The normal thing for me to do on the Sunday morning after the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Conference, held in Oklahoma City, is to fly to Washington D.C. There I join my fellow directors in the nationwide rural electric coops talking to our congressmen and senators about how things are going at home. I know, I know, there’s plenty of sentiment about D.C. in the rank and file folks back in Arkansas and Oklahoma. But here you can’t let party lines or other things derail you. 
We go to D.C. to represent you, the coop member on the line out there. And so we try hard with both parties, because for now they are the folks with the vote. Remember that when you are upset with your representative, you should write or e-mail them. Not enough of us write or even e-mail them about our thoughts. You have to work with what you have.
“Dear Congressman Jones, or whoever,
“With fertilizer prices and everything else out of sight we don’t need higher electric costs. We live on social security and small savings, if our electricity gets raised by the passage of this bill we may have to sit in the dark.”
Something to that effect. Don’t rant and rave in those letters, your sincerity will convince the representative. Even though you may be ready to bite a six penny nail in two, a calm, levelheaded approach may influence them more than you think. One vote lost won’t convince them, but say he sees letters opposing a bill from common sense folks, I believe he or she will fast catch on. “Well, the folks at home are really asking me for help,” he’ll think.
Ranting and raving like some do won’t get a thing done in the halls of Congress. I can recall once the IRS said you needed to keep a log in your pickup, and every time you used your vehicle you were required to write down the miles and what you did.  Congress was flooded with letters complaining. They repealed that in just a few days. But shouting and screaming and cussing didn’t change them, it was the grassroots appeal of many. I have not read this energy bill, but there are things in it like a ‘cap and trade’ to get you to use less energy, or so they say. But no, it is a tax on electricity used.
Remember a few years ago they made us stop using natural gas because supplies were short? As a result we went to coal. A tax on carbon won’t lessen the carbon. The electric industry has millions invested in coal plants, and we have a 500 year supply. It is cheap, but this cap and trade is devised as a control bill to collect more taxes to pay for federal spending.
Why should a retiree in eastern Oklahoma or western Arkansas have to pay for federal programs and debt incurred when the bill does not affect the districts where the bill’s sponsors live? Why don’t big power companies complain about the tax? Because they won’t pay it. The user on their lines will.
Our electric coops went to D.C. to talk to our representatives about the folks on our lines, asking them to not pass that energy bill until it no longer imposed taxes on our members. When the electricity coop members go to see our representatives, they take time to listen. Remember, no matter how mad you get, do like Teddy Roosevelt said, walk softly and carry a big stick. That’s what I am doing in Washington for you all, since I represent both Arkansas and Oklahoma with the electric coop boards.
May the good Lord bless you.
Western novelist Dusty Richards and his wife Pat live on Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas. For more information about his books you can email Dusty by visiting and clicking on ‘Contact Us’ or call 1-866-532-1960.


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