Discussion of Important Issues

Global warming

Climate change will be the result of global warming but there is no need to sugar coat what is happening and use a euphemism- we are experiencing global warming due to burning fossil fuels ( and to some extent cement making). Warming of the oceans will result in more moisture in the air and the rest is conjecture ( some conjecture is much better than some other conjecture).

It is a simple calculation for a chemical engineer to show that about half of the carbon dioxide released into the air by burning of coal, oil and natural gas is remaining in the atmosphere. The other half is mostly dissolved in the oceans.

The carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere does increase the average temperature of the earth’s surface. There are other things and events that effect the earth surface temperature but the carbon dioxide does increase the average surface temperature of the earth.
What is the effect of increased carbon dioxide dissolved in the surfaces of the oceans? More acid ocean surfaces will result which will change the habitat of many creatures.

A look at our sister planet Venus with a mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere should remove any doubt as to whether or not a high carbon dioxide atmosphere can change a planet’s surface temperature. The surface temperature of Venus is 863 degrees F. Without carbon dioxide- all other things remaining the same- the surface temperature of Venus would be about -40 degrees F.

The average surface temperature of the earth is about 58 degrees F but it would be about 0 degrees F without the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ( note that the oceans would be frozen).


A major problem with the U.S. economy is the loss of manufacturing jobs. A lot of jobs are going overseas to manufacturers who do not have to meet U.S. standards for wages, safety, environmental cleanup, unemployment insurance, workman’s compensation, medicare and social security. I propose to impose a tariff on imported manufactured goods if the manufacturer has not met U.S. standards for minimum wage, safety, environmental cleanup, unemployment insurance, workman’s compensation, medicare and social security. Our industries should not have to face unfair competition in the U.S. markets and the workers in low wage countries might see their treatment improved as foreign manufacturers try to market in the United States.

Regain Manufacturing Jobs

I think it is important to encourage manufacturing in the U.S., so I propose that corporate taxes on manufacturing operations be discontinued. Profits from manufacturing should be subject to income tax when they are distributed to owners or stockholders. I remember, when I worked in the chemical industry, making economic evaluations of manufacturing projects and noting how the taxes caused many projects to be rejected. Removing taxes would be- in effect- a subsidy for our industries that would help them compete in world markets.

Executive Overpayment

Corporate executives are routinely being over compensated and the performance of the companies is being affected adversely. I propose that publicly held companies must get stockholder’s specific approval for the salaries of the top ten officers each year. The corporate executives used to come from their organization but now are often financial manipulators who have control over the board of directors appointments. I had the misfortune to own about $1500 in Worldcom stock and I remember the message from the board of directors who proudly told us stockholders that they had bravely not given Bernie Ebbers a bonus the year the company collapsed.

Strengthen Labor Unions

Labor unions have been losing ground for several years. One reason is the loss or dislocation of manufacturing jobs but a poor climate for union recruitment is probably an important factor. Most people don’t understand or appreciate the contribution labor unions have made to our standard of living and to our freedoms but they have been crucial and many of the gains were bought in blood. I was always a part of management when I worked in industry but I saw how effective it was whenever the workers were given a strong voice. I once made a comment about his difficulties in dealing with the strong union in his plant to the personnel man in a large company and he said “we consider our strong union to be a valuable asset.” I thought to myself he was trying to put a good face on a bad situation and then I read of a study that showed companies with a strong union were more successful than companies that didn’t have a strong union. Remarkably, some enlightened managers understand that and take advantage of it. Many managers, however, prefer to not share the decision making process with the workers and prefer to fight. The years of administrations hostile to unions and hostile or indifferent congressional actions toward unions need to be reversed.

Pension Security

Pensions for many workers have been reduced by unscrupulous employers and an overhaul of federal regulations is needed to ensure that employees are treated fairly- even when their company is bought by another company.

