We don’t need more farm subsidies!

The Des Moines Register reported that Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, said farmers need a new source of income, and that 90% of farmers don’t make a majority of their income from farming, and that that is a problem.  (See link below.)


It is not the government’s job to find new sources of income for farmers.  The fact that a large percentage of Iowa‘s farmers have other full-time jobs is not a problem that needs fixing. With the current state of farming mechanization, working a small farm is not a full-time job.  We already subsidize farmers by paying 60% of their crop insurance, regardless of size, for doing nothing special or extra.  Paying farmers for “carbon sequestration” sounds a lot like paying them for what they already should be doing.  What we should do is make good farming practices a requirement in order to receive crop insurance or other subsidies.


Link to Register article:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2021/02/27/tom-vilsack-us-agriculture-secretary-iowa-farmers-fight-climate-change-find-new-income-joe-biden/6832688002/

Do police officers in our schools do more harm than good?

Below is a letter I just sent to The Des Moines Register:

To the editor,

Please consider the following for inclusion in your letters section:
 
You reported that a Johnston middle school student brought a BB gun to school.  (“Student found with BB gun at middle school in Johnston”, 2/11/21)  You reported that the school resource officer worked with administrators, “…to secure the student in an isolated area and confiscate the weapon.”, and that, “…the incident is a criminal investigation…”  In a Facebook post, the Police Chief stated they will, “…seek to provide the necessary services to the young persons involved,”
 
This is a good example of over-policing in our schools.  When a police officer is on duty at a school they must become involved, and a mistake by a student becomes a criminal investigation.  In simpler times the Principal or Advisor would take away the BB gun and call the parents in.  The student might be suspended for a few days.  The police and media would not be called.  All students would be reminded about the school policy against bringing a BB gun or any other “weapon” to school.  The kid would never do it again.  Let’s just hope that the police and school administrators handle this situation reasonably with the students involved.
 

Link to Register report: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2021/02/10/summit-middle-school-johnston-police-student-bb-gun-confiscated-weapon/6702371002/

Iowans are doing the right thing – voluntarily.

Below is a letter that I just sent to The Des Moines Register. Odds are they won’t print it. So far, they have been about 100% anti-Governor Reynolds in reporting of her handling the pandemic.

To the editor,

Your report on businesses that are voluntarily continuing to require face masks is reassuring.  (“Some bars, restaurants keeping mask rules”, 2/9/21)  Although your report was only anecdotal, (not a statistically representative sample), 100% of the business on which you reported are continuing to require face masks without a government mandate.  It appears that Governor Reynolds is correct to trust that most Iowans will do the right thing.

Link to Register report: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/entertainment/dining/2021/02/08/iowa-covid-requirements-masks-social-distancing-spacing-required-metro-des-moines-bars-restaurants/4434642001/

Be careful about student loan forgiveness.

Gene Czarnecki makes good points about resisting student loan forgiveness.  (See link below to letter in The Register.)  It seems a little known fact that more people default on loans with balances less than $5,000 than larger balances.  This is likely due to the fact that smaller balances are due from students who did not complete their degrees while larger balances are due from students who completed post-graduate degrees like medicine and law and who have the ability to pay off their loans.  So, if our government does anything to forgive student loans, we should consider forgiving only the first $5,000 rather than larger amounts.

Link to letter:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/readers/2020/11/23/letters-news-media-must-suppress-false-covid-19-beliefs/6346641002/

The battle among the crony capitalists!

I read the report in The Des Moines Register about the questioning of Tom Vilsack by Joni Ernst during the Senate hearings on Vilsack’s nomination for Secretary of Agriculture.  (Vilsack nomination moves to full Senate” 2/3/2021)  President Biden has ordered the development of a plan to convert all federal, state, local and tribal vehicles, including Post Office vehicles, to “clean and zero-emission vehicles.”  Ernst asked Vilsack if he will direct the USDA to buy Tesla trucks that run on electricity or Ford vehicles that run on 85% ethanol.  Vilsack, like a good politician, said it’s not ” an either-or circumstance.”  It will be interesting to see how Vilsack balances the interests of farmers and biofuels producers with the interests of the zero-emissions vehicle and power producers.  One thing is for sure: lobbyists will be in high demand.

Trump did not win the election. The election was not stolen!

People who believe the election was stolen from Trump should not be “canceled” or otherwise censored or shut down. The correct response to false speech is more true speech. A public, transparent investigation into election irregularities, by Congress or otherwise, should not be shouted down, and those calling for an investigation should not be attacked.

To the extent that people are censored by any means, it will likely only confirm for them, and those who agree with them, that they were correct. Censorship doesn’t change minds. Instead, it may well drive those who are censored into their own underground echo-chamber where they may become more radicalized. It is better to try to engage them in a debate, as calmly and rationally as possible, with good evidence presented to debunk false evidence.

With that in mind, I recently listened to most of a 3-hour audio podcast by David C. Smalley where he debunked, point by point, an 18-minute viral video that claimed the election was stolen. Below are links to both the 18-minute YouTube video that “proves” the election was stolen and the 3-hour audio podcast that debunks the video. I recommend that your first watch at least the first 5+ minutes of the video. Then listen to at least the first half-hour of the audio podcast. Watch and listen to more if you are so inclined. Then, if you agree that the election was not stolen, consider forwarding a link to this blog to others, especially to anyone who still believes that the election was stolen.

