- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Balanced trade is the key

In his Tuesday Commentary column, “Economic Reality Check,” Michael Barone cites many trees but misses the forest. He points out that the economy is not suffering from much unemployment (true), nor is there much inflation (true). Nor is the economy shrinking (true). He also points out that the growth rate is mighty slow, but he doesn’t stop to analyze why. His conclusion: Barack Obama’s “protectionism” would not help the United States economy.

What he misses is the reason U.S. growth is so slow despite the lack of unemployment. It is slow because businesses have not been investing in American production. They have not been investing because they know that if they do, the mercantilist countries that control our level of trade deficits through currency and other trade manipulations will simply drive them out of business. The key to fixing the problem is for the United States to insist on balanced trade.

By the way, Mr. Barone is wrong when he calls Sen. Obama a protectionist. Mr. Obama would not likely do anything more to balance trade than Sen. John McCain. The main reason Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was solidly defeating Mr. Obama throughout the Midwest is because the manufacturing voters detected a phony.

As things stand, the Democrats will gain a huge victory in Congress of 1932 proportions as a result of delusional Republican economics as exemplified by Mr. Barone’s column. The presidential race, however, is up in the air. Ohio, Michigan and the nation will go to the presidential candidate who persuades voters that he will do the most to balance trade.

HOWARD RICHMAN

Co-author

“Trading Away Our Future”

Kittanning, Pa.

No gain from Arctic drilling

Your Tuesday editorial “Energy angst” missed the mark when it suggested that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would solve our energy problems. Drilling there would provide neither a short-term solution to high energy prices nor the dramatic drop in fuel costs you suggest.

No short-term gain can be made from drilling in the refuge. The government’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) analysts predict that oil would not begin to flow until 2017, and peak production wouldn’t begin until 2025.

Oil from the refuge would make up just 0.2 percent of world supplies in 2020 and just 0.6 percent at peak production. Because oil prices are set on the global market, the EIA states that drilling in the refuge “is not expected to have a large impact on oil prices” and that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries easily could reduce exports to “neutralize any potential price impact” of drilling in the refuge.

The EIA’s bottom line: 20 years from now, oil from the refuge might reduce gas prices by, at most, a few pennies per gallon.

U.S. energy prices are high because Americans consume 25 percent of the world’s oil while possessing less than 3 percent of its proven oil reserves. Clearly, we cannot drill our way to lower prices. Instead, we must reduce our demand for oil.

Opening environmentally sensitive public lands to drilling merely robs future generations of their natural heritage. Any proposed drilling would take place in the biological heart of the refuge. The area, known as “America’s Serengeti,” is home to polar and grizzly bears, wolves, musk oxen and nearly 250 other species of wildlife.

Rather than advocate more drilling, we should encourage congressional leaders to focus on increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable technologies to solve the problem of high fuel prices.

In the past three years alone, conservation and new technologies have cut our projected need for oil through 2050 by 100 billion barrels. With a positive impact 10 times greater than that of drilling in the refuge, these approaches must continue to be our focus as a nation.

WILLIAM H. MEADOWS

President

Wilderness Society

Washington

Cluster bombs are not needed

The comments from GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike in “Cluster bomb ban a ‘dud’?” (World, Monday) would be laughable if they were not addressing a category of weapon that has caused unacceptable harm to civilians in every war in which it has been used. The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was adopted May 30 by more than 100 governments participating in the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, is a groundbreaking treaty banning an entire category of weapons because they cause unacceptable harm to civilians. The agreement, for the first time in a disarmament treaty, recognizes the human rights of victims of these weapons.

If the world’s most powerful militaries are trying to win wars in the current type of warfare that Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, aptly characterizes as “wars fought in the midst of civilian populations,” then these militaries would not be using cluster munitions, which leave duds and scatter indiscriminately across wide areas. Indeed, they are not: The United States has not used cluster munitions since 2003 and has been fighting two major wars since then. Whether it is winning is another story. So, why does the U.S. government think cluster munitions are essential to its weapons systems?

It is incorrect to say that the United States has “shrugged off value.” While at the Dublin Conference, which concluded May 30, numerous states told members of the Cluster Munition Coalition (the body coordinating civil-society participation) that they had received demarches from the United States. These nations said that President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice themselves were making phone calls to their heads of state. The United States does not care? We think it does.

The United States is plagued by its own unilateralism and must emerge at some point. The Convention on Cluster Munitions is an ideal opportunity for the United States to stand by many of its NATO allies, proclaim the harm caused by these weapons and forever put them in the trash bin of history, as much of the world did last week.

KEN RUTHERFORD, TRACEY BEGLEY, NERINA CEVRA

Survivor Corps

Washington

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