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Re: Stuck in the past and present; some cannot see the future

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Message 21 of 22

Perhaps the greatest threat to the economic superiority of the United States in the world doesn't come from China or another country; but from within our own nation. Conservatives and nay sayers who are stuck in the past trying to "bring back coal" or with talk of ending government subsidies for renewable energy are perhaps the biggest threat to the United States than any foreign country or outside terrorist group. 

 

The United States does not exist in a vacuum. We now live as part of a global economy whether one likes it or not. The world has changed a lot since the days when the United States was the only major economic power on earth immediately following the Second World War. If the United States does not invest in the energy sources of the future or transportation of the future; then other nations will pick up the slack and pass us in leadership as well as economic power. Societies and nations that cling to the past or are mired in the present are often entering a period of decline. 

 

Instead of trying to bring back an energy source from the past (coal), the government should be investing money into newer sources of energy for the future such as wind and solar. Instead of promising to re-open those closed coal mines and re-employ all those laid off coal miners; the government should be investing their resources in providing those displaced workers with education and training for the new jobs of the future. But it is easier and simpler to make false promises of a return to the past. 

 

Overturning environmental regulations and laws designed to protect our air and water are counter productive at best and harmful to the people they are intended to benefit at worst. I have travelled extensively through West Virginia and worked with a man in eastern Kentucky where "coal was king". One thing that a visitor notices when travelling through that part of the country is the beautiful scenery and verdant mountains. West Virginia already has several great tourist destinations such as the New River Gorge and the Greenbriar resort as well as several ski areas easily accessable from the interstate highway. 

 

The region of the southern Appalachians could become a great tourist destination for those seeking some peace and quiet in a mountain setting away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities of the east. I have hiked in the Dolly Sods area of West Virginia and it is a truly beautiful area as well as a great natural area that few people outside of the region have heard about. 

 

But the new rule overturning the ban on dumping coal mine waste in streams and rivers would turn some of those mountain streams into polluted rivers of poison unfit for any recreational use. Eventually those coal mine wastes will flow into the major rivers in the region such as the New River and Youghiogheny (pronounced yock a genny) that are already great rivers for white water rafting and canoeing. Back in the summer of 1971, when I was working along side of a professor documenting the effects of strip mining of coal in Belmont County Ohio, I saw small streams in that area with a pH of 1.5 which is acidic enough to dissolve metal and severely burn your skin. This is what can happen when coal mine waste is dumped into small streams. Eventually all that will flow into larger creeks and rivers, then into major rivers like the New River (a federally declared wild and scenic river) that could make it unsuitable for white water rafting. 

 

Thus this short sightedness and attitude of being stuck in the past could also destroy the future for a depressed part of the nation. Back in the 1980s, I lived in western North Carolina. Large parts of western North Carolina were pretty depressed economically. But even then, the region was becoming a major tourist destination and attracting retirees for the lovely four season climate and lower cost of living. Today that region has largely shed its hillbilly image and the local economy is strong mostly due to tourism and retirees moving there with money to spend. 

 

When I lived in Asheville North Carolina back in 1983, it was mostly a "meat and potatoes" city. Restaurants were mostly "meat and potato" places and the hottest spot on a Saturday night was Bill Stanley's Barbeque and Bluegrass. I visited Asheville last September and it is radically different. The city has attracted a lot of young people and has some interesting restaurants and night spots that were sorely lacking in 1983. It is now a vibrant city when back in 1983, the sidewalks were rolled up after 500 PM on Fridays. 

 

Of course it is the beautiful scenery and delightful and relatively mild four season climate that is attracting people to cities like Asheville. There is no reason why parts of West Virginia and Kentucky cannot attract the same type of business and people as I saw in Asheville. But it takes visionary leadership to accomplish this, not politicians who make empty promises to return to the past. 

