January 2, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Wind power critic overlooks facts

I strongly disagree with the letter

"Wind power blight ruins search for peace in Maine"
click image to enlarge

Wind turbines like this one in Freedom help in “preserving Maine’s beauty while filling its energy needs,” a reader says.

2009 File Photo/John Patriquin

(Dec. 11).

Like its writer, I'm native to Maine. I've lived my entire 16 years here. However, I disagree that wind turbines have a negative effect on Maine. Unlike oil or coal, wind power is a clean, renewable energy source.

The letter expressed concerns that wind turbines disturb the land. Compared to Maine's primary energy sources, wind turbines are much less disruptive. They simply sit, harnessing new energy, without smoke or smog. Oil companies continuously drill in new locations to obtain oil.

The letter claimed that wind turbines put Maine's birds in danger. Estimated bird deaths by wind turbines are 0.01 to 0.02 percent per year; about 7,000 birds. Cats, vehicles and tall buildings are far greater threats to birds. Many conservation groups support wind power, such as Birdlife and the World Wildlife Fund.

Comparing that number to bird deaths caused by oil spills, the Center for Biological Diversity estimated about 82,000 birds were killed in the BP spill of 2010. (Also killed were 6,000 sea turtles, 26,000 dolphins and whales, and innumerable fish and invertebrates. Pollution from the spill will affect Gulf wildlife for decades.)

The letter states that "turbines produce very little useful electricity." My class visited the Beaver Ridge wind farm in Freedom, Maine, while I was a student at King Middle School. The three turbines there produce about 12,500,000 kilowatt-hours of emission-free electricity each year -- enough to power 2,000 homes.

At King, we created our own working wind turbines. The experience made me appreciate wind turbines, so it angers me to hear them called "useless towers." Wind turbines belong in Maine. I know they can provide our state with clean, renewable energy, preserving Maine's beauty while filling its energy needs.

Daisy Braun

Peaks Island


Economic education would erode anti-capitalist views


Economic illiteracy is destroying our republic and our free-market capitalism, which has given us the greatest good for the greatest number the world has ever known.

We don't teach economics in the public schools, and precious few study economics at the university level. It's required only of those who major in economics. This represents an opportunity for the populist demagogues in the Obama administration.

They use the "rich" as scapegoats to divert attention from their destructive economic policies. They want you to resent and punish success; to demand that the rewards for success be confiscated by government; to believe that the books can be balanced "by soaking the rich." Those who have studied economics know this fraud has been perpetrated by governments throughout history.

History shows that when marginal rates go up, tax collections go down, less money goes into investment and more money goes into tax-avoidance schemes; risk takers buy tax-free government bonds; global capital takes flight, and capital is drawn to enterprises with subsidies, grants and tax credits like wind power. (Remember Solyndra.)

Jobs are created when an entrepreneur identifies a consumer need. There follows a marriage of capital and labor and "voila!" jobs are created. But if there is no capital -- no marriage.

Capital is money available for investment after personal consumption is satisfied. No surplus equals no capital. By all accounts, the late Steve Jobs was not a pleasant guy. But I'm glad he found investors for Apple, which created wealth and jobs for all of us.

The basic question is: Who should control the means of production? Should we give it to the government to waste and misallocate, or leave it with the competitive, creative genius of the American people? Sounds like a "no-brainer" to me. But, then, I majored in economics.

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