Thursday, June 10, 2010

Murkowski EPA Resolution: More Wars, More Spills, More Deaths

The US Senate will probably vote today on Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski's resolution that would limit the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  The bill, written by the oil industry, would also gut the Clean Air Act and increase our dependence on foreign oil.

Murkowski's resolution would strip the EPA's ability to promote fuel consumption standards,  especially for larger vehicles. Why would oil companies be against increased mpg efficiencies? The more oil we consume, the more money they make.  Of course, we would then have to import more oil from such friendly places like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  Just how many soldiers and civilians have been killed in the oil wars?

Of course, the more oil we consume, the more pollutants are put into the air.  Oh, I know it is far-fetched, but maybe there also might be an oil spill or two associated with drilling for the stuff.

But Lisa would spin it a different way.  She would have us believe that Congress should be the ones that regulate. But doesn't that route promote partisan politics, the power of industry lobbyists and propaganda rather than facts in determining energy policy? Senator Murkowski worries about the costs to the oil and gas industries and major power-producing companies.

We Americans are mostly blind to all of the costs.  How many hundreds of millions of dollars will it cost to clean up the Gulf spill?  How much will it cost the fishing, tourism and other industries shut down because of it?  How much does it cost to fund our military and pay for the oil wars?  How much does it cost to pay for the medical problems associated with dirty air?  What about medical issues like diabetes, obesety and heart disease that would be dramatically reduced if we would get out of our car and walk or bike whenever we could?

Now imagine if we could take the money we wouldn't be spending on pollution/lifestyle-caused health care problems; the money not spent on the military's involvement in the oil wars; or the money spent to clean up toxic spills and instead promoted non-polluting renewable energy, mass transit, and etc.

How in the world can Lisa be anything but a tool of the industry and an enemy of freedom, self-sufficiency and the future of Alaska and the US.

It's been a beautiful week here in SOLdotna.  There's no excuse for not walking or riding your bike to work or to the store.  Try it for one or two days a week and you cut your fuel consumption by nearly 20% this summer.

Or you can keep on keeping on and blame everyone else for the spill, the wars and etc.  Pogo was right: We have met the enemy and he is us.

Addendum: Murkowski's resolution was defeated 53-47 with Mark Begich voting no. 

Monday, June 07, 2010

Spending it Down

What is a poor school district to do?

Flush with stimulus money and an increase of per/student funding from the state, the KPBSD has managed to accumulate a healthy surplus.  As we all know, the school district initially received $4 million less than it requested from the borough assembly.  The assembly later added $2 million of funding, but the district knows that as long as their bank account is awash in black ink, the odds are good that the borough will fund under the cap.

The solution?

Spend, Baby, Spend.

Quite a bit of the surplus money is designated for the district's several charter schools, so these schools have been ordered to make the money go away. This summer, these school have hired teachers and administrators at per diem (from $250-$500 a day) to come work an additional 20 days.

That's 20 days without kids.  Doing what you might wonder?  Work that teachers in traditional school are expected to do on their own time: planning lessons, cleaning up the classrooms, placing orders for next year and etc.

Teachers in these charter schools are already given extra contact days without students (and thus more money) than teachers at traditional schools and this latest boon seems like ploy that has just one purpose - to get more money from the borough.

Large Visitor Globe