Are we still all in this together?
Years ago, but not that many years ago, Americans believed that we were “all in this together.” We had a sense of social contract that led us to see that we needed stability, which included solid families, good schools, employment, health care and civil discourse. We thought we were a “melting pot” of different races, religions and cultures, and we were proud of that.
Enlightened self-interest showed us that if we all did well, our communities would be better places, our citizens more fulfilled, and we could continue to be a “shining light” worldwide. This mindset was not always born out in the realities of daily living, but it was still a powerfully ethical direction to be headed toward.
The contrast with 2012 is harsh. We have lost ground. Religious intolerance, distain for “the other,” uncivil discourse, and a generalized promotion of “my way or the highway” thinking have corrupted the promise of this nation.
It’s time to reclaim an earlier America, one which attempted to promote the common good, one which did not stridently worship wealth and materialism as the highest goals in life. It’s time to tone down the shouting and rancor and realize again that we have much in common. It is philosophy worth rediscovering.
Not a circus
Newt Gingrich criticizes Mitt Romney. Romney attacks Ron Paul. Paul assails Rick Santorum. Headlines decry the “GOP circus.” Talking heads bemoan the “vicious infighting” among the Republican candidates and what a “mess” this primary seems to be.
Nothing but hype and spin. How quickly they forget.
This is very typical for the party currently out of power seeking to unseat the party whose candidate is seeking re-election. Eight years ago it was going on amongst Democratic Party candidates trying to unseat Republican President George W. Bush.
This is how the out-of-power party focuses itself on the issues and defines the planks that make up the party’s platform. Why doesn’t the in-power party go through all this? Because the incumbent party’s re-election platform is assumed to be “more of the same” for four more years. They get to sit back, watch the fray on the other side of the aisle and get ready to face the out-of-party candidate come the fall.
All this buzz about such behavior by the out-of-power party being never before seen and appalling is spin and hype. It happens every time a first-term president is seeking re-election.
Tax credit critical
Thanks for publishing the commentary by Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. (“Tax credit key to harnessing wind,” March 18 Opinion). The production tax credit is a critical component of the American manufacturing success story that has been inspired by a booming wind industry, and this tax credit should be renewed as soon as possible.
Due to the success of the tax credit, 60 percent of a wind turbine’s value is now produced here in America, compared to 25 percent prior to 2005. Additionally, more than $75 billion of private investment has been made in wind power since 2005.
Kansans should not suffer job losses because of congressional inaction, especially when Brownback’s and Moran’s leadership has led to significant bipartisan support of the production tax credit. The tax credit supports private investment, and with the investment tax credit it will produce local jobs for hardworking Kansans. Extending this key tax incentive for wind is one of the best ways to spur economic development and create the good jobs we need.
KELLY J. ESTES
Harvest the Wind Network
Keep air clean
I am a nurse, and every day I see the horrible effects that smoking has on people. They struggle to breathe and become physically debilitated from years of chronic smoking.
Kansas has come a long way to ensure clean air for its citizens with the passage of the Clean Air Act in 2010, which banned smoking in public places. Still, this year the Legislature is debating whether to repeal part of that act and allow business owners to allow smoking if they do not serve anyone under 21 years of age.
According to the U.S. surgeon general’s statements in 2006, levels of secondhand smoke in bars were 4.5 times higher than in homes with at least one smoker. This isn’t safe for the patrons or employees who work in these places of business. Let’s send a clear message to our legislators in Topeka to keep our air safe and clean.
Already in debt
Readers of The Eagle have been inundated recently with complaints about state funding for schools, the arts, people with developmental disabilities, to name a few. What I have not seen are suggestions on where that money will come from. In fact, The Eagle editorial board thinks it is too much to ask people to pay sales tax on food (March 20 Eagle Editorial).
But examine the current financial condition of Kansas, Sedgwick County, Wichita and the United States and recognize all are far in debt. We have spent every dollar of the Social Security Trust Fund, underfunded our obligations to the retirees of Kansas, including teachers, and have a national debt of more than $16 trillion and growing.
With no money available from the state, county or federal governments, I suggest that further complaints be accompanied with the recommendation of who they would tax further or who they would stop funding. You might want to keep in mind that we are already reducing the military budget and, with the payroll tax reduction, we are spending more on current Social Security each year than what the system is receiving in revenue.
All of us must change our expectations and re-evaluate our priorities.
End death penalty
The Kansas House recently took a positive step forward that I hope will lead to the end of the death penalty in Kansas.
On March 15, the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee hosted a hearing that could lead to abolition of capital punishment in our state. There was testimony regarding the imperfections of our criminal justice system. A letter opposing the death penalty that was signed by 300 faith leaders from across the state was presented to the committee.
The League of Women Voters of Kansas presented testimony arguing that the state could not afford the financial implications of the death penalty, which, two years ago, was estimated to be $1.2 million per capital case. Life in prison in Kansas is about $740,000 per case.
And I hope we all will look at this fact: 140 people in 26 states have been released from death row with evidence of innocence since 1973.
Capital punishment was reinstated in Kansas in 1994 when Gov. Joan Finney allowed a death penalty bill to become law without her signature. Let Kansas show the world that life really does matter. Let’s abolish the death penalty, for good.
Vote for bond
Years from now, let it be remembered that there was a day that people dreamed of what our schools could be and what our children could achieve.
The Derby school bond proposals that are being presented for our approval on April 3 reflect many hours of hard work over the past 20 months of more than 100 ordinary people of Derby. We must rid our schools of the “portables” – some that have been here 30 years. We must repair, renovate and remodel our worn-out buildings, build a new school, and prepare a foundation for the future. We cannot delay. We cannot continue to “get by” any longer.
Please vote “yes” on April 3.