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Don’t ignore farm economics

In the Jan. 18 Pulse letter “Socialist payments to farmers,” Randall Langan obviously does not understand the profession of farmers. He suggests crop insurance payments and price supports are socialist redistribution of wealth by our government. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Do you realize it costs $4.74 to raise a bushel of corn or $8.32 for soybeans? Have you checked the markets lately? Corn is going for $3.69 and beans are $8.50. So where’s the profit? Some years there isn’t any.

So why don’t farmers simply raise the price of corn and beans? That’s not how farming works. Farmers don’t set the prices; the buyer does (elevators and the markets). And so, when farmers have bills to pay, they have to sell, profit or not.

Hey, I know, raise less corn and beans and the price will go up and farmers will make money. Wrong. Who is going to cut production and still stay in business? If half the farmers go out of business, production will go down and prices will go up, making farming very profitable for those left in the game. But your corn oil will be $5 a quart and your cereal $10 a box and hamburger will be $20 a pound.

So, the government manipulates the markets to provide you cheaper food prices, three to four times cheaper than elsewhere around the world.

You want to know what is socialist? People who choose not to be responsible for themselves, people who live beyond their means and the many wage earners who pay zero federal income tax. I hope everyone who feels farming is a socialist-supported program chokes on their next meal.

Jack Nelson, Omaha

Farmers and conservation

I am writing today in support of Legislative Bill 974, which would reduce taxes levied by school districts on agricultural and horticultural land from 75% to 65% of actual value in 2020, and to 55% of actual value in 2021 and years thereafter.

More than 97% of Nebraska is privately owned, which means that conservation of our natural resources depends on farmers and ranchers. We see tightening commodity markets, and high tax burdens force many producers to chase diminishing economic returns year after year simply to stay in business. Farmers are facing levels of bankruptcy not seen since the 1980s. This is troubling enough, and from a conservation perspective, leaves very little leeway for actions like leaving prairies unplowed or preserving uncultivated borders along roads and streams.

In our conservation partnerships with Nebraska producers, the Nature Conservancy has supported multigenerational ranching families to stay on their land, connected farmers to new irrigation technology so they can more closely steward their water and provided specialized equipment for farmers to implement new soil health practices. In all of these scenarios, wins for conservation have also been wins for farm and ranch economics.

We know firsthand that economic and environmental resilience can be one and the same for Nebraska producers. Farmers know how to steward the economic and environmental well-being of their operations, and Nebraska should give them the freedom to do so with LB 974.

Mace Hack, Omaha

state director, The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska

Military duties, sacrifices

I am writing in response to Jean Lillie’s Jan. 23 Pulse letter about not being in favor of a tax break for military retirees because in her words, “Military employees received so much for free after enlisting and while employed.”

Growing up, my Dad was career Navy and worked three additional jobs to pay the bills and put food on our table for much of my childhood. We were a family of six, and his enlisted salary did not begin to cover our living expenses. We were very frugal and still could not make ends meet.

My father proudly served in the military and retired after 25 years. During those years our family moved six times and did not have our father around very much because he worked weekends training the reservists. He put himself in harm’s way many times, especially when he was in a sub chaser during the Cuban Bay of Pigs crisis. Many times we had no idea where his mission was because it was secret.

I feel that Jean Lillie does not realize the sacrifice that military families make to protect the safety of our country and its citizens. Many states have given tax breaks to military retirees, and I am proud that Nebraska is trying to do the same.

Kathy Keasling, Omaha

Military service realities

I had to laugh at the Iowa resident who questioned the proposed tax break for Nebraska military retirees (Jan. 23 Pulse).

I had a job as an aircraft mechanic when I was drafted, going from $20 an hour to $78 a month for two years doing the same job as a civilian. One little difference: I had to travel all over the world at a moment’s notice and work in weather conditions from far below zero to more than 100 degrees. Eventually my pay increased to what it should have been all along, but I still paid taxes and Social Security like everyone else.

I went to war three times to keep this country free. I love this country, but I suspect those who never served don’t. My family suffered every time we were separated for service-related deployments. I paid for my children’s education, day care and all the things today’s parents want free. When Vietnam was over, I got spit on — no thanks for your service then.

While other Americans were getting rich, I continued to work my 12 hours a day or more because I love my country.

Thomas Ray Missel, Bellevue

Learn from Iowa on tax policy

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has asked her lawmakers for a 1-cent sales tax increase. She also proposed an income tax and property tax cut to offset the increase to residents.

That is how it’s done.

Our governor and our “Uni-do-nothing” lawmakers just keep spending and then brag about tax relief that amounts to 20 bucks. I’m very impressed by Gov. Reynolds and the opposite for our leaders.

Neil Willer, Omaha

Why is a teacher safety bill needed?

Just why is it that the “teacher safety” bill, Legislative Bill 147, before the Legislature is even needed? Have people considered carefully just why the supporters claim that there is a need for such a blll? Has the perplexing question of just how is it that teachers did not need such a law for over 170 years been raised?

Why is it that now a “Student Discipline Act” is needed for teachers to discipline an unruly student? Unruly, abusive, bullying, violent students have been in Nebraska schools for over a century and three score.

How is it that the Nebraska schools got along fine without such a law in the 19th and 20th centuries? What has changed in the past 25 years that only now the school teachers lobby for a special law to keep order in the schools?

Jay S. Purdy, Omaha

Trump/McCarthy connection

This letter is in direct response to Gordon Boe’s Jan. 15 Pulse letter comparing Donald Trump to Sen. Joe McCarthy. Mr. Boe, the reason that Trump reminds you so much of McCarthy is because of a man named Roy Cohn.

Cohn was McCarthy’s chief council during the McCarthy hearings. He later became Trump’s personal lawyer and mentor.

The link between the two men and their common tactics is Roy Cohn.

Randall T. Langan, Cedar Rapids, Neb.

The humanities have value

Dean Podoll (Jan. 22 Pulse) rightly praised a recent World-Herald article about the difficulty finding a job with a liberal arts degree, but unfortunately his letter presents a myopic interpretation of the story. Mr. Podoll suggests that statistics related to graduation rates are directly related to the employment needs of the business world, and he surmises that the wise will heed these statistics in order to land a good job after graduation.

Certainly, career options matter when it comes to pursuing higher education, but there are many rewarding career fields outside of business and STEM fields. Most of us with degrees in the liberal arts or the humanities are well aware that our work is not currently en vogue and that occasionally we may struggle to find meaningful work in our chosen field of expertise.

What Mr. Podoll fails to recognize, however, is that we are well aware of this and choose to pursue these careers regardless. The world needs businesspersons and scientists, to be sure, but the world also needs historians, philosophers, theologians and art historians. We all seek to improve the world in our chosen career fields; at our best, arts and sciences provide a conversation in which each enriches the other, rather than excluding each other.

The Rev. Scott Alan Johnson, Fremont, Neb.

Glass artist a rare talent

Omaha and the Midwest lost a true stained glass artisan this month to ALS. Mark Lambrecht was a rare talent in collaborating with us as architects to beautify and enhance the religious experience in numerous places of worship for the benefit of many people.

It was a real gift to be able to sit down with him to discuss the uniqueness of a particular project and for him to grasp the true meaning of what was trying to be created and to then help enhance that vision with his stained glass expertise.

He will certainly be missed by all of those who had the opportunity to work with him.

Jack H. Jackson, Omaha

CEO, Jackson-Jackson & Associates Inc. Architects

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