Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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Sound, fury & nonsense in health care reform

Stephen Tuttle - October 5th, 2009
Sound, Fury & Nonsense
in Health Care Reform
By Stephen Tuttle 10/5/09

Are we having fun, yet?
What passes for the national debate on health care reform drones on and on with no end in sight. Nobody seems especially happy with any proposals suggested and everybody has successfully found something they absolutely despise. This, despite recent reports that health care costs under our current system have increased more than 100 percent in just the last 10 years, wildly surpassing inflation. Even worse, at the same time wages have stagnated or decreased. Health care affordability is becoming a fading memory.
It’s pretty clear something has to be done to avoid an economic catastrophe that will make the very real pain of the last few years seem like a garden party by comparison. By nearly all accounts, Medicare will become financially unsustainable in just a few years as wave after wave of Baby Boomers reach age 65 and become eligible for this program that has been a societal staple and stabilizer for nearly half a century. Health insurance premiums continue to increase at rates that are unaffordable for many Americans and put employer-paid coverage at risk. The cost of prescription drugs and medical procedures has become so expensive as to be out of reach for all but the wealthiest of us. Depending on whose numbers you believe, somewhere between 30 and 50 million Americans now have no health insurance at all.
Reform seems necessary and inevitable, a welcome relief for most of us.
So what the hell happened?
Politics of the worst sort intruded. The philosophical crazies on both sides of the issue found rhetorical paths they believed would lead them to an electoral promised land.
And then the polemicists got involved and facts gave way to a drumbeat of near insanity. We heard about death panels and the destruction of Medicare and free abortions for everyone and free health care for illegal immigrants. Those messages were repeated over and over, on blogs, talk radio, cable news channels, from pundits left and right, Tweets, YouTube and, of course, by politicians anxious to find an edge for the 2010 elections and beyond.
Policy debates in this country have always been vigorous and contentious. People feel strongly, even viscerally about issues. Feelings are hurt and anger rises. What’s relatively new is our ability to relentlessly spew venom without let-up. That which we would have dismissed as lunacy a decade ago is now repeated so often and with such ferocity by so many it gains traction. Reform becomes more difficult because regardless of the issue, the naysayers keep pounding away ad nauseam and even the most preposterous notions become “fact.” Our Age of Information has morphed into the Age Without Knowledge.
The perfect example is the idea of any health care reform including “death panels.” Please. We were told that our elected representatives were going to create a system in which shadowy government bureaucrats in some secret star chamber would be turning thumbs down on older Americans in need of health care. Those who logically disagreed were called Nazis, morons, idiots and part of some grand conspiracy hoping for a Socialist coup.
Think about the death panel notion for just a couple of minutes. Older Americans are the most likely people to vote in any election at any level. Elected officials and their minions know this to be true. They desperately need the votes of seniors to stay in office. So we had to believe that those officeholders, who work very hard to appeal to that older demographic, had decided on a health care plan that would intentionally kill off the very voters they need – I’d love your vote but I’m afraid we have to kill you.
The sad truth is this junk works. In fact, the group most opposed to health care reform is those over 65. According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of that age group now oppose reform based on the belief that the government would be “too involved” in the health care system. That’s just a tad ironic since they receive both Medicare and Social Security, programs created and run entirely by the government.
Stranger still, some 39 percent of Americans making $30,000 or less a year, the very people least able to afford insurance and most likely to be helped by health care reform, now oppose it on the same grounds. Apparently they’ve decided using brutally expensive emergency room care as their primary care physician is a better option.
Instead of doing our homework and researching the facts, we listen to radio entertainers masquerading as opinion leaders and read unsubstantiated blogs that play to our worst instincts and fears. We obligingly trudge along with ovine fealty following whatever numbskull best voices our own ignorance and anger. And nothing of substance gets accomplished.
Of course, you might disagree. After all, I’m a moron.
Stephen Tuttle is a political consultant specializing in campaign communications. A Traverse City native, he has returned to the area after 35 years in Phoenix.

 
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