Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 10, 2013

Letters to the Editor: 11/10/2013

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Climate change a threat

The biggest threat to our children and grandchildren is not higher taxes, big government or the Affordable HealthCare Act, but the climate crisis.

Burning fossil fuels for energy is heating up the planet. The resulting warmer atmosphere is leading to more floods, more droughts, more wildfires and more extreme weather events.

In northwest Michigan we are already paying the price. The heat wave of March 2012 led to the devastation of the region’s cherry crop. Warmer temperatures in winter leads to less snow, less skiing and less winter tourism. And the growing costs of disaster relief for the extreme weather occurring around the country ($60 billion for Superstorm Sandy alone) is being paid with our taxpayer dollars.

It could be otherwise. We can begin the transformation to a renewable energy infrastructure now. With our great universities, industrial base and engineering expertise, Michigan is well-positioned to lead in the creation of a clean, sustainable economy. A clean energy action plan would be good for the economy, good for the environment and good for our personal health. It is incumbent on us to vote only for candidates who pledge to move us away from our fossil fuel addiction.

William Gittlen


Should be a surplus

Investigative reporter Matt Taibbi on Public Radio told how Wall Street is successfully attacking public worker pensions - pensions into which firemen, cops, teachers have been putting in their money, and in which many states should have been adding their mandated-by-law share, but haven’t.

Those funds, formerly invested in secure bonds, have been invested in hedge funds. Hedge funds sometimes say on the front: “These are high-risk investments, you may lose everything.” High fees are paid yearly to hedge fund money managers. Since the 2008 collapse of hedge funds, Wall Street reports that public pension funds are “underfunded” where prior to the 2008 crash, state pension funds nationwide were running a surplus.

Now Wall Street wants higher contributions from taxpayers and employees and deep cuts in retirement plans “because state workers’ pensions are too expensive.” Dean Baker at Center for Economic Policy and Research said that “had not funds been invested in mortgage-backed securities there would be no shortfall.”

Pension fund proposals are now requiring that states must go after higher returns from “alternate investments.”

Oops! Not again! In some cases it’s very difficult for workers to find out how their money is invested.

Marian Gyr