated. Entitlements must become more realistic. Government employee compensation must be brought down more nearly in line with compensation of private business employees.
The federal government should stop sending money it doesn’t have to the individual states. The states should take over some present activities of the federal government, in accordance with the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. To help make this happen, we must stop rewarding members of Congress to bringing federal grants to the states.
At the same time, the federal government should become more business-friendly. Unessential regulations and red tape should be eliminated. State and local government can do the same.
We need to face the risk that we all share, and make the changes needed to get back on track for the sake of the next generations, and for ourselves.
William E. Morris, Wilmington
October 15, 2010
The [Wilmington] News Journal
Five humble suggestions on pulling the US out of fiscal meltdown
One of the hottest issues for the upcoming elections is the fiscal problem. Deficits and debt are soaring. This cannot continue. What should be done to stop it?
One side says they would cut spending. The other side seems more interested in raising taxes. Political passions are at a fever pitch, and every pronouncement of key political leaders has been breathlessly reported.
There has been only sporadic coverage, however, of the proceedings of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (“Commission”), which is reviewing all aspects of the fiscal problem and will offer recommendations by December 1. Ho hum, the sober and civil proceedings of the Commission are not the kind of news people get excited about or the media relishes reporting.
Videos of the five meetings to date show the Commission engaged in a serious discussion of the fiscal problem. Its members are smart people, who have agreed to work together in a search for solutions. But the time allotted is dwindling, and there are limited signs of progress.
On September 29, for example, the Commission heard from a George Mason University department head and two officials from the Government Accountability Office about performance budgeting. The presentations were interesting, but did little to explain why deficits have spiraled out of control or propose credible solutions.
Several commissioners suggested that Congress bears more responsibility for wasteful and duplicative spending than program administrators do. It seemed like a Pogo moment: “We have met the enemy, and he is us” (12 of the 18 commissioners are current members of Congress).
Only two scheduled meetings remain, on November 10 (after the mid-term elections) and December 1 (the Commission’s deadline). No wonder Co-Chair Erskine Bowles urged commissioners to keep their calendars open in November, predicting some “tough decisions” will be required.
Extrapolating from discussions to date, the Commission is likely to present a laundry list of recommendations, e.g., budget process improvements, a haircut for defense spending, elimination of some “tax expenditures” (veiled tax increases), measures to close the “tax gap,” and some ideas for a Social Security fix.
Such measures might reduce the deficit somewhat, but they would not solve the fiscal problem by any stretch. The Commission could accomplish far more by diagnosing the problem (deficits and debt are merely symptoms) and proposing a process to address it. Here are my suggestions.
1. Quantify the fiscal problem realistically. – Do not work away from the baseline projection of the Congressional Budget Office, which understates the fiscal problem by, for example, assuming that all of the Bush tax cuts will be allowed to expire at the end of 2010 (very unlikely).
2. Propose a challenging goal. – The executive order establishing the Commission suggests a medium-term goal of reducing the deficit to 3% of Gross Domestic Product. This would leave political leaders too much wiggle room. There is no reason Congress cannot balance the budget by 2015, barring a true national emergency, and Americans should expect no less.
3. Pinpoint the root cause of the fiscal problem. – Surging deficits and debt are not due to declining tax revenues, which except during the current economic slump have been remarkably stable over time. Rather, the root cause is rapid growth in government spending. “Reining in runaway spending and deficits,” Heritage Foundation, 8/17/10. http://bit.ly/cvV2no [Reference deleted in published column.]
4. Focus on fixing the problem. – Budget process improvements would not do the trick. Government programs, even entire departments, need to be put on the chopping block. Entitlement programs must be restructured so they will be sustainable over the long haul, with big changes for healthcare programs as well as Social Security.
Being out of time, the Commission should propose that the new Congress establish a Spending Reduction Commission on or before March 3, 2011. The commission would be directed to develop a plan for reducing spending as a percent of Gross Domestic Product to 2000 levels (not 2008 levels, as in the GOP’s “Pledge to America”). The reporting deadline would be May 1, 2012. Congressional leaders would pledge an up or down vote on the plan before the 2012 elections.
5. Rejuvenate the economy. – Government spending is ultimately funded from the output of the U.S. economy, so steps to restore business confidence and support economic recovery would contribute to solving the fiscal problem. Congress could help by creating two additional commissions, also to report before the 2012 elections.
The Tax Simplification Commission’s mission would be to recommend an overhaul of the tax law that would reduce the burden on business, broaden the tax base, and be revenue neutral overall. There would be a moratorium on tax increases in the meantime.
The Regulatory Common Sense Commission would be directed to identify regulations that have outlived their usefulness and/or impose an unjustifiable burden on business. Pending its report, there would be a freeze on new federal regulations.
These recommendations would be tough to swallow, but the options after a fiscal meltdown would be far more unpalatable.
William Whipple III of Middletown, Delaware, is president of Secure America’s Future Economy (s-a-f-e.org), a group that advocates smaller, more focused, less costly government.
If there is a shipwreck, and we are in a lifeboat in heavy seas, the most important question is not who or what caused the shipwreck. The most important question is, how do we survive? We all must do what is necessary to survive.
That is the situation we are in now, with the federal government projected to [eventually] spend all of its income for interest on the debt. Before we get there, we face drastic inflation. What would we do with incomes of 10-cent dollars?
There is no easy solution. The only way to avert disaster is to make changes we don’t want to consider. Slowly decreasing the deficit will not cut it. The goal must be paying down debt.
Allowing creation of real jobs in the private sector will provide more income to the government without raising the tax rate. Increasing tax rates would prevent job creation. The government must become more friendly to business without subsidizing anyone. Let business people suggest how – maybe by eliminating regulations and paperwork that are not critical.
The federal government must stop sending money to state governments. Federal grants for any purpose must be severely curtailed. Entitlements must be decreased by the federal government or handed down to be decreased by state governments.
Private businesses are downsized in order to survive, and we must downsize the federal government to survive. This will be less difficult if the private sector becomes more dynamic, as it should.
If all this seems drastic, it is drastic in order to leave a good America for the next generations. We have allowed this situation to develop, so out of fairness to the next generations, we must make the difficult changes that are required to prevent financial disaster.
William Morris, Brandywine Hundred
August 20, 2010
[Suggested title was “Social Security fix not a high priority”]
Last Saturday’s editorial lauds Social Security as one of the great successes of the New Deal, and yet somehow – only 75 years after the legislation was passed and 27 years after an agreement was reached to supposedly ensure its solvency for the next 75 years – the program needs [is said to be in need of] another fix. What went wrong?
Some $2 trillion dollars in taxes earmarked for Social Security were spent for other purposes. Moral: do not agree to raise taxes for the system again before the funds are actually needed. And since Social Security is projected to flip back into the black for fiscal years 2012-2014, this does not seem like crunch time quite yet.
Former President Bush offered a serious proposal to reform Social Security five years ago, which was ruthlessly pecked to death. [Misleading claims abounded about how the stability of Social Security was secure until the trust funds ran out in the 2040s, etc.] Even in his remarks on the 75th Anniversary of Social Security, President Obama was still attacking this idea – which the Republican leadership has not attempted to revive – while offering none of his own. If bipartisan cooperation means anything, it necessarily cuts both ways.
