Letters to the editor published in the April 15, 2009, edition of The Explorer.
Government a drag on country's lift
By Paul Schwennesen
President Obama recently used "death spiral" to describe our economic woes.
As a former Air Force officer and private pilot, I couldn't help but take heed when he recommended we take "decisive action" to get ourselves out of it. However, as any aviator will tell you, the decisive action needed to recover from a so-called "death spiral" is counterintuitive, in that it requires so little action. Just reduce power and apply opposite rudder.
The reason "death spirals" (or spins) killed so many early flyers was that pilots invariably tried flying their way out, unintentionally aggravating the condition. Accuse me of carrying a simile too far, but I'm afraid our government is trying to fly its way out of this mess, and it can't be done.
Economies, one could say, function in much the same way as airplanes. Lift is provided by a profit-seeking investing population that seeks alternative uses for scarce resources, reducing prices and improving quality in the process. This economic "lift" helps everyone, which is why capitalist nations have the highest standards of living on earth (and why so much of the rest of the world tries to migrate there).
Government, not surprisingly, creates drag. Not that drag is always bad, for some of it is necessary to create the dynamic equilibrium of a stable nation. Government "drag" is supposed to exist to ensure that men do not, as Jefferson put it, "injure one another" in a completely unfettered economic free-for-all. Things get hairy, however, when drag begins to outstrip lift, and this is where we find ourselves today. Government dangerously increases drag when it stifles the investing behavior of citizens, frightens capital markets, and increases transaction costs through over-regulation.
But aren't our problems a result of under-regulation? I would argue the contrary. A steady accumulation of greater regulation has added layer after layer of drag-inducing red tape to our financial system. Seemingly "good" regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley smother our markets, while the likes of Bernard Madoff injure their victims unmolested. Government regulations, helpfully geared to provide "affordable" housing to those who can ill afford it, require the nation's largest mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to lend far beyond rationality. These toxic assets have led to the disruption of our credit markets, and the economic buffeting we see today.
The administration goes sorely astray in scapegoating the lift-producing sectors of our society while trying to convince us that more drag is the answer. The "decisive action" President Obama suggested after his "death spiral" remark was to pledge $275 billion towards reducing the debt burden on underwater homeowners. This money is to be allocated through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, allowing indiscreet buyers to retire a portion of their bad debt at taxpayer expense.
So the very institutions most responsible for inflating the housing bubble and generating our credit instability will now exacerbate the problem with our money.
Am I suggesting the government just sit back and do nothing? Practically, yes. When did the term "Too Big to Fail" enter the vernacular? We are an educated, creative, industrious society, and I would suggest we spend less time waiting for government solutions and more time searching within ourselves, our neighborhoods, our businessmen, and our capitalists for the solutions. Let us advocate for a government that will get out of the way, roll back needless regulation and throttle back its power in our lives. Let us advocate for a government that, to finish Jefferson’s passage, "shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement," and "shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."
In an age of aviation metaphors like "bailout" and "death spiral," I hope our administration heeds some of aviation’s hard-earned wisdom as well. Mr. President, reduce power and apply opposite rudder. You can't fly your way out of this one.
Paul Schwennesen ranches north of Tucson.
OV police jobs 'at any cost?' No; other services vital, too
I read with interest the comment by Oro Valley Council member Salette Latas that many OV residents want to preserve police department jobs "at any cost."
As a part-time OV resident and full time property owner/tax payer, please do not count me among them.
While competent and adequately staffed police protection is essential, so are many other services. Police jobs should not be sacrosanct when it is necessary to cut budgets in difficult economic times.
I believe the data would show that a number of other municipalities, even some with far greater crime challenges than ours, maintain quality police protection with lower per capita staffing ratios than the Oro Valley Police Department.
R. Lee Hessler, Oro Valley
What's role of faith in OV law enforcement?
An open question to Mayor Loomis and council persons,
Oro Valley Police Department's Code of Ethics state that their "badge is a symbol of public faith and …as public trust…". This statement indicates the OVPD sees itself as servants of the public sector.
