Nov 11, 2012

Letter: Time To Work

Now that the elections are over, let's get to work. Here's a simple to-do list for all levels.

Federal: Get out of Afghanistan ASAP and stop bombing people all over the world with drones. We are not safer for this, and the immense dollars draining away must be directed to constructive programs and human needs. Oh yeah, and add 2% to the top marginal tax rate.

State: The most useful thing they could do for us would be to initiate a migration from property-based taxation to income tax for our local funding. Property taxes are tearing up our communities as retirees cannot bear the same level of taxation as they could when they were working. Besides this, Albany could put some serious effort on energy/green jobs. Germany is 6.1% solar now as a result of raising the price paid for kilowatts generated by individual solar installations. In the U.S. solar is less than 0.1% of electric generation. New York could make those same changes and reduce our exposure to fossil fuel risks.

Town: We should pave the roads. We cut paving from the budget for years now, and the roads are deteriorating. It will take an average of maybe $100 added to your tax bill to restore it, and there should be a return on that investment in car wear and tear, safety, and possibly mortgage taxes as crumbling roads are not a big seller.

Simple initiatives; ask your government officials where they stand.

Dan Welsh
Town Board Member
Nov. 11

Sep 27, 2012

Further Evidence That Global Warming's Getting Worse: Pollution, Disease & Planetary Food Riots Are Coming

Alarmist? Whatever! The world desperately needs some leadership from the USA. Not leadership in the form of pre-emptive military incursions and arming of "friendlies" to spread democracy, but leadership in the form of not shirking our responsibilities as the number one contributor to global warming and the terrible consequences set out (once again) in this report:

Further Evidence That Global Warming's Getting Worse: Pollution, Disease & Planetary Food Riots Are Coming
By Charles P. Pierce
at 2:20PM

Another day, another report about a huge international crisis about which neither of our political parties is prepared to do squat:

More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.

Read more:

Jul 21, 2012

Ledger Letter: Chemicals and cancer

Letter: Chemicals and cancer

The last few decades have seen an explosion in cancer. Normally, I would want to back a statement like that with some authoritative statistics. No need — everybody has friends and relatives who have been stricken.
It's all around us — the bracelets, the various benefit events, ads for Cancer Treatment Centers of America on prime-time TV. A tremendous amount of money goes to research to find a cure. That's good — for those dealing with the disease, progress can't come soon enough.

But we rarely talk about the causes. The simple reality is that this is the result of the cornucopia of synthetic compounds we have introduced into the environment. It can't be genetic — changes to entire populations don't happen that fast. We are swimming in a sea of chemicals that our body was not designed to handle, an estimated 80,000, 232 of which were found in the umbilical cords of babies in five states in one study.

So yes, we need to find a cure, but as is the case with many undesirable results, if you really want to get at this, it is more effective to move upstream and stop the new cases before they ever get in the pipeline. Look for organizations doing targeted, impactful work like "Cans, not cancer" (Google it), which is pushing to get BPA out of food cans. Eat fresh, basic foods. Eliminate plastics, fragrances and noxious chemicals at home. Read "What's Gotten Into Us" (Jenkins) and support local sustainability efforts.

Dan Welsh
South Salem, July 14

Jan 16, 2012

MLK Sustainability Quote (?)

I fear MLK is going to become like the Bible, or Adam Smith, or Mao -- you can find snippets to justify anything. If I take a sound-bite from the MLK archive and point it at the challenge of sustainability though, I hope the Karmic powers of social justice will not find fault. Here's the quote:
"The fact is that everybody in this country lives on welfare. Suburbia was built with federally subsidized credit, and the highways which take our white brothers out to the suburbs were built by federal money."

The message is equality and racial barriers, but generically, the point could be "there are hidden subsidies everywhere, and many of them amount to "perverse incentives". These are subsidies that work in opposition to societal goals. The highway subsidy exacerbated the economic disenfranchisement of minorities, but it also created our one and a half hour commutes, and, in tandem with the mortgage deduction (another subsidy), the excess of square footage that is contributing to our energy hangover. The cheap crap that I can buy because some workers somewhere, that have no power to negotiate or other job options, are paid next-to-nothing, is also subsidized, and so I buy more of it. Corporate subsidies are in the news every day now. The "free market" is an artificial construct; things are always skewed. So lets not freak out if somebody suggests we should tweak things a bit to encourage people to act in ways that increase our chances of survival. We created sprawl, and our huge footprint. We are obliged to fix it. The good news is that we can be creating sustainable, livable communities at the same time.