Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two Ways To End the War

Here's another letter I sent to the Globe. It was prompted by columns by two of their regular columnists:

In his response to Alex’s mom in (“Answering Alex’s Mom”, June 25), Jeff Jacoby’s “John McCain” answered as only a politician running for national office could. He said how the war is actually going quite well and he didn’t mean that Americans would by actually fighting and dying there for a hundred years, but only babysitting the fledgling democracy.

What he couldn’t tell Alex’s mom is the truth. The truth is that if we were drafting the kids of white, affluent, upwardly-mobile, educated parents like Alex’s mom, this war would be over in about a week. Most of us go through the day without giving the war a thought. Why? Because the burden is inequitably borne by the children of those with little voice and few options. The rest of us get to worry about getting our kids into the very best schools and whether or not high fuel prices will affect our summer vacation plans.

Speaking of fuel prices, Derrick Jackson (“Big Oil and the War in Iraq,” June 24) tells us that, thanks to the sacrifice of those brave American kids, Iraq is finally safe enough for big oil companies to line up to get their hands on Iraqi oil. We whine about four dollar gasoline, but if the price at the pump included that portion of our military budget that is aimed at securing current and future oil supplies for all those crude oil cronies, the uproar to end this war would be deafening.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Malthus Was Only Postponed

Here's a letter I sent to the Boston Globe in response to an opinion piece stating that a global decline in birth rates will lead to woe for future generations. I think we're in for a world of trouble, but too few people is not at the top of my list of concerns. It was published in the June 21, 2008 Boston Globe.

Jeff Jacoby refers to a Malthusian fallacy (The coming population bust, Boston Globe, June 18) and suggests that the world is not overpopulated by humans. The crises of starvation, disease and a destroyed environment that Malthus predicted have not been canceled but merely postponed by the unforeseen discovery of fossil fuel. By using oil and natural gas to power machines, pump water and manufacture fertilizer, we have expanded food production way beyond what we could produce by organic, muscle-powered agriculture alone. When the oil runs out - as it inevitably must - we may well discover that there are, indeed, too many people on this small globe.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Praise For ZBA

Here's a letter I wrote to our little town newspaper about a proposed shopping mall in town that will destroy many acres of mature forest adjacent to a cranberry bog. I just e-mailed it in and, just as letters to my local representatives go unanswered, I suspect this will go unprinted, so I put it here:

I applaud the ZBA for sticking to its guns on requiring the developer of Sharon Commons to provide an irrevocable letter of credit before denuding many acres of forest in Sharon. We only have to look at a recent project on North Main Street to see what we are left with after the bulldozers scrape away thousands of years of natural and human history for yet another ill-conceived project.

Look around. Walpole Mall is expanding. Patriot Place in Foxboro is building a moonscape of asphalt and big-box stores. A new mall just opened in Mansfield. There are plans for a mega-development in Westwood. Store after store have just opened in Stoughton and Avon. Who on Earth is going to patronize all these malls? The chances of another mall in Sharon thriving are slim indeed.

The age of happy motoring to the mall is OVER. Gas just hit four bucks a gallon and the price of all energy has nowhere to go but up. We need developers with a new vision for a new century. We need communities where people can live, work and shop without constantly hopping into the car. We need architecture that lifts the spirit and is built for the ages, not just more flat-topped boxes with fake stucco exteriors and high fossil fuel inputs. We need community-based businesses, not just more giant corporate parasites who suck wealth from our home town by selling more of the same imported junk.

Sweeping changes to the "non-negotiable" American lifestyle are being negotiated right now by forces largely beyond our control. We'd better take a place at the table before it's too late.