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Letters 1-16-2012

- January 16th, 2012  

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Saved by Obamacare

Over 60,000 Michigan young adults 26 and under are now back on their parents’ family coverage thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act. This fall, Governor Snyder sought to exempt Michigan insurance companies from the Obamacare requirement that they spend at least 80 percent of the premiums collected on healthcare. Michigan was one of only 13 states seeking such an exemption.

The Obama administration fortunately denied Snyder’s request and an estimated 340,000 Michiganders will now be getting $89 million rebated from their insurance providers. Snyder argued that some private insurers (United Health, Assurant, Humana and American Enterprise) couldn’t survive on just 20 percent of your premiums for administrative costs (overhead and profit). Michigan actually asked that these insurers be approved to rake off 35 percent of your healthcare dollar!

By contrast, Medicare’s administrative costs are estimated to be about 5 percent. Just another reason why Medicare-for-All is the best healthcare reform. Snyder’s state insurance commissioner even expressed great concern that these subpar carriers might choose to stop doing business in Michigan. (Let’s hope!) You know that difference between the two parties, when the insurance commissioner ignores consumers’ interest and instead helps providers like American Enterprise pocket half of your healthcare premiums. State Republicans have already imposed retiree income taxes and cuts to school funding to give their corporate sponsors generous tax cuts.

It amazes me how some seem to enjoy being scammed and duped by the right wing. Remember the phony warnings about death panels and abortions coming under Obamacare?

When you have extreme political opinions, your alternative world apparently permits you to ignore any contrary facts. How else would some so eagerly swallow the poisons of WMDs, mushroom clouds, banking and environmental deregulation, global warming doubt, clean coal, birthers and trickle-down economics? Can preemptive war with Iran and the Keystone pipeline be the next toxic conservative pabulum?

Leonard Page • Cheboygan

MLK Day great holiday

January 16th is the only national holiday that commemorates the peace and justice work of a U. S. citizen. I’m a Vietnam veteran and for me, Martin Luther King's most powerful speech was on April 4th of 1967. “Beyond Vietnam” directed attention to the triplets of war – militarism, materialism, and racism. All of these lead to moral and financial poverty.

When I was in Vietnam I saw many children. Every time I look at a child I see our greatest national resource. It pains my heart to see our children’s future being depleted by our government’s fixation on invasions, occupations, death and destruction. Every dollar spent on “defense” is a dollar that could have been used to bring our over 15 million children out of poverty.

On this national holiday read “Beyond Vietnam”. Contemplate the words of this brave and magnificent man. Think about what you can do to bring peace and justice into the U.S.A. and protect our greatest national resource.

Arnold Stieber • Grass Lake, MI

Tuttle makes sense

I couldn’t agree with Mr. Tuttle more. The statistics alone would make a reasonable person wonder. I personally believe that truly bad guys should be in prison, not pot smokers or their caregivers.

What is wrong with Schuette and others who blatently disregard what we believe and VOTE for. We are the people .... We spend $86,000/year for each con but only $6000/ CHILD. Does anybody else think that this is BS? Shouldn’t our money be spent to truly put the bad guys in jail?

Gary R. Baumdraher • Maple City

MLK Day at Pine River

On MLK Day 2011, a group of fifthgrade students were talking about MLK Day in my Pine River Area Schools music class. They had been learning about the civil rights leader and songs from that era. One student asked why we did not honor the national holiday as did most schools in the country. I asked why she thought that was. The student replied it was probably because, “People around here don’t like black people very much.” I noticed the rest of the class nodding sadly in agreement.

As you might imagine, I was quite troubled by this response. I took this story to the school board meeting and to the teacher’s union meeting. I challenged our district to begin the work necessary to change the thinking and the culture in our area.

We agreed that beyond a simple day off, we should make the day and message more meaningful by making it a Day of Service. Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Among the activities planned:

Every elementary child is pledging at least one activity that will serve others in their homes, churches, or neighborhoods.

High school students have collected over 1,000 pillow cases to be made into dresses for orphans of the Haiti earthquake in a project started by student Meredith Matzella. There will be a sewing bee in the high school library to include students, staff and other community members.

The middle school is collecting books for domestic violence shelters. Luther Elementary School will be holding a food drive for the food pantry at Edgetts Church.

A group of staff and students from Luther is meeting at the Luther Library at 10:30 on Monday to visit elderly folks and shut-ins in Luther.

They will shovel snow, deliver cookies, and leave a fresh new snowman in each yard.

Tiyi Schippers PRAS Music Teacher

Proud American

As I watched the History Channel documentary last night on the killing of Osama Bin Laden, my pride in America overflowed. I am so proud of those tireless patriots from President Obama to the “boots on the ground” Navy Seals for the intelligence gathering, decisions made, risks taken, courage exhibited. The teamwork of our leaders and our warriors could not have been better organized and carried out. As a U.S. Navy Veteran, I salute the men and women of our country who performed a much needed mission. Thank you all. This was truly “Mission Accomplished.”

Joel Secrist, U.S. Navy Veteran • TC

Attorney General off-base

I would like to address a foundational issue regarding the Attorney Generals behavior regarding the Medical Marijuana subject. Medical marijuana is irrelevant; the real issue is as follows. When 64 percent of the state of Michigan’s voting population passes a bill, that decision should be honored. It should be sacred; it is not up for discussion any more. We voted, what more is there to understand?

