News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 26, 2012

READERS' FORUM: Aug. 26, 2012

The Tribune-Star

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Doctor rejected here takes national role

Mental Health America, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association, is our nation’s leading nonprofit mental health organization. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, it boasts 240 affiliates nationwide, including our local Mental Health Association in Vigo County.

On Aug. 6 of this year, the Board of Directors of Mental Health America named a new president and CEO. That individual brings with him more than 40 years of experience in the field of mental health. He previously served as CEO of Crossroads, a comprehensive community-based behavioral health care organization in Ohio. Prior to that, he was president of Socio Tech, an organizational consulting firm that specialized in transforming and enhancing the performance of not-for-profit corporations.

He also has experience in managing both public and private behavioral health managed care programs and once directed the state of Ohio’s sole authority for alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment services. Rounding out this impressive resume is a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University.

In announcing the new appointment, Mental Health America Board Chair Pender McElroy said that this individual “is ideally suited to carry forward the organization’s historic and leading role in advancing the health and well-being of Americans. He brings extensive experience, sound business judgment, and, perhaps most importantly, a deep and long-standing commitment to the mental health movement.”

Who is this man? He’s Dr. Wayne Lindstrom. Dr. Lindstrom was one of three finalists for the CEO position at Hamilton Center earlier this year. In fact, he was my finalist of choice. Isn’t it interesting that this candidate is qualified to lead the nation’s premiere nonprofit mental health organization, yet he was passed over by the Hamilton Center Board of Directors?

I congratulate Dr. Lindstrom. He deserved much better than dirty, “good old boy” Vigo County politics, and he finally got what he deserved.

— David K. Hilton, M.D.

Distinguished Fellow American Psychiatric Association

Former Hamilton Center Medical Director

TH center vital in increasing number of state’s physicians

Years ago, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Medical Association and the Committee for Graduate Medication Education predicted a critical shortfall of physicians in the U.S. by 2020 due to an increased demand for medical care by an aging population; retirement of the current baby boomer physician workforce; a trend toward shorter work weeks by physicians; and a persistent shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural and economically depressed areas of the country.

This alarming assessment was a call to action for the Indiana University School of Medicine. In 2006, the school proposed to expand its medical student enrollment by 30 percent by 2012.

Today, I’m proud to say that the IU School of Medicine has played a role in curbing the physician shortage and addressing Indiana’s needs. This year’s entering class has 335 students, compared to 280 when the expansion plan was framed and, unlike previous years when the majority of the students studied at the Indianapolis campus, 60 percent of those students are attending one of our eight medical education centers in cities across the state. Our research shows that by training more students at our medical education centers, they will pursue primary-care careers and choose to practice in small communities.

IU School of Medicine-Terre Haute has served as a model for the expansion of class size and providing clinical training to third- and fourth-year students outside Indianapolis. The Terre Haute center, in collaboration with Union Hospital, the Lugar Center for Rural Health and the Area Health Education Center, implemented a rural medicine curriculum. The first cohort of eight students graduated in May; they all entered primary-care residencies.

While we’re clearly making strides, increasing the number of physicians graduating from medical schools solves only part of the problem. After four years of medical school, these new physicians must complete residency training in their areas of focus (family medicine, pediatrics, neurology, etc.) before they can practice medicine. Thus, there must also be a similar increase in residency positions to truly meet the need for additional physicians.

Unfortunately, federal officials have proposed cuts to residency training programs, which has been overshadowed by the daily politics of health care reform. The Association of American Medical Colleges is doing its best to make this issue more visible. It supports a 15-percent increase in residency training positions, which would prepare another 4,000 physicians each year.

I applaud the dedication of my IU colleagues and our partners throughout the state in their efforts to expand the opportunities for medical education in Indiana. I hope the expansion is met by Congress with the steps necessary to provide the post-graduate training slots required.

— D. Craig Brater, M.D.

Dean, Indiana University School of Medicine

Vice President, University Clinical Affairs,

Indiana University

Gregg better than Pence for Indiana

As Election Day approaches and Indiana boasts a $1.2 billion budget surplus in the midst of a stagnant national economy, Hoosiers will get to choose just who exactly benefits from that money by showing up at the polls in November.

