Lawmakers should get no pay for special session
After reading that Gov. Steve Beshear was calling a special session, I had to go take an extra blood pressure pill.
In the real world, if I didn't do my job in the time frame my boss gives me, I would be out the door and looking for a new job.
The politicians in Frankfort did not do their jobs in the time frame set for their session. Since they can't do what we hired them to do, they should receive no extra pay for the special session.
I, for one, am at my rope's end with these clowns acting like children and not doing the jobs they were hired to do. I just wish more people would be up in arms over this and we could come together and vote every one of those inept people out of office.
You can't put the blame on just the Democrats or Republicans; both are to blame. Most people who work for the state have not had a raise in five years, but these bums can come up with the money to pay themselves extra for not doing their jobs.
I had better stop reading this kind of stuff or I will have to take a nitro pill instead of blood pressure medicine.
As a recent retiree of the University of Kentucky, I was pleased that former UK President David Roselle was honored by having a dormitory named after him.
I remember Roselle as someone who did an excellent job and made his decisions quickly and fairly.
One thing that I remember in particular was his implementation of the educational policy for staff within six weeks after he arrived on campus, when past administrations had been hashing it around for approximately 20 years.
Also, the way he handled the basketball scandal was exceptional. Sometimes good things do happen to good people.
Fairer way to redistrict
About 30 years ago, I wrote a program for the Lexington Youth Soccer League to assist in creating neighborhood teams.
The program drew a map of Fayette County with each player mapped to his street address. Teams were formed by circling 15 players.
Today, we have census data that maps citizens to city, county, ZIP code, school district and census tract, available on the Internet. We also have voter registration data that maps registered voters to street address.
We could do a fair redistricting by writing a program to divide the map into districts with equal population and minimum boundaries. By generating minimum boundaries for the districts, the program will avoid the gerrymandering shown in the last redistricting proposal.
While finding a solution with the absolute smallest boundary is a difficult task, the program could generate a series of solutions by starting at different locations. The politicians would then select one of them.
My definition of a fair electoral district is analogous to a neighborhood or village where voters live close to each other.
Demographics are not used because any consideration will tend to disenfranchise the target group. For example, when race is equalized across all districts, no minority can elect a representative and the districts will have to be gerrymandered to balance race.
The technology exists to determine fair electoral districts, so the issue is nothing more than political gamesmanship.
If we have any legitimate representatives, they will put politics aside and explore methods for achieving a truly representative democracy.
Let's hope the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act in June is not as superficial as many of the arguments presented before the justices a few weeks ago. What we heard was largely form over substance.
I wonder why the media is not giving more coverage to these illogical disconnects.
How can Social Security and Medicare be constitutional if the ACA is not constitutional?
Why is there a difference between requiring our citizens to contribute to a government-run program and a program that includes participation by privately owned companies?
Opponents of the ACA say the central issue is whether or not it stretches the Commerce Clause in the Constitution too far. But, many concede this issue would not even come into question if the ACA reforms had been structured as a government program instead.
Are we to believe that government is authorized to run health care programs on its own but not authorized to regulate privatized programs? Does this mean that privatization of Social Security is unconstitutional?
We hear the words "mandate" and "fine" about a thousand times a day and very little about "shared responsibility payments," pre-existing condition clauses and free-riders.
We hear nothing about the Hippocratic oath that obligates health care professionals to treat uninsured patients. Nothing about the related costs. The issue of affordable health care itself is essentially ignored.
Move smokers at UK
I am a registered nurse employed by the University of Kentucky. I am not a smoker, probably because I was raised in a house with both my parents smoking. After reading a recent letter to the editor regarding employees smoking in front of the buildings on Limestone I felt compelled to respond.
It is frustrating to cross the street to my parking area and be inundated with smoke, not to mention the numerous butts that are discarded on the sidewalk and street.
I do, however, respect the rights of individuals, both employees and visitors, who choose to smoke.
As a matter of fact, I have two sons who smoke, but not in my residence. I understand and agree with UK and all of our other health care institutions mandating a smoke-free campus. However, I do think that each facility should have a designated area away from the entrance for smoking.
Having employees in their work attire, as well as visitors, standing in front of the facility is not a good representation of our hospital or any other health care facility.
It is great that we offer smoking cessation assistance at UK but I also understand that when family members are here during times of stress due to a loved one being hospitalized it is not the time to expect them to quit smoking.
We could somehow find a better solution to a problem that creates a negative image for our customers, visitors and the general public.
The Republican majority in Congress announced last week it wants to cut 3 million people out of the food stamp program and reduce the allotment for a poor family of four by almost $60 per month.
Of course this would be done while manipulating the budget process to enrich the "haves" at the expense of the "have nots."
Now we understand clearly the practical definition of conservative compassion. It appears to be driven by taking away from the needy and taking care of the greedy.
