Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Letters 6/6/11

Letters Congress & public trust
Recently, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released the
following statement in reaction to the U.S. government reaching the
$14.3 trillion debt ceiling:

“It comes as no surprise that Washington’s spending spree has resulted
in us once again reaching the statutory debt limit. The American
people have no interest in simply increasing the limit absent serious
steps to rein in spending. I urge the Administration to demonstrate
the leadership America expects from Washington and work with the
Congress to enact significant reductions in government spending —
including entitlement programs like Medicare — as well as needed
structural reforms to how Washington sets the nation’s budget.”

I honestly believe that Congress has the wrong idea as to what
entitlements are.
Camp states that Medicare, Social Security and the like are
entitlements to the American people, yet as a worker I have -- along
with all workers -- contributed to the funding of these benefits which
where to be “IN TRUST” by the government for the common person as a
caution for our old age and survival. It is and was the government,
Congress to be exact, that has taken these benefits and allowed them to
be squandered away, removing them from the “TRUST” which established
them and placing them into the general fund for the raping by Congress
for other governmental uses.
Entitlements to me are the billions you give to the oil companies, the
billions you give to farmers to not produce from their land, the
billions you spend on military contractors for things we do not need,
and to the out-sourcing of governmental jobs to contractors that are
lining their pockets without responsibility to perform for the good of
the American people.
As for being chair of the committee you are on that is to oversee much
of this, I am anxious to see who you are really working for, the
American People or Corporate America and what “REFORM” you will
structure. Remember America is watching...

Jim Williams • Kalkaska
 
Monday, May 23, 2011

letters 5/23/11

Letters Corporate takeover
The first anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court
decision conferring full political personhood on corporations, slipped by
in January with little notice, sadly, from the two political parties and
the media.
This incredibly bad and immensely unpopular decision allowed --
encouraged? -- corporations to pump money directly (usually through
“front” groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) into the political
process. Nearly all of the unmarked bills flowed into Republican coffers,
no doubt greasing the skids for the GOP landslide last November. So it
makes sense that Republicans wouldn’t invite attention to this decision
and its very favorable consequences for them.
It makes less sense, though, why the Tea Partiers aren’t screaming bloody
murder about it, given their well-demonstrated anger about various threats
to freedom. When powerful corporations can covertly operate politically,
everyone else’s freedom is surely diminished.
But let’s be clear about what this Supreme Court decision does: it turns
over the financing of our political campaigns to the direct and more or
less complete control of corporations and the wealthy.
Of course, with our pre-Citizens United v. FEC “system” of campaign
finance our democracy was already on the proverbial slippery slope. Now we
are in free fall. Corporations will spend whatever they want to in the
next election to get what they want. Unless we --the people-- decide
this is unacceptable, and take action, we will soon lose what’s left of
our democracy.

Ron Tschudy • Central Lake
 
Friday, May 20, 2011

Letters 5/30/11

Letters Truth about education
   Howard Walker’s Northern View (May 16) editorial did not express the whole truth.  The first part tries to mollify voters by saying education cuts are really much less than cuts to other departments.  Look at the history of state education funding rather than the past year only: since my retirement from education in 2003, state funding to the Traverse City district has remained approximately constant.  The state has not kept up with inflation and has begun to defund public education.  
   Walker is outraged that salary and benefits make up about 80% of school budgets, but what does he expect from school districts—that most of the money go to computers and textbooks?  Education delivers a service, not a product.  Its very nature assumes most expenditures will go to pay for jobs.
   Then there are his complaints about rising healthcare costs of educators.  Those rising costs belong to the economy generally, not to teachers alone.  If rising healthcare costs are a problem, deal with that.  Don’t blame educators.  His figure of $24,000 “some districts” spend for healthcare is hardly representative of plans in most districts.  In general, teachers’ healthcare policies are no more expensive than those for other  workers.
    Finally, comes the attack on retirement benefits.  Walker says retirement is eating up the finances of school districts, but he ignores the fact that contracts include healthcare, retirements, and salary.  In other words, most teachers have taken hits in salary and healthcare in order to keep their retirement benefit. It is unfair to consider reducing retirement benefits without examining the reductions in salary and healthcare that teachers have already agreed to.
   Let us be honest here: The present government of Michigan is intentionally underfunding public education for political purposes.  The next election should put an end to it.

