We need space

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Enrollment increases of 7% this year each at the Storm Lake elementary school and middle school should be sufficient evidence to support a bond issue Sept. 10 that will provide urgently needed space in the lower grades. Every nook and cranny is being used to house students. There simply is no place left to put them.

The Storm Lake school tax rate is relatively low for “property-poor” districts like ours, which do not have a huge amount of farmland to assess for improvements. We can take some comparative comfort in that, we suppose, but if the vote is approved it will mean a $100 tax increase on a $100,000 house. It doesn’t matter what someone is paying in Waterloo. What it does suggest is that the school board has tried hard over many years to keep that tax rate low. But sales tax and other revenue sources have been exhausted. We need an early childhood education center, and so a property tax increase is necessary.

Storm Lake voters almost approved it last time. The enrollment increases came after that. Plus, the school board has stretched out the project to keep the tax rate low. The “problem” of more children is not going away soon, we hope. There is nothing to indicate that school enrollment will shrink. Fortunately for us, young families are living in and moving to Storm Lake in part because of its outstanding and diverse schools.

If we want to keep up our community’s vitality, modern early-childhood schools are an essential part of that equation. We simply cannot continue the way we are, converting libraries or multi-purpose rooms into jammed elementary classrooms. It’s up to us to make the bond issue pass this time, so we can get on with the business of educating community leaders for tomorrow.

So Brazil can plant soybeans …

President Trump’s trade wars are hastening the loss of our planet’s lungs, the Amazon rain forest. Peasant farmers have been encouraged by their own Trump-like president to clear the forest to make room for more agriculture, as soybeans take up more prime acres and cattle are pushed into marginal lands.

China has been investing in Central and South America for years. It has been picking up the pace in Brazil, encouraging commodity crop expansion by pouring money into infrastructure and new production capacity. China recently ordered a halt to all ag imports from the United States, including soybeans and pork, as President Trump increased tariffs again.

The rain forest has been under threat from climate change for a long time. There was progress being made until political leaders in the US and Brazil declared that climate change is not a concern. The trade war caused China to switch from Iowa as its source of soybeans to Brazil and Argentina. The US will not recover those markets anytime soon. Iowa farmers bear the brunt.

What’s worse is that politics are choking our atmosphere as the forest burns. Fires started by peasants are spread by drought wrought by climate change. The Trump Administration called it “a niche issue” although the rest of the developed world believes there is a crisis. Even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a fan of Brexit, urged Trump to ease off the trade wars. Trump responded by saying that he might just increase tariffs on China.

We still do not have trade agreements with Mexico and Canada.

Even if Trump would change course, the world already is hurtling toward recession because of trade issues. The arrangements that his rash policies spawned probably will result in even more climate calamity, and more pain for Iowa producers. Not all farmers believe the President is pursuing a rational foreign policy, climate policy or agricultural policy. “We’ve about had our belly full,” one friend said last week as soybeans slid again. Hasn’t everyone?

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