Forum, March 17: College Spending Priorities

Thursday, March 16, 2017
College Spending Priorities

Pretend for a moment that you are the chief budget officer for Colby-Sawyer College, preparing the 2016-17 annual budget. One proposal calls for eliminating the departments of English and philosophy (both subjects will continue to be taught).

A second proposal, for the athletic department, includes a several-day trip by the baseball team to Florida.

While this example is not financially comparable, it reminds me of what the late president of Yale, Bart Giamatti, said about “the demands of athletic pursuits ... There must be at Yale ... proportion in how the institution shapes itself ... Athletics is essential, but not primary. It contributes to the point, but it is not the point itself.”

As the rate of college tuition increases continues seemingly unabated, and college debt and deficits also rise, might we ask whether some greater effort at “proportion” could be expected when balancing priorities among all the “worthy” programs available?

Walter Reeves


A Little Global Warming Is Fine

Regarding the editorial of March 13 from The Washington Post, “Climate of Denial,” in which it is claimed that “The notion that greenhouse gas emissions play a leading role in global warming is not questionable.” First, let me say that all notions are inherently questionable and, if they are anything to do with science, then that goes double. Otherwise it’s not science.

“Deniers” do not deny that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to higher temperatures. What is denied is that the effect is necessarily catastrophic. That’s why the vast majority of people just don’t care much about global warming. Why worry if, in a hundred years from now, the climate of Hanover resembles the climate of Springfield, Mass.? Who cares?

We will welcome the additional warmth, as will the plants, which not only will benefit from the warmer nighttime temperatures — leading to a longer growing season — but will benefit tremendously from the increased CO2 level and its wonderful action as a fertilizer, (already the planet is greening). What’s not to like?

So who needs scads of scientists, whom I believe have already been convicted of fiddling with the data, to continue further fiddling and spending huge sums of money on worthless studies that will, by “peer” (read “crony”) review, undoubtedly exclude anything that does not support this so-called consensus?

And that’s why EPA chief Scott Pruitt scares the pants off them: It looks like the gravy train is about to come off the rails. That’s what this editorial is all about. And before my friends at the Sierra Club feel the need to jump into the breach to counteract this small intrusion of reality — just relax, guys, President Trump and Scott Pruitt are your meal ticket for the next eight years: piles of money pouring in from outraged members and big raises for the directors.

James Barrie Sellers


The ‘Big Deal’ About Carbon

In the March 14 Valley News Forum, “Don’t Blame Carbon Dioxide,” John Yocom writes that he can’t understand the “inclusion of CO2, a benign, life-giving gas, to the lists of pollutants that can kill us.”

Yes, CO2 is vital to life. Plants depend on it for photosynthesis, it exists in all living things, and when decay or burning occurs it is released into the atmosphere. Before the Industrial Age, there was a natural balance of gases. Now the problem is the excess of CO2 caused by burning fossil fuel. Cars and stacks spew out tons of carbon daily. Earth’s ability to counter this is overwhelmed.

So, it isn’t going to outright “kill us,” but it will destroy the world we depend on through acidification of the oceans and atmospheric warming.

The Plainfield and Cornish Energy Committees will be hosting a forum on carbon, “What’s the Big Deal About Carbon?” on March 22 at the Plainfield Elementary School.

Nancy Wightman


Happy to Be Back in the Upper Valley

The Valley News changed my life back in August 1995 with a feature article on my return from my operatic debut in Rome.

After this article by Nicola Smith, I never had to moonlight again in retail and had several requests to teach voice thereafter. I have made my career these past few decades as both a professional singer as well as a vocal coach throughout the state of New Hampshire. While I now reside and teach mostly in Concord, I returned last summer to the Upper Valley Music Center as a part-time faculty member. I am not only excited to be back in the beloved Upper Valley, but I also have the pleasure of performing Sunday with gifted faculty at the UVMC’s faculty showcase at 4 p.m. in Lebanon. It will be the first time I have performed in the Upper Valley since appearing in 2001 as the Mother Abbess with Northern Stage in The Sound of Music, and right across the street from my old haunts at the Lebanon Opera House with Opera North.

