Letters for February 9, 2006

Could it be … Church Lady?

Re “No independent thought for Christians” (SN&R Letters, February 2):

I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, a minister at my church or anywhere else. While I am employed by Warehouse Christian Ministries, I do not claim to speak for them, nor do they, in political matters, speak for me. They do, thankfully, believe in the First Amendment.

Second, how Ms. Kunert managed to define independent political thinking as “rejecting values that Christians have upheld for 2,000 years” is beyond me. In our country, the way to enact laws that reflect our own particular set of values is through the electing of representatives who will carry out these wishes. The religious right certainly has been fabulously successful at using the system to achieve its goals. To follow Ms. Kunert’s line of thinking (and I don’t want to accuse her of independent thought), any Christian individual or group who votes, lobbies or is active in any political party or cause would be guilty of rejecting 2,000 years of Christian values!

Third, as a proponent of nonviolence, I respect the sanctity of all human life, from Tibet to Tookie to Timbuktu. Ms. Kunert simply revealed her own incomplete understanding of Jesus’ very clear words on this.

One thing I will agree with Ms. Kunert on is that independent thinking in her case is probably not such a good thing. Her stiff-backed moralizing conjured up memories of Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady,” and this type of thinking could very well set back the cause of Christ for, oh, I don’t know, 2,000 years?

Brent Bourgeois
Elk Grove

Officially, they’re official

Re “Sacramento on empty” by Cosmo Garvin and Kel Munger (SN&R Feature Story, January 26):

Congratulations to SN&R, Cosmo Garvin and Kel Munger for bringing the extremely important issue of peak oil to the attention of its readers! This article was the most comprehensive, far-reaching and well-balanced overview of this vast topic that I have yet seen in Sacramento media. The focus on local and regional responses to the specter of declining energy resources was significant and encouraging.

I would, however, like to point out that “a group of Sacramentans calling themselves” does not accurately reflect the organizational status of the Sacramento Post-carbon Action Network (SPAN). SPAN is an official outpost of the Post Carbon Institute of Vancouver, a nonprofit organization recognized worldwide as a leader in the field of peak-oil awareness and preparedness.

SPAN’s primary mission in the Sacramento bioregion is to act as a facilitator of collaboration and a clearinghouse for information among already-existing groups that are working on peak-oil-related issues and solutions (i.e., self-reliance, sustainability, conservation, recycling, local food/water production and security, community gardening, local money, bartering, car sharing, intentional community, etc.).

Denise Christine
founder, Sacramento Post-carbon Action Network (SPAN)

Oil monopoly, not peak oil

Re “Sacramento on empty” by Cosmo Garvin and Kel Munger (SN&R Feature Story, January 26):

Despite your quotes, there is no evidence the world is running out of oil anytime soon. U.S. production is down for a very good reason. It is cheaper to get oil from overseas than to produce it here at home.

The United States has billions of barrels of oil in tar sands and shale that have never been touched. If we used more efficient oil-extraction methods from proven and future fields, billions of barrels would be available. We extract approximately a third of the oil in the ground from a well, leaving two-thirds available for extraction with more costly extraction methods.

When I looked at proven reserves in the 1980s, there was at least a thousand years of consumption left. In 200 years or so, we might run out of oil, if consumption rises as fast as your “experts” predict. This hardly seems like a crisis.

What is really going on? Classic monopoly tactics by foreign oil producers, our homegrown oil-business giants, and a dysfunctional and unregulated futures business that lets the highest price set the price for the market. If you compare the electric crisis in California to the way the oil business works, you would understand that oil prices are high only because of a national lack of will to regulate prices and increase the number of players.

Adam Smith assumed a market of many sellers and buyers acting independently. The oil market doesn’t work that way, just as the electric market didn’t work that way in California. We have a handful of oil giants in bed with a couple hundred futures traders, and they set the market in a classic follow-the-leader pricing scam.

A number of steps can change this stranglehold on prices. We could bust up the giant oil companies and prevent vertical integration, or we could prevent the futures exchange members from having any financial ties to the oil giants, or we could allow more refineries to be built to get the monopoly oil giants off our backs.

It’s no coincidence that, as independent refiners and stations disappear, bought up by the oil giants, at some point the giants become the market. They set the price as they please, as alleged by a number of civil suits by independent gas-station dealers.

Just as the war on terror uses fright to get people to give away their freedom, your article uses the same tactics. The cover page of $12-plus for gas is ridiculous, unless the government is allowed to do nothing and reaps a windfall in taxes. This Modern World’s “Fear Factor” cartoon in the same issue says it all.

Michael Fellion
via e-mail

Oil up those bikes

Re “Sacramento on empty” by Cosmo Garvin and Kel Munger (SN&R Feature Story, January 26):

Thank you for the timely and thoughtful article on what Sacramento can do to prepare for a post-peak-oil future.

I wanted to point out one post-peak transportation strategy not covered in the article: bicycling. Cycling offers many of the advantages of cars. On a bike, you can depart when you want, take the route of your choice, cover much longer distances than walking and get health benefits to boot.

With a little creativity, bicycles can also perform most of the cargo-hauling functions cars perform now. A sidebar in the article pointed out that bicycles can be used to transport goods, such as groceries; bicycles can also be used to transport passengers, in trailers, child seats and bike attachments.

As the authors mentioned, Sacramento’s geography will make it easier for us to convert to a more localized food system. This geography—flat, with very predictable weather much of the year—also confers an advantage to bicycling. However, the region will need to actively promote bicycling, making it safer and more convenient, in order to replace trips currently powered by gasoline.

Improving bicycling conditions in Sacramento means investing in infrastructure, such as bike lanes, roundabouts and signage; education, both of school children and adult cyclists, as well as motorists; and employer support, such as showers and changing facilities at workplaces. Furthermore, a well-developed bicycling system will complement investments in a more dense rail network, allowing people to access rail services from a wider area, travel out of the region on rail with their bikes on board and then bike to their final destination from the train station.

Finally, as we plan our land use for the next decades, we should keep bikes in mind. As the article suggests, a vibrant post-peak-oil Sacramento will be more walkable, but it should also be more bikeable.

Julia Silvis

Thanks for the muscle, neighbor

Re “Union muscle” (SN&R Editorial, January 26):

Thank you for the air-clearing editorial on the humongous Sutter Health expansion.

As taxpaying residents of Sacramento, my wife and I are grateful to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the community groups who raised critical questions about the effects of the expansion and some of the questionable activities of Sutter in dealing with those patients who don’t have health insurance.

Because Sutter Health gets financial benefits from its nonprofit status, it has a responsibility to provide adequate levels of charitable care and not treat the poor inhumanely. As someone who is active with nonprofit organizations, I take such a status seriously and try to serve the neediest in this community. Sutter Health should do the same.

Bill Powers

Prevent, don’t abort

Re “Reproductive rights are human rights” (SN&R Guest Comment, January 26):

Shauna Heckert is concerned that “women’s right to choose is in serious jeopardy.”

I notice that when anyone talks about women and abortion, it’s always with an incomplete sentence. They refer to “women’s right to choose,” leaving out the words “to murder her unborn child.”

I write hoping that a woman considering an abortion will change her mind if she learns the Creator’s viewpoint on abortion. The law he gave Israel protected the unborn, making even accidental abortion a capital crime. The decree at Exodus 21:22-23 states: “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life.”

Aside from the Bible, second-century Christian writer Tertullian said, “In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the foetus in the womb.”

Preventives are available free for women who don’t want to have children, and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Diane Church