E-mail letters, April 20, 2011

Funding issues drive colleges
to seek out-of-state students

There is an alarming statewide issue that has gone unmentioned during the name-change discussions at Mesa State College in Grand Junction and Metro State College in Denver. The issue is that Colorado public colleges and universities must increasingly rely on non-Colorado students to keep higher education in Colorado viable.
The name change discussions at Mesa and Metro represent something much larger and more troublesome than what a college or university calls itself. They represent a recognition that public higher education is at a watershed moment in its 150-year history. Our state budget is forcing a complete change in how we manage public higher education. We are now managing it to attract students from other states in order to keep public higher education for Coloradans possible.
Absent adequate state funding support, public colleges and universities are more tuition-dependent than ever. Non-Colorado students pay more tuition because their cost of attendance is not subsidized by state funding.

Without sufficient state support, at least two things must happen to keep our institutions viable. First, institutions find that they have to increase the tuition rate for Colorado residents so that students and their families bear more of the responsibility for the cost of higher education. Second, institutions find that they need to enroll more non-Colorado students in order to collect more tuition revenue.
Thus, the leaders and boards at Mesa State and Metro State are correct in working to make their institutions more recognizable and appealing to non-Coloradans.

It is increasingly evident that Colorado cannot support the financial needs of a quality system of public higher education. The conundrum is that while the state cannot afford it, it also cannot afford to not have public higher education. Enrolling more non-Colorado students is akin to building a “private college” sector within our student bodies. Non-resident tuition is not subsidized by the state, and thus is unregulated. This allows our colleges to increase and manage revenue without onerous state accountability measures and regulations required with any increase in state funding.
Banking on the notion that a name change will help attract more out-of-state students is symbolic of the funding challenges faced by Colorado’s public colleges and universities. Time will tell if such efforts prove successful, but in the end, the struggle for state support remains a top concern.

JAY HELMAN, President
Western State College

Changes in policies have
sparked increase in fires

I received an email from Sen. Mark Udall this week concerning wildfires. I would like to respond and comment in your public forum and draw attention to what I believe is a direct correlation between the policies that have evolved regarding public lands in the last 25 to 30 years, and the increasing incidence of major wildfires.

The development in the late 1970s of the well-intentioned, but poorly informed and misguided environmental movement can be, I believe, directly tied to the rise of the larger, more devastating wildfires that have become commonplace nowadays.

The combination of the elimination of timber sales, the reluctance to fight the beetle epidemic, and the shrinking or eliminating of grazing leases, coupled with the new philosophy of containing fires rather than fighting and killing them, has created what the government wonks love to call ” the
perfect storm” scenario. These policies are providing optimal fuel sources and conditions that are simply waiting for ignition, whether natural or man-made. This isn’t brain surgery.

Take the drive from Steamboat through Middle Park to Dillon and you can witness what all of these layers of forest management have wrought. A conservative estimate of the beetle kill has to exceed 75 percent on the pine trees.
What isn’t discussed widely is a previous beetle epidemic in the 1960s, and how it was confronted and stopped through thinning and spraying, when a different, proactive philosophy and approach dominated the forest management.
These days, there is a constant drumbeat from special interests, often financed with government funds, to eliminate the multiple use philosophy in order to “protect” the public lands from the public, and to appease the environmental lobby.
In my opinion, the best case progressive scenario for those who support these ends would be to be able to blame these larger, destructive fires on climate change, and use it to pass some legislation to deal with that perceived, but unproven, threat.

Ultimately this is simply another illustration of far too common misguided government policies and their aftermath.
Jim Buerger

Letter writer off target
on Planned Parenthood

I am overwhelmed at Fred Pittenger’s logic in his letter “Logic absent in attack on Planned Parenthood.”

I find it incredible that in his own words that Republicans are “mandating the birth of poor, indigent
populations within this nation.” I guess, according to Pittenger, if you’re poor or indigent, you don’t deserve to live. Planned Parenthood will make you a non-entity and remove these undesirable poor people for us and solve two problems he claims we have in this country — overpopulation and unsustainable debt due to these programs that purport to help these undesirables who manage to escape abortion.

He says these same “growing impoverished populations would turn to illicit means to survive.” What does he mean by that? Where are the statistics to back this incredulous claim?

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America. The president has said clearly he will continue to provide them with our tax dollars. “Zero” chance he would give on that. Why should he? Planned Parenthood is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Democratic Party. Even those who call themselves “pro-choice” still have a problem with their tax dollars or those of people who find abortion morally reprehensible going to support abortion. Over 70 percent of Americans do not want their tax dollars supporting abortion. If Pittenger and the liberal Democrats want to support Planned Parenthood, let them go right ahead. But the rest of us don’t.

Finally, his comment regarding gun rights almost doesn’t deserve comment. He feels that since (I guess Republicans) are committed to the right to life for the most vulnerable persons in the womb, they would just turn around and kill that same person who “enters into your home.” If you follow his logic, I guess that makes some sense. This undesirable, impoverished person is breaking into your home (illicit act he refers to?) and you shouldn’t have a right to defend your self, family or home? Incredible.
Patti Brown
Grand Junction

GOP tries to “divide
and conquer” on budget

Listening to the debate on the proposed Republican budget for 2012, what was increasingly clear is the old “divide and conquer” tactic being attempted by the Republicans in their attempt to disassemble not only Medicare and Social Security, but every social safety net program, all at odds with their reactionary ideology.

