Are oil companies nation's new welfare queens?
Conservatives love rhetoric and are unsurpassed in employing rhetoric to create sound bites. such as "frivolous lawsuits" for medical malpractice claims and "welfare queens" for unwed mothers who need aid.
Syndicated writer Cal Thomas' May 8 column provides another example. "Punishing the successful and subsidizing the unsuccessful" he asserts is what abolishing subsidies and raising taxes on oil companies does.
He acknowledges as "jaw-dropping" the top five oil companies' first-quarter profits of $36 billion.
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President Barack Obama called for ending $46.2 billion in oil and gas subsidies over 10 years and reforming tax rates.
The current tax code results in oil companies paying a rate of 17 percent, while average Americans pay 20 percent. Reform would strip the five biggest oil companies of tax breaks resulting in their paying $2 billion a year in taxes.
Are oil companies with record profits who receive government subsidies the epitome of a corporate welfare queen?
Profit, used as a noun, is gain from an investment or business operation, after subtracting for all operating expenses. Thomas uses profit as a verb, namely to gain an advantage or benefit.
Once again, government is subsidizing the successful while punishing the American taxpayer. If government were hands-off, as Thomas wants, that would mean not providing oil companies the subsidies or special tax breaks.
Thomas should be reminded that freedom isn't free. Sometimes you have to pay for it in blood, other times with taxes — even oil companies.
James F. Wisniewski
Fix our roads
I usually write about more thought-provoking issues, but this one is fairly simple. To the Lexington city government: Fix our roads.
I agree with the gentleman who recently wrote about his trip to work on South Broadway being miserable because of the uneven pavement, manholes and cracks in the road. I drive that same stretch.
Instead of focusing on a new basketball arena in town, take care of the basics first.
People won't come visit a city that is not travelable.
Recently, a two-year-old boy in Danville was reportedly killed by his mother's boyfriend after a judge granted the mother custody.
Previously, the child had lived with his grandmother but was returned to his mother despite his emotional pleas during the court hearing that he did not want to return to his mother and her boyfriend.
News reports indicate there was a history of domestic violence between the couple, witnessed by the boy. Due to these altercations, the child lived with his grandmother where his safety was not an issue.
According to KRS 620.027, a child may remain in custody of the grandparents if it is a stable situation until an evaluation of custody arrangements is completed.
If law states this, we must question why he was returned to people he was afraid of. Also, why was there no home investigation completed?
Is it not the duty of the judicial system to decide what is best for the child? Unfortunately, this type of tragedy is becoming a trend.
This boy's death could have been prevented had his best interest been a real priority of an overworked judge.
People of the commonwealth need to advocate for a policy requiring extensive investigations when family violence is documented or a child is fearful to return home or is too young to report abuse.
Children are unable to advocate or legally make autonomous decisions to protect themselves. Unfortunately, as demonstrated in this case, sometimes judges are unable, too.
Power of stupidity
Is it better to ignore stupidity or confront it? It has always been my tendency, over the years, to ignore it.
My thinking was that stupidity would eventually shrivel and die in its own juices and that dignifying it with a response was counterproductive.
There have been historical exceptions, however. The fight for civil rights, for instance, was clearly a confrontation that had to be made.
Today, the picture is murkier and the answers are much less clear. Stupidity never had its own cable news channel before. Now it does.
Stupid people never had a license to openly spew their hatred and idiocy before. Now, they have somehow managed to obtain that license.
Stupidity never permeated the highest levels of power and influence before. Now it has.
So it seems it is time to confront stupidity once again. We can no longer afford to sit back and wait for it to shrivel and die. It has become too powerful.
It is the responsibility of all rational Americans to stand up and make an effort, in whatever way they can, to challenge the stupidity that threatens our nation.
We know who they are, even though they, themselves, clearly do not.
Take a real stand
Regarding the May 4 letter, "AARP in it for the money": The writer says he wants to tell the AARP to stick his membership card because it supports health care reform.
I wonder if he would say the same about his Medicare card?
Farmer's bad attitude
Last fall, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer gave raises to merit employees in his cabinet because they are taking on more duties, and I wrote we would find that other state employees in other cabinets are doing the same. But they get state appreciation days, which amount to nothing.
Farmer's actions indicate an attitude of "because I can."
A few weeks ago, this paper reported that Farmer had refused to donate money for six days of unpaid leave as other state officials did because he disagreed with the furlough policy, but the have-nots could not do the same.
Farmer donated the money after news reports, but his initial actions indicate "because I can."
Then the paper reported that during the Sweet Sixteen Tournament in Lexington, the commissioner — who lives about 30 miles away — spent $359 a night at a downtown hotel and $40 on valet parking. His spokesman said this is the most efficient way for him to operate.
If a state employee were lucky enough to go to conventions or meetings from Frankfort to Lexington and charged the same as Farmer did, the secretary of that cabinet, along with the finance cabinet, would probably say "no way."
If Farmer really cared, his booth would have closed in time for him to get in his car to go home and come back the next day to conduct business.
There's plenty of money to be had in state government, it just depends again on whether you can do what you want "because I can."
Ira S. Fink