A polarizing political issue
I was interested to read The Gazette viewpoint piece on Sept. 6. It laments the politicization of COVID, demonstrated by a lab owner refusing services to an unvaccinated, anti-vaccine, politically conservative person. However, to me, the story more poignantly demonstrates the exercise of individual rights, specifically the right to control one’s goods and services. While I don’t agree with the lab owner’s reasoning, I do support her right to refuse her services to someone. Suzanna Lee’s email to Candace Owens was respectful and thoughtful. Owens’ response was to unjustly accuse Lee of racism and then insult her publicly.
I’m not sure how one concludes that Owens was the person wronged. Owens exercised her right to free speech and right to refuse vaccination, however misguided she might be. Lee exercised her right to refuse Owens service, however misguided she might be. But that is the definition of freedom: adults get to do silly things, but they do not get to keep their neighbor from being silly.
It is too bad this virus has become such a polarizing political issue. In the midst of it, let’s celebrate what we share as Americans: the liberty to make our own dumb decisions.
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” — Thomas Paine
What are we waiting for?
Congress is working out policy details for inclusion in the budget reconciliation. Climate legislation is to be included in some form.
Now is the time to push for the most efficient means to mitigate climate change: a price on carbon.
Today, 44 countries practice some method of national carbon pricing, in fact, of the world’s developed economies, only the U.S. and Australia do not have some form of a nationwide carbon fee.
Our economic day of reckoning might come in 2023 when the EU plans to institute its carbon border adjustment. This component of carbon pricing taxes energy intensive imports from countries without a similar carbon price. Wouldn’t it make more sense to catch up with other forward-thinking nations instead of being penalized?
In March, the American Petroleum Institute, our nation’s largest trade group for the oil and gas industry, endorsed carbon pricing as a preferable market based policy that will foster innovation and technological advances in the effort to mitigate climate change. According to the IMF, a carbon tax policy will grow the economy and increase employment.
The West is experiencing an historic drought, the lower Colorado river system is at 40% capacity. Lakes Mead and Powell, on which millions of people depend on for water, are at record low capacity. In May, California’s budget proposal included $2 billion, just for wildfire mitigation.
What are we waiting for?
Leaders must be held accountable
Today I am heartbroken. The year I spent in Afghanistan, attempting to help the Afghan people improve their living conditions and ability to defend themselves seems wasted. I know that there are thousands of other service members who feel the same. I know the families who lost a loved one there are experiencing their loss all over again. My heart goes out particularly to the families who lost loved ones in the recent suicide bombing. They died as heroes, but I question the leadership that put them in that position.
I never thought that Afghanistan would become a first world country on par with some European nations. But we were able to see and hear the stories of how much progress had been made in the quality of life for individual Afghans over the 20 years of US military presence. Under the Taliban rule in the 1990s, there had been zero women in school.
When I was there from 2016 to 2017, hundreds of thousands of girls were in school, for the first time able to receive an education. Infant mortality rates had dropped precipitously and access to quality medical care was significantly improved. We embarked on many projects that significantly improved quality of life for the Afghan people during the year that I was there. Life was on an upward trajectory for most Afghans. When I read that the Taliban had entered the capitol of Kabul and taken over without resistance, I was crushed.
I watched in horror as President Ghani fled the country to allegedly prevent additional bloodshed. Remaining Americans tried frantically to get to the airport or were told by the State Department to shelter in place. Individuals who associated with international forces are being imprisoned or worse. Bagram Air Base has been taken over by the Taliban along with the military equipment that remained there.
The maximum security prison collocated with Bagram has been emptied of some of the most hardened criminals and terrorists in the country. How have our civilian and military leaders screwed this up so badly? How could we depart in a matter of weeks and expect the Afghan government to hold up? How could we just give up the strategically positioned and well defended Bagram Air Field and allow our equipment to be handed over to our enemies? Why didn’t we ensure that all American civilians and the Afghans who assisted us were evacuated through a Noncombatant Evacuation Operation before removing our military personnel?
Leaders must be held accountable.
If the military and civilian leaders of the DOD approved of the approach that was implemented, then they are incompetent and should be removed from their positions immediately. If they gave different advice and were overruled by the executive branch, they should have resigned in protest and refused to implement this plan.
Accountability is a critical aspect of leadership. We must hold those responsible for these grievous mistakes accountable.