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Issue Home December 17, 2002 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Can’t Be Bothered?

I noticed that parking on Main Street was again a subject at a borough council meeting. Apparently they aren't very serious about the problem, as no one has as yet responded to calls regarding an unlicensed car which has been parked near 403 West Main Street for approximately 2 months now.

It seems that the local police and road maintenance crews would be interested in having this car removed, as it interferes with snow removal, but apparently they would rather not bother. Too bad!

Sincerely,

Harry Biesecker

Susquehanna, PA

The High Cost Of Free Trade

In the early years of our country, our government was funded almost exclusively through tariffs. Even when tariffs became a less important revenue source, they remained in place because they served another very important purpose. Tariffs protected American workers from being undercut by very low wages in other nations. Tariffs enabled the existence of a strong middle class and prosperity in manufacturing and agriculture.

Several decades ago, however, economic planners with no national loyalty and presumably much personal gain at stake, began to deride tariffs as an impediment to economic growth. The push was on to scour the Earth for cheaper and cheaper products, made with cheaper and cheaper labor, with no regard for American workers. "Protectionism" has been degraded to four-letter-word status by a majority of those in power. Both major political parties have bowed before the sacred cow of free trade and all recent administrations have circled the globe, shamelessly sacrificing American jobs and squandering taxpayer money in exchange for political favors. The Bush administration now plans to pursue a free trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand, to reward them for supporting the administration in its effort against Iraq. Thousands of US dairy farmers and cattle growers would be sacrificed in this deal. Evidently, this is what Bush administration officials really meant when they declared that Trade Promotion Authority was essential in the war on terror.

What has the true cost been? Cheap toys, trinkets, parts and supplies that become costly when they do not last, not to mention the frustration that they cause and the landfill space that they take up. Open borders have resulted in an illegal immigration nightmare, increased vulnerability to terrorism and increased drug trafficking. The controversial dairy programs cost taxpayers billions of dollars, in spite of the fact that domestic production has lagged behind consumption for years. Even so, farm milk prices are currently at 1979 levels. Billions of consumer dollars have poured into China, making possible a huge military buildup in that country. In fact, when a US spy plane was forced to land on Chinese soil and was dismantled by the Chinese, the US simply looked on in pathetic impotence because we have become dependent on the Chinese for a great host of consumer goods.

Chapter 11 of NAFTA makes a mockery of national sovereignty, democratic self-determination, and due process. The World Trade Organization operates in secret and is controlled by people who have no public accountability, yet our leaders bow before them in unholy reverence.

As unsettling as this is, perhaps nothing hits closer to home than the impact of globalism on agriculture. In 1973, the Agricultural Trade and the Proposed Round of Multilateral Negotiations outlined a plan to remove tariffs and subsidies from agricultural products. The goal was to force farmers into greater efficiency, through global agricultural trade. The anticipated benefit would be lower food cost, more money for consumer goods, and increased economic growth.

Farmers around the world are reeling from the results of these trade policies which have resulted in depressed farm prices, while consumers pay more and more for lower quality food. The GAO report titled Food Safety – Federal Efforts to Ensure the Safety of Imported Foods are Inconsistent and Unreliable estimated the cost of food-borne illnesses to be between $6.6 and $37 billion dollars annually. Millions of tons of food pour into the United States every year. Much of this is produced under low, or nonexistent sanitary standards or contaminated with pesticides or herbicides that have long since been banned in the US, or that were never legal here. Very little is inspected and even the inspections that do take place are often inadequate and ineffective.

How can we put a price tag on the loss of rural infrastructure? A once prosperous and robust farm economy has become weak and anemic, kept on life support by costly government subsidies, which only repay a fraction of what is stolen by consolidated agribusiness, facilitated by foolish and damaging trade policy. Good, hardworking and knowledgeable farmers are being lost. Farm families are in despair and stressed to the max. A whole generation of future farmers has no incentive to pursue a career in production agriculture. All this, in spite of nearly one billion people around the world that go to bed hungry every night. Elected officials have failed the American people, miserably by allowing this foolishness to go on without even the slightest protest. Land grant universities have contributed to the farmers’ demise by withholding the truth and by offering bad advice.

We are sliding down a slippery slope. American agriculture is in a state of collapse. If America wishes to preserve an adequate supply of domestically produced food, we must act quickly and decisively to free ourselves from the snare of global entanglement. The family farm system of agriculture that has served our nation so well must be preserved. The cost of failing to do so will be staggering, indeed.

Sincerely,

Gerald Carlin, dairy farmer

Meshoppen, PA

Many Thanks

Canawacta Lodge No. 360, Susquehanna, PA, wishes to thank all those who helped make the annual turkey dinner for the senior citizens a huge success.

If we were to name each individual and/or business, it would fill four pages of the Transcript. But it includes those who gave gifts to be distributed, those who donated food, the workers, the businesses that filled the bags for Santa and the Masons who prepared the food.

We look forward to seeing our guests next year and say "God Bless You" for being part of such a wonderful event.

Sincerely,

Canawacta Lodge #360

Election Year Budgeting

Today I attended the Susquehanna County Commissioners meeting and the all-important question was asked about what the tax increase for 2003 would be. The response was that there would be NO increase. The members of the press and others appeared pleasantly surprised and somewhat dismayed. When asked how this was achieved, the response was that Capital projects were eliminated and certain other reductions were made. However, the commissioners were not prepared to give any examples of any significant savings. We were told that the county had to make up approximately $370,000 for 2001 pension fund loss and $1,000,000 for 2002 loss. It would take an extremely sharp pencil to fold this in without a tax increase.

After the meeting, myself and others looked at the budget available for public review. After a quick scan, I noticed a line item of $1,313,962 surplus carryover from 2002. Wow, I said to myself, where did this come from, until it was pointed out that in 2000 there was a very significant tax increase. The only obvious conclusion I came to was that there was a tax increase after the last election to build up a large surplus that would look good for the next election.

Another subject brought up at the meeting was consideration for a retirees’ pay increase. The last increase was three years ago. However, the decision was made not to include even a modest cost of living increase in the 2003 budget. This could have been a one-time increase, as opposed to the 4% yearly increase enjoyed by elected officials and county employees. I asked how, in good conscience the retirement board could take this position; each member choose to ignore the question.

Tom Jurista

Silver Lake Township

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