Letters to the editor

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Stop factory farms

In his recent Letter to the Editor, former Environmental Protection Commission member Gene Ver Steeg is wrong: A moratorium on new and expanding factory farms is needed NOW. Telling us that we need even more manure on Iowa’s landscape is like telling poison victims they need more poison to make them better.

Currently, the Department of Natural Resources (a.k.a., “Do Nothing Really”) is understaffed and underfunded. It can’t handle the 9,000-plus factory farms in Iowa. A moratorium is the first step to improve water quality in the state.

Iowa’s water has worsened every year. The last thing an environmental-panel member should do is tell us how to clean up our water when it has run the show with increasingly bad results.

If you swim, fish, or drink water, a moratorium is a required stopgap to preserve water for all Iowans. Natural Resources needs to have the Legislature enact meaningful rules and regulations to protect our resources, not more factory farms and toxic manure. The commission needs to be regenerated with real environmentalist instead of “industry friendly” commissioners such as Ver Steeg.

The writing is on the wall: If there is no water for consumption or production, we all lose.

Kevin Shilling, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member Greenfield, Iowa

 

Foreign aid puts ‘America first’

With President Trump’s recent visit to Cedar Rapids, and a number of global poverty-reducing legislative acts making their way toward Congress, it’s as critical as ever to examine the president’s stance on foreign aid.

Our president campaigned on the principle of “America First,” and it’s implied that his proposed budget — which cuts foreign aid by more than one-third — aims at doing just this. But the simple fact is, foreign aid directly benefits the U.S. by placing faith in our country and mobilizing other parts of the world to encourage democracy, education, and health. The U.N. Assembly, the Brookings Institution, American leaders, and common sense implicate extreme poverty as facilitating extremism. Yet the largest relief agency in the world (the World Food Program) has a budget of $4 billion, while the U.S. spends $6 billion on each aircraft carrier (of which we had 11 in 2016), and Trump has proposed a 10 percent increase in the defense budget.

An estimated 25,000 children die globally each day, and despite the misperception that ending global poverty is impossible, it has been cut by more than half in recent years. If it is time to put “America First,” we should consider that 84 percent of military officers believe strengthening development and diplomacy (two of the Pentagon’s “3Ds” for American protection) should be of equal interest as strengthening military defense.

Public opinion continues to insist that foreign aid should be the first part of the budget to go, despite its already minuscule size. This statistic is far more understandable when it is taken in to account that the average American believes the U.S. spends approximately 20 percent of the federal budget on foreign aid, when in reality, it spends less than 1 percent. It is time to change the statistics.

Brooke Clayton, UI student and intern with the Borgen Project

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