Reader Mail

Getting Along

When does compromising become selling out? Baseball's racial lineup. More food for naught. The ANWR drill. Plus more.

6.18.07

QUOTE OF THE DAY
Re: Merlin Perkins's letter (under "Separating Wheat From Chaff") in Reader Mail's Corn Utopia:

I would like to thank and commend Merlin Perkins for his stating "Whatever constitutional rights an alien has, he does not have a right to be here."

Why is this so difficult for politicians to get a grasp of?
-- Raymond Barton
Fort Worth, Texas

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS
Re: Jeffrey Lord's The Senator and the Anchor:

You are exactly right -- they DON'T GET IT! Kyl campaigns as a conservative, then goes to Washington and does a complete turn around. Where have all the good, strong, conservative, men of integrity gone in the Republican Party? Here in Arizona we have no senator to represent We the legal People, only two who went to Washington to get along with the Dems and campaign for President. This may be their last term -- then they will get the message and the boot!
-- Kathy
Arizona

A Fabulous Story, TRUE to a fault, and extremely well put. Couldn't have said it better myself, and have many times.

Thanks,
-- Dan Peick

The senator? Was he ever a representative of the people?

The anchor? While pretending to be a journalist, she hasn't been and won't be. But a liberal advocate-opinionist? Few rivals.

The network and its infighting? Mirror several things. How out of touch with people's reality they are. How much they've forgotten about what journalism is supposed to be. How tenuous American liberal coalitions, including the Democrat Party with its allies such as CBS, seem to be. And how narrow-minded and self-serving they all, CBS included, remain.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

While it may be good that the current immigration bill failed it is disingenuous to imply that Ronald Reagan did not compromise with Democrats. President Reagan's adoption of the so-called Greenspan Social Security "reform" plan, that doubled taxes on the self-employed, was a compromise with Democrats. As were his other tax increases (TEFRA, the Deficit Reduction Act, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, and the Tax Reform Act).

President Reagan was even proud of the fact that he could work with rabidly partisan Democrat Speaker Tip O'Neil. Chuck Schumer, the model of a partisan Democrat, in his frustration with President Bush's refusal to cut and run from Iraq has hearkened back to President Reagan as a conservative "Democrats could work with." Should conservatives repudiate Reagan, because he compromised with Democrats to govern or should we embrace his pragmatic conservatism?

Those dead set against the current immigration reform plan fail to appreciate that conservatives like President Bush, Senator Kyl, Fred Barnes and others sympathetic to the idea are merely following in the footsteps of President Reagan. Condemn the current legislation if you will, but don't do it in the name of Ronald Reagan who granted blank amnesty and nearly instant citizenship to millions of illegal aliens.

The time has come for all conservatives to scale down the rhetoric and vitriol or plan to return to Democrat domination of all of government and conservatives needlessly lost in the political wilderness for 40 years. That is if the Muslim Imperialists allow us 40 years of Democrat rule.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

NO MERCY
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Gotta Know When to Hold Them:

JAY IS WAY OFF ON THIS ONE! This guy got in to the country on false pretenses. He was working with Al Qaeda (We are at war with), to kill people and structures. The evidence was there. Did we let the German prisoners go before the war was over? Did we have trials for them in our on courts? We did capture spies here and did not deport them but imprisoned them. What is wrong with that? I guess we should let this poor soul live near Jay so he can see up front that this is a man who needed to be behind bars until this war is over (however long that is). The man knew what he was going to do and that we would not like it. Come on. He was not some innocent person pick on by our government. Please look at everything next time Jay.

Thanks
-- Joseph D'Ambrosia

ROUNDING FIRST
Re: Lawrence Henry's Race and Sports:

Lawrence Henry finally hit the nail on the head when he wrote "absent fathers."

Baseball is a game that is passed from father to son, and it has been this way for as far back as you'd care to look.

A black town nearby fields a team in a local league of 13 and 14 year olds. They showed up for a game with over 20 boys on their roster. Eleven or 12 boys per team is typical, to get everyone playing time. You might think that interest in baseball was growing in this black neighborhood, but then you learn that, had they formed two teams, there was no father available to coach the second.

Sad regards,
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh

Mr. Henry, I am a baseball guy, and you have hit it on the screws. The one thing I'd not stopped to realize was your understanding of the greater necessity of cooperation in pick-up baseball.

