Ask Congress to aid postal service on pension costs
The U.S. Postal Service's reported demise is greatly exaggerated and misleading.
Over the past four fiscal years, the Postal Service has earned a $611 million net profit delivering the mail, despite the worst recession in 80 years.
The billions of dollars in "losses" are directly attributed to the 2006 congressional mandate to prefund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years. This law costs USPS over $5.5 billion per year and is the chief source of the red ink.
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No other public or private agency must make such payments. Furthermore, the Postal Service has overpaid between $50 billion and $75 billion into the civil service pension fund, as well as a $10.9 billion surplus into another pension fund, FERS.
The solution to the problems of cash scarcity for the USPS is to allow this esteemed and vital agency access to its own funds. This would not be a "bailout," nor cost one dime in taxpayer money. Congress alone can allow the Postal Service to have access to its earned funds through legislation. This could prevent USPS from rushing to close mail processing facilities and post offices like on Nandino Boulevard.
Two bills now in Congress, HR 3591 and S 1853, both titled "The Postal Service Protection Act," contain all the components to return the USPS to profitability.
Call Rep. Ben Chandler and thank him for his past support for postal facilities and jobs in Central Kentucky, and ask for support for HR 3591. Call Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to support S 1853.
Robert P. McNulty
History repeating itself
It's discouraging and inspiring how well analogies from the Civil War era explain contemporary politics.
Discouraging because elements from one of the low points of our history appear to be repeating themselves. Inspiring because that history also provides a useful model for responding to current problems.
The U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission two years ago echoes the infamous Dred Scott ruling of 1857. Then as now, the court decided that the property rights of the powerful are more important than the human rights of everyone.
Both decisions would effectively repeal one of our most sacred democratic principles. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (people) are created equal."
Abraham Lincoln took the first step toward repealing Dred Scott with his Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. It was a small step but a solid step in the right direction. But, he needed a military victory to make his proclamation credible. That turned out to be the battle of Antietam, which was not a clear victory but good enough to demonstrate the resolve of his administration.
Now, Barack Obama intends to emancipate middle-class people from regressive government policies that favor those with the most money and power. Like Lincoln, he needs a victory. Not a military victory this time, but an electoral victory. I think this is what the 2012 election is about.
Sheriff held accountable
It turns out that Arizona's Joe Arpaio, the nation's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff," was not the toughest after all, only the loudest.
Edicts against undocumented people were nothing more than a thinly disguised vendetta against people of color and anyone with an accent or Spanish surname.
Rants about criminals were nothing more than a cover for what was really occurring.
What we know now is that under Arpaio's direction, the department engaged in egregious and systematic violations of the law. These included acts of violence, intimidation, harassment, drug dealing, civil rights violations, destruction of public documents, and obstruction of justice. The financial cost to the citizens of Arizona will be great as lawsuits are filed and settled.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander, or so they say. It is my hope to someday see Arpaio clad in a pink uniform, being housed in a tent, and living on bread, water and discolored meat, which is the regimen he so proudly instituted for other criminals in his district. I wonder what part of "illegal" did Arpaio not understand?
Saving lives matter
When I was growing up, if I made a stupid observation, my elders would comment that the only use my head had was as a hat rack. Well, it is obvious that syndicated columnist Mona Charen didn't need a hat rack for Christmas.
There is no need to delve into the litany of statistics, which she provided in her column on cellphone use while driving, except for a few of the important ones. The first concerns people killed annually in car crashes. She states, "In 2010, 32,885 were killed," and that is smaller than the 44,599 lost lives in 1990.
Yes, this is an approximate drop of 26 percent, but we are talking of 20 years. This is only a drop of 1.3 percent per year. That would only be 580 lives saved per year — 580 lives out of 300-plus million are not that many, are they?
Yet, consider her final comment, "Preventing the (perhaps) three percent of traffic fatalities caused by cellphones is nanny statism at its worst."
By her figures, this measly 3 percent of 32,885 deaths is only 986 lives. What does she consider a meaningful number of lives, 2,000 or 5,000, or maybe 10,000 lives?
It is not that difficult to pull over and call or answer a call while parked. This will not cost you more than 20 seconds and you can talk safely. To me, the freedom and convenience of using a cellphone while driving does not outweigh even one lost life.
J. D. Miniard
Wishful thinking on Rupp
I have read the Herald-Leader about the task force for renovating Rupp Arena. If there is anyone in that task force who has examined the cost benefits of the renovation, it was not apparent.
Anyone who believes the estimated cost of $260 million for renovating Rupp and the convention center is realistic is smoking something they shouldn't. That cost is nothing more than low-balling just to get approval.
The claim that the Rupp seating would increase slightly is nothing more than an exaggeration. All this is just for the creation of luxury boxes for the wealthy. We know how they would propose to pay for all this — increased prices for tickets.
In all the years I've been to Rupp, they move people in and out of the arena without any problem, so I have difficulty in understanding the need for two large blue escalators.
And is there a real need for an expanded convention center? It is no secret that convention centers are not self-supporting; they have to be subsidized by the local government budget, and where will that money come from?
Before the sane people of Lexington start to consider this project seriously, they ought to look at the dire financial straits that Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, are now in solely because of the huge demand to make the yearly payments on the bonds which financed Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark.
Is anyone in Lexington talking about financing? If so, are they sober?
James E. Horner