The United States is facing much more than a problem with Social Security several years down the road. As explained by economist Laurence Kotlikoff [News Journal, 8/13/10], the country is effectively bankrupt and “Uncle Sam’s Ponzi scheme” is likely to stop in a very nasty matter. [Heading off a catastrophe is the real challenge for the Fiscal Commission, and we can only hope they are up to the challenge.]
William Whipple III, Middletown
Bracketed text was deleted by the News Journal.
July 20, 2010Editor The News Journal
Tea Party criticism rings true for foolishness of our policy
The United States is faced with big problems: big spending, big debt and big government. Congress and the President are advocating even higher spending to “get us out of this recession.” History tells us that this is not the best solution. So far, the $787 billion stimulus bill does not appear to have worked.
Dr. Burton Folsom, an economic historian, professor at Hillsdale College, said the biggest myth of the Great Depression of the 1930’s was that the New Deal helped get us out of it. Going back even further, President Harding was able to get us out of the 1920-21 Depression by reducing federal expenditures by almost 50 percent and slashing income taxes across all income levels. By late 1920, we were showing signs of recovery. We were completely out of the Depression by 1923. It’s odd that economist John Maynard Keynes did not pay more attention to the possibility of tax/spending cuts when developing his theories about counter-cyclical fiscal policy. FDR should have learned from Harding’s experience.
So with this experience behind us, will our elected officials do the right thing now? Many of them deserve a wake-up call. The Tea Partiers are right. Washington needs to rein in spending, reduce taxes and lower our debt. Our government is governing against the will of the people.
R. Jerry Martin, Heatherbrooke
The News Journal edited this letter heavily, deleting all substantive discussion of the failed policies of the 1930s plus reference to a recent Harvard study showing that stimulus spending primarily serves to promote growth in government. Compare the version of the letter published earlier in the SAFE newsletter.
June 28, 2010
There is a limit to how many dollars the federal government can print before we jump from steady inflation to hyperinflation. I do not believe anyone knows where that limit is. I am not alone in being concerned that the limit may be near. This is serious business. Germany had hyperinflation after World War I. Reportedly, the German people felt that the hyperinflation was worse than the war.
The solution is to back away from the precipice. Decreasing the deficit is not enough. We must start paying off the debt. Raising taxes could be counterproductive, leading to stagnation and decreasing income to the government. There are many possibilities beyond the scope of this letter, but here is one possibility.
Honor the 10th Amendment to the Constitution by handing activities down from the federal government to state governments. An example is Medicaid with costs currently shared between federal and state governments. With the full costs assumed by state governments, the states would undoubtedly find ways to decrease the cost of Medicaid.
Governors and state legislators won’t like this idea, but they may wish they had embraced it if we are hit by hyperinflation.
William E. Morris, Wilmington
June 8, 2010Editor
The environmental ideologues are in their heyday over the BP oil disaster in the Gulf and will use it to block further offshore drilling, but what should be realized is that they share the blame for it.
They have successfully stopped the growth of nuclear power and on-land drilling for oil. This drove oil companies to the far offshore, miles deep, costly, more dangerous drilling. On-land oil problems are much easier contained and less likely to occur.
The environmentalists continually preach foreign oil independence, a worthy goal, but then do all they can to deny us local oil, which is counterproductive.
Their dreamy myth is that non-fossil energy – wind, solar, etc. – is all we need. This is pure fantasy, not true in the foreseeable future and perhaps never.
Harry Kenton, Wilmington
May 23, 2010Editor
The behavior of the federal government under both Republican and Democrat administrations has put us into a deep hole. As the government keeps digging the hole deeper, there is a risk that lenders will become unwilling to buy U.S. bonds. This could lead to hyperinflation. The obvious solution is for the government to downsize. As individual Americans, as state and local governments, and as non-government organizations, we must stop asking for federal government handouts and start demanding downsizing of the federal government. This must be done, and it can be done. We have an example in New Zealand. In the 1950s its per capita income was third, behind the US and Canada. Then, their government growth took off and by 1984 their per capita income was 27th in the world, with 12% unemployment. A reform government was elected in 1984. Government was downsized, productivity increased, and debt paid off. It is urgent that we downsize the federal government, eliminating counterproductive activities, and handing off important activities to lower government levels or to the private sector. We should start with some significant cuts. My personal favorites for abolition are the Department of Education and the Department of Energy, because they do significant harm. Wide acceptance is needed of the fact that we must take our medicine in order to recover. No more grants from the federal government. State governments or the people must take more responsibility in accordance with the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. For example, individual states should take full responsibility for Medicaid. This logical step will signal lenders that the U.S. federal government is on the right track - an excellent start toward a sound economy.
William E. Morris, Libertarian Party of Delaware
[SAFE does not endorse the Libertarian Party, or any other, but we applaud the ideas expressed in this letter.]
April 22, 2010
NUCLEAR RADIATION HORMESIS: William E. Morris
Hormesis is a widespread phenomenon whereby a large quantity of something is harmful, while a small quantity is beneficial. A classic example is pills. Taking 100 pills at once can be harmful, even fatal, but one pill a day can be beneficial, even life saving.
Hormesis applies to nuclear radiation, which we receive constantly. The average dose for Americans is 350 millirems per year. Hormesis applies in this range - people who live in areas with higher radiation are healthier than those who live in areas with lower radiation. "Cancer rates among people living in the Rocky Mountain states which have the highest exposure in the country, are one-third lower than the rest of the nation, while people living in the Louisiana Delta, which has the lowest exposure, have the highest rates of cancer in the country" ("Terrestrial Energy, 2008 book by William Tucker)
It is clear that there is a hormetic effect, but how much is the effect and how is it related to the radiation dose? It would be valuable to know this effect quantitatively on humans as they live their lives, without knowing they were being exposed to radiation at well above the average level. We would never deliberately set out to conduct such an experiment, but it was conducted accidentally, as recounted in "Terrestrial Energy".
Highly radioactive Cobalt 60 was accidentally mixed in with a batch of commercial steel that was later used to make reinforcing rods (rebar). The reinforcing rods were used in constructing apartment buildings in Taiwan. When officials discovered this huge error 15 years later, they surveyed about 10,000 past and present occupants, expecting to find an epidemic of cancer. With the normal incidence, they would have found 160 cancer cases, but to their astonishment, they found only 5, or 3% of the expected incidence. (Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, 2004). The apartment occupants were receiving an average dose of 7,400 millirems per year.
The results were extremely lucky for the Taiwan apartment dwellers and very important for the rest of us. It was an accidental experiment, but the apartment dwellers did not receive a harmful dose. They received a big enough dose to almost eliminate cancer.
For the rest of us, we now know that nuclear radiation does not cause cancer, but reduces cancer up to and beyond 20 times the average rate of radiation we now receive. This should put to rest concerns about much lower radiation levels that stopped expansion of nuclear power in the U.S. and left us behind the rest of the world in the expansion of nuclear power.
As for medical implications, they are huge. Beneficial effects of nuclear radiation were known in the early 1900s, but some people overdid the use of radiation with devastating results, and scared everyone away from it. For current work, one reference is www.belleonline.com.
