Save the Farmers

If the ruling class -- make that the legislature of the ruling class -- intend to convert the food producers (the farmers) of this nation into an agency similar to this nation's medicine providers (the drug companies), they will be delighted to learn that they need do nothing! The impetus to alter farming to the model of the politically amiable and profitable drug industry already exists.

Time was when health care was less expensive than food. That was before many of our legislators were born. As time marches on, the priority of food over medicine to the maintenance of life will again be recognized.

There exists a monetary relationship between every human function and the payment therefore. This relationship is called parity. Prior to the emancipation of the slaves, the payment for their slavery was food, clothing and housing. After emancipation, freed ex-slaves renounced the amenities of existence for freedom. That solution is available for American farmers. USDA has projected that the farming activities of farm operator households in 2004 will provide an average annual income of $1,226, or about $100 per month for the entire year!

From a June 2004 extract of the Agricultural Statistics Board, NASS, USDA, we learn that the index numbers for prices received for farm products in 1990-92 are 6.39 times the prices received for the same products in 1910-14. while prices paid for production inputs were 16.98 times those of 1910-14. We also learn that agricultural wage rates paid to hired employees in 1990-92 were 59.19 times higher than those paid in 1910-14!

The exodus of farm operator households from farming does not mean that the portion of food contributed by them will cease. If profitable, it will be provided by a larger entity. This larger unit will have to employ personnel to accomplish the production of farm products previously provided by the displaced farm operator household. The farm operator's household that was enriched by $100 per month provided by product sales at prices that returned to the producer about 1/3 the parity cost of their production now is replaced by the larger unit of production. This larger unit of production is faced with the need to provide job parity for its' employees. This cost is more than 59 times the costs in the parity period.

Our legislators are faced with an increasingly complex conundrum. How do they safeguard the production of food consumed in the USA? Will the WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. be sufficient to supply the food needs of the United States? Can we rely on the shipping expertise of foreign owned transportation companies? Will we be able to venture further into debt than the current increasing foreign trade imbalance of about one and one-half billion dollars per day? Or should we attempt to cobble something together to relieve the parity imbalance of production agriculture? If it isn't one thing, it's another!

William J. Kaliff
Grand Island, Neb.

Mormon Marriage

The audacious hypocrisy of ultra conservatives never ceases to amaze. My state's senior senator and our state's legislators are prime examples.

Sen. Orrin Hatch has led the crusade in the US Senate for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Given Utah's unique history of polygamy, wouldn't you think a Utah Mormon would be the last one presuming to lecture the nation about unusual marriage arrangements?

Also, in the recent session of our state's legislature, a bill was introduced defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. One of the lone Democrats in our overwhelmingly Republican state legislature proposed a change in the language of the bill to define marriage as a union "between one man and one woman." This amending language was quickly defeated.

Polygamy, regardless of what the rest of the nation is led to believe, is not dead in Utah and since many families here are still tainted by it, our legislators refuse to publicly condemn it. They turn a blind eye to this socially offensive marriage arrangement but are quite willing to condemn the union of samesex couples. Go figure.

M.J. Ogden
North Ogden, Utah

Dems Exclude

How great to read Carol Crossed's column ("Doing Wrong Thing Better") in the 8/1-15/04 TPP.

A lot of us feel that the Democratic Party, which traditionally has stood up for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, has alienated many of its natural supporters by its embrace of an extreme -- and exclusive -- pro-choice position.

I remember how Governor Casey, elected governor of Pennsylvania by the largest majority in the state's history, was not allowed to speak at the next Democratic presidential convention, because of his pro-life position.

We pro-life Democrats have been silenced and excluded by the party's elite, and it has driven many good Democrats out of the party.

There is a great movement in the country, the consistent ethic movement. Its main organization, Consistent Life (www.consistent-life.org) is a coalition of over 160 organizations, and still more individuals, who oppose war, poverty, the death penalty, abortion, racism, and all violence against human life.

Look at the list of people who have endorsed this position, and you will see many of today's great voices for peace and justice: Peace Nobelists like His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, and activists such as Dan Berrigan, Sr. Helen Prejean, Bill Pelke, Jim Forest, Shelley Douglass and Stephen Zunes.

To all of us committed to inclusive respect for life: the prisoner on death row, the enemy combatant and civilian, the unborn child, the suffering poor person, the intolerance of the Democratic Party elite is an agonizing problem.

Rose Evans
San Francisco, Calif.
Email RoseEvans@aol.com

Praise and Shame

First, I commend you for publishing the column from Carol Crossed ["Doing Wrong Thing Better," 8/1-15/04 TPP] concerning the substantial number of loyal and longtime Democrats who, as do I, support abortion restrictions. If the Democrat Party put a little more effort into wooing this group of voters it could add mightily to the chances of success in the upcoming presidential election. Let us have more information on the successful expansion of Democrats for Life of America.

Second, I criticize you for your failure to edit the article by Donald Kaul. His reference to the overwhelmingly successful film, The Passion of the Christ as "a Christian snuff film" is reprehensible. For an individual who you credit with 29 years of reporting for the Des Moines Register this uncouth reference sounds much more as if it had come from a spoiled teen trying to irritate his parents. That allusion to a far more important subject than Fahrenheit 9/11 should have been bluepencilled. Tsk tsk to you and shame on Kaul. You can certainly do better than that.

