Wednesday, January 28, 2015     Volume: 15, Issue: 46
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Santa Maria Sun / Letters to the Editor

There's no food shortage--just a healthy food shortage

Robert Sachs - San Luis Obispo -

About a month ago, on Dec. 15, 2014, NPR reported something that is significant to all of us locally and nationally. The Obama Administration is going to fund a number of experts to draft a document titled, “Dietary Goals for the United States.” Sounds worthwhile. Sounds like “at last ... .”

But here is the problem. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter did the exact same thing. “Dietary Goals for the United States”—the 1978 edition—looked at the cause of chronic and degenerative diseases in America and linked it to malnutrition. The recommendation was to cut down on sugar, salt, red meat, and dairy products and to increase our use of whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. The report was condemned by the International Sugar Growers, the American Cattleman Association, and the American Dairy Council. The result was a watered down version re-released during the Reagan Administration.

The new version not yet written, the experts are basically saying the same thing, but are also drawing attention—what they say “for the first time”—to sustainability, seeing how the use of land for growing corn and grazing cattle wastes land that could provide better nutrition for more people by growing grains, fruits, and vegetables. Catching wind of this, the American beef producers are already lobbying against this upcoming report. They want the document to state what nutrients are needed for health without specifying what foods to get those nutrients from. No doubt, the sugar and dairy associations will weigh in shortly.

Ag land for cows. Ag land for wine. After all, doesn’t a steak go with a good red? The point here is that to utilize land for either in excess takes away from land that would far better serve humanity if it went to directly producing foods to feed us all.

In truth, there is no food shortage. And, we have enough healthy food to bring the standards of health and welfare up for all worldwide. However, the demand for meat worldwide is increasing, and there is more money in meat and wine than there is in carrots. And there is an excess of ignorant, arrogant, and self-serving politicians and lobbying groups who are looking more to profits than real global sustainability. As Mr. Obama still seems to be cozy with Monsanto and the like, I wonder what “Dietary Goals ...” will look like. Or is it just one more piece of political theater masquerading as caring?


Supervisors get raises in a vicious circle

Terri Stricklin - Nipomo -

Why is it that our supervisors, when pushing through raises for themselves, always refer to what other counties are paying? And I’m not just talking about SLO County. This goes on everywhere. Recently in Contra Costa County, supervisors there stated “we are the lowest-paid in any urban county in the state.” Their base pay is $97,000 with a county population of 1.1 million people. Compare that to SLO County’s supervisors, who just gave themselves a 5 percent pay increase and are now making $86,000, with a population of less than 300,000.

It’s a vicious circle. Every time these folks give themselves a raise, the next county says they need one, then the next, etc. Some county supes are wising up. They’re tying their salaries to 
that of superior court judges. When these 
judges receive a raise, they do also. These are automatic raises without their constituents 
even realizing it.

As for giving themselves raises, a better idea would be to put it on the ballot every four years and let the people of this county decide what kind of job you’re doing. Seems pretty simple to me. Wonder if any on our current board have the guts to let the people decide.


Support for currency and law enforcement is maintained

Jim McKrell - Atascadero -

Modern civilized societies worldwide place great value on stability and high living standards. Two important supporting features include law enforcement and currency. Taken out of context, they would amount to strange-looking paper and people in various uniforms. Because of the value that almost all of a society’s members assign, the authority of currency and law enforcement arise.

Philosophically speaking, these two cannot inherently be bad because they are created to protect and support the common good while seeking to improve their own performance, effectiveness, accountability, and transparency. When accomplished, society attains comfort, health, reward, fairness, and justice.

However, policies and procedures that control performance need to constantly be monitored and upgraded to meet the needs of the ever-changing world. When actions and outcomes are questioned in cases of (perceived) digression, it is simplistic to think that support for these institutions is waning. The public strives to create and maintain currency that is valuable and durable and law enforcement that is capable of safely and reasonably protecting its citizens while enforcing their laws and codes.