It’s time to end America’s ethanol experiment

To the editor:

Thanks for your Monday editorial, “Those magic beans called ‘ethanol.’ ” It is helpful to bring attention to the ethanol disaster, which has distorted food costs worldwide by creating a great imbalance in the corn market. So we have ramped up ethanol production, and people are going hungry, and soon Iowa may be a net importer of corn. We should not be using food for fuel.

The ethanol fiasco has been going on for some time. The United States has tried to use ethanol several times in the past 30 years. In 1979, the U.S. government offered an income tax credit of 40 cents per gallon of 190-proof ethanol produced as an incentive for refiners of ethanol to blend the product into gasoline. So we built 163 ethanol plants, and the corn farmers rejoiced. Most plants went out of business quickly because the production was not cost-effective. So now the tax credit subsidy is 51 cents.

The idea of using ethanol to reduce our addiction to foreign oil was good. But the idea failed to produce, both technically and economically. Further, using ethanol is an environmental disaster for the air we breathe.

It is time to stop the farm-corn-ethanol lobby. What we get with ethanol is bad air with more smog, really poor gas mileage, corrosion of fuel lines and gas tanks, higher prices for gasoline and higher prices for food. Ethanol is not the answer.

I will again be writing to our congressional representatives, asking them to help stop the ethanol disaster, and I hope others will do so, too.

Richard N. Fulton


Indefensible policy

To the editor:

In response to your Monday editorial, “Those magic beans called ‘ethanol’:

The use of food to create fuel for our automobiles when many are hungry and the cost of many commodities in the United States has recently doubled from their five-year average price is indefensible.

Increased corn production to create ethanol (subsidized by our tax dollars) has diminished the available farmland to produce rice and wheat. This combination drives up the cost of any product using wheat, rice and corn in our grocery stores and overseas. In Bangkok, for example, the price of rice rose from $400 per metric ton on March 3 to $780 just five weeks later.

In some countries, food riots are occurring. Lack of food is a “silent tsunami” that threatens every developing country, according to Josette Sheean, head of the World Food Program. Record fuel and fertilizer costs have substantially contributed to the increased price of food, severe droughts and flooding have caused a decline in supply, and affluent populations in emerging countries have caused a spike in demand for food.

Although the farm bill passed by Congress reduces subsidy for ethanol produced from corn from 51 cents to 45 cents per gallon, this does not begin to solve the problem. The subsidy should be eliminated and corn used to help feed hungry people.

Kathleen Close


Term limits

To the editor:

Last Sunday, the Review-Journal ran a long list of current legislators desperately flailing about, trying to save their own necks and seats by wishing, hoping and praying someone will work to overturn Nevada’s term limits for them (“Officeholders’ time running out”).

Our then-attorney general started the clock in 1998, and no one said a word for 10 years about how unfair it was to them. Today, at the 11th hour, all we hear is whining from them.

If the governor and state constitutional offices are term limited, why shouldn’t the Legislature and other offices be, too? No one ever answers that question.

Look at it this way: Today’s financial and infrastructure problems in Nevada are the direct result of our legislators not ever doing their jobs, happy with the status quo and being courted and wooed by lobbyists during sessions. So how can lobbyists get any more powerful in Nevada than they already are? One only need look at the donors of each official quoted to see their votes are already bought and paid for by special interests — to the detriment of regular voters.

Those supporting an overturn of term limits will be soundly defeated at the polls in 2010 and beyond. The voters have spoken, but these quoted politicians are tin-eared and blurry-visioned and, of course, grossly self-absorbed and self-interested in both parties.

Nevada desperately needs new blood all over the state. The go-along-to-get-along history of those quoted in the article is the best reason of all to enforce, not challenge, Nevada’s term limits. Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley alone, having never garnered more than 5,000 votes in her own elections, has an obscene amount of money donated to her because she favors the special interests over the other 2.6 million people in Nevada. If that isn’t reason enough to enforce the law, I don’t know what is.

Each official quoted is easily replaceable. None is indispensable Most have had lackluster political careers, and all got us to where we are today. Their failure to lead these past 10 years does not deserve an encore, but a voter-forced end, and nothing in the law prevents them from playing political musical chairs and running for other offices.

Twelve years in one office is long enough, and it’s time they, in both parties, get over themselves and accept that.

Michael Zahara


‘Performance’ pay

To the editor:

In your Tuesday editorial, “Teachers and student performance,” you claim that “everyone” agrees that teacher pay should be “performance”-based. Well, I don’t agree. But then, I’m not someone, I’m just a nobody teacher, hoping against the odds that this city might eventually remove the mandatory teacher uniform: a “kick me” sign.

You cite an analogy of a swim teacher whose student needs to be rescued from drowning. What if the kid refuses to get in the water? Or if the kid doesn’t even show up to class? Or if you have 10 minutes to teach the kid what takes an hour to teach? Or if there are 30 kids in your swim class and ten of them choose to throw things at each other and into the pool, scoffing at the teacher, who is legally powerless to discipline them?

Your hypothetical swim teacher could tell the kids who don’t show, won’t touch the water, or display chronic disrespect and attitude that their places will be taken by kids who want to learn. We teachers are more than ready for the community to give school teachers that power.

Come on, give us the power the swim teacher has, and then you can pay us based on whether the kids are drowning or not.

Betty Buehler


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