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Letters to the Editor: Dear Senator Grassley, I hope it’s worth the payoff


I have followed your career closely the past few years. It is amazing the huge influence that an Iowa farmer has had on national politics. As the leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee you where able to invoke the “ Biden” rule and hold up Merrick Garland’s nomination for several months in order to wait for the election and let the people decide.

And just a few years later, by forsaking your former stance, you allowed Amy Coney Barrett to be installed even after voting had started. 

These actions moved the court to the extreme right. Now we have seen some of the results. They have put the president above the law, made it nearly impossible for agencies to regulate corporations and legalized corruption in the form of “tips” for public officials. 

Well I hope that the oligarchs you have been working for have given you a big “legal” payoff. I would hate to think you sold out America on the cheap.

Sincerely your fellow Iowan.

Carl Homstad, Decorah


Covenants of responsibility

Rick Morain offers sage advice on the increasing intensity of weather catastrophes, the accompanying tally of skyrocketing price tags, and the toll of human loss, disruption and disaster recovery.  What does it take for a conversion experience to “get religion” about climate change?    

Adversity and hardship are usually integral experiences of life.  However, farmers seem to be among those more exposed to hard work, hazards and survival situations that eventually test one’s spirit.

This year, during the course of changing seasons, our weather whipsawed from a warm winter with little snow to record rainfalls, saturated soils and floods.  For those of us rooted in a heritage of farming communities, memories and stories of adversity quickly resurfaced.

One of the few times I remember seeing my father cry, was when we walked our field on hardpan washed clean of topsoil between corn stumps devastated by hail and six inches of “gully-washer.” The odor of shredded corn plants surrounded us, but the turbid plume of topsoil was visible several miles away in the Missouri River reservoir behind Fort Randall Dam.

My consoling comment of “There’s always next year” reflected the naivety of a 10-year-old.  In spite of all our family’s hard work and good intentions, Dad shouldered and accepted the responsibility for the fact that his farming activities contributed to the erosion as he responded, “No.  I lost my topsoil.”

Federal crop insurance was in its infancy in the 1950s.  Livestock chores remained, storm damage needed repair, and winter was six months away.  Dad realized the urgency to make changes.  He purchased and fitted a seeding attachment to our grain drill to plant a cover crop of sweet clover to start restoring soil health.  I thus began to learn about sustainability and decision-making.

Weather, climate and life continually change, often accompanied by heartbreak and humility.  If we refuse to change our old habits, while continuing to expect different outcomes, we may not be exhibiting insanity, but we may well be guilty of irresponsibility.     

Unfortunately, in today's culture and economic climate, too many people disregard the consequences of their actions and refuse to accept responsibility — which can compound adversity.

Our hope is that we have the intelligence to discern the changes occurring around us, be it natural or caused by humans. If we expect to sustain our life support systems of today, and those for the future of our children and grandchildren, it is imperative that we make wise decisions by seeking out and heeding information that is based on scientific method, intelligent peer review, common sense, civil discourse and the promise of a rainbow.

We need to be responsible citizens and stewards.

Dr. Edward Wenk, Jr., (technical policy advisor in the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon) in the epilogue to his 1979 book, “Margins for Survival, Overcoming Political Limits In Steering Technology,” relates:

“Yet the heart of the matter lies in our proclivity to fasten on the short run, in Western society, with hedonistic abandon.  We seem to have spun a cultural web where the predilection for the short run may constitute a self-fulfilling prophecy that by benign neglect of the longer run, there may be none.  To herald economic growth as an end in itself, to acquire the fashionable and popular symbols of contemporary existence, to focus only on living and being, and to abdicate personal responsibility to government or third-party institutions, reflect a melancholy fact that we have neglected a higher order of social guidance; we have abandoned a moral hierarchy.” (p. 181)

Roger R. Patocka, P.E., Estherville

Letters to the Editor


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