Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor on turnpike, global warming, expanding Medicaid

Don’t punish KTA for its success

I continue to praise The Eagle for its outstanding coverage of local, area and state issues. Just such an issue is Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to merge the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the Kansas Department of Transportation (Jan. 27 Eagle).

Once again, an organization – the KTA – that has proved it can operate and sustain itself without any government subsidy or interference will be rewarded by being financially gutted. As is the case in most instances, the government standard operating procedure of rewarding failure and penalizing success will be applied.

The turnpike is truly a jewel in the state’s crown. Unless Topeka’s plan for lots more businesses locating in Kansas happens fast – really fast – a lot of state agencies soon will be scrambling for funds just to maintain themselves. The KTA reserves and income likely will be the first stop for those supplemental dollars. But then where will the KTA go for the funds to perform the simple maintenance required for proper upkeep of the turnpike?

A more sensible approach might be for the powers that be to study the whys and hows of the KTA success and endeavor to emulate rather than destroy it. Detect and kill should not be the answer for every situation in Topeka.



Reduce emissions

Unbiased experts agree that global warming is a real problem occurring today. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies states that “carbon dioxide itself is a potent greenhouse gas warming the ground surface by means of the greenhouse effect.”

Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased dramatically, capturing more heat. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that during the last ice age, the CO2 level was 180 parts per million, and about the highest level measured in the 400,000 years prior to 1900 was 280 ppm. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the current CO2 level is 394 ppm.

The American Meteorological Society says: “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, methane and nitrous oxide.” As a result, according to AMS, “drought is projected to increase over Africa, Europe and much of the North American continental interior,” and there is projected to be “an increased proportion of global hurricanes that are in the strongest categories, namely 4 and 5.”

This is not an issue of Democrats versus Republicans or liberals versus conservatives. Global warming will dramatically affect us all. Changing our ways won’t be easy, but the consequences of not changing will be much worse. We and all nations need to act now to reduce CO2 emissions.



Medicaid boom

I agree with the opinion of Derrick Sontag, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Kansas, that the state shouldn’t expand Medicaid (Feb. 7 Opinion). However, his description of Medicaid as serving the “low-income populations focusing on pregnant women, children and the disabled” ignored an additional reality of the Medicaid system: aging baby boomers. Several thousand Kansas senior residents will join the Medicaid rolls regardless of legislative action. The cause will be inadequate retirement savings or lack of long-term care insurance.

Today’s average “boomer” has amassed only $100,000 toward retirement. A pretax return rate of 5 percent yields $5,000. The average Medicare benefit for single Americans is a little more than $18,000 per year. That provides future average senior citizens with a retirement income of $23,000 per year. The federal poverty level for a single person is less than that. Kansas will experience an entire new level of “poor” elderly for whom the state must help pay “activities of daily living” in care homes.

Within 20 years, the projected 72 million retirees, supported by a workforce of only 37 million, threaten to bankrupt every state in the nation.