I am offended when any State employee openly defies their employer, the people. And then uses his office to execute actions the people of the state of Michigan obviously did not intend. It is not the employee’s decision to go forward with a separate agenda and ignore the will of his employers. I think it is a violation of his job description and he should be reviewed and disciplined accordingly. Let’s move on.

Louise Marks • TC

Unfair school funding

As a parent in the Suttons Bay School system I wish that the press would address the inequities of school funding in Leelanau County and in Michigan. Northport receives $23,829 per pupil, Glen Lake $9,500 per pupil, Leland $7,803 per pupil and Suttons Bay $6,846 per pupil. (Figures per Senate Fiscal Agency). In addition, both Leland and Glen Lake also receive “Impact Aid” funds from the federal government (between $1,500,000 and $2,000,000 per year, compared to Suttons Bay’s $350,000).

Meanwhile, schools in Birmingham receive $11,774 per pupil. As a result Birmingham has racked up a fund balance close to $50 million. This is not even close to a “level playing field” in terms of resources.

All our budgets have been cut this year.

Our committed teaching staff has made financial sacrifices and we have privatized our bus, food and janitorial services.

Through it all, Suttons Bay consistently manages to excel. In recent years we have achieved the second highest test scores out of 16 schools in the TBA. We also offer a 5- 12 music program (with the only marching band in the county), AP courses, winning sports programs and support a Montessori alternative on our campus.

What we lack for in money, we make up for in heart—and in a dedicated, extraordinary teaching staff. I would like to remind my fellow citizens that a healthy school is a key to a strong vibrant Suttons Bay community. Whether you have a child in our system or not, if you are a property or business owner in Suttons Bay, our future is your future.

I hope you will attend the forum to be held on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and take part in our journey. I also urge you to ask our legislators to level the school funding playing field.

Carolyn Faught • Suttons Bay

Tuttle right on

The column “The Dopey War on Drugs” by Stephen Tuttle hit the subject right on the head. Even the federal government lists marijuana as the least addictive drug. What may surprise most people is that nicotine is listed as the most addictive...ahead of heroin and cocaine. I would like to add that when considering if marijuana is an induction drug one should consider what an inductive drug is and to whom. Is the first beer, glass of wine, etc. an induction drug? Yes, for a small percent of the population but most of us do not become alcoholics or drug dependent from our first use of habit-forming substances.

And of course we all know how well prohibition worked. It should be further noted that like the ending of prohibition that saw a decrease in drunkenness, in countries where marijuana has been legalized, its use has gone down.

Lets just decriminalize it and save the government the cost of trying to control it. The heck with clinics, the heck with “medical permissions,” the heck with government permits to grow it ... even the federal law allows one to make some homemade booze. What's the difference?

Micheal M. Cromley • Afton, MI

Pollution concerns

I would like future generations to have access to clean air and clean water. I resent the fact that the fossil fuel industry is lining the pockets of our politicians and are setting the energy policies for this country. Their profits are obscene. The money saved from the billions of dollars that the government gives to the fossil fuel industry could be used to promote clean energy and energy efficient alternatives.

Recently Big Oil has threatened President Obama politically regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Mackinac Center, Koch Brothers and their legislation arm ALEC all contribute to promoting the fossil fuel industry and demonize alternative energy for the sake of money and corporate self interest.

But what about the pipeline explosions, oil spills and coal mining accidents. The health and safety of our people is being threatened yet the powers that be are still begging for less regulation.

The lives of the indigenous people of Alberta have been changed forever because of tar sands mining. Hydraulic fracturing and tar sands mining is further adding to the global water crisis.

Climate change reality is being disputed in order to keep the greed going. It is my hope that by becoming aware of the facts regarding how energy policies are determined, and the devastion to our planet because of them, people will understand the importance of our need for alternative energy. It is our moral and ethical responsibility to protect our planet.

Susan Wheadon • Cedar

CVS plan all wrong

While there is little dispute that the northeast corner of the intersection of Front and Division streets is long overdue for reuse, the current proposal to put a 13,500 square foot CVS pharmacy/convenience store at this location is a short sighted and poor one. If this project is built, our community will be locked into the existing road formation for the rest of our lifetimes. We already see two- to three-block long lines for the light... in the winter. Think of what this is going to be like in the summertime. Think of it a decade or two from now. Do you want all of these cars driving down your residential street to avoid the delays?

Every visioning and planning effort has called for this intersection to be significantly restructured and this project would eliminate that possibility.

This is far, far above the existing zoning, which calls for no more than a 6,000 square foot building at this location. Consider the precedent this sets. What is to be said to the next chain store that wants to build a 13,500 square foot building along Front or Division streets?

Are we ready to cede any of our main street to major chain stores? Our largest industry is tourism and folks choose Traverse City because it does not look like metro Detroit, Chicago or Indianapolis.

Traverse City is special. Those of us who choose to reside here know that to be true and we need to be vigilant to protect what is ours. We elect our city commissioners to make good decisions on our behalf and they do this hard job admirably. In a case like this it surely would be helpful for them to hear from the residents and business owners who have a vision of what we want our future to look like.

Paul Danielson • TC

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