F.A. Shields
Ojai, Calif.

Wal-Mart with Regrets

First, I want to say that I agree with what Margot Ford McMillan wrote about Wal-Mart and other such stores ["Low-Price Bandit," 8/1-15/04 TPP]. They are awful in so many ways, but as she said, there is a rub.

Those higher prices we should all pay to support independent shops and owners are not an option for a lot of working-class people and I am tired of having read over and over that I should spend more money somewhere else.

For way too many people, even those making above minimum wage, paying the bills, putting food on the table and maybe if you're lucky having enough left over for a movie or a night out once in a while takes serious budgeting. Unfortunately, shopping at Wal-Mart is a part of that. Not because we like the place or what it does, we can see how it harms people and towns. We shop there because we don't have the choice to shop somewhere with higher prices. There simply is NO MONEY with which to do so. Saving even 5 or 10 cents on items can add up over weeks and months.

Three years ago my husband changed jobs. He took a $5-an-hour pay cut and works many more hours with no overtime because he saw his factory job in danger of going overseas. It did one year ago. That $5-an-hour cut makes life harder and shopping much more difficult with less to spend, even on necessities. Shopping independent stores with their higher prices is a luxury we just can't afford.

Jean Herzog
Sheboygan Falls, Wis.

Oily Tongues

An old set of words has begun to be spoken by a new set of politicians in an effort to shape our post-Sept 11 world. Words such as "terrorism" and "patriotism" have been used to set apart the opposing sides of the Iraqi War Part II. Although these words are catchy, and reach out to the average reader's eye, there is one word with three little letters that has somehow escaped the importance of media attention: oil. It should be common knowledge by now that beneath the desert sands of Iraq rests the world's second largest oil supply. It should also be common knowledge that our Vice President is the former CEO of Halliburton, one of the largest oil supply companies in the world. To further increase our base of common knowledge we should mention that Halliburton received the sole bid on the management of the oil wells in Iraq once the declaration of "major combat operations" had been declared "over" by the Bush administration in May of 2003. The dots are waiting to be connected.

The weapons inspectors have long declared that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This information is contrary to the assurances of President Bush in his prewar speeches. The devastation of 27,250 bombs being dropped on urban areas has caused over 5,500 Iraqi civilian deaths. According to a news article released by Newstandard, most areas in Baghdad only have six to eight hours of electricity in a twenty four hour period. The USAID homepage reports that water treatment facilities are only operating at 65% pre-war efficiency. The three treatment plants in Baghdad are largely inoperable, allowing sewage waste from 3.8 million people to drain directly into the Tigris River. In addition, we have lost nearly 900 American troops. I see it my patriotic duty to rid the root of these problems by going to the polls in November 2004. Let's vote anyone else for president.

Josh McDonald
Spearfish, S.D.

Cry Beloved Country

Like reporter Joyce Marcel and others ["Libs Need More Fighters Like Moore," 8/1-15/04 TPP], I, too, was appalled that not a single US senator had the decency/courage to support the members of the Congressional Black Caucus who tried in vain to challenge the bogus results of the 2000 presidential election in Florida, as depicted in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.

Here's one disturbing answer: In mid-July 2004, while speaking to an aide to Sen. Barbara Boxer in her San Francisco office, I was told that, in order to keep the peace in the wake of the Supreme Court's controversial ruling, that our testicularly-challenged VP, Al Gore (chairing that raucous meeting in the film) had told the senators beforehand that he would not recognize ANY of them from the floor, thereby depriving all of them the opportunity either to speak up and/or sign on to the challenge of the Florida results. Pity that Moore didn't mention this.

So much for the democratic process. I could weep (and have).

Eric Mills
Oakland, Calif.
Email afa@mcn.org


I've been weighing both sides on the issue of homeland security and values. The GOP spent at least $70 million investigating Clinton in the '90s and only $3 million investigating 9/11.

Spending on the cheap looking at 9/11 and spending so much going after Clinton, I wonder where the true GOP values are concerning homeland security?

Dan Lavielle
Seattle, Wash
Email lavielledan@earthlink.net

Bad News, Good News

The bad news is, the federal deficit is $445 billion. The highest deficit in the history of our country. Coupled with the borrowing from China and Japan to finance Bush's tax cuts, we're in deep trouble.

The good news is ... well ... there isn't any.

Randall Rolph
Nashua, Iowa
Email lhoon@rconnect.com

Get a Rope

Considering the debacle that this Bush administration has made of their invasion of Iraq, one might wish that George W Bush's own words at the dedication of his portrait could have been taken literally: "I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to come and witness my hanging." [Austin, Texas, Jan. 4, 2002.]

Larry Boudreau
San Antonio, TX

More Moore

Michael Moore is making a difference. He could do even more. He could deliver the knockout punch to Bush and his lamentable administration. Michael, forego your royalties on the DVD, talk or bribe your distributor into doing the same. Get MoveOn.org or some other group to mail free copies to every household in the 20 or so swing states. Call it Operation Goodbye George.

Bill O'Neill
Menomonie, Wis

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