Climate change opponents have no credibility
Re the May 18 Viewpoint, "Climate change debate revived," by Amy Ridenour: There are so many points to raise in objection to Amy Ridenour's "top 10 reasons Congress should ignore advice to pass legislation to combat climate change" -- and The Gazette's decision to publish it -- that it is difficult to know where to start.
Ms. Ridenour's piece contained many well-worn misrepresentations from the climate-denial community. The scientific facts are not in dispute: The Earth has warmed by more than 1.5 degrees F since recordkeeping began in 1880 and 2013 was the fourth warmest year on record.
In fact, every year since 2000 has been hotter than the average global temperature of the 1990s. Bottom line: We are warming, no matter what Ms. Ridenour wishes to believe.
I suspect The Gazette patted itself on the back when it decided to "debate" whether there is evidence enough to act on climate change by publishing Ms. Ridenour's piece with a companion article by professor Michael Kraft.
However, to "debate" this reality with one writer on each side does not give your readers the proper context of where the balance of scientific opinion lies.
Since John Oliver staged a "statistically representative" climate debate on his HBO show -- in which three climate deniers had the opportunity to challenge 97 scientists who acknowledge reality -- we should expect the same numerical accuracy on the pages of our newspapers, as well.
In the future, if you publish a, say, 400-word discussion of climate-change facts, you should limit the opposing viewpoint to 12 words. Only then will you present climate change in a way that accurately represents the balance of scientific opinion.
Jeffrey D. Corbin
The writer is an associate professor of Biological Sciences at Union College.
Bruno was victim of political witch hunt
Re the May 17 article, "Bruno not guilty:" It is a sad day when the most powerful man in the state felt like the United States of America was after him.
That is a shame and not what I fought for. We have really let down the man, who gave so much of himself, over nonsense. I will, and would, fight for the government to compensate him in full. This was nothing short of a witch-hunt. We have failed Joe Bruno, and I want to personally apologize to him.
Joe, I am truly sorry. Thanks for your lifelong work.
Solution for balanced budget already exists
Having the federal government operate with a budget that does not increase the national debt is a good idea. But several balanced budget proposals have deep flaws in them.
First of all, there's no need to amend the Constitution to require the budget to be in balance. Especially is there no need to force creation of a constitutional convention to add a requirement for a balanced budget. But, unfortunately, this is being proposed by many.
Some BBAs (balanced budget amendments) call for increasing taxes, even steering the taxing authority away from Congress to the executive branch. Dangerous proposal!
Practically all BBAs ignore the enormous indebtedness already on the books. Interest on the $17 trillion our country owes is already the third largest item in the federal budget.
What, then, should be done? The answer starts with forcing the House of Representatives to use its "power of the purse" to put an end to unconstitutional federal programs. Article I, Section 7 states: "All bills for raising revenues shall originate in the House of Representatives." If the House won't "originate" bills for foreign aid, education, housing, medical care and more, that's it. A majority in the House (218) could not only stop the reckless spending, it could begin to pay off the national debt.
A constitutional convention to add a BBA with all or many of its flaws would open up the Constitution to massive change, even cancellation. Forget the BBA. Don't endanger the Constitution.
Albany VA good, but needs improvement
After two weeks of listening to and reading news about the Veteran Administrations across the nation, I feel I have to speak out about the VA in Albany. I'm telling what I know -- with no ax to grind -- just the truth.
First, the VAs do a lot of good with the resources they are given by governments. But there are problems. Waiting list? Well, it takes three to four months to see certain specialists. Example:urologists. Even if you have an ongoing infection problem, bladder, urinary -- VA policy says unless your primary physician says something, it takes months to see the urologist. Why? Because they don't have doctors.
Albany medical people or medical residents who work at the VA are getting training. Once again, veterans are being used. When I asked my primary doctor why I wasn't sent to the urologist after a second infection, I was told it was not in the VA policy. I went to the VA emergency room, where the ER doctor took one look and put me in for an appointment with a urologist.
That was in September; I saw the urologist on Dec. 28.
There is much indifference among staff. Most registered nurses are great, but doctors -- not at all. A lot have a "better-than-thou" attitude. In 2004, I was in the VA for 30 days.
Three times I was almost given the wrong meds, which I could have died from. Some RNs, like one who works for my primary, are truly dedicated, compassionate professionals. But they are way overworked.
The VA needs to cut fat in the administration; hire more doctors; be willing to pay them and RNs; and develop a more vet-friendly attitude. We all die, but let's not die because of polling or indifference.
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