Thank you once again, Valley News, for featuring artists such as myself; it certainly changed my life’s journey — happily so!

Ellen Nordstrom


School Choice for the Less Affluent

On the subject of school choice (“School Choice/Bad Choice: Vouchers Will Hurt Much More Than They Help,” March 5), wealthy parents have the choice to send their children to private schools such as the one attended by Barron Trump. And private school administrators like Steve Nelson have power to choose who will receive scholarships to attend exclusive academies like the Calhoun School which he heads. Yet Nelson would deny vouchers to less-affluent parents and take away their own choice as to which school is better for their children.

In the same op-ed article, Nelson objects to his tax dollars being used to advance religion. He sounds like pro-life advocates who object to their tax dollars being used fungibly to subsidize abortion. Perhaps the irony here is not surprising. In a different Perspectives columns (Feb. 19), Nelson complained about, in his words, a “gratuitous, dishonest media” at a time when another famous personage was complaining about the same thing.

Tim Dreisbach

South Royalton

Balanced Reporting Needed

The first step in promoting socialism/communism is the media and its followers slanting and twisting in reporting. There is no truth left unbiased or respected.

Without a truly free and unbiased media, we will end up with no information for the public. We need balance.

Let’s hope our Valley News keeps an unbiased outlook. Or is that too much to ask?

Charlotte Broughton


Thanks, Chelsea Voters

I would like to thank Chelsea taxpayers for their support and integrity for voting to ask the Selectboard to spend no more money on an attorney and to reconsider the venal opinion ending Densmore Road a few feet before my right-of-way and mailbox.

Jay Ratico


Where Is Our Moral Compass?

Drought and famine threaten millions, not just thousands, of children and families in East Africa. Yet no U.S. government entity — not the State Department, not the Agriculture or Commerce departments, not our U.N. delegation, and certainly not President Trump, have said one word about this looming world disaster.

How can the richest nation in the world stomach such a massive failure of moral conscience? To those who say “We can’t afford it,” I say buy one less Navy ship, one less stealth bomber, one less nuclear missile and lead the charge to address this calamity. Even if it means “sending in the Marines!”

Where is this country’s moral compass after all?

Richard Neugass


Support Community Mental Health

This is from written testimony I submitted to the New Hampshire House Budget Committee hearing:

I have worked in the behavioral health field at two community mental health centers for 16 years, West Central Behavioral Health and currently at Monadnock Family Services. I feel it is important that you understand the scope of services that we provide: psychiatry, therapy (including dialectical behavior therapy and addiction therapy), case management, functional support services, nursing, emergency services, assertive community treatment, supported employment, a nutrition and exercise program, a program to address homelessness and a 10-bed community residence.

We know how to provide a holistic approach to individuals with mental illness. So what is the problem?

We all know that there are not enough behavioral health unit hospital beds available to individuals in crisis, leaving them in emergency rooms for days. This is of major concern and needs to be addressed and funded.

Medicaid coverage and reimbursement is an area of concern. Each year Monadnock Family Services gives away over $600,000 in free services to eligible consumers. Medicaid is about 75 percent of our revenue. Not only is the Medicaid reimbursement rate inadequate, New Hampshire’s expanded Medicaid does not cover all services.

Staff turnover is a major concern, and costly. As a result of large caseloads and low pay, we experience at least a 30 percent turnover rate.

We know what to do, how to do it and are good at it. Please help us stay open by adequately funding community mental health centers.

Pat Kinne


The AD Church Helps Families

I would like to share with you an outreach to the families of the Upper Valley region. There are many families who have been given the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementias in our neighborhoods. Before their family was struck by this awful disability, they were well connected to a spiritual community at their local church. Now because of the symptoms that go along with the disease, these folks and their caregivers find themselves isolated in their homes with no real fellowship or community worship.

We’re changing that. We are creating a church designed specifically for the families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. We are calling it the AD Church. We meet the first Sunday of each month at the Greater Hartford United Church of Christ on Route 14 in Hartford village. For more information call 802-280-1910 or email mbyers@terracecommunities.com

Mick Byers

White River Junction