I believe these data and supporting data tell us to stop worrying about nuclear radiation at low levels, and start taking more advantage of its beneficial effects at appropriate levels.
Note: Publication anticipated in the Delaware area. SAFE members elsewhere are encouraged to submit this column (as is or changed as they may see fit) to publications in their respective areas. Please let Bill Morris know (email@example.com or 302-475-7060) when the column is published.
April 16, 2010Editor
President Obama announced he now supports some U.S. oil exploration, although with limitations. The catch here is that it is tied to support for his “cap and tax” energy legislation, which is rightfully dead in Congress.
He is making the promise of a future gain in oil independence tied to immediate support for his energy program. More important, what he is offering is so limited that even if he kept his word, the price (the “cap and tax”) is not worth what little he is offering. Note: “Exploration” is not the same as “drilling.”
April 10, 2010
Via Fax: 324-2595Editor
A recent editorial (March 27) suggests that the healthcare debate is over, the legislation (“GovCare”) has passed, and Republicans should stop the “destructive partisan wallowing” and move on. So far, however, only Congressman Mike Castle gets it.
Not so fast! The president and his party poisoned the political well by ramming GovCare through against the weight of public opinion, and they deserve continuing censure. Repeal looks impossible for now, we’ll see after the elections in November, but it is a reasonable rallying cry. And repealing GovCare would clear the way for real healthcare reform, whereas it will be virtually impossible to correct the deficiencies of this huge and complex package if it is allowed to remain in place.
Your concerns about death threats and vandalism seem overstated, and in any case such activity is not limited to conservatives. The bullet that is mentioned – now said to have been fired into the air – hit near an office of Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Vigorous rallies to protest trillions in future debt fueled by fast-growing entitlement programs will hopefully continue in coming months as a reminder to politicians of both parties that “We the People” are not prepared to pay for this mess.
Finally, Congressman Castle would probably vote for repeal if he could. Consider the tenor of his March 21 press release, which concludes as follows: “To ignore the costs and enact unrealistic and misleading legislation will only prolong our healthcare challenges for generations to come.”
William Whipple III
February 1, 2010
Via Fax: 324-2595Editor The News Journal
Although the editorial pages of the News Journal have covered both sides of the manmade global warming debate, the same cannot be said of the news coverage.
Story after story refers to the allegedly overwhelming scientific evidence that global warming (aka climate change) threatens the planet. Scientists who toe the party line are quoted as experts; scientists who believe otherwise are dismissed as skeptics (realists might be more apt). The Climategate scandal is characterized as regrettable, a few zealous scientists got carried away, but of little consequence. Polls showing Americans are more worried about jobs and energy costs than global warming are said to show people should listen to the “experts.”
[“Winter latest sign of climate change?” (News Journal, 1/29/10), written by two reporters of the Washington Post, hit a new low. The article cites a week-earlier report of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “that 2009 tied as the second-warmest year on record.” If true this statement would disturb climate realists, who have been saying the global warming trend stopped about 10 years ago. (The warming trend may resume or reverse, scientists do not know, but for now it has stopped.)]
Checking the NOAA report (1/21/10), which is posted on line, I found that the second paragraph states: “For 2009, global temperatures tied with 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record.” From other sources based on the same data series, global temperatures in 2009 were cooler than those in 2005, 1998, 2003 & 2002, and tied with 2006. Also, the variation in temperatures from year to year has been relatively modest, e.g., the average temperature in 2009 was only “1.01 degree F above the 20th century average.”
[Could we please have more accurate and unbiased reporting about global warming in view of the huge amounts of money that could be wasted in a panicky attempt to solve a nonexistent problem?]
William Whipple III, Middletown
NOTE: The bracketed paragraphs were omitted by the News Journal in the edited version of this letter that they published on 2/6/10.
1/21/10 – NOAA report re hottest years on record.
January 21, 2010Editor
The Environmental Protection Agency has declared carbon dioxide a pollutant. How ridiculous. Carbon dioxide is essential for human life. Without it, plants will not grow. Even if you believe carbon dioxide to be the major cause of global warming, you would have no basis to call it a pollutant.
If you arrived in Delaware from another planet, and were exposed to mainline newspapers and TV, you would soon learn that humans are burning too much fossil fuel, and emitting too much carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.
On further investigation, you would learn that a lot of people disagree. Over 31,000 scientists willing to stick their necks out by signing a petition opposing joining an international effort to slow down the use of fossil fuels.
Not only that, you’d also learn that only 34 percent of Americans believe that humans are causing global warming, and only 20 percent of people are willing to spend any extra money to reduce climate change, based on an international poll of 12,000 people.
After learning this, you would be surprised to learn that the Delaware Public Service Commission has ruled that future electric purchases for Delaware must include high-cost energy that people are unwilling to pay for. Stay tuned to see what the future holds.
R. Jerry Martin, Heatherbrooke
January 6, 2010
Delaware Voice column, published in the 1/6/10 News Journal under the title “Thankfully, Copenhagen failed”
Many billions of dollars have been spent in a futile attempt to limit global warming. We are fortunate that the Copenhagen meeting of the U.N. climate change organization did not result in firm commitments to accelerate an extremely expensive effort to affect the climate. To justify further efforts to limit global warming by limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, two propositions should be proved: (1) global warming is bad; and (2) we are causing global warming by burning fossil fuels.
Despite extensive efforts of climate alarmists, neither proposition has been proved.
The Medieval Warm Period, about 1,000 years ago, was appreciably warmer than the present warm period. The evidence of warmth includes the fact that grapes were grown in England and Europe at higher altitudes than they can be grown now. There was farming in Greenland. This concerns climate alarmists.
“We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.” – Jonathan Overpeck, lead author, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC].
The Medieval Warm Period was a good time for human beings, and we don’t have records of catastrophic climate effects. London wasn’t flooded. By contrast, the Little Ice Age caused crop failures, leading to the plague, and a third of Europeans died prematurely. Even now, unusually hot weather causes fewer deaths than does unusually cold weather. Death caused by hot weather is one of the many one-sided claims made by climate alarmists.
Perhaps the major claim is a large rise in sea level. However, sea level continues to rise only about 7 inches per century. Even the IPCC estimates about a foot rise by 2100. This should be easy to adapt to over a period of three generations. We can safely ignore exaggerated predictions.
“I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentation of how dangerous it is.” – Al Gore
“We [climate-related scientists] have a vested interest in creating panic because then money will flow to climate science.” – Dr. John Christy
So much for the claim that global warming is bad.
As carbon dioxide concentration increases, the greenhouse effect of additional carbon dioxide becomes less and less. The dinosaurs thrived during the Jurassic period 150 million years ago when carbon dioxide was five times the present level. They undoubtedly enjoyed very luxurious vegetation – plants love carbon dioxide. In order to show a warming effect of carbon dioxide, computer models assume a positive feedback with water vapor, the major greenhouse gas. The key word is “assume.” However, real data show a negative feedback, wherein as the ocean warms, it sends more energy into space.
Our use of fossil fuels took off about 1950. If that were a major factor affecting global warming, glaciers should be shrinking more rapidly. However, average shrinkage of 169 glaciers started at the end of the Little Ice Age and continued at the same rate to the year 2000, not accelerating after 1950 when the use of fossil fuels took off.
