Why not use surplus to fund a jobs lottery?
State Budget Director Mary Lassiter reported that $122 million of Kentucky's projected $192 million budget surplus would go into the state's rainy-day fund. How nice.
When Kentucky's Education and Workforce Development Cabinet reported Kentucky's jobless rate dropped to 9.6 percent in June (above the national average of 9.2 percent), I have to wonder what it takes to qualify as a rainy day.
Now, before state employees start clamoring for raises, I suggest something novel and beneficial be done with some of this surplus. If the state were to create a jobs lottery for 3,300 people to be paid $15 an hour for 50 weeks of 40 hours work, that would be a gross annual income of $30,000 to the individuals, costing the state $100 million.
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The Revenue Cabinet would get some of that back from state income tax and unemployment insurance. State employees could be borrowed from existing departments to oversee the plan.
Some people would get their jobs back for a year at the fixed wage while shoring up unemployment insurance somewhat and actually boosting the economy.
The jobs could be coming from businesses that had to lay off employees during the past three years. The businesses would be required to provide a written rationale as to why they need one or two employees for the year. State checks would be direct deposited so that there would not be any local "takes."
No squabbling about medical benefits allowed. These would be just jobs, but they could be real lifesavers.
Ark will be an asset
In response to Thursday's editorial about the future Ark Encounter north of Lexington, your readers deserve to be informed of its inaccuracies. The editorial claims that projected Ark attendance is based on our own figures and "faith."
Has the editorial board forgotten this year's independent study (not ours) conducted by Hunden Strategic Partners, commissioned by the state and shared with the public?
Hunden's figures are based on reliable research and are comparable to our own study's attendance projections.
Second, the property for which Grant County is providing an incentive for development would continue to stand empty were it not for the Ark and would generate very little tax revenue. Even with the incentives granted by the county and city of Williamstown, the developed Ark will bring in much more in local taxes, thereby contributing greatly toward the expenses mentioned in the editorial.
That's why Kentucky communities offer incentives: so businesses will build there. Does the Herald-Leader howl in protest when every industry is granted an incentive, or is it the biblical theme of the Ark that is really being opposed?
Lastly, families who move here because of job opportunities will become taxpayers themselves, not the drain on local services your editorial makes them out to be. Visitors to the Ark will also contribute to the local economy, with millions of dollars being spent each month.
Whether or not you agree with the decisions of the state or Grant County, both of which are cash-strapped and job-poor, it behooves you to present accurate information to your readers.
CCO, Creation Museum/Answers in Genesis
Ignoring race is hatred
I recently watched an episode of Seinfeld, in which Elaine consulted George and Jerry over coffee to try and determine a man's race. After a few minutes of this George whispers, "I don't think we're supposed to be talking about this." George notices the conversation just feels wrong. But why? Seemingly there's no transgression being committed. I think George is just afraid of being labeled a racist.
Many of us know this fear. In fact, we're so afraid of being called racist that we'll willingly blind ourselves to legitimate differences. We don't want to see white people or black people, we don't want to see at all. We refuse to acknowledge race. And if we cannot acknowledge race, we're guilty of something worse than racism: misanthropy.
Misanthropy is the hatred of humanity in general. This seems counterintuitive but by ignoring race, we're ignoring culture. And to ignore culture is to demand conformity to a uni-culture.
By ignoring race, we're subtly initiating people into a program of uniformity where everyone dresses the same, acts the same and talks the same. By ignoring race, we're aiming toward the destination that eugenics desires.
In the post-Civil Rights movement, we've swung so far that we're afraid of acknowledging race and culture. It's like we were told we're fat and so we quit eating food all together. But that solution is equally unhealthful.
If we really valued each other, we'd celebrate our stereotypes, laughing at how talented and gifted the cultures really are.
Religion linked to cruelty
"When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity," said philosopher Robert M. Pirsig. "When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion."
In Robert R. Botkin's Aug. 8 commentary, "Brain's divine mystery; anti-God piece one-sided, exclusionary," he made the typical claim made by people of faith: that the crimes of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong were the inevitable product of an atheistic utopia. But I would like to remind Botkin that Nazi Germany was very much a Christian society.
In truth, the problem of fascism and communism is not that they were too critical of religions, but that they were too much like religion. Dogmatic to the core, they were personality cults that were indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship.
Auschwitz, the gulags and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma. No, they are example of a political, racial and nationalistic dogma running amok.
To quote my favorite polemic, Christopher Hitchens: "No society has gone the way of gulags or concentration camps by following the path of Spinoza and Einstein and Jefferson and Thomas Paine."
