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do much good
To the Editor:
Politicians are throwing around the word “entitlements” lately. Mostly you get the feeling entitlements are something bad. Entitlements, however, tell us something about what we value as a nation. For example, do we think that our senior citizens are entitled to live out their last years with a bit of dignity. If this is one of our values, how do we make it happen? Our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid systems were instituted to address this, and they worked fine for decades. If our elected representatives had been doing their jobs instead of just collecting generous pay and benefits, they could have adopted modest adjustments along the way to keep the systems strong, but they didn’t. Now they cry crisis and the only solutions they offer seem to cut benefits. Why not increase the revenue going into Social Security by taxing people on all earnings instead of just the first $110,000? Perhaps this might hurt the politicians’ campaign contributors a little, but it would certainly help the Social Security system.
Then there is Medicare. When seniors get sick, they get taken care of with Medicare. What could be simpler? Yet there are some politicians who would like seniors to get into the insurance market and buy their own health insurance with a voucher from the government. What a gift to the insurance industry that would be! It is not easy to understand the fine print of insurance policies or to predict what kind of health issues you will have in the future. In other words, it would be difficult to decide what policy would be best for your situation. Besides that, what value do “for-profit” insurance companies even add to health care? They are just middlemen who use your premiums for advertising, excessive executive salaries, profits for shareholders and, lastly, to pay doctors and hospitals.
Non-profit Medicare pays just a fraction of the overhead expenses that private insurance pays. I have not met a senior citizen who does not like Medicare, but I have met many people angry and frustrated with their health insurance companies. Politicians aware how popular Medicare is say that current recipients, and those older than 55, would still be in the original Medicare program. This is a typical “divide and conquer” strategy. As time goes on, the ones in the original Medicare system would be an increasingly small voting bloc with less and less influence on the program while perhaps even being at odds with the people in the privatized system.
As for Medicaid, it should be remembered that a quarter of its expenditures goes toward nursing homes, which cost thousands of dollars per month per patient. After the elderly who need these facilities spend down their savings and become poor, the program that allows them to remain there is Medicaid. If Medicaid funds were to be cut, what would happen to these vulnerable people?
How should the wealth of this country be spent? It’s really a “values” question.
in the works
To the Editor:
The General Assembly is considering changing the KRS retirement funds to a 401(k). Reports I read say Republican members favor the risky 401(k) format. Democrats are looking to come up with something similar to the 401(k) investment with the possibility of paid advisers for investments. More pork for their political friends will be the result.
No matter what the legislature names the program, it is still a risky 401(k). Any changes in the structure of the KRS will come from the legislature. KRS will be required to follow. Gov. Steve Beshear has already announced he favors the structure.
Public employees have stood by silently. Except for the union, there is no power. Why are there are over 300,000 current and former members of KRS and the union has only 3,000 members? There has been no visible action by the other union organizations representing the public workers and retirees.
When are members going to rise up and begin to kick ass and take names in the General Assembly? It may be when they see their retirement investments change. The idea that the government is going to protect us is just not true.
The government and its elected members are first going to feather their own retirement nest. Anything remaining from the funds, history shows, will not go to the retirement funds. Money buys more pork for the folks at home. It applies to any visible structure built for the General Assembly member’s re-election. Did we really need those multimillion-dollar courthouses? NO! Employees have given in. The Assembly wants us to pay our taxes and be quiet.
Reports say KRS has paid millions for investment advice with no public disclosure as to the identity of those investors. Wonder if any of the commissions and fees are part of the good old boy system.
Is silence by public employees still consent? Members of the General Assembly have little fear of retaliation. The fact the commonwealth is able to hide retirement numbers is wrong, but it protects members who have been appointed to a high-paying state job after serving in the legislature or other jobs with the state. The three highest years of pay determine one’s retirement. That needs to change, immediately.
Why are the KRS retirement files not in the sunshine?
Legislators do not want you to know how much money they will be drawing in retirement. It will rock you to see how many retired state employees are drawing over $100,000 per year.
There are two sets of rules. One is for the greedy, self-loathing, egotistical members of the legislature and the beavers that build the dam. It is sad to see KRS members standing by accepting whatever the Kentucky legislature wants to do with their money.
Will Julian Carroll and Derrick Graham stand face to face with Speaker Stumbo and Beshear and say, “Do not disturb any further the employees’ retirement account!”?
Remember there is an election in November. Now is your chance to speak with your ballot.
Jim Anderson Stivers
As others see
To the Editor:
Recently one quiet sunny morning at White Castle, a fashionably, casually dressed, middle-aged woman from out-of-state (a state “up north” I’ll say, according to the car license plate I saw when the car first pulled in to the parking lot) passed me as she and her husband were leaving and saw a book I was reading on Leonardo da Vinci, my favorite historical figure, resting on top of a low wall next to me that I was using as a table. Astonished (and rather arrogantly, I thought), she asked me, while pointing to the book with its colorful dust jacket cover featuring of one of da Vinci’s beautiful female portrait paintings: “Are you reading this book?” I looked up at her puzzled face and replied somewhat irritably, “Well, yes I am. You know, contrary to what you see on television and in the movies, we does know how to read.” (I couldn’t help myself from being a bit sarcastic with my ungrammatical reply.)
