Letters to the Editor

September 2, 2012

Letters to the editor on utility rates, standing with workers, civility, police shootings, Christian charity, government help

I live on an extremely limited income, and I was horrified to read that my utilities will increase. Again.

Little money left after paying utilities

I live on an extremely limited income, and I was horrified to read that my utilities will increase. Again.

As I live alone, I am charged the higher rate because I use the minimum amount of electricity, water and gas. I barely have enough money left after rent and utilities to buy food, much less do anything else. I don’t have a cellphone, don’t get my nails done and don’t spend unwisely. How are those of us on fixed incomes going to be able to “live”?

Folks at these utility companies need to keep us in mind when they start increasing prices. Again.



Stand with workers

Each Labor Day, we are reminded of the pride we took in our work. We contributed to our economy to make our country great. And as retirees doing volunteer work and paying our share of taxes, we still do.

We also know that times are still really hard for members of our own family, as well as for other Kansas families. Hard times call for sacrifices. But while we pay our taxes to get our country back on its feet, corporations and the richest 2 percent of people in our country get away with paying less.

We can’t afford another $1 trillion in tax giveaway for billionaires and millionaires who don’t need it while support is cut to the bone for programs that support working middle-class families. We need to build our streets and highways; rebuild water and sewer systems; and repair school buildings, parks and recreation areas; and people must have good health care.

This Labor Day weekend, we ask Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, to show he stands with 98 percent of the American people to reform our tax system so it no longer favors those who have the most over those who work the hardest. America truly cannot recover without investing in working people.



Worship capitalism

Often we hear political leaders talk about jobs and how dedicated they are to creating an environment conducive to job creation, how many jobs they themselves have created, or how many jobs they are going to create. These statements are punctuated with equally passionate proclamations about how it is not the government’s responsibility to create jobs. That’s confusing, to be sure, but we all know the song our leaders sing.

They serve the interest of capital, not the workforce.

American workers are being forced to compete with foreign workers for wages, and we are failing. The American worker can’t exist on such a low wage and still pay the utility bills, the grocery bills, the cost of raising a family and, of course, the taxes. In our state, we just removed the burden of state income taxes from many businesses while keeping the sales tax on groceries. The popular meme here is that if workers fail, it is their fault, not the economic system we are enslaved to.

We are a country that worships at the altar of capitalism, profits and low taxes for those well-off. And our prayers at the stagnant altar of capitalism have been answered.



Lack civility

When did we forget our manners? When did public discourse change to public hate? When did we lose the ability to disagree agreeably?

Politics can change; laws can be overturned; politicians can be voted out of office. But what can’t be changed is the damage that is done by the unmitigated hate and vicious rhetoric that attack individuals and not their policies or ideas. What can’t be undone is the mistrust and hatred fostered in the public arena, turning American against American.

If we cannot gain consensus and value one another’s contributions to public discourse, how can we be one country?

I am not saying that politics should be a garden party, but passion tempered by a little civility goes a long way to preventing damage to our country. And people are more likely to listen to a rational discussion and possibly come around to your way of thinking if they are not being attacked and ridiculed for having a differing opinion.

Remember that after the votes are casted and counted, we are still neighbors who must be able to live and work together as Americans. If not, we have all lost, no matter whom we voted for.



Need investigation

How did a handcuffed man die in a police car in Arkansas? Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. called for public revelation of witness and video accounts (Aug. 20 Opinion). The FBI is investigating that case. We need to discover if this is another “sordid narrative” all too familiar in America today – too many police shootings, too little explanation.

Here in Wichita, we need and demand to know about the five people slain by Wichita police since last October. Why were they shot when nonlethal measures were also available?

Karen Jackson was a 45-year-old armed with a knife. Timothy Freeborn Collins Jr., 17, was not in a gang and did not own a gun, contrary to police claims. Marquez Smart, 23, did not own gun, had no criminal record, but was shot while running from a crowd in Old Town. Troy Lanning Jr., 24, was shot while running and unarmed. DeJuan Colbert, 27, was slain in a hail of bullets.

Families of those slain say that information is withheld. Questions go unanswered. Police make slanderous statements to the public.

Of course, most police behave with integrity. We call on them to join with us in demanding a grand jury investigation. If we remain silent, we are complicit.



Real charity

Christian charity is provided by individuals who give of their time, money and efforts on behalf of others.

Government use of taxpayer dollars to provide for charitable benefits or social welfare programs is not “Christian.” It is not “Christian” or “charitable” if anyone is taking money from taxpayers and then giving it to someone else.

It’s only Christian and charitable when it’s your own money that you’re giving.

Also, it’s not “stealing from the poor” when the government gives a tax cut to a taxpayer. It just means that taxpayer gets to keep more of his own money. It’s not the government’s money to begin with; it’s the taxpayer’s money.



Government help

I watched “60 Minutes” recently and was distressed to learn about the homeless children and their families in Florida. These people were living in cars, trucks and shelters. I imagine it is the same in nearly every other state. Surely the richest country in the world can do better by its children.

The list of billionaires continues to grow, but instead of providing jobs, they seem to prefer to stick their money away in foreign places.

In the 1930s, after a life of teaching school and losing four small businesses in the depths of the Depression, my father was glad to get a job in President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. While the pay was small, it kept us off the street.

Later, I was able to go to Pittsburg State Teachers College with the help of Roosevelt’s National Youth Administration. The NYA provided a job of 60 hours a month for $15.

Things have gone uphill since then, and my husband and I have been able to pay back some of the government help we received by sending annual gifts to the U.S. Treasury to reduce the national debt. And that’s why I’m a lifelong Democrat.



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