Letters to the editor

U.S. should adopt GNH, not GDP

In nearly every photo I see of President Trump, he either looks grumpy or angry. Not exactly radiating happiness. Maybe this reflects on why the U.S. no longer ranks as one of the world’s greatest places to experience happiness. According to an article on happiness in the November issue of National Geographic, the U.S. is far down in rankings with other countries in North and South America and Europe. The World Happiness Report 2017 says “The U.S.A. is a story of reduced happiness.”

If President Trump really wants to change things, he should work on adopting for the U.S. a broader measure of national well-being than the current monetary standard of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Maybe he should be our champion for Gross National Happiness (GNH), which is what they use in Bhutan. The concept of GNH originated in Bhutan when, in 1972, the benevolent King declared “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The seed was planted and the concept has grown to where the current King, his son, not only practices it but has advanced it to well defined metrics and surveys. A couple of years ago I visited Bhutan for three weeks to experience its magnificent wildlife, scenery and culture. I asked questions to see if GNH was merely a metaphor or a reality. I was convinced that it is what they believe and practice.

But, realistically, it might be a lot harder for the U.S. to adopt GNH than Bhutan. Bhutan is a small, isolated Buddhist country in the Himalaya’s (between India and China) that is culturally homogeneous. On the other hand, the U.S. is a large, worldly, secular country that has been a cultural melting pot since European’s first settled here. Though diverse, it may not yet have achieved a harmonious cultural amalgam. Nevertheless, GNH could be an improvement over GDP for measuring national and regional well-being.

A serious deficiency that President Trump might have in being a leader for GNH is his lack of altruism. Some consider altruism as an advanced evolutionary state that distinguishes human beings from other beings; it’s essentially genetic. But with Trump, his altruism gene seems to be either recessive or missing. His photos show he would be better named as Grump instead of Trump. We need to consider that. As obsessive as he is about ratings, I think “the Donald” would be pleased in knowing that his name is now higher by some measure; G comes before T alphabetically. Whatever works if it makes he and we happy. Like the photographer says; “smile.”

George Matz

Fritz Creek

Big thanks for SPARC support

To everyone who brought SPARC to life, I want to say thank you. It ‘s been an amazing community effort. A small group of residents raised more than $800,000 in less than a year, and 100 volunteers invested more than a quarter million dollars in donated time to hammer and bolt the SPARC together. Everyone in Homer should be proud of this community.

SPARC’s success was fueled, in part, by the Homer City Council providing $189,000 in matching funds. The Council took a risk in this public/private effort, and we managed to leverage the City’s investment spectacularly well, bringing in a multiple of four times that amount in private support. During the Council’s deliberation, SPARC members and especially me, made it clear that we would not be seeking operational money, and that we were committed to making SPARC self sustaining. We have been open for two months, and we have not yet reached this goal. The break even point, however, is well within sight, certainly within a year. SPARC did not ask for, we will not be requesting, and we will not be needing additional operating funds from the City.

We are operating SPARC as a business that provides opportunities to kids and adults. We do not seek to make a profit, nor will we accept running in the red and asking for a bailout from the City or Kenai Peninsula Borough. We promised that we’d be self sufficient, and our board is committed to serve Homer and the surrounding communities without requesting additional funds. Our success should serve as a model for other groups to dream, organize, and help built an amazing community for all of us.

We hope you will join us at the SPARC. There’s are events for everyone, including toddler playgroups, indoor walking, ultimate Frisbee, open gym, baseball, soccer and more. And there’s more to come, so make it a better winter with a little SPARC.

Daniel Zatz

LaLa Land not Limbo

Re: Legislature’s special session in Limbo?

Really? More like in LaLa Land. About choked on my coffee as I read this frontpage article. Not sure what I was more astounded by. Mr. Seaton’s blatantly absurd comment “as long as there is hope that politicians can become statesmen and challenges can become solutions” probably wins the prize. Mr. Seaton, look in a mirror when you say that. It is abundantly clear to anyone actually paying attention who is at fault for this “mess” in Juneau. It is also very clear the Senate, thank God, is not going to change their minds on an income tax. So, take a couple months off and come back in January after reminding yourself you ran for office as a republican.

Please. Stop wasting our money on this silliness, and get serious about our budget and economy. And stop playing games with the oil companies. Talk about un-statesmen-like behavior. Like any business they need to know what the rules are going to be for the next 10-20 years before they invest anymore in our state. You folks in the legislature have burned them too many times.

The comment about hoping the senate will come back to session to change SB 54 is a possible runner-up. If the house knew there was a problem with the bill they passed and sent to the senate, why did they pass the dang thing to begin with? And why gavel out Friday morning after sending SB 54 to the senate? First, all those members are getting paid $285 a day in per-diem. How about putting in a whole day, at least? That is what a statesman would do. Why not just go into recess until the senate moved on it? And then not gavel back in till after noon on Monday? These house members would not last one day working for me.

Maybe my biggest disappointment was the lack of responsive reporting. Folks will not be able to make good selections next voting cycle if they are not properly informed.

Hide your wallets.