There has been a warming trend as the Earth recovered from the Little Ice Age. Within that trend, the Earth warmed until about 1940, cooled until about 1970, warmed until about 2000, and hasn’t warmed since then. The activity of the sun has tracked those changes.
It is clear that we are not causing global warming by burning fossil fuels. Nature, not human activity rules the climate. For the future, the warming trend may resume, and eventually reach the benign climate our ancestors enjoyed during the Medieval Warm Period. Or, there may be a very slow descent into another ice age. In either case, there is no need to worry. The human race is very adaptable, and there will be plenty of time to adapt.
William E. Morris lives in Wilmington and is president of the regional Climate Change Common Sense organization. [He is also the founder and a director of Secure America’s Future Economy.]
December 5, 2009Editor
You probably have noticed that weather forecasts generally predict slightly higher temperatures downtown than outside the city. This is called the “urban heat island effect.” If temperature is measured near but outside the center of a city, the heat island effect will reach that location as the city grows. The resulting temperature increase is a false indication of global warming.
Highly precise temperature measurements taken from orbiting satellites are showing no warming for the last several years. If temperature is measured at ground level, it may indicate a false warming, due to the heat island effect. That is probably what happened in China, where a major river is drying up. The river problem is assumed to be caused by a small temperature rise, which can be due to the expanding heat island.
Whenever any unfavorable event can be linked to global warming, one can be sure it will be reported by the media. It may not be reported when the opposite occurs. In both cases, correlation does not mean cause and effect. A classic example is that cities with the most churches have the most crimes.
Barry Dorsch, Wilmington
November 4, 2009Editor
“Real people for real health reform” (The News Journal, October 17) recaps a one-hour meeting that the writer and allies had with Senator Tom Carper. They should consider themselves fortunate; few Delawareans enjoyed such access. If they failed to carry the day, perhaps it had something to do with their arguments.
[No doubt more competition in healthcare insurance would be a good thing, but the shortage of competition is not due to exemption from the antitrust laws.] The real problem is state-by-state regulation of private healthcare insurance plans, specifying in detail the terms of coverage to be offered, which severely limits consumer choice and prevents the development of a national market.
If a government or quasi-government entity was empowered to write healthcare insurance, free of state regulation and with any resulting deficits to be covered by taxpayers, it would predictably drive private insurers out of business. So offering a “public option” would represent a strategy for transitioning to a single payer system, not keeping the insurance companies honest or whatever.
[As for the overhead rates of private insurers vs. Medicare, it is hard to credit the 10:1 (30% vs. 3%) ratio that is cited. Could it be that the payment of improper Medicare claims, followed by the costs of attempting to claw back such payments, are not being considered on the government side of the ledger?]
William Whipple III, Middletown
[Material in brackets was edited out of the letter by the News Journal]
Real people for real health reform
JOANNE CABRY • OCTOBER 17, 2009
A Health Care Reform Resolution was sent to Delaware's three Congressional members by various Democratic organizations in September. Most recently, the Delaware Democratic Party Executive Committee endorsed the resolution calling for a robust public option.
The wording of the resolution is straightforward. "Triggers" and "cooperatives" won't work. A nationwide, government-managed health insurance option is needed to bring significant competition to the health insurance industry.
Individuals representing the various organizations who have endorsed the resolution recently met with Sen. Tom Carper. Dr. Don Dillon, a 1959 graduate of Harvard Medical School, also attended and presented the senator with a resolution signed by the majority of his classmates, urging a strong public option.
Our group came to the meeting with facts and specific questions. We left with most of our questions unanswered and the sense that our data was disregarded.
Sen. Carper does not endorse a nationwide public option and is a proponent of co-operatives and state or regional approaches to health reform.
We pointed out to Sen. Carper that Blue Cross insurance companies are nonprofit co-ops, but their fees have been skyrocketing just like the premiums of private health insurance plans.
We showed him the statement made by Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, in which he noted that co-ops need 500,000 members to negotiate with providers, and they would need $6 billion in seed money from the federal government.
We reminded Sen. Carper that insurance companies are not subject to federal anti-trust laws, and consequently 47 of our states have three or fewer insurance companies. We used Dover as an illustration, showing that Blue Cross has 55 percent of the market and Coventry has 25 percent. When we asked the senator to explain how any entity other than a publicly managed insurance plan could compete in Dover when 80 percent of the market is controlled by two companies, he had no answer.
We cited recent newspaper articles where Sen. Carper was quoted as saying he voted against Sen. Jay Rockefeller's amendment because "it would give the government an unfair advantage" and would "stifle competition." (The public option proposed by Rockefeller, D-W.V., would be a national plan and would be based on Medicare for the first two or three years.) Despite our repeated attempts to get an answer, the senatIn the same news articles, Sen. Carper stated he voted for the amendment proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., because the plan did not "disadvantage insurance companies" and would "provide a level playing field." But the senator never completes the sentence. He wants a "level playing field" for the insurance companies. And the "disadvantage" he mentions is the 30-percent overhead incurred by most insurance companies, compared with Medicare's 3 percent overhead. Is it "unfair" to ask insurance companies to rein in their greed and end the practice of encouraging their employees to revoke sick people's health coverage?
We gave Sen. Carper a number of documents, including a chart listing the salary and bonus packages of seven CEOs of insurance companies. When the senator learns that the CEO of Aetna, Ronald A. Williams, had a $24 million salary and benefits package in 2008, perhaps he will understand why we are frustrated by his desire to protect Williams' playing field.
We also gave the senator statistics related to health care reform in Delaware. But numbers can be numbing. When Sen. Carper reads that there were 1,100 health-related bankruptcies in Delaware in 2008, will he think of the children in these families who moved out of their homes and left their pets behind? Will he think of the humiliation the men and women faced in addition to their struggles with the illness that led to the bankruptcy?
When the senator reads of the 53,000 men and women who work in Delaware without health insurance, will he wonder what an uninsured person does when shortness of breath occurs, or what a parent does when a child has a fever?
We entered Sen. Carper's office knowing there are 1,100 lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and health insurance agencies in Washington who have access to Congressional members and their staffs every day. We had one hour to convince the senator that he was not voting in the best interests of his constituents.
We brought overwhelming evidence to the meeting showing a strong federal insurance plan must be part of any genuine reform. We left feeling as if Sen. Carper did not hear us.
However, just as our resolutions have grown stronger by gathering more supporters, we are resolved to work until all Americans have affordable, quality health care. In 2010, 45,000 of us will die because we didn't have insurance that would pay for a cholesterol screening or a mammogram. We are resolved to see this is the last year we watch as 45,000 of us die.
October 25, 2009Editor
A two-column article appearing on page one of the local Delaware section last Friday highlighted a group supporting a public health insurance option. It was accompanied by a large photograph, above the fold, which showed supporters carrying signs promoting government healthcare.
When one read the article, one learned that the demonstration involved about 12 people. Last month over 1 million people, many of them from Delaware, demonstrated on the Washington Mall against government’s involvement in healthcare and the exorbitant costs associated with it. The News-Journal belatedly covered this event with a small article buried in the newspaper. This kind of bias does not go unnoticed and is contributing to the demise of many print newspapers. News Journal take note.
