Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MARCH 03, 2015 5:00 AM

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Learn from history

I read President Obama’s recent Prayer Breakfast address. Despite the expected criticism from the religious/political right, I like what he said. Our country’s future is in danger if we continue to deny how history affects our lives today. We suffer the consequences of our ancestors’ sins. It is up to us, today, to make amends for those transgressions and make needed changes — right past wrongs — to make sure we do not repeat them. It begins with acknowledging, naming our wrongdoings.
America has been a racist nation from its inception. How can anyone be proud of the white man’s

treatment of Indians and black people over the course of the past 400 or more years? Many people considered Indians and blacks less than human, inferior to the white man. We took the Indians’ land from them by force and deceit and enslaved black people.

Our educational system does our young people and our country a great disservice by not writing and publishing history textbooks that teach the total truth about our nation’s flawed past and how the consequences of some of those flaws affect us today. Cause-effect relationships are a vital part of studying and understanding history. Each succeeding generation reaps what previous generations sowed, whether good or evil.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a great prophet who loved America and all its people so much he willingly, literally sacrificed his life by eloquently pointing out our country’s failure to live up to her professed ideals of “freedom and justice for all.” How can we be a better people, a better nation if we as a country refuse to acknowledge our past faults/failures? By doing so, we can learn from our mistakes and begin to strive to become the “beloved community” God wills us to be. 

We must not underestimate the importance of learning from our history. Well-known writer H.G. Wells once observed bitterly, “The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” We have nothing to fear from knowing the truth — the good as well as the bad — about our past. It can only free us to make a better, brighter future for us and our descendants.

Paul Lam Whiteley Sr.

GOP hypocrisy on education

Gov. Terry Branstad and the GOP propose only a 1.25 percent increase ($50 million) in state funding for our public schools. That would leave our schools 37th among the states and 35th in for per-pupil expenditure. The GOP’s proposed 1.25 percent would not even cover the increase in costs due to inflation.

The Democrats in the Iowa Senate (over the “no” vote of every GOP senator) voted to seek a 4 percent increase ($212 million).

What do Branstad and the GOP legislators say? They sing a sad song. They would love better schools, they say. But they say Iowa can’t “sustain” a to put money in its children’s schools.

Sustainability? Why does Branstad/GOP question that? Because Branstad/GOP three years ago gave a huge 10 percent commercial property-tax cut that went only to the wealthy, like Walmart.

The State has “backfilled” the losses to the counties and cities from this tax cut so far. But even the state can’t any longer afford the huge “backfill” from this tax cut. Starting next year, we can expect our counties and cities to start making huge cuts to our police, fire, schools, libraries, roads, streets, sewer, water, food inspection and health department, and ambulance. But Branstad and the GOP would have us believe we cannot “sustain” a 4 percent increase for our children’s schools?

Education should be priority No. 1. It represents our children’s best future. Please contact your legislators and make sure we get what our children need.

Paul McAndrew Jr.

Can we survive?

Climate change is a massive problem requiring enormous adaptations.

The next decades will see extreme weather patterns inflicting billions in damage. A climate change bent on eroding the quality of human life is coming.

What is needed? To reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. Can humans do this?

Will individual Middle East counties curb oil sales? Is there a Russia that will agree to cut oil exports? Will Exxon Mobil and BP act to slash assets? Will farmers stop deep tilling so the carbon locked in the soil is not released? Are we ready to shut down coal mining?

Clearly, this problem needs solutions geared to scale. There is a saying, we don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. With our lack of response to climate change, we are burying our children.

John Clayton

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