Letters to the editor on low wages, Brownback, 17th Amendment, Peterjohn, same-sex benefits

12/02/2013 5:48 PM

12/02/2013 5:48 PM

Our taxes pay for low wages

Do you realize that every time one of the big retailers or fast-food companies has an employee on food stamps or welfare, or whose children are on Medicaid, we pay for that?

If the companies paid their employees more, so they didn’t have to be on public assistance, it would cost the companies more, and less money would flow to the owners’ pockets. But if the companies pay them less than a living wage and they go on public assistance, the companies keep the extra salary money in their pockets. We pay through our taxes to have their employees on public assistance.

So if you think you are saving money by shopping and eating at those places, just remember that you have to consider that at least part of your savings is lost because it goes to the companies’ employees in the form of public assistance.

Same with the subsidies for the big oil companies. Lower gasoline prices are nice, but, again, the savings are reduced by the amount our taxes pay to big oil for depletion allowances.

So much for the self-reliant capitalists. They are capitalists, but they are a lot less than self-reliant. I’m really tired of lining the capitalists’ pockets because they won’t do what’s right.



Willing to listen?

Did Gov. Sam Brownback really say that he wants efforts throughout the year to talk about education goals and find common ground? He was quoted (Nov. 19 Local & State) saying: “Nobody talks to anybody; it’s all handled in litigation. If I’ve learned anything in these systems, it’s that if you’re not talking, you’re not going to come up with any resolution.”

Where did Brownback learn his listening skills? Did he really say something about listening and resolution? His term has been full of bullying, dictating and my-way-or-the-highway behavior.

At what point will he be listening and compromising?



Repeal amendment

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., invoked the “nuclear option” and changed Senate rules and ended the filibuster, which has been a Senate rule for 200 years. Reid was against the “nuclear option” when Republicans threatened to invoke it in 2005. Republicans are outraged that rules were changed with a simple majority vote.

The real problem is the 17th Amendment, not the filibuster. That amendment mandated direct election of senators. Originally, senators were appointed by their state legislatures. Senators were supposed to be the representative of the states. With direct elections, they became mere rubber stamps for their national party, leading to seemingly lifetime appointments regardless of behavior or performance and destructive and unpopular laws like Obamacare.

Going back to legislative appointment of senators would mean that they could be yanked from the Senate on a moment’s notice if they misbehaved. They would not be guaranteed a six-year (or even a six-week) term. This would make the Senate and the state legislatures more accountable to the voters. If they even thought about ramming a law through Congress and exempted themselves from that law, they would be out of a job. Repeal the 17th Amendment.



No solution

Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn offered a very clear and cogent explanation of his opposition to an Affordable Care Act navigator grant (“Accepting ACA grant was a huge mistake,” Nov. 24 Opinion). His main complaints are that the county will now be participating in Obamacare and that this could lead to a loss of privileged information. He went on to state that millions of people are losing their health insurance and are being forced into exchanges.

These arguments seem to be cause for concern, but on further examination, it is obvious that Peterjohn simply wants to justify his opposition to the ACA. He offered no solution to the fact that millions of people are being forced from their health insurance plans because their employers will not pay for them or because they have lousy health insurance in the first place. Also, the ACA is the law of the land and has been confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Sedgwick County must comply with it.

Perhaps Peterjohn could direct his attention to seeing what Sedgwick County can do to use the ACA grant to benefit the citizens of Sedgwick County.



Revisit benefits

A dozen years ago, Sedgwick County Manager William Buchanan expanded county employee health benefit coverage to cover gay and lesbian partnerships. Reaction from local religious groups and churches was swift and largely negative. In the end, the Sedgwick County Commission went along with the constituent backlash and the manager was forced to alter course.

But things have changed recently. With much of the Defense of Marriage Act being ruled unconstitutional, with the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the military’s extension of benefits to all its members, and with polls showing a majority of Americans supporting gay marriage, it is time for Buchanan to revisit the idea. What he did 12 years ago was visionary and courageous. Today, it is just common sense.



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