By HARRY PERKINSON
Cynthia E. Ayers' letter of Aug. 11 about Congressman Scott Perry's commentary on "the biggest national security threat we face" is troubling for three reasons.
First, we face many critical threats to our national security; several of these threats have a more urgent demand for attention. Second, time for commentary is long past. Congressman Perry needs stop commenting and start actually spending some tax dollars to solve the issues that beset our nation. Third, Congressman Perry is an alarmist; his mode of operation is fear mongering.
As Ms Ayers' letter points out, there are several threats to our nation's electrical infrastructure. However, playing up the nuclear EMP threat is alarmist talk. Our nuclear forces are EMP hardened; any country daring to set off an EMP above Kansas would feel the full brunt of retaliation.
What is not alarmist talk is the inevitable fact that a solar flare will occur and knock out the grid, specifically destroying Large Power Transformers (LPT). The LPTs are very expensive, they take up to two years to build and they are very heavy, weighing between 200,000 and 800,000 pounds. As a short-term solution, taxpayer money should be invested in domestically producing an array of these LPTs and stocking them at strategic depots. In the event of an LPT failure, a replacement will exist and be at a location that allows rapid delivery to the required site. As a long-term solution, taxpayer money should be invested in upgrading, improving the efficiency and protecting our electrical infrastructure, which would include a more complete protection from EMP and hacking attacks.
The electrical grid is only part of our infrastructure that needs to be upgraded, improved and protected. Our roads, bridges, waste water treatment, fresh water treatment and storm runoff infrastructure need upgrading, refurbishment, and replacement.
The time has come to stop blocking tax increases and infrastructure programs for fear that the United States economy is not up to the challenge of paying for the investments we need. We live in the largest, most dynamic and capable economy the world has ever seen. We should recognize our national needs and pay for them, not get mired in a misdirected argument about the debt level.
Congressman Perry is a member of the least-productive Congress since before the Civil War; he is part of the problem. He has promoted and voted for policies that damage the economy, such as the government shut-down. Congressman Perry instigated and voted to continue the shut-down, effectively taking $24 billion out of GDP (translating to over 800,000 jobs taken out of the economy). Congressman Perry should be voting for investments like the transportation funding bill so that the Highway Trust Fund can continue to invest in our nationally critical highway infrastructure. After all, what good is it to have a LPT in reserve if you cannot transport it to where it is needed?
He should be looking at other investments of taxpayer money to improve our economy, get people back to work, and make our future, as a nation, more secure and productive.
The threat to our national electrical infrastructure is only one of many critical threats to our national security; this particular issue happens to be the one spoon fed to Congressman Perry so that he could regurgitate selected facts and figures in public in order to stimulate fear in the electorate.
Congressman Perry has trouble with facts, as was pointed out by the other Republican candidates during the primary in 2012. He has consistently used selected facts and distortions of the truth to spread fear and to pervert the perceptions of the issues at hand. At the same time, he has willfully overlooked the threat to our national security inherent of having large numbers of unemployed and under-employed people and a weak economy. He has overlooked the threats to our national security because of crumbling infrastructure, inefficient transportation modes, and the failure to adequately fund our education system. He had no trouble threatening our national security when he voted to extend the government shut-down and not to raise the debt limit. (He voted to do what Al Qaeda tried to do by flying airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon: devastate the U.S. economy.)
It does not matter on which committees and subcommittees Congressman Perry sits; he is the wrong person for the job. He has proven over the last two years that he does not belong in Congress. Why should we re-elect anyone that has been a member of the 113th Congress? The time has come for a new start and our responsibility is to make it happen. Please keep that in mind when you go to the polls in November.
— Harry Perkinson was the Democratic nominee for the 4th Congressional District in 2012. He's a resident of Dallastown.