Respect King with action not rhetoric
As we reflect this weekend on the life’s work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., we begin to realize that although we have come quite a long way, our journey has only just begun.
In the weeks before King was assassinated, he was focusing a great deal on poverty issues. From the poor people’s campaign to the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, King knew that poverty was an issue that required the utmost attention.
Throughout this month you will witness lawmakers from across the country speaking to the causes King fought for, including poverty, yet proposing and supporting legislation that vehemently opposes that struggle.
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King knew that it took more than just hard work to ascend into the middle class and higher. It takes hard work and good pay, combined with education and skills, to be able to succeed.
On every level – federal to city – funds are being cut to programs that help instill those skills into our citizens to help them become self-sufficient, while lawmakers continue to support subsidies and tax breaks for companies that can afford not to have them.
In order to truly respect King’s work, we need elected leaders to not just give us the hope-filled rhetoric that we have heard for years. We need action.
BRANDON J. JOHNSON
Community Operations Recovery Empowerment Inc.
The health care industry is a major employer and provider of essential services in the state, and hundreds of new jobs would be created with the expansion of Medicaid coverage. The irony is that Kansans, through their federal taxes, are paying for expanded coverage, but that is going to recipients in other states.
There is also a humanitarian aspect to this denial of coverage. I urge the governor and legislators to take a moment to reflect on what it would mean to them and their families if they lived in daily fear of experiencing an illness or injury with no ability to pay for the needed services. That is the experience of an estimated 150,000 of their fellow Kansans who could have access to that coverage, and the resulting peace of mind, that they are now denied.
With the stroke of a pen, and a demonstration of human compassion, the governor and legislators could make that difference, while at the same time greatly benefiting the state’s economy. That sounds like a page from the conservative hymnbook.
At Wichita West High School, seeds are blossoming for a school discipline policy shift comparable to what was described in an Associated Press article on the Los Angeles public schools (Jan. 11 Eagle). In fact, USD 259’s experiment with restorative practices (of which restorative justice is a part) officially puts Wichita in league with LA’s school district and many other schools and local education agencies around the world.
West High has a coordinator and an advocate for restorative practices – both of whom are well-trained to help lead related activities involving students, staff members and highly supportive administrators – with similar results and expectations as in LA. Think-tanker Michael Petrilli’s reported worry about reduced suspensions translating into schools becoming more unruly places is unfounded.
Restorative practices have great significance but are not a panacea. Restorative practices do not supplant traditional methods of discipline, and in some cases expulsions and suspensions remain necessary. Still, the proven value of this approach is that it prioritizes being proactive rather than reactive, deems building better relationships and stronger communities as essential to successful schools, and improves how well people understand and appreciate each other.
The Central Kansas Association of Retired School Personnel opposes Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to raid $40.7 million that was appropriated to reduce the unfunded liability for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. The governor is using the money to help cover the budget deficit, which was created by the reduction of income taxes.
The governor’s desire to “short fund” KPERS once again starts the underfunding cycle. This is another broken promise: Employees pay more, but the Legislature continues to fail to meet its obligation.
CKARSP encourages the governor and the Legislature to restore the $40.7 million to KPERS to demonstrate that they support the state workers, county workers, firefighters and teachers who are vital to the functioning to the state. Without these people, the state cannot grow and thrive. KPERS needs to be left alone, and the changes that were enacted in 2012 should be allowed to take full effect.
Any Kansas legislator who claims to be “surprised” by the impending $648 million budget shortfall next fiscal year should be recalled. To willingly pocket a paycheck every session and eventually collect a pension (paid, of course, by the taxpayers of Kansas) and remain ignorant of the longest-running, most-publicized story in recent memory is not just shameful, but borders on theft.
Indeed, when legislators remain unaware (“stupid” might be a more accurate word), voters are robbed of the tacit agreement that exists between them and their legislators: informed, knowledgeable, engaged representation in the best interests of all Kansans.
Kansas is in a terrifying financial mess. Yes, we can point fingers at Gov. Sam Brownback, but he wasn’t the lone ranger. The “surprised” lemmings who blindly, willingly followed are right there with him. Think they are capable of returning Kansas to a prosperous, desirable state? (Fact: Kansas is among the top 10 states people left in 2014.)
Work not sports
With the state’s budget crisis, I make a simple request to our state legislators and other elected or appointed officials, including Gov. Sam Brownback: Please do not attend any NCAA or other sports tournament on state time or take any state conveyance to such an event, nor accept any “free ride” on a private jet.
Please remember that you work for the citizens of Kansas and not the corporations or wealthy elite of Kansas. If you do go to the NCAA basketball tournament to see Kansas State University, the University of Kansas or Wichita State University play, please reimburse the state for every workday or part of the workday that you miss.
I remember with resentment then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius attending the men’s NCAA tournaments every year to see KU.
Costs up, not care
The article about a lawsuit filed by a physician against a hospital was interesting but sad (“Co-founding physician suing Kansas spine hospital,” Jan. 14 Business Today).
Both are well-respected and undoubtedly provide good care; the merits of the case will focus on their business relationship. However the claim of a $15 million loss is embarrassing to many physicians who will not come close to earning that much over a lifetime of practice.
It is clear that a for-profit system raises costs and does not improve care. Additional examples abound, including a drug to treat cystic fibrosis patients that costs $300,000 per year – justified by the pharmaceutical company based on its benefits, not the cost of development or manufacturing. Following this logic, the surgeon who operates on you for acute appendicitis might claim half of your future earnings for saving your life.
As a society, why do we tolerate profits made off of sick people? Isn’t it time we took a serious look at a single-payer system as advocated by Physicians for a National Health Program? Reasonable compensation should be provided to drugmakers, manufacturers and providers, rather than huge profits to stockholders that needlessly increase the cost of health care.
THOMAS R. KLUZAK
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