Trim waste before cutting budget on veterans' backs
Thank you for shining a spotlight on the trials facing our young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in your recent editorial, "Honor our vets with job bill." However, I wanted to add that recent federal cost-cutting will soon make it even tougher for veterans to find jobs or make ends meet.
To save money, the Department of Defense plans to cut more than 100,000 troops from active duty, swelling the ranks of unemployed veterans. And fewer of these veterans will be able to afford health care, as the DOD wants to raise veteran health care premiums by more than 300 percent. That could force them to choose among health care, paying the rent or feeding their families.
Couldn't the DOD save money elsewhere instead of taxing veterans? Defense analysts say that inefficient Pentagon bureaucracy wastes billions and mismanaged programs like the trillion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter have run 75 percent over budget. Fixing this single program could cover health care costs for an awful lot of veterans.
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Our troops have sacrificed so much to protect this country and ensure our freedom. We shouldn't ask them to sacrifice yet again to solve our nation's fiscal problems until every other solution has been tried.
Joseph F. Morgan
President/CEO, Veterans of Modern Warfare
Praise for Merlene
When I saw in the newspaper that Herald-Leader columnist Merlene Davis was being honored, it made me very happy. It could not have happened to a more deserving person.
In her column she reminds us of the past and motivates us to action in the present, not only to help ourselves but others also to reach their goals. She reminds us that if we do our part we can make a difference.
I was one who benefited from her work. I am praying God's blessings on her and her family as she continues to use her gift.
My thanks to the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice for honoring her.
Ella M. Bosley
Politics or merit?
You hit the nail on the head with the Sept. 18 editorial about political influences on merit hiring. As one who's experienced the heartbreak and career impediment (not to mention the cost to my wallet and family) of that exact political interference in the state hiring process, I can attest that it has happened to many of us.
In my case, three times, and I have to admit they all hurt. The fact that certain state agencies are frequently under the influence of politicians in merit hiring is common knowledge among state employees.
The practice is enabled, as you say, by the budget controls that politicians hold plus the "dog-chasing tail" reality that those who are chosen (when holding influential jobs) will help the same process occur again.
I once asked a state legislator to explain why my wife had not been getting merit job interviews, in spite of having perfect scores on merit tests and being a very strong and experienced candidate.
He told me, as a matter of fact, that the party chair in each county held the most sway in those decisions and his influence was second. Also mentioned was the "rolodex file" that held this information within the personnel department.
Michael A. Tyree
Pay teachers more
I never made more than $40,000 a year in a high-pressure job, pressure from both our clients and my employer.
I was a field surveyor for one of the largest engineering firms in the country. Yes, I had insurance that cost me more than $300 a month with the company picking up the rest, a college loan that took a chunk of my paycheck, a 401(k), vacation and sick days (although since I traveled and worked out of town so much the sick leave and vacation had to be planned well in advance — certainly a person would know when they would become sick).
So, for this area of the country, $40,000 was a pretty good salary, according to my peers.
But a teacher on the south side of Chicago — with all the education, 30 to 40 kids a class and with pay based on the testing of poorly fed, poorly raised kids who probably lay awake at night while the parents/girlfriends/boyfriends argue and party with the sounds of gunfire ringing through their neighborhood — should be making $100,000 a year. Not on average, but after an apprenticeship of a few years, along with a peer review by outside teachers.
At this point I will admit to being a recovering substitute for the local school system near the university I attended. I was paid $65 a day. Teachers are not getting rich by any measure.
Norman E. Goldie, Jr
Grandparents Day was Sept.9. For families that are fortunate to be living close to their grandchildren and grandparents, distance is not a problem.
For others like our family, our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, who have been gone from the United States for 19 years, have gone the distance by coming back to see us every year. However, geography can not really separate generations who care and make the effort to stay in touch.
And neither can adversity.
Staying in touch, according to the Annie E. Casey KIDS COUNT Policy Report, includes millions of American families who have stepped up to care for the children in their extended families.
In Kentucky, 63,000 children are in public and private kinship care; 623 children are in state-supervised kinship foster care. When parents are not able to care for their children, drug abuse is the most prevalent problem with divorce, death, illness and economic difficulties being some others.
In all of these circumstances, many biological grandparents are going the distance for the second time in their lives.
Whatever your family situation, Generations United Seniors4Kids' national campaign "Do Something Grand" is asking you to honor and recognize this month those who have been grandparents in your life by going the distance to Generations United www.gu.org and clicking on www.GrandparentsDay.com for the best way to thank and support them,
After all, going the distance is a two-way journey.
Mary A. Musgrave
Coal is good for Ky.
A recent Herald-Leader headline seemed to take President Barack Obama, his Environmental Protection Agency and Rep. Ben Chandler's position that coal is somehow a bad thing for Kentucky. This newspaper sought to pit union workers against coal management in the so-called reporting of the story.
Kentucky has always been a coal state. Our state's economy and jobs depend not only on coal mining, but having the ability to burn our own coal. Since it doesn't have to be transported very far, that in itself saves energy, and with those savings we can offer lower electricity rates, which brings more companies and jobs to Kentucky.
Obama and Chandler want to place a large number of new government regulations on our coal, hurting Kentucky jobs. We already burn coal much more cleanly than in years past, but the president and Chandler support coal companies buying something called carbon credits. This would be passed on in the form of higher rates, causing companies to have fewer jobs, hurting hard-working Kentuckians.
We cannot allow Chandler and Obama to destroy one of Kentucky's great natural resources, regardless of what the biased media think.
Try new health care plan
Retired University of Kentucky professor Marty Solomon is exactly right in his recent Herald-Leader commentary about the total inadequacy of the GOP health care plan, which will rely on the insurance and drug companies even more than our current system does.
My suggestion is that we try something totally new by having the Israelis teach us how they manage to pay only 8 percent of GDP on health care as opposed to our 18 percent, as pointed out recently by Gov. Mitt Romney when he was in Israel.
This would be just a tiny favor to ask of the Israelis in return for the many billions of dollars we taxpayers have given them since the founding of Israel in 1948, and they should be happy to share their success for no cost to the taxpayers.
I'm sure there would be resistance by the politicians who get so much campaign money from insurance and drug companies.
But if we voters put enough pressure on our president and our representatives in Congress, we could prevail.