Economic recovery after a recession

The financial trauma and financial bailout at the beginning of President Obama’s first term signal a serious flaw in the Republican understanding of economics. Congressman Duncan voted against the bailout bill both times but he should have exercised leadership in helping pass the original bill – which needed 12 representatives to switch their votes. Since the original bill failed to pass, the revised bill contained ONE HUNDRED BILLION dollars in INDUCEMENTS to essentially BRIDE the representatives to pass it. The late Tony Spiva spoke to the Technical Society of Knoxville about the recession and the bailout. Dr. Spiva said the bailout was necessary but it should have been much larger. Congressman Duncan would have voted against the larger bailout bill also in spite of it being what was needed for a speedy economic recovery instead of the lingering recovery we are experiencing.

The gold standard!

John Duncan Jr., our current U.S. Representative, in his 2006 newsletter proposed that our country return to the gold standard and eliminate the Federal Reserve system. There isn’t enough gold in the world to back our money with the balance of payments our country has now. The Chinese would own every scrap of gold we could put in Fort Knox. Many Republicans think of money as something tangible when money is only what people agree to value to make trade easier. Gold is valuable only because people agree to consider it valuable. The Indians of Alaska knew gold was in the creeks but they considered it useless- except that it could be used to make bullets. Money today is numbers in financial institution computers- if you don’t agree, then think about what you have in liquid assets and what form they are in. Our society has almost advanced to the point that most of the worlds financial problems could be solved just by changing the numbers in bank computers around the world.

The Federal Reserve System

The Federal Reserve system is doing a fair job and it is certainly better than anything else that has been used- it shouldn’t need to be defended from our U.S. Representative, John Duncan Jr. The Federal Reserve Bank is manipulated to try to control the economy and it’s primary tool is the interest rate it charges banks to borrow money. Since it creates it’s own money, it never runs out. In the runup to the the last high and low in economic activity the Federal Reserve board kept increasing the interest rate on money and then the economy took a nosedive and the Federal Reserve board cut interest rates to ridiculously low rates.

Control of the economy

Control of processes is one of my professional interests (my master’s thesis was concerned with process control) and I can see the problem the Federal Reserve board has. The economy is not a stable system- if it moves in a direction it tends to accelerate in the same direction. (You can understand this if you think of driving a car with a trailer attached. If you drive forward it is easy to control but if you back up it is difficult to control. When you are backing up if it starts one way it will turn that way more unless you turn the steering wheel and you have to be moving the steering wheel constantly- the economy acts like a car with a trailer backing up.) The Federal Reserve board tries to control the economy by making small incremental changes but such a process needs to be controlled by frequent larger changes.

Some new ideas for controlling the economy

Other tools for controlling the economy are needed and I have wondered if the president might be induced to give a weekly report on the economy and ask people to spend more in a certain area or ask them to restrain in some area. If the response was significant it might add to the limited tools we have for controlling the economy. Another possible tool would be to give everyone a federal debit card and put in enough weekly to meet the need for food, clothing and shelter (and eliminate most homelessness and simplify the convoluted welfare payments) and increase the amount weekly when the economy needs to be stimulated and decrease the amount when the economy is starting to overheat. Such a card might also be used for Social Security, federal payrolls, tax refunds and other federal payments (which might reduce the size of the government). We are in the computer age now and things that weren’t possible a few years ago are now commonplace. We don’t need to be tied to what people were comfortable with but that didn’t work very well- like our current economic system. Someone once asked me “What will happen when there are many elderly people and few workers?” My reply was ” Do you think people will be able to produce the food, clothing and shelter needed with a smaller work force?” The answer to my question is obvious- people can -with effort- produce whatever is needed worldwide. The present distribution system is badly flawed but it is something that will be changed into something that works to meet new challenges. Will the current Republicans in Congress even discuss such a topic or consider any new proposal?