It appears that when we have much, it is so hard to "walk in the shoes" of others.
Empathy and compassion are not core values of many leaders and citizens. How sad.
Where's decoder ring?
OK, so after reading the March 18 column by Larry Webster, "UPike or not, keep the checks coming," it had me thinking of a quote from a sitcom from yesteryear.
The phrase, I believe, goes something like, "Whatcha talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
I mean, credit to Webster as no doubt he's a creative thinker and intellectual (he's an attorney, after all) and probably fun to have a chat with, but goodness gracious, man, were you taking a stance on something? I think you were, I guess, probably, heck, I dunno.
I've tried to read and decipher Webster's columns over recent months, and maybe there were some prior inside jokes or style of writing or hidden meanings that my college-ed-ju-ba-kated self just doesn't understand (I was never too good at that reading comprehension stuff).
Dear Herald-Leader, if ol' Webz is on your payroll, maybe it's time for some additional budget cuts? Us loyal and/or sometimes loyal readers understand you may just want some off-the-wall head-scratching pieces; if so, well kudos, you get a gold medal on that one.
If Webster uses these confusion tactics on his clients, cha-CHING, he must be cashing in.
My, my, my, these words are almost Webster-esque. As Webster said, send me a check. I think he said that, maybe? Schewww.
Tax plan would hurt job creators
The Buffett Rule. Sen. Chuck Schumer calls it "a good starting point." Starting to do what? Inject fairness into the tax code? Reduce the deficit?
If it's fairness, then where are the cuts for corporate taxes? As a small business owner, the engine of job growth, I pay the second-highest rates in the world.
Where's the fairness? Is it also fair to have the richest 1 percent pay 90 percent of the federal income taxes (CNN)?
If the purpose is deficit reduction, as President Barack Obama originally claimed, then consider the estimates: $8.1 billion (Fox News) and under $5 billion (NPR). So what comes after this "starting point?" Is this the entirety of Obama's contribution to a federal budget?
That's the problem with the Buffett Rule. It doesn't go anywhere. Requiring billionaires to pay at least 30 percent in taxes is a political ploy to force legislators to take a side so Obama can turn the "nay" votes into "unfair" votes.
We should all remember that this 15 percent (or lower) tax bracket is on investment income. Income that has already been earned and taxed at the higher rates. This after-tax income was invested, profits earned, and the profits also taxed.
We should also remember that those earning $1 million per year are job creators.
This simply moves money from employment to the government. We elected the greatest campaigner in the history of the American presidency. Where's the leadership?
Column ignores waste, corruption
In his recent column supporting the Buffett Rule, New York hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson states "Our government is actually quite effective and efficient."
That's funny. He must have missed full-time Energy Secretary and part-time venture capitalist Steven Chu blowing $500 million taxpayer dollars on Solyndra, or the recent GSA Las Vegas party scandal.
Tilson further invites us to be thankful that we do not have a corrupt and dysfunctional government. As evidence, he points out that he has "never once been solicited for a bribe." One might ask: What is more corrupt, the underpaid Third World bureaucrat who accepts a little baksheesh to facilitate your paperwork, or the First World politician who accepts thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from his Wall Street buddies who then make millions?
If you want to publish a piece on the Buffett Rule, which is really a tax on capital formation, job creation, the stock market and its middle-class stockholders, why don't you examine billionaire Warren Buffett's relationship with President Barack Obama? We didn't much hear about how killing the Keystone XL Pipeline would eliminate some competition for Buffett's Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.
The Buffett Rule is really this, and it has been around for a long time: You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
When Tilson admitted that the special tax wouldn't touch the deficit, he conceded the problem. The government spends so much money that even the rich can't afford it.
Cameron S. Schaeffer
Cutting debt must be priority
Most Americans agree the national debt is the single-largest threat to our democracy. What I find interesting is that Whitney Tilson, a man of success and reasonable intelligence, would back a proposal from an administration and government that have not shown the ability or desire to begin paying down this debt.
President Barack Obama's own budget proposal would take money earned from the Buffet Rule and spend a trillion dollars we don't have every year for the next 10 years.
Sacrifice must indeed be shared by all Americans. However I disagree with those who believe taxation of the wealthiest is the only way to correct the problem. Anyone supporting the Buffett Rule must also support the ideas of the Republican budget proposal to reconcile the deficits and begin paying down the debt.
Without reconciliation of the budget, the Buffet Rule can only be seen as a political gimmick to incite class warfare and re-elect a leader who cares more about holding office than leading a country in desperate need of real leadership.
I hear constantly from those who believe this legislation is about compromise and shared sacrifice. Then show me compromise. When supporters show me their corollary desire to reconcile our budgets, I will support their call to tax the wealthy. Until then, I cannot support the taxation of those whose only crime is that they are successful. If for no other reason than to oppose the mob-rule mentality this administration would seek to cast our democracy into.