We simply do not hear frankness in important issues anymore. That brings us more dysfunction, not less. The inability to speak small truths leads to the inevitability of the big lie.

The fellow who coined that was hanged by Adolf's boys.
-- James Wilson

It's not too hard to understand why blacks in baseball peaked around 1974. Some of the greatest black sports icons were in baseball in the 1950s and 1960s. Jackie Robinson, Bob Gibson, and Hank Aaron illustrated what could be achieved by blacks in baseball. The real question is what happened to change all that.

It wasn't until the 1960s and 1970s that all major Universities started to seriously recruit black athletes. This had a tremendous impact on football and basketball. Once this barrier was eliminated it's no wonder black participation in baseball began to dwindle. Blacks simply had more choices available.

In simple terms, when people, no matter what color, are provided more choices they have a tendency to make those other choices some times. And what's wrong with that?
-- RW

A BUSHEL AND A PECK
Re: Iain Murray & William Yeatman's Food Before Fuel:

It is bemusing to read this article and the concerns about rising food costs. The cost of a bushel of corn or soybeans or oats or a pound of beef or pork or chicken plays a minuscule part of the price of food for the consumer. The last time I figured, a bushel of oats makes 38 boxes of Cheerios and the bushel costs $2.60. That bushel of oats makes 38 boxes costing $84 to the consumer. That $84 also consists of transportation, processing, packaging, marketing, labor, taxes etc. A farmer receives only 0.03% of that $84. The American consumer spends about 10% of their disposable income for food, which is the lowest cost in the history of humankind. One of my college professors would rap his lectern stating, "Education is repeat, repeat, repeat ($84)."

Ann and I are proud that two of our sons are the 10th succeeding generation with the Sage family name to have farmed in America since 1653. In order for their families to continue farming after we pass on, we have paid over $360,000 the last 30 years in life insurance premiums, accounting and legal fees. These are a "cash cow" for those entities! (In 1932 my father sold a dairy cow "cash" to pay for 10 days of hospitalization for my mother and myself along with the doctor's bill.) Because of the possible estate taxes that will be collected, I have testified before the Iowa Legislature to delete these taxes for lineal descendants. Also in 2004 we met with President Bush in Des Moines to continue to support the federal estate tax exemption on the federal level.

With a strong conservation ethic, "To live as though you are going to die tomorrow. Farm as though you are going to farm forever," we have not taken everything from the land during our time. We have not "farmed" the farm program by raising a 100% corn base acreage to maximize government payments. Our corn base acres are 67% of our crop acres rather than 100%. In 1974 we diverted 8 acres of cropland into a wildlife area and we have enjoyed observing the numerous species of wildlife near our home.

In 1974-75 Scholastic, Inc. selected our farm to represent U.S. Agriculture in their "People at Work," film series highlighting the life of a farm family. That experience we will treasure in our remaining years.

The enclosed picture in the White House was on my 72nd birthday. I would advise the American Spectator to feature Dr. Victor Davis Hanson on your web page as I first used his article from the February 2002 American Heritage to encourage the Des Moines Register and the Waterloo Courier in 2003 as to the importance of what the U.S. was facing in the Islamic world. (I shared that article with President Bush). His essays continue to stress that importance of facing the forces of EVIL!
-- Ann Sage -- An Iowa Master Farm Homemaker
-- Jim Sage -- An Iowa Master Farmer & Iowa Master Pork Producer

Thank you for the article on GROPEC (Getting Rich Off Producing Ethanol from Corn). This is the biggest disruption of the American food supply in history. Other disruptions such as drought and disease are temporary. GROPEC is just getting started. The construction of ethanol plants resembles a gold rush. The government subsidy of 50 cents per gallon of ethanol together with the mandates you mentioned are the only reasons these plants are profitable. Even with the mandate, plants would have been profitable only for a short period of time without the subsidy. You neglected to mention that there is a tariff on imported ethanol. Brazil would love to supply us with sugarcane ethanol, which can be produced twice as efficiently.

As for food prices, they have only begun to rise. Most corn is either exported or used for animal feed. It takes time for the shock of increased feed prices to make their way through the market system. The pork you are eating now is from a pig conceived a year ago on $2 corn. The beef is from a calf conceived two years ago. These animals don't just disappear when feed prices increase. If the animals are healthy we feed them to market. As a pork producer I have 30 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in a business that relied on affordable feed. Now that this insane government redistribution of wealth has pulled the rug out from under me I face some very difficult decisions. Do I cut my losses and get out or hope the other guy blinks first and pork prices increase. So it takes time for people like myself to decide to curb production as a result of high feed costs. Right now the most of the higher feed costs are being absorbed by producers like myself, not by consumers.

