Public Election Financing
Congratulations on your Editorial regarding public election financing (October 26th issue). This is the least-discussed but one of the most crucial means of making our election system truly fair and democratic.
My sons live in Arizona, where they have enjoyed "Open Elections" since 2000. Every candidate, from governor to dogcatcher, is allowed a certain amount to spend. The funding comes from traffic fines, not taxes. Depending on the level of the political office, the candidate has to find, say, 500 voters who are willing to sign their petition for office and donate five dollars. The petitions and money are turned in to the election commission. From that point the candidate agrees not to spend over the agreed amount.
So far, all parties have won races, and the spending limit has curtailed some of the worst excesses -- negative ads, billionaires buying elections, and the need for constant fund-raising by politicians.
We talk about a level playing field -- fair and unbiased elections. We moan and groan about all the money squandered on elections and the selling of favors for campaign contributions. Here is a way out of this campaign chaos.
"No" On Amendment One
Why are people so dead-set on writing hate and discrimination into our state constitution via Amendment One (Editorial, November 2nd issue)? I see a strong parallel between proposed anti-gay marriage laws and the old Jim Crow laws discriminating against blacks. Why people are so afraid of gays marrying I'll never understand. I'm comfortable in my heterosexuality and feel that denying gays the right to marry actually demeans and disrespects my own upcoming nuptials.
I'm confused about where "... all men are created equal" excludes gays and lesbians. My point should not be interpreted as saying supporters of Amendment One are full of hate but rather that such laws are breeding grounds for hate and set a dangerous precedent. If your support of Amendment One is due to religious belief, don't you trust that God will exact punishment on judgment day? Who are we to take away the ability of choice He gave us? Who are we keeping safe by such a law?
The Vote Count
There have been several recent headlines concerning missing voting-machine cards in Shelby County. Local election officials say it's no big deal. That may be true, but beneath the surface, something is happening to our most important right: to have our votes reliably counted and the will of the people done in our elections.
Since 2000, many Americans have raised doubts about how their votes are counted. Here in Shelby County, we have also had some strange things happen. Nothing has been stranger than the purchase of county voting machines from Diebold, a company that paid a $2.6 million fine to settle a lawsuit filed by the state of California in 2004. In 2005, Diebold's CEO resigned after reports of company insider trading. That CEO, Wally O' Dell, was also a top fund-raiser for the GOP.
This year Diebold's lobbying firm gave $10,000 to the GOP secretary of state in Ohio, whose office approved the selection of Diebold for that state's election boards.
We have spent $400 billion to "free" Iraq. It's about time we did a real overhaul of our own voting system to ensure America's freedom will continue.
No More Seafood
A four-year study by an international group of ecologists and economists published in the Science warns that the world will run out of seafood by 2048 if declines in marine species continue at their current rates. The declines are due primarily to over-fishing and pollution of coastal areas.
The global economic impact of such a development would be staggering. The fishing industry generates $80 billion a year; 200 million people depend on it for income, and a billion people rely on it for protein. Decline in fish population is also associated with loss of marine biodiversity, blooms of potentially harmful algae, beach closures, and coastal flooding.
As the world's human population grows exponentially, the only viable long-term solution is to rely increasingly on grains, legumes, and nuts as our sources of protein. Unlike fish and other marine organisms, these protein-rich foods do not mess up our fragile ecosystem and are not laden with mercury, pesticides, and nasty pathogens. Did I mention that this major global food policy decision starts with our next trip to the supermarket?