Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Peeps With Opinions!

Three of my FPC Elizabethton members have had letters published in the JC Press within the last couple of days. Pretty good stuff. You ought to read them.

Two letters were published in today's paper:

The first is Judy Garland writing about health care:

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe trips over his principles about federal spending. The Press reported on Jan. 27 that Roe introduced legislation to eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board provided for in the Affordable Care Act. How does such an anti-federal-spending politician justify the time and cost to taxpayers of re-repealing any provisions of the already symbolically repealed law? That said, it’s fair to evaluate his concerns.

The point of the IPAB is to force Congress to make the difficult Medicare solvency decisions that, so far, Congress resists. Members will be appointed to six-year terms by Democrat and Republican presidents with Senate approval. Members will include physicians, health care practitioners, consumer representatives, representatives of the elderly and appointed after consultation with minority/majority leaders of both Houses. It addresses cost and health care quality and reports on system-wide issues yearly. When Medicare expenditures exceed a target rate of growth, the board submits to the president and Congress a proposal to deal with no costs.

Congress then has to face the music. Unless it passes legislation to achieve savings at least as great as IPAB’s, proposals become directives for Health and Human Services implementations. The board cannot act unless Congress forfeits.

IPAB cannot ration health care, raise money, raise Medicare premiums, increase cost-sharing (like eligibility. For Roe to say otherwise must indicate desire to spur fearmongering death panel rants again.

To link Medicare Advantage plans with the IPAB shows his heart is with private insurance. Private insurers have been overpaid more than $12 billion yearly by the government, 14 percent more than for traditional Medicare, with no bigger outcomes. The new law aligns payments with costs under traditional Medicare, saving $145 billion over 10 years, adding 12 years to Medicare solvency.

Big insurance doesn’t merit subsidies. Anyone concerned about deficits surely agrees.

JUDY GARLAND
Johnson City
The second is about Evolution from Jeff Wardeska:
In defense of evolution

A recent letter critical of the pastor who celebrates evolution makes a series of claims against macro-evolution and “naturalism,” which I as a scientist (Ph.D.) and Christian feel require a response. His claims are:

• “No fossil transitional species have been found.” In fact, many such species are well-documented. Visit http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu for a fascinating example.

• “More than 10,000 scientists believe in biblical creation.” The U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics counted over 437,000 U.S. scientists in 2008. So, by his account, approximately 427,000 scientists (98 percent) have not stated a belief in biblical creation. In contrast, nearly 13,000 pastors have signed the clergy letter supporting evolution.

• “Eighty-five percent of all scientists believe in God.” What’s the point of this claim?

• “The probability the information DNA molecule with its 3 billion parts is the result of chance and time is zero.” Darwin said evolution was the result of chance and law over time, not merely chance (read his book). The formation of amino acids, proteins and nucleic acids under simulated prebiotic conditions on earth has been demonstrated in the lab. Stanley Miller’s experiments in the 1950s found these molecules can form through the laws of chemistry.

• “The laws of thermodynamics.” Creationists are just wrong about this. I invite the writer to enroll in my general chemistry class where I explain how the laws of thermodynamics work.

• “Molecular mechanisms, for example vision, are irreducibly complex ,,, and could never evolve.” The evolution of the eye has been thoroughly demonstrated. Google it.

• “The Cambrian Explosion where the basic animal groups appeared suddenly without evidence of evolutionary ancestors.”

Lack of clear-cut evidence is never negative evidence. Again, Google it. Scientific evidence does not support Creationism, but it does overwhelmingly support evolution.

JEFF G. WARDESKA
Johnson City
This one was in yesterday's JC Press about immigration by Jim Bitter:
I opened up the Johnson City Press on Feb. 14 to discover how wrong I have been about life here in Tennessee. Apparently, the economy is not the No. 1 issue. Getting jobs for the unemployed or health care for the uninsured or generating funds to support our quickly faculty-depleted but student-bulging universities aren’t even close to the No. 1 issue facing lawmakers. No, it turns out that we need immigration laws to stop the flood of illegal immigrants pouring over our southern borders from Mexico, just 1,000 miles from Memphis and only 1,400 miles from Johnson City.

Who knew we were being overrun with illegals? Why they must almost be up to, what, 50 percent of the population? No, sorry, I just looked it up. Spanish-speaking people in Tennessee — both legal and illegal — make up about 3 percent of the population, and I am guessing the majority of the Spanish-speaking people here are legal.

Still, there are too many illegals for our focused lawmakers. So they are writing laws to target people who look like they may be Mexican immigrants (Canadians are OK) and they are making businesses verify that their workers are legal. We don’t want illegals here, but if they are, they should get a license to drive and they should pass the test in English. That will show them.

So thanks for straightening me out about what is important. I have stopped worrying about the economy, my job and the means for getting a higher education, which we all need now that times are hard. Just get rid of that half of 1 percent of the population who may have slipped in here illegally. Then, we will all be fine.

JIM BITTER
Johnson City
This one was published a week ago Sunday, that I just remembered from Jennie Young, also about health care:
The health insurance industry tramples with equal disdain Democrats, Republicans, tea partiers, libertarians, independents, all. It’s our common lot. We’re obliged to take it.

Count on industry-wide, non-negotiable yearly rate hikes, higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. Count on sick people summarily losing coverage. Each year more fall away as the trend is toward younger, healthier clients. Wage increases disappear in premium increases.

Employers with employee interests at heart have no more bargaining power than individuals.

Then there are the 50-plus million Americans who can’t afford or who just aren’t allowed to participate.

“Lucky” families pay an average of $15,000 a year for the privilege of being at the mercy of a colossal predator, a whopping average 22 percent of income. It’s a cruel trap.

My party, the Democrats, say our free enterprise system actually benefits when predatory, consumer-strangling enterprises find themselves, by law, constrained in the public interest.

That surely should include the profitobsessed health care industry and big banks who gamble away our mortgages and pensions.

It seems to me those on the conservative side would be no less true to entrepreneurial principles if they chose to stand in the way of parasites who could not both continue to gouge us and survive honest competition, like a public option (not dirty words) would be.

My public option, Medicare, frees me from the insecurity of the for-profit system. It’s a good thing, as long ago my profit-draining demographic would have been, in insurance lingo, rescinded.

Representative Roe, another Medicare beneficiary, would sacrifice no abiding principle to use his new chairmanship to unequivocally advocate for those Americans with no hope but their government.

Focusing on abolishing the Affordable Care Act is petty.

(The bullies count on Roe to distract us this way. Maybe’s he’s unaware they don’t respect him either.)

JENNIE YOUNG
Elizabethton
Keep at it, Beloveds!
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