Blame pension woes on legislative leaders' neglect
Senate President David L. Williams stated in your June 18 article that the Kentucky Retirement Systems are "simply unaffordable." The pensions' been affordable for decades and would have continued to be if the legislature had funded them at the requested levels.
When asked about the better-funded pension system for legislators, Williams said, "It doesn't really matter which system is funded better ... the only question is, where are we going to get the money?"
Well, since he and his cronies are the real cause of this problem, why should state employees risk giving them more control of our future?
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House Speaker Greg Stumbo said, "there continues to be inadequate management and oversight" at KRS: "Everybody's got a boat," he said. "The only difference is, they ran theirs up on the rocks and it's leaking."
I have a simile which adequately portrays this situation.
Consider two individuals stuck in the middle of a desert and one has complete and total control of the water supply. Now this individual tells the other, "I need more water, because I am in charge of the water." He cuts back on the amount of water he gives to this person, but continues to give himself all the water he wants.
After a while, this other person is slowly dying of thirst and the water controller has the audacity to tell the dying person, "Everybody got some water. The only difference is you drank yours too quickly and now you are dying."
J. D. Miniard
Life is precious
Life is so special and precious that we cannot afford to take it for granted. Every moment should be cherished, because life is short. Once in a lifetime, someone will come along and touch you in a way that mere words can't describe. You know that one person when you're in their presence. You just can't help crack that smile. They will bring joy and happiness to your life. They will teach you that life is special.
I am the lucky one. I was blessed to know such a person: my sister-in-law Kawather Suleiman. Kawather, who died last month after swerving her car to avoid a bicycle in the road, wasn't just another hard-working medical student.
She was a loving daughter, sister and the greatest aunt in the world. She held a passion to help others, a passion to make a difference, a passion for life.
As Muslims, we know our fate is written for us. Death is a reminder to all of us that it comes in all ages, shapes and forms. We know at the end we all owe a life. It was her time and I am at peace with that. What she left for us was something great, something we can always cherish. Kawather will never be forgotten.
Assisted suicide OK
I wholeheartedly agree with John M. Shotwell's June 19 column regarding assisted suicide. I can only assume that anyone who disagrees has never experienced watching someone they love die a slow, agonizing death because we value breathing more than quality of life.
We profess in this country to hold individual freedom of choice in high esteem, yet some of those same people believe it's OK to force their choices on others. I believe there are worse things than dying, and suffering with no end in sight but death is one.
As one who has a form of cancer that is currently considered incurable, I would rather choose when and how I die than suffer both physically and mentally.
I would not support the right to die without adequate controls and restrictions, but we now humanely end the lives of our pets when their lives become full of suffering with no hope of recovery. Why do we believe in this for our pets but not ourselves?
That choice — and that right — should belong to each of us and not to anyone else. I would never try to make that choice for someone else; please don't try to make it for me.
Try terrorists here
Sen. Mitch McConnell is completely mistaken in thinking that sending the alleged terrorists to Guantanamo would safeguard Kentucky.
Just the opposite. It would send a signal to terrorists all over the world that Kentuckians are cowards.
It would send a signal that terrorism is successful in forcing us to cower behind ocean barriers, and stop following our own normal constitutional processes.
Terrorists are like Amalek, attacking those who are "faint and weary" (Deuteronomy 25:18). They continually probe to see where we show weakness, and use such symptoms as points of attack.
Only by showing that we are strong and vigilant, following due process in seeking justice, can we maintain our security.
Rabbi H. D. Uriel Smith
Misusing our military
America has 47,000 soldiers and 60,000 civilian contractors in Iraq and 100,000 soldiers and 110,000 civilian contractors in Afghanistan. The civilians perform duties that our soldiers used to perform, such as food service, security, trainers and truck drivers.
Starting salaries for soldiers in pay grades E1-E7 range from $35,104.97 to $56,376.75. The starting salary for a truck driver is $100,000. Civilian salaries generally triple or quadruple their soldier counterparts.
Politicians once hailed the transition to an all-volunteer army. They have since covered up the acute shortcomings of their failed policy with supplemental civilians, never mind the enormous extra cost to taxpayers.
This reveals the flawed mentality and conduct responsible for our ongoing, needless wars and our enslaving national debt.
And now our politicians are going to raise the debt limit again, for the umpteenth time, to finance more of the flawed conduct and money-influenced stupidity.
Consequently, Democrats and Republicans who have grown potbellied, gray or baldheaded on Capitol Hill are the only real threats to America or our way of life. Their flawed, predictable conduct is set in cement that was poured and shaped with for-profit dollars.
America is no longer governed by the governed as our founding fathers intended, thanks to the old incumbents who work for paymasters, not the citizens they swore to serve "well and good."
If Paul Revere could make his famous ride on election eve in 2012, he would shout, "The old incumbents are coming! The old incumbents are coming!"
Save Tea Party brand
For the Tea Party, there is more at stake than just winning the next election. Branding is the core identity of a group or company. Walmart equals low prices. BMW equals driving. McDonald's equals cheap, fast food.
The Tea Party has a brand. It stands for small government as expressed in low taxes and low spending.
The problem is that over the years, the Republican Party has lost its brand.
Years ago it stopped standing for liberty, small government, low taxes and low spending. It has become difficult to define what the party actually stands for.
Now Republican Party insiders want Tea Party support regardless of the candidate. In essence, what they are saying is, "For the sake of the party, will the Tea Party please destroy its brand the way we destroyed ours?"
If the Tea Party supports a candidate just because the candidate has an "R" by his name, then the Tea Party will not only lose its brand, but will lose its very identity.
Suppose, for the sake of a quick sale, Volvo manufactured a small, hip — but unsafe — sports car. It would sell. But the eventual outcome would be the destruction of the brand. Short term gains do not justify destroying the brand.
Same with politics. A short term Republican victory does not justify destroying the Tea Party brand.
There is one thing that always destroys a brand: embracing the status quo. And that, the Tea Party will never do.
Clay tribute was special evening
I extend my thanks and congratulations to the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship and Transylvania University for putting on an extraordinary event that brought Speaker of the House John Boehner and former speakers Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Hastert to Lexington for a discussion of Clay's role in American history.
Time tends to dull our appreciation of the contributions Clay made to our country and his determination to promote and preserve civil discourse. An event like the Tribute to Henry Clay reminds us of Clay's legacy of leadership, statesmanship and compromise in the interest of a "more perfect union."
Furthermore, opportunities don't come around very often to see figures like Boehner, Pelosi and Hastert free of the confrontational sound bite format of national debate. Our opinions and images of them and others on the national stage are too often drawn from the narrow perspective of the topic of the day and the heat of the moment.
Having the opportunity to see them unfiltered by the media and unplugged from the limitations of daily news was a rare treat indeed.