Letters to the Editor

Letters on trickle-down economics, religious freedom bill, voting, suspended voters, Hedke and global warming, Koch tax evaders, GMO labeling

Economic chickens home to roost

After years of hearing the rhetoric that trickle-down economics from tax cuts will “raise all boats” for Kansans, I can sense the chickens are coming home to roost.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to cut $280 million from more than 30 agencies, departments and self-supporting programs shouldn’t be considered a temporary fix (Dec. 10 Eagle). It’s a minimalist budget doctrine.

Some may believe a budget that guts significant public services and protections would “free” the invisible hand of the market. They believe it would somehow spur a self-governing private sector to provide needed public services, and maintain our consumer and environmental protections. Economist Adam Smith penned this laissez faire theory in 1759, and the jury is still out.

What can be described as a scorched-earth policy may further deplete our state’s reserves, and threaten the most vulnerable. Either the free market’s invisible hand plugs the hole in our boat, or a sea change is in the forecast for the political environment here. We can only hope for an economic miracle, or the next class of legislators will have no choice but to raise taxes.

Thus, set a future stage for the outspoken to long for the good old days of 2010. “Through hardships to the stars” we go.



Not monolithic

I resent it when articles about “religious freedom” laws talk about “protecting the rights of Christians,” as though all Christians are against marriage equality and seek to practice discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Not all Christians think and believe this way.

I am an ordained Christian minister serving God who believes in freedom and equality for all Christians, not just for Christians with a certain way of believing. Christianity is not a monolithic faith, despite what some try to claim. There are many churches, denominations and faith groups with a wide range of practices and beliefs. We cannot protect the freedom of conscience of one of these groups over that of another. Let each church and each Christian follow the calling to serve in the way they are called by God. No government interference needed.

I urge the LGBT community and its supporters to research whether an organization or business practices inclusion or discrimination, and to make choices accordingly. When businesses and organizations lose out because of discriminatory practices, then they will need to seriously consider changing and growing in their practices if they want to remain viable. Those who are public servants, supported by the tax dollars of all citizens – straight and gay – have a duty and responsibility to treat all citizens equally in providing their services.



Our responsibility

I am grateful for Mark Peterson’s articulate commentary regarding the lack of voters in November (“Majority doesn’t care,” Dec. 7 Opinion). In recent years, I’ve read so much about the wisdom of those forefathers who formulated our government. Of course, we do not all agree on the fine points of what they had in mind. One thing is undeniably certain: It began with self-government by the people.

It seems to me that not only is the freedom to be cherished, but the responsibility of participation in that self-government is necessary for it to be successful. That participation by voting is essential. But just as important is an effort to know what you are voting for.

Public education doing a good job at teaching history, civics and political science, as well as math and English, would sure be useful to that end. So many people told me in October that they were so sick of politics they wouldn’t talk about it. What they meant was the TV ads had offended them so much they didn’t want to think about the election.

It does take money and the will of the people to create a good public school system that teaches our responsibility to be a vital part of self-government.



No GOP scheme

In the days before the recent election, The Eagle devoted an unusual amount of space to the subject of the thousands of Kansans who’d had their voter registrations suspended. The common theme was that they were unjustly disenfranchised because of the burden to prove their citizenship.

Research by an Eagle reporter tended to discredit this supposition. She randomly contacted people on the suspended list and then reported on several of them (Nov. 1 Eagle). One had already submitted his birth certificate and stated that he understood the voter ID law and why it was needed. Another who took his birth certificate to the Sedgwick County Election Office said that “the process was easy to get resolved.”

A later follow-up I did with the others disclosed that two more had submitted their birth certificates and encountered no problem. Three others had birth certificates but did not bother to submit them. Another did deliver her birth certificate and then didn’t bother to vote after all, as did nearly half of registered Kansas voters in the Nov. 4 election.

I have to conclude that the suspended list is so large simply because of plain old indifference, not because of a nefarious Republican scheme to manipulate elections.



Present facts

State Rep. Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, recently stated that carbon dioxide does not drive higher temperatures (“Concerns about CO2 ‘factually incorrect,’ Hedke argues,” Dec. 10 Now Consider This). As a trained geologist-geophysicist, Hedke should be admonished for such a blatantly erroneous claim, which ignores decades of research by qualified scientists.

Countless peer-reviewed scientific tomes on Earth science or atmospheric chemistry/physics have proved, from many disparate lines of evidence, that CO2 indeed is a greenhouse gas that alters Earth surface temperatures and, where evidence is available, that climatic “greenhouse” events in Earth’s geological past were coincident with elevated levels of atmospheric CO2. These conclusions are widely accepted by scientists because there is reproducible proof of such, and the minuscule minority that disputes them is not cognizant of all facts or chooses to ignore them.

I’m not discussing who might be blamed for rising atmospheric CO2 levels; that’s a completely separate issue. But as a professor emeritus of the Department of Geology at Wichita State University, I’m saying that the citizens of Kansas deserve representatives who present facts and do not mislead us by merely dismissing verifiable scientific results.



List tax evaders

I would like to thank The Eagle for publishing “Report: Disney, Koch route money through Luxembourg” (Dec. 11 Business Today). I am sure there are many like me who would like to see the entire list of 350 American companies that practice this tax-evasion plan.



GMOs not safe

I thought the Republican Party stood for individual and states’ rights, yet the congressmen we sent to Washington, D.C., are nothing like that.

Canada can’t seem to get a pipeline to an ocean inside its own borders because of concerns related to the environment and native peoples, but our congressmen are eager to do just that in the United States.

Worse, U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, introduced H.R. 4432, the the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. It should be called the DARK bill (deny Americans the right to know). This bill would bar states from passing laws to require labeling of genetically modified foods.

Pompeo’s time could be better spent finding out why autism rates in the United States are so much higher than in countries that do not allow GMO foods and the herbicides used to grow them. One herbicide is already linked to the disappearance of everything from bees to butterflies, and we have no idea of its long-term effects on the environment.

I think what bothers me most is that when the truth comes out, these same people will say they are not scientists – or be like our lovable Gov. Sunshine and ignore the facts so they are able to say they didn’t know.


Valley Center

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