let’s get unbalanced

          It is that stalwart of American Democracy, John Stuart Mill whom we should be thinking about today, don’t you think? I mean, he was the guy who said that only if votes were public could people be trusted to vote for the public good over their own interest. And it is today that an expected record number of Americans are casting their secret ballots; presumably for their own good- and why not?-  since we are all a long way removed from the great JSM’s understanding. Who doesn’t look after their own good – oh, I mean besides people from Kansas. And Jesuits. Oh, and of course, the visionaries of democracy like JSM, who never, not even once, succumbed to a sound bite. And that just might be why he argued that free speech is necessary for intellectual and social progress.  We can never be sure, he contends, if a silenced opinion has some Continue reading

Dear Senator Tropilla


Senator Mitch Tropilla

Montana Senate
PO Box 200500
Helena, MT 59620-0500

22 Dec 2007

Dear Senator Tropilla,

          I’m writing to alert you to an opportunity for the State of Montana to step to the forefront in fostering innovation in energy efficiency. Montanans have a brilliant and storied history of taking the initiative in proactive policies, from granting women the right to vote, to empowering labor unions and re-envisioning the scope of government in the 1972 State Constitution. We can carry the tradition of forward-thinking self-reliance and independence on by striking out ahead of the federal government in promoting creative new approaches to energy conservation. Continue reading

Well, I’m sunk.

          Well, I’m really sunk now. See you all in bankruptcy court. As it turns out, Fannie Mae won’t make mortgages on underground homes. Not even earth berm homes. Who knew? Of course I should have guessed, since an energy-efficient home saves the owner money, affording the borrower more money to pay the lender, so who would want to condone that? And who wants to reward the American public for building energy-efficient buildings by guaranteeing their loans through a federally-backed mortgage guarantee program? Not Uncle Sam. And what sort of bank or credit union thinks about the risks they take when making loans – beyond the risks described by Fannie Mae? None.

          Just  never let them  hear the words “earth berm” or Continue reading