Letters – Feb. 16, 2008

Re: Climate change, what’s the problem?

David Zink’s thoughtful article falls short in several respects (PWW 1/26-2/1).

First, the solutions he proposes are modest, indeed, and tragically, the first item in his list is “advanced nuclear power,” something that is almost as dangerous as global warming itself, both for its long-term extremely toxic waste products (for which there is no safe disposal) and for its dangerous potential for nuclear proliferation.

Second, the solutions he projects are only hypothetically in conflict with the capitalist system. He states as a given that, “At some point these strategies will bump up against the capitalist-imperialist system. … The capitalist-imperialist system … is something we can no longer afford.” This may be obvious to Zink, but it is not self-evident.

Third, Zink states, “It is possible to deal effectively with these environmental problems. Or we can retain capitalism. But we won’t be able to do both.” Well, I guess then we’re really screwed, because unless Zink thinks socialism is on the horizon in the next ten years, we’re out of time.

A far more serious, non-nuclear approach is that outlined by Arjun Makhijani in “Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.” This scientist lays out a practical plan for achieving zero CO2 emissions and the ending of nuclear power generation by 2050 in a series of practical, provably doable steps based on our current level of technology. Rather than scrapping the capitalist system, Makhijani relies almost entirely on government regulation and market forces in our present capitalist system to achieve his goal.

My criticism of Makhijani’s book is that it minimizes the level of struggle and the amount of time it will take to achieve the programs he charts. He also does not call for the kind of massive public works and infrastructure investment that ultimately will be required because of the slowness of the bourgeois political system to respond.

Many of these measures arguably move us closer to popular political power and socialism, but they do not make revolutionary political change a prerequisite for saving the human race.

Ted Pearson

Chicago IL

Stimulus? Raise corp. taxes

President Bush’s tax cuts and corporate rebates exacerbates the very recession he is trying to prevent.

Anyone who thinks that a corporate tax cut will stimulate investment has never been in the middle of a corporation making a decision on whether or not to invest.

Corporations invest in order to improve their bottom line. Most people would only invest their life savings if they could improve their financial position. For example, if I suggested that you invest $100 because you would get $125 back, you probably would. But if I suggested you invest $100 so that you could only get $75 back, you would NOT invest.

When corporate taxes are high, then tax write-offs are a second way for corporations to improve their bottom line. For example, most people would invest $100 if they only expected to get $75 back when they could save $50 on their income tax.

The savings on income tax makes the investment worth while.

When taxes are cut — or rebated — then tax write-offs disappear. If you pay no taxes, then you can’t get a write-off.

If you don’t get the write-off, then the less profitable or doubtful investment is not made.

Corporate decisions are made by people. The decimal point changes, but the decision making process is the same. Should corporation XYZ open a new branch? Invest in a new product? Do more research? Or hire new staff? Just like you, they would only do this if they get a return on their investment. Corporate write-offs are part of the return.

That means a high corporate tax rate is the only way to get our economy moving. Bush’s corporate tax policy causes the very recession they are trying to avoid.

Jim Harris

Via e-mail

Don’t be so quick

on Halliburton

It is amazing how quick you are to connect Halliburton with some sort of scandal with the Mexican government and PEMEX (“Mexican farmers protest NAFTA hardships,” PWW 2/9-15). The facts, if you were to check them, are that Halliburton has been doing service work for PEMEX for over 50 years. They have been doing this sort of contract drilling work for over five years.

What you also failed to mention is that Schlumberger and several other companies all do the same sort of contract drilling work for PEMEX. Schlumberger did it first. They probably have made more money than Halliburton.

What you also didn’t research before you jumped on the Halliburton conspiracy theory is what the bidding process is for PEMEX. If you had you would have found that it is a pretty rigorous process that is all about PEMEX finding the lowest cost to get their wells drilled. The main driver for PEMEX is the lack of resources to do this sort of work.

My guess is you really don’t care but just wanted to take a stab at Halliburton since it would probably get you some notoriety. Thanks for proving yet again that most “news” organizations have an agenda (liberal or conservative) and don’t really give a crap about real “news.”

Kevin Smith

South Louisiana

Kevin Smith is an engineer with Halliburton.

Flexible ethics

An ad I saw in a Houston paper in 1980 while I was looking for work there might well fit many, if not most, positions of authority in the private as well as public arenas these days. It read: “Help wanted: People with flexible ethics who are really turned on by money.”

I had intended to check this out just to see who and what was behind it. But the very next day I got an offer, which I took, to work for Aerospace at NASA. Interesting experience there but that’s another story.

I’m especially reminded of this ad during political campaign years like this one. The only exception I’m aware of to this ad message and the usual campaign messages is in the person and campaign of Dennis Kucinich.

Dennis, whether you or I live to see it, you have planted some seeds which may someday, when the time is right, bear fruit neither of us can today imagine.

Be well, take care and keep the faith.

Bill Ramsay

Clifton CO

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