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide from fossil fuels

There is uncertainty regarding how quickly and in what exact way the climate is changing and will change. The one undeniable fact is this: The percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing steadily year after year due to human activity and the increased carbon dioxide WILL have an effect on the climate. The increased carbon dioxide in the air will increase the average surface temperature of the earth and the weather will change in a manner that cannot be easily predicted. I propose funding development of a computer model for the earth’s weather and climate that will allow well informed decisions regarding the effects of burning fossil fuels and other processes that may affect the climate and allow evaluation of remedial measures that will be effective and in conjunction, I propose funding a massive weather collecting system worldwide to gather sufficient data so we can really understand and accurately predict the weather and climate.

Moving to solar

The earth is blessed with a great fusion reactor in the sky- our sun. All the energy from fossil fuels is solar energy stored up through the eons. It is time for us to take our energy directly from the sun and stop removing fossil fuels from the ground (unless they are to be raw materials for plastics or other products). thaitI propose a research and development project along with subsidized manufacturing for solar cells for home roofs. The goal would be to develop a reasonably efficient, inexpensive solar cell that could be installed by ordinary roofers. The solar cells would need to be connected to a transducer that would allow them to put energy into the power grid. Once a market is developed private enterprise will drive the costs down- as it is doing now. To give an idea of scale, if the money spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had been used for solar cells we could have a solar cell array on every house in our country and our energy problems would be over. With real leadership such an effort is not out of reach but we won’t get there with our current House of Representatives.

The Future of East Tennessee

The practice of coal mining by the cheapest method is destructive of the long term beauty of our environment and coal (and other natural resources) extraction needs to be done to preserve natural beauty and water quality. In evaluating economics of coal mining, logging or other extraction or development that may change the environment it must be recognized that scenic beauty and clear water are very valuable to our region as tourist attractions. The rights of private property owners do not extend to doing damage to their property that is against legitimate public interest – and I would try to prohibit the “mountain top removal” method of mining !