Charles G. Oertel, Wilmington
September 18, 2009Editor The News Journal
As carbon dioxide concentration increases, the Earth gets greener. Plants love carbon dioxide, so it is beneficial for animals and human beings. Carbon dioxide is necessary for life. It is incorrect to call carbon dioxide pollution, as was done in an Op-Ed article in the Sept. 9 edition. [Cost of polluting needs to be high, Chad Tolman (Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club), News Journal, 9/9/09.]
The article is based on the false assumption that carbon dioxide is a major factor causing global warming. First, the average temperature has not increased for the past seven years, even though carbon dioxide concentration continued to increase.
Furthermore, the Earth was warmer during the Medieval Warm Period than it is now, when humans were using insignificant amounts of the fossil fuels compared to our present use of the carbon dioxide emitting fuels. Global warming alarmists such as the author of the Sept. 9 editorial are notorious for exaggerating any negative effect of warming.
As we recover from the Little Ice Age, sea level increases only about 7 inches per century. The real problem of global warming is the alarmist effects on public policy. The cap-and-trade bill now in Congress would cost us almost $100 billion per year. The cost of subsidizing politically correct forms of energy is large.
William E. Morris
September 8, 2009Editor The News Journal
The Obama-Pelosi cap-and-tax bill, having passed in the House, is now pending in the Senate. Rep. Castle, in explaining his “reluctant” vote for it, said he thought “something needed to be done.” I say that doing nothing is preferable to doing something wrong. This is a dream come true for tax-loving politicians and global-warming cultists. But a nightmare for the rest of us.
Reductions in carbon worldwide, if any, will be infinitesimal, while damaging our economy with increased costs across the board. Our nation’s last hope to avoid this travesty is that sufficient sane senators will be found to vote for a filibuster and deny Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the 60 votes needed to pass it.
August 24, 2009
Delaware Voice column, published in the 8/24/09 News Journal under the title “Mr. President, stop straddling fence and decide.” The featured excerpt is highlighted in the text below
When Barrack Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, it is said he had a knack for speaking in such a way that people on either side of an issue thought he was agreeing with them.
Mr. Obama is doing the same thing as president of the United States, says Daniel Henninger, now on a much larger stage and with greater potential for confusion. Henninger’s column (Wall Street Journal, 4/30/09) cites the president’s several statements about possible investigation with an eye to prosecution of those responsible for developing the guidelines for “enhanced interrogation techniques” after 9/11. Apparently, even Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel got faked out.
As another example of fancy footwork, consider how the president is supporting several major initiatives, which obviously could not be implemented without spending a lot of money, while also promising to get the government’s fiscal affairs under control
At a prime time news conference on April 29, the president worked both themes into a single sentence: “[The budget] contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training, new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses, and new savings that will bring down our deficit.”
Advocates of an expanded role for government were reassured about the new investments they craved, as reflected in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 and beyond that the president had submitted to Congress in late February.
Fiscal conservatives could take comfort in the promise of new savings that would bring down the deficit, not to mention ensuing statements that “our projected long-term deficits are still too high” and that “we’ll continue scouring the federal budget for savings and target more programs for elimination.”
Moreover, the president had previously pledged “to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office.” He had also stated in his February 24 address to Congress that his Administration would “go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs.”
Are these two sets of promises reconcilable, and, if not, which of them represents the president’s true intentions? As words can have many shades of machine, I would look to the budget numbers, which indicate a continuation (perhaps acceleration) of the deficit spending that reignited under the president’s immediate predecessor.
With outlays for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid set to soar in coming years, principally due to longer human life spans and retirement of the baby boomers, the United States government is in a $56 trillion and growing fiscal hole. State of the Union’s Finances: A Citizen’s Guide, Peterson Foundation, March 2009.
The government and this country will face a disastrous fiscal meltdown unless corrective action is taken soon. See “The Coming Generational Storm,” Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns, MIT Press (2004), and the 2008 film I.O.U.S.A. (now available as a DVD).
No one knows exactly when the day of reckoning will arrive, but it seems clear that the government’s fiscal problems cannot be safely ignored. The president made precisely this point in a conversation with reporters and editors of the Washington Post, which the newspaper reported on January 16.
What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.
At a healthcare summit meeting at the White House on March 5, the president advocated “investments that will dramatically lower costs” as a “fiscal imperative” and the best (if not only) way to get costs under control. Details about the contemplated healthcare cost cuts remain elusive, however, and there has been little talk of public sacrifices.
“This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance,” said the president on August 11 at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “I don't believe anyone should be in charge of your health insurance decisions but you and your doctor.”
Was the key a “public option,” which the president said would keep insurance companies honest? Presumably not, given subsequent statements that such an option is not an essential part of the healthcare plan.
Stop, my head is spinning! Will the real President Obama please stand up.
William Whipple III,
President of Secure America’s Future Economy (s-a-f-e.org), a group that advocates smaller, more focused, less costly government.
July 27, 2009Editor The News Journal
With healthcare consuming an outsized share of our economy (17%+ in 2008), it makes sense that Americans look to cut the cost of healthcare. It is not clear that currently proposed “reforms” will improve the situation.
There are two major contributors to high healthcare costs that are rarely discussed. First is the third party payment system. The consumer of healthcare is rarely the payer (insurer) and therefore is not concerned with the price or cost benefit ratio associated with the healthcare choices they make. Second, the healthcare consumer generally does not directly pay or choose their healthcare payer (insurer), rather choice of and payment to the insurer is made by the employer or the government, an arrangement created and perpetuated by the tax free status of employee benefits.
Another tragic and costly problem with the current system is that after years of good health, one can get sick and lose one’s job and healthcare insurance when that insurance is needed most, leaving the government to step in. None of the excess premiums paid while healthy will help you if you become too sick to work. Consumers simply do not own their healthcare insurance policies the way they own their life or auto insurance policies.
If healthcare reformers truly want to lower costs, then further concealing and separating the price of healthcare from the consumer of healthcare is not sensible. Indeed, if consumers cannot choose on a cost benefit basis, and price is further obfuscated by the “reforms”, then the only way that healthcare reform can find cost savings is through rationing, something President Obama and other would-be healthcare reformers are loathe to admit. Instead, healthcare and insurance reform should address the cost of healthcare head on, by making it visible to the healthcare consumer. The wedge between consumers and both provider and insurer should be diminished by reform, not expanded.
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not want a reduced role for insurance companies, politicians do not want a reduced role for the government, unions do not want a reduced role for unions or employer based healthcare, employers do not want to give up healthcare plan choice or benefit programs that bind employees to employer, and individuals do not want to take on more responsibility for the payment of their care.
What is a reformer to do?
July 25, 2009Editor The News Journal
The July 19 front-page article, “Nuclear revival may add Del. Jobs,” is a welcome indication that we will be getting desperately needed electrical energy. The question is whether we will get it soon enough.
The Congressional Quarterly reported that spare electrical generating capacity is only 10 percent and dropping fast. “Politically correct” forms of energy, including windmills and solar panels, cannot supply enough energy to meet the demand, which will increase rapidly when this recession is over.
Near-term demand can be met only with coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants. If they are held back because they emit carbon dioxide, we are almost guaranteed frequent electrical blackouts like those that occur in third world countries. This would be a shame on two levels.
