Companies using reform as excuse to cut benefits
I note with interest that a major American company will end health coverage for 15,000 working spouses, and a community college system is limiting new hires to part-time. Companies are playing the system in anticipation of the Affordable Care Act.
Employee health care benefits were an accident of WWII and are not intrinsic to a sound economy or good employee relations.
Because of price and wage controls during the war, providing health care benefits was one way to improve the standard of living of employees. After the war it was a way to compete for an excellent work force. As time went on, health care through the employer became the norm.
The costs are passed on in the pricing of products, which makes American-made products uncompetitive, especially those made by large manufacturers. Small employers are also affected since the level of benefits provided varies between none and substantial, making product and service pricing competition difficult.
Obamacare removes the pre-existing conditions clause which made life difficult for individuals and small employers. Health care becomes mandatory. It makes significant strides toward uniformity of benefits and provides a system of access which is fair and competitive.
Hopeful outcomes include competitive pricing, a boost to the economy, the slowing of outsourcing of jobs to other countries and maybe a return home of some manufacturing jobs. The shifting of the costs of the health care system from the employer to the general population is movement in the right direction.
Climate science unsure
As a student of Earth science I often find myself in the midst of climate change debate. A scientist's job is to analyze the facts and make conclusions devoid of opinion and self interest.
From the media it is difficult to conclude whether scientists or politicians are using sound judgement on this issue.
What I see is respected scientific organizations like the American Geophysical Union as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change making the claim that humans are the dominant reason for climate change.
What I don't see is how negative the impact of climate change will be on humanity. For example, there is evidence that increased global temperatures will cause major changes in weather patterns. This notion is still debatable and has yet to be quantified.
The history of the Earth spans 4.3 billion years. Climates have varied dramatically over the course of Earth's existence; things like "Snowball Earth" and the age of the dinosaur come to mind.
Also, the ebb and flow of oceans as they have transgressed the continents and then regressed once again. But, of course, these events are on time scales well beyond that of humanity.
It comes down to hard data. Can we develop enough hard data to substantiate one way or another that in fact, not only are humans having an impact but a dramatic enough impact that it threatens the stability of society as we know it?
Internet E. Ky.'s future
Recently, I sat in the Kentucky River Area Development District annual meeting. It was reaffirmed that Eastern Kentucky is struggling.
Despite decades of programs and assistance, approximately 20 percent of the KRADD live in poverty. The median household income is about half that of the rest of Kentucky. About 25 percent are on disability, primarily because of the mountains.
Think about this. High speed internet erases the limitations created by mountains. Those winding roads that stopped factories created ideal communities for educated and motivated people who want to escape the danger and pressure of living in larger urban areas.
It also provides opportunities for people to stay home instead of moving to the big city to work.
It's time to throw out the notion that a factory, tourism, or coal is the answer. It's time to learn about telecommuting and high speed hubs. All have a place, but internet jobs provide a broader range of opportunities and minimally impact the environment.
The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) has a program, Kentucky Teleworks, which helps identify jobs and ways for communities to get on the cutting edge of the internet industry.
This area is ripe for the thousands of jobs that are currently and will soon become available. Friends and neighbors, the time to get on the bandwagon is now.
Having the high speed infrastructure, training the local population, and marketing it to the world is as critical to future growth as sewer plants and water lines.
Chuck Caudill Jr.
Donald Webb tribute
On July 19, Lexington Kentucky lost a great leader and visionary, Donald Woodford Webb.
Donald and Dudley Webb were as large as the "Blue Building" they developed. The building towers over Lexington as a reminder of the greatness this family has brought to Lexington.
Donald's early departure should remind us of what it took to be a leader in this community. It is very easy to be critical of bold leadership.
Don Webb was willing to put everything on the line several times to forge the skyline of downtown Lexington while many others used words in an attempt to tear it down.
The public/private partnerships between the Webbs and the Urban County Government were challenging at times but necessary to move Lexington forward. Our mayors, our councils and the Webb brothers were willing to partner for the greater good of the community.
As in all partnerships, sometimes we have to settle for less than perfect, but imagine Lexington without this bold leadership. Old Lexington was quaint but crumbling from years of neglect. It was always the Webb brothers who were willing to broker the deals of the future.
The citizens of Lexington need to reflect on a "Webbless" Lexington. Criticism is cheap when you only fund words. Lexington needs to embrace the Webb vision of past, present and future.
One Woodford Webb has passed but another remains and with the support of our community can continue to develop Lexington's future. Thank you, Donald Woodford Webb Sr. for your leadership.