Richard Fidler • TC
 
Monday, May 16, 2011

Letters 5/16/11

Letters The Republicans & Big Oil
For the past two weeks, Republican congressmen faced blistering attacks at
town hall meetings for their vote on the Ryan Plan, which lowers the tax
rate for the wealthy another 10% while dismantling Medicare and Medicaid.
Republicans all claim they are carrying out the “will of the people” so
let’s look at what the people told them: Leave Medicare alone, tax the
rich and stop the oil subsidies. When confronted with the news that oil
companies posted profits of $38 billion in the first quarter, a few
sheepishly agreed, “maybe we should take a look at it.”
But that is not what they did. On May 5, with the media consumed with
Osama bin Laden, they quietly and unanimously passed the Restarting
American Offshore Drilling Act which, among other things, extends oil
subsidies. This is the second vote in three months they have taken to
protect oil companies’ taxpayer handouts.
It is no surprise that the GOP protects big oil. The Republican sponsors
of the bill took in $8.8 million from big oil in campaign cash. Rep. Dave
Camp received $77,000. Before the first vote in March, BP contributed
$1,000 to Camp, who is chairman of House Ways and Means. Three other key
players, Speaker Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, House Whip and Michigan’s Fred
Upton, chairman of Energy and Commerce were all gifted $5,000. Upton was
given $100,000 in the 2010 election. All defeated the Democrats’ bill to
rescind the subsidies in order to reduce the deficit.
In the past 10 years, Big Oil has contributed $238.7 million to congress,
75% to Republicans. In addition to the Republicans guarding their
subsidies, Dave Camp’s taxation committee has written thousands of
loopholes in the tax code for them. Last year they paid nothing.
Follow the money, Dave Camp is not looking out for you.

Julie A Racine • Marion
 
Monday, May 9, 2011

Letters 5/9/11

Letters The legacy of bin Laden
While it is just and proper for our government to do whatever is necessary
to protect we citizens, is that a moral justification for dancing in the
streets at the death of another human being? Bear in mind this individual
is highly regarded in a large segment of the earth’s disenfranchised
people. Our revelry will serve to infuriate these people.
Bin Laden himself once said that he did not hate Americans, only American
foreign policy. Didn’t we learn anything from our meddling in the affairs
of Iran? Or Venezuela? Most Americans do not realize that OPEC originated
in South America because of our exploitive practices there.
While we find it abhorrent that anyone would resort to terrorism to
achieve their political ends, Bin Laden did not set this precedent. Nor
was he the first to appeal to religious zealotries to serve his cause. Now
we must address the reprisals that are sure to come and the ones following
our actions against them etc. etc.
Again, while we must do whatever is necessary to protect we citizens, the
first thing we must do is stop exploiting other nations for our own
interests. The next thing is to admit to and address the wrongs we have
committed in the past. The last thing is to try to learn from and avoid
such actions in the future. This is not going to be easy or happen
overnight. We are still suffering from the resentments caused by the
exploitation of Native Americans and Africans more than a century after we
began to try to atone for our actions.
While it is just and right to have executed Bin Laden because of the
threat he posed to the United States and indeed the entire world, before
we rejoice in the streets we need to consider the part we played in
creating him.

