The Ethanol Scam

Thank you Populist for being a “ray of sunshine” in a too-often dreary media world! Though not always agreeing with your contributors' words, I nevertheless agree 100% with the right to “differ!” And, I DO “agree” with 99% of what is presented! [Does that also make me a “99%’er”?] 

I recently read several articles (in TPP) discussing ethanol, relative to food prices and climate change, etc. However, not once did any of the contributors refer to the massive use of water in the production of ethanol (approximately 3 gals of water in the production of every gallon of ethanol); and, the effect of extreme water usage in areas where there is an ethanol production facility. Aquifers are being depleted (and, in many cases disappearing) causing extreme domestic water problems in nearby town and cities. And, adding to the impact of worsening drought conditions!

The scam part was obvious from the beginning of the ethanol-craze ... to anyone who bothered to look at the numbers. Waaaay back, when ethanol was introduced as The Solution to high gas prices and the “Foreign Threat” to the United States’ “sovereignty,” no one bothered to do the math relative to ethanol as a fuel. The gasoline engine operates less efficiently using an ethanol-blend. In fact, approximately 10%-15% less efficiently than a “pure” gasoline fuel.

In round numbers, that means it takes 11-12 gallons of ethanol-blend to go from Point A to Point B as opposed to 10 gallons of pure gasoline to travel the same distance. Gas prices to the consumer were not reduced (as advertised in the run-up to ethanol production). And, burning an additional 10%-15% fuel and adding same to the atmosphere, more than counters any alleged “cost-savings” (falsely) attributable to the use of ethanol.

The Scam Artist revealed: Agri-business! Because your local farmer, with his markets controlled by the Board of Trade; and Agri-business, is only allowed “in the game” by their “goodwill!”

Additionally, only recently have all the “cost elements” associated with ethanol production been included in the “cost savings” equations (such as conversion of land to sole production of corn; impact on food prices (as discussed in the aforementioned articles above); etc.

One article quoted Shenggen Fan, of the International Food Policy Research Institute, “Biofuel production has to be stopped!” I agree in spades!

There are (to use a Carl Sagan-ism) “billions and billions” of hungry people who could benefit from the corn production (from “fuel” to “food” corn). And, the US government could transfer the foreign aid (currently in the form of weaponry to potentates) to food and medical and education to the starving peoples of the world. Just by changing a “line item” in the budget. (Known fact: There has NEVER been, in recorded history, a “revolution” or popular uprising by a “well-fed” populace!)

Brian Flaherty

Wilseyville, Calif.


Draft or Taxes

Alexander Cockburn reported (“The end of America’s armies,” 8/15/12 TPP) that retired Gen. Stanley A. McCrystal has said to “Bring back the draft,” in a public venue at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival. McCrystal said, “I think we ought to have a draft. I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn’t be solely represented by a professional force because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population. I think if a nation goes to war every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody has his skin in the game.”

The last statement is certainly a fair one with which disagreement is difficult. However a draft into the military is a totalitarian system as an individual loses most of their civil liberties. A voluntary enlistment today is to a large extent freely given, except in those cases when it is done because of an inability to find a job paying an adequate compensation.

I suggest a much more democratic involvement would be for Congress to vote for a military tax on everyone if it is democratically decided that a war is to be fought. The result of this would certainly impinge on everyone but it would pay for the war as it is fought and not charged as currently the case of today passing most of the cost to our children, grandchildren and succeeding generations.

The current aversion to taxes is odd since many of those strongly opposed to taxes are willing to gamble in casinos, professional sports such as football, baseball and horseracing. In actuality all but a small fraction of the gamblers would receive greater returns from their tax payments then from gambling.

R. W. Von Korff

Minneapolis, Minn.


Know Your Randians

A terrible mistake is being made by largely ignoring in public speeches the influence of Ayn Rand and the Randian philosophy, which permeates the Republican Party, and which controls the philosophical and economic thinking of two of its most prominent acolytes, Alan Greenspan and Paul Ryan. We ignore it at our peril.

