No white elephants
“The white elephant” is a phrase being used by government and military officials to refer to a U.S. taxpayer-funded, $300 million diesel power plant being completed in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In a panel hearing on Jan. 24 by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields explained “diesel is hard to find” and “there is an issue of the capability of the government to find the very fuel that is necessary to support these generators.” Fields concluded in written testimony: “It is not clear how Afghanistan is going to be able to provide the operations and maintenance required to sustain any of these investments without continuing financial support from the United States.”
Commissioner Charles Tiefer pointed out that power could currently be purchased for four times cheaper from an existing source. But that hasn’t stopped the construction of another diesel power plant in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for $266 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars.
This is theft. But it’s just a tiny part of the loot being carried off by the Department of Defense, the corrupt Karzai government and private contractors. Since 2002, the U.S. has appropriated $56 billion to “rebuild Afghanistan.” The plan is to build a total of 884 facilities, with no oversight and no accounting.
Instead of rebuilding America, we are rebuilding Afghanistan.
As Americans, we have to pay attention to this ongoing theft. We have to demand resignations and prosecution for the criminals who are building white elephants all around us.
Not my best friend
I was stunned to read the letter to the editor “Doggie Compromise” in the Feb. 2 BDN. I had no idea that any store would allow dogs inside. That means that my friend cannot go in those stores or she will become ill due to her allergies.
Just being in the presence of dogs, or where they have been, causes a severe reaction. Why any store would allow this is beyond my comprehension.
The fact that Renys has now prohibited dogs is a wise move for all.
Dog waste is a national health problem. A single gram of dog waste can contain many pathogens and parasites, including E. coli, heartworm, whipworm, hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm, giardia and salmonella. Researchers have found that just two to three days of waste from 100 dogs in a 26-square-mile watershed can affect water quality to the extent that it is considered unsafe for swimming or shellfishing.
Dogs lick their butts and their coats, and they roll in some nasty stuff at times, making it easily transferred to the public in a store.
In her letter, Ms. Gonzales referred to the tourist dollars that might be lost because of the $45 billion spent on pets each year. I think the tourists would rather stay well. Just think of what those $45 billion dollars might be capable of if it was spent on housing homeless people, feeding hungry people and providing health care to those millions who have none.
Kudos to Renys for standing up for health.
Lost faith in LePage
I worked with the Cutler campaign. I had faith he would win and really turn around Maine. However, that was not the case. Cutler told us that we should have faith in LePage and his ability to govern the state. I accepted that and tried. He has only been in office for a month now, and I have lost all faith for him.
I’m always reading something in the paper about him and it just makes my head shake “no.” I have not seen any good in him at all. I’ve seen his selfish, conceited angry and outrageous side. He doesn’t support anything of what Maine is. He wants to change the environment.
He is not a people person and he doesn’t understand how to interact with people. I’m not sure how he was the mayor of Waterville for so long. He is just power hungry and will not do Maine good.
Who paid for what?
Two weeks ago I drove to Machias and testified before the committee charged with simplifying environmental rules and regulations to make the state of Maine “more business friendly.”
In the interest of avoiding cynicism on my part, I humbly asked the committee, composed of state representatives and senators, to identify their campaign contributors as an addendum to the committee’s final report. Who stands to gain financially from proposed changes in shoreland zoning? Who stands to gain financially from the lessening of environmental standards?
I noted that a large Spanish energy firm, Iberdrola, had paid part of the cost of Gov. LePage’s transition team. That same company plans to build a 22-unit wind power complex in Trescott, an unorganized territory.
Some 30 years ago, Harper’s Index had pointed out that lobbyists spent an average of $100,000 per state legislator. I should be surprised if that figured has not multiplied by a factor of at least 10 by 2011.
If the final report is to be less than a sham, openness and disclosure on the part of its members ought to be a requirement.
The Republican plan to roll back environmental regulations misunderstands the role of rules. If looked at from an entirely economic perspective, the principal purpose of environmental rules is to assure the costs associated with the myriad activities in which people and companies engage themselves are paid by the person responsible for them, and are not foisted off onto consumers or taxpayers. In other words, their purpose is to force the costs to be internalized by the person or company generating the costs, and not externalized onto the public. Invariably, environmental regulation reduces negative impact from dollars of cure, to pennies of prevention. This truism has been part of our social fabric since before the time of Ben Franklin.
In the nine and a half years I served on the Board of Environmental Protection (one year as chairman), through dozens of rule-makings, there were few instances where, looked at even from only a financial standpoint, let alone aesthetics or other criteria, a proposed regulation didn’t provide economically valid long-term benefit. Gov. LePage’s present course is only short-term expediency to benefit a select few (developers, out-of-state manufacturers) to the detriment, and in some cases ruination, of many — whether through deteriorated health (BPA in sippy cups, asthma), algae-infested lakes and waters (shoreline erosion), air and stream degradation (e-waste, solid waste) or sprawl into the unorganized areas with associated long-term costs, etc. It’s all so predictable.
The gist of America needs to be longer-term thinking. We need to graft our lives onto better rootstock.