Letter from the Editor

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Random Thoughts

I see where the Iowa Values Fund is making a gift of $9 million in taxpayer funds to Trans Ova Genetics, to get the Sioux Center company to build some new plants in Iowa, including something called an "animal biodefense facility." Other state and local programs will give Trans Ova another $6 million.

Company officials say the investment will create 315 jobs with average pay that the majority of those Iowa taxpayers chipping in could only dream of - $45,444.

Let's see... two and two is four, carry the six, take of the left shoe to allow for additional counting digits... the aid Trans Ova is getting breaks down to $47,619 per new job. Could have saved a few bucks and just put them on the state payroll.

I'm not sure what to think. On one hand, Iowa politicians have bandied about the term "biotech" as a savior for years, and they can hardly drop the ball now on a chance to put our money where their mouths are. Trans Ova is a respected company and some of their work, like research into a blood plasma protein from cows' milk for medicinal purposes, is cutting-edge fascinating.

On the other, Iowa's economy and the state budget are in need of medication too. It's a little tough to see politicians hand out millions and millions to private corporations when they are cutting programs left and right that affect us through our county and city governments, and when dollars for schools and the environment are said to be so tight.

The old adage, I suppose, is that "you have to spend money to make money." We will have to see whether Iowans across the state feel that they get their money's worth out of this decision, or the million bucks handed to a New York company to get them to put in an office in Des Moines.

Nothing against these fine corporations, but I do wonder if the politicians' idea of "Iowa Values" is the same as that of the workaday people who work for the money that is being given away.

Thanks are due to the Storm Lake Knights of Columbus Club. They stepped in with the loss of Balloon Days and salvaged a great Labor Day celebration in the parks. The Beatles Forever gave their final show under that name, and put their hearts into it. Good music, good food, good car show, good crafts... and some very good people going to a lot of labor for their community. The crowd was excellent, and I do think our friends the Knights are onto something here.

The talk in the coffeeshops these days is often quite critical of the U.S. military involvements around the world, and a friend sends us a bit from Robin Williams that may apply:

"The U.S. will apologize to the world for our 'interference' in their affairs, past and present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Noriega, Milosovich and the rest... we will never 'interfere' again... We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany, South Korea and the Phillipines. They don't want us there. We would station our troops at the U.S. borders..."

Tongue in cheek it is, but food for thought.

The people at the BV Courthouse are certainly a polite group. I notice a tiny little handmade sign on the lawn that notifies the community that they "would prefer" that dogs not be allowed to "dump" on the grounds. In a world of big steel signs of harsh prohibitions (one Storm Lake city park actually has a sign declaring "NO STANDING" after 10), there's something soothing about a sign saying "we prefer." Now, if we can just teach our dogs to read...