Letters: 7/12/18

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On Lafayette City Council

When the Lafayette City Council votes to approve fracking pipelines to be within 150 feet from our homes, schools and water resources, they will endear themselves to Big Oil and Gas, thereby securing future political appointments, favors and high level job opportunities. When locally elected Council members do not represent the voters who elected them to office, there is recourse. It starts with the letter “I.” Impeach!

Jo-Anne Rowley/Lafayette

Fiction vs. Nonfiction

Thank you for four great years of 101-word contests. Submitting entries has both challenged and entertained me.

Not to spoil the fun, I thought stories were to be fiction. “Fiction” refers to literature created from the imagination, while “Nonfiction” refers to literature based in fact (Hoover Public Library). Fiction is something not perceived in reality; nonfiction is rooted in memories.

Stories published in the July 5-11, 2018 issue seem drawn from real-life experiences. My submittals were in the sci-fi and surrealism categories, deliberately avoiding reality-based storytelling.

Maybe the contest name should change to “101-Word Stories?”

Robert Carrier/Erie

McDonald’s chickens

Boulder prides itself on its progressive sustainability initiatives and healthy living environment, but there’s still a lot we can do as individuals to reduce the harmful impact we have on the earth and fellow living beings on a global scale. We’ve all heard horror stories about McDonald’s, from tales of suspicious toxic ingredients to lethal quantities of fat and sugar to the effects of the company’s corporate greed on its employees — and maybe most of us see a Happy Meal as a guilty pleasure because of this. But a recent campaign by a group of animal protection charities has exposed that the chickens in the McDonald’s supply chain are suffering in numerous heartbreaking and unnecessary ways.

McDonald’s recently released an “improved” animal welfare policy that might look great to consumers on the outside, but in reality does very little to improve the lives of the chickens they purchase. We consumers have a moral obligation to take a stand against their cruel treatment. The suppliers are deliberately choosing chickens bred to grow so fast their legs break under their unnaturally heavy bodies, if they don’t die of heart disease first. There is no requirement that they have access to sunlight or litter or perches. They are stocked so densely that they have no space of their own and are forced to breathe ammonia fumes from their own waste. Burger King, Subway, Jack in the Box, Sonic and over 80 other major food companies have mandated that their chicken suppliers implement policies that address these issues by 2024, but McDonald’s refuses to do the same. [source: imnotlovinit.com]

The success of McDonald’s is built off of the voices and decisions of customers like us. We can all oppose this animal cruelty by boycotting McDonald’s and spreading the word through our community. Boulder can do better than support this kind of cruelty-based industry.

Meagan Phillips/Niwot

Tax carbon to fight
climate change

As the Earth’s precession brings us sinusoidally through another summer, we all may have occasion to look up into the mountains and see a wildfire burning, and get a little nervous, and tell ourselves that it happens every year, and that the fire departments have a handle on it. But such half-truths have half-lives. Contrary to what silly adages would have you believe, you fight fire with water, and every year, it seems, there is just ever so slightly less water, and ever so slightly more fire.

The solution, in the long term, will not come from better and better fire hoses. The underlying problem is our changing climate. Trees, plants and indeed entire ecosystems did not evolve to live in climates that are, year after year, just a little hotter than they always used to be. It’s a delicate and narrow window that evolution gave us, and the irony is that humans have found ways to circumvent it. Air conditioning makes the hot summer bearable, and makes the next summer hotter.

Yet even if you can ditch that air-conditioning, stop flying, driving and meat-eating, and move into a densely packed co-op with 10 other people, you will still find that there’s a big world out there, and most of its inhabitants have not followed your lead. If climate change is to be fought, it will not be enough to reform merely ourselves.

Yet for all this, the solution might not be as radical as one would guess. Fundamentally, the problem is that energy usage affects things we value in a way that doesn’t get priced in fully on our monthly energy bills. The solution might just be to price it in fully. This approach is known as a carbon tax. It makes it costly — not prohibitively, just discouragingly so — to use greenhouse gas emitting energy fuels. Boulder already has a carbon tax, but its preferably levied at the national level. As such, do some research — read former Governor Ritter’s recent endorsement in the Denver Post, or better yet Shi-Ling Hsu’s book The Case for a Carbon Tax, and, if you find yourself where I am on this issue, call up Representative Polis, and Senators Gardner and Bennet. Your children’s local fire department may thank you.

Daniel Palken/Boulder

Civic engagement needed for progress

A common thread connects many of the issues we face in 2018: increasingly complex policy challenges, and decreasing public engagement.

Trade dominated international conversations recently, and countless economists are expressing frustration that no one understands the idea of comparative advantage, despite its’ huge impact on our economic lives.

Nationally, Americans debate data security and the integrity of information, but most technical experts seem to conclude that, while there may be top-down policy solutions we can try, none can substitute for individuals taking responsibility for the information they take in and give out.

At the state level, Coloradans want better education and transportation, but few enough of us fully understand the constitutional tax problems that keep better schools and roads out of reach.

In Boulder, I have noticed this engagement challenge in conversations about both affordable housing and municipalization. I find it easy to talk about how Boulder is too expensive, but hard to actually address the problem while protecting open space and avoiding challenges that accompany higher population density. I love to complain about expensive government boondoggles as much as anyone. However, unpacking the whole truth and nothing but the truth about why utility projects can take years to launch successfully and about the real costs of our contract with Xcel is a process that takes time and energy; it’s certainly less effort to content oneself with the status quo.

Time and energy are hard to come by these days. Economic hardship, a chaotic media environment, and unresponsive politics can quickly drive one to disengage. However, that kind of reasoning drives a vicious cycle of dysfunction and disengagement, and it’s time for Boulder to take the lead in breaking that cycle.

Conor J. May/Boulder

Man with a plan?

That guy in the White House is going to leave the U.S. friendless and without a shred of credibility. First he cozies up to what were once our political and emotional allies, aiming to manipulate them into this “new” arrangement or that, all so that our guy can look like the “great negotiator,” or like he’s “doing something.” Then he stabs them in the back. In truth he is undoing everything.

He hated the Iran nuclear arrangement and has targeted NAFTA, too. Why? Because those treaties or contracts or accords were not made by Mr. Ego himself. The aim is clearly to remake everything in his own image, creating a cult of personality calculated to prevent repercussions from overriding our country’s longstanding rule of law. Glimmers of all that are coming through the cracks, but our bought-without-a-warranty Congress will not do anything about the mess growing by the day.

Look out, for he is maneuvering to eviscerate the FBI, a useful organ in our political environment if nothing else. Then he can create his own [secret] police force. These would be handy to rough up and evict dissenters from his rallies. And then some.

So now Mr. Ego in the White House appears ready to meet Dear Leader, Kim Jong Un, “halfway.” The latter seems to have changed his tune after a hasty visit to the People’s Republic of China. Our guy appears to really like autocratic heads of state. It’s best to ask in these matters, cui bono? I would not be surprised if Vladimir Putin didn’t lean on Kim to make some kind of “deal” (or to make things look like he might), to further build our guy’s self-image. There’s an old rule in politics: when the opponent is digging a hole for himself, do not get directly involved, let it happen.

And so we do. Has anyone asked why?

Gregory Iwan/Longmont

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