Repopulate, consolidate E. Ky.
Much about SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) has appeared in the paper recently. A recent editorial raised concerns about whether Breathitt County's public schools are adequately preparing students.
Concern, of course, is that these students will lack the academic ability to pursue higher education. The outcome is people who cannot expect gainful employment, thus further retarding economic development. This has been a problem in Eastern Kentucky for decades.
There are no easy solutions, but I propose two. The first is consolidating counties too poor to execute the responsibilities of local government. Many were once coal-producing counties, but they have been mined out and there is little revenue.
Never miss a local story.
The second idea is much more challenging because it involves repopulating this region with people who left in pursuit of higher education and better jobs.
One cannot blame a person wanting something better for themselves but it is sad because this part of Kentucky has a rich heritage that need not be displaced. It needs many of its former natives to return with their talents and resources to help improve the quality of life in this unique part of our state.
Not so smart
Turns out the category Homo Sapiens was premature.
As we see continuing reports of global warming, polar ice melting, rising sea levels and mass extinction of our fellow creatures, it is clear that Earth is suffering from Homo Erectus Dysfunction, or HED.
We must find a cure for HED. Quickly.
Matter of interpretation
It is a little-known fact that although the letter 47 Republican senators recently sent to Iran was written in English, it also makes perfect sense when interpreted as Farsi.
It says "Y'all better get the bomb quick, because when we're in charge you're damn well going to need it."
Islam in early U.S.
A recent letter called President Obama to task regarding his statement, "Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding."
The writer challenged anyone to prove Islam was prevalent during the founding of America. A simple Google search provides some interesting facts and links:
For example, Thomas Jefferson not only owned a Quran, but fought for Muslims' right to practice their religion in America.
Benjamin Franklin helped build a multifaith temple in Philadelphia, "so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach (Islam) to us, he would find a pulpit at his service," he wrote in his autobiography.
James Hutton, a researcher at the Library of Congress, wrote, "there may have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Muslims in the United States in 1776 — imported as slaves from areas of Africa where Islam flourished. Although there is no evidence that the Founders were aware of the religious convictions of their bondsmen, it is clear that the Founding Fathers thought about the relationship of Islam to the new nation and were prepared to make a place for it in the republic."
Need I say more?
Do the math
A letter writer argued against the statewide smoking ban.
He challenged the statistics raised by Dr. Mark Evers of Markey Cancer Center, who stated that smoking costs us billions of dollars each year in lost productivity. He did not provide his own statistics or seek out Evers' source. Curious, I looked up some numbers myself.
According to the Surgeon General's 50 Years of Progress, a 2014 study on the impact of tobacco use, smoking costs the nation between $132.5 billion and $175.9 billion in medical bills, $151 billion in lost productivity, and another $5.6 billion in productivity lost due to secondhand smoke exposure.
Multiplying the dollars per year in productivity of the average American by the average amount of years of life lost to premature death from smoking gives us the latter two numbers.
Kentucky represents 1.38 percent of the U.S. population and, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, 30 percent of Kentucky's adults smoke. Do the math and you'll see how the billions stack up for the commonwealth.
Complain if you wish, but don't argue ignorantly about the real costs of smoking.