A regular field day today, but I'll try to restrain myself.

(excerpted) "Also in the letter "Wind energy supports community," the author wrote about the wind project in Tug Hill Plateau in upstate New York, where the local community has shared in the monetary value of this project and apparently, tourists are coming to admire these icons which may be taller than the Statue of Liberty.

    Tourists are coming to admire gargantuan industrial equipment? I suggest that in the spirit of environmentalism etc. that these attractions be equipped with snack bars where one can buy a choice of fast-food made from the carnage caused to birds by these 'icons'. Talk about putting frosting on a dog turd. Why is a needed bridge repair held up endlessly over two dozen non-native turtles in South Hero but we eagerly embrace ugly and enormous equipment that randomly destroys huge numbers of birds? Rationalize, rationalize, rationalize....

    And here's another:

(excerpted) "Wind turbines are not about spoiling pristine views or "sacred sites" for "unnecessary" energy. Wind turbines are all about finding places to tap into sources for renewable energy. That's it, renewable energy, and a constant free source of it..... I would forever give up a pretty view, and affix our hills with propellers, if it meant war over oil would stop. Silly? I hardly think so.

    First - doesn't the Free Press have a rule about publishing just one letter per month from any individual? I'd swear this person was in the Letters column less than a week ago.
    But back to her letter, she uses the word "constant" in regards to wind turbines' ability to supply energy. Maybe they could have motors installed to turn them during the substantial times when no wind is blowing. Silly? No sillier than using the word 'constant' for wind power. I wonder if there's not something about that last name... oh nevermind.

    Now, from one of my 'favorite' contributors, excerpted from his letter titled "Constitution allows for nation's changes":

    We keep hearing President Bush and conservatives say they want judges who are strict constructionists and who won't "legislate from the bench." What this really means is that conservatives want it just their way and other ideas are wrong, even if they have equal judicial validity. Why aren't liberals fighting back and telling people that conservatives are wrong and past interpretations they don't like are just as valid as those they like?

We have already had several fundamental changes in our government since 1793. Women and non-landowning men can vote. Slavery has been abolished. Do conservatives want to return to these things?

Writings, like the Federalist Papers, describe the thinking of some of the writers of the Constitution. They wanted a country free of religious dictatorship and strife. Many were atheists and did not attend church, but we have conservatives claim that all the founders were Bible thumpers.

The words of the Constitution are vague. That allows changes in interpretation as the country changes. For instance, Article I, Section 8 (1), powers granted to congress include collecting taxes "for the common defense and general welfare of the United States."

Does that include making a large secret Defense Department that spends billions on weapons that don't work? No. The founders were afraid of a standing army and the power and corruption that had caused.

Let us go back to what they wanted. What was meant by "general welfare"?

Did that just include helping just business and rich people? Even in those days there were attempts to help the poor and less privileged. Now, conservatives do not want government to do what Jesus said, to help others "the least of these" and He said not to lay up "treasures upon earth" but in "heaven."

    Where do I start here? Wow. On one hand, this person says 'past interpretations they don't like are as valid as those they like', regarding conservatives. Liberals like this guy ought to pay attention to the same idea.  Yes, we've had fundamental changes since 1793 - but does this bozo really think a conservative Supreme Court would really try to bring back slavery? What is IN this guy's drinking water?
    (It's so nice being able to really respond and pay a bit less attention to tact.)
    I resent this name 'Bible Thumpers.' What an insult. It's hate speech yet the Free Press chose to print it, and you can bet I will actually take a moment to let them know how I feel. I also would like this person to tell me who the 'many' atheists were who supported a Constitution that made numerous references to God? And later in his letter he has the nerve to use a Biblical quotation of the words of Christ. How dare he?
    The rest of his letter is full of such rhetorical nonsense that there is no real value.

    Hey, here comes a letter I like!.....

I am amused, confounded, outraged that Haviland Smith in "There is an answer to school issues" (Free Press, Oct. 24) thinks that educators should be compensated the same as medical doctors because of what he considers "similar" education credentials. The big difference is if a doctor makes a mistake, someone may die.

If an educator makes a mistake, no big deal. Also, Smith does not take into account the invisible hand known as the market. The market -- people, you, me, our neighbors -- value medical care more than they value education. Part of that problem is that education is perceived as "free" by many people, and anything that is free is not valued by the market.

