“Government is too big and important
to be left to the politicians.”
— Chester Bowles, 20th-century American business leader and
“People often say that, in a democracy,
decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true.
Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who
vote — a very different thing.”
— Walter H. Judd, 20th-century American missionary, Congressman,
editor and radio commentator.
“Every government degenerates when trusted to
the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its
only safe depositories.”
— Thomas Jefferson, Virginian, 3rd U.S. President, statesman,
philosopher, inventor, architect and founder of The University of Virginia.
“Of the many things we have done to democracy
in the past, the worst has been the indignity of taking it for granted.”
— Max Lerner, 20th-century American author and newspaper columnist.
The late, great Mr. Lerner can continue to
rest easy — Cooperative Living’s readers decidedly did not take democracy —
or the value of their views on a critically important issue before Congress
— for granted! As soon as our August issue began arriving in mailboxes, with
its admonitions to contact Virginia U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner
about climate change/energy issues, many of you picked up the phone to make
your voices heard.
In the first part of August, about
3,000 calls were made to the toll-free number, 1-877-40BALANCE. Callers to
this number — which is still active and available — hear a recorded message
that provides information on the climate change/energy bill passed by the
House of Representatives in late June. Callers are then given the option to
be connected to the office of either Senator Jim Webb or Senator Mark
Warner. About 2,000 electric cooperative folks ended up speaking with the
senators’ offices during this time, sharing their concerns about the bill
passed by the House, and expressing their desire for the senators to keep
affordability in mind as the Senate addresses climate change. As you read
this, the Senate is likely underway in crafting its own climate
change/energy bill, and we need to do everything possible to ensure that the
Senate bill — unlike the House bill — finds a balanced solution to
And “Find a Balanced Solution” is precisely the name of
the campaign that Virginia’s electric cooperatives are promoting to
encourage you to let Senators Webb and Warner know that the Senate simply
MUST balance the need to address environmental concerns with the equally
important need to keep electricity affordable for American families.
If you haven’t already done so, please call the toll-free
number, 1-877-40BALANCE, and let Senators Webb and Warner know your views on
the climate change/energy bill that the Senate will be developing, and
perhaps voting on, this fall. If the Senate does pass a bill this fall, it
must be reconciled with the House version passed in late June, and then the
bill agreed upon by both Houses would be sent to the president for his
signature. So, right now, before the Senate votes on its version, it is
critically important that you add your voice to the loud chorus of voices
that have already been heard. Every day, new cooperative callers are forming
a steady stream of ongoing contacts to our two Senators, and your electric
cooperative encourages you to add your voice to this powerful mix.
And as you make your voice heard, please remember that
electric cooperatives, as not-for-profit, customer-owned businesses, are and
always have been deeply committed to protecting the environment. Our
employees and board members live and work alongside you in the communities
we serve. Environmental stewardship has been a watchword for cooperatives
since our founding in the 1930s.
But electricity MUST be kept affordable for average folks.
If Congress makes the wrong choices as it develops a climate change/energy
bill, then the nation’s economy, your pocketbook and indeed our collective
future as Americans, will be hampered, harmed and hammered. We need to
maintain an environmentally responsible electricity supply as an available,
affordable and reliable part of our lives.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the House bill that
passed in June is that no one really knows how much that bill would increase
electricity costs for average Americans, only that it would do so. Credible
experts are predicting increases that range from negligible to nightmarish.
Which precisely makes our point that Congress MUST make the right decisions
for our economy AND our environment.
Congress can afford to do no less. And Americans — after
undergoing the worst economic downturn in decades — should not be forced to
pay more than is absolutely necessary for a product that positively impacts
every aspect of their lives.