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Vermont Guardian

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Posted January 5, 2007

Ice age or global warming?

The media has been warning about climate change for decades, but they can’t decide whether we’ll die from warming or cooling.

Back in 1975, The New York Times warned of cooling but now Mr. Climate Change, former Vice Pres. Al Gore, warns of warming. Our government spends nearly $4 billion a year in climate research but the result is unpredictable.

The Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute researched the print media on climate change back until the late 1800s. Since 1895, The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek reported three or four different climate shifts. Most recently, publications that warned of global warming today predicted an ice age in the 1970s.

Global warming today is like a religion. Campus intellectuals profess it as gospel and those who focus on hard science, rather than the unfounded scientific alarmism hyped by the media, are mocked as Bushites or anti-environmentalists.

Alarmists use the media to look at every natural disaster as being linked with global warming regardless of the connection. The media’s advocacy adds to misinformation on this and other environmental matters.

Maybe there’s some consolation in the idea that human-made warming might just cancel out the natural cooling trend. But then again, the alarmists will need another fear to promote, like the sky is falling. Will that sell hybrid cars or windmills and justify more costly mandates and regulations.

Frank Mazur
South Burlington

Stop the collapse

How did I ever think I could stop writing letters? Too much is happening. We have another golden opportunity to do the “right” thing. The last was in 2000.

On Dec. 16, I saw Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth. It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know, but he did a superb job of trying to make people understand what is going on. For a long time, we’ve done a lot of things without keeping Earth in mind.

Today, I heard on the news that our president was going to postpone any decision on Iraq until after the first of the year. He doesn’t want to make such a momentous decision hastily. Interesting, when you look at his record. The majority of the people in this country want to bring the troops home immediately, and let the Middle East solve its problems, hopefully with the help of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.

We are told we are democracy — governing is of the people, by the people, and for the people. If his decision is not to bring the troops home immediately and remove U.S. pressure, I urge that we impeach those in power who now make the decisions and put in power those who will make decisions for both Earth and humans.

It is our last chance to avoid collapse.

Marion Leonard
Rochester

Salmon’s election: A sad day for Vermont

Legend has it that Vermonters are a highly informed electorate. The voters’ decision to elect a completely unknown Democrat (www.vermontguardian.com, Dec. 21) as auditor over the incumbent professional Randy Brock — who salvaged the dignity of the office after its trashing and gross politicization by two consecutive Democratic office-climbers, Ed “where’s a microphone” Flanagan and Liz “put it on my resume” Ready — is not an indication of an informed electorate, but rather the opposite.

It’s an indication that when they got far down the ballot they simply picked the candidate who had the “D” next to his name. Salmon never indicated that he would do anything different than Brock. Indeed, in the debates I heard, he didn’t indicate that he knew what he would do at all if elected. This result is simple, uninformed “coattails” voting. Ask the 100,000 people who voted for Salmon what they thought he would specifically do differently as auditor. Or, ask them if they even really knew who he was. We know the answers to these questions. It is a sad day for Vermont.

Walter Judge
Charlotte

There is still hunger in Vermont
Just before the holiday season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture tried to eliminate hunger in the United States. How? Not by getting more help to families in need, or by putting forward a major anti-hunger initiative. Instead, it simply eliminated the word “hunger” from the terms used in an annual report to Congress which tracks the number of people in this country who struggle to get adequate food and nutrition.

This way of making “hunger” disappear, unfortunately, does not reflect any change in the actual lives of the hungry — the seniors, parents working at low-wage jobs, disabled persons, children, and others forced on a regular basis to skip meals, make the rounds of food pantries, or substitute cheap, low-quality foods for healthier foods. Now, suddenly, these people suffer only from “very low food insecurity.”

This recent whitewashing of language demonstrates a long-term trend in Washington to reduce the commitment needed to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition in our nation and in our state. Here in Vermont, the percent of families facing the most severe form of hunger has doubled since 1999 — the largest increase in the nation. Hunger affects our schools, our local economies, and our health care system.

Hunger is solvable. National anti-hunger experts say that the best way to solve hunger is by strengthening federal nutrition programs like food stamps, school meals, summer meals, and child and adult care meals.

Vermont has a long record of leadership in addressing hunger. Vermont’s former U.S. Sen. George Aiken served for more than 30 years and is referred to as the father of the Food Stamp Program. He understood that food stamps not only improve nutrition for low-income folks, but also support farms and other food producers and boost local economies.

Twenty years ago, Gov. Madeleine Kunin established the first Governor’s Task Force on Hunger, resulting in the creation of the Vermont Foodbank in 1986, and the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger in 1993. Earlier this year, Gov. Jim Douglas established a new Governor’s Task Force on Hunger.

Also this year, the Northfield Savings Bank Foundation decided that childhood hunger would be the top priority for their charitable giving. The result is the establishment of the Hunger Council of Washington County, co-chaired by Montpelier Mayor Mary Hooper and former Agency of Human Services Secretary Con Hogan.

Community leaders are coming together — now in Washington County, soon in Chittenden County, and eventually in every county — to take a comprehensive look at implementing solutions to hunger. This is just a sampling of the work that Vermonters throughout the state are doing to help the hungry — because in Vermont we are determined to feed our children. Vermont is doing its part; now it is time for the federal government to do theirs.

