On this day in history, 1973

Every individual in the United States right now knows of 9/11 as infamous day in history. A great tragedy befell our country. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, and not just American citizens. Excluding the 19 perpetrators, 329 foreign national lost their lives [1].

It is important to remember this tragedy and honor the lives that were lost.

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But, how many of you know of another infamous day in United States history? The 1973 Chilean coup d’état in which a milita in Chile overthrew a democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. While a direct link between U.S. involvement and the coup has never been established, subsequent U.S. senate inquiries have established that the U.S. did exert its influence upon the Chilean economy in such a way as to create conditions supportive of a coup [2].

The day of the coup (sept 11) was relatively bloodless. Fewer than sixty died as a direct result of the fighting. What makes this worth remembering is the nearly 2,700 people that died and/or disappeared during the seventeen years in which Augusto Pinochet’s military regime was in power. The Valech Report, released in 2004, is the result of a 6 month investigation into the aftermath of the coup. In the report, apart from the nearly 2,700 casualties, they detail some 400,000 torture victims under the regime. [3]

The most unsettling part is the United States continued involvement with the Pinochet regime after the coup. In a 2000 report released by the CIA, it is explained that the U.S. provided material support to the Pinochet regime, despite suspicions of human rights abuse. [4]

So in addition to remembering the lives lost on September 11th, 2001, let us take a lesson from 1973 history and learn that things don’t always work out for the better when we overthrow governments.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_September_11_attacks
[2] United States Senate Report (1975) “Covert Action in Chile, 1963-1973” U.S. Government Printing Office Washington. D.C.
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valech_Report
[4] http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20000919/

Let’s Put Numbers to Our Energy Consumption

All too often, you hear someone say that the solution to our energy crisis is in … (insert Solar Power, Wind Power, Hydro Power). While alternative energy sources sound great, is the United States and the rest of the world in a suitable position to actually make such fancy things as Solar Power a real viable alternative?

David McKay, a professor in physics at UIT Cambridge published a great editorial over at CNN covering this issue. I highly recommend you take the time to read it.

(1) http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/05/13/mackay.energy/index.html

Response from Senator Moe Keller

I sent an e-mail to my state legislators today through congress.org explaining my disgust in the recent proposed budget cuts. Sen. Keller is the state senator for the district I live in here in Lakewood, and she also happens the chair of the Joint Budget Committee.

She did a good job explaining to me what the JBC intends to do to solve this crisis.

Here is her response:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concern over the budget cuts to higher education. All of us on the joint budget committee are also gravely concerned about this proposal and we will continue to try and find alternative funding sources to reduce the cuts to higher ed. I would like to take a moment to respond to the republican suggestions and to list the cuts we are making to all departments in the upcoming fiscal year.

First, the backbone of the republican cuts is an additional 100M cut to k-12 education. ( we have already cut elementary and secondary schools 150M).  This additional 100M cut would come out of the constitutionaly required Amend. 23 funding passed by the voters, and passed from k -12 to higher ed. (I don’t believe this is doable due to constitutional requirements). It is indeed a sorry day when elementary education is pitted against higher ed, but here we are.

Second, 75M is proposed to require furloughs of state employees.  Since one day of furlough results in 1.5M savings, we would have to close state offices more than 2 months to acheive this amount.  They also proposed an additional 3% reduction is salaries on top of the furloughs and elimination in the state contribution to emplyees’ health insurance, resulting in an increase to the employee of $1550. to keep his/her insurance. Because of TABOR, these salary cuts are permanent and cannot be restored next year.

Other cuts included eliminating required classes for inmates to be paroled ( drug alcohol, mental health , etc) resulting in longer stays for inmates in prison, an expensive alternative to the release of inmates upon successful completion of these treatment programs.  Recidivism is high when inmates do not have these classes, and we are currently seeing results in savings due to these classes. ( recidivism numbers are going down). Penny wise but pound foolish.

The legislature is looking at reduced sentencing as part of reduction of costs and you will see legislation soon on this issue.  We simply cannot afford to keep as many individuals in prison anymore.

WHAT CUTS ARE CURRENTLY IN THE BUDGET PROPOSASL

We are closing a prison, eliminating expansion of another, and delaying further opening of a maximum security building in Canon City Prison Complex.

We are eliminating the senior homestead exemption. This is distastful to everyone, but at $91 M this year, $98M next year and $103M the year after that, we have to do this.

We have a hiring freeze.

Capitol construction projects are frozen.

Salary freezes on all employees and elimination of performance pay.

Cuts to k-12, as listed above.  I am receiving as many angry, concerned emails from parents of children is school as I am about the higher ed cuts. You can imagine how they feel about the republican proposal to cut them more.

We have tapped into our rainy day fund, a 4% percent reserve, using 2% in 2008 and 2% in 2009.

We have followed the republican model used in the last economic downturn in 2003 of transfering cash funds to the general fund, although not as much as they did.

The joint budget committee has wrestled with the problem of limited revenues at a time we try to meet demands to maintain state services that citizens want.  It is my belief that we need to take the question to the citizens:  what are you willing to pay for?

I do wish to thank the business community for their interest in having an interim committee this summer to study the elimination of special interest sales tax exemptions and income tax credits or exemptions.  It is time to establish a more rational tax policy in our State.

The process of balancing two budget years at the same time, without sufficient revenues to maintain services, has been a nightmare for all of us.  I do have hope the conversations going on between Pinnocol , business leaders and legislators  (of which I am not a part), will yield positive results.  Balancing the budget is a lengthy process and we are not finished yet. I do appreciate your input and please keep this dialogue going. I am happy to hear from you.  Also please know that we will continue to try and find funding sources for higher education, which we all value.

Sincerely,

Sen. Keller

To IBM CEO: Samuel J. Palmisano

Would you be willing to take a 10% pay cut for the company?

Recently, your global services division decided to mandate a 10% rate reduction to many services. This caused my wages and the wages of the majority of my coworkers to be cut by at least 10%.
I seem to think you’d be more able to handle a 10% pay cut better than myself and my coworkers can.