 

It is no secret that far more jobs have been created in renewable energy than have been lost in the coal industry since 2010. For every company that goes bust like Sylindra, there may be four or five new companies that grow and prosper and perhaps one that will become the next big thing. 

 

The point is that instead of investing in the past and trying to cling to the present, our government should be investing in the future. That is where our children and grandchildren will be living. That is what this country did back when "America was great". "Making America Great Again" is not going back to the past or clinging to the present; instead "making America great again" is investing in the future. Donald Trump and conservatives have it all wrong and are also again on the wrong side of history. 

 

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Stuck in the past and present; some cannot see the future

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Message 22 of 22

 

Instead of looking toward the future, our government and leaders are instead mired in the past and present. This is the thesis of a column by Froma Harop. Instead of taking the leadership in the development of renewable energy sources and cleaner energy, the Trump administration and their lackeys in congress are bent on remaining stuck in the present and past. Read on:

 

When Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908, America had almost no paved roads outside the cities. One of the early owners' biggest headaches was tires punctured by horseshoe nails left on the road.

 

"Forget about this car thing," Ford's detractors might have said. "We don't believe in government subsidies for road paving, and we're protecting the pony cart makers. Anyhow, less than 1 percent of Americans even travel by car."

 

Today's can't-doers must have been surprised this month when Tesla, the electric-car innovator, drove past Ford Motor Co. in market value while nipping at the heels of General Motors. Both Ford and GM have been doing well of late, but investors have flocked to Tesla stock as a growth rocket. (Days before, Tesla founder Elon Musk's SpaceX company launched — and landed! — a real rocket.)

 

All this follows years of conservatives' carping against Tesla and green energy initiatives. In 2015, the conservative Daily Caller website panned Tesla thusly:

 

"Liberal entrepreneur Elon Musk's business ventures have benefited from nearly $5 billion in government subsidies in the past few years, but apparently that's not enough taxpayer support to stop his electric car business from losing $4,000 on every vehicle it sells."

Just four months ago, the business press wondered what the election of Donald Trump might mean for Tesla. Talk of weaker fuel efficiency targets and premature ending of tax breaks for buying electric cars worried some investors — though obviously not all that much.

 

Noting that his companies would do fine without the government support, Musk famously said, "If I cared about subsidies, I would have entered the oil and gas industry." Some estimates put direct U.S. subsidies to the fossil fuel industry at $20 billion a year.

 

People of little imagination argue that wind turbines provide only 4.7 percent of our power, that solar accounts for just 4 percent and that coal generates 33 percent. Therefore, renewable energy is just not a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Nothing wrong with the numbers themselves. The conclusion based on them, however, could use some work.

 

A more sophisticated view would note that Iowa now gets 36.6 percent of its power from wind, with South Dakota getting 30.3 percent and Kansas 29.6 percent. In 2000, wind turbines generated 5.6 million megawatt-hours of power in the United States. By 2016, the total was 40 times that, 226 million megawatt-hours.

 

Enlightened economic policy doesn't save dying industries. It saves the people who work in them. When people get laid off from a factory job because of automation or foreign competition, the first thing you do is to keep them afloat with health and other safety-net benefits. The second thing is to provide strong retraining programs leading to good jobs — and there are a lot of high-paying jobs that don't require a college degree.

Sure, fix parts of trade agreements that aren't fair. And not every environmental regulation makes sense. But it's a dumb policy that regards addressing environmental challenges as job-killing rather than opportunity knocking.

 

China is not dumb. While Trump is hectoring China over subsidies to steel and other smokestack industries, China is shoving government money into production of solar panels. China is also hot to dominate the manufacture of electric cars and the batteries that go in them. Our conservatives, meanwhile, are sniping at Tesla.

 

Clean energy is the future, and our smartest competitors know it. Trump's economic vision — to prop up coal and other declining industries — is a vision for a country that wants to lose. Drop the futile promises to stop change. What displaced workers need is help navigating it.

 

https://www.creators.com/read/froma-harrop

 

 

 

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