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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 5, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Federal economic-recovery package

Wheat farmers’ survival plan — a stimulated, socialized survival plan

Editor, The Times:

Farmers were left out of the stimulus plan — with good reason. We are already controlled, regulated, socialized, taxed and broke, and have been so since 1974.

We farmers have heard how squeamish people feel about the stimulus act of 2009. Too much expense, government interference and the end of capitalism, critics say.

Let a Washington state wheat farmer with 30 years of government-stimulus experience enlighten you.

Government control and stimulus is a way of life for farmers. The idea of capitalism is only a dim memory; competing for a fair price for our product has been lost. The government wants to keep food cheap and, therefore, controls us.

How did government subsidies work out for us? Well, we earn about 12 cents on every loaf of bread sold. Our costs in all categories of production tripled and most farmers have no health or retirement plan to speak of. Farmers do not like farm subsidies, but cannot get rid of them because they have no freedom to market.

Hard work and conservative business planning cannot accomplish “getting ahead” in wheat farming. Rather, survival by learning and adapting to government rules is the only goal.

Wheat farmers rush to local-government meetings each year to learn the new rules of survival. Much like welfare recipients, wheat farmers have learned helplessness and government dependence.

A visit to our farm from an outsider brought the “state of the wheat business” into sharp focus. The visitor, a woman who owns a small home health-care business said, “This place reminds me of a farm I visited in Poland many years ago. The government in Poland just sort of plopped families on abandoned land and told them to grow food.”

Indeed, wheat farms here in Washington state do look and operate like farms in government-controlled countries. Used, rusty equipment and abandoned homesteads dot the countryside.

So far, our visitor has been free of most government control. That’s all about to change for her and many others.

It’s stimulated, socialized survival as usual for wheat farmers.

— Graydon and Jennifer Painter, Painter Farms, Waterville

Disgraced honor calls for more balanced outlook

A comment on the financial problem is pertinent. Many public statements decry what they call “socialization,” meaning government spending to counter an economic recession. They point to the failure of Franklin D. Roosevelt to completely lower unemployment, until he was “saved” by World War II.

They fail to notice FDR “retrenched” in 1937, and the war effort brought increased spending and economic recovery.

Those who lived during this time know better. I was a college student from 1939-42 and can testify to the ease of getting a summer job then.

Another comment on foreign policy: I was in the U.S. Navy from 1944-46 and I must testify that FDR failed to halt immoral actions, namely fire bombing of Japanese cities, destruction of German cities and nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

FDR originally said civilians would be spared, but later allowed our national moral sense to be stymied by public support of these immoral policies. I was a science student then, and I heard of the horror of most of the atomic-bomb scientists when I was in the Navy.

Our national honor has been disgraced, even though sentiment in the Navy and of the public in general was overwhelmingly favorable to atomic bombing.

Our justified antipathy to Russia’s barbarian policies led us to a foreign policy of fear, and to Vietnam and Iraq.

I hope our nation observes a more balanced outlook in the future.

— David Read, Seattle

Bandaging a wound requiring stitches

This controversial stimulus package may be well intended, but it is like putting a Band-Aid on a wound that requires stitches.

As a society, we consume way more than we produce. Our lawmakers impose all kinds of costly rules and regulations on the private sector and then hypocritically allow our consumable products and services to be imported from countries that have few, if any, rules and regulations.

The strength and foundation of a sustainable economy has to do with being able to provide for manufacturing jobs. The solution to our problem would be to somehow level the playing field.

Only then will industry find it profitable and, therefore, desirable to re-enter our United States.

It’s unrealistic to think we should be a part of a global economy and have our cake and eat it, too. We need our own jobs to keep us employed, in order to live the standard of life we have become so accustomed to.

— Marry McNett, Burlington

Replacing disgruntled honchos with more motivated employees

Those in charge should lead by example. With all the emphasis being placed on federal cost cutting and budgetary restraint, how about starting with this idea and course of action:

First, to lead by example, the president should take a voluntary pay cut to $350,000 per annum.

Second, Congress should pass an edict that no federal employee would be paid a salary exceeding that of the president.

Third, any disgruntled honchos should be presented with the option of retirement or an opportunity to improve their salary disenchantment in the private sector.

Fourth, former positions should be opened to qualified applicants. The line should extend from Pennsylvania Avenue to the New Jersey Turnpike and the said applicants should be hungrier and more motivated.

Fifth, review the federal pay scale for similar belt-tightening procedures that countrymen have been forced to endure for years.

Implement these ideas and we will be back on a roll!

— Robert Wright, Yakima

Comments | More in Economic stimulus bills, Federal bailouts

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