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Please, Bernie, Please!; Meat and Coal: Both Should Go; Support Debt Relief for Students!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Please, Bernie, Please!

Regarding Bernie Sanders’ presidential aspirations: I would campaign for, contribute to, and enthusiatically support a “Sanders for President” Democratic Primary campaign in a “Vermont Minute!”

 

If you would like to see Bernie reject the Democratic Party in his 2016 campaign for president in favor of a truly leftist-progressive coalition, you can ask him to seek the Green nomination. Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for a reason. Obama is president for a reason. Kerry is Secretary of State for a reason. The character of the Democratic Party is not pretty, and it cannot be reformed by Senator Sanders from inside.

What happens if Sanders loses the Democratic primary to Clinton? Whom will he endorse if not Clinton? When Sanders endorses Clinton, whom in turn will all of his millions of good supporters and the good people like Tim Carpenter at PDA [Progressive Democrats of America] and John Nichols at The Nation support if not Clinton? That is not a model for progress. Progress means creating something new to challenge that model. Tell Bernie Sanders it’s time to create something new.

 

Meat and Coal: Both Should Go

I am delighted that EPA has finally moved to abate the disastrous impacts of climate change by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But, given the adverse reaction from the coal industry, the agency should have issued parallel regulations on emissions from meat industry operations. Each state could then determine its own optimal strategy for curbing greenhouse gases.

A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat production accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that the contribution may be closer to 50 percent. The meat industry generates carbon dioxide by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport and slaughter animals. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

In the meantime, each of us can reduce the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of plant-based lunch “meats,” hot dogs, veggie burgers and dairy product alternatives, as well as an ample selection of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes and transition tips are readily available online.

 

Support Debt Relief for Students!

For every three students who walked off the stage with a college diploma last month, two will enter the next phase of their lives with crushing student debt.

In my state, the average student borrower owes over $25,000—and you can count my wife and me among those still paying back student loans. But my family will be fine; we are lucky to be in a position where we can make good on our commitments. Unfortunately, the majority of students still paying the cost of college come from low-income families. This issue is a crisis that holds people back from starting families and buying homes while stifling productivity, innovation and entrepreneurship by keeping people in jobs that they might not want, but that pay the bills.

Thankfully, the U.S. Senate is voting on a bill next week that will ease the burden on individuals held back by student loans. It’s called the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, and I’m a proud co-sponsor. Big banks are able to borrow money from the government at a discounted rate of 1 percent, yet some students who borrowed money are paying anywhere from 5 to 10 percent interest on loans they used to receive an education. This legislation will provide more opportunity for the millions of young Americans searching to make a way for themselves in the world.

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