Wendy for Governor Campaign

Wendy Barth is running for the Governor of Iowa on the Green Party ticket, along with running mate Richard Johnson candidate for Lt. Governor.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Iowa Environmental Council Conference

I joined a gathering of Iowa’s premier environmentalists, an impressive group of people who definitely get it.
The keynote speaker, William Rees, began with an insight about the Cartesian duality that defines Western Civilization, with a new twist. Usually the Cartesian duality is explained as the separation of mind and soul. It originated with Rene DesCartes, who arrived at a compromise with the Catholic church, separating science from religion. In Dr. Rees’ understanding, environmentalists are the scientists, doing research; and economists take the place of the church, explaining human behavior in terms of somewhat mystical market forces. To prove his point, he quoted leading economists who don’t believe that global warming is serious.
Dr Rees and his team have developed the concept of the ecological footprint, which for each person is the area needed to support their lifestyle, which he presented as the reciprocal of the concept of carrying capacity – the number of people the planet can support. The actual amount of land in Iowa per Iowan is about 12 acres. A typical ecological footprint for an Iowan is 22 acres.
The theme of the conference was "Reducing Iowa’s Ecological Footprint."
Some quotes that stuck with me:
"What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last tree say? … Our technology will save us?"
"Green is the new Red, White and Blue."
"Cities are the human equivalents of confined animal feedlots."

" What will our grandchildren say to us –
How could you not know?
If you knew, how could you not care?
If you knew and you cared, why didn’t you do something about it?"

One question – how can we get corporations to change? – the answer: Many corporate executives get it, but feel that they cannot do anything about it – the shareholders and the corporate structure conspire to trap corporate executives, keeping them from doing the right thing.

I came out of the meeting energized, with lots of ideas:

Pity the corporate executive who understands what his corporation is doing, but feels trapped, powerless to change the corporation’s practices. Pity us all, victims of the corporation that refuses be changed. Well, if the corporate executives cannot change their companies, we’ll have to change them from the outside. This is too important to let it slide. What can we do to change them?

  • Shareholder activism.
  • Buy local.
  • Reclaim our sovereignty.
  • Apply our religious zeal.
  • Make pop idols of the greenest amongst us.

How about we pass legislation that every automobile advertisement has to include the MPG of the vehicle – kinda like the surgeon general’s warning on tobacco?

Pop quiz: Paper or Plastic?
Answer: Canvas. duh! Bring your own bags to the store.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Saturday was Peacefest in Iowa City. At first it was rainy, but after a while the clouds broke, the sun came out and we had a wonderful day with a good crowd. It was nice to be among my fellow peace activists of eastern Iowa.

There was a lot of interest in my campaign - we gave away all the campaign buttons and most of the campaign yard signs that we had brought along. Had a lot of discussions. Animal rights activists were there, including one with an anti-CAFO poster.

There was music, and a great keynote speaker: Antonia Juhasz, who wrote the book The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time. She was an incredible speaker. I bought her book, haven't had time to read it yet. I hope she writes as good as she speaks.

I scheduled a few more campaign appearances while at Peacefest (so now I need to update my calendar on my web site): I'll be on KRUI radio Monday morning, October 16 with Ralph Siddell.
The Peace and Justice group at Mt Vernon High School invited me to meet with them October 1 after school.
I'm looking forward to these events.

Fairbank "Meet the Candidates" night

Last Thursday evening I went to Fairbank Iowa for a town meeting. Fairbank is a pretty little town cut in half by the county line between Fayette and Buchananan counties. There's a park with a nice-sized pond with an island, and a footbridge to the island, where there's a playground and picnic shelter. Just gorgeous.

There was a great turn out from the local candidates – especially the board of supervisor candidates from the two counties that Fairbank straddles. The candidates for Iowa house and senate for the districts were also there, as was the Pirate candidate for US Congress, and an Independent candidate for something – I should have taken notes. I guess Chet and Jim were busy that night, they weren't there.

