Sundin column: Support for a couple of causes
As I See It
The May 10 Post Independent contained two items that warrant public support.
The first was the front page article about the Carbondale Town Board’s deliberations over the town’s trash collection policy, which is the same as Glenwood Springs’ – a “free-market” system which allows competing trash collectors to solicit customers throughout the community. That system has a number of defects which both raise the costs to customers and have adverse environmental impacts.
I live in Oasis Creek and watch three heavy trash trucks labor up Traver Trail every week, each picking up only a portion of the area’s waste. Each of these haulers has to hire a crew, dedicate an expensive truck and burn an equal amount of fuel to serve the same neighborhood. A single hauler could serve the same area for about half to two-thirds of the cost at a significant savings for the residents, and the reduction in fuel consumption would reduce air pollution.
Each trip of a heavy trash truck causes as much road damage as thousands of automobile trips, shortening the life of the pavement, requiring repairs costing residents hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.
Contracting with trash haulers by the City does not eliminate competition. The City could be divided into several districts, such as the election wards, and bids from competing trash haulers could be solicited for each of those districts.
Carbondale is also working toward “dark-sky” goals so its residents will be able to enjoy seeing the stars and Milky Way – something most city-dwellers can no longer do. Glenwood Springs enacted an Exterior Lighting Ordinance with that goal in mind in 2001, but since then our City Councils have ignored their responsibility to seek compliance.
The other item is a Guest Opinion column from Barbara Goodrich of the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care chiding Democratic State Legislators for blocking the Health Care Cost Analysis Act, which would have included a single-payer health reform option.
Whenever single-payer health care is mentioned the knee-jerk response is “Oh, that’s socialism – we don’t want that.” The Scandinavian countries, all of them democracies, have universal health care – in addition to a livable retirement pension and advanced education benefits for their children. Sure, they pay high taxes to fund those benefits, but they have no worries about a health condition bankrupting them, not being able to provide advanced education for their children (which is becoming increasingly essential), or running out of money in retirement, and are the happiest people in the world. So, tell me what is wrong with that.
The United States is the only advanced country in the world that does not provide uniform health care, and why not? It’s simply because special interests, namely the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies and the American Medical Association, have Congress in their pockets to preserve their high profits.
The pharmaceutical companies are notorious for making minor changes in their drugs to extend their patents and imposing exorbitant price increases on the public. Health insurance companies jack up their prices to pay huge salaries to their executives, the billions of dollars they disperse to their stock-holders and the cost of their bloated bureaucracies which boost corporate profits by denying claims. The charges for surgical procedures in the U. S. are many times what they are in other countries. The end result is that medical costs in our country are fifty percent higher than in other developed countries.
The United States is the international odd-ball in several other issues. We are the only country that is not a member of the Paris Accord on global warming. The only other country in the world that does not use the metric system of weights and measures is Myanmar, and only Belize and three small island countries are clinging to the Fahrenheit temperature scale instead of the Celsius scale. But the cost of these is small in comparison with the billions, if not trillions, it is costing us to be the only country in the world without a universal health-care system.
How long will it be before Congress does the right thing for the people they are supposed to be representing instead of continuing to be the lackeys of the special interest groups and their greed? Sooner or later, the American people are going to wake up, realize they are being taken and demand reform.
“As I See It” appears on the first Thursday of the month. Hal Sundin lives in Glenwood Springs and is a retired environmental and structural engineer. Contact him at email@example.com.