First, the science is now clear that carbon dioxide has no more than a minor effect on global warming. Second, for those who ignore the science and continue to demonize carbon dioxide, any cutback in the U.S. will be dwarfed by the massive increases of carbon dioxide in China and elsewhere.
On a longer-term basis, we need nuclear power, which is economical, dependable and safer than other sources of power.
William E. Morris
June 8, 2009Editor The News Journal
A June 7 editorial asks why proponents of near universal healthcare seem reluctant to acknowledge the associated cost ($1.2 trillion over 10 years, or perhaps more). The question was probably rhetorical, but I would like to suggest an answer.
This plan has been presented as a good deal for everyone. Thus, at a White House forum on March 5, the president said the objective was to “lower costs for everyone, improve quality for everyone, and expand coverage to all Americans.” He spoke of the plan as “a fiscal imperative” to “get our federal budget under control.” As for those with healthcare insurance already, “they should be able to keep that insurance . . . keep their doctor . . . just pay less.” A more realistic view might spoil the sales pitch.
Like it or not, the federal government is in no position to undertake major new programs. Its current liabilities and unfunded promises total $56 trillion, primarily due to skyrocketing outlays for healthcare “entitlements.” Even with a balanced budget (hardly the current situation), this figure is projected to continue growing by $2-3 trillion a year. State of the Union’s Finances: A Citizen’s Guide, Peterson Foundation, March 2009.
The proposed healthcare plan could not be rendered affordable by raising taxes, whether imposed on healthcare benefits, sugary drinks, or the wealthy. People are willing to pay just so much in taxes, and any increases should be applied to deficit reduction.
Granted, lots of money is spent on medical tests and procedures of questionable utility, and many people neglect common sense measures to stay healthy. Major cost savings could be achieved if the government solidified its control over the healthcare sector, but not through the computerization of medical records or pledges of healthcare providers to voluntarily reduce the growth rate of expenditures (their revenues). The mechanism for cost saving would be de facto rationing – as has been demonstrated in Canada, the UK, and other countries with government-run healthcare. In other words, the United States could be headed for HMOs on steroids.
Let’s not buy into the proposed plan without thoughtfully considering more affordable proposals for healthcare reform. See s-a-f-e.org/healthcare.
William Whipple III,
February 13, 2009
A free market is so beneficial that almost everyone gives it lip service. However, there are always some who want to interfere with it. When you do interfere, you can expect unintended negative consequences.
The present financial meltdown is largely the result of political pressure to promote home ownership by people who could not afford a home. When the prices stopped increasing – you know the rest.
Another type of interference with the free market is “socially responsible” investing. This decreases the safety and profitability of investments. It has endangered several pension funds, as discussed in the February 2009 issue of Reason magazine.
Now that the financial meltdown is under way, there is pressure to “do something,” when the best solution is to let the free market quickly arrive at a new equilibrium.
An excellent account of the present situation is given in the Jan. 12 blog in www.s-a-f-e.org.
William E. Morris
October 20, 2008Editor The News Journal
Carbon dioxide is not a major cause of global warming. There have been alternate warming and cooling periods with a cycle length of roughly 1,500 years for hundreds of thousands of years, well before mankind was burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide.
Within the 1,500 year cycles, temperature goes up and down. This has been occurring within the last 30 years while carbon dioxide increases steadily. Earth’s temperature is in a definite downturn, based on measurements from satellites of temperature at the lowest level of the atmosphere. This is confirmed by measurements of ocean temperatures by the Argo project using 3,000 ocean temperature probes. These are careful temperature measurements, not computer predictions.
Attention to global warming can be a distraction from other issues that deserve the attention of Congress. The greatest harm Congress does by focusing on global warming and other non-issues will come from their ignoring the elephant in the living room – retirement of the baby boomers, which is just beginning.
Without drastic changes, entitlements expected by the baby boomers will break the bank. We’re on a path that will make the current financial problems seem inconsequential.
William E. Morris
August 18, 2008Editor The News Journal
Two recent editorials say the candidates should offer ideas to combat the relentless rise in healthcare costs. I agree. To devise a solution, however, it is important to understand why healthcare costs have been soaring in the first place.
In a nutshell, the interface between healthcare providers and consumers has been subverted because intermediaries (insurance companies and/or government agencies) pay most of the bills. Perceiving that the money is not coming out of their own pockets, consumers tend to demand healthcare services without limit – whether or not it will actually be beneficial.
Schemes to provide universal healthcare coverage will exacerbate the cost problem unless accompanied by de facto rationing of medical care (as currently exists in Canada, the UK, etc.) None of the candidates who advocate universal healthcare have acknowledged this unpalatable reality.
The other approach is to dial back the government’s role and create a system in which patients will ask “how much is this going to cost” and “what are the alternatives” with greater regularity. Cost containment can then become a matter of decisions made by individuals and families vs. faceless bureaucrats. See “The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care,” Dr. David Gratzer, Encounter Books (2006).
Alone among the gubernatorial candidates, Bill Lee advocates reliance on “personal ownership, choice and competition” to lower costs. That could be a good reason to vote for him.
William Whipple III
August 17, 2008Editor The News Journal
The price of gasoline concerns most people, and global warming concerns some people, but the elephant in the living room should concern all of us.
It is the deep financial hole that the federal government that the federal government is in. The debt and future promises add up to a staggering $53 trillion according to Pete Peterson.
Peterson has credentials. He has been U.S. secretary of commerce and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. His book, “Running on Empty,” provides details on the problem. Recently he founded the Peterson Foundation. David Walker, former U.S. comptroller, is president of the foundation. For several years, Walker has been raising the alarm about the dangers of a U.S. financial meltdown.
A small, primarily Delaware organization [named SAFE] has been sounding the alarm for over 12 years.
The Peterson Foundation has released the June 2008 brief report, “State of the Union’s Finances” (pgpf.org). They have just released a movie, “I.O.U.S.A.,” that provides a convincing picture of that elephant in the living room, including compelling graphics, a statement by billionaire Warren Buffet and a skit by actor Steve Martin.
The movie will be shown at 8 p.m. Thursday [8/21/08] at the Regal Brandywine 16 Theater. It is a real eye-opener.
William E. Morris
July 31, 2008
Energy business will run fine on its own, Delaware State News,
I am quite interested in the energy situation, and can offer some special insight because of my career experience. I worked at Exxon for seven years, then at DuPont for 32 years, providing technical service to petroleum refiners. The technical service, in support of additive sales, was primarily in the area of gasoline performance and manufacture. After retirement, I have had many conversations with refinery people concerning my gasoline-blending programs, described in www.gasolineblendingplus.com.
I recall the 1973 crude oil embargo and the long lines at service stations. Actually, the embargo failed because of “cheating.” The problems occurred because of the heavy-handed actions of the federal government. (See the 2008 book, “Gushers of Lies,” by Robert Bryce.)
I remember being told that federal government employees were working full-time in the offices of the oil companies to make sure they complied with government regulations. In one case, gasoline production at a Louisiana refinery was held up when a barge or ship was parked up the river. The refinery could not act until receiving government permission.
Robert Bryce recommends that the federal government get out of the energy business. I agree [whole-heartedly] with his recommendation.
