Letters to the editor on debt, Israel, defense spending, frail elderly, closed on Thanksgiving, Kobach, right of way

11/25/2012 12:00 AM

11/23/2012 5:13 PM

Need to redefine ‘national interests’

Columnist Caroline Baum lamented that the United States is a debt-a-holic filled with corporations and citizens who put their own special interests ahead of national interests (Nov. 18 Opinion). But she failed to understand that we have deliberately rolled a growing number of special interests into a single massive “national interest.”

The confusion takes many forms: I am entitled to benefits if I “paid into” the system, even if there is no correlation between what I put in and what I take out. Nobody can expect me to step away from the benefit window when my neighbor, my competitor or any other special interest is getting a free lunch. Some things – such as agriculture, big banks, a national auto industry or green energy – simply must be subsidized because they are the “national interest.”

While the promotion of special interests to a national level proceeds, their prioritization becomes necessary once they exceed the federal resources available to satisfy them. And although people differ in what they believe is most important, they always find a justification for their own interest.

Fearing that this reality would lead to tyranny, our Founding Fathers constitutionally limited the scope of federal power and fiscal policy to grappling with the most basic and essential collective interests. But we fearlessly expand federal power and, in doing so, make federal fiscal policy a hopelessly inefficient, confused and polarized attempt to reprioritize all sorts of diverse interests, consuming more and more resources in the process.

Short of a wrenching return to some stricter notion of “national interest,” there is no solution to U.S. debt-a-holism.



Up to Israel

What else can Israel do in order to live in peace and security with its neighbors? Israel had built a wall, armed itself to the teeth (including with nuclear weapons) and established an “Iron Dome” to prevent missiles from reaching its population. But all of that didn’t prevent the most vulnerable people on Earth from inflicting pain and harm on Israel.

Israel can’t eliminate the Palestinians, the Arabs and Muslims at once even if it has the ability to do so. The military option doesn’t work in this case. Israel must apply peace – sincere and genuine peace.

Israel must convince its neighbors that coexistence is possible – not through violence but through acceptance and mutual respect.

The democratic transition movement sweeping the Arab world did not serve Israel’s interest in the region, and rendered the U.S. policy irrelevant except the veto power typically used against Palestinians. Israel, not the Palestinians, has to look deep into its being and find a rational solution to its dilemma. Israel, and Israel only, knows what to do. The rest is commentary.



Bloated budget

Regarding “In Wichita, Gates warns against more military cuts” (Nov. 13 Eagle): Given that the U.S. Department of Defense spends more annually than the next 46 nations combined, how can we possibly support former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ position of protecting the Pentagon’s bloated budget from budget cuts?

World governments spend $1.7 trillion annually on their militaries; 41 percent of that number is attributed to the United States. A diversion of only 5 percent from global militaries to development assistance could lift 1 billion people living on less than $1 a day out of their extreme poverty. Where is the Christian outcry demanding increased global development assistance for the poorest of the poor?

Protection of the U.S. military budget status quo is totally without merit and, some would say, amoral.



No service cuts

“Budget pain self-inflicted” (Nov. 18 Eagle Editorial) stated that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is considering possible cuts in “home- and community-based services for the frail elderly.”

That is not the case, and such cuts are not under consideration for the next fiscal year. There will not be reductions in the frail-elderly waiver services program.

The possible budget cut is related to policy changes put in place in September 2011, which resulted in better management of the program and produced budget savings by reducing variability in different regions of the state.

I want to make sure the record is corrected so as not to alarm those Kansans who receive frail-elderly waiver services.



Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services


Bless store owners

To all the store owners who chose to not open on Thanksgiving but rather to honor family over the almighty dollar: Blessings to each of you and your families.



Don’t whine

Finally, the election is over. It does no good to whine and complain about who is or isn’t president.

What does some good is to focus on what you and your immediate family or community groups want from our government.

We are not powerless. If you do not like a law – Obamacare comes to my mind – then contact your congressional representatives with what you do want. America is still a country “of the people, by the people and for the people,” not a dictatorship.

The people need to get off their duffs and take responsibility for what they want. We are not children who need our laws decided for us.



Not leaving

I’ve been in public service for more than 31 years and, quite frankly, have never encountered such an offensive statement as Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s comment that if Kansans didn’t like what was going on in Kansas, we could vote with our feet and leave (Nov. 18 WE Blog excerpts).

I’m a fifth-generation Kansan who is proud of the fact that he is descended from a long line of immigrants who came to Kansas to settle a very hostile territory in the late 1800s. They were quite self-reliant and independent of any government that existed at that time. The one thing that our old records show is that my family was proud of helping out newcomers and those coming to this country to seek a better life. I wonder where we all would have been if our early ancestors were as myopic as Kobach appears to be.

This moderate Kansas Republican will not be voting with his feet. I will be voting at the ballot box and working to support an alternative to the draconian practices of the current regime.



Obey right of way

While riding our bikes on the Derby bike path recently, we encountered difficulties in crossing Rock Road at 63rd Street South. We waited for the crosswalk light, but were unable to cross because of a semitrailer turning right in front of us. We waited through the next cycle but again were unable to cross, because of a string of cars turning right against the crosswalk light. On our third cycle, we were able to cross, presumably because no one wanted to turn right.

One solution to this problem might be a right red arrow that is coordinated with the safe crossing light on the crosswalk. The second solution is for drivers to please obey the rules of the road and grant the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross safely within the crosswalk. Drivers must learn to notice when someone is waiting for a turn to cross the street. Short of challenging a vehicle by moving into the crosswalk and into harm’s way, we have no choice but to wait through cycle after cycle of light changes.

We know that Kansas drivers are basically courteous. We are asking that the same awareness of pedestrians we see in parking lots be extended to our city streets.




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