Gasoline prices

The current high gasoline prices have resulted in shrill voices calling for remedies. There is a lot of finger pointing. The congress has held hearings to find the cause of high gasoline prices. My viewpoint is unique. I formerly worked for Shell Chemical Company- a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company. While I never worked for Shell Oil, I occasionally ate lunch with people from Shell Oil when I worked in Rockefeller Center and I learned that they had no clue regarding gasoline marketing. During the time that tetraethyl lead was being phased out one of them told me solemly that there could never be pumps for three grades at gasoline stations and it is very apparent that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Regarding pricing, we were told that if we were ever someplace and someone started talking about commodity prices that we were to leave the room. Shell upper management had no intention of being jailed for price fixing and I am sure that continues today. On the other hand Shell would sell products for whatever they could get for them. I heard of a time when someone accidentally switched invoices to two companies. One company immediately complained when they discovered that Shell had negotiated a better rate with the other company. The price of oil, gas and refined products is determined by what people will pay and what the competitors will sell for- one company cannot raise a price and hold to it if the competition maintains a lower price. When considering crude oil prices it is important to realize that a cartel is involved. As an example of what a cartel can do, I worked on a synthetic version of natural rubber that Shell could sell profitably for about 40 cents a pound at a time that natural rubber was selling for about 60 cents a pound. The Shell marketing people thought the natural rubber cartel would let them get about forty percent of the market before they would lower their price. They were wrong- the natural rubber cartel met the forty cent price and since natural rubber was a little better than our synthetic rubber the natural rubber cartel drove the synthetic rubber out of business and I am sure they then raised their price back to sixty cents a pound. In the oil business fluctuations in the price of crude oil have had dramatic effects on the oil drilling and production industries. In 1981 crude oil was selling for about $60 per barrel. At that price many oil wells would be ecconomical and the activity in domestic oil well drilling was intense. Then over a period of 4 years the price dropped to below $20 per barrel and the newly dug wells in the United States were not ecconomical and the United States domestic oil drilling and production industry crashed. With a price of crude oil well over $100 per barrel there are many sources for oil that could be tapped ecconomically but what happens to the oil drillers and producers if the price collapses again- even if just for a few years? Realize- the oil industry is dominated by a cartel and some of the cartel members have very low production costs. Remember when the well fields in Kuwait were burning after the first gulf war? Those were all gushers. Think about the oil wells in Texas and Louisiana – they have to use pumps. It is impossible to compete with someone who has a very low operating cost if they want to cut the price. Crude oil and refined products can be moved around the world at a low price (2 or 3 cents per gallon?) and the shortages and surpluses in various areas can be easily balanced. There is a shortage of gasoline refining capacity in the United States but it is unlikely that refinery capacity will be increased when there is a surplus of refining capacity in Europe and the gasoline usage in the United States will probably decrease as automobiles become more fuel efficient. Drilling for oil in wilderness areas and wildlife refuges and strategic reserves is not a long term solution to the U.S. gasoline supply manipulations and price fluctuations. There is oil in the ground in developed fields in the lower 48 states but it is more expensive to extract than oil that comes from big gushers in the middle east. If we want increased domestic oil production the federal government needs to protect the oil production and the oil drilling industry from predatory price competition by setting a minimum price for oil imported into the United States. When looking for the reason for high crude oil prices it may be useful to think about the last time high energy prices victimized a large number of people. The Enron Company managed to withhold electrical power in California and they sold electricity at exhorbitant prices. They got away with robbing the Californians for months until George Bush reluctantly imposed price controls and the problem disappeared immediately. It is worth considering that the United States imposed price controls on crude oil when it rose to about $60 per barrel and the price of crude oil came down in a relatively short time. A move to more fuel efficient cars and trucks will reduce the need for oil imports to a level where the U.S. could see a buyers market rather than the current sellers market. We (Bob and Julia Scott) purchased a Honda Civic Hybrid in 2003 and it gets better than 40 miles per gallon of gasoline. We purchased a Mercury Mariner hybrid in 2007. As a U.S. Representative I would propose legislation to compel automobile manufacturers to have fleet averages of 40 miles per gallon in a short but attainable length of time.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Drilling for oil in wilderness areas and wildlife refuges and strategic reserves may enrich the people who produce and sell the oil if the oil can be sold at a high price but it is unlikely that it will influence world prices. It is likely that much of the Alaskan oil will be shipped to the Orient because of reduced demand on the Pacific coast. Alaskan oil may incrementally improve our balance of payments but it will not solve anything (it will delight the residents of Alaska since they will continue to pay no state income or sales tax). If the price of crude oil drops to $20 per barrel again- even for a year or two- the oil wells in Alaska will be shut down and abandoned unless the government steps in and subsidizes them. If oil drilling is subsidized then there are plenty of places in the lower states for oil drilling. Regarding the assertion by Representative Duncan that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a “moonscape”, that is an assertion based on superficial analysis and it is not supported by the reports. I remember seeing the bare shores on the banks of the Bay of Fundy in Canada (which has very high tides) and thinking they must be devoid of life. I was amazed to discover they are very productive and important biological areas. The environmental costs of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would be very significant – like strip mining in the Smoky Mountain National Park. Strip mining in the Smoky Mountain National Park could be done in an emergency but we East Tennesseans would be able to understand the cost. In my opinion our country in not in dire straits enough to drain the last drop of oil from the earth in every environmemtally sensitive area we have- especially when it will not solve our problems.

Offshore oil drilling

Offshore oil drilling is expensive and dangerous but if it is ecconomical and wanted by a coastal state, I have no objection. However,I remember visiting Santa Barbara, California and walking on the beach. The beach was spotted with black tar lumps -about half an inch in dimension- which had come from an oil spill. Santa Barbara is a tourist town and it was agonizing to see what the oil spill had done to the attractiveness of the beach. The people of the coastal states should continue to have the ability to protect their shores and fishing industries and evaluate whether tourism or oil production is more important.


