Letters: Readers weigh in on issues of the day
Obama's Keystone decision is about the world stage
Today, in finally denying the Keystone pipeline, President Obama showed his true colors. We now know, as we’ve long believed, that those colors are the green of the anti-fossil fuel crowd, rather than the color of jobs resulting in economic growth in the hard-hit heartland of the United States. For seven years, he has tried to appease both his union supporters who want the good jobs Keystone would have provided and his environmental allies who declared it a “dirty” project that would add to global CO2 emissions. Now, before the United Nations climate conference, he can wave his green credentials and claim to be a world leader in the fight against global warming — which, I believe, was the whole purpose of the decision and subsequent announcement.
Obama’s statement was less about the Keystone pipeline and more of a brag session on America’s supposed conversion to a clean energy economy. He stated: “Thanks, in part, to the investments we’ve made, there are already parts of America where clean power from the wind or the sun is finally cheaper than dirty conventional power.” Yet, his climate change ally Bill Gates, in the November issue of The Atlantic magazine makes clear that this is a “misleadingly mindless statement.” Addressing the “self-defeating claims of some clean-energy enthusiasts,” Gates says: “What they mean is that at noon in Arizona, the cost of that kilowatt-hour is the same as a hydrocarbon kilowatt-hour. But it doesn’t come at night, it doesn’t come after the sun hasn’t shone, so the fact that in that one moment you reach parity, so what?” Additionally Gates calls the growth in wind: “very subsidized” and solar: “highly subsidized.”
During the announcement, Obama said the clean energy economy is “booming.” He’s conveniently ignored Abengoa — the Spanish solar company that received the biggest single award from his 2009 stimulus package, yet today is under investigation from several federal agencies and is teetering on edge of bankruptcy after stock prices plunged more than 30 percent.
The President also made the “misleading” statement that the growth in wind and solar will help America’s “energy security” — when in fact, wind and solar produce electricity, while oil powers America’s transportation fleet. America is already, and has been, electricity secure. Wind and solar do nothing to reduce our need for oil.
His closing comment: “America’s prepared to show the rest of the world the way forward,” proves that his position on the world stage is more important than policy positions that would provide jobs for Americans.
Energy Makes America Great Inc executive director
What Chris Christie got wrong
Governor Christie recent talk about treating substance abuse like the disease it is has deservedly gone viral. He was spot except at the very end when he said, “we need to start treating people in this country, not jailing them.” It’s true we need to treat substance abuse, but the threat of jail is often what makes treatment work.
The Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring survey found that three-fourths of criminals tested positive for illegal drugs but only a fourth had ever had treatment. The CASA Columbia report Behind Bars says two thirds of prison inmates have diagnosable substance problems, and half of them are in prison for something they did when they were drunk or high.
As a psychiatrist, I’ve spent years working in jails, prisons, homeless clinics and drug treatment programs. My favorite question to ask my inmates patients is: “Have you ever been arrested for anything you did clean and sober?”
They usually look aside and think for fifteen to twenty seconds. I can see them counting off each incident. Then they smile and say, “No.” Prisons aren’t just filled with criminals; they’re filled with untreated substance abusers. If we could get them all into treatment and recovery, crime would drop dramatically.
Most have no interest in treatment, and the ones who do want it often have so many other problems that they’d find it nearly impossible to stay in treatment on their own. So if we simply offer them treatment, most will fail. I’ve seen this revolving door a hundred times.
If we want them to get clean and sober and stay that way, we have to make them do it. There’s a misconception that people only get clean and sober when they’re ready to. Actually, no one is ever ready to. They get clean and sober when life gets so painful they have no choice. That’s why research shows that involuntary treatment works far better than so-called voluntary treatment. Research also shows that addicts are twice as likely to complete treatment when they’re explicitly told failure could mean going back to prison.
So we should get rid of mandatory sentencing and give judges and probation and parole officers who actually know the criminals the flexibility to incarcerate when necessary and release when possible. Tough drug laws save a lot of lives because the threat of jail keeps people in recovery.
Ed Gogek, MD
Time for lawmakers to find a way to reduce debt
We’ll be in big trouble if we don’t take steps now to reduce the present national debt within 10 years; and we should let our elected representatives know this.
One compromise might be to please the Democrats by going along the lines of the Simpson-Bowles plan — or at least keeping Obamacare — and to please the Republicans by not funding Planned Parenthood.
Santa Monica, Calif.