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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 10:12 pm

Letters to the Editor

Untitled Document We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.
THRILL GONE FOR FAMILY FARMS I read your article about ethanol and found it interesting, but I would suggest you do a little more research into your statement that farmers are getting rich selling corn [R.L. Nave, “The thrill is gone,” Jan. 31]. While it is true that prices are at record levels and farmers will have a good year this year in regards to profits, all is not what it seems. The cost of production for an acre of corn will more than double this coming year. Cash rents that were as high as $200 per acre the past year will increase the coming year to as high as $400. These figures are not like this everywhere, but they are out there. The same will apply across the board to almost everything a farmer needs to produce his crop. In the end what the farmers will get is about the same slim profit margins they have had in the past. The return on investment will decrease by roughly 50 percent. This is pure and simple greed by those who can get away with it — and this will always be the plight of the American farmer. I grew up on a farm and have farmed from 1975 until the present. I have farmed as much as 1,400 acres and owned a swine facility that produced 5,000 head per year along with a small cow-calf herd. I have left behind most of the farming operation — all but about 600 acres of row crops — to run my new business of growing grapes and selling wine. My story is driven by the scenario I have discussed above. Never again in my lifetime will there be family farms, which were once the bedrock of this nation, that will be able to do anything other than just barely survive. As long as people can go to the store and buy everything they need for pennies, no one will care. One day, though, agriculture will be entirely in the hands of a few corporations that will control the price of your food. Mark Lounsbery Hill Prairie Winery Oakford

THE UNITED STATES OF CONFUSION Michael Vick gets to keep his $20 million signing bonus, although he’ll never “work” a single game under that agreement. ExxonMobil earns profits of more than $40 billion in 2007, and I wonder if it’s really as innocent as supply and demand. In the last eight years I’ve been able to save about $10,000 in a Roth IRA, hoping to help my kids pay for college. Because of that I was denied state-assisted health insurance, even though I’ve been without coverage while recovering from two illnesses since last April. My brain wants to do math with those three topics to make me feel sorry for myself. Self-pity is one of my more attractive character defects. Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton: There’s another trio my mind plays shuffleboard with. I’m grateful the paparazzi didn’t take pictures while I was having a nervous breakdown or of my DUI arrests. Mental illness and alcoholism really aren’t very glamorous. Have you seen the latest Geico commercial? What happened to Peter Frampton’s hair? The advertising wizards for Budweiser tell me it’s “Always Worth It.” I bet my friend Andrea, whose 17-year-old son died in a drunken-driving accident, doesn’t think that. I’m also starting to think I might be missing out on something because my car doesn’t “turn me on when I turn it on” like a Cadillac would. My hand-me-down kids roll their eyes when discussing the Abercrombie kids they go to school with, and my thrift-store husband calls his 1984 Oldsmobile a classic. The latest medical-assistance program I’ve applied for classifies me as indigent. When I went to see my doctor a few days ago for a scheduled appointment, the door was locked and no lights were on. I called and no one answered. An hour later I received a voice mail letting me know that I would be billed for a no call/no show. Am I on Candid Camera? A new theme park is now open for business; amusement guaranteed for all ages. Welcome to Psycho Planet! Experience the fear of egomania and self-will run riot by visiting the United States of Confusion, Greed, and Misplaced Values! Enjoy hours of agony and anxiety while you self-medicate. Spin the wheel of media madness where bad news is big business while being bombarded with endless ads that will convince you beyond a shadow of a doubt that you don’t have nearly enough stuff. Surf the killer wave of Web garbage, pedophiles, porn, and pop-ups. Hold tight for the ride of your life as you plunge into the depths of debt and then rocket to soaring heights of health care. Watch in breathless bewilderment as the rich get more and the poor continue to lose and children go hungry. Then finally drift away by treating your dis-ease and numbing the pain with an enchanting plethora of prescription pills — free samples while supplies last! From Hollywood to Washington, the state of our union has become a three-ring circus. “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right . . . here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” Somebody, please, stop the unmerry-go-round — I want to get off! Rose Garman

LET THE BUYER BEWARE The commentary in the Feb. 7 edition of Illinois Times only criticizes lending institutions for the subprime mortgage crisis [Roland Klose, “Swimming with sharks”]. However, the folks who took out the loans also are responsible, at least to some extent, for this crisis. They did not heed the old adage that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Any business person, whether a banker, car salesman, or whatever, is going to try to get the customer to buy the highest priced product by soft pedaling what it will cost in the long run. It’s up to the buyer to avoid buying something, or committing to something beyond their means, including what they can realistically expect in the way of income over the life of any necessary loan. If folks fail to read the fine print about interest rates in any financial contract they sign, well, isn’t it at least partly their fault if they end up not being able to make the payments? This is just another unfortunate aspect of our today’s living-on-credit society. Dick McLane Springfield

WEALREADYHAVEAJACKSON You note in the latest edition of Illinois Times that “now Springfield will host its very own Jackson creation” [Amanda Robert, “Tell the truth,” Feb. 7]. As a matter of fact, Springfield has had a Preston Jackson piece since 1981. “Flight Simulations” is on the state fairgrounds, in front of Building 29 (the Home Economics Building). It was his first large-scale sculpture and was also funded by the Capitol Development Board. The Jackson piece was one of several surprises that we discovered while preparing our newly published book Springfield Sculptures, Monuments and Plaques. You will find the picture and our description on page 80 of the book.
Roberta Volkmann Springfield
ELECTORAL COLLEGE IS A RELIC Hooray for the National Popular Vote movement [see Martha Biondi, “Dropping out of the Electoral College,” Jan. 17]. The Electoral College is a bygone relic, stuffed in the Constitution at the last minute to avoid regionalistic arguments over selecting the President. Here we are two centuries later, and you’d think the way some defend it, it had been elevated to holy writ. The College needs to go. Its primary purpose was to ensure that all states had a say in electing the president, but ironically it now does the opposite. Thanks to the advent of scientific polling, the candidates now don’t have to waste their time in a majority of states — like our Illinois — that are expected to support one party over another. Simply put, if you’re a Republican your vote doesn’t matter if you also live in Illinois. Likewise, a Democrat’s vote doesn’t mean a hill of beans in a lot of Southern states. Please let the governor know you support HB 1685, to add Illinois to the list of states that are part of the NPV movement. Brian Isaacs Lovington
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