To the Editor:
This letter is in defense of the work and research done at the Bent Creek Southeastern Forest Experiment Station in Asheville, work that is largely sustained by funding from the federal government.
As a small woodlot owner in Jackson County, I recently attended one of a series of woodland steward workshops offered at the Bent Creek station. Woodland stewardship is about preserving the diversity of forestland and managing it for fully stocked stands of oaks, American chestnut, hickories, yellow poplar, black walnut, white ash, basswood, pitch and shortleaf pine, etc.
The one-day public workshop was well organized and informative, including a tour of an experimental forest, talks on soil types and invasive species, and numerous handouts. The publications alone were well worth the price of admission — $50 dollars for the day. One of publications, Profitable Farms and Woodlands: A Practical Guide in Agroforestry for Landowners, Farmers and Ranchers, was a collaborative effort by several state universities, the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, N.C. Cooperative Extension, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
It is now clear the Romney-Ryan “vision” and budget proposals for America will virtually eliminate funding for the hundreds of collaborative research and development projects that are exemplified by the work at Bent Creek. The battle lines are now clearly drawn as voters struggle with the debate over the proper role and size of the federal government.
Paul Ryan defines himself as a pragmatist. I see him (and now Mr. Romney) more as ideologues on behalf of the radical wing of the Republican Party. Ryan has been clear about his proposals to privatize Social Security and Medicare, which becomes a defined contribution, rather than a defined-benefit plan.
He has been much less clear about the overall and future impacts of his budget cuts, which would radically shrink the federal government, effectively making it impossible for the government to function in the 21st century, other than wage war and offer some support for health care (through vouchers) and retirement. The only way for Ryan’s numbers to work in balancing the budget would be to eliminate nearly all non-defense discretionary spending, much of the social safety net including Medicaid and deep cuts to spending on infrastructure, public education and public safety, and decreased investment in research and development, for example, the Bent Creek Experimental Station.
I do not share in Ryan’s vision for America and am deeply offended by his bait and switch language, defining cuts to Medicaid as “strengthening the social safety net.” The Republican Party is no longer recognizable. It has become a bridge to the 19th century, the days of private toll roads, a second “guilded age” where only the wealthy have access to the White House, and a person is essentially on his or her own.
We cannot let this radical vision prevail in November.