To get a clear picture of the Randian philosophy, Objectivism, concerned voters and candidates for office sould read Ayn Rand Nation, the Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, by Gary Weiss; if not the whole book, a must-read is chapters 14, 15 and 16, plus the epilogue. There you will read “the tenets reiterated endlessly by Rand and her apostles:

“No government except the police, courts of law and the armed services.

“No regulation of anything by government.

“No Medicare or Medicaid.

“No Social Security.

“No public schools.

“No public hospitals.

“No public anything, in fact. Just individuals, each looking out for himself, not asking for help or giving help to anyone.”

According to this philosophy, selfishness is good, altruism is weakness.

Couple that philosophy with the Citizens United decision and the future of democracy as we know it is tenuous.

As a footnote, how about one or two more right-wing nuts on the Supreme Court.

Burt Newbry

Mesa, Ariz.


Best Defense is Denial

Your 10/1/12 edition is replete with examples of the psychological defense mechanism of denial. From your own argument that a third-party percentage will cause a Romney victory, through P. Ann White’s letter slamming Jill Stein and Ralph Nader (“this country is a democracy” ... and so you have to vote Democratic or you’re unreasonable and unpatriotic), and Michael Moore’s itemizing Obama’s betrayal and pleading to reelect him, and Charles Cullen topping things off by praising one of Obama’s few “accomplishments” (murdering sans trial and jury Osama bin Laden) our only “realistic” choice is to choose between the two whitened-sepulcher political parties. On page 14, Jim Goodman, a dairy farmer, says “The hell you say.” Good for him! I agree.

I live in a town that has no shoemaker. So I had to buy a new pair and when I opened the tongue to slip into the shoe what did I see but “Made In Vietnam.” I wonder if Charles Cullen would have had the same praise for Nixon’s bombing of Hanoi? Our “enemy” of whom we murdered 3 million and sacrificed 58,000 of our own, is now supplying us with shoes. Aren’t wars, drones, nukes et al wonderful? Re-elect Obama!

In his Christmas message of 1961, “the Pope says that the mentality of suspicion and hatred is unfortunately encouraged and strengthened ... and ... the press has helped to create a climate of hostility, of animosity, of sharp division.” (Peace in the Post-Christian Era, by Thomas Merton). TPP is part of “the Press.” Instead of rubber-stamping one of these two whitened-sepulcher parties, it should encourage people to vote for whoever they think is best. People like P. Ann White (from Texas, where the difference between a blue-eyed and brown-eyed Texan is that the former is only full of it up to their nose) are aghast at this idea. After all, “this is a democracy.”

Chalk up one vote for Jill Stein.

Bernard J. Berg

Easton, Pa.


Dems Need Competition

With regard to the letter writer’s “Left-Over Hubris” (Letters, 10/1/12, TPP), I have attended several protests. Many would agree the least we can do is participate in elections.

We have corporate and individual participants. The corporation invests in candidates expecting a return for the corporation. Through large donations, the corporations get candidates to like them. We, individuals, may donate to a candidate to help the candidate. We try to find candidates who we like. Now the writer says we on the left shouldn’t even do this; just blindly vote Democrat?

If we were good, we would be individuals who deliberate. We would not just follow the growing power of political parties, as the revolutionary hero, George Washington warned in his Farewell Address in 1796. Nevertheless, the two-party system we have needs third parties to force them to change when they don’t meet the public’s wishes. Examples of where they don’t abound: less war, Medicare for all, ecological and environmental protection, more education, many more jobs, better pay, safer food, safer workplaces, and more. Parties haven’t changed from their support of corporate backers instead, neither will they, until we vote with our human craving for improvement. They ignore us when they should be worried about not getting our votes.

Telemachos Mavrides

Mesa, Ariz.


Mortgage Relief At Last

Regarding the 9/1/12 article By Seth Sandronsky, “California Offers Mortgage Relief for Homeowners,” a few thoughts: Gov. Jerry Brown signed (under seeming duress) as he was ganged up on by advocates of, help for homeowners. As good a way to put it as I can think of.

