I’m a huge believer in land conservation. I believe one of the best ways to protect our environment is to take wide swaths of land permanently out of circulation. I was delighted to read an article Amy forwarded me from the New York Times today titled Deal Is Struck in Montana to Preserve Forest Areas.
The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land have put together a deal to pay $510 million to buy about 500 square miles of forest currently owned by Plum Creek Timber. Half of the money will come from private donations; the other half will come from a new tax-credit bond mechanism that was recently passed. I’m delighted our government is spending – via a tax-credit bond – $250 million on land conservation. I’d like to allocate 50% of my taxes next year to stuff like that.
I’ve been involved directly in some land conservation; we have a conservation easement on all of our land in Eldorado Canyon, I am a trustee for the Colorado Conservation Trust, I’m a huge fan (and beneficiary) of all the Boulder and Boulder County Open Space activity, and I’ve been involved in several very contentious land use issues. The political and economical dynamics of public property rights, land use and development rights, and conservation are incredibly complicated and often extremely polarized.
It’s gets especially messy in areas that are fragmented (or "checkerboarded") like the land in Montana. In these situations, the amount of work to figure out how to get all the land in one contiguous area into an actual deal can be mindboggling. The Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land are pros at this and it looks like they’ve pulled off something amazing this time around that will have long term benefits for a beautiful part of our country.
I don’t write much about politics on this blog. Like father, like son – politicians (and politics) give me a headache. However, I love to pimp my father’s blog and he’s got a great post up today titled John McCain Describes His Health Plan; In Reality A Non Health Plan.
For the past few months, my dad – a retired endocrinologist and now healthcare pundit – has been inspecting, dissecting, and commenting on what the various presidential candidates have been saying about healthcare. He’s got plenty of stuff on Obama, Clinton, and McCain. It’s a compendium of uniformly dismal, sad, and disappointing non-solutions.
While he doesn’t write short posts, if you are interested in original thinking in this area from someone who has a lifetime of experience practicing, thinking about, helping to reform, and experience the healthcare system, you should spend some time with Stan Feld’s Repairing the Healthcare System.
As a special bonus, if you are involved in the Obama campaign and want some tips, I know Stan is game to help.
The Clintons had gross income of $109 million for 2000-2007, newly released tax documents show. President Clinton made $51.8 million speeches over eight years and $29.6 million in book income, while Hillary Clinton made $10.5 million in book income. The Clintons paid $33.8 million in taxes between 2000-2007, or 31% of adjusted gross income, and gave $10.26 million to charity over eight years.
Nice tax bill.
I’ve never really understood the primary process – especially for superdelegates. That shouldn’t be surprising since there are a lot of things about politics that I don’t really understand – like why "one person, one vote" doesn’t actually equate to a democracy (or maybe it does, just not the way we run one around here.)
I just got an email that a friend of mine – Rick Klau (FeedBurner – now at Google) has put up a great site called SuperDelegates.org which keeps track off all the Democratic superdelegate stuff. It’s very cool and based on MediaWiki so you can edit it.
While after reading it I now know more about how superdelegates work and the little cynical part of my brain understands better why they exist.
Katherine McIntyre has a scathing post up describing her experience at the Colorado Democratic primary caucus. I think the caucus, primary process, and superdelegate thing is idiotic, a gigantic waste of economic resources, and about as far from a representative democracy as you can get and still be in a democracy.
All that said, I’m still proud to be an American and love that we have a democratic political process. I just wish it started in August, finished in November, and was "whoever gets the most votes wins."
By the way, when did the word "evangelical" become a noun? I thought it was an adjective?
Amy forwarded another 3QuarksDaily article titled Science Debate 2008, and Krauss on Science and the Presidential Campaign.
Did you know that according to a 2006 National Science Foundation Study, 25% of Americans did not know that the earth goes around the sun? I had to stop and read that twice.
I’m not talking about the age old "evolution vs. creationism" discussion that eventually devolves into a polarizing (and in my mind irrational) religious debate. I’m not talking about global climate change. I’m talking about basic science. How do plants grow? How do planes fly? What’s the difference between ice, water, and steam? What is the relationship between the earth and the sun?
While it’s entertaining to me to consider the notion of having a qualifying science test (say – ninth grade science level) for all voters to be able to vote, I know this isn’t the right path to go down for a variety of reasons. However, maybe we should give this test to all the presidential candidates. Anyone up for a "Leave No President Behind" rule?
Yesterday was a great "very little computer" day that resulted in me reading three books (one great, one 50% great, and one poor that turned into a skimmer.) More on these later.
I read two things in FeedDemon this morning that spun my head around better than the Sunday morning TV political talk shows could.
First was another post from Jared Polis chronicling his trip to Iraq. This was was titled Inside a Private Mercenary Compound in Iraq and is better and more authentic than virtually everything you see in the NY Times about life in Iraq.
The second – from a Boulder entrepreneur that I’ve gotten to know named Jenn Ross – is titled Foreign Entrepreneurs and US Visas. I’m a huge believer that our current Visa system is completely broken and stories like Jenn’s make me crazy. There is no rational reason that someone like Jenn – a Canadian no less – should ever have to think or deal with this stuff.
I love the web. I’d never have the chance to read stuff like this and get stirred up before Amy wakes up if it didn’t exist.
Jared Polis is continuing to blog his trip to Iraq. His post – Arrival in Baghdad – was better than most stuff I see in TV (ok – I’m setting a low bar here.) He also did a live Q&A on Colorado Confidential that included a flamer under the handle “IraqWarVeteran” (created on 11/21/07 – apparently just for the live blogging event.)
I’m proud of my friend Jared for making the trip and being open about his goals. I personally have no interest in going to Baghdad so I’m happy to live vicariously through someone like Jared, especially when I get to reflect about it quietly on Thanksgiving morning.
I was at a meeting with the other two TechStars founders yesterday (David Cohen and David Brown) to discuss some new and exciting things around TechStars 2008. Jared wasn’t there and in a sudden burst of amazing observation skills, I asked “where’s Jared?”
Both David’s chimed in an said “he’s in Iraq.” I had one of those moments where you pause and process the words to try to make meaning of them. Then I remembered that Jared was going to Iraq for Thanksgiving to support the United Way’s efforts to assist in the development of nonprofit and humanitarian organizations. He’s blogging his trip and starts with a thought provoking post titled My Arrival in Amman, Jordan.
Jared is a long time friend (he was one of the first 10 people I got to know when I moved here – thanks Dave for the introduction.) I have huge respect and adoration for Jared and am delighted he’s running for Congress. Amy and I are big supporters and believe Jared is one of the clearest thinking, most principled, and true to his values person currently running for office today. While I don’t agree with 100% of Jared’s positions, I know he’ll always listen, learn, express his point of view, and engage in every discussion.
If you are a voter in Colorado’s 2nd district, I encourage you to get to know Jared. If you are a supporter, please donate to his campaign (any amount is helpful.) And – if you are interested in participating in Thanksgiving in Iraq from the comfort of your home, follow the blog.