Friday is World Population Day. It is a time to be brave and begin to talk about the effects of our exponential growth.
Our planet now has more than 7 billion people, two to three times how many could live sustainably, and the number could reach 9 billion by 2050.
Wildlife species are disappearing thousands of times faster than the historical rate.
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With peak oil here, agriculture is based on fossil fuels, and many people are dying from starvation or lack of clean water already.
Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, said in 1997 that this century may “experience human misery that on a numerical scale will exceed the worst of everything that has come before.”
Technical innovation might only heighten the drop.
All the deadly weather and resource wars are symptoms of this mother of environmental problems. Every year, we use what the Earth takes 1.5 years to replace.
We need to look at ourselves and shift course now.
Solutions include comprehensive sex education, increased funding for all forms of family planning worldwide, education and empowerment of females, adoption, having children later in life, energy efficiency, clean energy and decreased consumption.
The sharp increase in income-tax fraud reported this year is driven by two factors that are under our control:
The Internal Revenue Service is pushed hard to get refunds to taxpayers as fast as possible. This reduces the number of checks and balances the IRS can run before the agency ships the refunds out the door.
Congress reduced the money budgeted for IRS inspectors so the number of workers looking for fraud is down.
If you want to stop the multibillion-dollar tax-fraud problem, contact your congressman and tell him or her to give the IRS more fraud inspectors (each inspector finds more than 10 times his salary in fraud). And tell the IRS to take more time examining suspicious refunds before giving away the money.
Cheering Gov. Nixon
As a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, I thank Gov. Jay Nixon for vetoing HB 1307/1313, which would have tripled the time Missouri women must wait before an abortion (7-3, A1, “Nixon vetoes longer wait”).
As a physician who cares for these women, I can tell you unnecessary delays such as this do nothing to improve their health.
My colleagues in the health profession, from all political persuasions, wonder why the legislature spent so much time taking us backward instead of making a positive difference in the health of all Missourians while improving the economy and increasing jobs in the state by voting to expand Medicaid.
As someone who has devoted his career to taking care of women and promoting the health of our state, I can assure you this bill is not about protecting women.
It’s about making it as hard as possible for women to access abortion.
Gov. Nixon understands that Missouri physicians do not need interference from state legislators looking to score political points.
I appreciate Gov. Nixon standing up for women and health-care providers and hope the Missouri legislature will do what is right by letting this veto stand.
David L. Eisenberg, M.D.
St. Louis School
Department of Obstetrics
It seems insane that the airport security is being increased when any smart terrorist only has to grab a couple of children and come through our southern border with impunity.
Ruinous tax cuts
Gov. Sam Brownback and his cohorts passed the largest tax cuts in Kansas history in the last couple of years.
The most damaging element was the business tax cuts. The smallest tax cut was on workers’ salaries. And that was enacted just so lawmakers could say they gave the working stiff something.
John Brown’s mural, rifle raised in hand, is displayed under the dome in the Kansas Capitol.
If these current harebrained tax-cut ideas benefiting the rich wind up breaking the people’s treasury, then Brown’s mural should be replaced by one of Gov. Brownback with both of his hands extended and gripped tightly around the necks of a bunch of tiny people, with their little legs dangling.
Inconvenience of runs
The frequent blocking of city streets for private use is a nuisance and a disservice to the taxpayers who pay for those streets.
The city needs to do a better job of regulating these runs and walks.
First, the burden should be shared. No street should be closed for private use more than once per year.
Second, organizers should be required to provide adequate notice to the public. That notice should include signs posted at every blocked intersection for two weeks before the closure, mailed fliers in a standardized format to every address within a certain distance of the closed route with maps and other information, and at least one full-page ad in every local newspaper.
Third, there should be a substantial fee for each mile of closed street.
At this point, having been blocked from my Brookside destination by the closures, I am so frustrated that I would actually prefer an outright ban. I am sure that the many folks stuck in traffic on State Line Road would agree.
M. Courtney Koger
It’s not a coincidence that Republican-controlled states have passed their so-called voter-identification laws to combat nonexistent voter fraud.
From 2001 through 2010, there were millions of votes cast but few prosecuted cases of voter fraud.
This has moved well beyond requiring voter IDs to blatant voter suppression. Most of these Republican-controlled states have eliminated most early voting.
Other measures include reducing the number of actual voting machines, reducing the number of polling places and eliminating evening voting.
One state has reduced the hours of polling places in highly populated urban areas to match the hours of sparsely populated rural areas.
In another state, it’s up to the secretary of state to decide who gets absentee ballots.
In Texas, you can use a gun registration to vote but not a student ID with a picture.
Also in Texas, some women who had married were not allowed to vote because their married names did not match their birth certificates.
The number of new restrictions is growing.
It’s not about having the proper ID anymore, it’s about suppressing the right to vote.
These states should be ashamed of themselves.
Mental illness stigma
It is past due that we stop pushing the problems of mental illness under the rug and we start taking steps to address this local and national crisis.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 26.2 percent of Americans struggle with mental illness in a given year.
Yet, funding is still not channeled into helping those struggling, and victims are stigmatized. I hate it with every essence of my being because I am one of the 57.7 million Americans with a diagnosed mental illness.
After crying out for help and receiving none, I attempted suicide.
I failed, in every sense of the word, hitting the deepest depths of rock bottom.
However, people with mental illnesses are generally not stupid, and with adequate help, I was able to pull myself out of the depths of despair.
Now, I have good days and bad days, but I am mostly succeeding.
People who are mentally ill can succeed and have productive lives, so we need to stop the stigma today. Also, we have to be more proactive about offering support for those who suffer.
Together, we may be able to overcome this.