Helping farmers help us all
In an encouraging demonstration of bipartisanship, a group of Republican and Democratic U.S. senators in June introduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act (S. 3894). This bill would help reward climate-friendly farming and forestry practices, reduce climate change and improve soil health at the same time. I am hopeful the move signals increased congressional interest in acting on climate change and in recognizing ag and forestry as a critical part of the solution.
The bill and its bipartisan companion in the House (H.R. 7393) would make it easier for farmers and private forest landowners on the Palouse and elsewhere to participate in carbon credit markets and earn income from reducing carbon dioxide emissions and storing carbon in the soil. Practices such as cover cropping, farming without tillage, and using diverse crop rotations also can produce higher yields and cleaner air and water.
Bill supporters include the American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, McDonalds, and many other farm groups, businesses and environmental organizations.
In the House, bipartisan climate change efforts also include the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763), which relies on the free market to unleash innovation in the energy sector, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by at least 40 percent in the first 12 years.
Please join me in asking our members of Congress to support these and other bipartisan efforts to address climate change.
The idea of white privilege
The concept of white privilege is often ill-defined and misunderstood. I have heard it misused and derided more times than I care to count. White privilege exists, but it is poorly named.
Privilege suggests something extra given to a person. There are truly privileged people in our society, but as I currently live in prison, I am surrounded by people who had terribly abusive and neglected childhoods. Though many may be white, they certainly have not led privileged lives.
Still, the term white privilege can apply to them, not because they had extra things given to them, but because they have not had to deal with the negatives of belonging to a racial minority. I am white, thus through my life in the United States I have experienced racial prejudice only a few times. Some of those experiences have been notably painful, resulting in the loss of an opportunity or a friend.
For what I have experienced only once every few years, there are many people in our country who have to deal with such bias and hate weekly. Life is hard, no matter who you are. The human condition is one of regular struggle. However, being a member of a regional, or governmental, ethnic majority is a privilege. It is not that the best things in life are handed to you, but there is just that much less crap to wade through.
Name-calling not productive
For quite some time I have been saying that our society has lost the art of civil discourse. We have devolved into name-calling and accusations.
Kelly Moore’s letter to the editor published July 23rd demonstrates this very clearly. Without knowing all Republicans who support Trump, she or she (I want to be inclusive here; one cannot assume a gender based on a first name) calls them all racist, fascist and ignorant idiots. How does this contribute to a conversation? How does this encourage a person to think critically? Does it not just urge one to reply with another name that has no basis in fact? And then we are like children on the playground calling each other names.
Why cannot we be asking each other questions such as how we came to our conclusions, what brought us to this place in our thinking, what life experiences make us feel this way, etc.? Questions such as these help us to understand each other and engage us in civil discourse. Otherwise, we just call each other names and there is no understanding or empathy or reasoning together to come to solutions that are good for everyone.
Corrupted government information
As a librarian, I teach students how to find reliable information. Before 2016, I could generally tell them that most U.S. government agency sites provided credible information. After Trump was elected, that changed. First the climate change information on the EPA and USGS sites was politically altered. Later even the National Weather Service was temporarily corrupted. As recently as last fall, I was able to tell students that I thought the CDC was probably still reliable but now, that is no longer true.
The Trump administration is directing hospitals to bypass the CDC with their COVID data and leaning on the agency to give less stringent COVID safety recommendations. Government agency websites are supposed to provide free, objective information from taxpayer supported research. While private companies may choose what to share or charge for information, our taxes pay for nonpartisan information to be shared widely. Scientific information should not be politicized as the Trump administration has done.
I thought a pandemic would at least unite Americans, but Trump has used COVID misinformation to divide us.
So how do you find credible information? If you use social media, be sure to also follow Snopes, Politifact, and FactCheck.org to learn about false posts circulating. Investigate the organization or publication behind any information. Media Bias Fact Check or even Wikipedia can indicate if a site represents a political view or is a conspiracy theory site. Or ask a librarian. But please, be a skeptic.
Russian bots are likely posting false information right now to confuse and divide Americans. Don’t share posts until you check them. Misinformation in the next few months and in election could be a matter of life or death — of Americans and of our democracy.
Against income from prisons
I recently read in the Daily News that the Idaho Land Board has decided to look into investing $130 million to build a prison for the purpose of providing a steady stream of income to the Board (state).
To do so would be wrong on so many levels. The last thing we need in Idaho is another prison. See https://bit.ly/39BXWrB to find out about all the wonderful things this board already does. An additional investment of $130 million into the several educational beneficiaries that this board supports, would make a much higher return on investment.
It may not be as easy to track the dollars, but it certainly would help improve education to direct youth away from activities that lead to incarceration, and lead them toward becoming productive, tax-paying members of their communities. This is not only a moral high ground, it is fiscally more responsible.
The five-member board is made up of Governor Little, Secretary of State Denney, Attorney General Wasden, Controller Woolf, and Public Instruction Superintendent Ybarra.
Please urge the members of this board not to proceed with this folly. It would be short-sighted and provide no real benefit to the residents of Idaho.