Roger Paupore • TC
 
Monday, May 2, 2011

Letters 5/2/11

Letters Good man on the job
A few weeks ago I e-mailed the Express regarding the disappearance of Jacob Cabinaw. In this letter I mentioned the poorly run investigation by the Sheriff‘s Department, namely Detective Gomez. I have since met with him and spoke to him at length about Jake and the investigation and his possible whereabouts.
I must admit that my original opinion was uneducated and based solely on emotion. The amount of information that Detective Gomez had in his possession was staggering to say the least, and I have full faith that he is doing everything in his power to solve this mystery. He does not have the resources (read: money) to spend time flying around the country checking leads and frankly, any police force from any major city would laugh if an officer from some unknown town in Michigan wanted certain information. Tax payers would throw a fit knowing their money was spent like this.
As much as I want Jake to be found, or to come home, I must take a step back and take emotion out of this momentarily. There are several other missing persons from this area and other actual crimes being committed- asking a publicly-funded detective to spend all of his waking moments tracking down one person is ludicrous.... especially if there is no crime associated with his disappearance.
Instead of attacking the investigation I am asking that anyone with any information about Jake please come forward and please keep rumors quiet unless you can prove it to be fact. Please do not be afraid to share any and all knowledge associated with this case with Detective Gomez.

George Nemetz • via email
 
Monday, April 25, 2011

Letters 4/25/11

Letters What’s the end game?
It seems to me with all of the Republican and Tea Party ideas about the
budget floating around out there, we need to ask ourselves some basic
questions. Mainly, what is the end game here?
What does our society look like with a reduced deficit? With taxed
pensions? With no health care plan, reduced Medicare and limited or no
Social Security? So we’re out of debt, big corporations have increased tax
incentives and there are no unions. Is this what we want, Republicans?
What does our society look like when all this happens? Are there more
jobs? Is the middle class suddenly expanded? Are we all better off? Tell
me, what is it we’re aiming for?
I completely support reduced deficits and taxes and a society that doesn’t
have to rely on the government to support people in need. But tell me,
what does this look like? How do you plan to get there?
Are corporations going to take care of us by providing the jobs we need at
a sustainable wage? Who will take care of our aging citizens as their
Medicare is reduced? How long will we have to work to provide for our own
social security? I might be inclined to listen if I knew what your vision
is. Do YOU know?

Tom Speers • Fife Lake
 
Monday, April 18, 2011

Letters 4/18/11

Letters Art or barbarism?
In response to the “Bodies Human” show at the Dennos Museum Center. Art?
To me abomination is a more fitting term.
Most of the bodies being displayed are Chinese because Red China is one of
the few countries that will gladly sell human organs and whole bodies to
the highest bidder, especially its executed prisoners, which it leads the
world in production of.
Regardless of that, these are human beings who are someone’s father,
mother, son, daughter, brother or sister who are being exhibited like some
kind of stuffed animal for others’ amusement and profit. Or is it alright
to mount humans like hunting trophies as long as they are poor Chinese and
not rich Caucasians?
Masquerading as an education, health and science show, it is really a
third world carnival freak show, except most of the third world has more
respect for the dead. 100 weirdly posed corpses in our museum; what’s
wrong with this picture? Is our country losing its collective mind and
soul and anything goes? I hope not.
The Dennos Museum and Traverse Health Clinic are both wonderful
organizations. But whoever set this event up apparently didn’t think out
its dark side. Please give it some thought and voice your feelings. I hope
you will agree this is an assault on our humanity in our beautiful corner
of Michigan and together we can get it shut down.

Keith Lints • via email

For what it’s worth, it should be noted that the bodies in the exhibit
reportedly came from Taiwan, rather than mainland China. - ed.)
 