Of course, Smith's argument might be to make health care "free." which is also wrong, because if health care is not valued, it will be abused, and the system will collapse. The answer is to value both -- let the market determine the value. Hand out vouchers for school choice -- parents then truly become customers of an education system, and would then be more attuned to a quality education for a fair price.

They then can have greater control of their education decisions, versus being held hostage every time the teachers decide that they are under-compensated. Clearly, Smith's argument is to continually throw money at the problem. If that was the answer, then the New York City and Washington, D.C. public school systems would be an educational beacon -- however, they are two of the worst school districts in the country.

    I totally agree with Gordon Smith here.  The idea that there is 'similar' education credentials for teachers as for doctors must mean that the person who said that either (a) is a teacher or (b) was poorly educated by the school system. What idiocy! Look what happens to doctors... someone has a broken finger set and it heals a little crooked, so off they go to a lawyer to try to collect $50,000 for it. If you want to talk 'similar', then when someone accidentally misspells a word or doesn't know a general piece of knowledge, they could sue their teacher for many thousands of dollars for failing to do their job properly.
    The thing people don't seem to understand, when calling for more and more teacher pay, is this: Teachers have almost no accountability! They can pass along kids whom they've been paid many thousands of dollars and haven't taught them a thing, and you don't dare question them. Try to be a plumber, electrician, accountant, or doctor and see what happens if you fail to perform your duties properly - you will be out of a job.
    Apparently we have higher standards for tradesmen (among others) than we have of these highly-educated educators.
    Finally, the writer makes the point that 'if healthcare is not valued (is "free") it will not be valued, it will be abused." That is known as the tragedy of the commons - when nobody has to take responsibility for what they use or how they use it, they abuse it. Hence those who have things supplied for them without cost use and abuse them because they are disconnected from the cost of what they use.
    Common sense! There still is some left in Vermont, but sadly it seems to be waning.

    Finally, one last piece of nonsense...

    Neglecting the poor is blasphemy

    Recently, your paper carried a story about a Massachusetts official who was fired because he had pornography on his computer. I have a confession to make. There's pornography in my computer, too. I get more of it every day.
    I subscribe to a number of news services, and day after day I get stuff like this: Word that the right wing in Congress plans to "pay for" Gulf Coast reconstruction by cutting $50 billion from programs for the poor, including Medicaid and food stamps. Meanwhile, they are moving full-steam ahead with cutting $70 billion in taxes for the rich.
    Worse: News that the American death toll in Iraq has passed 2,000. Dead Iraqis remain uncounted, but I read that the Pentagon is reinstituting the infamous "body count" we all learned to know and loathe in the Vietnam years. At the same time, the Veterans Administration is being starved for funds to pay for health care for returning veterans.
    The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has written: "for a nation to declare itself under God and neglect the poor in its midst is tantamount in my mind to blasphemy." Just so; and it is an obscenity as well. It makes me feel unclean just to read about it.
    I hope and pray that other people of faith will feel the same revulsion at reading these things as they feel when confronted with sexual pornography, and that they will fight back with at least equal vigor.
Enosburg Falls

 With all due respect to the Reverend, news you don't like is not 'pornography'.  Pornography is the publication of sexually-explicit photographs or writing intended to create sexual arousal. I don't suppose the Reverend is sexually aroused by the daily news, good or bad.  This is an example of the danger of putting liberals on the Supreme Court - make anything mean what you want it to mean.
    By the way, in the time we have lost 2,000 soldiers - a tragedy, yes, but lost liberating people from a dictator and fighting terrorists - in that same time period we have lost 100,000 Americans in automobile accidents - going to see a movie, commuting to work, going to the store to buy some food for the cat. It's wise to keep these numbers in mind, and in perspective.  Sadly we have lost those two thousand troops, but for a darned good reason - unless you approve of rape rooms and the brutal torture and mass killing of men, women, and children by Saddam Hussein. 
    Cutting taxes for the rich is where the money comes from to help create and modernize America's industries, which provide the only real jobs we have. Having watched plenty of 'needy' people shop like drunken sailors with a bonus bounty of food stamps, I would guess we have ways to save money on how many people receive how much assistance. Let them buy store brands and sale items and avoid 'convenience packs' where the food costs five times as much. Let them clip and use coupons from the newspaper ads. In other words, let them shop like taxPAYERS must.

  • back to The Burlington Free Press - Some Questions I Have....