While a surplus is blissful, it’s clear many have suffered from Mitch Daniels’ slash-and-burn tactics as governor, including Hoosier children. The Children’s Coalition, a child advocacy group, estimated in 2011 that more than $500 million was cut from K-12 education and children’s programs under Daniels. With nearly 1 in every 5 Hoosier children living in poverty, these budget cuts are unacceptable.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg has already laid out a clear cut path to stop cuts in funding for programs that benefit children. According to an article in the Tribune-Star from July 19, Gregg addressed reporters outside of Deming Elementary and outlined a plan to create a pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds and a childcare tax credit for low-income families. He went on to say that Indiana is one of only eight states that spends zero dollars on pre-kindergarten programs. This lack of funding is simply absurd for a state with over a billion dollars in surplus revenue. The studies show that children who grow up in poverty are much more likely to live in poverty as adults. These early-childhood programs outlined by Gregg will get children who live in low-income families involved in school and give them a better chance to be successful later on in life.

If Gregg’s opponent, Congressman Mike Pence, happens to be elected governor, he would rather sit comfortably on the surplus of money and keep it out of the hands of children who desperately need it.

Furthermore, Pence will ease into the election with double the campaign funds of his opponent. In fact, according to an article from the Huffington Post, he held a dinner with a number of big-time Republican donors before announcing his run for governor. Members of the dinner included billionaire tea party supporter David Koch, whose family has long been a donor to the conservative magazine The American Spectator. Also in attendance was Bob Tyrell, founder and editor-in-chief of the same magazine.

Backed by tea partiers, Pence’s intentions as governor are clear: Make what is left of any state-funded education, health care or poverty-relief programs disappear, adding to the budget surplus.

In the wake of these continued budget cuts, thousands of Hoosier jobs and the well being of many children who live in poverty will be in jeopardy.

This Election Day, it’s up to Hoosiers to pick the man who will give the money and the power back to the people of Indiana.

— Joseph Paul

Terre Haute

The real source of economic trouble

Contrary to remarks by President Obama, it was not, “trickle-down economics that got us into this mess in the first place.” Research, which anyone can confirm, shows what really happened.

Beginning in September 2000, in response to the impending (2001) recession, the Federal Reserve reduced interest rates from 6.5 percent to an unprecedented low of 2 percent. Rates remained at or below 2 percent for three years until September 2004. Later, when asked why he had kept interest rates so low for so long, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan replied, “Well, no one complained.”

During this period — and with the backing of the FHA, government- sponsored enterprise banks “Fannie” and “Freddie,” and bank committee chairmen, Democrats Dodd and Frank — starts of new homes increased from 1.5 to 2.1 million annually, continuing a policy, initiated by President Clinton, to increase American home ownership, “beyond anything we have ever seen.”

Most of the loans supporting these new homes had historically low “floating” (variable) interest rates, and/or were sub-prime (bad credit) loans, all requiring little or no down payment, an outfall of the Clinton home policy, the unusually low Fed interest rates and rising home prices which, theoretically, offset the need for down-payments.  

Bush officials attempted to end these practices in 2003 but were successfully fought by Congressman Frank, who said, “Housing can never be a bubble.”

Between September 2004 and January 2006, in response to an overheating stock market, Fed interest rates were jumped from 2 percent to 5 percent, greatly increasing the payment required for the “floating” mortgages. Housing starts peaked, mortgage defaults began to occur, home values eventually fell 25 percent and by September 2008, the month of bank bailout discussions, housing starts had plummeted to 0.7 million annually.

With the bursting of the housing bubble, thousands of jobs associated with housing, roads, malls, furnishings, etc. were lost and unemployment spread to other sectors. Between 2007 and 2010, median net worth of American families fell from $127,000 to an incredibly low $77,000.

During the “boom” period, Fannie and Freddie had bundled many of the home loans and sold them to commercial banks. When the housing bubble burst, wiping out billions of bank assets, some banks needed a temporary influx of government cash to avoid bankruptcy — i.e., bailouts — most of which was quickly repaid.  

And, after having a major role in wiping out 40 percent of American’s net worth, Dodd and Frank proposed legislation to assure banks always have enough cash on hand to cover any other stupid mistakes government might make. It is no surprise that Fannie and Freddie, now billions in debt, were exempt from the legislation.

Does any of this sound like “trickle down,” “reckless banking” or “George Bush” policy to you? No, these are truthful, logical, cause-and-effect events, controlled by government agencies, that show if we allow a few individuals to control the economy, even the smartest may make mistakes that become disastrous to the nation.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans nor the media want us to understand such happenings because if politicians could not control economic events what, in fact, would they do and what would the media talk about? Power over us would be gone.

Until we, as voters, make the choice to separate economy and state, just as we separate church and state, we can expect (and deserve) constant economic turmoil and unnecessary recessions.

— Ron Gore


If serious, speed idea is in the wrong lane

A recent letter to the editor simply begs for reply.  Though the writer does not identify his political leaning, it is a perfect example of what is wrong with the thinking of the modern Democratic Party.

