Friday Reads — The Smell of Money

Driving through the Iowa countryside as a kid with my parents, whenever you came across a stretch of hog-based aroma, one of them would inevitably quip, “The smell of money.” That’s what the farmers always said.

Now, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s quest for $1.8 million to study ways to mitigate the stink is drawing howls of protest inside and outside the Beltway. The manure study is  pointless pork, according to critics. John McCain, Jay Leno, commentators etc. are piling on with barbs and snickers.

Yesterday, Harkin mounted a public defense. Both The Gazette and the Quad-City Times front stories detailing Harkin’s argument that the 10-year-old research project is appropriate and necessary in a state with 20 million hogs. The Democrat points out that hog odor has been at the center of the seemingly endless hog fight in rural Iowa and that finding a solution is worth every penny.

From The Gazette story:

In Iowa, odors from hog confinement operations are a perennial issue at the state Legislature, where lawmakers argue over the need to protect quality of life without ruining Iowa’s $12-billion-a-year pork industry.

“Once, we couldn’t go outside for a week,” said Karen Forbes, who lives near a hog feedlot outside Lorimor. “It burned your eyes. You couldn’t breathe. You had to take a deep breath and run for your garage. It was horrid.”

She recalls a citywide garage sale in the south-central town of 420 a couple of years ago that no one attended because of the stink that day.

Harkin noted Iowa has 20 million hogs, “which is like having a 160 million people without control over waste and smell. We have a problem with rivers and streams and odor, so this is legitimate research.”

 Harkin urged his critics to come to Iowa for a sniff.

Harkin also said he favors a bill being considered in the Legislature that seeks to short-circuit the Electoral College by giving Iowa’s electoral votes to the national popular vote winner, even if that nominee loses Iowa. Radio Iowa has the story. That puts Harkin in step with Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, but Democratic Secretary of State Michael Mauro and Gov. Chet Culver oppose the bill.

I say if you want to change the Constitution, you amend it. But what do I know?

The Storm Lake student who refused to take the language test is back in class. The Sioux City Journal continues its coverage and The Des Moines Register picks up the story this morning. The Journal notes that Lori Phanachone has been given three options by school officials: take the test, take an alternative test and receive a 14 day suspension from extra-curricular activities or continue her protest and get a 56-day suspension from activities, including track and prom. And now school officials blame the feds.

From The Register:

“It illustrates the fixation on testing in which school bureaucrats believe the test score is more important than real performance,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which opposes standardized testing.

Storm Lake school officials say their hands are tied.

U.S. schools receive federal money for every child who is classified as one who is learning English as a second language. The money covers extra tutoring and mandatory tests.

Schools that fail to give the tests risk losing their federal money.

 Isn’t that what it always comes down to?

Elsewhere, the Omaha World-Herald comes through again. This time it carries news of a highway message sign that wss hacked Thursday morning. Its modified message to drivers? “CAUTION ZOMBIES AHEAD.” It was also tough to shut down, because the hackers also changed the system password.

And the Mason City Globe-Gazette fronts the good news that Woden, Iowa, is still fully in tact this morning. A Hancock County worker opened an old shed in the north central Iowa town and fond 70 sticks of deteriorating dynamite. There were evacuations, but the dynamite was stabilized and safely burned.



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3 responses to “Friday Reads — The Smell of Money

  1. Rob

    Iowa has what will be a 70-yr old deteriorating shtick of dynafreak elected as our US Senator by the name of Tom Harken. Can he be stabilized and safely disposed of too before he does any more harm?

  2. Martha Not-Stewart

    I am not a fan of Senator Harkin,but spending money to figure a way to decrease or eliminate the “smell of money” from hog farms makes sense.

  3. susan

    What the Founding Fathers said in the U.S. Constitution is “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote, and only 3 states used the winner-take-all rule (awarding all of a state’s electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). Since then, as a result of changes in state laws, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the winner-take-all rule is used by 48 of the 50 states.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

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