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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 18, 2009 at 4:04 PM

National economy

No different from a private investor

I agree with Danny Westneat’s general premise; at first glance the bank’s behavior seems quite objectionable [“Bailout trickles up, not down,” column, Jan. 14]. However, I do have two main points to make.

The vendors who have agreed to delay payment are probably taking a “futures contract” on the aforementioned Pam Pentz’ ability to pay eventually. But exactly how long will they wait? How much in late payment fees might they ultimately require? When will they sue if payment is not forthcoming after a certain extended period of time?

Eventually, if she cannot pay, each of them will have to make this decision. They may be willing to “forbear” immediate payment, but no doubt their patience will eventually be exhausted, each on their own schedule. “Good for it” for a month seems very appropriate, but I doubt six months would be.

Why should a bank be expected to act any differently than a private investor? I suspect that Westneat, despite the current state of the economy, has some money in investments, retirement accounts and college funds (if he has children). I ask him to answer then, please, what exact return, terms and conditions would he require to lend her the money himself? Six percent a year? 10 percent? 20 percent?

Suppose Pentz offered to pay 50 percent interest? 100 percent? Oops. The two of you can’t make that contract — usury laws. So, I guess even if there were an informed borrower and lender, the government would help determine which businesses succeed and which fail based on regulation of loan interest.

One of the key issues in the current “crisis” is that many traditional risk models are suspect, but can’t be properly adjusted due to the friction of regulation, tradition or indignation informed by emotion, not mathematics.

Why shouldn’t Pentz or anyone else be able to offer a loan request on, say, eBay and let the market bid without limit or restriction?

— Norman Mainer, Redmond

Strong action against global warming

As an avid outdoorsman in Washington state, global warming is a really important issue to me because the increasingly violent weather patterns related to climate change are directly affecting our way of life in the Puget Sound region. We have experienced this recently within the flooding throughout the Puget Sound region.

I’m excited that President-elect Obama has identified global warming and clean energy as top priorities. I hope Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, will let our new president know that the people of Seattle will support him in taking strong action when he takes office Tuesday.

Most importantl, I urge President-elect Obama to commit to cutting emissions by at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This is, consistent with what the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says developed countries must achieve to prevent catastrophic warming.

We’ve got a historic opportunity in front of us. Now it’s time to get to work.

— Geoff Guillory, Seattle

Want more, pay more

I seems obvious to me: The more the citizens of this country ask the government to do for them, the more it is going to cost. That means more taxes, not a rebate of taxes.

No Virginia, there is no such thing as a money tree. This may come as a shock to many, especially those who bought homes they could not afford or those who ran their credit-card balance to a point they could make the payments.

Any service we ask for must be paid for.

— Bob Ely, Bellevue

Diesel retrofits, a win-win

As we look for ways to jump-start, “green” our economy and grow jobs at the same time, Congress is considering investing up to $1.5 billion in upgrading and retrofitting existing diesel equipment in order to reduce its air-pollution emissions. This is a proven and cost-effective approach to cleaner air that is shovel-ready should it be included in a stimulus package that builds upon existing efforts in Washington state to retrofit and replace school buses, other public fleet vehicles and diesel engines used at our seaports.

Diesel engines are the workhorse of the economy, building roads and utility infrastructure, bringing folks to work and children to school, and delivering the goods we depend on via our highways, rail lines and local seaports. Thanks to new emissions-control technology, the tens of thousands of existing engines can now be upgraded to improve efficiency and reduce emissions up to 85 percent.

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funds a portion of these retrofits and has already delivered proven benefits here through cleaner school buses and port equipment. The retrofit industry is also important to Washington-state workers employed at companies that service, manufacture or use emissions-reduction equipment for their diesel vehicles and equipment.

EPA estimates that DERA generates $13 of economic benefit for every $1 spent on diesel retrofits. The economic-stimulus package offers an opportunity to help scale up diesel retrofitting on a much larger basis, improve local air quality and secure Washington jobs, not just at the manufacturers, but at equipment service and repair facilities, which install and maintain this equipment.

Both industry and clean-air advocates agree: It’s a win-win for the economy and air quality. We hope that U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, and the rest of our Congressional delegation will support this important initiative.

— Dennis McLerran, Seattle

Comments | More in Economy, Energy, Environment, Politics

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