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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Calling Them Out...

It is hard to keep up with my church peeps and their letters to the editor. If they keep writing them, I'll keep reading them, and maybe their ideas will make a difference! I so admire these three individuals for their passion, intelligence and insight. They are tired of our elected leaders playing cowardly political games rather than doing what is right for our seniors, our youth, Earth, and the people of Tennessee. They are calling them out by name.

All three letters are in the Johnson City Press:

This first is in the June 24th paper from Judy Garland regarding Medicare:

Whatever the complicated issues regarding Medicare cost, one thing is true. Medicare and Social Security are the two most liberating, most humane programs we have freely given each other. These were Democrat inspired, and Democrats know it’s critical they be preserved. Neither party denies that cost must be addressed but approaches couldn’t be more different.

Republicans fought both programs from the beginning and have been philosophically opposed since. It’s that “socialism” hang-up in their DNA that just can’t celebrate how liberating both programs have been.

It fits that, sensing tea-party-inspired blood in the water, they acted in character. Their allegiance to profit-obsessed free market concerns explains their “solution.” Put Medicare under the auspices of the health insurance industry. Simple. Through a system of vouchers, seniors are on their own to find coverage in the private sector.

It’s a poorly disguised ploy to phase out Medicare with yearly voucher adjustments tied to overall inflation, not spiraling health care inflation (up 7.3 percent this year, I understand).

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that by 2030 under U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, seniors will pay 68 percent of their medical costs.

Besides that obvious flaw, the premise falls apart on a more sinister level. Insurance companies don’t want sick people and gladly surrendered seniors to Medicare. They don’t even observe the shared-risk principle with the younger population, a far less problematic bunch.

There’s not a more exploitative entity on the planet. It’s responsible for our obscene health care costs, double what other industrialized nations pay for much better health outcomes. But it makes Wall Street happy. Republicans accept the trade-off. Forget peace of mind.

Democrats offered a public option to provide an affordable alternative. Medicare-for-all makes even better sense.

Republicans shudder, conveniently conjure up that “socialism” specter and circle the wagons around Big Insurance. Now that’s obscene. Isn’t it?
JUDY GARLAND
Johnson City
The second is from Jennie Young. In a letter published on June 26th, Jennie shames the cowardly legislators who caved into Stacey Campfield's homophobic hysteria:
Considering the source, state Sen. Stacy Campfield’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill came as no surprise. What bugs me is how it moved forward. What’s the determiner for his colleagues as they weigh personal integrity against what they obviously theorize makes for electability?

I suspect most of the Republican senators, including Rusty Crowe, who voted to advance Campfield’s bill, did so for raw politics.

I doubt few believe Campfield’s claim that he knows of teachers who engage students in discussions about homosexuality in the classroom or hallways or anywhere on school grounds. Most intuitively reject the claim that school staff who accept homosexuality’s biological basis have an “agenda” to influence students’ sexuality, as they’re the ones who know it doesn’t work that way.

They’re uncomfortable knowing school nurses and counselors are effectively gagged should a child, emotionally confused by a developing personal awareness, come to them for guidance. Most are troubled that many of these children will find home and church inhospitable, perhaps even hostile, to such as they.

Most consider contrived non-issues wasteful of both time and precious taxpayer funds.

Surely most regret Campfield’s penchant for making the state a national laughingstock.

Republican politicians gave us no positive thing, but those high school students did when they delivered 1,000 signatures and showed up to protest the proceedings. They reminded us that we’ve progressed as a people.

The majority of Americans, including our soldiers, have matured, moving on to that good place where we let each other be. That’s good for our kids, but they’ll get there regardless.

Sen. Crowe owes us an explanation. Was he honest or just another cowardly politician when he, in our name, advanced Campfield’s folly? How hurtful, embarrassing or unproductive does a thing have to be before courage kicks in?

JENNIE YOUNG
Elizabethton
The third is in today's paper. Steve Ferguson shows that our Representative, Phil Roe, plays both sides regarding mountain top removal mining.
U.S. Rep Phil Roe is busy in Washington forging alliances with other legislators and mine industry lobbyists to gut the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate mountaintop removal mining. MTR is one of the worst corporate assaults on American’s mountains, waterways wildlife and mountain communities . Our representative seeks to ease the permitting process and to eliminate federal regulatory powers.

All this at the point when Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, is targeted by out-of-state operators with regard only for the money they can make.

Roe calls EPA regulations “job killing.” The truth is MTR mining uses powerful explosives and huge machines precisely to limit the need for workers. In West Virginia the number of miners has dropped 90 percent since MTR mining became the norm. Areas with the most MTR sites tend to be the poorest and have the worst health statistics.

Roe doesn’t speak openly what he knows about the need for more MTR mining. He defends the mining industry’s clamoring for access to cheaper coal knowing it’s not primarily for our energy needs but for Asia’s. He’s been heard to say that because the U.S. demand for coal is falling and alternative energy sources are coming online, the coal companies have to have access to cheap coal for their bottom line.

We, it seems, must sacrifice our scenic ridgelines, clean waterways and established peaceful communities to the profitability of greedy corporate bullies who are comfortable with imposing violent, deafening mining activity and leaving in their wake miles of scarred, un-reclaimed land and poisoned waterways. That’s their expectation so far and they usually get their way, thanks mostly to malleable politicians.

But if you call Roe’s Washington office, his spokesperson will say he’s against mountaintop removal mining. Playing both sides in never good for the soul.

STEVE FERGUSON
Johnson City

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