Costly school supplies
I am a disabled grandmother raising three grandchildren, all of whom are school age. I recently shopped for school supplies for just one of the kids who is in middle school. His school supplies came to over $100. This is not including clothes or shoes. We got the free backpacks, but the supplies did not meet the list of things he needed.
What are people going to do when there are so many out of work or are working but it takes everything they have just to live?
We pay enough school taxes so the burden should be put back to the school system.
Free to be ripped off
Since the first cavemen traded seashells for meat, human beings have been ripping each other off. Some men are smarter than others. Some men make rash decisions and seek instant gratification, while others practice self-denial and think strategically. The nature of man cannot be legislated away.
So we need a Consumer Protection Bureau? Consider the following couplets: the Department of Energy/energy independence, the Department of Education/failing schools; the Department of Housing and Urban Development/ghettos, the Department of Homeland Security/secure borders, the Securities and Exchange Commission/transparent markets, Fannie and Freddie/ home ownership. Reflect on the Wars on Drugs and Poverty.
The "progressive" mind believes that the common man is an idiot, that he cannot be trusted with his money or his decisions, that he should trade his freedom for security, that he needs college professors like Elizabeth Warren and editorial writers and government programs to help him navigate the world.
Sometimes failure is the child of a stupid decision or a bad choice, seldom made twice, unless the failure or bad choice is bailed out. I prefer the freedom to get ripped off.
As long as some consumers cannot think beyond the sum of their monthly payments, or understand the concept of compounding interest, they will overpay for goods and services.
They cannot be protected through the creation of a Consumer Protection Bureau, even if its forms are written in crayon.
Cameron S. Schaeffer
Police: Buckle up
Police officers have a difficult and dangerous job. I appreciate their service, but cannot understand why we read so often that they are not wearing seat belts. It's been law in Kentucky for five years and a fairly simple one to obey.
I begin to wonder what other laws do they disregard.
ID the soldiers
I think it's great that Gov. Steve Beshear and the governors from Tennessee, Nevada and Utah recently visited our troops in Iraq and Kuwait. I'm sure the soldiers were glad to see someone from their home states. It is a shame, though, that the soldiers pictured with the governor in last Wednesday's paper were not identified as to whether they are Kentucky soldiers or not. We need to recognize and support these men and women.
Fancy Farm Picnic
Examples of why new political party needed
I attended the Fancy Farm political picnic for the first time and got more than a few earfuls.
Gov. Steve Beshear went into the event at an inopportune time. A scandal is brewing over his firing of Ron Mills in 2009 in a manner that brought joy to the hearts and heft to the wallets of the owners of the commonwealth's coal mines.
Mills was the director of the state agency that grants or denies permits to mine coal, and he is suing the Beshear administration for wrongful termination.
One almost feels pity for Beshear. Almost. Usually, wrapping yourself in the flag and hiding behind our brave and dedicated troops is a sure-fire way to get yourself out of a tough situation. He didn't reckon on stepping into the verbal buzz saw that Gatewood Galbraith used on him, however.
If anyone had asked me, I would have advised Gatewood to ratchet down the fierceness of his rhetoric half a notch and avoid using the "D word," but apparently Kentuckians are going to forgive his righteous anger.
We need a third party such as the Kentucky Green Party, which got established in July.
Either that or a truly independent governor who has the courage to cut through the hyper-partisan gridlock in Frankfort and sweep out all the corrupt government officials who secretly work for the coal corporations rather than the people of Kentucky.
Geoffrey M. Young
Member, Executive Committee
Kentucky Green Party
Misinterpretation of Bible
The headline of an Aug. 7 article declared: "Stumbo thumps GOP with Bible."
The article quotes House Speaker Greg Stumbo as saying, "Mary didn't ride no elephant to Bethlehem that night." The reporters added their own parenthetical comment (Mary rode a donkey).
This problem is this: The Bible doesn't say that Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem. We don't know her means of transportation.
This paper's reporters apparently know as much about the Bible as do their favorite politicians.
The next time Stumbo wants to whack his opponents with a piece of fiction, perhaps he should use a rolled up copy of the Herald-Leader.
Tom Cox Jr.
View from the top
In reply to Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen's assertion that I "went over the top" in my Fancy Farm speech, I note that those who never go "over the top" always stay in the same rut.
Wrong subject for ridicule
Just when you think Joel Pett can't get any worse, here comes the cartoon about Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Day of Prayer. Similar events have been observed by the founding fathers, most presidents and governors through our American history. He mocks it in such a way to offend not only Christians, but non-violent Muslims and human decency. Who would allow such a piece to be published?