I do not see any way the ethanol subsidies can be stopped. Those who have made huge investments in the industry would scream bait and switch. As you know each farm state has two senators, none of whom will move against ethanol. The only thing we can do is try to stop the mandates and ethanol tariffs, and if your state still allows you the freedom to do so, stop putting ethanol in your tank. The ethanol industry rightly fears overproduction as a result of the artificial oversupply created by the subsidies, and thus they are trying to force you to use their product.

Has this ever happened before in a free country. If the government can make you burn your food supply, what is next. Will they make you eat pork and poultry instead of beef because cattle produce all those nasty greenhouse gases? Will they mandate that you eat your vegetables or buy rap music. Perhaps we could mandate subscriptions to The American Spectator and all our troubles would be over.

Hurting in South Dakota,
-- Les Rensink

At long last, the price of farm commodities is tied to the real world. What other product costs the same now as it did 40 years ago? Two-dollar corn has an energy value of six to seven dollars when compared to other fuels. Cost to raise that bushel of corn is closely related to energy cost, and it takes a lot of capital to buy land, machinery, hybrid seed, fuel, and fertilizer. Where corn at two dollars was at the break-even point, four-dollar corn is still a very good bargain for both the producer and consumer.

Yes, it will increase the cost of wheat as well. Even if a bushel of wheat costs six-dollars (about double the long-term average), the cost of the wheat in that loaf of bread is only five or six cents. The rest of the one to three dollars goes off the farm to the baking company and grocery store. The primary driver of their costs is energy for transportation, heating ovens, salaries and obscene profits.

Corn gets the blame when Americans are too fat. Now with both high-energy costs and higher corn prices, people will get more exercise.
-- Robert D. Dible
Rexford, Kansas

PUMPED
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Oil Is Not Well and the "Energetic Responses" letters in Reader Mail's Power Plays:

I was pleased to see some reader response to "Oil Is Not Well" indicating that not all TAS readers are above a little conspiracy seeking analysis. I can't vouch for the claims made by Byron Wine or R. Goodson, but it's encouraging to see that not everyone buys into the conventional wisdom that we are simply at the mercy of the often hostile oil-exporting nations.

During WWII Germany used technology to wring synthetic petroleum from coal, and it was of a quality that allowed General Patton to use captured supplies in his vehicles, which were not specifically engineered for it. How has it come to be that this technology isn't being employed, much less advanced, in the face of the perpetual run-up in gas prices? Maybe before 1973 there was no pressing need to develop an alternative to oil, but it boggles my mind that apparently no one is interested in converting our stupendous coal reserves into something that will power the SUV to the supermarket and beyond.

How is it that all of our brainpower seems to have been committed to advances in computer technology? Comparing the advances in computer technology since 1973 with the advances in fuel technology during the same time is an amazement. Are there no smart guys or gals willing to tinker in their garages for a chance to become the richest human being on the planet?

Might it not be a good investment for some energy giant like Exxon/Mobil to drop a few hundred million on a truckload of coal and some R&D? Could some other force be at work that stifles such ingenuity?

About a year and a half ago, Ben Stein wrote here in TAS online that "Oil Is Well" and sang hosannas to the oil companies for their altruism in bringing us their product. He wrote, "[V]itally, lots of the money that goes into Big Oil goes to find ever scarcer oil reserves ...Big Oil are not our Moms and Pops. They're in it to make money. But they are not fixing prices. They are not restraining trade. They are doing an incredibly dangerous, risky thing: getting oil for us in our gas hogs to cruise down the highway." Now, I ask you, how dangerous and risky can it be to set up a proven German model and tinker with it, maybe even employing safety goggles and a hard hat, with a fire extinguisher close at hand, all in accordance with OSHA standards?

Big Oil is indeed making money, as is everyone in the oil marketing chain, except maybe the independent station operator, if such a thing still exists. Could it be that certain wealthy and powerful persons find the present situation quite alright, and abhor the thought of any new technology upsetting their carefully wrought applecart by providing something other than oil 'for us in our gas hogs to cruise down the highway?'

