Agriculture policy that benefits few
I was happy to see Jack Flobeck address the ethanol issue (Sunday, Sept. 22). I have wondered for years why national policy would support and indeed subsidize such foolishness.
The answer was provided by Michael Pollan in "The Omnivore's Dilemma" as a great deal of the book covers corn and agriculture policy. On the surface this doesn't sound very interesting, but it is actually fascinating to learn how big commodities are driving an agriculture policy that benefits a few, and harms quite a few.
A good percentage of the farmers' income from corn growing comes from government payouts, and much less would be produced if this were not the case. Aside from the financial folly of corn subsidies, there is the large environmental damage from excessive corn production.
First there is soil damage from the excessive chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, by killing the microorganisms that produce valuable topsoil. The damage to the water supply is the second problem. Not only does corn require a lot of water to grow, depleting our precious aquifers, but there is pollution to rivers, streams and ground water from chemical runoff.
It doesn't stop there, we get fewer miles to the gallon when we burn it in our gas tanks and as Jack pointed out there is the corrosiveness issue, it can't be piped so even more gas is wasted trucking it to market. It is time for Washington policy makers to do the right thing on this issue instead of taking care of the big money interests.
Charity begins at home
Some time ago I wrote in support of Lewis-Palmer School District 38's Mill Levy Override proposal. I still support it for all the reasons I mentioned. But recently Amendment 66 has appeared on the scene - to raise $1 billion in new income taxes for statewide public schools.
While this proposal is well-meaning, it is destructive to the financing of El Paso County public schools in two ways: first, it detracts from local efforts to fund local district schools by taking the oxygen out of the political air. In District 38, a small, but high-achieving district in northern El Paso County, residents are trying to obtain voter approval for an urgently-needed mill levy override to staunch the bleeding. From a political standpoint, Amendment 66 makes the efforts of residents all the more difficult.
Even more important in a "down" economy, the amendment is "re-distributionist" at its core: District 38 would receive only about $0.42 cents out of every additional dollar district residents would have pay. The balance from local residents would be paid to further fund the state educational bureaucracy and to provide greater levels of assistance to other districts.
In the end, Amendment 66 would provide D-38 only about $1.6 million per year in additional funds that could be used for discretionary expenditures. In contrast, the District's MLO asks district voters for authority to generate as much as $4.5 million if needed. The problem in a "down" economy, is that local needs have to be met before attending to everyone else's needs.
While the purposes of Amendment 66 would be laudable in an "up" economy, charity begins at home. I urge voters in our area to reject Amendment 66 this year and support "Local Funding of Local Schools." Amendment 66 can wait.
It's not going to change
On national TV this past week, congressman Doug Lamborn had an opportunity to explain to his District 5 constituents the pain and uncertainty they are experiencing because of the federal government shutdown.
He is the representative for a primarily federal government community. It is widely noted that Colorado Springs is one of the worst hit regarding the shutdown.
The majority of businesses that exist within his district are the beneficiary in some way of federal dollars or the pay that is earned by those hardworking personnel to spend. What's "regrettable" is his arrogance and disregard for his constituents. It's a federal town. Congress has now voted to back pay federal employees (for which I agree). What has been gained by this impasse? Taxpayers are not only inconvenienced and those in need experiencing real pain, this mess costs more than a normal day of operations. The shutdown is just a waste of money.
Federal employees should forget the sideshow of Obamacare. For everyone that agrees in this country of 300 million, there is someone that disagrees. Federal employees, military personnel, federal retirees ... Obamacare has no impact on you and anybody that states otherwise is using fear and demagoguery to try and influence you. Unless you opt out (I'm guessing military personnel don't have a choice), you have employer provided health insurance.
Why get worked up about it? The real issue is the shutdown and pending debt ceiling fight that has a real impact on you and this city.
The only person that this area has an ability to directly influence is our own representative. Lamborn has consistently voted for furloughs, RIFs, and years of no pay raises. Those are the outcomes ... period. How could one not expect a negative impact on this community? If you are a Federal employee or contractor working on Federal projects that has voted for him ... you should expect the outcome that currently exists and comes with him. It's not going to change.
More of the same is coming. Once the current issues of government shutdown and debt ceiling are temporarily resolved (and it will be temporary), the second year of sequestration (for which Lamborn has demonstrated his unequivocal support) will start to kick in. That does not mean stable jobs and pay increases.
Don't buy into any rhetoric that he didn't mean for the policy positions he's voted for to have the negative impact it has had on his community.
Oh yes he did.