I read with some sadness the Nov. 2 letter from Tim Kelly about NPR’s firing of Juan Williams (“Cut NPR funding”). I had a similar diatribe given to me by a co-worker and when he had finished I asked him if he knew how much taxpayer money NPR got, and he said that he thought they got all of their money from taxes. If he listened to NPR he might actually be part of the informed public.
NPR gets very little money from taxes. Local public radio stations get about 5 percent of their funding for their operations from the government. In turn, many of these stations subscribe to NPR programming and those subscription fees account for about 25 percent of NPR’s operating costs. Very little of NPR’s overall budget has anything to do with editorial content, unless you consider those Car Talk guys to be anti-American propagandists.
The thing that is so sad is when Mr. Kelly writes, “This is yet another example of why people who pay taxes are angry, disillusioned and frankly fed up with the lack of accountability regarding how taxpayer money is spent,” and it is a classic example of this. Mr. Kelly and anyone else who is angry about this are ignorant of the facts. And people getting all riled up when they don’t know what they are talking about seems to be going on a lot these days.
In praise of poetry
Rick Emmert’s recent “Wild about Wilde” letter to the editor jogged my intentions to send appreciation for Dana Wilde’s contributions to the BDN.
His Amateur Naturalist column explores our world’s wonders, from deep within the unknown and misknown to the unimaginable beyond, with his gift for translating the seemingly incomprehensible into beautiful questions. But also his Uni-Verse, a treasury to a vast network of poetry devotees, harking back to when our grandparents saved poems from newspapers, pasting them over used ledgers and outdated catalogs, creating personal anthologies documenting glimpses of all that poetry can show. Wilde has us doing this again. Still.
Across Maine we scurry to retrieve our BDN at dawn to find what he’s chosen to enrich our days. We may not think to click to the website archiving the poems, being new to these technologies or preferring the printed page, so there’s no way to count our tracks unless we tell you like this.
Thank you, BDN and Wilde, for all it takes to acknowledge and preserve this tradition — reading and writing verse saved in cupboards, chests, drawers — evidence of what we loved when we lived.
Please remember those who see poetry as news — necessary — and buy our paper because of Dana Wilde’s offerings and how they make and keep it ours. There probably aren’t awards for this.
Patricia Smith Ranzoni
GOP’s abortion issue
With regard to political savvy and intelligence I am as completely average (or less) as the next guy. But at least I recognize that when it comes to abortion the Republican Party is as pro-abortion or as callous to the issue as any group in the country and have people totally duped into thinking otherwise.
Consider this: Republicans actually had appointed most of the Supreme Court justices involved in the fateful 1973 decision. Since then, Republicans have had their party in the White House for 22 years while controlling the Senate for 10 of those years and controlling both houses and the presidency during two of those years. And yet nothing has happened. Why?
It seems the Republican Party desperately “needs” Roe vs. Wade. It’s all about politics, not lives, morals, or conscience. It’s their issue. God forbid it’s ever overturned. Without abortion they’re at the losing end of many elections. It’s their propaganda issue and they fully realize that the public in general isn’t going to catch on to the reality of what they are up to.
If you are pro-life as many are with or without exception, don’t look to Republicans for help. It’s not happening.
The rhetoric against wind power continues: won’t work without subsidies; we ship coal to China, why don’t we burn it?; it costs too much; it destroys the view; etc.
The basic question we must ask ourselves is: Should we continue to rely on energy from nonrenewable sources which not only are declining in availability and quality, but are harming the very planet on which we depend for our lives?
This might strike some as being over-dramatic but the fact is, other than nuclear (with its own set of risks and concerns), there is no other source of energy but the sun. Fossil fuels represent millions of years of concentrated sunshine. Biomass represents tens or hundreds of years of concentrated sunshine. Sunshine and wind are less concentrated but more ubiquitous.
Of course we need all of the above, but continued unnecessary reliance on fossil fuels is foolish. Population growth worldwide means fossil fuels are being consumed more rapidly and stocks are declining. Perform a thought experiment on what life might be like without relatively free and unfettered access to them. What if we only had half the oil we needed to live our lives the way we do now? What if coal or gas supplies dry up and less electricity is available? Sooner or later we will have to face these questions in a most serious manner. We can face them now when we still have a choice, or in the future when the luxury of choice is gone.
The overwhelming numbers of ultra-conservative politicians who have been voted into office is indicative of so much that has deteriorated in this wonderful country.
Two years ago, when Obama was voted into office on a wave of popularity and euphoria, we knew some tough decisions would have to be made to get the country back on track. Obama’s fresh thinking, forceful personality, and willingness to risk unpopularity in order to guide the country to a better place made me feel proud to be part of the changes we were embarking on as a nation that dared to embrace the future.
But as Wednesday dawned on a country that now openly embraced everything conservative, frightened and reactionary, I wondered what kind of nation we really are. What does it say about us if we cannot stick to a decision long enough for true change to take place? This election has been a knee-jerk reaction to frustration that deep changes cannot be effected quickly enough, painlessly enough to conform to our impossibly short attention spans.
By surrounding this president with reactionary conservatives, all we have done is create a logjam of egos. We’ve been so concerned with the messages the candidates were sending us and the message that we wanted to send Washington, that we forgot to concentrate on unraveling the problems facing us all. Problems that I fear can now only become worse as egos and agendas in Washington battle not for our good, but for their own glorification.