Congress has an opportunity to right the wrongs of a decade of turning their backs on the hungry. It’s time for Congress to call hunger in this country what it is — hunger, not very low food security. It is time for them to work to end hunger for the 35 million people, including more than 54,000 Vermonters, who are struggling with hunger today.

It is time for Congress, with the full support of our congressional delegation, to follow Aiken’s lead and fully support a strengthening of the Food Stamp Program in the 2007 congressional reauthorization of the Farm Bill. Everyone would come out ahead: children, parents, seniors, health providers, schools, taxpayers, and, most importantly, truly hungry people. Only then would we be able to say there are no hungry people in our country, and it would be true — not just a trick of language.

Robert Dostis, Waterbury
Jim Weill, Washington, DC

Robert Dostis is a registered dietitian, executive director of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, and a Vermont state representative.
Jim Weill is the president of the Food Research and Action Center.

Mayors should clean own messes
With the anti-freedom attitude of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, how could these two anti-U.S. power mongers ever have been elected by the people of their respective cities?

Are the people of New York and Boston that stupid? The people of those two cities should rise up and demand their resignation.

The crime problems of their cities are out of control because Bloomberg and Menino refuse to attack the problem where the problem lies. They should be stamping out the criminals, not law abiding citizens, not other states that have three to four times lower crime rates than their own communities. Bloomberg and Menino’s actions are, in my opinion, criminal: Their actions cost precious lives, and they should be investigated for their activities for possible prosecution under the law.

Bloomberg is the ringleader and should be prosecuted by the federal government for all of his illegal activities and his hampering of ongoing investigations of criminal activities of other agencies in other states than his own. This man is a danger to every citizen because of his quest for absolute power. He is one of the most corrupt politicians in the country.

Bob Ireland
Vallejo, CA

Dump IRV
Martha Abbott should consider supporting range voting, instead of instant runoff voting (IRV) (www.vermontguardian.com, Dec. 18). All countries that use IRV have had two-party domination in their IRV-elected posts: just look at the Irish presidential post, or the Australian House of Representatives.

Range voting, on the other hand, has experimentally shown far greater support for third party candidates than any other common voting method. This is largely because it does not exhibit the “favorite betrayal criterion” (vote for the lesser of two evils instead of your favorite) like plurality often does, and IRV sometimes can.

Range voting is also far simpler to implement and use than IRV — voters just score the candidates, and the one with the highest average wins. We’ve seen this in the Olympics. Rigorous computer simulations, involving hundreds of millions of mock elections, under 720 different models of voter behavior (ignorant vs. intelligent, honest vs. strategic) show that range voting produces the greatest average voter happiness with the results. That’s the bottom line. Range voting makes voters the most satisfied, and that’s exactly what a choice is supposed to do — give you what you want.

We can do better than IRV, and given the current state of world affairs, from global warming to the end of cheap oil, we must do better, as a society.
Find out more about range voting at http://rangevoting.org/.

And, cast your vote in the online mock 2008 U.S. presidential election, using range voting, at http://zohopolls.com/us/pres.
Clay Shentrup
Seattle, WA

Shorten the legislative session

Clearly there are many critical issues that this year’s elected representatives must wrestle with. And year after year, the list looks pretty much the same: escalating education costs, expensive health insurance, limited affordable housing, aging demographics, challenging business climate, and high taxes — across the board. This year, reducing the length of the legislative session should be a top issue.

Long sessions have two consequences, which I believe undermine our Legislature’s ability to solve what are generally considered our biggest problems.

Long sessions greatly limit the collective experience of our Legislature. Sessions running five to six months prohibit many qualified people from bringing their real-life experiences to the Legislature. It’s nearly impossible for anybody with a regular job, a business, or a young family to make such a time commitment. A big part of my own decision not to run for reelection to the state Senate was because my service was proving fatal to my business. I encouraged several very capable people to run for the seat, but for the very same reason I had to leave, they could not run.

With arguably two of the largest problems we face as a state are our poor entrepreneurial and small business climate and our aging demographics (vying with Maine for oldest in the nation). We should be doing all we can to attract small business people and those raising families to the Legislature.

Yet, our system makes it especially difficult for Vermonters most familiar with what it takes to succeed in a competitive world — those running successful competitive businesses — to serve in the Legislature.

I propose that we end the first session of a biennium no later than the middle of April, and have a very short second session to adjust the budget, if needed. There are many states whose legislatures meet every other year; Vermont did so prior to 1968.

While longer sessions have direct costs, the more substantial cost to Vermonters comes from the Legislature diverting energy and time away from issues vital to our economic health and instead toward furthering the special-interest agendas of those groups that helped fund their campaigns. The result is bigger government, reduced opportunities, and a tougher struggle for working Vermonters.

As the saying goes, “If you want to get a job done, find someone who’s too busy.” Vermont needs shorter sessions so that busy people who are successful in the competitive world can serve and get the job done.

Mark Shepard
Bennington
Mark Shepard is a former state senator from Bennington County
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