Listen to the doctor



When you meet Dr. John Paschen you think that you would trust your child’s life with him. The Ames pediatrician came to Storm Lake last week to speak to a nice crowd of 20 people at Better Day Café. He is not a politician as we think of one. The good doctor should not follow Barack Obama or Jesse Jackson at the podium. He is earnest. He is 100% sincere. He is collegial, thoughtful and deliberate, like you want in a physician.

He is the exact opposite of Steve King: brash, full of braggadocio, without much of a bedside manner for people who suffer like the children of immigrants, who is not thoughtful or collegial in the way that you would want an advocate who deals in facts and what is best for everyone.

Three other candidates seek the Democratic nomination to run against King in the Fourth Congressional District in November 2018: Paul Dahl, a bus driver from Webster City; Leann Jacobsen, a Spencer businesswoman and city council member; and J.D. Scholten, a paralegal from Sioux City and former hurler for the Sioux City Explorers.

We must admit our admiration for anyone who got paid to pitch. We also admire that Scholten is a nice young man who listens carefully, who cares deeply about rural issues and who is willing to work hard to achieve his goals. We wish him the best. We are sure we will get to know Dahl and Jacobsen better as the campaign goes along.

The primary is in June. The best candidate will emerge. Out of the gate we have to say that we are most impressed with Paschen.

We asked him the other night about his views on agriculture. His priority, of course, is health care — specifically, ensuring that everyone has access and that rural hospitals survive. He was reared on a rural acreage and worked around livestock. He attended Iowa State University as a pre-vet med major. So he knows rural. But he said he has a series of issues briefings by ag professors at ISU coming up next week and he would be able to speak more knowledgeably about it as his thoughts coalesce. He only has thought of running for a matter of months. He had to wrap up his practice at McFarland Clinic and sort through the challenges of running against a bulwark. He introduced his character and ambitions, but not necessarily a policy agenda. His character, we think, speaks in the very fact that he would forsake his practice to take up a quixotic cause because he knows it is right.

Paschen offers a stark contrast to King.

He is running out of a sense of compassion for his patients, the least of whom are losing health care benefits right now, for immigrants who are threatened with being ripped out of Storm Lake just for being here, and for rural communities that have seen their fortunes erode over King’s long tenure of neglect.

If you meet him and speak with him you will like him. He is not at all disagreeable even with people who are. You come away with the feeling that you would trust him with your life, so you should be able to trust that he will decide the right thing for Northwest Iowa in Congress. Give him an ear.

Wither ethanol?

China recently declared with other countries, including Britain and France, that they will eliminate internal combustion engines by 2040. GM and Ford this week announced that they are rolling out 20 and 13 new electrified lines respectively over the next five to six years. It would appear the days of gasoline, diesel and, in our peculiar interest, ethanol may be numbered.

Tesla cannot make its new all-electric car fast enough. California would like to move the internal combustion engine off the road.

About a third of our corn crop goes to ethanol. That suggests that ethanol plants will not be sprouting up like they were, and they might not be that long for the landscape but for those that grow into other lines of corn refining. All that fuel demand disappearing cannot bode well for a market that has geared itself to ethanol. And, the corn market is not boding well despite the growth of ethanol in the marketplace since 1990. Every time demand increases supply outbids it.

It is estimated, variously, that we need to remove about a third of our acres from row crop production to stem soil loss and clean up surface water. The news that the world is trying to get off fossil fuels ought to prompt Iowa to plan for the eventuality. As ethanol fades so should rational demand for corn acres. All the research suggests that Iowa needs more acres under continuous cover, which suggests a need for more cattle on grass or cover stock.

We should not bet our fortunes on ethanol holding up our corn market as it has.