Nevada put a “mediation prior to foreclosure” program into place over three years ago. (Keeping me in my home all this time.)

Where were California and the other states, for that matter, during this time? 

The administrations’ various “plans to help homeowners” have been laughably inadequate, all things considered. Way too little, while helping the wrong people out of their self-induced troubles.

The elephant in the room is that banks' malfeasance and greed and just plain “crookery,” put the equity of all Americans at risk with the products devised in and around the demise of Glass-Steagall and implementation of Gramm-Leach-Bliley. (To think Monica Lewinsky may have played a part in the implosion of the US economy a decade hence is pretty fascinating). Bill was anxious to change the subject to anything but Monica.

Again, the elephant. American mortgage holders/property owners whether “underwater” or not have had equity stolen. All property values across the nation, have lost (excessive) value through the mechanizations of the Wall Streeters in their never ending quest for profits, irregardless of at whom's expense those profits were derived.

Real estate spokespersons say all day long, things are getting better, and it’s a lie. Billboard here in Reno, along the freeway, claims, “Short Sale today, purchase another home tomorrow.” In a pigs’ eye. Short Sale today, tomorrow the lender comes after the difference between amount owed and sales price. Bank does another deal making thousands and former owners’ credit is destroyed for a decade, is closer to the truth. Turning homeowners into renters creates a whole new paradigm. No more Saturday morning shopping at Lowe’s, Home Depot, et al. Landlords choose to repair as cheaply as they can for the same “maximizing profit” motive that has become the order of the day across America. 

But, at least California did something, finally. Good on ’em.

James Tennier

Reno, Nev.


End Computerized Voting

With the People’s primary political tool, their voting process, under assault from multiple sources, there is no longer any way to trust the outcome of elections. This issue affects every citizen, regardless of political persuasion. A problem that has existed for years is allowing computers to gather and tally our votes.

As a former mainframe programmer, I was acutely aware of how easy it would be to insert a few lines of code into computer software to manipulate the output, so was vehemently against putting our voting process onto computers. Now multiple reports have surfaced that speak to this very issue regarding the computer software that gathers and reports our voting outcomes. Why do exit polls, formerly notoriously accurate, now seldom if ever match the “final” vote tallies? Why was there a reported 6.7% difference between Ohio exit polls and the State’s “final” vote tally in the 2004 presidential election? (See Craig Unger’s book, Boss Rove) And, how can we accept that 800 registered voters in one Ohio precinct alone reportedly delivered 1,200 votes to Bush?

It was bad enough that companies that owned our election software held proprietary rights to keep it secret from the public that uses it. Now, at least some of our election software is reportedly owned by foreign entities, who have proprietary rights over its secrecy (see www.blackboxvoting.org). Who do we suppose will pay those foreign entities to ensure certain candidates’ victories? How would you feel to have your vote manipulated by someone offshore who was out of reach of our legal system? We have to be crazy to allow this to continue!

To sign an online petition to help send a message to our legislature and to the White House that the people want our elections to be conducted without use of computers, go to www.signon.org, click on the search button at the top of the home page and search for “End Computerized Voting.” It will be a long battle to achieve a change, but this is the time to begin that battle -- the People’s battle to take charge of the tool that is uniquely theirs, the right to validate and trust their own voting process.

Marilyn Clark

Oakland, Calif.


GOP Could Steal It Again

I truly believe that George W. Bush and his pals stole the 2000 and 2004 presidential election. I am scared to death they will do it again. The more people they disenfranchise the better their chances. Good old George W., just 3 1/2 years ago managed to put us in the worst shape imaginable and yet his name rarely or ever came up during the good old RNC. No kidding! I truly believe that this amazing country belongs to us all, not a few who, like George, belong to the Kochs.

Gary Roy Baumdraher

Maple City, Mich.