The Big issue was – CAFO siting. All board of supervisor candidates are for local control, they don’t want bureaucrats from DNR telling them what to do. But currently the supervisors have no authority, they are at the mercy of the Iowa congress. The candidates for supervisor were quite passionate about this issue. In Fayette county, you have one landowner that plans to subdivide his land, build houses and sell them. Down the road not too far is another landowner, who has plans to build a hog CAFO. Someone call Hollywood, this should be a very dramatic situation.

There was a good discussion of white collar crime. Some discussion on money corrupting politicians. Advice from the other candidates:

When you hear a politician say “regulation” think “oversight” – it will give you a different perspective.

If you get campaign literature with the return address of K Street Washington DC, ignore it – lobbyists should not be involved in local issues.

Wendy’s Fantasy

After all this discussion, I had a dream, where I was elected governor and while I am governing a big CAFO has a big manure spill and 30,000 fish are killed. I get on the phone to the sheriff of the county where the spill occurred, and tell him I want the owner of that hog lot in his jail by nightfall. I drive out to the jail (in my hybrid car) and go in to visit the prisoner, a well-dressed man who is obviously not used to spending time in jail.

“Governor, I’m glad to see you.” He says. “There must be some mistake – I’m sure you can get me out of here.”

“Yes, there’s been a big mistake – manure from your hog confinement operation just polluted a 5 mile stretch of the river.”

“I’ll post a bond”, says he.

“sorry, you are being held without bail, because we believe you are a flight risk. Your crimes are too severe to let you go.”

“But I’m an important person” he objects.

Governor Wendy turns to the jail keeper. “Can you turn off the water to his toilet, so he’ll have to put up with his own sewage?” she asks.

“You can’t do this to me!” sputters the prisoner.

“The hunters and fishermen around here are very conscientious” the Governor explains. “When they kill something, they eat it. You’ve just killed 30,000 fish.” Turning to the guard, she says, “tell the kitchen to order a case of tartar sauce. And tell them to make sure the fish are well-cooked, we don’t want to risk his health.”

Turning to the other prisoners, she says, “anyone here got loved ones living in the nearby town?”
A few say that they do.

Well, this man has just polluted the drinking water of that town. Please make sure he gets the respect he deserves while he's staying here with you.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

QNN Interview

If you wonder what I sound like, you can hear an an interview with me on Quality News Network.
Tony Seton was a pleasure to talk to, and I recommend that the other candidates contact Quality News Network to be interviewed by him.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Report from the Town Meeting in Fairfield

Last Night in Fairfield, we had an excellent town meeting. Both Richard and I were there, and it’s great to campaign alongside him. He’s a former Republican party member, and I was once or twice a Democrat, so it’s a good combination. The theme for the discussion was decentralization, with a sub-plot of contaminated spinach. Decentralization appears in this campaign at so many levels – local control is another way of saying decentralization, whether you are talking about school boards, pollution control, zoning ordinances, whatever. Decentralization means helping small businesses rather than large corporations. Decentralization even has a part to play in national security – compare one big coal-fired electric generating facility to 150 wind generators, generating the same amount of power. If the big plant is attacked, be it by tornado or by terrorists, the damage would effect many more electric customers than an attack against a single wind turbine. It’s a lot harder to cripple a decentralized system.

Decentralization would be good for the hog business too. The statistics I’ve heard is that Iowa is producing 20% more pork than we did 10 years ago, and have 80% fewer hog farmers. If we had kept the old system, and encouraged each hog farmer to increase his herd by 20 % which might have been, maybe 4 hogs, we’d have the same amount of pork coming out of Iowa, but the manure would not be concentrated in large leaky unmanageable manure lagoons. It would not have been possible to kill 30,000 fish in one big manure spill. And more people would be sharing in the wealth that is generated.

The Ottumwa Currier sent a reporter, who said her story would be in Wednesday’s paper.