In Medicare they are doing so by attempting to pit generation against generation.  If you’re 55 or older, the current program will not change. If you’re under that age, when one reaches the time where Medicare would become available, it will not be there in its current form.  The same tactic is being attempted with Social Security as well.

Some seniors may find that appealing as, at least for now, they are not affected. Some younger will find it appealing because they are of the opinion that they will no longer have to “pay in.”  Both therefore see benefit in supporting that agenda, but because they are looking only to what benefits them.

It is consistent with how many think in today’s society, that of immediate and personal self-gratification. That is seen in many opinions reflecting the underlying fundamental values of “me, here and now” or “I have mine and the heck with everyone else.” That can be condensed into the following words: “self-centered materialism.”

Materialism has one very serious drawback. It results in extreme short-sighted and narrow thinking. Individuals so afflicted, while they may be quite adept at “tinkering,” lacking in the abilities of analyzing and looking for causes, their “solutions” consist only of “re-arranging the blocks,” so to speak. Consequently, all they do is end up addressing symptoms, never the disease.

While such individuals may like to be called “conservative,” by their own words and actions they actually define themselves as being reactionaries.
Robert I. Laitres

Mesa County could look
to Japan for new business

I read with great concern a recent news article about Mesa County’s unemployment numbers. The story reported that at least 8,800 people are looking for jobs in Mesa County. I am sure that number is probably higher.

I feel that Grand Junction is an ideal city where new businesses and industry should relocate. It has so much to offer. I am just curious if the chambers of commerce and the economic development committees have pursued and contacted the automobile industry, the wind turbine industry, and the solar industry just to name a few. If I were a green energy company or an automobile manufacturer, I would certainly consider any of the communities in Mesa County.

With Japan’s recent disaster, I would be contacting Japan’s auto industry to see if they need automobile production assistance, parts production, or other related auto industry production. For example, Toyota shut down one or two of its California production plants in the past year. Perhaps there are other Japanese industries that were impacted by their natural disaster that need a new home in the states. Considering the instability of Japan’s climate and growing nuclear disasters, I do not know if Japanese industries can sustain themselves there much longer.

If I was Grand Junction’s congressional representative, I would be contacting the Japanese government and as many Japanese companies as possible right now. A business mission trip to Japan to plant the seed of opportunity would be a good move. This might be a wild goose chase, but efforts need to be made to sell the potential of Mesa County in this country and abroad as well.

There are 8,800 lives or more out there looking for jobs and trying to support their families.  Aggressive efforts like this need to be made during times like this.  I hope that citizens and the unemployed will join me in efforts to generate new ideas and entrepreneurial activities to bring new jobs and new industry to Mesa County. 
Randy Fricke
New Castle

Raise debt limit
to protect future

According to virtually every credible economist, if Congress can’t get its act together and raise the national debt ceiling within the next few weeks, the recession that began in 2008 will be considered mild compared to what will happen if we go into financial default.

What may tip us into national bankruptcy is a group of extremely conservative freshman House and Senate members who seem to have come to Washington with a mindset more to destroy than to legislate. If they succeed in forcing us into even temporary default, it will validate an observation made in 1814 by President John Adams that “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

These inexperienced and arguably economically naive legislators should take a deep breath and remember the words of Republican Ronald Reagan, who once observed, “I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.”

Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. During the Reagan years, the debt increased roughly three times as much as the first 80 years of the century had done altogether. Reagan enacted a major tax cut his first year in office and government revenue dropped off precipitously. Despite the conservative myth that tax cuts somehow increase revenue, the government went deeper into debt and Reagan had to raise taxes just a year after he enacted his tax cut. That necessary revenue increase was the first of 11 tax hikes, on everything from gasoline to corporate income, enacted during Reagan’s presidency.

Congress needs to come to its senses and accept that the government has at least as much of a revenue problem as a spending problem, and act accordingly.

E. Michael Ervin
Grand Junction

Families can’t budget like
the federal government

Recently I’ve been trying to keep up with the budget debate going on at the federal level. Truth be told, I just can’t get my mind wrapped around numbers in the trillions, so I tried to simplify the problem.

Basically I ran the numbers using the same percentages as if the government were a
typical family. I used debt to revenue ratio and income to budget ratio of the US federal debt; the 2011 proposed and amended budget and total US 2010 revenue. In this way the numbers seem more meaningful. The result I found shocking and distressing even for someone jaded by a lifetime of government contact.

Our national debt as I write this is a little over $14.2 trillion; total revenue for 2010 was $2.162 trillion: 2011 budget from which the republicans in the House of Representatives were trying to cut $38 billion
was $3.8 trillion dollars. (1 percent of what was proposed).

Therefore, a family earning $60,000 per year with the same debt to income ratio of the federal government would have a debt of almost $395,000; an initial 2011 planned budget of $105,400 on $60,000 income. This family then on a $60,000 income decides to really cut back and tighten their belts and reduce their spending this year by $600 to ONLY $104,800.

I don’t think it takes a math genius or even a fifth-grade education to figure out this simply doesn’t work. This is the debate in which our nation is engaged and we are crushing our children with debt.

About these cuts, as my old Marine buddy used to say, we are pole vaulting over mouse turds. It’s high time we insisted the politicians of both parties discuss the budget in terms of how much is being spent and not get away with hiding in marginal cuts to an inflated budget.
Kenneth Brownlee
Grand Junction



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