Vail Daily letter: Columnist wasn’t entirely rational himself |

Vail Daily letter: Columnist wasn’t entirely rational himself

Cynthia Lepthien
Vail, CO, Colorado

Dick Gustafson’s “They’re all mad here” in the July 27 edition of the paper was a little mad itself.

In discussing cap and trade (which is not a tax), Gustafson calls global-warming research “questionable.”

The nature of science is to spur more science — that is, one question usually leads to another. However, when you get 97 percent agreement among scientists on a statement like “adding massive amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is creating an increased greenhouse effect,” they are probably on to something.

The consequences of doing nothing about it are not known definitively, but rapid climate change is usually a bad thing for existing species (that’s us!).

Conservatives like to position themselves as “rational,” but they have a real habit of ignoring any science that might interfere with their economic (or religious) ideology.

I’d like to pick on one more of Gustafson’s distorted points. Gustafson says that “Inspector General Neil Barofsky reported that the stimulus bill alone could cost taxpayers as much as $23.7 trillion.”

That is not what the special inspector general for the TARP program said. He said that if each federal agency spends the maximum potential amount involved in 50 different initiatives to fix the financial system, the total obligation could run to $23.7 billion.

These obligations are in the financial bailout programs, not the stimulus bill. It is an appalling amount of money, but Gustafson should be clear on where it is going before he writes about it.

Then maybe he and I could agree that the bankers got away with thoroughly bipartisan highway robbery.

I definitely agree with Gustafson (and nearly everyone else) that Congress is pretty dysfunctional.

I agree with his point that lobbyists ought to be limited to presenting information only. He ought to note that President Obama’s first act in office was to sign executive orders and memoranda attempting to rein in the influence of lobbyists, including a lobbyist gift ban and a “revolving door” ban.

And in May 2009, the Recovery Act Lobbying Rules set new limits on special interest influence. We’ll see if it makes a difference.

The argument of the lobbyists and the big money campaign contributors is that their constitutional right to free speech and right to petition the government forbid limitations on their activities.

When Gustafson calls for a return to constitutional law, he might want to consider exactly what that means. Thousands argue about it every day.

Just as an aside, people may want to get on the Holy Cross Energy Web site and read their excellent report entitled “Reducing Colorado’s Electric Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions — The Difficulty of ‘Running Down an Up Escalator.”

It’s our electric co-op, and they are in a real bind as to how to reduce greenhouse emissions to the target levels.

Cynthia Lepthien


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