September 2007

Two sides of the ethanol debate

Two sides of the ethanol debate
The following essays were provided by two speakers who will participate in the inaugural Charles and Linda Wilson Dialogue on Domestic issues, a lecture in the E.N. Thompson Forum series at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. The opinions contained in these essays are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Wilson Dialogue, the Thompson Forum or the sponsoring organizations.

The ethanol con

By Jerry Taylor The closest thing we have to a state religion in America today isn’t Christianity. It’s corn. Yet if this policy religion has merit, it doesn’t need taxpayer subsidy. If it doesn’t have merit, no amount of subsidy will bestow it. The rationales offered for ethanol subsidies are cover stories for the real justification for the program — the transfer of wealth from the general public to corn farmers and ethanol processors.

Plains and Planes

By Eli S. Chesen Something about living on the Plains really annoys me, which is being the occasional recipient of the condescending, geocentric attitude of some visitors to our tender land. They are the ones who view and relegate the Plains states to the status of "flyover states." Whether they visit us or we visit them, we inevitably find ourselves undeserving targets of abuse and humiliation from these myopics who hale from our nation’s certified cultural centers, east and west.

Alfredisms

By Daniel Cattau Fort Kearny State Park, Neb.— Thousands of gray-brown sandhill cranes nestle in the shallow expanse of the Platte River, packing into what looks to be a giant sand dune. Scores more are flying in a V-formation over the barren cornfields and winter-bare cottonwood trees. In their return to these ancient nesting grounds, the cranes’ bugle-like cackles seem to mock those dumb beasts with cameras and binoculars standing on an old railroad trestle across the Platte.

Our federal fiscal challenge

By David M. Walker

While federal deficits have been declining for three straight years, they are still imprudently high given our current economic growth and the impending retirement of the baby-boom generation. The costs of the global war on terrorism have served to increase the federal deficit; however, the federal deficit far exceeds the cost of the war. For example, in fiscal 2006 the unified federal budget deficit was approximately $248 billion, while the federal government’s gross operating deficit was approx­imately $434 billion (excluding consideration of the Social Security and other off-budget surpluses). Of these deficit amounts, approximately $100 billion related to the war.

What's at stake in the farm bill

By David Beckmann This year, Congress has been busy reauthorizing the U.S. farm bill—a piece of legislation whose scope is much broader than its name implies. Renewed every five years, the farm bill is the main source of federal support for rural development in the United States, and it contains the Food Stamp Program. It determines what foods are available to U.S. consumers and how we deliver emergency food aid internationally. Farm bill policies and priorities touch everyone in this country and millions of people overseas.

'Too little care': King Lear and our times

By Bob Hall & Stephen M. Buhler William Shakespeare has spoken to readers and audiences across the centuries. His friend and rival Ben Jonson declared that “He was not of an age, but for all time!” The classically minded Ben was thinking of the past, as he saw that Will’s works were equal to those of Greek and Roman antiquity. We usually think ahead as we see how the plays can seem uncannily prophetic of later political and social developments.

In the tradition of big band jazz: The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra

By Ed Love As the leader of the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, I get to select music that will be played by the finest musicians in the Midwest, many of whom I consider my close friends. Playing music with people you like and trust is one of the most wonderful things in the world. As the NJO begins its 32nd season of making music, I realize that some of you, dear readers, may have never heard any of our performances. In order to try to encourage you to experience our artistry, I present the following:

How to read a landscape: William Cronon to deliver Research and Religion Lecture at UNL

By Timothy Mahoney We live and work in an environment which we disparage as “inauthentic” and thus ignore the “wildness in our own backyards” and the beauty in nature around us—which William Cronon calls the environmental “middle ground”—even as we continue to cover it in sprawl, highways, and the detritus of civilization. Cronon’s critique angered environmental purists who argued that a pristine “sacred” view of wilderness must be sustained exactly because not doing so will erode a commitment to it.

Invasive Species: sucking our water resources away

By Mike Sarchet Traditionally, Nebraska has had two amazing resources, our people and our surface water. Unfortunately, we are rapidly losing both of these major resources with no noticeable return to benefit the rest of the state. Efforts are being made throughout Nebraska to curb the loss of our young people and to bring their talents back to benefit the state, but an equally important task at hand is to maintain the health of our rivers with adequate stream flows, wildlife habitat and native species of plants. Controlling invasive species that are removing water from these streams is an integral part of that mission. This essay will attempt to tackle why this is so important from a drought-mitigation perspective by using a project in its third year in western Nebraska to illustrate the promising effects of the management of invasive species in riparian areas.

Sonny's Corner - Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance

By Kara Henner Eastman The Omaha Lead Site (OLS) Community Advisory Group (CAG) was formed to ensure the community affected by lead issues has an opportunity to ask questions and stay informed about activities within the OLS. The CAG is made up of community members, technical advisors, and various agency and government representatives. The CAG closely follows the EPA Superfund process and meets on a regular basis to discuss progress at the OLS, pertinent research and information from other cities and Superfund sites in the United States dealing with similar issues.

Immigration in Nebraska

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