Link to 18 minute YouTube video viewed by 1.5 million people which details “evidence” that the election was stolen from Trump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXtGItm1bvQ&t=11s

Link to David C. Smalley audio podcast where he debunks popular claims of those who believe the election was stolen: https://www.spreaker.com/user/smalleyandhyso/509-conspiracies

Governor Reynolds supports crony capitalists.

Governor Reynolds has proposed legislation to make, “…biofuels the clear choice for Iowa drivers…”, by mandating a minimum of 10% ethanol in all gasoline and 11% biodiesel in all diesel fuel sold in Iowa.  (See link to Register report below.)  If her proposal becomes law, it would make biofuels the clear choice – because then there would be no other choice.

This is a shining example of how government works when a law or regulation has concentrated benefits and dispersed costs.  Those who receive the concentrated benefits, (in this case farmers and biofuel producers), will lobby heavily to get their benefits, while the cost to any individual is so small that it doesn’t justify the time or money to lobby against the legislation.  Then, those who receive the benefits become dependent on them and continue to lobby to ensure that the benefits never come to an end. Don’t call it free-market capitalism.  It’s called crony capitalism.  

Link to Register report – printed 1/27/21:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2021/01/26/kim-reynolds-plans-require-10-ethanol-11-biodiesel-iowa-fuel/4259109001/

Money grab by States in anti-trust suit against Google.

As reported in The Des Moines Register, Iowa has joined 37 other states in an anti-trust suit against Google for discriminating against other search engines. (See link below.)

The purpose of anti-trust action against any company should be the protection of consumers, not the protection of competing businesses.  If consumers are not harmed, which is the case here, then anti-trust action should not be taken.  I have a strong feeling that the State governments joined this lawsuit in order to share in the billions of dollars of penalties or settlement – a money grab from a deep pocket.

Why should Google be forced to list links to other search engines in the results of their Google searches?  Why shouldn’t Google be allowed to pay smart phone makers to make Google the default search engine – which helps to reduce the cost of cell phones?  Where is the harm to consumers?  In fact, Googles actions arguably help consumers.

Link to Register report: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2020/12/17/google-antitrust-lawsuit-iowa-joins-case-with-38-states-over-internet-search-and-advertising/3939064001/

Register needs better reporting of COVID-19 Stats.

Here is the text of a Letter To The Editor that I just sent to The Des Moines Register:

On Friday, December 4th, you started your daily COVID-19 report with, “The state added another 70 deaths to the tally of people who died with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the largest one-day increase since the pandemic arrived in the state.”   Later in the article, you clarified that of the 70 deaths “reported”, 61 actually died in November, eight died in October, and one died on August 26th.  Your introductory sentence was at best poorly written, and at worst intentionally misleading.  It does appear clear that we have recently been seeing significant increases in the spread of the virus and deaths from the virus, but you lose credibility when you make such misleading statements.

Here is a link to the article:

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2020/12/03/covid-19-iowa-70-deaths-record-increase-another-2926-coronavirus-cases-reported/3807381001/

Supreme Court correct to protect religion

Contrary to the letter from Donnabelle Richtsmeier, our Supreme Court was correct to overturn New York’s restriction on the size of religious gatherings.  (See copy of letter below.)

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”     The 14th Amendment reads in part, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…”  So, states cannot violate our federal constitutional rights.

No exception is made to allow our governments to violate our constitutional rights because of a pandemic. If that were true, what limit would there be on our government’s response to a pandemic?

The statement in the preamble of the Constitution, “promote the general welfare“ does not grant any specific power to our government.  If we gave our government the power to do anything that would promote the general welfare, there would be no limit on our government.  Our Constitution establishes a government with limited, enumerated powers. Restricting the exercise of religion is strictly prohibited.

Donnabelle Richtsmeier’s letter to the Des Moines Register:

I was astonished to learn that the Supreme Court ruled against the lower courts and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 restrictions that included limits on religious gatherings in places of worship. The justices certainly did not take into account current scientific evidence and advice from public health authorities that such measures could help stop the spread of the virus.

The Supreme Court is no longer a bipartisan group of judges whose job it is to interpret the Constitution in a fair and just way. It is a group bent on promoting their own philosophies and politics. In their ruling, they forgot the phrase in the preamble to the Constitution that states “promote the general welfare.” Certainly, efforts to protect citizens from COVID-19 is promoting the general welfare of the citizens of not only New York but the entire United States.

The framers of the Constitution wanted to guarantee religious freedom giving citizens the right to worship in ways suited to them, free from harassment or harm. The Supreme Court really took this out of context. Limiting the size of religious gatherings during this severe pandemic is in no way an attack on the freedom of religion. It is a way to protect the health of citizens and to save lives. The justices must put aside their individual prejudices and become a bipartisan group working together to uphold the Constitution in order to “form a more perfect union.” If they can’t do this, maybe it is time for some changes.

— Donnabelle Richtsmeier, Des Moines