Friday, May 24, 2013

Sustainable resources

I wrote Senator Coburn (R,OK):

I propose a wider application of the word "sustainable". For one thing, measuring the resources a community uses in terms of dollars is *not* sustainable. Just look how the US Government chose to stop including food and fuels in measuring inflation. Or how the Obama administration has devalued the dollar.

 o Lumber used in a community should be sourced within 50 miles, perhaps 50% of lumber within 30 years.

 o Properties forfeited to counties for tax liens could be divided, in lots of 10 and 40 acres, and allotted for a new wave of steadholder, for a low-tech approach to raising food with non-patented seed, no "big" equipment, family occupied and operated. A system of agriculture dependent on government spending, intercontinental supply chains, governmental and private crop and production insurance, and highly technical equipment is *not* sustainable, not if energy or monetary resources are interrupted.

o Employment within walking distance of worker residence, 1.5 miles, should be recognized and encouraged. Commutes further than eight (8) miles should be recognized and discouraged. And, yes, this does penalize monster and big businesses. Stores intending that 80% of customers live within 1.5 miles should be recognized and encouraged. A school should be considered "local" only if 80% of students, 80% of teachers, and all staff live within 1.5 miles.

o Mass transit will not be the answer to challenges to energy supply, not when infrastructure and massive construction projects are based on large amounts of money, and energy, to implement. This is why using less energy is more effective that building out massive wind farms or solar farms.

 o Move to paying taxes "in kind", and return to "county farms" for people requiring assistance and support, rather than interpreting need in dollars.

 o Pass a Congressional budget that is "balanced" -- total  expenditures not to exceed average collected revenues of the immediately preceding three fiscal years. Five year plans sunk Russia. Let us stop playing with other people's money, and make do with what we have. And, please, let us give the government a *stake* in growing the economy that they plan on taking more money from, in funding special interests and cherished programs.

 o Building codes assuming affectations of the wealthy must be re-examined. Single-child bedroom "standards", expectations of hot water in each home, immense housing developments intended to generate developer revenue, rather than conserve community energy, building homes that aren't intended to serve the occupants for generations instead of until the next promotion or transfer. These are wasteful of energy, of money, of strained resources. In general, we have to start valuing resources in terms other than dollars -- like availability if political, economic, or energy expectations are interrupted.

My own feeling is that climate change is here. Recovery will never again be complete while we measure condition and recovery in dollars; we cannot afford it. Whether due to man's consumption (and depletion of) fossil fuels or natural cycles of the Earth or the sun, CO2 levels seem to be rising, and weather is getting more energetic.

Between wider devastation from flooding, drought, and storms from hurricanes and tornadoes to thunderstorms, and the nation's economic woes -- we will *not* be rebuilding to what we, as a nation, had been.

Just looking at the Moore tornado this last week, I think of the lives changed. The homes, and vast amounts of building materials from lumber to cement that were destroyed and must be transported, and much of it replaced. The amount of electrical wiring, fixtures, drywall, nails -- and many of them resources that, if replaced, will further deplete strained resources of labor, material, etc.

What I do *not* hear on the news, though, is the loss to Oklahoma from productive people choosing to leave the state, to find accommodations or work. I don't hear of employment lost as people working at home no longer have the resources to continue to produce, or employers that temporarily or permanently lack a venue to continue operation. Just one example is the schools devastated in the tornado. Most school budgets don't include items for "replace buildings this year". And lack of schools will hamper inspiring people to restore residence nearby, increasing the loss of productive people to the area, if not the state. Some of the loss to Oklahoma will benefit other states, but many employments, and sources of tax revenues and economic contributions, will never recover for the state or the nation.

Whether the people involved receive assistance from the state, the Federal government, or private and religious resources -- that is a drain on national and local economies. My neighbor spent two days, this week, helping with a church group near Shawnee, OK. That meant that two days of his ranching were put off -- including losing much of the hay that he had cut, during a brief window between rains. Some of what he put on hold can be made up, but some will result is loss of crop and herd production.

And that is true everywhere. I expect that the expanding list of "once in a lifetime" events, as they occur more often, are draining the abilities of private and government insurance to respond completely.

The high rate of taxes, and the immense National Debt and ongoing and increasing annual deficits of the United States government, further drain the economy. As for CO2, I argue that government, or other fund raising, represents *overburdened* energy and carbon consumption. I note that gasoline prices are jumping again, perhaps moving toward a stable economic level based on production (limited) and demand (growing)

Thank you.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Trucker fired, because pickup rammed his trailer

I wrote Dr. Senator Coburn,

Dr. Coburn, An unfortunate traffic accident occured a few miles from my home last week. A local Ponca City man and neighbor drove his pickup into the trailer of an 18 wheeler leaving a local construction company yard. There were no skid marks, and there was speculation the deceased, the pickup driver, might have intended the consequences.

I was told that the driver of the semi rig was fired on the spot.

I have several concerns about what turns out to be a knee-jerk reaction in many industries, to fire someone when something unfortunate happens.

Every driver has someone giving instructions, directions -- orders where to go, what to pick up and deliver. If the driver were to be found impaired (I don't believe that was the case, here), then possibly the driver is at fault -- but the dispatcher, or the driver's supervisor or lead, must surely be criminally negligent for not assuring that their driver was alert and unimpaired, and competent to operate the assigned equipment for the assigned task. Yet companies successfully fire the lowest-ranked people involved to evade responsibility.

Second, this driver was involved in a death related to his assigned task. The semi driver did not *choose* to be in that location, nor to be there at that time. And yet he was left with the knowledge that his presence with his rig caused the death of another person. Anyone in this position, regardless of other circumstances, must surely need some emotional support, transport, and likely supportive care. I find firing this person at the same time to be a horrible vilification of what may turn out to be entirely the fault of the deceased. But we now have a fired semi driver, being treated as if he *deliberately* killed the pickup driver. This has to have been crushing for the semi driver, and an insurmountable social indictment in front of his friends and family, as well as to him.

Third, the trucking company now has no driving reason to understand what went wrong, no outstanding reason to review whether the people that sent their driver on that task that day made mistakes, no reason to review the readiness, alertness, competence, and lack of impairment on the part of other drivers and supervisory and dispatch people.

Please consider whether an employer should be penalized for firing someone, contractor or employee, without due notice and reasonable process, without reasonable discovery of what happened and who all was responsible for creating the situation.

Thank you, and my heart goes out to the family of my neighbor, and to the driver of that semi,