[This is an email that I sent to Danielle Forrest, who addressed the adjunct faculty at an administrative meeting at the beginning of the fall semester at Front Range Community College, in her capacity as the administrator of a new program, Veteran Services, August 16, 2012. She spoke rather strongly against singling out veterans in class, which I can understand; but she crossed the line when she said that “liberal minded” instructors should “keep their opinions to themselves” about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I wrote her this email the following day…]

Dear Ms. Forrest,

I am an adjunct faculty member in the Behavioral and Social Science department at FRCC’s Larimer campus, and attended the required in-service meeting last night, where I heard your presentation about the new veteran services that is being offered. I have taught environmental economics there since fall 2009.

While I agree this type of service is needed and will help some veterans, I was offended by your calling out “liberal” instructors who might make some comment in class against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would never single out any veteran in my class out of compassion at a human level, and sympathize with the human condition of people who have fought in combat. However, the tone of your delivery bordered on asking us to self-censure ourselves regarding our opinions of these tragic, and very wrong, actions of our American military — and that is the wrong position for you to be in as an impartial service administrator.

I hope you are aware of the news stories on military suicide statistics; I just googled it, and got over a million hits. To quote one such article, published June 2012:

“NATO combat operations in Afghanistan are expected to draw to a close by the middle of next year and the U.S. completed its withdrawal of troops from Iraq last December. But while fewer American soldiers are in the line of fire each day, new Pentagon statistics show that an average of one military suicide occurred each day in the first six months of 2012, the fastest pace in the past ten years. The statistics reported by The Associated Press show that military deaths from suicide outweighed combat deaths by a two-to-one ratio, a dramatic uptick since 2010 and 2011 when military suicides decreased from previous years.”

I am no expert, but I suspect this is without precedent in military history. It is a continuing saga that saddens me personally; but what saddens me more is the blindness of Americans who are in denial as to the source of the problem. More than twice as many military deaths from suicide than from combat; why? Because these people, many of whom are quite young and without much life experience, have been put into the impossible position of fighting in a war and occupying these countries on a huge scale that makes no sense in the first place. That is what causes them to turn to drug addition, to violence against their loved ones, their community, and ultimately themselves.

Our country should never have invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in the way that it did. It was a stupid and impulsive reaction to the 9/11 bombings that appealed only to the basest instincts of wanting to fulfill an outlet for our hurt and pain, but in a way that amounted to bullying and fueling a bloodlust. It laid waste to these countries’ economies, devastated their infrastructure and their environment for decades to come, caused the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians and has never come close to fulfilling the empty promise of rebuilding those countries as we declared we would do. It has only made the problem that much worse, creating a breeding ground for the hatred that fueled the attacks against America in the first place. If we fail to learn from these mistakes, such violence will continue to perpetuate itself.

I will never cease to speak out against these unjust wars, and the violence that our military continues to inflict on the world and the environment. The military-industrial complex that powers the Pentagon is a huge and tragic economic waste, and those resources would be much more productive if directed elsewhere — in way that makes human sense, instead of human destruction.

Rick Casey
Economics Instructor,

Front Range Community College

[This is a comment I made at bobedwardsradio.com on 12 Aug 2012, the website for the excellent radio show by Bob Edwards, well known for his decades of broadcasting at NPR.]

Dear Mr Edwards,

I listened with rapt attention to your show this weekend, “The Betrayal of the American Dream.” I teach environmental economics at a local community college (part-time), and am keenly aware of the issues the excellent authors were so eloquently discussing, and fully intend to read their book to help me in my own local activism to help raise awareness of the public about these and other issues.

Your well respected show is one of the few sources in mainstream media for such sensible discussions. Consequently, I hope you might consider interviewing two other excellent authors, whose ideas also concern these deep societal problems: David Korten (see davidkorten.org), and Riane Eisler (see www.rianeeisler.com). If you are not already aware of their excellent work, I believe you, and your radio audience, will find what they will have say about these complex problems fascinating, illuminating and inspirational. Meaningful public discussion of these issues is urgently needed to create the political will to achieve real and lasting positive change.

Thank you again for bringing such a quality show to the public airwaves. I listen to you through KUNC in Greeley, Colorado.

With great respect,
Rick Casey
Lafayette, CO

Lafayette needs a fracking moratorium…NOW!

[This was a letter to the editor I submitted to the Colorado Daily, Daily Camera, Boulder Weekly and Denver Post, Aug 7, 2012, as well as the Lafayette City Council.]

Dear Lafayette City Council members,

As a Lafayette resident, I have observed with growing alarm that fracking is getting closer and closer to our town. A new five well drill site was started this week, just a few miles north of us, near Hi 52 and Niwot Road, by the infamous Encana.

You can see pictures of this new drilling activity at http://www.facebook.com/groups/151428164981130.

Due to the great uncertainty surrounding the short-term risks of air and water pollution from fracking, and the longer term implications for the overallocation of our precious water supplies in Colorado, the placement of poisonous and carcinogen fluids deep into the earth from their disposal wells, and the placement of more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, I would like to see the Lafayette City Council pass a moratorium on any new fracking wells in our town.

We should show support for our neighboring town, Longmont, that has courageously stood up to the COGCC (Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission), in seeking to protect their residents from the effects of having wells fracked within their city limits. The COGCC is failing to fulfill its own charter, to seek “balanced” development, and to “protect the environment”, while it allows the oil and gas industry to proceed, nearly completely unimpeded, while self-regulating its own operations. The COGCC is too pro-industry, and too lacking in heeding the calls of citizens for more accountability for the negative effects of this dangerous technology.

This is unacceptable. Until the state legislature can muster to backbone to change the laws that created the COGCC, the citizens of the Front Range, and Lafayette, need to fight back any way we can to slow down this mad rush of the gas companies to make a quick buck. We should refuse to have our water table ruined forever, our air made too noxious to breathe, or allow the local ecosystem to be starved for water, just because some giant gas company wants to get their way.


Rick Casey

Lafayette, CO

[This is a letter to the editor I wrote in April 2006. I include it here only to show how I was thinking about the structural unemployment
problem created by global capitalism at that time.]

To the Editor of the New York Times

The article ‘Academia Dissects the Service Sector…’ (April 18, 2006, page C1) was interesting for what it omits. Attempts by American universities to develop interdisciplinary approaches to coping with economic globalization – aided by willing multinationals with their own idled engineers – is unconvincing. Beneath the sophistry that an ever more “complex” economy requires ever more “complex solutions” to keep high-value jobs at home is the simple truth of increasing global unemployment. When the current fever of wage arbitrage between nations is over, this is is the real problem with economic globalization which every nation, no matter how “developed”, will need to face – witness Europe and restive France.

Simply put, increasingly less people are needed to provide the goods we need (or think we need); and “service science” engineers are essentially working on having even less people perform services! The irony would be amusing if it were not so tragic. I would call your attention to Jeremy Rifkin’s 1995 book ‘The End of Work’ where these issues are discussed in depth with far more relevancy. I welcome universities trying to train engineers to think more broadly about economic problems – but they would help more by taking a few courses in economics and thinking more deeply before trying to “optimize” the service sector.

Rick Casey
Research Associate, University of Colorado, Boulder