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Will It Be Worth It?
The Marcellus gas-drilling boom is upon us, seemingly with no forethought or planning except by the gas companies. A relatively small amount of people will make a lot of money from the Marcellus compared to the general population. Everyone is hoping for a big trickle down effect. But will the benefits out weigh the cost? Did we have a chance to ask ourselves, ”Will it be worth it?”
The boom has had some extremely destructive consequences for some, such as undrinkable water. Less extreme but still unpleasant consequences will be had by a large number of the rest of us. Some of the unpleasant consequences may be felt immediately like increased and heavy traffic on formerly quiet roads, some may take a few years to become apparent like diminished water and air quality and others may not come along for some decades such as a depressed local economy and generally degraded environment when the inevitable bust arrives. The promise of money and hopes for prosperity has blinded us to the possible downside.
While money can solve a lot of problems, it really does take more than money to make us happy. And some of the things that make people happy like clean streams, wells, and springs, fresh unpolluted air, quiet rural surroundings and communities undivided by gas drilling competition may likely fall victim to the gas industry development. Once these things are gone, no amount of money will be able to restore them. Quality of life is something that is hard to replace. Our new slogan may well become “Welcome to the Endless Miles of Gas Wells.“
If you question some of my conclusions I invite you to do a little research. There are quite a few informational websites about the effects of gas extraction in other parts of our state and country.
Citizen’s For Clean Water
Looking For General No-Can-Do
We should have known as much. When Mr. Obama asked the commanding general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, for a report on troop adequacy, what do you suppose the president thought the general would say? It's like asking a barber if you need a haircut. Gen. McChrystal gave the expected answer.
Yes, more troops are necessary. That, and a new strategy called counterinsurgency, will turn Afghanistan into a democratized Little America. Gen. McChrystal even has a how-to guide showing just how to do it.
It's called the “Counterinsurgency Field Manual” (CFM), written under the direction of the former commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus. The key to counterinsurgency, the manual explains, is to replace firepower and body bags with nation building.
Quoting from the CFM: “The new counterinsurgency doctrine depends upon . . . soldiers in Afghanistan [getting] out among the people and building.” “Building” refers to infrastructure - roads, bridges, and such. However, the average income of an Afghan is $1 a day. They do just fine with goat trails and rope suspension bridges.
But what's needed for a 21st century occupation force is a network of secure supply routes able to bear heavy-duty military traffic. “Roads are the single most important path to success in Afghanistan,” according to the CFM.
In short, the U.S. military is preparing for a long-term occupancy. According to Gen. Barry McCaffrey, “we are going to stay for ten years and build a viable state.”
As for getting “out among the people,” that will require more troops. In fact, as we shall see, an impossibly large number of troops.
Gen. McCrystal, like most of the starred ranks, is a can-do guy. Give him an order to jump and he'll ask how long he should stay in the air. But what is needed is an outspoken general able to present the harsh realities and insurmountable obstacles we face in Afghanistan. We'll call this maverick, General No-Can-Do.
“No, Mr. President. What you ask is not possible,” says our imagined general, “We will lose with 30,000 extra troops or 60,000 or 120,000. Here's why. “
At this point General No-Can-Do takes out his copy of the CFM and reads, “Counterinsurgency strategy requires 20 to 25 [troops] for every 1,000 residents.” He would patiently point out that the population of Afghanistan is 28 million. This would require 560,000 boots in theater at the low end.
Mr. President we aren't able to field a fraction of that amount without a draft and that, as you know, is unthinkable.
The general goes on. “Additionally, Mr. President, we don't have the money. We have 68,000 soldiers in Afghanistan costing $65 billion a year. Dividing that out gives a cost of $1 million a year per soldier. Augmenting our deployment by 30,000 will cost $30 billion a year.
Adding the annual costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and occupations - $705 billion and $232 billion - plus the expense of the extra troops will cost $967 billion.
Then, Mr. President, there's the outlay for the mercenaries. There are 150,000 U.S. mercenaries in Iraq. Their average salary is about $180,000 a year. That's $27 billion on top of the $972 which brings us to almost $1 trillion a year.
Mr. President, we have neither the troops nor the money to win this war. And we face a population that is increasingly hostile to our presence. That's to be expected. There is always a mutual antagonism that grows between a native population and the occupiers. They hate us because we're there. Eight years is long enough. We have overstayed our welcome - if we ever had one. It is time to leave.”
But General No-Can-Do is only a fantasy. The actual general, Stanley McCrystal, is a real can-do guy. Yes sir, of course we can win, Mr. President. Who knows, maybe he's right. But we will have to wait until 2020 to find out.