Our Founders and Framers took careful account of the dangers of accumulations of power, and indeed, structured our system of government to limit them, at least in government. They knew that it's a most fundamental principle of human nature for power and wealth to seek to perpetuate and expand themselves.

I. for one, don't imagine that those who have accumulated wealth and power have any desire to be our "Moms and Pops," at least not beyond the control of our thoughts and actions. I think that they are not immune to human nature, for all that Mr. Stein suggests that they are. I strongly suspect that they are quite capable of and willing to work across national, religious, ideological and all other boundaries in pursuit of their own aggrandizement. This, even to the extent of "restraining trade" and "fixing prices," and perhaps much, much more.

After all, the wealthy and powerful don't live a life subject to the workaday realities of the commoner, regardless where they live. If their first loyalty be to themselves, why let such mundane accidents of birth spoil the everlasting party? When was the last time Ted Kennedy troubled over the price of gasoline or the finest Scotch whiskey?...

When the movement of Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" is stayed, as it apparently is in the case of making synthetic petroleum from coal (or developing our own reserves), I have to wonder why. How can proven technology be left idle, while the United States allows itself to be prostrated by third world tyrants? On an even more fundamental level, how can our Congress and presidents allow our own known reserves to lie fallow due to over-hyped environmental worries, even as the Alaskan Pipeline chugs along with its excellent record? Has no one been working on the technology to make production and transport of oil from ANWR or offshore an even safer bet?

I smell a rat. Imagine the dislocations among the wealthy and powerful if there were suddenly a technology able to offer gasoline at a price lower than it's currently marketed. What if ANWR's reserves should prove to challenge Saudi Arabia's? The distress would cut across national boundaries and bring down fortunes and rulers like Hurricane Andrew in a refugee trailer park would level hovels.

Does anyone imagine that the residents of the oil industry trailer park are limited in the actions they take to avoid such a calamity by any concerns for the good of the consumer? I don't. Take a look at the evening news and observe the depredations we humans will commit for the sake of even momentary comfort, then tell me the limits of the skullduggery billionaires will employ to remain so, or that presidents, congressmen and senators will employ to remain so. It's a sweet gig, by any standard, and the evidence seems to suggest that some, at least, will succumb to perfidy to maintain and enhance their positions to the extent of being dumb enough to be caught.

In an age in which one can scarcely tell the Democrats from the Republicans, and they collude mightily under the aegis of our presidents to betray our very sovereignty, gut the Bill of Rights and exert federal control over what were clearly intended to be state powers, I can't help pondering the concentrations of power against which we've been warned. When an allegedly free market fails to produce an alternative to an over-priced commodity, I wonder why, and suspect the worst. I will not be put off by Mr. Stein's paean to the oil companies, nor by ridicule for being a conspiracy theorist.

It's been said that it ain't paranoia if they really are out to get you. Until the wealthy and powerful are certified by some higher authority than Ben Stein to have become immune to the lower drives of human nature, I'll be open to any answer that makes the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fit smoothly. From all that I've seen in the dominant media, that answer remains elusive. Messrs. Wine and Goodson hint at what may truly be going on, and I hope that readers will not discount them.
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

THE McGEE WHO MADE MILWAUKEE INFAMOUS
Re: Mark G. Michaelsen's Milwaukee's Unfavorite Son:

If Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee Jackson Jr. Jr. ran for re-election right now, he'd probably win with 90% of the vote. If he runs after any conviction -- should that happen -- his margin of victory might be even higher. Milwaukee might not like him, but his district will support him to the gallows foot and after.

I believe it was established, by the way, that the Alderman did not in fact legally change his name, hence how I style him above. Nor did his former-Alderman father. The issue came up when the younger Alderman tried to get a passport so he could visit someone who is currently the dictator-in-all-but-name of Venezuela.

Nothing has been done about the Alderman's two Social Security numbers. The local newspaper enjoys running the stories about the allegations, but they still won't ask for an investigation of the double numbers.

I can't even get an answer to my question if it is legal in my state for someone to hold office under a pseudonym. Because even if Michael McGee Jr. did legally change his name, it came after his election to the Milwaukee Common Council.

But this is all life in modern American racial politics. Wait until the illegal immigrant Democrats that Senators Reid and Kennedy support take office openly, instead of just illegally voting. Then you'll see some great headlines.
-- Lloyd Daub
Fled-Milwaukee-for-Greenfield, Wisconsin

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