Hydraulic fracturing is a very common procedure in oil well drilling. The discovery of natural gas in shale deposits has moved hydraulic fracturing- now commonly called fracking- into the public eye. I am a chemical engineer and an environmentalist so I can look from both perspectives. The gas well is drilled horizontally in shale. As you can imagine, gas doesn’t flow through rock very well and so a LARGE surface is needed. This surface is created by cracking the rock with HIGH pressure water and literally lifting the earth above the well. As soon as the pressure is released, the earth will drop down again and close the crack so the water contains stuff (what is this stuff?) to keep the crack in the rock open when the pressure is relieved. The water is mostly removed and natural gas comes from the well. To my mind the major problem with the gas well drilling is disposal of the water. It is expensive to treat the water to drinking water standards and the drillers want to do something easier. One method of water disposal is -hydraulic fracturing- pumping the dirty water into a disposal well and leaving the dirty water in a fractured layer deep underground. Waste disposal wells using fracturing can cause earthquakes. Shell Chemical Company (my employer at one time) used a disposal well for pesticide wastes and caused earthquakes in Denver, Colorado. Shell pumped the waste back out of the well. I am opposed to waste disposal of water underground. If people want to drill for natural gas they need to clean up their water. Many people are concerned about the additives used in the process.

The cost of secrecy

The fracking companies (drillers) want to keep their methods secret so they will have a competitive advantage. I will work to make to make public the contents of what the drillers are putting in the ground (whether I win this election or not). I believe transparency will actually help the drillers so I consider the following story from my experience as a word to the wise- stop fighting it and be public spirited. Several years ago, I was working on using a Shell plant to make Temik insecticide for Union Carbide. I found some information that the insecticide was very toxic and if about a teaspoon of the solution being transported got on someones skin and wasn’t washed off it was enough to kill the person and the antidote would not work. The toxicologists were upset that I had found this out. They didn’t want people to know symptoms of poisoning because they feared people might over react. I was looking a building facilities to ship this stuff and they didn’t want me to know how dangerous it was! Their attitude resulted in the toxic substance control act and now they have to tell because the federal government says so. The fracking disclosure act is next?

Nuclear energy

The future energy requirements may result in nuclear power becoming economical and I propose research and development into the use of thorium for atomic power, development of a nuclear power reactor that will be stable and safe and extensive further development of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing. I have spent many years in chemical plants- often handling very dangerous materials- and I have seen both very good and very bad manufacturing practices. I was appalled by the control systems installed in the first nuclear plant I visited- the controls were primitive compared to what we used in the chemical industry. I know that even the best designed plants can be dangerous if operated by management that does not put safety as the first priority and safety as the second priority. I would insist that the nuclear industry operate safely. Many changes in the operating procedures for nuclear power plants were made after the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident and nuclear power plants are operated very safely at the present time. I have also been appalled by the imposition of changes in nuclear plant design during construction. When you are building a plant you build it as designed and modify it after it is built (it should be designed so it can be modified easily, if necessary). Modifications during construction run up the cost of construction astronomically and most of the excessive costs of the nuclear plants built in the past were due to (well intentioned) changes during construction. Spent nuclear reactor fuel rods are stored in swimming pools and they are accumulating without a final destination determined. I have not talked with nuclear people about this and I know it will be expensive but I favor recycling the fuel rods and separating the various elements. The elements in nuclear waste can be placed in three categories. The highly reactive elements with short half lives can be eliminated by waiting a while for them to decay. The elements with long half lives are not radioactive enough to pose a storage problem. The elements with intermediate half lives will be highly radioactive during several human lifetimes and they are the biggest problem. I propose to isolate the problem elements and put them back into a nuclear reactor and transform them into another element and repeat this if necessary- people now have the ability to transmute the elements and we need to take advantage of it.


As a professor in a two year college I saw many students who wanted and needed an education. During the Reagan presidency the money for student assistance was cut and from that time until today most of the engineering technology students worked to support themselves, and often a family, while trying to graduate. The huge college loans are ridiculous! I would propose more resources to support college students. Giving all students free two years of college would be a great investment in our country. Students in the first two years of college would have a chance to determine their careers and they would make better choices about further education. Governor Haslam is considering free two year college education for Tennessee students. When we lived in California the state provided free two year college for students but the tax cutting Grover Norquist ruined that (and the California state finances). We need to take a long term approach to education.