Duane Christensen

E-car article was inaccurate

The article last week about electric vehicles by Ben Boettger contains inaccurate and incomplete information and presents electric cars in a more negative light than is warranted. First of all, EV’s performance on the Peninsula is not “largely speculative” as stated. There are several electric cars operating here, including the ones he mentioned in the article itself, and a handful around Homer that I am aware of.

I have been driving an electric vehicle for the last few years and can tell you that the cost to drive per mile is cheaper than the cost per mile of a typical mid-sized car using gasoline. Even the study referenced in the article showed electric vehicles costing 3.68 cents per mile compared to 7.18 cents for a small sedan, or 10.26 cents for the average of all vehicles in the study https://publicaffairsresources.aaa.biz/YDC/.

Despite citing that source, the article instead said that a gasoline car would cost $1,500 to fuel per year and that an electric vehicle would cost $2,500 to $4,500 to charge, which implies that electric cars are 2-3 times more expensive to drive, which is false. With the cost of electricity here being significantly higher than the national average, it costs me about 8 cents per mile. That is the equivalent to getting about 43 mpg at $3.50 per gallon. Taking into consideration purchase price, repairs and maintenance, insurance, depreciation, etc., the same cited study shows electric cars cost slightly under the yearly cost average of all vehicles in the study from small sedan to pickup truck. The range of electric vehicles can be a consideration, but for around town commuting, they are generally a much better cost per mile option than what was presented in the article. They’re also quiet and really fun to drive!

Dale Banks

Thanks for city, foundation grant

On behalf of Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic (KBFPC) and the R.E.C. Room (a Youth Resource &Enrichment Co-op), I want to thank the City of Homer for its support of area non-profits in 2017. KBFPC received a Homer Foundation – City of Homer grant for $4,335 which provided valuable general operating support. In addition, I thank the Homer Foundation for administering this important program.

City support of non-profits is prudent use of tax payer money; it ensures that safety-net services continue for the most vulnerable in our community and improves the health and well-being of community members across all demographics. Non-profits employ approximately 12% of our workforce (2014 data) and the relatively small financial infusion from the City is key to generating millions in revenues that provide essential services and impact the entire economic sector in the City.

The City of Homer grant leverages resources from other funders while helping us keep our doors open to everyone in our community, regardless of their ability to pay. It’s especially appreciated now, as we experience reductions in federal and state funding. Thanks to this grant and other generous support from our community, we provided quality reproductive health care services – including screenings for breast and cervical cancer, birth control consultation and supplies, infertility and preconception counseling, pregnancy testing, and STD/STI testing and treatment – for approximately 1,000 men and women every year.

Youth in Homer rely on the R.E.C. Room as a safe and welcoming place to meet with friends after school and get connected with other local resources. Over 900 teens to participated in our youth education programs and healthy alternative activities, including school-based, peer-led health education.

Community commitment and support make our work possible. Our thanks, again, to the City of Homer, the Homer Foundation, and all our community partners who support KBFPC to serve as a trusted source of up-to-date, accurate and affordable reproductive health care and education since 1983. Thank you. Yours sincerely,

Mary Lou Kelsey , KBFPC Board President

Thank you to Bowhead Transport, Seattle,

On behalf of Haven House board of directors, staff and clients we thank Bowhead Transport in Seattle for their generous food donation while in port in Homer. Your generosity has filled our freezers and for this we thank you. We are so very lucky to have people in and out of our community to support us and help us carry out our mission. We can’t thank you enough.

Ronnie Leach, Executive Director

South Peninsula Haven House

Family grateful for Rotary Youth Exchange support

Our family would like to thank the Homer Kachemak Bay Rotary Club and Rotary District 5010 for their roles in sending our daughter Cassidy Wylde to Slovakia through the Rotary Long-Term Youth Exchange Program. A special thank you to the Rotarians and former Rotary Youth Exchange students who donated to Cassidy’s exchange simply because Rotary is such a great organization and they knew her experience would be amazing. This show of support definitely bolstered her confidence in preparation for such a long time away from her home and family.

We are especially grateful to friends, family and neighbors who donated to Cassidy’s exchange, both monetarily, and through their good will, kindness and support while she readied for departure and while she is away. Many thanks to you all; we love this community.

Cassidy is truly enjoying her exchange in Slovakia learning both Slovak and Hungarian languages, attending Slovak school and traveling to many countries in Europe. The Rotary in Slovakia and people in general there have been so welcoming and wonderful to her. We are so grateful for the good care and unique experiences these total strangers are providing to our daughter. She has only good things to report home including how hectic city life is in Europe compared to our way of Alaskan living. This is so exciting for her and a once in a lifetime experience that would not have happened without Rotary International.

Thank You!

Kim and David Wylde and family

Thanks to Homer Foundation for tech upgrades

Hospice of Homer wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to The Homer Foundation for awarding our agency a grant for tech upgrades.

The grant makes it possible for Hospice of Homer to update our database. This will allow us to improve communication with our donors and volunteers, and to more efficiently track client care.

Thank you to The Homer Foundation for their generosity and for supporting Hospice of Homer’s commitment to provide dignity, connection, and mobility to those in our community who are ill or isolated.

Jessica Golden, Executive Director

Hospice of Homer