In August of 1993, I was getting ready to leave Chicago for the University of Kansas and packing up all my most important belongings: clothes, CDs, video games. I think maybe a textbook or two got thrown into the pile too, probably by accident.

I remember the trip so well, because that was around the time of the Great Flood of 1993, which until a couple of weeks ago, was the most financially devastating flood in U.S. history. The route through Missouri took us right through the flood zone. I’d seen flooded basements before, but I’d never driven past lakes with billboards and rooftops poking out of the middle of them.

I suppose, then, that we’ll be calling this the Great Flood of 2008, but that won’t come close to describing the magnitude of the situation. Whole towns will be lost by the time the waters finally recede, not to mention all the homes and crops that have been ruined.

There’s never a good time for a natural disaster, but this flood could hardly have come at a worse time. The meat and poultry industry, already dealing with rising feed costs, will find those prices going even higher now that a sizable portion of Iowa’s corn crop is under several feet of water. That price increase will eventually make its way to consumers, who are already putting more of their paycheck into their gas tank than ever before. How much money will they have left after they pay for gas and groceries?

One more debate topic

This disaster and the ripple effect it will have on the rest of the economy is just one more topic of debate for the presidential campaign — because we didn’t have enough for Barack Obama and John McCain to talk about already. We’ve got the war in the Middle East, homeland security, the economy, undocumented workers, global warming and rising gas prices. We can now add the state of levees and the percentage of corn being diverted into ethanol production onto that list.

Looking at that list of priorities that will be waiting for the new president of the United States, it makes me wonder why anyone would even want the job. Every decision that you make is going to be reviled by about half the population. Your supporters will start to become antsy if you haven’t turned the country around in your first 100 days of office. And how do you even decide which fire to try to put out first? There’s not a simple solution for any of these problems, and I just don’t see an easy four years ahead for our country’s next leader.

It brings me to an interesting point I’ve wanted to ask our readers. How are you going to decide which candidate you’re supporting? Are you voting for the candidate that will be the best for your business’ health? Are you taking into account things like national security or the environment? Are you going to support the political party you’ve always supported? What are the biggest issues on your mind in this election?

If you feel like sharing a little, please feel free to e-mail me at Your comments may make it into an upcoming article, but I’ll keep all responses anonymous.

I hope all our Midwestern readers are doing fine and have not suffered from the floods. Stay dry and stay safe. Thanks, as always, for reading.IP

Sam Gazdziak