Saturday, January 12, 2008

Governor Culver's Idea

The papers (both of them) are full of Governor Chet Culver's grinny face this morning reporting on his idea to double our bottle deposit. We currently pay 5 cents a bottle and get it all back if we return the bottle. (I let my nephew take them and get the money) Now he wants to charge 10 cents a bottle and only give us 8 cents back. The other 2 cents would go to an environmental program.

I am in favor of environmental programs and would gladly pay an additional tax to go to it but I am not in favor of his new bill idea. It seems to me like an unnecessary thing. Our bottle bill works now. If they change it I may have to buy a couple of containers, brew ice tea and drink that. I might miss my coke product but I can get it at the fountain when I go to the movie. No deposit there. Governor Culver is not my favorite Democrat. I voted for him because he was a Democrat but if the Republicans were to put up a reasonable person who rejected the evangelical crap that is in their current platform I would vote for him. Bring back Robert Ray! Oh well, ain't gonna happen. Perhaps my friend Wayne D. should run for governor. He would make a great governor. The problem is that he is too wise to do that. In a recent letter to the Ames Tribune Wayne wrote:

"...principles as prepared by former governors Ray and Branstad and other notable Iowa Republicans. After the reading, those present voted to endorse the statement and forward it to the county convention as a possible platform resolution.

The document recalled many of the fundamentals that had made me a Republican many years ago, including the strength of individual liberty; equal rights, equal justice and equal responsibility; free enterprise and individual initiative; fiscal responsibility in government, and national strength and pride with peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

One of the principles read:

"I believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least."

I can embrace some (most) of those principles. Unfortunately the Republican platform currently contains some really far right ideas. I can't embrace them and they are what make me a proud Democrat. Someone sent me the following:

To be a Republican you need to believe:
1. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
3. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
4. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational drug corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
7. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.
8. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
9. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMO's and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.
10. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
11. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
12. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
13. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.
14. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
15. Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity.)
16. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960's is of vital national interest but what Bush did in the '80's is irrelevant.
17. Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

You can read the 2004 Republican Party Platform here.
The first 25 pages or so are designed to scare the Hell out of you by pointing up how many terrorists are out there waiting to get us. -- I wonder why that is?

This is the season where the Iowa Legislature starts throwing out ideas for new bills, etc. Most of them should be thrown out. There is one which would allow cities to ban smoking. I think we should have a statewide ban on smoking. Why bother to debate this. Second-hand smoke is bad for those of us who don't (or no longer) smoke. It isn't necessary. If people want to smoke they can do so at home. Granted, this bill would be better than nothing because at least in Ames we are already on record as being for a smoking ban and most restaurants already ban smoking. I guess I would allow a smoker's bar where those who want to smoke can go and do so but the rest of us would nt have to put up with it. I avoid places where people smoke and will continue to do so. It will be interesting to see if the Iowa Legislature has the courage to do something.

Another bad idea would be to increase the gas tax. The price of gasoline has been going up and up and up. It doesn't need to be higher by adding another tax to it. In our society people have to drive to get anywhere. What we need is a system of public transportation (Europe's High Speed Trains - added 1/13/08) that is cheap and efficient and will get people where they need to go when they need to go there. I believe Europe has a system like that.

Of course the schools will come under the microscope again. There is a lot that could be done to increase the effectiveness of our school system. Just putting a label on them and calling them "world class schools" as the Ames Schools have done won't cut it. There has to be substantive change and I don't think the legislature has the courage to:

  • Require year round school
  • Effective pre-school programs
  • Incentives for teachers to stay in the profession
  • A living wage for all school employees (not just administrators)
  • Increasing the minimum requirements for graduation
  • Requiring an "end-product" at the end of Elementary, Middle and High School to prove that you can use what you learned.
  • A minimum reading level (of say 10th grade proficiency at least)
  • Participation in activities that will provide the student and ability to function in a democracy. Clubs, etc.
That is just a beginning. I could go on and on but I have somewhere else to be.

It is entirely possible that some of you will think that what I have written is a load of BS and that is your right. If you don't like it feel free to comment. Comments are moderated so please be civil. (I am the only one allowed to say anything on the blog. But unless you are religiously crazy I will(most likely) let the comment go through.

I am sure there is more to comment on coming up. I will do so. In the meantime I am "off to the Opera" this afternoon. I will let you know about it later. Hugs, j

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