New Milford, PA
As amusing as it would be to engage Mr. Scroggins with childish banter, stating myths and facts about other people's reports and studies that I have read and watched on television, I simply do not have the time. For I have A life!
But I would like to clarify one thing. I suggested he should be injected with the H1N1 virus not the vaccine. No apology necessary!
Fort Hood Massacre
A U.S. Army officer fires over one hundred rounds of ammunition, killing 13 soldiers and wounding another 32 before he is stopped. How could this possibly happen on an Army base where 50 thousand soldiers are based? Israelis, for one, are baffled by the news of the defenseless U.S. soldiers. They want to know why the soldiers did not return fire. In Israel, when a Muslim goes “Muslim,” he is typically shot to death by someone - say a reserve soldier, within seconds of screaming “Allah Akbar.” In contrast with the Israeli experience, it took 10 minutes before a civilian police officer at Fort Hood was able to shoot and stop Muslim fanatic Nidal Malik Hasan. How could that happen? How could so many people trained in the strategies and tactics of modern warfare be so defenseless? The answer - and this may astonish many Americans - is that the soldiers were unarmed. U.S. soldiers are not allowed to carry guns for personal protection, even on a 340 acre base quartering more than 50 thousand troops.
Fort Hood is a “gun free” zone, thanks to regulations adopted in one of the very first acts signed into law by anti-gun President Bill Clinton in March, 1993. Contrary to President Obama’s crocodile tears, his administration is bent on further disarming the U.S. military and all Americans. Obama and his people will not rest until every American is a sitting duck. In Israel, teachers, from kindergarten on up, are armed so, a Virginia Tech-type slaughter is highly unlikely at an Israeli university. Israelis, who have had to combat terrorism all their lives, are not afraid of guns. They are an armed people, ready, willing and able to defend themselves and their country. Unlike indoctrinated Americans, paralyzed by fear and political correctness, Israelis understand that people, not guns, kill people. (Reproduced in most part from material received from others but generally known to me).
Elk Lake, PA
A Problem With Delinquent Fees
During the December 2009 Great Bend Borough meeting another Councilmember asked a few questions about the Hallstead Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority (HGBJSA), that I was appointed to in May 2009. The Board of Directors is different from what that Councilmember’s view of it in the past years was. There has been a turnover of directors over the past two years and Great Bend Township presently has an open seat on the Board of Directors. The problem with the New Milford Municipal Authority (NMMA) was harder to answer since it has not been resolved. For the first three years of the contract, after NMMA started pumping sewage to HGBJSA the rate was set to not less than six dollars per equivalent domestic unit (EDU) for each month.
Last year was year four of the contract and the rate increased, but NMMA continued to pay six dollars. NMMA objected to the rate increase and multiple meetings have been held before and after my appointment to the Board of Directors. At my first HGBJSA meeting NMMA was offering five dollars per EDU to settle this problem, and during the meeting in New Milford prior to the September 2009 HGBJSA meeting NMMA presented a written document with two dollars and seventy seven cents to settle the problem. This has resulted in almost forty thousand dollars in delinquent sewer bills without interest added to this total for year four of the contract.
The increase this year is less than last year’s increase, but will result in over sixty thousand dollars more in delinquent sewer bill, this year alone without interest added to this total for year five of the contract when the year ends. I informed the Councilmember that this problem will be rectified shortly because we cannot afford this to continue and HGBJSA has started to take action to collect the delinquent bills.
As for how well NMMA and HGBJSA are working together, the following is an example. After I attended the December 2009 NMMA meeting, while walking out of the building with a member of the NMMA, I was informed that he would inform the residents in the HGBJSA that we were making a one hundred sixty thousand dollar profit with the last rate increase and HGBJSA would have to deal with angry customers. A similar incident occurred when the rest of the HGBJSA members attended a meeting with the NMMA in New Milford, prior to the September 2009 HGBJSA meeting.
As for the rate increase, we have been over budget for the past two years and still recovering from over two hundred thousand dollars in non-reimbursed flood repairs. With possibly twenty thousand dollars in repair to the sludge press it will finally return into operation this month. We needed to increase rates due to increased costs for operating the sewer plant, the capital improvement fund which had been depleted, from unforeseen plant repairs, other system repairs, sludge removal and non-payment of sewer bills.
This information was presented in response to questions during the December 2009 Great Bend Borough meeting in my capacity as one of the borough representatives on the HGBJSA Board of Directors. I feel that this problem can be resolved when the New Milford Municipal Authority fully understands the requirements within the contract that they signed.
Bret A. Jennings
Great Bend Borough Councilmember
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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