Monday, April 11, 2011

Letters 4/11/11

Letters Less talk, more action
To all of you who write in and talk about the crisis that is going on
in Michigan and specifically regarding Rick Snyder, the Governor --
what are you doing other than writing letters to the editor?
I can understand where it might give you a venue to vent your
frustrations but what else are you actually doing? Have you written to
the governor or to your senators or representatives? Have you
participated in a rally either here or in Lansing? Do you vote on
various websites expressing your thoughts?
There are ways to make changes other than writing a letter to your
local newspapers which I don’t see as resulting in any changes. I
would like to see people become outraged at what is happening in our
state and across the nation and to do something about it in a peaceful
constructive manner.
For instance -- if you are against the war(s) come to a meeting of
Veterans For Peace. They meet the third Saturday of every month at
10:30 a.m. downstairs at Horizon Books. After the meeting, there is a
peaceful march around downtown Traverse City. You do not have to be a
veteran. This is only one of many, many ways that you can get involved
in the political scene and try to make a difference.

Tom Emmott • TC
 
Monday, April 4, 2011

Letters 4/4/11

Letters Save our film industry
Dear Governor Snyder: You are the nerd Michiganders elected who would
bring the state back from the brink of financial ruin. So please help me
understand your decision to cap tax credits for the film industry.
The February report of accounting firm, Ernst & Young states that for
every untaxed dollar, the film industry gave Michigan back six. In fact,
the industry grew from $2 million to $225 million in just two years,
creating 6,491 jobs. Hotels, catering services, restaurants and other
ancillary businesses reaped big monetary rewards. Maxsar Studio in Livonia
and Raleigh Studio in Pontiac, both of which may have to close, were
built. Colleges and universities increased enrollment in film writing,
editing and acting classes.
Detroit 1-8-7, a critically-acclaimed drama that promotes a positive image
of a struggling city and its people, received $19,641,435 in credits last
year, but spent $47,288,907 in Michigan. It probably won’t be back next
year thanks to your tax cap. Great movies filmed in Michigan like Gran
Torino and Up in the Air will no longer bring work here. The Avengers will
now move its production set to Ohio.
Governor, is your plan to save Michigan? Ouch.

Mary Eliowitz • Maple City
 
Monday, March 28, 2011

Letters 3/28/11

Letters We‘ve been duped
Last November the voters of this state, and the nation, voted to change
our political world by voting in folks promising lower taxes and less
government. That sounded good on the surface, but now as these tea
baggers start to make their changes, I see where this is taking us.
Everything we have spent decades building to make our society so great --
our very way of life -- is threatened. Unbridled government cuts will
have a negative impact on the things we most need and cherish. Our
schools, our safety, our roads, culture, safety nets for the less
fortunate, our national defense, are all at risk. As we lose more fire
fighters, teachers, cops, government services and road maintenance, we
will all suffer. And as we decimate funding for libraries, public
broadcasting, mental health services, medical research, arts, education,
recreation, regulatory watchdogs and so much more, we will soon find
ourselves in a different world. A pronounced step backwards from
civilization, towards a jungle existence, with no spirit of community or
common good.
Governments are necessary, primarily to provide services that people need,
but can’t provide individually, It is always good to eliminate waste and
overlap, but we still need many of the things we get by banding together.
Budget squeezes are tough, but it makes no sense why the burden falls so
heavily on the middle class and those in the bottom strata. Yet the new
wave seems determined to continue to give huge tax cuts to the rich and
the hugely profitable corporations. I think we were duped into believing
all these changes would help us, when really they further widen the gap
between the wealthy and the rest of us. I think we could still maintain
our quality of life if we just got those who have most profited from our
economy to pay a fair share.
Now we get the attack on unions, who have always fought for the working
class, union or not. The powerful and rich have divided us so they can
further conquer us. It’s scary that so many don’t see that.
I for one, will not be voting for the party of the wealthy next time.

