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The libertarian way

EDITOR: Arguing from ignorance is rarely attractive. Michael Lind asks why there are no libertarian countries, stumping columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., who concludes that libertarianism's Achilles' heel has been exposed ("Exposing libertarianism's Achilles' heel," June 10).

Yet one answer to Lind's question appeared the day before in a cartoon depicting a politician refusing to use his power to give people jobs, health care or public works. Obviously, libertarianism doesn't appeal to those who want to live off the efforts of others.

Another reason why there are no libertarian countries is because kings, dictators and ordinary politicians spare no expense in acquiring and holding power. This is so obvious and expected that we are surprised on those rare occasions when power is voluntarily given up. Whether it is the first pope in 600 years to resign or George Washington's refusal to seek a third term, we are surprised as we expect those in power to seek ever more power.

Brute force never organizes society as well as voluntary cooperation. That is the Achilles' heel of all government, which is why we need to keep it small and strictly limited. It will still be arrogant, abusive and wasteful, but it will be so small that we won't care.

JAMES R. OGLESBY

Santa Rosa

Wrong alternative

EDITOR: Everyone hates PG&E. That makes Sonoma Clean Power an easier sell for ambitious politicians and those who stand to make big money from the county buying in. The backers can pay consultants and lure taxpayers to pack public meetings to argue the benefits of Sonoma Clean Power. But the fact is that the public is being sold a pleasing bill of goods about this being cleaner, greener, cheaper and more local than PG&E.

Make no mistake, what we've been told is the tip of the iceberg. This project is all about making money and rushing the county to buy in. We would all love a real alternative to those who brought us the San Bruno explosion, but the fact is that Sonoma Clean Power isn't that alternative, no matter what our starry-eyed local officials, the backers and their well-paid consultants tell us.

NANCY HAIR

Sebastopol

Keystone pipeline

EDITOR: Kudos to Sonoma's Mayor Ken Brown for seeking the support of fellow council members in asking President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline ("City wades into Keystone XL pipleine debate," Monday).

According to James Hansen, the world's leading climatologist, the safe number of carbon dioxide particles in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million at most. As reported in The Press Democrat recently, we are now at 400 ppm ("Greenhouse gas hits worrisome mark," May 11). To avoid catastrophe, we have to reduce the level to 350 ppm.

Hansen and his NASA team also claim that the fuel produced from the tar-sands of Canada, if burned, would mean "game over" for the planet.

Since our congressional representatives are beholden to the fossil fuel industry, they have dragged their feet on this issue for decades. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must act at the local level by urging Santa Rosa's mayor, Scott Bartley, and our city and county representatives to follow Brown's leadership in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline. Nothing is more urgent.

JANE VOSBURG

Santa Rosa

For the Earth

EDITOR: Having read Sunday's article about Santa Rosa and Sonoma Clean Power ("Power agency deadline extended"), I want to comment on Councilman Gary Wysocky's insistence on making changes to the joint powers agreement before the City Council votes to join. I think this would result in throwing away the good (and the needed) in pursuit of the perfect.

It's becoming clear that the window is closing for us to avoid catastrophic climate change that risks life on earth. We as a society need to take collective action to implement a portfolio of climate-protection strategies now. Sonoma Clean Power offers us one powerful opportunity to make a real contribution toward climate stability.

I urge the Santa Rosa City Council to do the right thing for the residents of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, the planet Earth and all its inhabitants — vote to join Sonoma Clean Power.

MATT STEVENS

Santa Rosa