The thrust of Bryce’s book is that energy independence is a pipe dream, and we should face that fact and act accordingly. Both he and I support removal of government regulations in order to increase the supply, thus lowering the prices.
As for uneconomical forms of energy, such as solar and windmills, I believe the government subsidies are a poor use of taxpayers’ money. If these forms of energy are important as backers claim, investors or other supporters will fund them.
Ethanol in gasoline is a particularly shameful example of waste. Others have pointed out that most, if not all, of the energy gain is counteracted by the use of fuel for growing corn and converting it to ethanol. Also, the price of food is increased, and a huge amount of water is used.
I can add two things about ethanol that may not be widely known. Because of its different structure, addition of 10 percent ethanol to gasoline increases vapor pressure about one pound per square inch. Vapor pressure is an important gasoline specification. If vapor pressure is too high, the gasoline will vaporize in the fuel system, preventing delivery of enough gasoline to keep the engine going. This is called “vapor-lock.” To compensate for the vapor-pressure effect of ethanol, about 2 percent of normal butane must be left out of the gasoline. While normal butane can be used in other ways, this decreases the amount of gasoline by 2 percent, a debit for ethanol.
In the 20th century, gasoline with 10 percent ethanol, called “gasohol” was already a bad idea, but some pollution decrease could be claimed for it. The reason: engines were run a little “rich” – with more gasoline than could be burned by the air going into the engine. This improved the smoothness of operation because the “leanest” cylinders still received enough gasoline. However, the excess gasoline went into the air, causing smog. By including ethanol, which contains oxygen, the gasoline/air mixture was “leaner” so gasoline could be burned more completely.
That advantage has probably disappeared now for two reasons. Better fuel systems deliver more uniform gasoline/air mixtures to the individual cylinders. Also, the exhaust systems contain a catalyst that prevents escape of gasoline to the atmosphere. The bottom line is that ethanol subsidies should be eliminated.
I have some knowledge of and experience with nuclear radiation. Nuclear energy is one of the safest forms of energy. It may be the most economical form, if not made more expensive by opposition from those who have an unrealistic fear of it. A key to this fear is the “linear – no threshold” assumption. This assumption starts with deaths due to massive radiation. A straight line drawn to zero radiation and zero deaths assumes that a small amount of radiation causes some deaths. However, there is a large amount of information showing that a small amount of radiation is actually beneficial. This phenomenon, called “hormesis,” can be illustrated by the situation where one pill a day can cure you of a disease, whereas a thousand pills will kill you.
Analysis of average radon concentrations in U.S. counties shows a highly significant negative correlation. The higher the radon concentration, the lower the cancer rate. There are many other studies showing hormesis for nuclear radiation. It is speculated that the radiation activates immune systems, resulting in greater resistance to disease. Wider understanding of this information should decrease opposition to nuclear energy, making it more economical and better accepted.
I have personal experience with nuclear radiation that supports the above paragraph. My college roommate and I, as students at the University of Missouri, had jobs purifying radioactive material by fractional crystallization. We were quite casual about it. Occasionally, we would spill some of the solution. We would turn out the light at night (the solution glowed in the dark), soak it up and squeeze it into a bowl. Years later, I was told that during a radiation survey at the university, the needle on the survey instrument went to the end of the scale outside the building. They had to tear out and dispose of the concrete from the floor of the small room where we worked with the radioactive material. I am sure that the radiation I received while doing this work was significant. Yet here I am, retired for years and in very good health. We have a wonderful daughter and three super grandkids (I may be prejudiced).
The free market works well for us. When the gasoline price increases, we use less gasoline, and investors increase their support of energy sources they believe will be profitable. Unfortunately, too many of us want the federal government to “do something,” and Congress is always ready to oblige. In the energy area, and some other areas as well, we’ll all be much better off if the government will show restraint and let the free market work its magic.
William E. Morris
April 1, 2008Editor The News Journal
The editorial about the latest report of the Medicare and Social Security trustees made three important points. Medicare (and in my judgment the entire healthcare system) is in serious financial trouble, major adjustments will be required, and “the next president will have to face these problems during his or her administration.”
Americans undergo more diagnostic tests/ medical procedures and pop more pills than they need, with limited benefit in terms of better health or longer life expectancy. Many people could make greater gains by exercising regularly and eating sensibly. There is room to save lots of money without hurting anyone except, perhaps, certain healthcare providers.
The big question is, who should evaluate the cost/benefit tradeoffs for the ever-expanding array of healthcare services. Most of us do not want insurance companies to make this kind of decision, witness the outcry when Aetna tried to eliminate full anesthesia for under-65 colonoscopy patients. It is doubtful that we would be better pleased if government bureaucrats were given such powers. So, why not empower people to make their own decisions by putting the procurement of and payment for routine healthcare services back under their control?
The idea of patient empowerment may take some getting used to, but it need not be viewed as “grim and unpopular.” And if the government’s dire fiscal problems are not being “discussed by the presidential candidates,” it may be time for the public to demand that they do so!
William Whipple III
December 23, 2007Editor The News Journal
I attended an Oct. 17 presentation of the Al Gore slide show on global warming at the Academy of Lifelong Learning. The show was slick, persuasive, one-sided propaganda. It definitely was not science.
One slide showed a very slight warming during the medieval period and a large amount of current warming. The reverse is true.
During the medieval period, Alaska was 3 to 5 degrees warmer than now, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Grapes were grown in England north of where they can be grown now. Vikings were farming in Greenland until they were overtaken by the Little Ice Age.
In the slide show, the hottest year since 1860 was given as 2005. In a reanalysis of NASA temperature data, a positive bias was found [in the test procedure and the correct answer turned out] to be 1934. NASA acknowledged the error.
Implications of warming are refuted by the fact that earlier warmer periods were warmer than this one without dire effects.
Assertions that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are the major factor causing warming are not consistent with the fact that alternate warm and cool periods have occurred over and over again.
Variation in the activity of the sun is correlated with alternating warm and cool periods based on ice core data. This is supported by direct observation of the sun during the coldest period of the Little Ice Age.
Contrary to the slide show, carbon dioxide is beneficial. Plants love it, and so do people who are struggling to produce enough food.
Economical energy supports our standard of living and lifts millions of people out of poverty. There is no need to adopt uneconomical forms of energy in an ineffective attempt to limit global warming.
William E. Morris
November 1, 2007Editor The News Journal
Kudos on the David Broder column, “Either pay attention or pay overwhelming price.” It is exciting that the U.S. Senate is holding hearings on how to “head off the bankrupting of America by runaway entitlement programs,” and having all the presidential candidates sitting in the room would be a fine idea.
It is disappointing, however, that the only action suggested is to appoint a bipartisan task force that would talk about things. There was a somewhat similar exercise in 1995, the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, which wound up accomplishing nothing. It is not enough for our political leaders to “talk the talk,” they need to “walk the walk.”
A good first step would be to stop proposing new government initiatives and start dismantling some of the wasteful programs that now exist. With a nearly $3 trillion budget, there are plenty of places to look.
W. Whipple III
March 12, 2007Editor Delaware State News
It is time to amend our national Constitution to require the president to submit and the Congress to enact a balanced budget every year.
We are currently pushing toward $8 trillion of national debt, 40 percent of which is owed to foreign entities.
