2011-12-30 / Columnists

Corn V. Granite

Commentary On Things Present
By Peter Stubben

I filled an inside straight with the calendar flop this year, hence my 13th column for 2011 on something that bothers me a bit and maybe you too ... the upcoming Iowa Olympics. I hate ‘em. Do you, too?

Iowa has been granted outsized influence by being chosen first by the D. & R. parties in the presidential selection process and they have (a) abused this influence to distort America’s Energy Policy; and (b) their elective results in choosing the candidates most favored around the nation have been less than stellar. I don’t think they have well-reflected the interests or ambitions of the nation in selecting our Presidents, and they’ve slipped us an ethanol mickey!

Hey ... don’t get me wrong. I love the State of Iowa and the People of Iowa. It’s a beautiful state full of hard workin’ people.

The State is gifted with superior education – at all levels – and with some of the most progressive and productive farmers the world has ever seen, on some of the earth’s most tillable land. The State is peppered with factory floors and the Insurance Industry ... and it holds a great annual bike race (now in its 40th year). I have a great friend in north-central Iowa who farms the same quarter-section his father and grandfather did and who runs his pigs farrow to finish ... not unlike many Upper-Midwest Farmers.

I have another great friend in southcentral Iowa who’s a journalism prof and who’s done inspiring work all around the world ... not unlike many in his peer group. Norman Borlaug, the ‘maker’ of the Green Revelation, was a corn-husker geneticist. The State is full of great people who love America.

My commentary is certainly nothing personal; it’s based on her 40-year record.

Here’s some of the Iowa Caucus winners (and losers): for the Democrats, Ed Muskie and George McGovern over Hubert Humphrey in ‘72; Jimmy Carter in ‘76 – need I say more!!!; Dick Gephardt over Michael Dukakis in ‘88; Tom Harkin over Bill Clinton in ‘92; and four years ago Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.

For the Republicans, Bush over Reagan in ‘80; Bob Dole and Pat Robertson over Bush in ‘88 and four years ago, Mike Huckabee over John McCain. Famously, both Howard Dean and Pat Buchanan were big winners there, too!

The Iowa caucus-goer has gotta be a bit of a political junkie, and the candidates need to organize extraordinary campaigns – far different from most other states – ‘cause it’s so complicated. Each of the 1,784 caucuses opens at 7 p.m. and generally lasts 60 to 90 minutes ... locals just can’t walk into a polling station anytime between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and spend five minutes to nominate their preference.

No, they gotta caucus for an hour or more. Plus, some of these caucus sites have been private homes as well as public places like schools, etc. So, the results have been atypical of America’s vote.

Worse though is the ethanol subsidy concocted and perpetuated by the outsized influence of the Iowa Caucus. Brazil showed the way 30 years ago in weaning itself off Mideast oil by distilling their most abundant farm product – sugar cane – into ethanol. ‘Us too,‘ they said in Iowa and throughout the Midwest, ‘let’s distill our corn into ethanol, too’ ... ‘BUT, you gotta subsidize us because the Brazilians do it far more cheaply than we can.’

The pols and candidates and ultimate winners of these contests tumbled over themselves to set these policies and subsidies in motion, so that today the US Government subsidizes every gallon of ethanol we produce and has raised an import tax on every gallon of cheaper Brazilian ethanol that we might want to import.

What pandering politician is gonna say no in a state where Corn is King, and where that state happens to be first in the primary process?

That’s like – in New Hampshire – locals demanding that all government buildings be built from 60 percent granite, thereby imposing on the nation a tremendous NEW cost ... just as corn ethanol does today.

My advice to the chairmen of the Democrat and Republican Parties is to switch back to New Hampshire; or, if they are looking for another state to kick off the political primaries ... hey, why not Florida?

FL has an interesting mix of the ole South and the new South; it’s got lots of both passionate Democrats and Republicans; and it faces some of the nation’s most pressing problems – weakened real estate markets and ever-growing health entitlement issues.

And, by the way, Mr. Chairmen of both parties – for God’s sake give the Holiday Season back to America and begin your electioneering process AFTER January 15!

Hope you have a great ‘Rockaway New Year‘ and that 2012 brings calm waters and gentle winds to our sensational beaches and bayfronts.

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