I have received unsolicited business plans from “frackers” (among them drilling companies, energy companies and holding companies) because they aggressively target wealthy individuals.
The documents make for interesting reading, especially the section on “investment risk factors.”
In addition to the radiation problem, which is very real, the frackers have no backup plan in case of an accident. If an accident does occur, they leave it in the hands of the taxpayer-funded first responders to handle. Oddly enough, these risk factors, and the potential expenses associated with them (cleanup, lawsuits) are never mentioned in the investment documents.
This is a shift of financial responsibility from the frackers, where it belongs, to the taxpayer, where it doesn’t belong. Any investment-seeking document from a fracking company (drilling, processing or holding) should include this as a financial risk factor — yet they don’t. This “failure to fully disclose” is a very serious potential Securities and Exchange Commission violation.
Worse, if there is an accident, most frackers lack the financial strength to handle it — and the separate “shell companies” recently formed to handle the high-risk, critical pieces of the fracking process appear to exist precisely for risk avoidance through planned bankruptcy in the event of lawsuits. So, the ultimate financial burden will fall on the taxpayer.
In a case of history repeating art repeating history, the same scenario (involving responsibility for damage caused by toxic waste) happened years ago with W.R. Grace & Co., and the fight against it was memorialized in the movie Erin Brockovich.
All citizens should be against such a shift of financial responsibility and risk. Those on the conservative side would call that financial shift “stealing,” and I agree with them. Why is there no outcry against this shifting of financial risk, especially from conservatives, libertarians and tea party people? Their silence is strangely deafening.
Steve G. Belovich
Front-page coverage (“Spicy tales are work of passion,” Aug. 10) for a mother and daughter who have made lots of money selling pornography?
Now they plan to celebrate this with a party where people will have the opportunity to experience “four decadent days … filled with nonstop partying, eating, drinking, dancing, performances, socializing and fun.”
Does this really represent what your readers want? Hardly an uplifting story for those of us praying for a better world.
High stakes of school readiness
Thank you for bringing attention to a relatively unknown issue — children’s preparedness for kindergarten. As a preschool teacher, I try to prepare students for the high standards of kindergarten entry tests, but perhaps it is time to re-evaluate kindergarten classrooms, especially in light of budget cuts for programs like Head Start. Parents should try, absolutely, to get their children ready at home, but the burden should not be entirely on them.
Children entering kindergarten without any type of preschool or other early childhood education are at a huge disadvantage.
Diligent parents (or other caregivers) can help minimize this by reading to their children and providing other academic opportunities, but certain aspects, like social skills, can be difficult to develop without a classroom setting.
Working parents may find it difficult to spend the time necessary to develop these skills.
The kindergarten classroom itself is becoming too academic. Children at that age are just that — children.
Multiple studies have shown that free play helps children develop their social and language skills, cope with emotions, as well as understand broad concepts such as symbols.
A 2007 study discovered that students in play-based curriculums scored better on self-regulation, cognitive flexibility and memory tests.
Teacher-initiated learning also has the potential to limit curiosity and creativity. Besides, children have the rest of their education to be lectured to by teachers and do seat work.
Parents should do all they can to get their kids ready for a long academic career, but parents who cannot afford the luxury of early childhood education shouldn’t be punished, especially when it is the children who suffer most.
A re-evaluation of our entire kindergarten system would benefit parents, teachers and, most important, children.
Keeping King’s dream alive
Fifty years have passed since people of all colors marched in Washington, D.C., to protest the lack of jobs, justice and freedom. Most remember the stirring words of Dr. Martin Luther King and the dream he had.
I also remember an acquaintance, in D.C. to see what those “agitators” were doing, expressing hatred for the poor and people of color. Sadly, that hatred is again expressed by many in Congress, who gleefully cut programs for the poor, elderly, disabled and students while passing out tax cuts and subsidies to the richest individuals and businesses on the planet.
Our country will never be strong or safe as long as citizens allow the huge gaps between the 1 percent who control almost all the wealth and the rest of us. Call on Congress to end subsidies and tax breaks for big business and make the minimum wage a living wage. Congress should stop funding other countries’ militaries and pass legislation to tax every dollar of income to secure Social Security. Medicare should be expanded, and public education, from kindergarten to two years of college, should be available to all. Put people first.
Council’s failure on texting ban
As elections to seat the next Akron City Council get underway, I would like to remind voters that the council that’s seated today is the same one that showed such a wanton disregard for the safety of the community by voting to ignore the extreme danger that texting while driving poses. It did so while fully armed with unimpeachable data from several reputable nationwide studies showing irrefutable evidence that texting while driving is considerably more dangerous than driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
This present council voted as it did in the face of in-person testimony provided it by a grieving local father who lost his own daughter due to such inexcusably reckless conduct.
I would implore voters to make an informed decision on whom to re-elect to the council only after first discovering which of the incumbents voted not to make texting while driving a primary offense, instead making it a secondary violation.
To have so voted was shameless and tantamount to embracing indefensible recklessness by those who opt to continue risking the lives of the rest of us on a daily basis.
‘Home field’ call on FirstEnergy
The Aug. 15 editorial “Driven by hindsight,” about FirstEnergy’s overcharges being passed on to consumers, was definitely what a football fan would call a “home field” call.
The real story is that with the exception of FirstEnergy, Ohio electric utilities are meeting the renewable benchmarks without overcharging customers to recover their costs.
While the editorial tried to make it seem as if FirstEnergy was being “picked on” by an overzealous Public Utility Commission of Ohio, the truth is the company was ordered to pay back only about a quarter of $130 million in overcharges.
The Natural Resources Defense Council took a second look at two PUCO reports and concluded the overcharges amounted to $130 million, not the $43.3 million FirstEnergy has been ordered to repay. Try to pay one-fourth of your next electric bill.
Also note that FirstEnergy Solutions, which your editorial called a “respected firm,” is merely an unregulated stepchild of FirstEnergy, and that it paid up to 15 times the market price for renewable energy credits. FirstEnergy then went on to adjust customer rates to cover its overpayments to its own subsidiary.
As a FirstEnergy customer, I resent it continuing to do everything in its power to screw up Ohio’s renewable energy laws, making our needed transition to clean energy slow and expensive. I resent the PUCO for slapping FirstEnergy on the wrist for it, and the “home field” coverage of the Beacon Journal.
We at LOOP Family Ministry thank the Federal Communications Commission for slashing and capping on Aug. 10 the phone rates for prison inmates.
Families with someone in prison face a heavy burden. Families are emotionally, physically and spiritually drained. Thanks to the FCC, their load has been lightened.
Linda M. Davis
LOOP Family Ministry