Our government’s unfunded liabilities are above $50 trillion and growing. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security costs are projected to exceed total government income within 40 years, leaving zero funds for defense, courts, international relations, homeland security or any other national government functions.
Our government reflects our personal finances with a negative personal savings rate and unprecedented personal debt. Then again, maybe it is the other way around. Maybe we have adopted our government’s financial habits.
Either way, to get to this point took sustained poor financial practice by our national government, with our accession. We are facing some very hard decisions that will require some blunt honesty, courage and leadership from our Congress and our president. We also need partisan political bickering to end and civility to return to our discussion of issues.
To re-establish national financial discipline will require serious consideration and good will from all of us.
We are more divided and unwilling to participate in a common effort to address our nation’s problems than at any other time in my life and I fear for our country’s future.
Our founders expressed the effects of divisiveness with the words, “United we stand, divided we fall.” We are seriously divided, and we need to get together to put our house in order.
March 1, 2007Editor The News Journal
Congressman Mike Castle is asking for a federal grant to help replenish the sand at Bethany Beach. This means we send taxes to Washington, and then petition bureaucrats to send some of the money back to Delaware after they take their cut. They may decide to let us have some of our money back if we jump through their guidelines.
Some states, such as West Virginia and Mississippi, may get more than they send. Others, such as Delaware, get much less back. Wouldn’t it be better to keep the money in Delaware, to spend on what we decide is worthwhile?
The total amount spent would be less, because it won’t seem like free money. Federal grant money leads to extravagant overspending.
There is another huge disadvantage. The government is deeply in debt and has not prepared for the retirement of baby boomers. Because of this irresponsibility, the next generation can expect huge tax increases to support the baby boomers. Not only that, there is a serious risk of financial meltdown. That risk can be decreased considerably by stopping federal grants which total almost $500 billion per year.
The General Assembly should decide what to do about beach replenishment.
William E. Morris
January 24, 2007Editor The News Journal
Congress has failed to prepare for the retirement of the baby boomers. It has not reformed Social Security or Medicare. On the contrary, it added a huge and expensive prescription drug benefit.
It should have paid off the national debt. Instead, it has increased the debt so that the United States depends on $2 billion in investment from foreigners each and every day.
We’re in a deep hole, and the baby boomers haven’t yet begun to retire in vast numbers. Congress must drastically change its ways or future generations will be faced with ruinous taxation to pay for all this.
“Downsizing the Federal Government,” by Chris Edwards, points out that federal grants will cost over $480 billion this fiscal year. If the things these grants go for are worth doing, then let local and state governments or private donations fund them. This is income redistribution on a grand scale.
Edgar W. Fasig, Jr.
January 19, 2007
Editor The News Journal
In a recent speech, David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, said, “We must begin to make some tough choices. Things may seem fine at the moment, but when we look into the future, ….. the outlook isn’t pretty. Unfortunately, in such areas, as time passes, it’s going to get worse, not better, unless we make tough choices and change course.” What he’s talking about is the bleak outlook for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. He offers the dire forecast that “America is poised to enter a prolonged period of escalating deficits and rapidly mounting debt burdens.” What’s leading us to this condition is continuing uncontrolled spending, unfavorable balance of trade, increasing personal debt, rapidly rising health care costs, huge government grants, and on the “receiving side,” the large number of baby boomers who will begin to retire this year and will soon be getting Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid.
Many report that Social Security is not in trouble and that we don’t have to worry. The same is said for Medicare and Medicaid. Wrong! The unfunded burden for these commitments is growing at the rate of $2 to $3 trillion- yes trillion- per year. We need national leaders who have the courage to speak the truth. It will take a bi-partisan effort by America’s leaders to make the tough choices that are in the long-term interests of our nation and its citizens. President Bush tried to get started on solving the SS problem, but he got little or no cooperation from Congress.
Unless corrective measures are taken, and taken soon, we will burden our children and grandchildren with either very high taxes or reduced benefits, thus reducing their quality of life. Do we really want to pass this burden on? I call on all of our national elected officials to recognize the inevitable and to begin to take action NOW. We’re at the Crossroads, let’s hope that they take the correct road to the future.
R. Jerry Martin
Editor The News Journal
While I’m pleased that Sen. Robert Byrd and Rep. David Obey have said they support eliminating earmarks, Congress must do much more to fix our federal fiscal situation. Earmarks can be shifted to other grants, effecting no reduction in spending. Why not limit or eliminate federal grants, and return those functions to state and local governments?
Many grants were enacted to address problems that states refuse to deal with, or could not deal with because of their ineffective revenue systems. Many of the original problems have been alleviated, and state and most local governments now have effective revenue systems. So funding should be returned to state and local responsibility.
The grant system is wasteful. A large part of every dollar collected for grants at the federal level is spent processing that money. Successive levels of government have established expensive administrative functions that can swallow up to half of the funds approved by Congress.
The grant process can restrict how funds may be spent, so that it often negates the purpose of the grant. It fosters the idea of “free government money” rather than hard-earned cash that must be spent with care.
The grant process removes people at the local level from deciding how best to address the problems they face and how to pay for the programs they want to address their needs, effectively negating the 10th Amendment to our Constitution.
December 11, 2006Editor Delaware State News
Congress and the administration have been ignoring the elephant in the living room – the retirement of the baby boomers. Demands for Social Security and Medicare will be much larger than the taxes that workers will be willing to pay.
The danger of this situation for the next generation is explained in Peter G. Peterson’s book, “Running on Empty.” Peterson, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York is very knowledgeable and we need to take his warning very seriously.
Congress and the administration have not only failed to consider the danger for the next generations, they have made the situation worse by increasing the federal debt. This is truly irresponsible.
For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we should demand a big change in policy before it’s too late. Large cuts in spending are needed to pay down the debt. The government should be downsized to make room for Social Security and Medicare. Big cuts are possible as outlined by Chris Edwards in his book, “Downsizing the Federal Government.” Elimination of federal grants ($467 billion in 2005) would go a long way toward protecting the next generations.
Here’s what’s going on: We send taxes to Washington, D.C. The bureaucrats spend part, then let us have the rest if we spend it according to their complicated rules.
I say, use the money to pay off debt, to help protect our children and grandchildren. Let the states raise the money they want to spend.
December 5, 2006
Editor The News Journal
In the last several decades of increasing bi‑partisan fiscal irresponsibility, the politicians only proffered as a solution to handling our ever-expanding budgets, increased taxes.
Every householder knows that budgets can be maintained by increasing income, or, just as effectively, by reducing spending. Our Federal Gov't. could look to its Grant programs (‑$425 billion) for immediate and significant cost reductions.
Grants are an insidious poison in several ways, one of which is the costly federal, state and local bureaucracies required for the applications to receive and the administration of the grants for the entire time it is in effect. For example, one anti‑drug program for schools has a 74-page application kit that references 1,300 pages of regulations that grant recipients must follow. This takes a small army of people to follow and to monitor the activity, and not much useful comes of this bureaucratic cost in time and dollars.
If a project is worth doing, we should pay for it. If it is not worth doing, why do we ask others to pay for it through federal grants?
It’s time we taxpayers paid more attention to the legislation from on high and held these elected officials for the waste of our resources.
John H. Boughton