Obama’s speech showed philosophy
President Obama, in his speech in Osawatomie, revealed more than he intended to about the gap between his personal philosophy of government and that of the nation’s founders.
Obama criticized the belief that “we are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.” People playing by their own rules, in all matters, has never been a valid American free-trade principle. The true belief is that all should play by fair rules made into law by the majority of the people.
Obama said, “I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules.” The problem is that he believes that the “government,” meaning government officials and bureaucrats and not the majority of the people, should determine what each person’s “fair share” is and should decide what all the “rules” are.
It is the true American belief that people be left free by the government “to fend for themselves” within the framework of the laws and rules they have set for themselves. The use of government force to enforce laws made by the majority is the heart and soul of liberty. The use of government force to enforce laws made by government officials is the soul of tyranny.
The contrast between President Obama and Gov. Sam Brownback, as detailed in two front-page Eagle articles on Dec. 7, couldn’t have been more stark.
Obama, in his Osawatomie speech, said he wanted wealthy people to pay their fair share of taxes to ensure the welfare of all Americans. Brownback wants to lower the Kansas income-tax rate to lure business into the state.
In Brownback’s world, as many already have made clear, those who make less money will pay more in local taxes to make up for the losses in state revenue, for the dubious goal of getting more businesses to move to the state. This despite studies that have shown businesses move to a state because of good educational opportunities, a skilled workforce and cultural benefits. Less income-tax revenue means risking a decline in these quality-of-life amenities that would bring businesses and people to Kansas.
Obama wants economic fairness for all Americans. Brownback seems to want to help his wealthy friends at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable in the state.
Kansas is tied for last place in the nation for getting more children covered by health insurance, and state officials are at a loss to explain why (Dec. 6 Eagle). This is shocking, and not a place to stay. Let’s reverse this trend.
School-based health centers can fill this gap. These centers exist at the intersection of education and health, providing primary care, mental health and sometimes oral health to kids where they spend most of their days. Sponsored by community health centers, hospitals and local public health departments, and staffed by skilled nurse practitioners, school-based health care centers are poised to cradle the 8.2 percent of Kansas’ kids who are uninsured.
On July 14, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan awarded $95 million to help build or renovate such centers. Sedgwick County, GraceMed Health Clinic and USD 259 each received $500,000 of these funds.
Health care providers, parents, schools and policymakers all want healthy kids. I urge you to be a kid’s health advocate and support the funding, construction and expansion of school-based health care centers.
I am the sister of a 60-year-old man with cerebral palsy, and I am extremely upset that the Brownback administration is proposing managed care for the developmentally disabled. Managed care could mean that an out-of-state, for-profit insurance company will determine what care and services people on Medicaid will get.
Why is the administration entirely changing the system that has served us in the developmentally disabled community so well?
My brother is in a group home that he likes, with good, though often transient, staff. Those who have stayed include his fantastic case manager. She is intelligent, efficient and goes far beyond what her job requires to help my brother. But under these new regulations, he won’t be able to keep her. It is irrelevant to the administration that they have a good relationship, that she’s known him for almost a decade, that she is extremely kind and capable. All that matters is that she works for the agency that runs his group home, so she can’t continue to manage his care.
If this is an example of what is to come, then the administration is in the process of destroying the orderly lives of those with developmental disabilities in this community and around the state.
ALLISON K. LEMONS
Gov. Sam Brownback’s appointees on the commission studying the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System stated from the beginning that public-service employees should be treated the same as private-sector employees. Our state employees’ pay ranks 49th in the nation. Their only benefit is a defined-benefit pension plan, into which they have paid their fair share over the years. One of the Brownback appointees characterized public employees as tax takers, saying that we take our salary from the taxpayers. Hello — I pay taxes, too. I guess I paid my own salary when I was a teacher.
House Bill 2194, which the governor signed earlier this year, addresses the unfunded liability and keeps a defined benefit (at a higher employee cost with a lesser benefit). Kansas voters need to contact their elected representatives and let them know how much they value the work of educators, firefighters, police officers, and state and local government employees, and tell them to preserve HB 2194 as it meets the assigned goals of the study commission.
Don’t rob Peter
This country has seen fit to undermine its economy by shipping middle-class jobs overseas, so the jobs that are left increasingly do not provide a pension, let alone a paycheck that would allow anyone to save for a decent retirement. Why then would our government, through cuts in the payroll tax, underfund Social Security — the very program that is vital to people?
The argument is that folks need that money in their pockets now. But borrowing from Peter to pay Paul is not the answer. Simplifying the tax code, and raising the earnings cap so all income is taxed for Social Security, is the answer.
Besides, the economy is not in the doldrums because people don’t have money to spend. It’s in the doldrums because the money they do spend leaves this country more often than not, creating jobs elsewhere and taking our tax base with it.
Some folks may think the government is doing them a favor by putting a few dollars in their pockets now. But if this payroll tax cut continues to be extended year after year, they will find at the end of their working lives that the one source of income they thought they could depend on won’t be there.
Do casinos care?
I have heart and lung problems, but I love the casinos. As I gradually got worse, I was not able to go to them anymore because of the smoke. Some casinos have a small nonsmoking room with old, boring slot games. I think they should switch, and make smokers go in this room so nonsmokers can enjoy new slots and other games.
I see many older people carrying their oxygen in the casinos. I think nonsmokers are being punished. This is not fair. I don’t think casinos even care.