Let's use waste-tire fund for its intended purpose
One thing I have learned after 20 years in government service is that real change happens only if citizens get involved.
The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements have motivated me to write this letter because both demand change. The 2012 General Assembly has begun and is your opportunity to be involved in positive change by contacting your legislators during this time.
There is one issue in which I need your help. The Waste Tire Trust Fund was created after whole tires were banned from landfills. The fund created a fee that was designed to ultimately protect the environment. These funds should be used to do just that. They should not be used for administrative costs or as a mechanism to help balance the state budget.
Money has been diverted from the fund in years past. When agencies are faced with unrealistic budget cuts they resort to creative budgeting. I call this "taxation with misrepresentation."
Stricter controls should be used to control the use of the waste-tire fees. Efforts are under way to make the waste tire program proactive by addressing waste tires at generation and assure that funds are spent as was intended.
This is not just a waste issue, it is also a health issue. The mismanagement of waste tires creates a breeding ground for the Asian tiger mosquito, known to spread infectious diseases among humans, livestock and wildlife.
Contact your representatives through their message line, 1-800-372-7181, or Web site, Lrc.ky.gov.
It is a sad thing to see in our country when people have to be careful not to speak truthfully about obvious facts.
I am not a fan of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, but the removal of a chosen and capable man from his campaign for making disparaging comments about Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith is farcical at best.
Mormonism isn't due such energetic protection by the non-existent "majority" of American citizens to the point of referring to them as a cult or as non-Christian being grounds for discipline or dismissal.
They have been Mormons for years. If they wanted to be Christians, they would have been by now. Why do we have to call them what they do not wish to be?
This kind of thinking is doing more damage to our country than any of the "hated Muslim" rhetoric being passed around in conservative strongholds on an hourly basis.
A cult that has one individual rise to prominence in some area temporarily does not change the beliefs and bylaws of the group.
This atmosphere of denial is not an acceptable route for "taking our country back" to what America once was.
Cheap at any cost
As President Barack Obama criticized Republicans in thwarting his plan to create thousands of jobs repairing infrastructure, a recent letter to the editor countered that what the news story "didn't want you to know" was that there were already projects out there, but the jobs were going to Chinese workers.
What the letter writer does not say is that, regarding the multibillion-dollar Bay Bridge project, it was Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who outsourced these jobs. Federal funds were available for the project, with a buy American requirement.
The governor, acting on the unspoken Republican maxim cheap at any cost, chose to try to save money at the expense of quality by outsourcing the jobs to workers whose children will likely never travel these spans.
Because of weld-quality problems, the project is over budget and behind schedule.
It is penny-wise/pound-foolish politicians like this who put our country in the situation it is now.
Occupy Wall Street is not about being against corporations; it is about corporations controlling the government.
Many of our politicians have sold their souls to big corporations and act in their stead rather than for the good of the people. Kentucky's own Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are perfect examples of politicians who have become corporate flunkies, but I digress.
OWS protestors are not a bunch of lazy kids having a protest party. They include people who have lost their jobs and homes and have no health insurance.
As for the college students to which one letter writer was referring, most of them have enormous student-loan debts with little hope of being able to pay them off due to the jobless state of the nation.
People are angry because they see the American dream being destroyed by corporations and banks. If only, as the letter writer thinks, the biggest problem of the protestors was spending too much. You have to have something to spend before you can spend too much.
Let them eat cake, indeed.
Sandra J. Wells
Hospice takes a hit
Hospice care in the United States has been one of the better social programs over the past 30 years. Hospice care grew from the living legacy of a dying patient under the care of Dame Cicely Saunders.
It concerns me that the Affordable Care Act has greatly reduced the home care and hospice system budgets. While I agree with other aspects of the Affordable Care Act, reducing the hospice budget does not seem like a great idea.
The Visiting Nurse Associations of America noted that over the next 10 years, home health will be cut by $39.7 billion and hospice by $7.8 billion.
In a recent study by the University of Kentucky, researcher Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles used a measure to study caregivers' emotional stressors during a hospice situation. The study suggested that health care providers should realize caregivers suffer from low health literacy and high needs for education and support.
Cutting the budget is only reducing the support for these caregivers. Statistically speaking, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization said 41.6 percent of U.S. deaths utilized hospice care during 2009. Currently, hospice patients with insurance are mostly covered; however, who is to say how much will be covered after the cuts? The last thing a caregiver wants to worry about after watching their loved one pass is a doctor bill.
We need to support legislators and lawmakers who support the continued and expanded funding of hospice care programs.
Attacking a generation
The older population represented 8.1 percent of the total population in 1950. That percentage is projected to reach 20.2 percent in 2050.
The Older Americans Act has been changing constantly to reflect the changing demographic of older Americans. One of the greatest causes for change is the need to redefine the term "older American."
One of the possibilities is to up the age at which someone is identified as old, most likely in order to prepare for the massive wave of baby boomers reaching retirement age.