Robert H. Smith • Cheboygan
 
Monday, March 21, 2011

Letters 3/21/11

Letters Fair to seniors?
Are “seniors” being treated fairly?
There appears to be a huge outcry from many seniors about Governor
Snyder’s proposal to drop the exclusion of pensions from taxable income.
Some pensioners are even threatening to pack up and move to another state
if this exemption is eliminated.
Perhaps these folks should consider the huge inequity of exempting
pensions from state income taxes. For example:
“A senior couple with a household income of $59,000, made up mainly of
pension income and Social Security, has no state tax liability and
actually receives a check for several hundred dollars back from the state.
Whereas a working couple with children whose household income is $10,000
less has to pay over $1,000 in Michigan income tax.” – The Center for
Michigan.
Also, many who are opposed to taxing pension income assume that this is
an unfair tax targeted at “all” seniors. But what about us seniors -- and
there are many of us -- that have no defined pension but rely on our 401k
and savings along with Social Security, and pay state income tax just like
the working couple in the example above?
Don’t assume that all “seniors” in Michigan worked in the public sector or
in a UAW plant that had a defined pension plan. There are in fact many
pensioners (mainly from the public sector) whose pension income actually
exceeds the income they earned while working due to the fact that they no
longer have to pay state income taxes.
Many of us seniors have, and continue to pay our fair share in Michigan
taxes with nary a complaint. In my opinion, if having to pay your fair
share of state income tax is enough to cause you to sell your home and
move to another state, then don’t let the door hit you in the backside on
the way out!

Gordon LaPointe • Williamsburg
 
Monday, March 14, 2011

Letters

Letters Snyder delivers promise
For years Michigan politicians have played the coward’s role by deferring
difficult financial and taxation issues to future generations. Fearful for
their re-elections, legislators shelved problems and used band-aids and
gimmicks to muddle through annual budgets while continually failing their
elected responsibilities.
]Governor-elect Snyder campaigned on a promise to address the difficult
issues with shared burdens, to rectify tax inequities and to spur
employment opportunities for our young people by softening business taxes
and mitigating onerous regulations. Governor Snyder’s proposed budget is a
campaign promise fulfilled.
Now it’s time for our spineless Legislature, whose souls are owned by
every special interest except the average citizen, to cease their endless
nit-picking and pass the Snyder budget as proposed.
Michigan’s citizens deserve better of our elected Legislature than
grand-standing and critiquing without providing alternatives.

Michael Estes • TC
 
Monday, March 7, 2011

Letters

Letters Scapegoating migrants
Here in Northern Michigan some of our most important neighbors are our
migrant workers. We need them desperately to help our farmers who depend
on them.
Now a group of anti-immigrant legislators (including our Representative
Ray Franz) have proposed House Bill 4305, which is similar to the Arizona
bill that profiles Hispanics.
I often see our hardworking neighbors, migrant workers shopping at NJ’s in
Lake Leelanau with their families. They don’t look like the Wall Street
crowd who ripped off the American people or the Haliburton people who
profited from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They are obviously Hispanic
and look like they have done some pretty intense physical labor (the kind
no one else wants to do and cannot do well). Now I’m trying to imagine
what it would be like if one of our sheriffs checked them for papers and
how humilating that would be.
Have our immigrants become the scapegoat for our troubled society? It
seems to me that our country is losing its humanity and empathy for one
another. We need to educate ourselves regarding immigration policies in
this country and remind ourselves that most of us are from immigrant
families. We should not close the door to those who follow behind us.

Susan Wheadon • Cedar

 
Monday, February 28, 2011

Letters

Letters Snyder’s tax increase
Governor Snyder’s budget sent to the State Legislature would balance the state’s budget by imposing massive tax increases on the most vulnerable people, the elderly and the poor.
Taxing pensions at 4.5% is a tax increase. Eliminating or reducing the Homestead Property Tax Exemption for seniors is a tax increase. Eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor is a tax increase. Each of these proposed tax increases will hit the populations of our state least able to bear the brunt of the change.
As an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer, I see first-hand how little many of our seniors make and scrape by on. They can ill afford to suddenly have their pension income reduced by 4.5%, giving them less spending money to pay for necessary medical costs and living expenses.
The worth of a society is measured in how it takes care of the least of its citizens. If these tax increases are enacted, our society isn’t worth much.

Charles N Godbout • Empire
 
 
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