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Issue Home November 24, 2010 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

National Farm-City Week: Nov. 19-25

This Thanksgiving Day, as we gather with family and friends to count our blessings, let’s give thanks for the bounty we enjoy not just on this holiday, but every day. The safe, plentiful food that is available to us, and the products used to produce the clothing, housing, medicines, fuel and other products we use on a daily basis, didn’t just appear in a store. They got there thanks to a tremendous partnership of farmers, processors, brokers, truckers, shippers, advertisers, wholesalers and retailers.

This farm-city partnership is recognized nationwide the week leading up to and including Thanksgiving Day as National Farm-City Week.

Rural and urban residents are “Partners in Progress” who produce the products, consume the products, and make them readily available through an efficient production and marketing chain. Farmers and ranchers are just the beginning of that chain. Farm workers, researchers, processors, shippers, truck drivers, inspectors, wholesalers, agribusinesses, marketers, advertisers, retailers and consumers all play important roles in the incredible productivity that has made our nation’s food and fiber system the envy of the world.

This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s remember the vital farm-city partnerships that have done so much to improve the quality of our lives. Rural and urban communities working together have made the most of our rich agricultural resources, and have made significant contributions to our health and well-being and to the strength of our nation’s economy. For this, we can give thanks.

Pauline Fallon, Director
Susquehanna County Farm Bureau

Cold Sweat

Millions of Americans, besides Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, would dearly love watching the country stick it to President Barack Hussein Obama junior. In this instance, that would be denying the man a second gig as president.

Unlike those millions, the good senator does have some say in the prospects for Obama’s re-election. Right now, as I understand this country’s economic circumstances, it’s “touch and go.” One misstep by either the president or congress may be enough to plunge the country into a nightmare. The very possibility of which makes our most authoritative economists wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

And that brings this exegesis back to Senator McConnell and this question. In exercising his say in the prospects for the President’s re-election, what would the good senator be prepared to risk? Would Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell be prepared to risk, say, a “second dip.” The preceding one, from which the economy has yet to recover, is more than bad enough. After all, the “for real” unemployment rate is only a hair short of fourteen percent (14%). That second dip, whoever would be at fault, just might double that.

Were that to happen, topic A changes from recession to depression. Next question, it’s in regard to risking that second dip. How enthusiastic would those aforementioned millions of Americans be about the good senator taking that risk?

A Alexander Stella
Susquehanna, PA

Deficit Won’t Be Dealt With

Even before they take over, there's reason to doubt that the Republicans are really serious about the deficit. They've proposed $100 billion in spending cuts. Wowee. Sorry, gang, but taking the deficit from $1.3 trillion to $1.2 trillion is not a significant difference! Picking on what little the Federal government does for the needy, or on pet right-wing whipping boys like NPR, won't do much to reduce the deficit.

I've been asking Tea Party types for a long time where we can cut spending, and besides welfare (a state program anyway), I always get nothing. So, in the absence of any suggestions from them, I've compiled a preliminary list of spending cuts. Here they are:

- We can cut military spending without harming national defense. Eliminate all weapons systems that the Pentagon never wanted, but that Congress made them take. Eliminate all weapons systems designed to fight the Cold War. The challenge is different now. Bring all our troops back from Germany and Japan. WWII is over!

- Repeal the Medicare Prescription Drug Act, a bad entitlement that was not paid for, that's really a subsidy for the Insurance and Pharmaceutical industries.

- Eliminate the Faith-Based Initiative, a patently unconstitutional program (savings: $2+ billion). Churches need to raise their own money and not force those who aren't members to contribute to their collection plates.

- We have the largest prison population in the world. Stop locking up non-violent offenders. Only incarcerate those who are a real threat.

- Kick Puerto Rico out of the nest. They should be an independent nation, not a welfare-ridden dependency. They're a vestige of imperialism we should have relinquished long ago, like we did for Cuba and the Philippines.

- Stop paying corporations to outsource jobs.

- End tobacco subsidies.

- Stop subsidizing the extraction industries exploiting Federal land. Get maximum value for the resources taken, instead of giveaway prices.

- No more Congressional salaries. They can afford to serve gratis. (Besides, they can always get by on bribe money.)

There you go. These cuts are far more substantial than those the Republicans have so far suggested. And if we don't do better than their feeble ideas, we will never begin to get a handle on the deficit. And as much as the Tea Party doesn't like it, we will never tame the deficit without raising taxes. Time to stop kidding ourselves and do the responsible thing. Or face financial ruin, and soon.

Stephen Van Eck
Rushville, PA

Stop The Presses!

No, I don’t mean the newspaper presses. I mean the printing presses belonging to the Federal Reserve Bank. Hopefully, you already know that the Fed is printing six hundred billion dollars of “worthless money,” that is, Federal Reserve Notes (check your wallet) which are based solely on the “full faith and credit of the United States.” Six hundred billion - $600,000,000,000.00.

