Taxing to help reduce deficit is just good math
As a neurologist, I frequently ask people to perform simple mathematical problems in an effort to assess their cognitive function.
I am amazed at the frequency with which people are unable to perform these calculations and respond with, "I was never very good at math."
Our politicians, particularly those unwilling to include tax increases as one part of the formula for balancing the budget, must be similarly afflicted.
Here's the math, courtesy of the economist Steve Rattner. The total outstanding national debt issued by the government to the public is $14 trillion. Absent reduced spending or increased taxes, the debt will grow by $10 trillion over the next 10 years.
However, the national debt does not include other governmental financial obligations. Social Security obligations are $5.4 trillion annually and Medicare is somewhere between $22 trillion to $35 trillion depending on the success of health care reform in reducing these expenses.
Adding the national debt to Social Security and Medicare leaves us with an obligation on the order of $64 trillion, which is four times the GDP of $14.5 trillion.
Put another way, each of us would have to work for free for four years to pay off this expense.
The bottom line is that spending reduction is important; however, without increasing revenue from taxes (perhaps, consequent to a rewrite of our tax laws), we have mortgaged the future for our children and their descendants.
The Tea Party members and Republicans insisting on "no new taxes" are simply petty, petulant, and mathematically ignorant.
Joseph Berger, M.D.
We all deserve it
As regards to the discussion and analysis of Lexington-Fayette government employees' health insurance, the casual observer might comment that the current coverage is quite good.
In fact, better than most working Americans have today.
The question is who in the world should expect or have such excellent coverage? Well, how about all of the citizens of France, Great Britain, Spain, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany ... you get the picture ... the list goes on and on. The rest of the civilized world has universal, affordable, comprehensive health insurance regardless of place of employment, at half of the per capita cost. We could have it too by enacting Medicare for all. It is that simple.
Ewell Scott, M.D.
There is no doubt we would be up a creek without the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. It does a wonderful job of conservation, controlling hunting and fishing, and management of public lands under their care.
It coordinates appropriately with other states on matters of conservation. Sometimes, its results are spectacularly good, as with the comeback of the sandhill crane.
But the underlying value of the department is that these things are "resources" to be "harvested." That 19th century thinking is still valuable and has yielded many good results, but in the matter of hunting the sandhill crane, not this time.
It's time for the commission to expand its thinking. In a 21st century world of rampant environmental degradation, all of us need to be thinking not just about conservation for human use, but more about preservation of biodiversity and the environment — and, yes, sandhill cranes — as intrinsically valuable, quite aside from any human exploitation.
"Harvesting" is appropriate for the white-tailed deer which overruns the state, not for a bird that so recently came through a genetic bottleneck caused by, it has to be said, hunting. Kentucky hunters have plenty of quarry without this one.
If you want to stand up for the cranes, now is the time. Write your comments to Rose Mack, KDFWR, #1 Sportsman's Lane, Frankfort, Ky. 40601, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While you're at it, contact Gov. Steve Beshear at 700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100, Frankfort, Ky. 40601 or email through the governor's Web site Governor.ky.gov/contact/contact.htm.
LED a better choice
Regarding your recent publishing of the Chicago Tribune editorial "Build a better bulb:" the editorial was on track in pointing out the multitude of negative impacts of the Bush administration's Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
One issue, not covered by the editorial is the radio, electromagnetic and ultraviolet light emissions of the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulb.
These wide-frequency emissions are a byproduct of the energy-saving part of the CFL package. You can verify this by placing an AM radio close to the CFL bulb. The closer the radio is to the CFL the louder the noise level.
As an avid radio listener, I have witnessed this personally and found it necessary to turn off all of our CFLs in order to reduce noise and receive some stations.
An alternative to the CFL bulb is switching to light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. At this time, they are still pricey but are becoming cheaper by the month.
These LED bulbs save more energy than CFLs and, to my knowledge, do not emit harmful electromagnetic waves.
Soon our old energy-hungry incandescent light bulbs will be a thing of the past and manufacturing will stop.
The drafters of the 2007 act should be congratulated for their effort to help reduce our country's energy use, but perhaps the mandatory requirement to switch to the CFLs should be delayed until the price of the LED bulb is more reasonable.
Want to make money on real estate? It's easy.
In 1998, Jerry Lundergan purchased the property at 811 Manchester Street for $75,000.
In 2009 — near the rock bottom of the real estate market — he sold this property to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for $280,000. That's a 12.72 percent average annual return.
Maybe — just maybe — this was a legitimate increase in market value of a piece of real estate. After all, property values do frequently rise over time, and government agencies do purchase property from private citizens for various legitimate reasons.
It's also supposed to be done at fair market price.
When such a sweatheart deal involves the Transportation Cabinet, which has a well-documented history of corruption and questionable business practices, and someone who a) is a former state legislator, b) is the former head of the Kentucky Democratic Party, c) is still well-connected in Frankfort and statewide circles, d) is an immediate family member of the current Democrat candidate for secretary of state, and e) has his own history of violating state ethics laws, the appearance of impropriety has certainly not been avoided.
I call on the Herald-Leader to investigate this situation and shed some light on this suspicious transaction.