Report from the Town Meeting in Fairfield
Last Night in Fairfield, we had an excellent town meeting. Both Richard and I were there, and it’s great to campaign alongside him. He’s a former Republican party member, and I was once or twice a Democrat, so it’s a good combination. The theme for the discussion was decentralization, with a sub-plot of contaminated spinach. Decentralization appears in this campaign at so many levels – local control is another way of saying decentralization, whether you are talking about school boards, pollution control, zoning ordinances, whatever. Decentralization means helping small businesses rather than large corporations. Decentralization even has a part to play in national security – compare one big coal-fired electric generating facility to 150 wind generators, generating the same amount of power. If the big plant is attacked, be it by tornado or by terrorists, the damage would effect many more electric customers than an attack against a single wind turbine. It’s a lot harder to cripple a decentralized system.
Decentralization would be good for the hog business too. The statistics I’ve heard is that Iowa is producing 20% more pork than we did 10 years ago, and have 80% fewer hog farmers. If we had kept the old system, and encouraged each hog farmer to increase his herd by 20 % which might have been, maybe 4 hogs, we’d have the same amount of pork coming out of Iowa, but the manure would not be concentrated in large leaky unmanageable manure lagoons. It would not have been possible to kill 30,000 fish in one big manure spill. And more people would be sharing in the wealth that is generated.
The Ottumwa Currier sent a reporter, who said her story would be in Wednesday’s paper.
Before the meeting we took a tour of the ecovillage, a planned community off the grid, growing vegetables for their own consumption and for the local CSA and farmer’s market. They have a wind generator, photovoltaics, and solar hot water heaters. They build their houses with green building techniques and materials. It looked like a very pleasant place to live.
We talked about electronic voting machines. The activists are now stressing that the electronic machines should create a paper ballot, something that can be counted, the same as the ballots we use in the optical scanners, rather than a simple paper receipt like you get from the grocery store. If the purpose is to facilitate recounts, it makes sense to have the machines create something that is easy to recount.
We talked about mercury in vaccinations, and how the childhood vaccinations which have mercury as a preservative are suspected of causing increased rates of autism and other child health problems. It was rumored that Mr. Nussle had voted on the wrong side of this issue. I’ll leave it to you to do the research on that.
We talked about instant runoff voting(IRV), which would allow people to vote for their hopes instead of against their fears. Here’s how IRV works: supposing in a three-way race for example, candidate A got 40% of the vote, B got 40%, and C got the remaining 20%. Nobody won a clear majority, so the procedure usually is to eliminate the C, who clearly lost, and hold a second "run-off" election with just the two contenders A and B on the ballot. This incurs all the expense of a election: printing ballots, calling up poll watchers, programming machines, etc.
If, in the original vote, instead of just voting for one candidate, each voter had ranked the candidates: 1st choice, 2nd choice, and 3rd, then we could automatically take all the voters who voted for candidate C and give their votes to their second choice – with essentially the same result as holding a run-off election, without the added time and expense.
Many thanks to Patrick Bosold for arranging the meeting.