Saturday, August 28, 2010

Heritage Foundation: Solutions for America (Part 2 - Looking at the Introduction)

On Page vi of the Solutions for America we find a two-page "Introduction. " (Note that my responses will not necessarily be in the same order found in the Solutions for America). In the "Introduction" the authors attempt to briefly state the problem. They begin with the following sentence: "America has reached a tipping point."

It's their perception that the problems facing America are primarily caused by the government. In the introduction to Solutions for America the following phrases, "government policies," "excessive government intervention," "federal grasp and reach," and "Government now intrudes," and others convey this perception. Is the government really that much of a problem? Let's see how well the Heritage Foundation checked the facts.

In the first paragraph the writers of "Solutions for America" later called "...a team of Heritage experts," complain about the government dictating; "..the mix of fuel we can put in our cars, to the kind of light bulb we use." Let's look at a few of the substances the government regulates. Is it possible that the Heritage Foundation would like us to still use leaded fuel in our cars, considering that lead in the environment adversely impacts the health of children interfering with brain development and learning ability? What about asbestos, which was used in building materials as insulation from temperature and sound, and is know to cause asbestosis and mesothelioma, both fatal diseases for which there is no effective treatment? Mercury is another toxic substance that can harm the brain, heart, and lungs of people of all ages, but is especially toxic to pregnant women. The Heritage Foundation, in the Solutions for America, seems to think that the federal government should not be regulating businesses, but if they didn't would the the oil companies have voluntarily taken the lead out of their gasoline? Would the construction industry still be using asbestos in buildings? Certainly the government is bigger than it used to be, and is probably bigger than it needs to be, or should be. But the country is also much bigger in terms of population. Is the over growth of the federal government really a problem when it comes to protecting citizens from toxic substances that otherwise would end up in the environment? Or is the federal government overgrown in some other area? Would it have been realistic and effective to expect state and local government to impose their regulations on these toxins? We all know that discharges of poisonous substances into the environment is still a problem throughout this country, indicating that perhaps more regulation is needed. Mercury is one toxic substance that needs more regulation since power plants that burn coal still release mercury into the environment.

In the "Introduction" the Heritage Foundation complains about government funding of alternative energy sources. They write "Government policies have stifled domestic energy production while pouring billions of dollars into alternative energy subsidies..." The countries that are leading the world in alternative clean energy production, Germany and Spain, are doing so precisely because their government have poured "...dollars into alternative energy subsidies."

According to "Renewable Energy in Germany" at, "The renewable energy sector was aided especially by the law that required businesses to buy energy generated from renewable sources first, before buying energy from non-renewable sources." Also "People who produce energy in their own homes have a guarantee from the government that they can sell their 'product' at fixed prices for a period of 20 years." In a corresponding article about Spain is found: "In 2005 Spain became the first country in the world to require the installation of photovoltaic electricity in new buildings, and the second in the world (after Israel) to require the installation of solar hot water systems." Note that the reason these two countries are leaders in developing clean alternative energy thereby reducing their dependence on foreign oil, is because the government passed laws requiring changes to be made. There should be similar laws in the US including laws encouraging and facilitating home and small business owners installing clean energy sources. These laws should be so attractive with funding and financing options that people would be lining up at the doors of solar and wind production business to purchase their own production systems. If we can select, embrace, and fund a crash program to put a person on the moon in a given period of time, we can also do the same to eliminate or significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The Heritage Foundation complains about energy being too expensive even though a gallon/liter of gasoline in Europe costs much more that the same in the US. Keep in mind that the cost of gasoline in the US includes the cost of both US military attacks on Iraq and also on Afghanistan.

At the end of page 1 of the Introduction the "Index of Dependence on Government" is quoted as showing that Americans' dependency on government - "increased last year at the fastest rate in over three decades." No where do they mention that this "Index" is determined by the Heritage Foundation.

The Heritage Foundation emphasises the need for government to be smaller and seems to prefer local and state government actions to decisions made by the feds. They write, "The closer a government is to the citizen, the more effectively it will spend the citizen's tax dollars; i.e., the federal government wastes the most, state governments somewhat less, and local governments waste the smallest portion of each tax dollar" (Page iv). However I don't see them advocating turning the nation's defense over to state and local governments. Since our sources of energy (pipelines and power lines; domestic and imported oil) also cross state lines, as does polluted air and contaminated rivers, isn't it just as ridiculous and un-workable to suggest that environmental regulation and energy policy be developed at state or local levels of government? Since citizens frequently travel and relocate, moving from one part of the country, crossing state and local boundaries, naturally taking their health issues with them where ever they go, isn't it also better for the federal government to address the issue of health care, providing a single payer plan, independent of drug and insurance company input. Such a plan would be cheaper and more efficient, resulting in less overhead and paperwork, and providing more consistent care, compared to each employer or state having different plans which threaten citizens with tons of paperwork and loss of coverage every time they change employers or living locations.

The Heritage Foundation laments over, "Our burgeoning welfare state now dispenses a trillion dollars annually to tens of millions of Americans without asking for anything in return." Doesn't the Foundation realize that this trillion dollars being dispensed to Americans each year are tax dollars that came from Americans in the first place? Who does the Heritage Foundation think this money should be going to? Should they be going to finance the bombing of people in Iraq and Afghanistan? Should they be used for corporate welfare at the expense of individual and family support? Conservative decisions during the recent Bush Administration, which included cutting funds for education and veterans, as well as funding two questionable wars and bailing out the bankrupt banking industry, would lead us to believe that the Heritage Foundation might just think this trillion dollars should go to people other than the ones who earned the money in the first place, that is the US taxpayer!

Leonard Nolt

1 comment:

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