As part of my library job, I had to go to an Industry Appreciation Breakfast hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce. Our guest speaker was U.S. Representative Ben Chandler from Kentucky’s 6th District. Chandler is a Blue Dog Democrat. A few (paraphrased) interesting points he made.
About the new state law being considered which would require drug testing of people on government assistance (Yes, you read that right.): Chandler asked the audience in attendance what should be done with people on welfare or government assistance who test positive for drug use. “Should they be taken off government assistance?” “YES!” was the shout from a whole cadre in the crowd of wealthy business owners who probably don’t know anybody on government assistance. Chandler pointed out that even if drug users were taken off government assistance, which wouldn’t be very compassionate or helpful to the local society and economy, the state would still have the burden of paying for them. They would end up needing rehab or hospital treatment, which the state would have to shoulder the cost of. Or, more likely, they’d end up in jail, and the state would have to pay for their incarceration. Their children might become wards of the state, and the state would also have to foot the bill for the handling of property incarcerated addicts own. We’d end up paying MORE than we do now. The solution was more likely to rest in education, training, and job placement opportunities for the impoverished people that the drug trade takes advantage of.
On drilling more in the United States: The U.S. constitutes about 5% of the world’s population and produces about 2% of the world’s energy. However, we USE about 25% of the world’s energy. Drilling more in the U.S. is like putting a patch of gauze on an amputated limb. Even if the U.S. were to approve of every site drillers wanted to exploit in the country, our energy production would only rise to a measly 3%, getting us nowhere. As demand for energy rises in developing countries, who are following our bad example and have a ton more people than we do, the price of fuel will continue to go up even in developed nations. Several things need to happen: More research needs to be done into renewable energy to make it capable of serving a much larger population than it can serve at the moment. We need to start producing more products at home instead of shipping things all over the place. And we need to start cutting back on our own energy gluttony.
I don’t believe it, guys. He actually made sense. He had good ideas. I didn’t get a chance to ask him about fracking, but I think I may send a letter now as a follow-up from the meeting in addition to my “Libraries Matter” message.
Also, my favorite cupcake bakery business won an award at the meeting! Yay!!!