Denying ability to police hemp robs state of opportunity
What? Unlike the Canadian Mounties, Kentucky's law enforcement is unable to police the growing of industrial hemp in this state?
Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer said, "It is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to the casual observer or even the astute observer to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana."
Perhaps we should import a few Mounties to instruct and enlighten our lawmen. There are discernible differences between the two plants.
It is appalling to think that this one issue would hold back our poverty-ridden state from providing much-needed jobs and income. This is a big chance for Kentucky to be on the cutting edge for a change.
Hemp can be grown pretty much statewide; the conditions are excellent, as we already know from experience, and farmers won't have to make heavy investments in different equipment.
Imagine setting up processing plants and factories across the state that produce highly marketable goods — parts for the auto industry, biofuel, clothing, paper, skin-care products, even food and supplements.
To grow hemp in Canada the government requires a license, criminal record check and GPS coordinates for the fields. They know where the hemp crops are. This oversight apparently works quite well.
We are fortunate to have Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who has the vision and foresight to aggressively pursue the implementation of industrial hemp, and it is encouraging that the General Assembly and others statewide are taking an interest in promoting hemp. Not only can it be done, it has to be done, for Kentucky.
Vicki Chiles Johnston
Democrats, take charge
Mitt Romney lost the election due to a void of new ideas and the specter of former President George W. Bush. Rehashing the putrid policies of W. didn't cut it.
The W. effect won't last much longer, so Democrats must quickly bridge the big idea gap to maintain momentum going into 2014.
■ Institute a 10 percent dedicated surcharge tax on the income of the 10 percent of the wealthiest taxpayers to pay down the debt.
■ Increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour to reduce dependency on government handouts. "If the roots are healthy, all is well in the garden," said the character Chauncey Gardner in the film Being There.
■ Form a trust-busting panel to break up all businesses that are too big to fail to avoid monopolies and bailouts.
■ Massively increase funding for international family planning in poor countries with rapidly increasing populations. This would help sustainability and reduce suffering, war, migration, etc.
■ Institute a formal campaign season — 12 weeks before general elections and six weeks before a primary. Any media advertising outside these seasons that support a candidate would be subject to a 50 percent tax dedicated to paying down the debt.
Elections have grown too long, expensive and ugly to accord with domestic tranquility.
■ Institute a severance package of $10,000 and a one-way ticket to the ancestral homeland for any ungrateful secessionist who agrees to renounce their U.S. citizenship and self-deport.
Allen T. Kelley
Obama should lead
President Barack Obama promised change in 2008 but the resulting change did little good and much harm, including arousing fears about misuse of government powers.
Those who voted for him still want change, and an end to gridlock. And so do those who voted against him. The main difference is what kinds of change.
Obama can end the gridlock in a single hour, and that would be real, world-class change.
All he has to do is tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that Republicans have some good ideas and valid fears, and that he will immediately begin exploring ways to cooperate with the Republicans and understand their positions and will expect Reid and Pelosi to do the same.
Why not? The rabid radicals in his voter base would scream but he doesn't need them anymore. I think that is crucial. He owes much more to the country as a whole.
The few radicals on the other side won't trust him either but that would be no change. Most conservatives would breathe a great sigh of relief at every sign of Obama's willingness to listen to them and work out practical solutions to our problems that don't point toward dictatorship and financial collapse.
In short, Obama has nothing to gain by pushing radical left views, and everything to gain by seeking partnership with conservatives.
The choice is his, and countless millions around the world will live or die according to his choices.
William H. Rees
Time for compromise
The people of Kentucky need to let Sen. Mitch McConnell know it is time for a compromise that includes the end of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.
In this economic climate, it is fair to ask for more taxes on income above $250,000 a year.
The Pew Research Center has documented a shrinking middle class. "In 2011, this middle-income tier included 51 percent of all adults; back in 1971, using the same income boundaries, it had included 61 percent. ... Over the same period, only the upper-income tier increased its share in the nation's household income pie.
"It now takes in 46 percent, up from 29 percent four decades ago. The middle tier now takes in 45 percent, down from 62 percent four decades ago. The lower tier takes in 9 percent, down from 10 percent."
It also is time for cuts in the defense budget. Our country spends more on its military than the next 13 countries combined. Even the Pentagon agrees cuts can be made.
The people of Kentucky have every right to expect McConnell to engage his mind and heart in the sole purpose of doing the people's business. McConnell was not elected to defeat a sitting president. He was elected to get the government to work for the people in an effective and efficient manner. It is time he executed that charge.
No Social Security cuts
Social Security is a standalone item that has nothing to do with the national debt. The Kentucky Alliance says no to any bizarre "grand bargain" that sacrifices the future of ordinary people to appease Wall Street and the markets.
Let the Bush-era tax cuts expire and make whatever deal has to be made in January.
The national debt is not the key issue facing the United States. Lack of opportunity is a key issue. Unemployment is a key issue. Underemployment is a key issue.
The price of health care being artificially inflated is a key issue. The prison industrial complex destroying the future of millions of black, brown and poor white Americans is a key issue. An inefficient military industrial complex is a key issue.
Working toward resolving issues that are truly key would allow our financial ship to be put in order. We will not allow the national debt to be used as a smokescreen to prevent us from resolving our problems. It is not too late to build an economy that benefits everyone and not just the few.
Co-chair, Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression