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Presidential aspirations and sunshine on a cloudy day

Letter from Slim Wolfe

Politics – March 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine


I enjoyed Lynda LaRocca’s story about woodstove cooking. The intrepid chef can manage stovetop items on most any flat-topped range, potatoes can be steam-baked in a lidded casserole in a half-inch of water, or use a dutch oven. If I had my druthers — for baking — I’d rather use a Canadian farm-kitchen range with a self-stoking gravity-feed wood chamber large enough to handle four or five big chunks of wood, since the typically small fireboxes on the stoves we see around here need frequent attention, especially to keep the oven heat up. Seems a shame that so many stoves were made with that built-in inconvenience.

I was somewhat less excited about the geothermal prospectus in February’s issue, not to quibble with Allen Best or his journalistic abilities, but this looks like just one more opportunity for big boys who like to muck around in the dirt with their big toys, and one more extractive industry to excite the Wall Street speculators. If the industry gets as big as the oil industry, who’s to say we won’t exhaust that too? The earth is finite, never mind that human wants are not, and the more and deeper we poke around down there and the more glycol we bury, the more risks we incur.

I’d rather see human ingenuity applied to living modestly, and to devising less consumptive ways of manufacturing PV panels. On a cloudy winter day my 500 watts of photovoltaics give me enough power to pump my daily 25 gallons of water from the well, buck logs into several days worth of firewood, and run incidentals like radio, lights and small tools. On a sunny day that same system (which is half or a quarter of what I see on many new homes) will also run the woodshop, do laundry, or water the garden. It won’t heat my house, true, but just plain sunlight can help out there. And a system like mine has no moving parts or pressurized components and can use the latest spill-proof gel batteries. No holes in the earth’s crust, no geysers of steam or magma surprises to toast the digging crew (which almost happened in Iceland), no power poles to blow down and no utility to deal with — unless you want to trade kilowatts with your local provider. As for the relative cost for the long term — we all know those figures ain’t written in stone. Though in all fairness, Icelanders seem happy with national geothermal, according to some reports.

As your next President, here are some of the changes I promise to make in my first hundred eons:

1) Abolish the stock market. Investing is fine, but dividends are all you get, bud. Speculation is out.

2) Abolish foreign policy. It’s been a quagmire for over a century.

3) Interdict all economists and political soothsayers. These public health menaces must be outlawed.

4) Election reform: uniform primaries, all on the same day and by the same rules: the winner determined a) by popular vote or b) by who raises the largest campaign chest which can then be donated to the cause of public education. No more delegates and no more electoral college.

5) More election reform: rigid enforcement of equal media time for all candidates regardless of affiliation, fame, opinion, or finances. In their words, thank you, not paraphrased and summarized and edited by network hacks.

6) A new national holiday, H.L. Mencken Day, after the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Cynical Pronouncements. Children will learn to recite or paraphrase such Menckenisms as “Democracy is like laughing gas, it doesn’t cure anything but it eases the pain. Or “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last: a downright moron in the White House.”

7) A constitutional amendment prohibiting the annexation of a 52nd state, such as Iraq.

8) A constitutional amendment prohibiting garbage. You buy it, it’s yours. Subsidized programs teaching the public how to make porridge out of busted-out sheetrock and chicken coops out of unwanted plastic space-warrior toys.

9) Mandatory vasectomies for all males at puberty, reversible upon successfully demonstrating suitability for parenthood to the Department of Population.

10) Universal Service and Health Care: All medically fit persons shall perform one year of non-military service starting at age 17 and one month each year thereafter up to age 60. Service will consist of some form of coolie labor — cleaning acequias, building schools and hospitals, pushing wheeled racks of dresses through the congested garment district of Manhattan, et cetera — with the thought to maintaining health, stamina, muscle tone, and circulation, as well as healthy attitudes towards labor and laboring classes. In exchange for service, all will be provided with complete and free health care and continuing education.

11) A new national anthem: “Growth isn’t everything, baby, and sometimes it’s worse than nothing.”

Slim Wolfe

Villa Grove

Wolfe writes from Greater Metropolitan Moffat and has progressed from an electric typewriter to an oh-so-quiet manual.