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.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What can we do about Global Warming

Global Warming is real - the polar icecaps are melting and polar bears are drowning. And it's our fault - our lifestyle is warming the planet. So, okay, what can we do about it?
First, let's take a detailed look at how you are contributing to global warming.
The obvious and easiest to control is your direct consuption of fossil fuel. Typically these are:
  • gasoline in your automobile
When shopping for a new automobile, make fuel efficiency a priority. It doesn't change your lifestyle, and will save you money. It's more convenient to be able to drive further on a tank of fuel - fewer stops at the gas station! Take it a step further and consider alternative fuels: bio-diesel or ethanol.
  • LP or natural gas for heating your home, cooking, heating water, drying your clothes
Why are we in such a hurry to get our clothes dry? If you hang them up to dry, they will eventually be just as dry, and you'll save money and reduce your green-house gas emissions at the same time. Bring back the clothes-line!

Then there' s secondary consumption of fossil fuels:
  • to generate the electricity you draw from the grid
If your electric company offers you a "green" option, where you can insist that all the electricity you use be from renewable resources, take that option. If it costs a little bit more, you can offset that cost by replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent or LED lights that use 1/4 as much electricity for the same amount of light. This doesn't change your lifestyle at all, and although the replacement bulbs cost some money, they pay for themselves.
  • transportation of products you purchase
How much fuel did it take to bring all that stuff from China to Walmart? Look for locally produced products - you'll keep the money circulating in your own community, which is good for the community.
  • in the manufacturing of goods that you use
This one is the most difficult to see, and perhaps the biggest contributor - the proverbial "smokestack industries". Legislation, consumer advocacy, and shareholder activism are techniques that have had some impact.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The survey I didn't answer

A PhD candidate in Political Science whose dissertation is on political consultants/managers, specifically "comparing what political science theory says you're supposed to do to win a campaign with what political consultants actually do in the field" asked me to do a survey, and of course I said, "sure, glad to! " But when I sat down to do the online survey-monkey survey, I found several questions that I could not answer. Since the survey-monkey would not let me continue until I answered the unanswerable, I had to abort the survey. So I wrote them this email instead:
After looking at your survey, I find that it doesn't apply very well to my campaign. First of all, I am a Green Party candidate. There were more than 2 candidates in the race, as is common when Green Party candidates run, so your questions about "your opponent" are hard to answer - there were 5 candidates in the race, which one are you referring to? It is somewhat disheartening that even PdD candidates in Political Science assume and therefore implicitly support the two party system, which we Greens feel is detrimental to true democracy and to the good of the nation.

Negative campaigning in yesterday's election in Iowa was bad, perhaps as bad as it has ever been. The abuse of robo-calls was particularly frustrating for the common citizen. Furthermore, throughout the campaign the candidates from the two big parties tended to avoid meeting constituents and avoid talking about issues, preferring to sling mud at each other. Rather than focusing on the question of whether slinging mud is a winning strategy, and thus encouraging this shameful and detrimental practice, why not spend your research time looking for effective means to encourage the candidates to be honest, respectful, and to address the issues? Election reforms such as Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) could have a substantial impact. Reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine requiring equal press time for all candidates would be a great step. True debates which include all the candidates on the ballot should be a requirement.

With the polar icecaps melting and the unsustainable havesting of just about every resource, I fear we are well on the path to turning the entire planet into the next Easter Island. While these problems are man-made and we have the potential to find solutions before it is too late, the situation gets more dire day by day. We might look to government to protect us from our own worst nature. Unfortunately the system is not functioning properly and tends to make the problems worse instead of better. If you can think of a solution to this dilemma, it would be time well spent indeed.

Please accept my apologies for not completing your survey, and I wish you the best of luck in your career.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I got emails at the last minute from people who wanted me to post on my web site a more detailed, more nuanced position on embryonic stem cell research. We exchanged several emails, because I wanted to understand their side of the issue. Their case is:
Wouldn't you have to agree about the sanctity of life and that opening the flood gates to embryonic stem cell research carries with it many risks of creating embryos to do research on vs. creating embryos for the purpose God intended (to create human beings)?

I think the question really comes down to protecting the sanctity of life. Doing research on already existing embryos that have no chance at life now is different from allowing embryos to be created for the sole purpose of research.

We don't want to see embryos being created for the sole purpose of being sold into the research market and, in turn, being killed. Killing a child for the purpose of research is wrong.
First of all, consider "God's intentions"
When Albert Einstein said, "God does not play dice with the universe."
Niels Bohr replied, "Who is Einstein to tell God what to do?"
God made scientists, gave them their brilliant minds with which to explore and understand various facets of the universe. Perhaps God intended for them to do this research.

