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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JULY 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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Rastetter and Tanzania response from the Oakland Institute

True, not all businesses are cruel, and not all profits mean greed. After spending more than 18 months researching AgriSol's land deal in Tanzania, this conclusion could only apply if one failed to read company's internal documents or chose to ignore the reality on the ground that our field research yielded.

It appears from your editorial that you are fine with the forced relocation of 160,000 people who have grown their own food to feed their community and others in the region. Where will they go, how will they survive, what happens to their livelihoods seems to be of no concern to the paper.

The paper is impressed by AgriSol's ability to rake in immense profits secured through demands of "strategic investor status" – including exemption from corporate tax, import duties, right to grow GMO crops and biofuels, a rail link be built using scarce government funds, and an irrevocable guarantee for an export license, in addition to land secured at throwaway prices. Is forcing 160,000 people to leave their homes and make such demands of a developing country as the gateway to immense profits ethical?

Issues raised by the AgriSol land deal, including influence of money in politics, (Bruce Rastetter's large campaign contribution that preceded his appointment to the state Board of Regents), lack of transparency and accountability, and denial of the right to freedom of expression to the affected communities, require continued vigilance and investigation. The Oakland Institute has investigated more than 70 land deals. Our work, including documentation on the AgriSol's land deal, is available on our website. Please check it out.

Failure to do so and take action will only allow hog barons to get richer while the poor in poor countries get poorer.

Anuradha Mittal & Jeff Furman
Oakland Institute

Democrats' health-care reform flawed

With the Supreme Court decision issued, the Affordable Health-Care Act moves toward full enactment. Now, the real question is, can we afford it?

The act focuses almost solely on improved access. It does nothing to rein in the accelerating cost of health care. It does nothing to deal with the state by state reimbursement inequities created in the original Medicare legislation. It does nothing to improve preventative care and encourage healthy life decisions. And it does much to create conflict between providers and the rest of the health-care system.

Since the bill's passage, each successive cost estimate has gone up. Some suggest we are really looking at something closer to a $3 trillion bill over the next decade, versus the original estimate of $1 trillion. So where will the money come from?

Congress can levy more taxes. Patient benefits can be cut. Provider compensation can be reduced. One must wonder if the true cost of the bill had been accurately represented, how many Democrats would have reconsidered their votes. This may also explain the lack of broad bipartisan support for this piece of major social legislation.

Perhaps the most important part of Chief Justice John Roberts' recent opinion came when he wrote, "It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." He was reminding us that in a democracy, there is accountability. In November, we the people will once again be responsible for whom we send to Congress to deal with these complex, difficult decisions. I believe that Congressmen Dave Loebsack, who voted for this bill, did us a great disservice.

John Archer
Republican nominee, Iowa's 2nd Congressional District

Bath salts on the rise

Research chemical use, also known as "bath salts," is on the rise in Iowa City. We all know the costs of having a binge-drinking culture, but we are just beginning to see a new and frightening chemical throw people of all ages into the grip of chemical dependency.

Research chemicals can be bought on the Internet or at one particular "head shop" located a few blocks from campus. These chemicals are usually labeled "not for human consumption" to avoid the legal ramifications of selling synthetic MCAT, a drug with similar side effects to PCP.

An overdose can prove to be fatal at times and always thrusts the user into a state of excited delirium. Residents of Iowa City, I'm calling upon you to talk to our City Council and ask the members to ban these products.

Let us rise above politics and do something that will really benefit our community as a whole.

Erik Houston
UI student


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