Letters to the Editor

October 13, 2013

Letters to the editor on ACA, deficits, food desert, Old Town violence, pope’s call

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer’s commentary was overwhelmingly speculative (“ACA will cost Kansas businesses, families,” Oct. 4 Opinion). No one knows for sure what the short- or long-term effects of the Affordable Care Act will be.

Give ACA a chance to succeed

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer’s commentary was overwhelmingly speculative (“ACA will cost Kansas businesses, families,” Oct. 4 Opinion). No one knows for sure what the short- or long-term effects of the Affordable Care Act will be.

I can tell you that since the law’s passage, my company’s health care costs have gone down significantly. The rates for my company’s plan have decreased by 5 percent from the previous year, the first decline in 15 years.

As an employer, I have never delayed hiring because of government regulation. I hire based on demand and demand only. I’ve been in business 47 years now.

I’ve heard the same type of arguments over and over about minimum-wage hikes. Those arguments are based on nothing but fear. In reality, better wages (and health care) can only allow business to thrive. I can certainly demonstrate that from my own experience.

Some physicians may not like the ACA, but many, many physicians, including members of the American Medical Association, do support the law and can see its benefits.

Give the new law a chance. It undoubtedly will be revised over time, as most major legislation is, as times and needs change. But it is not wise for someone in a position of power to publicly denounce something that, based on the millions who have already sought to sign up for benefits, is clearly wanted and necessary. The Affordable Care Act deserves a chance to succeed.



GOP not sincere

Although the Republicans would have us believe that they are sincere in their desire to exercise fiscal restraint and reduce our deficit and debt, there is considerable evidence to the contrary. After eight years of the Reagan presidency, the U.S. became the largest debtor nation in the world, due primarily to the supply-side economics that he instituted.

During the presidency of George W. Bush, Republicans cut taxes for the wealthy, which has added billions to our debt. They also passed a prescription drug plan that was unfunded and included clauses that forbid the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. And they didn’t pass any funding for the Iraq War.

And in what may be their biggest blunder yet, in 2011 they walked away from negotiations for the “grand bargain” that would have erased $4 trillion from our indebtedness and made changes to Social Security and Medicare – simply because it would have raised taxes on the wealthiest among us.

The vast majority of independent economists agree that in order to get a grip on our fiscal problems, we must transform entitlement programs and revamp the tax code by eliminating loopholes, reducing the number of deductions, and raising taxes on those at the top. If Republicans were sincere, they never would have walked away from the table when President Obama was willing to agree to most of these.



Different roles

The Constitution requires that a spending bill be generated by the U.S. House, the legislative branch that represents the people. The Senate, the American equivalent of the British House of Lords, votes to make the spending bill law or suggest revisions to the House. The executive carries out the law or can veto the bill, sending it back to Congress for revision or an override of the veto.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., apparently does not know or wish to follow his constitutional role, leaving the country in a mess.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, in his speech Monday to the Downtown Rotary Club, pointed out that spending on entitlements at the current rate will soon make our country into an oversized Greece. In the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck of Germany established the first national retirement pension. The retirement age was initially set at 70 and later lowered to 65. In the 19th century, few lived to that age. Clearly, we live longer now and have few children to support a retirement program such as Social Security.

Both houses have different roles but must start to work together and restore our country to financial health.



Open debate

Instead of secondhand hearsay, let all the mainstream and cable news outlets broadcast “live” the debates between the president and Congress. Let the American people be the judge as to who is not willing to work to stop the shutdown. There will be no need for finger-pointing if we are allowed to have a ringside seat for the discussions.

But this will never happen, because then the media could not distort the truth.

Presidential debates often are controlled by the moderator’s “selected” questions. After serving on a federal jury, I can tell you firsthand that when you hear all the facts, you can make a much better judgment.



Cross food desert

“Wichitans face 44 square miles of ‘food deserts’” (Oct. 8 Eagle) was a sobering assessment of the limited access to healthy food in our community. But the research is a critical piece of the solution.

In Kansas, 45 percent of low-income children are overweight or obese. To combat this disease and keep more Kansans living longer, fuller lives, we need approaches that make healthy food options available, accessible and affordable.

Solutions exist today, including gathering and empowering community members to find answers they can take to local leaders. The Kansas Health Foundation has grants available that help community groups and passionate citizens bring healthier food choices to their hometowns.

For example, in Lawrence and Douglas County, KHF provided a grant to establish a “food policy council.” More than 20 community members – from store owners to farmers to health and food security officials – are developing solutions that will improve access to local healthy food. We are hopeful Wichita will pursue a similar effort.

We need results that will benefit entire communities, including families wanting more choices and store owners wanting to see the demand for healthier food increase. Let’s work together to eliminate these food deserts in our communities.


President and CEO

Kansas Health Foundation


Old Town ideas

There are people in Wichita who have some other ideas about curbing the persistent violence in Old Town. There are other strategies besides increasing police staffing at the taxpayers’ expense.

Studies and common sense show that higher concentrations of bars in an area are associated with increased alcohol consumption and related harms, such as violence, alcohol-impaired driving, sexual assault and other neighborhood complaints. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Guide to Preventive Services endorsed limiting alcohol-outlet density and proximity as effective strategies for reducing the social and health consequences related to excessive drinking.

Shouldn’t Wichita at least consider regulating bar density and proximity in Old Town to improve our community’s well-being? Increased police presence is only one part of preventing violence and other harms.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has useful resources in regulating alcohol density at camy.org/action/Outlet_Density.


Stand Together Coalition


Heed pope’s call

Pope Francis has called on Catholics to stop being obsessed with abortion (Sept. 20 Eagle). So this year, instead of the annual collection during Sunday Mass to pay for a full-page ad in The Eagle listing names opposed to abortion, let us follow Pope Francis and help the poor.

Some brag that in Kansas our governor and Legislature are pro-life. But as has been reported in The Eagle, there are many cruel ways this pro-life governor and Legislature are forcing poor people to suffer.



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