Leading from Behind

In the recently concluded Republican convention, not surprisingly there was a whole lot of "Obama Bashing" and even the former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, joined in by adding "we need a President who will not lead from behind." For a college professor to use such contradiction in the same sentence (to lead and from behind?) just proves how slighted she must have felt when President Obama called the Iraq war a "dumb" idea. She was fully in support of this costly war, and not once did she recommend to await the UN inspection report (regarding WMDs). She wanted her "dear leader" to be out "in front" and not "in behind" as Mr. Obama did in case of Libya. However none of our soldiers died in Libya in the Regime Change but our soldiers are still dying (suicides) thanks to the Iraq war. We need not wait for historians to tell us that "leading from behind was not a bad idea after all."


G.M. Chandu.

Flushing, N.Y.


Who Feels Entitled?

So Mitt Romney says he paid 13.9% of part of his income in federal taxes in one recent year and we are supposed to he impressed. But what he doesn't tell us is how much he had left over to live on after he paid those taxes, and how did that compare with what the average guy had after he paid his taxes.

Of course rich guys like Romney never talk about things like that, because if they had to it would conflict with their sense of entitlement. And their belief that everything they have they earned through hard work, and that what the little guy has or doesn't have he earned too, because he didn't work hard enough, or he wasn't smart enough to be born into the right family.

And now Romney wants to be president. He has been toying with the idea for years, and that, too, he seems to regard as an entitlement. It isn't enough for him that he was a governor. Heck, there are fifty of-them kicking around at any one time in our country, and where's the glory in that? So he has to aim higher if he is going to outdo what his daddy did, and for guys like Romney that is Important.

But how to get that job is the question, and for Romney the answer seems to be to say anything and do anything, even if it contradicts what he said or did yesterday. And pick out a running mate, no problem there either. Just choose somebody like yourself, who is full of self-importance, and the voters will be happy because they will think they are getting a two-for, when it is only a one-for in disguise.

But if you, the voter, think that electing that pair will make everything better, think again. There is no secret room in the back of the White House where the jobs are stashed, that Barack Obama was too stupid to find the key to and unlock. What really happened was your country got raped and it was guys like Romney that did the raping, and you paid the price.

They were having fun playing around in the sandbox our country was to them, that we thought was a democracy but they turned into a plutocracy, and now we are left with a mess it might take years to figure out and correct.

In truth, Barack Obama has been one of the best presidents our country has ever had. He is smart and caring and he's not locked into yesterday's ways, and he doesn't put philosophy ahead of progress. And given a chance to finish what he has started he might lead us into a better world that isn't dependent on the-endless wars the neocons love and got us into with false "facts."

M.E. Johnson
Eckert, Colo.

Presidential Questionnaire

In Robert L. Borosage's 8/1/12 TPP article concerning "Building a movement that can take back the American Dream," he reminds the readers that it won't be easy and requires building an independent capacity to elect peoples' champions and to hold them accountable.

On page 20 of the same issue Father Donnell Kirchner, in conclusion to points raised concerning the document "Forming Consciences for Responsible Citizenship," asks, "So come election day, how do your candidates and political parties line on issues?"

Thus motivated and in the belief that a majority of citizens are God-fearing,honest patriots dedicated to restoring our country to the principles that it was founded on before the government was turned into a rich man's oligarchy ruled by a greedy minority and that it will further deteriorate until the electorate becomes better informed of where the candidates stand on the issues,"We the People" have prepared the enclosed 2012 Presidential Questionnaire.

It consists of a declaration page signed by forty Pennsylvania voters together with a list of items for the candidates to state their positions.

As Mr. Borosage warned, we realize that our endeavor to get the candidates to address these issues won't be easy,but absolutely necessary and do-able with the help of unbiased and dedicated organizations and publications such as The Progressive Populist.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could support our efforts by printing our material in the hope that other media and organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, will get on board and this grass roots effort will swell to the extent that the candidates deem it in their interests to respond.

Willard A. Haas
Kutztown, Pa.