The graduated income tax primarily does two things. It results in the collection of a large portion of the money spent by the federal government and it tends to redistribute wealth. The mark of a civilized country is its ability to collect taxes from its wealthier citizens. The State of Tennessee is an example of a government that increases taxes on the poor (increased sales tax and the well advertised lottery). Increasing taxes on the wealthy requires political courage since the wealthy will spend money to elect officials who will reduce their taxes. President George H.W. Bush increased taxes in a politically courageous move that contributed to his defeat by Bill Clinton. Conversely, President George W. Bush pandered to the wealthy by cutting their taxes and was rewarded with large contributions to his reelection campaign. The current huge federal deficits are totally unnecessary and are due to the Reagan and Bush administrations irrational desire to cut taxes just to cut taxes. The tax rate in the highest tax bracket was 35 percent during the Bush reign and the economy was dragging. The comparable rate during the Clinton administration was 39.6 percent and the economy was booming so it seems the tax rate has little to do with how the economy does. I favor adding a 50 percent tax rate bracket for over $750,000 (this is something that has to be carefully thought out). This (or some similar tax increase) will make the income tax a more progressive tax and go a long way toward eliminating the budget deficit. I favor modifying the alternative minimum tax. It should be calculated at 28 percent of income with a deduction of $200,000 to simplify it and minimize the number of people affected by it. All of the taxes that have a fixed dollar amount associated with them should be revised yearly so inflation does not change their original intent. Even with a tax increase in the higher income level, the United States citizens will be taxed at a lower rate than most Europeans. In general, countries with high standards of living have high tax rates and it is not an accident.

Federal sales tax

John Duncan Jr., our current U.S. Representative, in his 2008 newsletter favored eliminating the federal income tax and replacing it with a 21% federal sales tax. The proposed sales tax would be revenue neutral. The Republicans have a real talent for creative misnomers and they call this their “fair tax”. Many high income people pay more than 21 % of their income in federal income tax. Anyone who is paying more than 21% of their income in federal income taxes will have a tax reduction if a federal sales tax is instituted. If the federal sales tax plan is revenue neutral the taxpayers who have been paying less than 21% of their income in income tax will have to pay more in taxes to make up for the loss in tax revenue from the wealthy. One of the touted benefits for the “fair tax” is the elimination of the Federal Internal Revenue Service. (The IRS does need better oversight from Congress). However, even the Republicans would hesitate to impose a 21% sales tax on people in poverty so the “fair tax” would provide to everyone a monthly refund equal to the amount of sales tax paid by someone in poverty. Sending a monthly check to all US households (however they are defined) would require a lot of IRS employees. Ingenious people would work up ingenious ways to avoid the sales tax and it would require IRS agents to monitor the payment of sales taxes. It would be only a matter of a short time before campaign contributions to selected Republican legislators would result in the sales tax laws being riddled with exceptions and soon the tax laws and their enforcement would become complicated again. It is easy for legislators to make a slight increase in the sales tax percent when they run short of money- for example look at the Tennessee sales tax history (not including local sales tax): 1947 2% 1971 3.5% 1976 4.5% 1984 5.5% 1992 6% 2002 7% There are radio talk show hosts who favor the 23% (Congressman Duncan says 21%) federal sales tax (euphemistically called the “fair tax”) and the Republicans may be deciding that we should have government of, by and for our radio talk show hosts- “honk your horn for the “fair tax” when you drive past the capital building!!” John Duncan Jr., our current U.S. Representative, should be able to understand this “fair tax” and he should never have considered a 21% federal sales tax to have any merit and certainly our next U.S. Representative should try to stop it from even being considered in the House of Representatives. As an afterthought, the Republican duplicity is obvious here- Congressman Duncan’s so called 21 percent “fair tax” is actually a 26.6 percent sales tax when it is calculated as sales taxes are calculated everywhere else. This would be added to our approximately 10 percent Tennessee local and state sales tax for a total sales tax of about 37percent. The incentives for tax avoidance and tax fraud are obvious. If ayone is unconvinced by my discussion, I have copied an article on the “Fair Tax” at the end of this section.