This isn’t the first time such an incident has happened to me over the years. Each time it reminds me of Lincoln, “the Great Emancipator,” who, though insultingly called “an unlettered rail-splitter from the backwoods of Kentucky” and “a poor country bumpkin with homespun manners,” rose from his humble log cabin beginnings to become an American legend, the most popular (and perhaps greatest) president of all time, successfully overcoming his “hick” upbringing and his schooling “by littles” as he later described his lack of formal education (a few weeks one winter, maybe a month the next winter), which he said altogether didn’t amount to one year.
I wonder: will we Kentuckians ever rid ourselves of being stereotyped as stupid, uneducated, illiterate hillbillies, a negative image still promoted and perpetuated by American television shows and Hollywood movies? (Note: Ironically, it’s been my observation in life that people from the mountains, living simple, humble, slow-paced, earth-bound, family-oriented lives, are usually friendlier than city folks, more comfortable in their own skins, more willing to help their neighbor when times are tough. We could all learn a life-lesson from them.)
To the Editor:
With the 2012 presidential election near, it’s time to take a look at the state of the union. Our so-called president, B. Hussein Obama, and the Democrat Party has the USA circling the drain or, as the news media likes to say, “about to fall off the cliff.” In 2008, American voters elected the most unqualified person possible to lead this country. Now most everyone wonders how we got to where we are. Let’s look at some revealing facts.
BO has never held a position that required him to prepare a budget. Is it any wonder he is the first president in our history never to have prepared a budget? He entered the position of president representing an America of 57 states. He has spent six months each year in 2009-2011 and seven months so far this year looking for the missing states. He has yet to find the Oval Office. He seems to think it is aboard Bus One, Marine One or Air Force One. I have sent BO letters addressed to Air Force One and the Oval Office and have yet to receive any answers. He has used Air Force One more than all the past presidents since its creation in 1952. BO has created Bus One in addition to all his other means of transportation. We have had a president who’s anything but a leader. South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson identified BO clearly as a “liar” during one of Obama’s State of the Union addresses. No truer evaluation can possibly be made. BO has played more golf, attended more Democrat fundraisers and made more trips abroad than any other president in our history. Unemployment has been well above 8 percent and 25 million workers have lost their jobs. BO claimed he would bring the citizens of America, Democrats and Republicans, together and cooperatively move this nation forward. Being the product of two races, he represented the melting pot image and many voters believed he would do just that. Were they ever fooled! BO is attempting to divide the USA according to income into the poor, middle income and the rich. He is trying to divide us by race, where we live, our religion and our ethnicity. BO’s policies have taken the USA from being a leading superpower economically to borrowing money from China to maintain our existence. He has reduced our military strength by decommissioning units and adding service personnel to the unemployment lines. USA leads the world from the rear, insults our allies and bows down to our enemies in fear. No new weaponry has been developed since January, 2009.
We need a qualified leader. A school bus driver would have more skills than BO ever hopes to have. He knows how to drive, where he is going and how to protect his passengers. The Democrats are trying to destroy MY United States. Help me send B. Hussein Obama and his values back to Chicago where he belongs and all other Democrats home.
ban will fail
To the Editor:
I have seen the “no smoking” signs at Lakeview Park. Kind of amusing, I might say. I am an ex-smoker, and I walk on a regular basis at Lakeview. Amusing in that the signs are pretty, but I doubt the smokers will stop smoking at the park, and if I was still a smoker, there is no way I could be stopped from smoking, seriously, too many places to hide at the park and have a smoke.
Yes, I read in The State Journal that no smoking will be enforced. I find that to be funny. I find it funny in that there is also a law pertaining to dog walkers needing to keep their dogs leashed at all times and it is ignored. There are at least three, maybe four, signs scattered throughout the park stating that law. I have taken to carrying pepper spray on my walks. Every day on my walks, I see at least one person with a dog off leash; and usually more than one person, during my walks, have their dog(s) off leash.
In the five or so years I have been a walker at the park, I have yet to see anyone cited. There are even a couple of individuals who will drive to a certain part of the park, open their vehicle doors and let their dogs out to roam free and do their dirty business. Once the dogs are done, they jump back into the vehicles and the dog owners drive off. Which means the dog owner(s), are breaking another rule, and that rule is picking up your dog’s fecal matter. And seeing as how cigarettes are smaller than a dog, just how is no smoking going to be enforced? Also, what is the intent for banning smoking? To prevent the rabbits, and squirrels, and the occasional deer from being exposed to secondhand smoke, in the great outdoors? And by the way, the dog that lives at the park, the medium black and white dog, why do park officials let that dog roam free? I have never seen that dog on a leash. Is there a special rule or privilege for that dog?
To the Editor:
As Unitarian Universalists, we are appalled at the desire of some state legislators serving on the so-called “education” committee to put a religious belief in creationism on a par with the well-established theory of evolution.
If we wish to have Kentucky’s students ready for college – and for life in the 21st century – we need to prepare them with knowledge of the best scientific research and not to disparage that research and understanding by putting it on the same basis as creationism, which is a religious belief based on the limited scientific understandings of several thousand years ago.
If the state desires to have the testing program reflect what students need to know to meet national testing standards, their tests should be based on scientific instruction and not religious indoctrination. Religious instruction should be left to parents and churches.
President, Unitarian Universalist Community of Frankfort
To the Editor:
I’m grateful to the Good Samaritans who came to my aid July 17.
I fell on the St. Clair mall and a lady and gentleman came at once to help me. Others stopped to see if any more help was needed.
The lady called an ambulance and the gentleman kept me calm by talking to me. I am glad to report nothing was broken. The cuts were stitched or glued as required. Most of the swelling and bruising are gone and I am feeling fine.
Elizabeth B. Mitchell