While Waiting for Iowa Jobs to Trickle Down

While Waiting for Iowa Jobs to Trickle Down

by Paul Deaton

Iowa Republicans have a plan to create jobs and a generation ago, it would have been called a “trickle down economy.” Today, they call it “Iowa is Open for Business.” By removing government as an impediment to business investment, opening up what little remains of the commons to exploitation by contractors, entrepreneurs and corporations, they assert that business will invest in Iowa and jobs will be forthcoming.

Firing up the chain saw, Republicans would clear the forest of government bureaucracy, leaving a field where business could set up shop, inseminate the earth with schemes and stratagems and extract a progeny of profit. Never mind what happens to the land, water and air, because government enforcement of regulations has been hobbled by lack of funding and left to wither, hopefully to disappear from involvement. No worries about protecting workers because investors are confident there will be takers for their new jobs and government protections will have been minimized. Consumers? They are hoping we won't notice and will pay the price for their brazen money grab and look the other way because it means jobs.

It seems like yesterday that Blog for Iowa wrote about the impact cuts to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) budget have on water and air quality issues in Iowa. It was 2009. Leland Searles of the Iowa Environmental Council wrote this week, “On March 22, 2011, the DNR's ambient air quality monitor for fine particulate matter unofficially exceeded the 24-hour maximum concentration, which is 35 micrograms per cubic liter of air. The reading on March 22 was 43.7 micrograms. The DNR did not post an air quality alert on that day. Is this because of budget cuts? If so, then we're already seeing harm from the political intent to curtail Clean Air Act activities in Iowa. The public deserves to know when there is an 'exceedance day,' and the DNR needs the staff and resources to analyze and publish the information.”

Fine particulate matter is regulated by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and Iowa DNR because of its adverse effect on human health in the form of increased incidence of asthma and cardio-respiratory disease. In part, it is caused by a chemical reaction in the atmosphere between methane released from concentrated animal feeding operations and emissions from burning coal for electricity. Iowa has plenty of this.

Republicans obfuscate the risks of fine particulate matter to human health, call it dust and brush it aside. If some of us notice that they are uninformed of the science, they brush us aside as well, demonizing us as “radical environmentalists” who would cripple investment by business concerns.

Republicans are having their day in the sun and if they keep this up, they will get burned. At some point, mother nature will have her day and it is not likely to be pretty. In a world where row crop farmers are called environmentalists while polluting our waterways, the science will eventually win, and Iowans may be the worse for it.

What is a progressive to do? As Winston Churchill said in 1941 after the German blitz, “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

~Paul Deaton is a
native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of
Blog for Iowa.

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