The Republican Death Tax

The inheritance tax ( I like the creativity of the Republican euphemism “the Death Tax”) should only apply to large estates ($10,000,000 ?). I know that sitters around the clock can be devastatingly expensive and people should not have to be put in a precarious financial position to avoid estate taxes. The inheritance tax is more for preventing a more unhealthy accumulation of tremendous wealth than for raising tax revenue ( the top one percent of families own about 40 percent of the wealth and the bottom 40 percent of families have negative wealth- they are in debt).

Health Care

It is a disgrace for the United States to have people within our country who cannot get the medical treatment they need because it is too expensive for them. I am currently covered by Medicare and it is a very good program except that it seems to underpay the physicians for some treatments. I favor a program similar to Medicare for everyone. I have heard that the United States spends more for health care per person than any other major country and I believe if the money were allocated rationally that everyone could be covered. The Affordable Care Act is a good start toward improving the health of all our people. There are bound to be start-up problems and we need a US representative who will try to improve it instead of someone who will just vote no no no no no………………………………..no………..no no…………………………… I believe the Medicare prescription drug program should be completely revamped. I favor a national federal medical records program. Physicians would not have to maintain large filing systems and medical records would have continuity and completeness that they do not have now. Currently if you go to several physicians and if you have gone to physicians in the past your medical records are hopelessly confused or lost if you want a comprehensive overview. When a physician retires the patient records are kept for a few years (5 years?) and then destroyed- with modern communications and computers we can preserve medical records and keep them usefully organized.

Nuclear disarmament

We had an email exchange among members of my church a few years ago and I wrote the following: There are two parts to the question for me and my opinions are given below: 1. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki The United States had only two A-bombs built and I don’t know how long it would have taken to build more. The story that I have heard for many years is that President Truman dropped them quickly so the Japanese would think there were more. When the two bombs were dropped, the Japanese emperor did something unprecedented- he addressed the people and told them Japan was surrendering. It was the first time most Japanese had ever heard his voice. The Japanese military almost stopped the emperor from making his announcement. I have heard in recent years that the Japanese were trying to stop the war- particularly since the Russians had entered it. Many things were going on but the emperor would never have intervened because of the Russians and the Japanese military would never have agreed to surrender (without the intervention of the emperor) if it meant U.S. occupation of Japan. The United States would not have agreed to anything but unconditional surrender. It would have been ghastly. The bombings were terrible but they ended the war and saved many lives. On the other hand the achieving of a goal by an immoral means (bombing of a civilian population is a war crime) always has consequences. In my opinion the successful conclusion of World War II resulted in the United States believing good could come from the use of military force and the possession of atom bombs. That belief has distorted our country’s policies for many years. 2. Regarding our nuclear arsenal The genie has been released from the bottle and it will not go back in. The possession of a huge number of nuclear weapons cannot be justified and the feeling of nuclear superiority the huge number of bombs engenders means there is always a temptation to use one or more. It is not possible now for all countries to dispose of all their A-bombs because it would be too easy for some small group or country to build A-bombs surreptitiously and become the most powerful country or group on earth until the other countries could rebuild some A-bombs. It would take a change of many attitudes but the best situation for the world- in my opinion- would be to scrap all the hydrogen bombs and plutonium bombs and keep only a number of U235 bombs that would not destroy the world if they were all used. (U235 bombs do not deteriorate with time- although the explosive charges would have to be replaced periodically.) The A-bombs should be allocated among the UN Security Council permanent members, their use should be prohibited by international law and their security should be regulated tightly. This would require that the United States give up the desire to have overwhelming force compared to the rest of the world and there would be a lot of domestic opposition. It would also require that the other countries that have recently developed A-bombs give up the bombs and the capability to make them and agree to inspections. The other Security Council countries might agree to a consensus allocation that gave the United States a somewhat greater number than the other countries so the United States and the rest of the world could feel secure.

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