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Attack of the disturbed three


Dear Editors,

I’m not sure what it means but all should be prepared ... for something. Next time you go past any one of the gas stations on College Drive/Goeglein (there are four between Camino del Rio and Skyridge) take a close look at the gas prices – a really close look. I only hope the signs are still there.

It all started with the Everyday a few weeks ago. Followed by the Exxon. It didn’t spread farther until the Skyridge station changed its prices from $2.41 to $2.37 the other day.  The “College String” was complete with the station next to Wells Fargo where regular unleaded gas was listed at $2.33.

Some say they don’t see it ... or maybe they don’t want to. It’s subtle, but it’s there. I try not to notice it, but it is consuming – they call out to me every time I pass them – I have to look. I’ve told dozens ... well a couple of people anyway ... and they, too, are taking notice.

What the hell, you ask, am I talking about? Why are almost all the “3s” upside down – what does it mean? Some “3s” are slightly bigger at the bottom than the top so when flipped upside down its noticable – if you are paying attention.

Is it a sign? Is it a conspiracy? Everyone should take notice before it’s too late.

Think I’m paranoid about nothing. I was in Pagosa today and a station at North Pagosa Blvd. and 160 also had the “disturbed 3.” Wake up Four Corners!!!!

– Ben Root, via e-mail


Respect the economy deserves


Dear Editors,

Will the economy finally get some respect in 2006?

Our $12.5 trillion economy has maintained strength even as it gets disparaged in the media, which continues to fret about the fragility of what has undeniably been a resilient expansion. There are a few policy lessons here.

The 3.5 to 4 percent rate of growth in 2005 has been especially remarkable given eight Federal Reserve Board interest rate hikes, oil prices as high as $70 a barrel, and one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history. The U.S. economy will have grown at about twice the pace of Old Europe in 2005. As economist Michael Darda puts it: “This is the most derided and ridiculed growth cycle in post-World War II history, even though by many measures, including productivity and corporate profits, it’s one of the most impressive.”

Remember the “jobless recovery” and “outsourcing?” Here’s the reality: American jobs averaged a net increase of nearly 200,000 new jobs a month this year. Some 4.5 million more Americans are working today than in May of 2003, before the Bush investment-tax cuts. This job growth has been accompanied from 2001 to 2005 with the best rate of labor productivity over any four-year period since the Labor Department started tracking this statistic. This productivity revolution augurs well for higher wages in 2006. The Treasury Department reported last week that “real hourly wages are up 1.1 percent versus the previous business cycle peak in early 2001.” Workers are now earning more per hour in real terms than they did at the height of the 1990s expansion.

The real gains for families have been in their assets. In 2005, Americans owned an all-time-high level of wealth (mostly housing and stocks), valued at $50 trillion. Median household net worth is estimated at more than $100,000. Americans’ assets are rising in value faster than they are taking on debt. Tens of millions in the middle class could afford to visit malls this brisk Christmas shopping season. This isn’t the buying behavior of people who are feeling poorer.

Looking ahead to 2006, the main risks to another good year are likely to come from policy mistakes in Washington – higher taxes, energy price controls, anti-Chinese protectionism and incipient inflation. Since the investment tax cuts of 2003 were one of the triggers for the surge in asset values, business investment and job growth, extending the 15 percent capital gains and dividend tax rates should be Congress’ first order of business.

Opponents of those lower rates will moan about “the deficit,” but the truth is that those tax rates corresponded with a record $284 billion increase in tax revenues in Fiscal Year 2005 and a $100 billion decline in the budget deficit. It would be nice to see Congress start to act as if they truly believe in limited government by putting Uncle Sam on a low-pork diet. The most conspicuous blemish on the 2005 economic scorecard was frenetic federal spending, estimated to be up another $180 billion, or 8 percent. If Congress were to cut that spending in half, and if the economy continues to spin off tax revenue dividends, the budget deficit would fall in half by this time next year. Then who knows what the pessimists and liberals will complain about?

– Steve Jones, via e-mail


A chance at survival


Dear Community,

On Dec. 28, 1973, President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into being. The Act has been remarkably successful in so short a time. Despite its success, it has recently come under attack by some in Congress who would like to see its effectiveness severely compromised.

Over 1,200 plant and animal species have been given the protection of the Endangered Species Act over the years. Only seven of those have gone extinct in that time. While opponents of the Act argue that only a few have been removed from the list because their populations actually “recovered,” the fact that so many are still on the planet is a testimony to the Act’s near 100 percent success rate. Currently, nearly 70 percent of protected species are considered stable or improving. Recovery takes time. Species that are severely depleted by the time they are given protection understandably will take a long time to recover, in some cases, up to 100 years. Thirty-two years have provided the beginning of hope for many. Time will witness the actual benefits to many more, which could mean that hundreds more species will be saved in the coming decades. Without the protections in the Act, who knows how many more would already have been lost.

Which species have been “saved” in Colorado? Thanks to rigorous science and the cooperation of farmers, ranchers, the Division of Wildlife, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, county governments, conservationists, educators and school children, a number of species are still part of the web of life in our state. The bald eagle captures our attention as the national bird. The Act helped this renowned species recover. The Canada lynx has been re-introduced into Colorado in the last decade and is surviving and producing its next generations. The black-footed ferret, once down to only 18 animals, has been making a remarkable comeback over the past 20 years, although it still has a long way to go. The little-known Colorado butterfly plant has been recovering thanks to incentive programs for private landowners.

In the future, the Act may help restore local populations of Gunnison Sage Grouse, boreal toads and more. Candidate conservation agreements with assurances, through which landowners can help protect habitat while protecting their own heritage, should make the process acceptable to the majority of participants.

Currently, the Endangered Species Act itself is threatened by bills sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. Pombo’s bill, which would remove provisions for protecting critical habitat for endangered species, has passed the House and could be headed toward the Senate. Crapo has introduced a different, but still destructive, bill into the Senate. Pombo and Crapo (with the support of Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo.) seem intent on undermining the crucial elements needed for species’ survival. Their bills would inhibit effective measures in the Act, like designating critical habitat and creating recovery plans.

We, however, believe we owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment by protecting endangered species and their homes.
Please take action to support the Endangered Species Act by calling Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar (202-224-5852) or your own senators, asking them to keep the Endangered Species Act intact, so that more of our endangered and at-risk species will continue to have a chance of survival.

– Wendy McDermott, High Country Citizens’ Alliance


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January 26, 2024
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January 11, 2024
High and dry

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