Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Health care reform hell:...
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Health care reform hell: one way out

Robert Downes - June 29th, 2009
Healthcare reform hell: one way out
Robert Downes 6/29/09
Recently, a writer from Vogue magazine caused a stir on the Oprah Winfrey Show by noting that people in Minnesota looked like “little houses” during her visit to that plump and voluptuous state.
“I’d just been on a trip to Minnesota, where I can only kindly describe most of the people I saw as little houses,” Anna Wintour said. “There’s such an epidemic of obesity in the United States, and for some reason, everybody focuses on anorexia.”
Wintour is right: on the whole, we Americans don’t do a very good job of taking care of ourselves, and that’s the 900-lb. hog on the table of healthcare reform in our country that no one’s talking about.
Who is going to pay for our sins, and how?
Consider that 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. The federal Centers for Disease Control reports that obesity will soon be the number one killer in America. Overeating also contributes to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.
We also tend to be a sedentary nation of couch zombies. Then there’s smoking, drinking, and the effects of junk food, preservatives and hormones in our diet.
By any measure, as a nation, we’re not a healthy bunch.
So when the Republicans claim that the Democrats’ healthcare plan will cost $3.5 trillion -- much of which will have to be borrowed -- it’s not hard to believe them.
On the other hand, the Republicans don’t seem to have much of a plan of their own, beyond U.S. Rep. Dave Camp’s press release promise to cook up some reforms that focus on “affordability, accessibility and availability of quality health care for all Americans.”
Or to put it another way, the Republican plan involves empty words that are long on alliteration, but short on substance.
The other hairball of healthcare reform in America is our aversion to new taxes to pay for all of the quadruple bypasses, kidney dialysis treatments, liver transplants and hip replacements brought on by our unhealthy lifestyles.
As noted here before, in Sweden, universal healthcare is paid for through a local income tax of around 11 percent, on top of all the other taxes the Swedes pay (among the highest in the world).
But the Swedes, Dutch, French and other nationalities that have universal healthcare tend to eat healthy and exercise. And like the Canadians, they’re more inclined to think of taxes as a civic duty for the welfare of all, rather than a curse.
So there you have it: we have something like 200 million Americans who are overweight and unhealthy (with a trend that’s on the rise), and a culture that despises taxation. How do we overcome those problems?
Some recommend the single-payer plan embraced by Canada and other countries. As is the case with Social Security, “single-payer“ means that taxpayers would pay into a single healthcare fund for life, from which all doctor and hospital bills would be paid. The idea is to ‘spread the risk’ among citizens who are fairly healthy in their youth, paying to support older Americans who need more care with age.
But the single-payer plan does nothing to address personal responsibility and the incentive to stay well. Nor does it solve the political suicide of new taxes to pay for healthcare.
One solution to both problems might be to re-examine an idea from the Bush administration, which recommended a national system of health savings accounts, whereby citizens set aside tax-free funds to pay for their own care.
This approach requires no major tax increase, but does involve some out-of-pocket sacrifice from participants, and thus, an incentive to stay healthy.
We use a variation of this healthcare plan at Northern Express. We contribute $1,500 per year to each employee’s tax-free health savings account. Employees in turn, can contribute their own tax-free funds into their accounts. You pay for your own doctor bills and prescriptions out of the fund, up to a $2,000 deductible. After that, the insurance company picks up the tab -- ideal for “catastrophic” events in your life, such as heart surgery or treatment for cancer, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The value of a health savings account approach is that it sidesteps the bombshell of new taxes, while encouraging personal responsibility. Stay healthy, and the money you’ve saved is yours, tax-free.
The Bush administration‘s idea of a national health savings account plan was shot down almost immediately when it was presented. But that was before the recession and the harsh reality that we can no longer pay for all of our entitlements, much less add to them. Perhaps the plan would receive a more favorable reception if it were presented once again.
Of course, there would still be those “catastrophic“ health costs to pay, even with a national health savings account plan. Whatever reform our country adopts, it seems that some level of taxes will be the bitter pill we‘ll have to swallow to have national healthcare.

Check out Bob Downes unplugged with Jim Moore and Acoustic Dynamite, Friday, July 3, 6-8 p.m. on the patio at Left Foot Charley‘s -- behind Bldg. 50, TC.

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