Views from elsewhere in Tennessee
Posted: Friday, October 24, 2008 9:22 pm
The following is a roundup of recent editorials from Tennessee members of The Associated Press. In some cases, the editorials have been edited for length. They do not reflect an editorial position of the AP but represent the opinions of the newspapers from which they are taken.
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis; Oct. 21
They’re much too polite to say “I told you so,” but the message that energy conservation advocates have been delivering for years is getting the attention it deserves.
Never before has the nation’s political and business leadership exhibited this level of concern about energy consumption. Never before has an awareness of the finite nature of the world’s resources been quite as keen.
A combination of energy pricing, environmental and economic factors and, in Tennessee, extraordinarily high per capita electricity use has lifted conservation from the back burner of the national agenda to a mainstream obsession.
It’s simply becoming too costly to try to produce more power. Utilities are telling their customers that taking their medicine now, as distasteful as it might be, will help create a more economically vibrant and more sustainable future.
In Memphis, the message can be seen in unprecedented initiatives by Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
At MLGW, a $45 million proposal to have 90,000 inefficient window air conditioning units replaced is in the works.
At the TVA, where a 20-percent rate increase went into effect this month, plans have been made to shave 1,400 megawatts from the projected growth in demand by 2012.
Both utilities are emphasizing public education, a move reminiscent of the 1980s.
But they aren’t stopping there. MLGW president and CEO Jerry Collins is calling for a new requirement for rental units to meet certain energy-efficiency standards.
MLGW also is continuing its push to persuade new home builders to adopt a voluntary set of efficiency standards. TVA is conducting free walkthrough audits to help businesses reduce their energy demands.
The measures being taken by utilities are necessary and instructive. Tennesseans can combat the economic pressures bearing down on them and do the country a favor at the same time with a more conservative approach to energy consumption, from using the right kind of light bulbs to vigilant thermostat control. …
Success is within reach if the energy inefficiencies in substandard housing are fixed and the wasteful habits of an affluent society are changed.
We’ve heard these things for years, and they’re still true.
On the Net: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/oct/21/editorial-taking-action-on- energy/
a 7.4 percent hike was approved in 1982. Retirees got a 2.3 percent increase at the start of this year.
The typical retiree’s monthly check will go from $1,090 to $1,153. That’s still pretty meager, especially in a climate of rising prices for food, rent and other goods. Gasoline prices have dropped in recent weeks, but could jump with the fickle price of oil.
The increase is a nice bump, but the funds are likely already spoken for — in higher home heating costs or higher grocery bills. And like all of us, retirees have watched as their retirement savings have been battered and drained by the largest drops on Wall Street in 70 years.
Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have argued over Social Security during the presidential campaign, but neither has given a clear plan to fix the government’s largest entitlement program. It is facing impossible strains with the upcoming retirement of 78 million baby boomers.
The Social Security trust fund is projected to deplete its reserves in 2041 and will pay out more than it collects in benefits starting in 2017. That’s only nine years away.
While anyone receiving benefits is pleased to see an increase, it is small and will be absorbed quickly. The growing nightmare is looming in less than 10 years. How can this system be sustained when payouts exceed collections?
It’s a bitter pill, but somehow the system must be cut. There are some people who rely on these benefits for their very survival. Others could easily do without them. Our next president must tackle this prickly, painful issue, before it sinks us even deeper into debt.
On the Net: http://www.tricities.com/tri/news/opinion/editorials/article/small—b oost—nic e—crisis—still—looms/15205/
The Knoxville News-Sentinel; Oct. 21
Here’s sort of good news: You and the Federal Reserve Board don’t have to worry about inflation for the time being.
After dropping 0.1 percent in August, the Consumer Price Index, the most popular measure of inflation, was flat in September. As recently as June, the Fed was worried about inflation when the CPI spiked 1.1 percent in one month.
The annualized inflation rate is still running at an uncomfortable rate of 4.5 percent, but for a variety of reasons, not all of them good, that rate seems likely to abate. The biggest reason for the falloff is energy.
Oil is down 50 percent since July; thus, energy fell 1.9 percent in September, after a steep decline of 3.1 percent in August. Natural gas and electricity fell 3.2 percent, a record for one month.
Another reason is that people have less money. Weekly wages fell for the 12th straight month, down 2.5 percent from September a year ago. Still another reason is that a lot of workers don’t have jobs.
Jobless claims fell 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 461,000, not as bad as the 475,000 forecast but nonetheless still at levels considered recessionary.
And on Monday came news people are getting more anxious about the slumping economy and how it affects them.
The share of people who believe the country is moving in the right direction has plunged in just a few weeks, from 28 percent in September to 15 percent in October, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo! News poll.
It’s one of those good-news, bad-news things.
The boat may be taking on water, but at least it’s not on fire.
On the Net: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/oct/21/inflation-nothing-recession -wont-fi x/