Friday, September 4, 2009

How Green are our Pastures?

The other day I was driving along a road I generally take home located just outside of town less than a mile. I went by the same field I have gone past for several years but that day I actually paid attention to everything around me. The field is several thousands of acres of rich farmland and it was sown to the hilt with corn. The stalks were tall, plump, full of corn. The other thing I noticed is that the stalks were being left alone, allowed to dry out and become somewhat stunted. It was then I realized that this mega-field of corn was not being grown for human or animal consumption but would soon be harvested for my gas tank.

Yes, corn, the one-time farming staple of our vast plains States and the foundation of every diet througout the world has become the foodstuff of machines.

Do I have a problem with this? Not really! However our farmers can make a buck and still meet an important need in the world's economy and environment is all well and good with me.

You see, what I have a problem with is this. Since I was, for once in my life, paying particular interest in this farmer's land as I was driving by I noticed one other important feature that is becoming a sad landmark throughout the midwest farming communities -- A For Sale Sign -- was also a part of the landscape.

Checking into the reasons why this land was up on the sales-block I learned that about a year ago the ever-expanding city has encroached on this parcel of land and enclosed it as part of the city through re-zoning. Now, what was once deemed land for farm use, making it eligible for certain tax benefits, is now just another piece of land within city limits subject to all kinds of land taxes.....and, anyone who even owns a small 130X60 lot of city land knows how expensive that, you can only imagine what the tax bill for this farmer has become.

It would seem that there is no way this land could ever produce enough corn, soybean or any other kind of crop that will meet the endless money-pit known as city hall. The only thing left for the farmer? Sell the thousands of acres now inside city limits in hopes a developer will grab it up. If so the farmer will make more in that one land deal then his entire family made off that same land over the last 100 years. Of course, just how much of that money the farmer actually gets to keep will be left up to the city comptroller.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Can Obama Succeed With Peace Where All Others Have Failed?

U.S. President Obama is about to step into that dubious Middle East ring and act as referee between Israel and the Palestinians. My hope is he will succeed where every other U.S. President for the last 60 years has failed -- bring about an actual, working, fair and equitable, long-lasting peace between these two rivals for the holy ground they both claim as their own.

As much as I want to see all of Obama's socialist ideas for the U.S. fail, this is one area that I really do want him to succeed. There has been enough killing, heartache, pain and suffering on both sides of that conflict in the Middle East. It is now time for real progress in the region before it finally blows like a seething inferno.

According to an exclusive interview to be aired on Fox News, Israeli President Shimon Peres will announce that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will sit down together during their trip to the U.N. at the end of this September. President Obama has been asked by both parties to act as moderator of the talks between the two leaders. No one is really sure of what, if any, influence Obama can bring to bear on these talks, but if past comments from the President are any indication, don't be surprised to see him lean more a little in favor of the Palestinian side of the equation and may even use some foot-to-the-neck political techniques on Netanyahu. I personally am not sure what the Israeli Prime Minister thinks will come of this meeting with Obama acting as a go-between. The President has already made it quite clear in past and recent speeches that he feels Israel needs to put a permanent freeze on future settlements in the disputed areas and must also recognize the West Bank terrorists as viable negotiating parties. He has also indicated that he isn't opposed to dividing up Jerusalem. None of these proposals from the American President sit well with the majority of the Jewish citizens in Israel (96% oppose such radical moves), or with those living right here in the U.S. (the majority of which voted for Obama). Therefore, one must ask why Netanyahu even bothers to go along with it.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, will result from these talks. My guess is more of the same -- Israel making concessions it can ill afford, and a lot of hope for peace but very little real gaining of that elusive prize.

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