Recently there was much made by the Tea Party of a solar energy company that had received federal loans and then became bankrupt.
Those who were concerned that the government was funding untested processes seem to have no problem with the continuing subsidies to the oil and gas industry that are enjoying unprecedented profits. They also speak highly of the results from other research and development funded by the federal government in the medical and electronic fields.
There are many reasons for the government to be supporting the new 21st century energy economy that has been the fastest growing sector of the American economy. Not only are these industries the providers of renewable energy, the energy is clean and becoming more and more competitive with the older polluting forms of energy. Just the lack of smog pollution, mercury emissions and the release of tiny particles that lead to heart attacks, asthma and lung disease would justify a higher cost for the new green power.
There is a role for government to play in the green economy. Smart investment and regulation to reduce pollution can put many more people to work. Every $1 million invested in clean energy creates 16.7 jobs, compared to just 5.3 jobs in fossil fuels. Stimulus dollars steered into green investments created or saved 1 million jobs through 2010, according to the Political Economy Research Institute. The competition that we face is a green energy economy, and it is a race where the U.S. is falling behind.
Delivery of mail to residences as well as businesses may be in jeopardy. A little known bill introduced in Congress, HR 2903, will do just that.
Perhaps most people today do not know that our Postal Service was written into the Constitution. It was a means to guarantee communication throughout America. It was actually the Post Office Department with presidential cabinet status. The postmaster general was appointed by the president and served as a member of the cabinet. Congress was actually in charge of running the Post Office.
All the postmasters throughout the country were politically appointed until John Kennedy became president. Then President Richard Nixon, with the support of Congress, changed the U.S. Post Office Department to the U.S. Postal Service.
The president appoints a nine member board of governors, which, in turn, appoints a postmaster general. This group runs the Postal Service with the charge to become a self-sufficient nonprofit entity of the government providing the services as stated in the Constitution, removing this responsibility from Congress and no longer making it a presidential cabinet post.
The Postal Service has one of the lowest postage rates in the world. It has provided convenient post office services throughout the country, as well as door-to-door and business-to-business six-day delivery services. It has managed to operate on a nonprofit basis from the income and services it provides without any government financial help.
However, in 2006 Congress mandated that the Postal Service massively pre-fund its future retiree health benefits at a crushing $5.5 billion per year. No other agency or company is required to pre-fund retiree health benefits in this way. But the Postal Service faces this burden and the $21 billion in retiree health pre-funding payments between 2007 and 2010 caused 100 percent of the Postal Service’s reported losses of $20 billion over the past four years.
We all know how Congress works, and even though 225 members of Congress from both parties have co-sponsored a different bill, HR 1351, which will resolve this problem, your Postal Service needs your help. It is in the Constitution for a reason.
Why couldn’t the board of trustees make a decision on The Village at Crystal River? Isn’t that why they were elected and why they chose to represent the town? No, instead they are going to put this issue to a vote, costing the town nearly $10,000 for a special election. That money could be used far more wisely with a greater return on investment.
I love the sense of place in Carbondale, but one cannot stop progress and build fences so we can live our own little world. The town needs a larger grocery store. The town needs more than second-hand stores to buy basic needs.
But to have a special election to do the work of town board – perhaps there needs to be a special election to get rid of trustees who won’t take a public stand on this issue and ultimately cost the town extra money.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.