Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Congress to leave Food Stamps spending pretty much intact

The Washington Post reports that the House of Representatives is considering a farm bill that would reduce spending for SNAP (food stamps) by 0.5% over ten years. Wow. So I wrote Representative Frank Lucas:

Mr. Lucas,

I work part time at Walmart; the VA considers me disabled, but I manage about 26 hours, most weeks.

I noticed that one of my co-workers in Lawn and Garden will buy a $1.58 soft drink on SNAP, instead of walking to the associate break room and spending $0.50 out of their pocket. This seems to be an issue with SNAP -- that people are using the free money to make poor decisions.

Other families seem to be able to afford new, bigger screen TVs because the SNAP program supplements their income.

I understand that for some Americans, SNAP does bring the food budget up to "adequate", but in many cases I am convinced that SNAP merely displaces their other sources of food purchasing money, until SNAP become nothing more than a straight forward government cash addition to family income. That is, a social welfare program rife with unintended consequences.

Please consider whether Congress is responsible for people that choose expensive fast food and prepackaged food over staples and lower cost but nutritious food. Most people could eat adequately on much less money than many SNAP recipients spend, if they were willing to actually, like, cook their meals.

Because government spending creates industries, industries devoted to growing and maintaining those spending programs. Industries that administer the program, enable merchant compliance, gather additional recipients into the program, etc. And Congress has *no* mandate to create such industries.

And do cut SNAP by 50% in the next five years. Counting long term unemployed and young never-employed into unemployment statistics will be a good start.

Thank you,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Institutional racial prejudice, and the US Government in America

Racial bias as a matter of policy is wrong for any American. Especially for the government. So I wrote Senator Coburn,
Dr. Coburn,

While the Supreme Court, properly, considers the Constitutionality of universities and other schools using racial discrimination, or racial quotas under so-called "affirmative action", the US Senate, the Congress, and the nation should take a different approach to the problems of race relations.

Repeal affirmative action.

De-regulate, without decriminalizing, institutional prejudice that establishes and maintains distinctions and intolerance of people, based solely on racial characteristics.

Intolerance of race, any race, is wrong. Especially if the institution entrenched in bias is the government.

Thank you,

Brad Kruse
Ponca City, OK
So I wrote Senator Coburn,

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Energy and the lawn

So I wrote Senator Coburn,

Dr. Coburn,

A friend gave me a two-hand scythe some years back. To my regret, I haven't found anyone that remembers using one for field harvest, that can show me how to make the silly thing work, easily, cleanly, all day long. Go figure, living four miles from the Conoco home refinery. I did find a scythe stone on, and it helps a lot, keeping the blade sharp without running for the shop, the vise, and the grinding wheel.

 But I was thinking. . .

1) Carbon cycles. Harvesting hay preserves the summer's carbon for use in winter. That boosts the CO2 and other airborne carbons, as well as build fertilizers for the coming growing seasons, at a time that a blanket of snow would seem to suppress the carbon, delaying spring.  If we want to boost CO2 usage, and growing cycles, what would happen if we concentrated industrial use of fossil fuels to mid and late winter? The intent would be to shift consumption to support boosting an abundant springtime, and use natural growing cycles to make best use of all that carbon.

2) Lawn care.It seems wasteful of resources to build and industry that blankets Ponca City, and other places, with scores of trucks pulling trailers filled with high dollar, modern technology lawn mowers and trimmers. Just as it is ignorant to think that building new, battery powered cars will take less energy than maintaining an existing vehicle, with increasing maintenance requirements, for years and years -- building new riding lawn mowers cannot make sense, in an energy sense.

Where in the past people could plan a lawn with the intent of pushing an unpowered mower -- we could still do that. Reel type mowers work as well today as before. And having a few lawns to mow wouldn't hurt some young people, or many others. Besides, keeping lawn and home care in the neighborhood increases person-to-person contact and builds communities as well as the character of young people.

3) Hand-gathered harvest. Enhance the USDA Organic label program. Provide labels for crops and products cultivated and gathered with tools and equipment that use no fossil fuels. Permit use of horse or oxen drawn wagons and equipment, just nothing with a battery, gasoline, diesel, propane, or other fossil fueled device.

Providing, now, for challenges in supply lines and fuel price and access might get more people thinking about alternatives.

We should recognize that what worked for our ancestors before the glut of affluence from burning fossil fuels, still works today. But we have to rediscover the techniques and tools, and recover from regulations that presume continued growth and universal affluence.

Because, 4) we could support home owners that mow their lawn but once a month, pull weeds by hand instead of chemical pesticides, etc.

Thank you,