The term welfare or government assistance carries a negative connotation when applied to individual people, such as the old, the young, the blind, the disabled and the mentally ill.
It is a small part of our national budget. However, huge amounts of government assistance, which is a form of welfare, are given without question to large and rich corporations that produce dirty energy — coal, gas and oil.
These are our limited resources. Dirty energy production is costing us many billions of dollars as we react to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and other natural disasters.
We have a promise of plenty more such disasters, with no end in sight, coming from the warming of the seas and the melting of the glaciers.
Rev. Terry Bruce
The Star’s story about the crowded field for the Kansas governor’s race brings up important points about the shortcomings in our election system. (Sept. 21, 8A, “Where are the women? Crowded field for Kansas governor is a men’s club”)
There is no room in our elections for more than a few candidates because of the winner-take-all system. In legislatures, the majority ends up being overrepresented as well.
The article states that multiwinner districts such as the system in New Hampshire will elect more women. However, the system there has a significant flaw in that each voter in those districts has as many votes as there are seats. A party with a slim majority in a district will win every seat by voting the party line, shutting out the opposition.
However, that is not to say that multiwinner districts should not be used. In fact, a simple solution to that problem would be to give each voter a single transferable vote in a multiwinner district. This would lead to election results that better reflect the diverse makeup of every district. The majority would still win the majority of seats, but the opposition would also get a share. To paraphrase election-reform advocate Cynthia Terrell, this would give all constituencies and demographic groups a seat a the table.
Mental health help
As a registered nurse, I frequently see mental health disorders that are not controlled or acknowledged by patients or their families. Mental health disorders are serious illnesses that deserve to be talked about to prevent tragedies like the one described by Jan Marrs in her recent guest commentary, “Prevent teen suicide by helping us talk.” (Sept. 15 11A)
The World Health Organization states that more than 20 percent of adolescents have some sort of mental illness and that nearly 800,000 people commit suicide each year. We need more preventative measures like the SPEAK UP campaign Marrs mentioned to acknowledge these disorders in adolescents and adults.
In 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law part of the 21st Century Cures Act, which allowed an increase in suicide-prevention programs, crisis-intervention services and increased education for those with mental health needs. Despite these additional resources, suicide rates continue to rise.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens and young adults. There needs to be a greater effort in prevention, education and bringing awareness to the underlying issues that lead to suicide.
No to pesticide
Missouri should not have recently lifted the temporary ban on weed-killing herbicide dicamba while there are still rising numbers of complaints about the damage it causes. I’m worried about the crops decimated by dicamba and about what this means for my family’s farm.
Farmers can spray dicamba directly on dicamba-ready crops, and those crops will survive. However, many Midwestern farmers do not use dicamba-ready crops. When sprayed, it drifts onto neighboring fields, damaging and killing non-dicamba-ready crops.
This pesticide has damaged more than 300,000 acres of soybeans in Missouri and 3.1 million acres nationally, and the state is unsure how much more damage there could be.
Dicamba is particularly bad because it travels far compared with other pesticides. With little to no control of where the pesticide goes, it can have lasting effects on crops.
Public health is also at risk. With the chemical’s spread onto neighboring farms, we have no assurance that the pesticide is not also spreading to homes, schools and playgrounds.
Arkansas has banned dicamba. To protect ourselves and our farmers, Missouri should ban it, too.