Before the meeting we took a tour of the ecovillage, a planned community off the grid, growing vegetables for their own consumption and for the local CSA and farmer’s market. They have a wind generator, photovoltaics, and solar hot water heaters. They build their houses with green building techniques and materials. It looked like a very pleasant place to live.
We talked about electronic voting machines. The activists are now stressing that the electronic machines should create a paper ballot, something that can be counted, the same as the ballots we use in the optical scanners, rather than a simple paper receipt like you get from the grocery store. If the purpose is to facilitate recounts, it makes sense to have the machines create something that is easy to recount.
We talked about mercury in vaccinations, and how the childhood vaccinations which have mercury as a preservative are suspected of causing increased rates of autism and other child health problems. It was rumored that Mr. Nussle had voted on the wrong side of this issue. I’ll leave it to you to do the research on that.
We talked about instant runoff voting(IRV), which would allow people to vote for their hopes instead of against their fears. Here’s how IRV works: supposing in a three-way race for example, candidate A got 40% of the vote, B got 40%, and C got the remaining 20%. Nobody won a clear majority, so the procedure usually is to eliminate the C, who clearly lost, and hold a second "run-off" election with just the two contenders A and B on the ballot. This incurs all the expense of a election: printing ballots, calling up poll watchers, programming machines, etc.
If, in the original vote, instead of just voting for one candidate, each voter had ranked the candidates: 1st choice, 2nd choice, and 3rd, then we could automatically take all the voters who voted for candidate C and give their votes to their second choice – with essentially the same result as holding a run-off election, without the added time and expense.

Many thanks to Patrick Bosold for arranging the meeting.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Are Peace Activists Demoralizing the Troops?

Chuck Grassley maintains that peace activists who protest the Iraq war are demoralizing the troops. If the troops feel demoralized, I can understand it.
It can be demoralizing to discover that you were sent on a fool's errand, looking for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist.
It can be demoralizing, serving your fifth consecutive tour of duty, with no end in sight.
It can be demoralizing, knowing that when you do get home, it may take 6 months to get to see a doctor at the VA clinic.
But don't blame the messenger. Peace activists did not concoct the lie of WMD. Peace activists did not plan this war, if anyone did. Peace activists did not cut the funding to the Veteran's Administration.

Let's put the blame where it really lies. Who is responsible for demoralizing the troops? Those who advocate for endless war without a clear goal or mission. Those who miscalculated the ease of winning. Those who have no other solution but more bloodshed. They are demoralizing not only the troops, but the population at home as well. We used to be loved, now we are despised. As long as they hate us, there will be terrorism. I'm not sure if America can regain the international respect that we once had, but the only way to win the war on terror is to regain that respect.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wendy's Economic Plan

This morning the news has Jim Nussle attacking Chet Culver for a lack of an economic plan. I was looking for Jim Nussle's plan on the internet last week, and all I could find was reference to 5 points - I couldn't find the actual 5 points, so I don't know if Nussle's plan is any good, or if it is vaporware. Anyway, it seems like it is time to respond with my own plan.

Sustainable Economy – Wendy’s Economic Plan

As manufacturing dwindles, there have been several ideas on how to create a more robust job market in Iowa. Some of these plans amount to corporate welfare, giving away large concessions to big corporations with the promise that they will in turn provide jobs for local workers. Often the large corporation takes the money or concessions, and then defaults on its promises.

Meanwhile, the downsized worker, who may have planned to spend his or her life in a manufacturing job, has no choice but to seek other employment. More and more, there aren’t any corporate jobs, and they end up going in to business for themselves. The biggest employer in the US may be Wal*Mart, but the second biggest employer is eBay. We can no longer rely on the big corporations, who are abandoning many of us, overworking and underpaying those they keep on. In order to help the largest number of Iowans for each dollar spent in assistance, the state should be looking to help the small entrepreneur.

1. Help the small operations

Many times the assistance that we could give the little guys is in the form of relief from expensive and restrictive regulations. From my own experience, I used to buy fresh apple cider every autumn from the orchard on the edge of town. But a few years back, the state decided that cider had to be pasteurized, and the orchards could not afford the necessary equipment, so they stopped selling fresh cider. Cider was shipped in from Kentucky and other states. It’s a real shame. The fresh cider was better, and the money stayed in the state.

Another example is free-range chicken, some of the tastiest meat you can buy, and you can buy it if you are willing to pay two or three times as much as for factory chicken. Why is the price so high? Not because the chickens are so expensive to feed, but because the butchering has to be done according to regulations, and the regulations require expensive facilities with features that have nothing to do with the quality of the meat. The cynics among us believe that this is a deliberate attempt of big business to prevent competition. I don’t know if it is deliberate or not, but it does close off one more opportunity for a person to make a living by doing something worthwhile and rewarding.

