Letters to the editor, March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014 

Wage hike is good politics, but it is bad economics

There he goes again.

First, President Barack Obama wants a $10.10 minimum wage. Now he is campaigning for overtime pay for salaried employees. He wants to "give America a raise," taking it from employers by force of law.

What a great idea — everyone has more income and our economy grows faster.

It is a great political idea and might gain votes for Democrats. However, both ideas have economic consequences that will hurt more people than they help.

Employers, forced to pay more for labor, will react by reducing hours of work, firing some employees or raising prices.

Employers who are only marginally profitable might have to close businesses and fire workers because of increased labor costs. Others might decide that the higher labor costs will justify the purchase of technology that replaces some of their workers.

A president with no business experience is continuing to promote ideas that harm innovation, productivity and job creation.

No wonder our economy is sluggish and job growth anemic after five years of feckless policies like these.

Ray Davis

Lexington


Epidemic of malpractice

If Senate Bill 119 is passed, anyone seeking legal help with resolving medical-malpractice claims would be required to go before a medical review panel before moving forward.

These panels are cost- prohibitive for many citizens, potentially costing thousands of dollars for each complaint.

What purpose would this serve other than to create an economic barrier to seeking justice? SB 119 aims not to stop "frivolous" lawsuits but to take away our constitutional right to due process, even delaying access to the court system for months.

A recent Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General report found that an estimated 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during skilled-facility stays. An additional 11 percent experienced temporary harm events.

Physician reviewers determined that 59 percent of these events were clearly or likely preventable. They attributed much of the preventable harm to substandard treatment, inadequate resident monitoring and failure or delay of necessary care.

More than half of the residents who experienced harm returned to a hospital for treatment, with an estimated cost to Medicare of $208 million in August 2011.

The epidemic we're facing is with malpractice, not with malpractice lawsuits. Medical review panels are not about improving care, they are about protecting profits.

Stand up against this bill and make your concerns heard. Kentucky's nursing-home residents — and all of us — deserve better than this misleading attempt to protect corporations from the consequences of their negligence.

Please call your legislator at 1-800-372-7181 and oppose SB119.

Sherry Culp

Executive director, Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass

Lexington


Read small print

At a recent committee meeting, a state senator sitting between two AT&T lobbyists promised that if folks have a land line today and want to keep it, they will be able to do so.

Seems like another politician also promised if they liked their health insurance they could keep it.

The big print giveth and the small print taketh away. Grrrrr.

Tom Dixon

Lexington


Role of government

GOP state Sen. Joe Bowen reportedly opposes a bill limiting teenagers' use of tanning beds. House Bill 310 passed 61-31. His reason was not wanting government telling people how to live their lives.

This indicates that he does not know the first thing about his job as a legislator.

The function of any and all governments is to make people do things they otherwise would not do and to prevent people from doing things they otherwise would do.

Governments, from the simplest primitive tribe to the most complex nation-state, exist to regulate how people interact with one another, which means telling people how to live their lives.

People who label themselves conservatives, Tea Party members, and Libertarians and express antipathy toward government regulation are not rationally dealing with the necessary coercion of governing.

Fortunately, in our country this coercion is guided and limited by our Constitution. Its preamble sets out general goals for our government. The key one that should be considered in making all public policies is "promote the general welfare."

We have all kinds of public-policy limits and requirements telling teens how to live their lives. We intend that these will promote their wellbeing independently of their personal or family desires.

Bowen, along with many other legislators at the national and state levels, thoughtlessly disparages government regulation of our lives.

This is a root cause of the current difficulty in adopting rational public policies that would "promote the general welfare" of all citizens.

Stephen Senft

Lexington


Chance for Thayer to lead

In his March 24 op-ed, Sen, Damon Thayer defends his unwillingness to support House Bill 70 (restoration of voting rights to former felons) and accuses the Herald-Leader of being on a "quixotic quest to belittle and defame conservatives."

There is no space here to reiterate the merits of HB 70, which has the overwhelming support of the House and is thought to have widespread support in the Senate as well. Nor to describe how Thayer has taken the remarks of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul — who also prefers the original HB 70 — completely out of context.

I will only point out that the Herald-Leader endorsed Thayer in the past two elections and has gone out of its way to highlight what it finds to be good in his work.

Now, Thayer is a professed conservative, and the Herald- Leader is not. But the editorial board has the discernment to recognize and support good ideas, no matter what end of the political spectrum they come from.

I beg Thayer to exercise that same discernment: It is the mark of the sort of mature and effective political leadership to which the senator so obviously aspires.

Restoration of voting rights is the major civil rights issue in Kentucky.

Thayer can reverse course, support it and emerge a true leader, or he can keep on fighting it and end up like those who opposed civil rights in the 1960s: alone in their little self-imposed corners, justifying themselves to the end of their days.

Homer White

Georgetown


Matter of fairness

It's curious isn't it that some folks oppose letting a few ex-felons vote, while all of us remain free to vote for crooks?

Ernie Henninger

Harrodsburg

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