Letters to the editor: American innovation
TO THE EDITOR
American innovation has been the leading economic driver of our nation since its founding. Whether it's the lightbulb, telephone or electricity, Americans have led the world for centuries.
Unfortunately that could all change if a handful of mega-corporations get their way.
Efforts have been underway in congress for several years to try and "reform" our patent system
in a manner that would price out the little guy. Corporations hellbent on making it impossible for
average Joe investors to protect their inventions have tried to game the legislative process in
order to make defending one's inventions so costly that only those with extreme means could
afford to challenge corporations that look to steal the ideas of others.
Luckily a bipartisan bill has been introduced in congress that would level the playing field and
put garage inventors at the same advantage as multi-national corporations. The legislation, the
Stronger Patents Act, would ensure American innovation can continue to be a shining light in
Unfortunately, our very own Sen. Tammy Baldwin has yet to support this important legislation. Baldwin likes to talk about looking out for the little guy, well this is her chance. She
needs to sign onto this important legislation.
Town of Oak Grove
The need for an ag agent
TO THE EDITOR
I am writing to express my support for the continuation of an agricultural extension agent for
Pierce County. Last week, a reader pointed out all of the programs and services the agricultural
extension service provides in our county so this week I will address the IMPACT those services
I would like your readers to know that it would only cost $22,000 annually to have a part-time
ag agent in Pierce County. This part-time agent would be supporting those involved in
agriculture, which (according to UW-Madison Department of Agriculture and Applied
Economics) generates $88.3 billion annually to our state. And the dairy industry accounts for
almost HALF ($43.4 billion) of this total revenue. $22,000 pales in comparison to the benefits
and economic rewards Pierce County residents and businesses see as a result of a strong
I am involved with the Pierce County Dairy Promotion Committee and we rely on the services
the Agricultural Extension Service provides as we carry out various activities in Pierce County.
Our group's purpose is to promote the health benefits of dairy products and educate people on
the importance of this industry to the economy of our county and state. We host a June Dairy
Breakfast which annually provides a visit to a local farm for more than 1,400 visitors. We also
host a dairy banquet in October where we honor Pierce County Fair dairy winners, 4-H dairy
judging teams, area farmers for production awards and we also pay tribute to those businesses
and people who make an impact on the dairy industry in Pierce County. Our banquet is the
largest of its kind in the state of Wisconsin and is attended by 200 people annually. The Dairy
Promotion Committee works to gain donations for the purchase of milk for the Pierce County
Food Shelf. We conduct school visits, participate in Farm Safety Day and contribute to many
other activities in all of the communities and schools in Pierce County. Our committee's reach
and impact would definitely be limited if there were no agricultural extension agent in Pierce
It is imperative that the Pierce County Board votes on Oct. 24 to fund at least a
half-time agricultural agent. I worry that if ag extension is cut, will 4-H, family living and
horticulture be next?
Will the dream survive?
TO THE EDITOR
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream which he publicly revealed when I was a young man, many years ago.
He has often been quoted because his simple words eloquently express the American principle of racial equality.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
It is natural for people to have bias. I don't mean to make light of a serious topic, but a simple example seems appropriate. I have rural bias, after living in a large city. I have a pizza bias, after tasting broccoli.
With the rise of social media, we are exposed to other's personal bias and provided an opportunity to express our own. Unfortunately, in the arena of political discourse, social media has become a vehicle for perverse societal degradation. Often anonymously, vicious attacks are commonplace. You can choose not to participate in the tearing down, even if you can't bring yourself to build up others.
As an analogy, one early social media invention, the printing press was produced and some used it for evil intent. In those early days of mass communication, one man used the new printing press to translate and print the Bible and put it in the hands of the common person. Martin Luther started a reformation that many churches still teach today.
After the election of the first "post racial president" Obama, who promised to help America understand by moderating a racial dialogue, extreme racism increased.
The charges seem to indicate that white Americans are guilty of slavery and a denial of equal rights for black Americans. Again, for the sake of simplicity... How many slaves do you own? Today, our children are being exposed to the charge of "white privilege." This causes me to question many things, but one in particular makes me very uncomfortable. I too, have a dream for my children.
The same dream that Martin Luther King Jr. had for his children; "where they will not be judged for the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
'War on the EPA' is alarming
TO THE EDITOR
On Oct. 11, the PBS program Frontline aired "War on the EPA," an alarming documentary focusing on Trump appointee Scott Pruitt¹s ties to the big oil and coal industries and how he has acted to further their interests as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The day before PBS ran this program, Pruitt had announced the repeal of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which nudged states toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants over the next two decades.
In his brief tenure as EPA head, Pruitt has repealed or blocked many other common-sense regulatory measures protecting public health, such as banning chlorpyrifos, a pesticide shown to damage the brains of fetuses and infants. Chlorpyrifos is manufactured by Dow, and Pruitt vetoed the ban after a private meeting with Dow's CEO.
In a Pulitzer PrizE winning series, New York Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton has publicly exposed Pruitt's beholdenness to polluters, unearthing emails from Devon Energy in Pruitt's home state of Oklahoma with wording Pruitt used verbatim in his protests against EPA rulings.
A climate change denier, Pruitt has obstructed attempts to move our country away from dependence on dirty, polluting energy sources toward renewables. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA fully 14 times to kill regulations that keep America's environment and citizens safe.
Pruitt was also instrumental in organizing Republican attorneys general in other states to fight the change to clean, renewable energy. Eric Lipton, attending one of their gatherings, reported seeing fossil fuel lobbyists openly writing checks to the AGs.
Our Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, another climate change denier, voted to approve the deeply corrupt Pruitt, again demonstrating his bad judgment and enabling what journalist Jane Mayer calls "the triumph of the anti-environmental movement" in the Trump administration.
Thomas R. Smith
Make America great
TO THE EDITOR
Every time I hear "make America great again" I cringe. I've asked individuals "What does that mean?" One individual said, he remembers when he would get 18 percent interest on his money. My response was, I remember when I had to pay 22 percent interest on my
loans. Not so great.
Then he went on to say, he remembers when he would put a help wanted ad in the paper and he would have 300 people stand in line for an application. My response again was, I was one of those 300 standing in line. Not so great. He went on to say he remembered when farm land was taxed on property value versus land use and townships had plenty of tax money. I reminded him that I remember my mother having a heck of a time paying those taxes. Not so great.
Instead of "make America great again for a few," I would rather hear "make America great for all."