With a minimum amount of investment, we could either modify the laws so that it is not so expensive to meet the regulations, or we could support co-operative efforts to provide the required facilities to the small growers so that they can meet the regulations without facing bankruptcy. Helping the local entrepreneur helps the local economy, keeping the money circulating in the area rather than shipping it out of state to some large corporation headquartered in Bermuda.

2. Jobs creation program – regulation of big industry

While the small chicken farmer faces high costs for butchering and dressing their product, in the big chicken factories, USDA inspectors are inspecting 1000 chickens an hour, spending less than 3 seconds per bird. I just don’t think they can do the job properly at that rate. We should have at least 4 inspectors doing that job, 250 chickens per hour is still a lot, that’s less than 15 seconds per bird. Similarly, he hog confinement manure management systems are woefully under-regulated, with the DNR short-handed. The consequence of that is 450 manure spills in the last 10 years, tens of thousands of fish killed, beaches closed, drinking water polluted. We could put people to work doing a valuable service to out state, preventing pollution of our water.

That's just two examples of public works programs that would put people to work providing a worthwhile service to the state.

3. Wise Growth

Unrestricted growth is the ideology of a cancer cell. The wiser path is to look for sustainability, to focus not just on creating jobs, but over the long-term, will this be best for Iowa? We have learned this lesson with regards to soil erosion, and we have turned that problem around to a large degree. We need to be ever vigilant that we don’t put ourselves into a similar situation with our other resources. Hypothetically speaking, if a new business were to set up shop and proceed to drain the aquifer, other businesses that rely on plentiful water would suffer. And there are many businesses that rely on a steady supply of water. Let us not be so desperate for jobs that we make the mistake of allowing an environmental or economic disaster in the name of growth or job creation.

4. Raise the Minimum Wage

I’m not opposed to people making money – to the contrary, I’m all for people making money. That’s why I support raising the minimum wage to a living wage. In order for the economy to thrive, people need to spend money. And in order to spend money, they need money to spend. When people don't even make enough to meet their needs, they are less likely to buy whatever you are selling. If you want customers, you want them to have the cash to spend, without the cash they can't be customers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Report from the IRENEW Energy Expo

We spent the weekend at the IRENEW Energy Expo in Solon. Although the weather was overcast and rainy, there was still a great turn-out. I talked to a lot of people, gave away a lot of campaign buttons and brochures, shook a lot of hands, went to a few talks.

I hear that, although net metering is the law in Iowa, some of the REC are not honoring their responsibility to pay the private owners of wind turbines for the electricity they are generating and putting on the grid. This is very disappointing. They better get this straightened out before I become governor, or they will wish they had!

I saw several rigs for sale to brew your own biodiesel fuel. If you collect used cooking oil for free from restaurants, I hear that you can make your own fuel for about 70 cents a gallon, and make enough to share with your neighbors as well.

I heard about a rig to brew your own ethanol from sorghum. The process is called sorganol. The yield per acre is somewhere between 500 and 1000 gallons of ethanol per acre, so the man says. And it's decentralized, so the little guy has a chance at making some profit.

I was shown a chart that showed more than double the yield (gallons per acre) for biodiesel when made from sunflower oil rather than soybean oil. Sunflower oil is easier and cleaner to get out of the plant, so the man says.

Makes you wonder what it will take to change people's attitude to get out of the corn and soybeans mindset.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Project Vote Smart NPAT survey posted

As promised, I have posted my answers to the Project Vote Smart's NPAT survey on my web site:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

NPAT Survey

My copy of the Project Vote Smart NPAT survey went out via US mail yesterday. The form is long, and I haven't taken the time to type it all in to my web site yet. But since it's been a hot topic in the governor's race this week, I thought I'd share the experience with you.

First of all, on the subject of abortion, let me make my position perfectly clear.