From Aug. 19, a letter from Mark Burns of Terre Haute describes an instance of someone driving 119 miles per hour. In response, Mr. Burns advocates Congress banning vehicles that can exceed the highest U.S. speed limit, 80 mph. My initial thoughts were that this must be written with sarcasm and satire. If that is the case, my apologies to Mr. Burns. However, I think he means it.  

One may ask then, what has this to do with the Democratic Party?  There are already penalties for this type of behavior. In Indiana, reckless driving can lead to up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. So, instead of advocating harsh punishment for the individual who chose to break the existing law, a host of new rules, regulations and laws are suggested.  

Imagine the cost to society. Hundreds of dollars added to the cost of every new and existing vehicle. A new criminal class designing and installing devices to defeat the government mandate. All of this is designed to keep individuals from making choices and taking responsibility for those choices.

In no way is this meant to advocate speeding or breaking the law.  However, we cannot legislate all bad choices out of society. We should not even try. This is a case where there is already a remedy in place. We do not need more in this situation or most where new regulation is suggested.

— Dwayne Owens

Terre Haute

Returning fire at Ronn Mott

This is an open letter to President Obama in response to columnist Ronn Mott’s letter to Mitt Romney:

I see by the pollsters your job approval rating has more people disapproving than approving. And, in spite of all the money, staff, volunteers, etc., you don’t seem to know why.

So, Barack, I’m gonna tell ya. You, as a very arrogant and ordinary citizen, do not need to tell me about your college transcripts, your grades, how you paid for school or why you were admitted to such a prestigious institution as Columbia from Occidental. Perhaps you did not lie on your application, perhaps your grades were that outstanding. Sure, thousands of applicants from far more advanced institutions apply every year, but maybe it was not that you used deception, claiming to be a foreign student. Maybe you did not falsely claim you were born in a foreign country to obtain financial aid.

And there lies the rub. You, sir, are asking me and all the rest of us to vote for you in the presidential election of the United States. And yet you refuse to release college records from 30 years ago, spending millions to keep them sealed? Why do over 400 of your classmates not recall ever seeing you. How did such a non-existing student get into Harvard law school? According to you, this information is not relevant, therefore you do not need to release it. Yet you talk about your great successes in academia and you’re proud of the appointments you received. But you’re obviously not going to bare your soul on what you actually did.

You should know, Barack, that’s pure, liberal, elite hogwash. You should be standing in front of the electorate as transparently as you can be as you promised you would be. Then, the public can see that you are as good a guy as you say you are. One sure way would be to show us that you’re not just a deceptive politician hiding your gaming of the system and slipping through loopholes created by affirmative action. Your foreign policy has been suspect at best. You should have been nicer to one of America’s staunchest allies, Great Britain. Instead you insulted the prime minister when you gave him 25-old-movie DVDs that did not even work in his country while you and your children received several uniquely historical gifts.

Comments from people such as “cringeworthy indignity ” did not do your insulting behavior justice. Then, you committed further damage to the “special relationship” between the United States and British government, by returning the bust of Winston Churchill. That proved your incompetence as a representative of the American people.

My God, Barack, aren’t you smarter than that? You have been pushed to the “left” by the bellowing idiots of the “far left.” Now, you will not answer questions asked by the people regarding your relationships as a student, community organizer, Illinois state senator or member of the Senate (where you were considered a rather popular, extreme left Democrat).

And, Barack, while we’re at it, you don’t like to answer questions about your time in the America-hating, Israel-bashing Jeremiah Wright church either. You don’t like to answer questions about your past and/or your religion. This isn’t helping you.

One small note. … You keep yelling at Mitt about Bain Capital, and Mr. Romney did nothing but try to make companies profitable, keeping jobs in place. He kept much of our industry alive. People can criticize his failing at saving some industries, but it also saved more than he lost. And he seems to be working toward better days ahead.

But this is about you, Barack. And I hate to oversimplify it but, Mr. Obama, the real problem is you, because you’re a elitist educator who has never run a business or held a job in the private sector. And you just don’t get it.

— Michael Sherrill

Marshall, Ill.

Big thanks for Rally for Cure

A huge thank you to Amy and Rick Bagnoche for the amazing job they and their team did putting on the Rally for the Cure held at Hulman Links Golf Course on Friday, July 13, 2012.

Amy’s drive and energy put together a top-of-the-line event, which helped raise awareness and funds to help the Wabash Valley Affiliate of Susan G. Komen’s battle to end breast cancer.

A special thank you to the sponsors, all who participated and the volunteers who helped make the day special for everyone.

We hope everyone will join Amy and Rick next year for the second annual Tee Up For Tatas.

— Gwen Hicks

For the board of directors,

Wabash Valley Affiliate Susan G. Komen