Letters to the Editor


RE: Iowa’s Nitrate Contaminated Water

I have been following the discussion on our state’s nitrate-contaminated water that comes from runoff of agricultural fertilizers. I listened with distress when Gov. Terry Branstad suggested that we take money away from our schools to help clean up the water.

I may have missed it, but so far, I haven’t heard anyone suggest the most obvious source of funding for cleanup.  So here it is:

Companies that manufacture the nitrogen- and phosphorus-based fertilizers that are contaminating our water should be required a portion of the cleanup costs of the water, based on volume of sales in our state.

To me, it makes perfect sense that part of the cost of doing business is cleaning up after yourself. No one is denying that these fertilizers are an integral part of most farmers operations. But the byproduct of their use is the poisoning of our water, creating health risks especially for infants, pregnant women, nursing mothers, or elderly people and creating huge costs to municipalities that must remove these dangerous compounds to make the water safe for our communities.

I cannot fathom why companies that make a product that has dangerous side effects is not required to help pay the costs of cleaning up the toxic byproducts of their product.

I know some people will object to this idea. Some will suggest that fertilizer manufactures will just pass this added cost onto farmers. This will be true to some degree. But companies can only raise their prices so much before there is a backlash. At some point, the fertilizer manufactures will have to realize that they will have to bite the bullet and start making a slightly smaller profit. This is what free-market capitalism is all about, so we should hear no complaints from the Republicans on this. And since the fertilizer industry is a $15 billion to $20 billion a year industry, I think they will be survive.

In any case, the cost of cleaning this contaminated water is high, and it will have to be shared by EVERYONE involved. It can’t just be passed on to the taxpayers.

But this approach is short-term, it does not get rid of the cause of the problem. I would also hope that lawmakers will start to take a more intelligent, comprehensive, long term approach to this problem by working with farmers to create better systems to reduce runoff and to create more sustainable models of farming.

Mary Tarnoff



Sanders the only solid candidate

Reagan dropped taxes on the upper bracket of the rich from 70 percent to 30 percent, supported policy that weakened unions, and raised debt with questionable foreign interventions. Clinton broke Glass-Steagall de-regulating the banks, signed NAFTA outsourcing jobs, and through his welfare reform further primed the prison pipeline. George W. Bush cut taxes for the rich while blowing trillions on Middle Eastern safaris. The Supreme Court Citizens United decision allows the rich to spend unrestrictedly in any national contest. And a bizarre cabal of zero-taxation zero-government policy makers has risen to power.

The results: The profits have risen straight to the top few percent, which has used it to buy up the media and the politicians and create think tanks to provide messaging to these mouthpieces. And so, education, welfare, Social Security, Medicare, and the worker are all under attack, health care remains private and unaffordable for many, and the cost of college is growing beyond students’ financial capacity — all for a parasitic group of super wealthy (many of which inherited its privilege).

Production has risen steadily since the 1940s, but since the 1980s, the working classes and poor have lost ground. Those working are working more hours for less, and while one earner supported a family in the 1950s, two earners today barely get by.

The U.S. needs to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour ($30,000/year), establish national health care, re-establish taxing the upper bracket of the rich (under Dwight Eisenhower it was 91 percent), re-regulate the banks, fund education, demand United States businesses stay home, and stay out of other people’s countries except to offer aid.

For all these reasons, Bernie Sanders is the only solid candidate for president in 2016.

Brandon Ross


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