President’s ‘war on coal’ will cause consumer costs to rise

From Tom Harris, executive director, International Climate Science Coalition

To get an idea what the president’s “war on coal” will ultimately cost American consumers, one need only look north to Ontario (“How much does the ‘war on coal’ really cost?” March 21). The provincial government boasts that Ontario’s phase out of coal is the “single largest climate change initiative in North America.” Al Gore praised us for such bold action, saying “Thank God for the people of Ontario providing such leadership.”

Ontario has reduced our use of coal for generating electricity from 25 percent of all power generated to now less than 2 percent with a complete phase-out occurring this year. This is one of the main reasons that electricity rates are forecast to rise 42 percent over the next five years. With coal gone, more and more natural gas is being used to produce base load power, a consequence of which is that our chief natural gas supplier just requested a 40 percent price hike to account for supply shortages during this unusually cold winter. Had our coal stations remained on line, things would have been very different.

As Ontario moved away from coal, our economy suffered immensely. Our per capita debt is now $20,166, more than five times that of California ($3,844), and the province pays about 9 percent of its revenues for interest on its debt (California pays about 3 percent).

While there are many reasons for this financial disaster, there is no question that closing down our most reliable and least expensive source of electricity played a major role in reducing Ontario from a once prosperous “have” province within the Canadian federation to now being a “have not” province, dependent on the charity of wealthier provinces. Who will support the United States if you similarly damage your economy by getting rid of your cheapest source of electricity?
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Educating children 
on politics important

From Sarah Engelmann:
A common pastime is arguing over the latest political news. While politics has traditionally been known as an “adults only” activity, it’s becoming apparent that kids’ political views can have an effect as well.

In schools, often the way a student is viewed depends on their political views. College students make up a large percent of voters every year, and political leaders often target students. Students often congregate in groups that have similar political standings.

And in some schools, having different political views can cause students to be seen as inferior, and to be targeted.

The voting age is currently 18, and so therefore college, and even high school, kids can vote, and make up a combined enormous percent of overall voters. Kids can be involved in politics and world issues through various programs, and many kids have strong feelings about politics, and the world issues going on around them.

Many students are not well educated in political topics, however, and how they affect people day to day. In less economically advantaged situations, kids tend to have less knowledge about national and world issues. This means that they maybe don’t know how getting involved in politics can be beneficial for them. The education of kids in political matters and government is crucial, so they can be well-informed enough to make educated decisions as adults. 

Schools offer different ways to get involved, mostly clubs and activities that can teach students more about the political world.

Studying politics in college has become a larger trend, as students want to better understand the way that the government, economic and political worlds work. It’s important to recognize and understand how students and kids are a part of the political world and that education in this subject is beneficial.
Providence, R.I.

FISA Court should be abolished completely

From Bill Miller:
Since last year, much discussion has taken place relating to overall privacy and what rights an individual has. The one discussion that would be great to hear talk on is abolishing the FISA Court completely. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was established in 1978 as part of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which set the scope and authority for law enforcement entities with regards to electronic plus physical surveillance when investigations take place. In 2001, the Patriot Act was passed into law amending the FISA Act and giving further power to use various surveillance techniques on individuals and groups that weren’t previously authorized under it. I propose abolishing the FISA Court as a whole for several reasons in order to protect civil liberties.

The FISA Court is done in secret, for one thing. Secondly, the FISA Court has no opposing side to argue on behalf of the other side, which most courts have, and this opponent could help protect civil liberties for everyone, not just a particular person(s). The FISA Court judges are appointed by the Supreme Court Justice instead of another entity like the president and approved through Senate hearings like most judicial nominations. The last element in favor of abolishing of the FISA Court is that it usually approves all requests sought by officials, which basically becomes a rubber stamp to collecting many kinds of communications, etc.

Abolishing the FISA Court is the only sensible thing to do so civil liberties can be protected, not encroached upon.
Las Vegas