Abortions should be legal:
  • In the first trimester, or
  • When the life or health of the woman is endangered, or
  • In cases of severe fetal abnormality
After all the formatted questions, they ask for, in 75 words or less, the two or three priorities of my campaign, and if these priorities cost money, how I would fund them. My initial response:

Priorities of the Barth for Governor Campaign

  1. Stop the rampant pollution from CAFOs. 450 hog manure spills in the past 10 years are 450 too many. Each CAFO will submit to regular inspections to confirm that their manure management plan is adequate and being implemented successfully. Registration fees will cover the administrative costs for this inspection. New inspectors will be trained, which will add many jobs to the economy. High fines will be imposed for manure spills that spoil surface water or groundwater. Improper management of manure will be fined as well. Air quality will be sampled regularly, and if found to be a health threat to the neighbors, a serious fine will be imposed.

  2. Universal single-payer health care. Note that I did not say insurance. Insurance is a great method for mitigating risk, but not suitable for routine maintenance. Does your auto insurance pay for your oil changes or your brake jobs? No, but you expect your health insurance to cover your annual checkup. My plan is to implement universal single-payer health care in two phases. The first phase separates routine health maintenance from health catastrophes. Routine care includes regular check-ups, diagnostic tests, childbirth, emergency treatment, and hospice, and would be paid for by the state. Catastrophic events include chemotherapy, open heart surgery, kidney transplants – these big ticket items will continue to be covered by the insurance industry, as this is what insurance does best. Doctors and hospitals will be salaried by the state. This will remove elaborate process that doctors go through trying to get insurance companies to pay their claims, which will reduce the expense of routine maintenance significantly. The cost will be covered by a payroll deduction tax which will at most match the reduction in premiums from the insurance, so people will see no difference in their take-home pay. As we get the system tuned, I expect the tax will be reduced as costs go down.
    In the later phase, several years in the future, the state takes over the catastrophic payments as well.
If you start to count the words, you don't even get half-way through the first issue before 75 words are used up. So I had to whittle it down quite a bit, like this:

Priorities of the Barth for Governor Campaign

  1. Stop the rampant pollution from CAFOs. Each CAFO will submit to regular inspections confirming that their manure management system is successful. Registration fees cover administrative costs. Impose high fines for manure spills.
  1. Universal single-payer routine health care separate routine health maintenance from catastrophes. Routine care covered by the state, catastrophic events covered by insurance. Doctors and hospitals will be salaried, eliminating billing expenses. Costs will be covered by a payroll deduction tax which will at most match the reduction in insurance premiums.
I'll leave it to the reader to decide which statement is better.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Meet my staff

The Greenest of the Green candidates strikes again. When the Channel 2 reporter asked how many people I had on my staff, he didn'’t say "paid staff"”. The volunteer staff of the Barth for Governor Campaign are:

  • Campaign Manager: Sue
  • Asst. Campaign Manager: Joe
  • Co-Campaign Managers of Winneshiek County: Uncle Kenny and Uncle Gordy
  • Treasurer: Holly
  • Petition Coordinator and editor: Daryl
  • Editor: Gail
  • Button Maker: Ted
  • Media: Rick
  • Events: Bob, Florence
  • Newsletter: Kerri
  • Advice: Kelley
  • Personal Assistant: Tom

With Cameo Appearances by:

  • Karen :– Campaign training
  • Jerry :– Agriculture Issues
  • Patrick :– Fairfield Event Coordinator
  • Keith –: Sioux City Event Coordinator
  • Jim and John : Waterloo/Cedar Falls Event Coordinator
  • Laila –: Cedar Rapids Event Coordinator
  • Rick : Burlington Event Coordinator

Gail and Daryl might prefer the title "“Writer"” but so far I'’ve been writing my own speeches, web-site and brochure content, with their wise council and editing.

All the staff has shown the kind of devotion that you just can'’t buy, and I am grateful, thank you all.

The Barth Campaign has paid the following people (although I don'’t think of them as staff)

Illusions Fine Portraiture Ann, the "“head shot"” gets a lot of compliments, thanks for the great work.

Idezin Digital Workgroup – Blair, the brochure and logo get a lot of compliments too.– Thanks for the great work.

Speed Print Eric, printing is one of those things that if it is done right, nobody notices, but if not, everyone gripes. No one has made any comments on the printing, which means your work is excellent, thanks for the great work.