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Forum, Sept. 5: Trump’s attack on the Endangered Species Act

Published: 9/4/2019 10:00:14 PM
Modified: 9/4/2019 10:00:06 PM
Trump’s attack on the Endangered Species Act

The Trump administration’s recent changes to the Endangered Species Act are another example of this administration’s core value: corporate power and profit at the expense of ordinary Americans, current and future.

The Endangered Species Act was passed with broad bipartisan support in 1973, signed into law by Republican President Richard Nixon, and is credited with saving 99% of the listed species from extinction, including the bald eagle. The act has been successful because it is grounded in the “best available science.”

The new rules, however, allow officials to calculate the economic impacts of protecting a species, thus clearing the way for mining, drilling and other development in critical habitats. These are likely outcomes, since President Donald Trump has already ordered increasing logging in Alaska’s rainforest. This at a time when species diversity is declining faster than any time in human history. The United Nations recently reported that up to 1 million species currently face extinction.

What do the new regulations mean for all of us? Delicate ecosystems will be harmed. The health of species, including the human species, depends on the health of other species.

Extinctions, even the loss of a tiny fish that feeds on mosquito larvae, ripple across our ecosystem. The loss of biodiversity poses a serious risk by reducing nature’s ability to provide goods and services, such as food, clean water and a stable climate.

And it’s clear that the American public strongly supports the Endangered Species Act. A 2015 poll found that 90% of Americans, including 82% of self-described conservatives, support the act. A 2016 poll found that 70% of Americans oppose removing Endangered Species Act protections.

Rather than listening to the overwhelming majority of Americans, the Trump administration is siding with special interest groups that want to remove all regulations that interfere with their greedy pursuit of wealth and power. It’s shameful and must be opposed.

Go to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s website ( to see how you can help.



There’s a cognitive dissonance in our political discourse

In his Forum letter of Aug. 30 (“The good economy didn’t start with Trump”), Michael Hillinger seeks to correct the impression voiced by John Nelson in his letter, published on Aug. 21, (“The good times have been rolling since 2016”), pointing out that the current U.S. economic expansion began in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and dates from June 2009, at which time Barack Obama was president.

In fact, not only did the current “good economy” not start with President Donald Trump, it’s actually not a good economy for most Americans. It is, however, a primary source of the cognitive dissonance that characterizes our current political discourse.

Here’s Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz in an April New York Times op-ed: “Despite the lowest unemployment rates since the late 1960s, the American economy is failing its citizens. Some 90 percent have seen their incomes stagnate or decline in the past 30 years. This is not surprising, given that the United States has the highest level of inequality among the advanced countries and one of the lowest levels of opportunity — with the fortunes of young Americans more dependent on the income and education of their parents than elsewhere.”

In addition to winning the Nobel Prize in Economics, Stiglitz is a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist at the World Bank — not a cable TV news host. His voluminous research on economics is supported by peer-reviewed data, as opposed to cable TV ratings, which are supported by a cycle of fear-mongering, false claims, distraction and denial.

The current state of economic inequality in the U.S. has deep roots and many causes. One major political party behaves as though it’s trying to deny the truth, and one is trying to communicate about it. Both want to be in power. Neither can significantly improve the situation on its own.



Why not prescribe illegal drugs?

It is sad that, despite more 70,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, so little is mentioned as to how we will deal with this astonishing number of mostly young people dying.

Given that we cannot keep illegal drugs off the streets, and that making criminals of people with addiction (who are doing what cigarette smokers and alcoholics do legally) does not work, why not prescribe the illegal drugs to those who, like cigarette smokers, cannot quit their addiction?

We provide methadone and Suboxone to help treat opioid addiction. But both these so-called therapeutic drugs are also addictive. Along with methadone and Suboxone, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada provide safe injection sites to use heroin or other opioids. In the U.S., we are also entertaining safe injection sites to help prevent overdosing.

Safe injection sites are good, but they do nothing to stave off the criminal activity some engage in to support their addiction.

We should prescribe the needed illicit drug to those who have tried but cannot kick their addiction. This will help reduce crime and protect potential victims.

A person’s mental state — whether the result of nature, nurture or both — is the reason for addiction. And while mental health care is practiced everywhere, drug addiction is hidden most everywhere.

We need to treat addiction as an illness, openly and with whatever works. There is nothing wrong with providing happiness to those who cannot naturally produce it. Musician and composer Ray Charles was addicted to heroin for much of his successful career.

Until we find the means or the will to keep illegal drugs off the streets, give them to those who are addicted. It will save many, many lives, and cost little.



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