Since we now borrow fully forty percent or more of every dollar spent by the Government (which makes us a weaker nation as a result), I wonder how much faith we should have. The reverse of the Note clearly states “In God We Trust.” That is the best we can do. The net effect of this running of the money presses will only serve to make the Federal Reserve Notes in your wallet “worth less.” We will experience more “dollars” chasing the same amount of goods which leads to inflation.

In the event that this is news, please check your Nov. 11 issue of the Scranton Times-Tribune on the plan by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to buy a total of $105 billion worth of government bonds starting later this week. This run of the Feds printing press is supposed to help stimulate the economy. They are going to start the presses on Nov. 12 and run them through Dec. 9 and use this “money,” and more to come, to “buy” $600 billion of Treasury bonds over the next eight months.

As mind boggling as that is, it is woefully deficient on the part of the Times-Tribune to fail to put this whole business in context. Without context, the average reader will not have a clue as to the negative impact such actions will have on their wages and savings. It behooves all of us to pay close attention to what select information we are fed by the media or one day we will wake up with a “Wha’ hoppened” expression on our face. It will be too late. It also behooves you to find the news outlet that will tell you the truth, warts and all.

Joe McCann
Elk Lake, PA

The Odd Couple: Part II

The war on drugs is a crushing failure. After four decades and $1 trillion it has failed to achieve any of its stated goals. The government's drug war is based on the premise that laws will curb demand. They do not. So why continue with a policy that has been a proven failure for forty years? Isn't it time for a change?

Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, thinks so. He has been fighting a U.S. financed war against Mexican drug cartels for four years. Yet drug use is rampant and its related violence has left 28,400 Mexicans dead in the last five years. Calderon admitted the war is lost. He called for “a fundamental debate on the legalizing of drugs.”

But legalization is unthinkable. How could any nation permit the sale of heroine, cocaine, amphetamine, and other drugs that have such additive and debilitating effects?

That's where Calderon's debate ended before it even started.

But Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, took a fresh look. He asked, why judge a drug only by its effect on users? Nutt decided to include other factors: drug-related dependence, health, relationships, crime, environmental damage, international effects, and economic costs.

In other words, while everyone was looking at a tree, Nutt looked at the forest. And what he saw looked nothing like a tree. The comprehensive panorama showed a radically different drug picture compared with the myopic view.

The most dangerous drug was alcohol, rated 72 out of 100 on a danger scale. Second, but far below alcohol in its overall harmful effects, was heroin (55); third was crack (54). Crystal meth was fourth (33). And cocaine came in fifth (27).

Surprisingly, No. 6 was tobacco at 26, slightly less harmful than cocaine. Amphetamine was seventh (23). Way down on the list at No. 8 was marijuana (20).

Looked at this way, alcohol has a greater overall negative effect than either heroin, crack, crystal meth, or cocaine. And tobacco is more deleterious than amphetamine and a lot more harmful than marijuana.

Yet, both alcohol and tobacco are legal while heroin, crack, crystal meth, cocaine, and amphetamine are illegal.

Maybe Calderon was right after all; it's time to debate a new strategy on the war against drugs. And the strategy most feared by the cartels is legalization. Legalize all drugs and overnight the black-market profits would vaporize and along with it the entire drug subculture.

The need for government drug enforcement agencies would also disappear. Paradoxically, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the cartels depend on each other for their very existence. They are an odd couple traveling together these forty years. Each one inadvertently sustaining the life of the other; do away with one and the other one perishes.

What would happen if drugs were legalized? There would be revolutionary changes. Here are a few:

The free market would replace the black market. The price of drugs, legal and illegal, would plummet. Instantaneously, the cartels, the gangs, the street corner dealers would be out of business.

An estimated fifty percent of all crime is drug related. The number of robberies, muggings, burglaries, and thefts would plunge. Users would no longer be forced to pay exorbitant black-market prices.

Tens of thousands of enforcement officers would redirect their efforts to combat crimes against persons. Court dockets would be unclogged.

Drug use would spike and level off as did alcohol use after prohibition.

Much of the $600 billion underground drug economy would now be spent for constructive purposes. Many farmers would switch to growing food, a more profitable crop than marijuana and poppy.

Prison building would go from boom to bust. The prison population would crash. Thousands would be freed to resume productive lives.

Legalization would not be the dawning of the Millennium. Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs would continue to plague society, but the overall effect of legalization would be highly beneficial.

Of course, none of this will happen. The charade will continue. Occasionally, a headline arrest of a cartel captain will be made as was the case with Pablo Escobar. Few will note that it made no difference. And occasionally, a large confiscation of drugs will be publicized as was the seizure 134 tons of marijuana. And, again, few will note that its only effect was to spike street prices and increase the profits of the traffickers.

What will happen? The government will enter its fifth decade in the drug war and continue its unwitting support of what it is fighting against. One wonders who has the worse addiction, the user with his drugs or the government with its war on drugs?

Bob Scroggins
New Milford, PA


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Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript

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