Natural gas is an essential service
I attended the recent public hearing regarding the Kansas Gas Service rate increase request and spoke briefly during the comments portion. After giving the matter some thought, here are some more points that I would like to make:
Natural gas is a service that only the few individuals or families who have electric-only homes can live without. For that reason, to raise the rate paid for gas by 9.1 percent would add an unnecessary burden to the already strained budgets of residential customers.
In addition, to lower the rate of large general sales customers by 8.2 percent, and raise the rates of small and middle general sales customers by only 2.5 or 3.9 percent, would be a slap in the face to residential customers. It is taking capitalism to a ridiculous extreme. All should pay the same rate. If general sales customers were to pay the same rate as residential customers, I doubt any rate increase would be necessary.
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I believe all essential services have a moral obligation first to their customers to keep rates as low as possible, then to encourage conservation of resources, and last to shareholder profits. The notion that in order to attract investors the gas company must raise its rate of equity return from 5.99 percent to 10.75 percent is outrageous.
MARY KATHRYN VERNON
I was stunned to read in last Sunday’s Eagle about the rate increase proposed by Kansas Gas Service. I find it incredible that we should be encouraged to save gas through conservation methods – including purchasing higher-efficiency appliances, draft-free windows, insulation and other items – and then are told that, because we have become more efficient, we will be required to pay more so the gas company may achieve its financial goals.
The idea of raising the fixed residential service charge is unbelievable. The penalty of not conserving gas should be charged to those who use it, including commercial companies, and not to those who have done what they have been incentivized to do.
It seems to me that KGS is looking for nothing more than a guarantee of income in a declining industry. We would all like for our businesses to achieve our financial goals, but we have to work for it. KGS stockholders should have seen the decline in gas usage coming, yet they have chosen to continue to invest in the company. That was and is their choice. I do not believe the company’s income goals should be reached simply by raising rates.
JAMES A. TALBOTT
Reading the commentary “Fiscal gap is much larger than official deficit” (Aug. 17 Opinion) started me thinking about how desensitized we have become to the words millions, billions and trillions. I have noticed that when The Eagle writes about anything less than $1 million, it uses numbers, i.e. $800,000. But anything more than that and it uses the words – millions, etc.
I would like to see The Eagle use the numbers to describe our budgets and deficits, i.e. $11,000,000,000,000, somewhere at the start of each article. This might give the public a better visual image and a wake-up call of how huge these numbers are.
A recent contributor to Opinion Line suggested that, in addition to the delinquent property tax list, “the names of everyone collecting welfare checks, Medicaid, food stamps and WIC benefits” should also be published in the newspaper so that the writer would know “about those I get to share my paycheck with.” I notice that this person failed to include all of the businesses and corporations that are granted tax breaks and deferrals. He also didn’t mention all the farmers who receive government payments, or all of the homeowners who are allowed to deduct their mortgage interest from their taxes.
These government handouts are subsidized by every other taxpayer, and the aforementioned writer gets to share his paycheck with them as well. The total of this government welfare would exceed that which goes to the least fortunate among us. Why is it OK to subsidize the wealthy and not the poor?
JACK E. NIBLACK
Let me vote
I get my water from Rural Water District No. 2, which gets water from Wichita. The vote on fluoridation is to be for Wichita citizens only, and the thousands of other users will have no say in it.
That is undemocratic and unjust. How can it be right to have unneeded and unwanted medicine imposed against your will and not even get to vote on it?
I demand my constitutional right to vote on this issue. If there are laws and politicians who support this voter suppression, for the sake of justice, they need to be repealed and replaced.
Need new ideas
The parallel of what was the pre-capitalist era and what is now the post-capitalist era is striking. We have come full circle to the need for another birth of ideas – something on the scale of those of the classical economists who brought about the last ideological revolution.
What were then guilds are now trade and labor unions, thousands of special interests, and hundreds of thousands of lobbyists. What was then government in the role of guardian has become government in the role of provider and arbiter as well.
The age-old concern about government is its force, and the equally aged concern about its provocateurs is their power. The lords then dispersed throughout the kingdom to secure allegiance to the king and his court. Now the career politicians and dutiful bureaucrats act upon the interests of those who own their conduct and control their course. They have assumed the power to ordain at will the impulses of those who finance their role. It is, above all else, the task once again to hold the more efficient in a checkmate that enables the less efficient to prosper.
RON A. HOFFMAN
Don’t blame Carter
I must object to “Misleading article” (Aug. 22 Letters to the Editor), which claimed that Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 caused our current financial crises. First, it was passed by Congress. This is not something the president did all on his own. That sort of misplaced blame game does not help the situation. Second, that legislation stated that loans should be “consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions.”
The predatory loan practices employed by banking institutions in the much more recent past are more truly to blame and would hardly be considered “safe and sound operation.” Don’t blame Carter for this mess; blame greed and a lack of regulatory oversight.
Harvard University professor Stephen Walt’s commentary about the futile Afghan war was excellent, well reasoned and concise (Aug. 18 Opinion). It’s about time someone stated clearly what a financial and bloody failure it has been, not only for America but the Afghans as well.
Afghanistan is not a country; it is a region, home to various different and often-warring tribes. Every invading army from the time of Alexander the Great to the present day has met defeat there. For the United States to presume that we could bring democracy, or anything like representative and stable government, to a place where the Western concepts of political responsibility and governance are completely alien is foolish.
I truly sympathize with those Afghans, particularly women, who aspire to a better life of health, education and equality. Sadly, our efforts to help are most often met with corruption and betrayal, and now we are witnessing murders of our own precious youth by people who we are trying to train to replace us. When will we learn?