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Liberals See Things Differently

Dear Editor:

Mr. Michael J. Cahill, in his letter to the Editor July 19, displays an uncommonly mean spirit that merits a reply.

In my own letter of the prior week, I commented on President Obama's recent speech about doing all he can about the effects of climate change. I called the speech "Rooseveltian." Mr. Cahill was irked by that as he classifies FDR as the "social (read socialist) president" and elsewhere he describes Mr. Obama as "our current disaster of a president." And, of course, Mr. Cahill denies that the earth is warming. He wrote, "The Government always needs a crisis to promote their agenda." He then presents data that claims the earth's temperature is actually going down.

Data on the earth's temperature are very much dependent on where they are collected. I observe other, more dramatic signs of climate change: The rapid loss of the (north) polar ice sheet, the thinning of the Greenland ice cover, the retreat of glaciers in Alaska, the Alps, the Himalayas, and even on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. The reduction of the annual replenishment of Asia's glaciers is especially alarming as they serve as fresh water sources for hundreds of millions of people in India, Pakistan, and other south-Asian countries. "Ocean levels have not risen one inch," Mr. Cahill asserts. Ask the folks in the small island nations near the equator in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Many of these people see their islands shrinking alarmingly by the rising seas, and some islanders are considering leaving en masse.

These effects have consequences nearly beyond human control. The arctic ice sheet has for millennia reflected sunlight into space. As the ice melts the seawater appears black and instead of reflecting, it absorbs sunlight and gets warmer. This melts more ice and helps thaw enormous areas of land now immobilized in permafrost. The newly thawed land releases gigantic quantities of methane that - molecule for molecule, traps four times more heat than carbon dioxide. "Runaway condition" is what one gets, one bad thing enforcing another. We do not know how to stop this.

Social unrest cannot be far behind when millions of people in South Asia face increasingly severe floods and droughts while glacier melt water becomes scarcer year after year.

Mr. Cahill is a broad-brush man evidently unable to make fine distinctions. To him "Liberals" are the certifiably bad guys. He writes, "Liberalism is a mental disorder." I do not think so. Liberals see things differently from the picture held dear by some Conservatives, but by no means by all.

•Liberals generally are not satisfied with the way things are. Liberals feel things can be improved, and should be improved. Let's do it.

•Liberals feel that the past was far from ideal and often wonder how did people put up with "things" for so long.

•Liberals look to the future to help define what it should be. The past must not be shoved aside; it should be examined carefully and used as a guide for deciding what to keep, what to throw out, and what to build afresh.

•Liberals are keenly aware of changes dictated by the march of science and technology and of the speed-up of changes stemming from them.

•Liberals are keenly wedded to ideas of equality before the law, of equal opportunity for all, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity; and of equality in bearing costs and burdens demanded by society.

•Liberals believe in tolerance toward others, in the right to be different, to be left alone.

(I have a friend of 40 years, a former business partner, solid Republican, with whom I lunch in a restaurant about every two or three months. We see no need to demonize each other because of our different political orientations. The Best Man at my wedding almost 50 years ago was a Republican from Indiana - a very good man, too.)

Mr. Cahill will soon have the opportunity of learning more about my detailed economic ides. Coincidentally I have written a book ECCORNUCOPIA: Restoring Fairness and Prosperity to America that will go to the publisher within weeks. One chapter is called "The Widely Misunderstood National Debt." Other sections discuss the Federal Deficits, and where they came from. The book is a Plan based on John Maynard Keynes' economics on how to get off dead center and restore fairness and prosperity to America. Mr. Cahill might want to read it.


Emil B. Rechsteiner

Boston Road

Groton Herald

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