We the people, in order to restore our nation to its constitutional commitment of equal justice under law for all, urge all candidates for the high office of President and Vice President of the United States in the year 2012 to affirm their position concerning the following issues and that they do so in a terse manner (either for, against or undecided) in order that the electorate may be more fully informed as regards these vital 21st Century concerns before they cast their ballots on Nov. 6, 2012.


No. 1 Repeal of the Bush era income tax reductions (EGTRRA in 2001 & JGTRRA in 2003) and 2010 extensions thereto.

No. 2 Making the Bush era tax reductions permanent.

No. 3 A minimum Federal tax on Corporate profits, whether earned domestically or abroad.

No. 4 Support the Congressional right to regulate commerce with foreign nations and to lay and collect duties, imposts and excises to limit the out-sourcing of manufacturing.

No. 5 Depression Era type make-work projects like TVA to energize the economy in lieu of government grants and bail-outs of failing enterprises and rouge banks.

No. 6 Limit peace time military spending to a percentage of the budget.

No. 7 Universal military training in lieu of an all volunteer army.

No. 8 Universal medical care coupled with a one-payer system and a public option

No. 9 Tort reform.

No. 10 Restoration of the employee share of the Social Security tax to the 6.2% rate in effect before the 2011 reduction.

No. 12 Support of the present restrictions on investment of Social Security Trust Fund assets in non-marketable U.S. Treasury bonds and securities.

No. 13 Termination of any government guarantee of pensions plans that do not have the same restrictions on investment of assets as that of Social Security.

No. 14 Limit the power of the Federal Reserve to issue fiat money without Congressional approval.

No. 15 More transparency and accountability within The Federal Reserve System, including periodic unfettered audits.

No. 16 Wage and price controls as tool for restoring economic health.

No. 17 Amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Constitutional Amendments as follows : (1BA thru 18G)

No. 18A Term limits for Congressional members. -

No. 18B Public financing of campaigns coupled with spending limits.

No. 18C Same-day open primary elections.

No. 18D Election of Supreme Court members

No. 18E Bar Presidential pardons of convicted felons.

No. 18F Bar Presidential rule by Executive Order and Privilege.

No. 18G Require a balanced budget during Peace Time.

No. 19 Preemptive military strikes and warfare without Congressional approval.

No. 20 Use of unmanned drones in assassinations of foreign adversaries and suspected insurgents.

No. 21 Use of waterboarding and similar procedures in interrogations by the CIA and U.S. intelligence gathering agencies.

No. 22 Limiting the number of Congressional lobbyists, both foreign and domestic.

No. 23 Stricter gun control laws and enforcement of gun control laws.

No. 24 Establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

No. 25 Believe that climate change and global warming are interrelated and contributed to by human activities.

No. 26 Support the United Nations Peace Keeping efforts.

No. 27 Support the United Nations recognition of a Palestinian State.

No. 28 Full disclosure of US foreign aid, including the rational for; political, military or humanitarian and whether grants or loans.

No. 29 The Supreme Court's ruling that the right of protesters to demonstrate at the funeral of soldiers killed in the line of duty was protected by the First Amendment.

No. 30 The Supreme Court's ruling that corporations have the same rights as individuals in funding political campaigns.

No. 31 The Supreme Court's ruling invalidating a law making it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal Of Honor and other military honors.

No. 32 Desecration of the flag is protected under the First Amendment,

No. 33 Better FCC enforcement of laws prohibiting profanity, nudity, drug and alcohol related violence in the media and motion picture industry.

No. 34 Prison terms and confiscation of illegal gains in lieu of fines and slap-on-the back admonishment for white- collar criminals, including public officials who usurp their fiduciary responsibilities.

No. 35 Reinstailment of The Glass-Stegall Act.

No. 36 Elimination of Statue of Limitations that limit or interfere with prosecution of criminal behavior in the financial markets or malfeasance in the regulatory agencies.

No. 37 Former President Theodore Roosevelt's emphasize on requiring that the English language be the common language and the repudiation of all duality of intention or national loyalty and dual citizenship.

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2012



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