Second, consider "the sole purpose of research"
Research for the purpose of curing diabetes, curing Parkinson's disease, curing multipule sclerosis, and a lot of other possibilities. Not research just 'cuz we're curious. In order to get funding for their research, scientists write grant proposals explaining why they want to do the research. If they don't have a good reason, they are denied funding. The scientists believe they can end a lot of human suffering with this research. If life is sacred, then isn't alleviating suffering a noble purpose? Is a life of constant pain and crippling deformities so sacred? If life is sacred, isn't the attempt to cure life-threatening diseases a way to protect the sanctity of life?

Third, compare "embryo" to "child".
Any time a researcher combines human sperm and ovum in a laboratory petri dish, thus creating an embryo, does that researcher have a moral obligation to implant that embryo in the womb of a woman, so that it can develop into a baby and be born? If that's your real concern, why limit your discussion to stem cells? Research in birth defects and research in fertility, I suspect, often mix sperm and ovum under various conditions. How many women are eager to be the mother of a science experiment? It's only recent advances in in-vitro fertilization that make it possible to confuse such an embryo with a child. In-vitro fertilization is what opened the floodgates to these moral dilemmas. Is this the way God intended children to be conceived?

Finally, "sold into the research market."
I share your concern that greedy people might use their patents and other exclusive trade mechanisms to extract excessive profits from researchers who do their work to further the public interest.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thanks to all my supporters - end the mud slinging

It's been a great summer and fall. I wish to thank my all-volunteer staff, the many organizations who welcomed me to their events, the citizens who turned out to vote, the papers, radio and TV stations who granted me time and space, and the Green Party.
I congratulate Chet Culver and the Democrats for their many wins in yesterday's elections. I've learned a lot in my first political campaign.

Thanks to the people who took me up on my offer to answer their questions, I hope that my forthright discussion of the issues has contributed to elevating the conversation and dampening the mud-slinging. Instant Runoff Voting would help to reduce that, since one candidate would be less likely to attack another if they hoped to be to be the second choice of the other's supporters. Bring back the Fairness Doctrine that gives all candidates equal time and space. Put a limit on the amount air time, newspaper space, postage, and the number of robo calls each camp can use, and make it a competition for the most effective and efficient use of those limited resources.

Don't be afraid to vote for your hopes and to work toward your dreams.

Wendy Barth

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Not my robo call

> Wendy,
> My son (age 15) got a call tonight (Nov. 6) that he
> said came from Wendy Barth and
> she said to vote for Culver because
> "he needs your help" or something like
> that.
> What's up?

It's not from me. If you have a couple of million dollars to throw around, you can find dishonest people who will do whatever you ask. Do you want such people to be in charge of your state?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Laws that are meant to be read

I got a call from a south-western Iowa, an area that I haven't had much contact with, so I was glad to receive the call. The caller read me this bible verse:

Deuteronomy 17:18-20
"When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers, nor turn from the law to the right or to the left."

What good advice - the rulers should read the law, and follow it. Doesn't it make sense that lawmakers and law enforcers should know the laws? Unfortunately, too many laws, like for example the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act, are just too big and cumbersome. Senators and Congressmen vote without knowing he full scope of the laws that they are enacting. Wouldn't it be better if there was a limit on the number of words in a bill, so that everyone could read it and know exactly what they were voting on? It would prevent a lot of riders and earmarks that are just insidious in today's laws.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bring Back the 40 hour work week!

One of the biggest accomplishments of the labor movement in the 20th century was the establishment of the 40 hour work-week. With the slogan "8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for play" and after much organizing, rallying, negotiating and fighting, the standard was set nationwide - 40 hours a week is full-time. Recently, however, "manditory overtime" is eroding away that success. In some jobs, people are required to work 12 hour days, 7 days a week which equals 84 hours a week - more than two full-time positions! The employers figure they are saving money on the overhead of having two people work those same hours - overhead such as training and benefits. This is once again a false economy that the accountants come up with by failing to place a dollar value on quality of life issues and other factors that make workers more or less productive. Proper rest and recreation is necessary so that workers pay attention and don't make mistakes - critical for nurses and other medical personel. Furthermore, we are less likely to have workers falling asleep at their station or goofing off because they have not had adequate time for recreation. By limiting the time required of each employee, we spread the wealth among more members of our community, thereby limiting the need for social services for the unemployed. It is time to strengthen our worker protection laws so that no one is required to work more than full time.