Letters to the Editor

Letters to editor: July 14

Wildlife agency should break cozy ties with coal

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, at least one out of every 12 American women has high enough levels of mercury in her body to cause a lower IQ for her baby, and 300,000 babies are born every year at risk of mercury poisoning.

In Kentucky, the largest source of mercury is from coal-burning power plants. Mercury from power plants falls in the rain and then accumulates in the fish.

In Kentucky we have a fish consumption advisory, but it is not well-known. There are no warning signs at boat ramps advising children and pregnant women not to eat fish. Why not?

The problem is that the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is a "friend of coal."

The agency's 2012 Fishing and Boating guide waits until Page 22 to warn us about the fish consumption advisory — and then only after cheerfully informing us that "most fish are healthy to eat" and "organic mercury can occur naturally in the environment."

And when you walk into the Frankfort offices of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, you will even find fliers promoting "Friends of Coal."

I'd like to say to Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Jon Gassett: We're poisoning our children and our grandchildren. We've gotta stop.

Dave Cooper

Lexington


Not an entitlement

I would like for President Barack Obama, Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Rep. Ben Chandler to tell me how Social Security is an entitlement and not federal salaries and federal retirements and federal health care, even federal expense accounts that are padded for extra income.

I want to know how state retirement plans and state benefits for all of its workers are not entitlements, and I want Gov. Steve Beshear to answer that one along with House Speaker Greg Stumbo. I would love to hear their answers.

I was made to pay into Social Security for over 40 years, and all the companies I worked for had to pay an equal amount. I guarantee what was paid into my account was more than what schoolteachers, legislators and state workers overall pay into their retirements.

We need some answers. The federal government was the manager and it wasted our money. I want my money and I want it all returned and to be given the same rate that has been applied to federal retirees — compounded.

That's 40-some years of investment that the liberals wasted and now they want more to give to drug addicts and undocumented immigrants. We cannot take any more.

To call it an entitlement, I simply cannot accept their attempts to call it such. Now, on the other hand their overpaid, bloated accounts are never discussed.

Why can't they talk about reducing federal salaries that are more than twice what the private sector's pay is?

Ronald Robinette

Prestonsburg


Let's share the burden

This is in response to the letter "We can't afford it," which excoriates progressives for not understanding that the United States can't afford to keep doing what it's been doing in the past.

I want to reassure the writer that, as a card-carrying liberal and progressive, I and others understand that our country needs to reduce the deficit. But here's the thing. We just don't think poor people and the middle class should be the only Americans who make sacrifices.

I find it interesting how our conservative brothers and sisters won't even discuss our enormous military-industrial complex.

Last I heard, our military budget is greater than the whole rest of the world's combined and 10 times greater than China's, which is next on the list. Perhaps there could be a changing of international priorities.

The gap between the rich and poor is the greatest it's been in a long time. Conservatives accuse us of "class warfare" for pointing this out, but that doesn't change the fact America needs a strong middle class and opportunities for the poor in order to be healthy and, yes, to survive. The rich need to pay their fair share, and some rich folks tell us they think so, too.

Let's discuss Medicare and Social Security but also the military budget and tax reform that increases revenues. Come on, conservatives. We suspect you are using the deficit to eviscerate programs that provide opportunities to the poor and middle class in order to favor the rich. Show us we're wrong.

Jack McDowell

Richmond


GOP: Put country first

Congressional Republicans are so intent on undermining President Barack Obama's re-election prospects, that they are willing to cause a U.S. default that would throw our country and the world into major financial turmoil — for which they then plan to blame the president.

Republicans are so intent on protecting tax loopholes for their wealthy donors that they are willing to leave senior citizens without their Social Security checks and our soldiers without support.

Republicans are so afraid to risk primary challenges in their local elections by breaking party ranks to work constructively with Democrats, that they are willing to allow our beloved country to relinquish its position of world leadership.

Message to Republican legislators: Put country first, your personal well-being second. Call on all Americans, not just the poor and disenfranchised, to share the sacrifice needed to save the country.

If you continue to fiddle while Rome burns, make no mistake: we voters will hold you accountable.

Eleanor Sutter

Lexington


Cut defense budget

The defense budget is overrepresented as part of the grand total of federal spending. With cuts coming to education on every government level every year, that area is underrepresented.

My simple solution: Cut half of the defense budget and give half of the remainder to education.

That influx of supplies and support would lead to improved schools, a byproduct being higher quality school breakfasts and lunches, aiding in the reduction of childhood obesity.

Also, just for the heck of it, we may produce more intelligent young people better prepared for the ultra-competitive world economy. The 75 percent cut in defense spending would also eliminate the national debt over time.

Yes, it really is that simple, and yes, we do waste that much money on our military.

Marc Elmore

Lexington


Perks for UK presidents

It is ridiculous what former University of Kentucky presidents Lee T. Todd Jr. and Charles Wethington do and will receive as retired presidents of the university.

If they could see themselves as others see them, they would hang their heads in shame.

What they receive as salary, perks, etc., is a complete waste of taxpayer money and contributes little, if anything, to the mission of the university.

The money could be used to hire several entry-level assistant professors and would help alleviate some of the stress on the overtaxed faculty at the university.

Why can't they do like other retired faculty members (myself included) and attend their farewell departmental party, have a cup of coffee, eat a piece of farewell cake, shake hands of their colleagues and get on with the rest of their lives?

Denny Harris

Lexington

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