Blog Archive - 2001

Uncontrolled Burn: How congress is adding fuel to the western wildfires

As wildfires rage through woodland in the West, critics are questioning the federal government’s role in protecting the National Forests. Recently, President Bush proposed a $175 million increase in commercial timber sales on public lands — a move that, along with a planned repeal of the “roadless rule” established by former President Clinton, has many suspicious of where the Bush administration’s true agenda lies.

Big forest fires make the news every summer. Last year, over 7 million acres of U.S. land burned during wildfire season. Many forest advocates believe that wildfires are a naturally occurring, healthy phenomenon and should, to some extent, be allowed to burn within certain limits.

In recent years, the National Forest Service, guided by Congress, has partly relied on commercial logging to address the problem of wildfires. This policy has critics like University of Montana economics chair Thomas Power up in arms. [Read more...]

Are Americans “Vacation Starved”?

WASHINGTON — When President Bush clocked out to start on a 30-day vacation at his Texas ranch, a collective lament was in the air from much of the population: “When do we get a break?”

The vacation brings to 52 days the president\’s total vacation time since his swearing-in last January, a number that dwarfs the average eight days of vacation most U.S. small business employees receive each year, according to Joe Robinson, director of the Work to Live campaign. Robinson, declaring America to be “the most vacation-starved country in the industrialized world,” is one of many people leading the charge for a decrease in the national workload.

The loosely defined movement gained impetus with the publication of Harvard economics professor Juliet Schor’s book The Overworked American, which noted that — while corporate profits and worker productivity were up — most workers were seeing their free time diminish. Schor’s comments echoed calls made by labor reformers in the 1930s, who successfully established the eight-hour day by pressuring for the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act. [Read more...]

Election Reforms: Falling short

WASHINGTON — Proponents of progressive election reform gave cautious approval to the recent report issued by a commission assigned to investigate the improvement of federal elections. Many critics, however, point to several obstacles that remain in the way of free and fair elections throughout the United States.

The report, issued by the National Commission on Federal Election Reform headed by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, was presented to President Bush. Among its recommendations are provisions regarding increases in equipment standards and stepped-up federal funding for the administration of elections. [Read more...]