However, at the end of the OVPD 2008 Police Awards, this quote appears, "Honest hearts produce honest actions." — Brigham Young
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…" provides for the defined separation of church and state. Quoting Young on the website of public employees appears to endorse Young's philosophy.
Is this what Oro Valley wants to promulgate to its constituents, that the town is guided by Young's philosophy? Or is Young the beacon that guides only the police department, not the whole town government?
The mixing of the religious philosophy, no matter how great the contribution of its author may be viewed, in the public area of law enforcement violates the U.S. constitutional right of the separation of church and state.
Public tax dollars pay for police salaries. Oro Valley residents represent a multitude of different religious backgrounds. As a tax payer and US citizen, I am offended by any singular religious philosophy's endorsement by public government. It divides rather than unifies constituents.
Mayor Loomis and council members, please explain your position on this for all the residents of Oro Valley.
Michelle Saxer, Oro Valley
Speak out against cell tower near Marana homes
We have attended each of the Planning and Zoning meetings to voice our concerns about a cell tower within our community.
We have brought to the members' attention the decrease in home values. A document was submitted to the committee from Brigette Jewell, a well-established Realtor selling a large number of homes in Continental Ranch over the years. She states a significant loss in property values, especially those residents living closer to the tower.
We also presented a document explaining more significant health risks from radio cell emissions. Thereafter, I have done subsequent research regarding these health issues. This tower is being considered for installation directly in front of a small children’s play area.
Having a 61-foot cell tower in the middle of a residential community will destroy the beauty that we homeowners have worked so hard to create, as well as the health risks and deflated home values.
A petition has been submitted to the P and Z commission with over 400 signatures from homeowners who are outraged about a cell tower ruining the ambiance of Continental Ranch as well as their home values and blocking spacious views that residents came here to enjoy.
Both the board of directors and architectural review committee have denied approval of the cell tower on Twin Peaks.
Steven Olsen, representing Crown Communications presented maps to the P and Z commission for consideration regarding six alternate sites outside of Continental Ranch. Why the planning and zoning commission refused to consider these is troubling us.
It is critical for a huge number of residents in both Sunflower and Continental Ranch to speak out against this being placed in our community … the last thing they want, I have been told , are protesters .. we need to give the town council just that.
At this point in time, the meeting has been rescheduled to June 2. This is the second time the date has been changed. I can only guess that they’re hoping that we lose interest. Let's show the town council that we are strong in standing up against this eyesore on Twin Peaks.
Sharon Schwartz, Continental Ranch
If Abbott runs, OV voters ought to send message
Who does Ms. Abbott represent? Not me or anyone I know who has made repeated fruitless attempts to contact her.
I was shocked when Ms. Abbott was quoted, "If you squelch my voice, you squelch the citizen’s voice" regarding the agenda item to limit debate.
Unfortunately, the council did not follow through and limit unnecessary lengthy debates generally caused by Ms. Abbott.
Council meetings are to conduct the business of the town. It is the duty of all council members to be informed and prepared to make decisions. Productive debate serves the interest of Oro Valley. Being unprepared does not.
I speak from personal experience. I served a term on the Oro Valley Town Council with Ms. Abbott.
Ms. Abbott rarely gave us the courtesy of phone calls to say she would be late or absent. As a result, meetings were thoughtlessly delayed, wasting the time of citizens, town staff and fellow council members. No apologies ever came from Ms. Abbott.
Ms. Abbott was, and continues to be, consistently unprepared. Ms. Abbott was, and is still consistently late or absent. Ms. Abbott continues to ask questions unrelated to the business at hand.
From the dais, Ms. Abbott promotes herself as a representative of the schools. It is the Amphi School Board and the Arizona Legislature that sets the policies and budgets for our schools. The Oro Valley Town Council has no authority over the school board.
Ms. Abbott routinely was a 'no-show' for events where tax dollars were spent, at her request, to attend.
One would think, as she approaches seven years on the town council, she would understand the scope of her responsibilities.
Should Ms. Abbott decide to run for re-election I hope the voters send the message she needs to stay home and attend to all the business she claims prevents her for attending meetings, study sessions, returning phone calls or responding to e-mails from the citizens she has consistently failed to represent.
Conny Culver, Oro Valley