Get out of the way
Petroleum shipments to Lewiston ended in 2011. Container carriers abandoned the river in 2015. Pulp and paper shipments are only one-third of their 2000 peak. Even wheat and barley, the mainstay of the navigation system, has decreased by half since 2000 and is trending lower as unit train terminals across the Palouse take market share from the lower Granite pool.
Worse, the dams are no longer willingly supported by energy sales. Bonneville Power Administration customers are tired of paying $36-plus per megawatt hour for the same energy BPA sells as surplus on the spot market to California for $25 or less.
BPA’s days as a cash cow are numbered. Subsidy programs and high cost surplus assets must go.
Fish numbers are down, but it’s the shippers and energy consumers that are killing the dams. Unit trains now eat the barge system’s lunch while sub-$20 solar power with battery backup is leaving $40-plus lower Snake River dam power in the dust.
In management-speak: It is time to restructure the lower Snake River. It is time to trade the barge system for unit train terminals for the benefit of the remaining river shippers before they are left high and dry like the last of the container shippers.
And, it is time to quit pretending BPA customers will continue subsidizing power no one wants. Finally, it is time to get out of the way of fishing and recreation industries yearning to grow.
Fears for our souls
For once, I can agree with Eugene Robinson. In his May 30 Lewiston Tribune column, Robinson stated that “we’ll have to account for what we did, or failed to do, to fight for our nation’s soul.”
I agree that our nation’s soul is at stake. Whereas Robinson sees it in regard to “the Trump era,” I believe it goes much deeper than that. I fear for our nation’s soul when one of our two major political parties completely eliminates God from its party platform.
I fear for our nation’s soul when 44 U.S. senators will not support a bill to protect babies born as a result of a failed abortion, all but legitimizing infanticide.
I fear for our nation’s soul when “up to the time of birth” abortions are not only legalized, but celebrated by the lighting up of buildings in New York City.
I fear for our nation’s soul as our freedom of speech rights are eroding. The left claims to embrace diversity (which should include a diversity of opinion), but now we see social media sites shutting down and blocking right wing views.
The Trump era will end in either 19 or 67 months, but our nation may well lose our soul over time if we continue to accept these extreme values.
No more babysitting
Education, it matters. However, as in most areas, there is a plethora of ideas on how to achieve it. It is possible that investing more money is not the answer.
Much as people might like the idea of preschool and kindergarten, there is nothing to indicate it is the best way to achieve success. It generally levels out by about third grade. So maybe, consider something else.
Perhaps school is boring. Perhaps we should relieve the children of starting too early by getting rid of pre-K and kindergarten. Most children should still be outside playing at that age, figuring out how things work in the world around them. That is where they develop common sense, learn about gravity, etc.
Then, when the child is 7 or 8, he will be ready to settle down to learn. School will still be interesting. Reading and math will be seen as useful. Being able to read and write opens the doors to history, science, health, citizenship, etc.
Given a good course of study, the student, being held to the level of accountability and responsibility he is able to attain, will be well prepared to begin high school-level courses in about four years. Another four years of study should have her well prepared for taking on the challenges of a job, trade school or college.
We very much underestimate our children and teachers and overestimate the difficulty of education. Enough of babysitting, wasted time and money.
Onward with education.