Statewide ban on secondhand smoke urgent
Recently in Frankfort, the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare heard testimony on why Kentucky should enact a statewide smoke-free law, prohibiting smoking indoors in workplaces and public places.
As the president of the American Heart Association's Central Kentucky chapter, I urge state lawmakers to enact this law to improve the health of our citizens.
Secondhand smoke is a proven cause of death and disease in non-smokers. Many cities, states and countries already have laws requiring workplaces and public places to be smoke-free. Smoke-free laws are good for business, popular and have been proven to save lives.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is a major risk factor for heart disease, Kentucky's leading cause of death in men and women. Every year here, nearly 1,000 people die from the effects of secondhand smoke.
I have treated many children and adults for illnesses caused by cigarette smoke; let's save Kentuckians the suffering and costs of hospital visits and the pain of losing family.
About 34 percent of Kentuckians are already covered by local smoke-free laws, including Lexington's. I appeal to our legislators to recognize the success of local communities. Support a comprehensive statewide law to extend protections to all our citizens. Most Kentuckians want to breathe clean air; everyone should have that right.
Sylvia Cerel-Suhl, M.D. President, Central Kentucky DivisionAmerican Heart Association/American Stroke Association
Government in the way
A half truth is a whole lie and is an efficient means of arguing to an audience which is not properly informed. It is frequently used in political discussion, and most frequently in the past few years by those supporting President Barack Obama's initiatives to bring more power to the federal government.
Different political views are understandable. The problem comes when the issue is as important as the bankrupting of our country and destroying the livelihood of millions of our people through skyrocketing unemployment and the mega-inflation which is now under way in food and energy.
Obama's whole life history, parental influence, education and people he worked with or admired have taught him that capitalism rewards the rich and hurts the poor.
In fact, capitalism provides opportunity, provided the government does not get in the way — which has happened in virtually every move of the Obama government. Immense stimulus money has had little influence on job creation, because the government has no bottom line to determine profit or loss.
Private businesses are the job creators. They will go out of business if they don't focus on the bottom line. When the need is fulfilled, private business will shift the investment to other business.
As President Ronald Reagan said, "The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."
W. Ed Parker
I know there are people who will never carry their share of the load, never have and never will. But to enjoy democracy as it is intended, we all need to sacrifice in hard times to make this a better country to live in as comfortably as we can, whether poor or rich.
Lexington financial planner Ben C. Kaufmann stated in a recent commentary, "Democracy guarantees everyone the right to vote, to have freedom and so on. I do not believe that it guarantees economic fairness."
Yet a guarantee of economic fairness is the only way we are going to survive. In these times, no one should be self-centered in their own little world. These days no one should be bragging about what they give to charities. These are tax write-offs for the rich. Besides, what people give should be between them and their god.
Like Warren Buffett stated, the rich have been coddled for too long. Why are people so quick to defend them? The rich do not have to worry where their next meal is coming from, as we poor people do.
If we do not stop being selfish as a nation from the top, then as a nation we are in moral decay.
Is there no one there who will read syndicated writer Leonard Pitts with even a tiny modicum of an unbiased eye? Even a cursory review of his tripe reveals that he distorts people's words so often that he must be doing so to intentionally mislead.
His column on the the Rev, Martin Luther King Jr. memorial devolved into a hit piece on conservatives' views of the poor. Pitts intentionally distorted the words of John Stossel and Ann Coulter. He attempts to portray their words as denigrating and belittling the poor.
Stossel's parsed comment "the makers and the takers" was twisted to make it seem that Stossel views the poor as an enemy. Preposterous. The comment was meant to expose the left who love to use the poor as props for bigger government.
Likewise with his snippet from Coulter. Pitts writes, "Ann Coulter says welfare creates "irresponsible animals." Coulter was merely stating the fact that policies of the left create dependency by subsidizing irresponsibility. Democrats have created whole generations of families dependent on them "spreading the wealth." Who is it again that is buying votes?
Unfortunately, Pitts and his type have gained control over most of the major media outlets. They spew invective at nearly every turn with impunity. They purport to advance the causes of the poor and some may even have valid intentions.
As one who grew up poor, I can say without hesitation: The policies of the left are like the sweetest chocolate bar in the world. They may taste sweet for moment, but they contain absolutely nothing that will sustain.
Unite, then conquer
Mountaintop removal has been a hot-button issue throughout the commonwealth and Appalachia for some time. CNN's documentary, Battle for Blair Mountain, along with Enviromental Protection Agency officials' visits to Eastern Kentucky show it is becoming a national issue as well.
The CNN program did an excellent job of highlighting both the industry's and the communities' concerns, and it seemed to me that coal company tactics and marketing have succeeded far more than they ever imagined possible. They have managed to turn an issue of community health and environmental safety into a de facto civil war.
It has become neighbor versus neighbor. And while we bicker between tree hugger this or miner that, the coal companies are making away like thieves in the night. They take all the profit to their centers in the Northeast while the citizens of Appalachia are left with the mess.
It doesn't have to be this way. We could stand together for once and demand our economy and public health be respected. We could have safe underground mining which employs more men and women; we could demand competitive pay and benefits for those workers. We could demand that underground mining be done safely for workers while being environmentally responsible.
The companies want the coal and its profits and they can have them. We just have to force them to do it on our terms, not theirs.
When the hills and coal are gone ... what then?