Whereas this might save money for the government, this seems highly disrespectful and alienating to an entire generation. How can we tell someone at the age of 65, "sorry, but you cannot retire yet."
This is a generation of Americans that has greatly shaped and influenced the society we live in. They have raised us, taught us, protected us and provided for us.
It is time we show a little gratitude, rather than punish them based on the generation they were born into. It is time to make this a priority, rather than accept it as a heavy burden we are about to encounter.
Perhaps we can do some "fiscal cleaning" and examine other federally funded programs that are not being used proportionate to their funding.
Like many, I don't know where the money will come from in the end. It is time, however, that we stop asking where the money will come from, but what we can do to help.
David L. Ferrell
Tax fatty foods
One thing I've noticed is that there is no tax on any food, even Oreos, cookies, ice cream and other stuff I get that's not good for me and very well might make me need governmental health care assistance when I'm older.
The nation is spending $828 billion on health care and is ignoring an obvious good source of revenue on something that almost certainly is a contributor to the need for health care. If a sales tax is charged for all items with sugar, fat, calorie and/or sodium content beyond a certain level, then that very likely would help raise a lot of money for Medicare and Medicaid, though I couldn't find any good data to put exact numbers into this.
As for those who say that people can't afford that much tax to buy their food, they can eat apples and sandwiches and other food that this tax wouldn't apply to. They probably shouldn't be buying dessert if they can't afford a few cents extra tax on it.
It's about parking
If columnist Tom Eblen's only source of the demise of downtown Lexington's retail business is Ken Silvestri, whose grandfather's fruit stand couldn't prosper on Main Street ("Two-way streets can make downtown a destination," Dec. 5), may I suggest he consult those of us who were the Main Street merchants' customers.
After all, who is going to drive downtown to buy fruit, especially when one has to circle for blocks to find a parking space?
One-way streets made downtown more accessible, but the problem was that shoppers living in the suburbs became more dependent on their cars (instead of LexTran buses). Drivers wanting to shop downtown found it very difficult to find a convenient parking space.
There was no agreement among the merchants and the government on where and how to provide public parking facilities. Sadly, anchor stores Sears, Montgomery Ward and Stewarts moved to the malls, where parking was abundant. Purcell's, the west anchor, and Wolf Wile's, the east-end anchor, closed their doors.
Ultimately, Meyer's, Graves Cox, Woolworth's, Kresge, Embry's, Kaufmans, Schulte United, Mitchell Baker, Lowenthal, Tot and Teens, Perkins, Maxons, Bogarts, Thom McAn, Baynham's, Wenneker's, Bomanzi's, Loom and Needle, Meyer Hinkle's and many other fine retailers moved out or succumbed. Four blocks of downtown was the best, except there was no parking.
I'm confident the city will waste much money finding a consultant who will recommend a two-way street plan because that is what some city officials want to hear. Then we will have snarled traffic where left turns will be obsolete.
Tom Radden Sr.
Beads to beans
"Sisters of Charity" become "Siblings of Greed."
Yes, it is apparently official that our local St. Joe's Hospital has quietly decided to close its Mobil/Free Clinic. No announcements on this one, ladies and gentlemen. Even they seem to know how unsavory this is.
They can afford to fill the airwaves with ads for their Bariatric Surgery program (must be a money maker) and the "convenience" of their "No Wait Emergency Rooms" (really, see if you can use the words "convenience" and "emergency" in the same sentence and avoid sarcasm). But they cannot afford to support a clinic that attends to the needs of the uninsured (working poor) getting their hypertension medications adjusted or keeping their diabetes under control.
They can pay to be official sponsors of every UK sports program, the World Equestrian Games, and countless other non-charitable organizations, but they turn around and lay off their own workers during these times of economic hardship for so many. It appears they have put down their rosary beads and commenced to counting beans.
Not for all Christians
The Creation Museum in Petersburg is visited by millions of Christians, Kentuckians and tourists each year, generating millions of dollars in the process. An attraction with that kind of résumé is normally welcomed unanimously across the state that houses it, but the Creation Museum is an exception. The museum generates criticism from scientists, secularists and atheists across the country, almost exclusively for its presentation of creationism.
Its positions on everything from astronomy to geology have come under fire and, subsequently, many Christians who hold to creationism have received much of the same criticism. But would it surprise you that not all Christians hold to their brand of creationism?
The Creation Museum almost exclusively represents the young-Earth model of creationism, which claims that Earth is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old and was created in six literal days. The distant cousin to that position, which a significant number of Christians also hold to, is old-Earth creationism.
Old-Earth creationism claims a universe that is 16.2 billion years old, with Earth being millions of years old, and humanity's age being about 10,000 years old. Old-Earth creationism also claims the "days" of creation were metaphorical representations for millions of years.
Obviously, these positions are incredibly different; yet, the Creation Museum does not make this obvious distinction and creates confusion among its patrons and subjects old-Earth creationists to the same criticism it receives. The Creation Museum should change its name or notify patrons of the differences.