Letters to the editor: 11-04-2013

November 4, 2013 

Shutdown

Can it be true that three out of four Idaho senators and congressmen were willing to shutter our government and default on U.S. Treasury obligations?

I am impressed with Mike Simpson's courage. I am most disappointed in Sen. Crapo, whose committee presence involved him in private warnings of economists. Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, couched her public statements, but the message was clear: Default on the debt would be an economic disaster.

Regarding Labrador and Risch, they are in Washington for themselves, not us — that will never change until the voters fire them.

It is hard for me to imagine that otherwise intelligent representatives of our citizenry could be captivated by the likes of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. Watching Cruz and Lee perform before a pandering TV press corps looked like a Laurel and Hardy rerun. Or is this Washington's version of Stockholm syndrome?

The Houston Chronicle withdrew its endorsement of Cruz — ever heard a newspaper say it was wrong? In the case of Lee, defaulting on our debt isn't a big deal. Heck, he defaulted on his mortgage and nothing happened.

Suggestion to our dynamic trio: Do something constructive for America. We pay you to do no less.

BOB ALLRED, Eagle

Nihilistic GOP

Joe Klein, in the Oct. 21 issue of Time, nails it when he describes the radical minority in the Republican Party as nihilist. My now ancient copy of Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary, International Edition, copyright 1964, defines nihilism — among other things — as a "(p)olitical doctrine holding that the existing structure of society should be destroyed."

These Republicans — among whom Mr. Labrador, Mr. Crapo and Mr. Risch must be included — do not seek smaller government, but rather its evisceration. They would bring America back to the time when Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid did not exist — in which government does little beyond protecting the ill-gotten wealth of robber barons and locking up anyone who might dare to disagree.

MARK SHUSTER, Homedale

Idaho Power Co.

Like many Idaho Power customers, I thought the electricity I use mostly comes from hydropower generated at dams. Turns out, more than 40 percent comes from dirty out-of-state coal plants.

The good news is we have an opportunity to change this. The coal plants are getting old, and require expensive upgrades. Instead of investing our ratepayer dollars in old coal plant technology, we can build clean energy solutions here in Idaho.

Our energy future can be renewable energy from solar and wind, and energy efficiency (like better insulated walls and windows). We can choose to increase our energy independence and create jobs right here in Idaho.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is holding a hearing in November to consider Idaho Power's request to invest $130 million in currently required upgrades to its Jim Bridger coal plant in Wyoming.

This is just a down payment on hundreds of millions of dollars of additional upgrades soon to be required to reduce air pollution from mercury and carbon dioxide.

With the price of energy from coal rising, and solar costs dropping rapidly, we need to ask whether locking us ratepayers into expensive coal generation for the next 20 years is our best choice.

EDWINA ALLEN, Boise

California

Regarding Sharon Jarrett's comment about her "waiting and hoping to flee this state" because of many Idahoans' take on government debt, all I can say, dear lady, is "adios." Four years ago my family finally called it quits in California and moved to Idaho. Best decision we ever made. I've driven past the bodies of 15-year-olds shot dead in front of the high school where my daughter was to attend. I've witnessed shootings and their aftermath.

The state of California now has $1.1 trillion in state and local debt. Instead of demanding the heads of politicians, the population votes to increase their state income taxes and sales taxes to keep the state afloat. The StudentsFirst education group gave California an F grade on education and ranked them 41st overall. Idaho received a D, by the way.

Where I'm going with this is to show that California, an overwhelmingly Democrat-run state, is a representation of our nation's economy and inefficient programs. We just keep raising that debt limit and place that crushing debt squarely on the backs of our children and grandchilden. I'm proud to live in a state where people with convictions are saying, "enough is enough!"

MIGUEL YORBA, Meridian

Greg Collett

Greg Collett should be applauded rather than criticized for having 10 kids on Medicaid. He used to have a good job in electronics until the Obama recession, so he probably had private medical insurance coverage. And now he qualifies for Medicaid! Who's the program for? By taking the eight adopted children off the rolls of foster care, he's saved us taxpayers a lot! Would his critics say he should give the kids back to the state or what?

That he's able to keep his family together at all as a private consultant is remarkable. Yet he and Kelly have done a wonderful job of providing a home for their 10 kids. (I got to know them at a home-school teaching co-op.) By keeping the children out of the government schools to educate them at home, they save the state even more money. And if the adopted kids were in schools, they'd undoubtedly require some specialist services because of their former history of neglect. So those daily costs should be much higher than the occasional expense incurred seeing a doctor. And again, if the eight were still wards of the state, they'd get Medicaid there. So let's just thank the Colletts.

MARCIA BRACY YIAPAN, Nampa

Wright Brothers

The caption under the photo in the Wright Brothers article is misleading: "In this undated file photo, Orville and Wilbur Wright test their airplane on a beach."

The photo actually is of Orville Wright flying the 1911 glider at the beach near Kitty Hawk, N.C. Wilbur did not make the trip. Also, the text implies that this aircraft is displayed at the National Air and Space Museum, which it is not. The 1903 Flyer is displayed there, not the 1911 glider as implied by the text.

The 1911 glider was the Wright's final attempt at glider design and was a successful one. Orville held the world soaring record in this glider (9 minutes and 45 seconds), which stood for 10 years.

It is unfortunate that the Whitehead controversy continues to surface. The Wright Brothers were not only the inventors of the airplane, but were the first to solve the problem of controlled flight. A beautiful replica of the Wright's 1902 glider is displayed at the Boise airport. Check it out next time you are boarding a modern airliner. The control elements are the same today as when the Wrights developed them on this breakthrough invention in 1902.

VINCENT J. SERIO, III, Boise

Evolution

To all you evolutionists: May I remind that evolution is merely a theory — like gravity or the shape of the Earth.

Seriously, I think the best articulation of the Evolution versus Intelligent Design argument was done by a cartoon — "Futurama" on the episode named "A Clockwork Origin." It encapsulates the rigidity of science with the unknown possibility of interference. I highly recommend watching that one episode to see how ridiculous both sides are.

On a side note, it is interesting that a recent study has found that those that identify as "tea party" are more inclined to be science literate. Liberal was more literate than conservative, and self-identifying tea party was more literate than liberal, according to a recent publication.

It is my humble opinion that science literacy in the 21st century is as important as literacy was in the 19th and 20th century. I hope that Idaho decides to teach science literacy in our schools. I also hope that Idaho decides that a well-educated individual is paramount to a productive and active citizen to better society. One can only hope at this point.

BYRON RICHMONDS, Boise

Tax code

I have a plan to force our Legislature to streamline the tax code. All we have to do is put every member of Congress in a room by themselves and make them fill out their own tax return. And tell them if they do it wrong they could be prosecuted. The code would be streamlined within 30 days.

JIM REED, Boise

Electric cars

A recent article in the paper talks about eight states promoting electric cars. This is being done to reduce greenhouse gases emitted by these vehicles.

If the electricity is produced by facilities that burn hydrocarbons, you still get the release of greenhouse gases. In fact, you actually have more greenhouse gases because the efficiency of burning hydrocarbons in the electrical generator then transmitting it through long transmission lines with loses is less effective than if you burned the hydrocarbon directly in your car.

The only way you can really get electric cars to reduce greenhouse gases is to have the electricity produced by non-hydrocarbon users, such as nuclear.

So the real benefit of electric cars is to reduce smog in cities where that is a problem for it pushes the hydrocarbon releases from the city to the electrical generator sites.

So electric cars do not reduce hydrocarbon releases. They only move it to another location.

JIM LINHART, Boise

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