Deep budget cuts endanger crucial US defense exports

With budgets shrinking, exports like the F-35 sale to Japan (and the recently announced F-16 sales to Iraq and Oman and F-15 sales to Saudi Arabia) save Americans money while increasing security at home and abroad — a true win-win (“Lexington analyst: Obama arms sales ‘a striking departure’ from other Dems,” Jan. 2). But contrary to conventional logic, congressional action (or inaction) is poised to damage the very foundations that make these sales possible.

Defense Secretary LeonPanetta has clearly stated that the so-called “sequestration” cuts pending in Congress would severely curtail new research and modernization programs, the very investments that drive export sales. Cutting more defense dollars now might be a small step forward for budget savings today but would be two steps back for our long-term security and economic needs. The death of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il reminds us all that instability can strike at any time. If our allies aren’t equipped to defend themselves, the burden will inevitably fall on us.

Defense exports are also a way to maintain employment across our strategic industrial base while preserving decades of accumulated knowledge and expertise in this critical national workforce.

It’s time for Congress to include defense exports in their budget deliberations. The export market is too big to be ignored.

From Gordon England, former deputy secretary of Defense, Fort Worth, Texas

Mandate  hands-free cellphone devices in cars

This letter is in response to the articles covering the decision by the National Transportation Safety Board calling for a nationwide ban on the use of cellphones and text messaging devices while driving.

One solution for reckless driving caused by the use of cellphones is the installment of a device allowing for hands-free cellphone use. Essentially the cellphone operates through the car radio. All drivers must be required to have this installed in their motor vehicle. This solution might not prevent all drivers from being distracted by cellphone use, but it would sure be a strong attempt at keeping our attention where it belongs. 

As for texting devices, we must outlaw their use in a motor vehicle, period. My nephew was killed in a car accident as a result of a texting argument with his girlfriend. The autopsy confirmed there was no drugs or alcohol in his system. Studies have confirmed that texting lowers a driver’s reaction time worse than alcohol.

Unfortunately there is really no way you can stop their use unless you spot someone texting or you find the device among the rubble of a mangled car or truck. There is too much evidence to indicate that most people cannot “chew the fat” and drive at the same time.

From Joe Bialek 

Support renewable energy or get left behind

Re: “Solar industry trade group announces merger,” Jan. 3

Collaborating solar groups will be immensely positive regarding the future of state and national policy. Transferring our aggregate energy usage from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will be paramount in ensuring United States’s competition in the global economy and, furthermore, protecting the environment. China has invested billions into renewable energy. The European Union has a 2025 and 2050 renewable-energy policy projection that proves to be rather extensive. It is essential that the United States invests equitably in the paradigm shift away from fossil fuels — or we will be left behind. 

In the early 1900s, in order to keep up with the growing demand for progressive technology in relation to the rest of the developed world, the United States invested in the automotive industry. Recently, our national government has been forced to finance General Motors in order to keep it afloat. Solyndra (and renewable energy, respectively) is not the only industry that has received support. Industry requires structure in times of economic vulnerability. Supporting growing, progressive industries will create jobs and stimulate economic prosperity. 

In the aggregate perspective, our Earth is a macro-ecosystem. The environment inherently remediates itself — but gradual degradation has and will continue to damage our environment past the point of repair.

From Michelle Clark, Columbus, Ohio