News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 13, 2013

Readers’ Forum: Oct. 13, 2013


---- — Side effects of health care law

The Affordable Care Act has now gone into effect: We are finally able to see what it is going to do for health insurance.

The cost of my insurance between 2012 and 2014 went from $800 to $3,800, while the coverage remains the same. Does that sound like it is an improvement?

For those people who support the Affordable Care Act, would you support the idea of taxing people differently based on the type of car that you drive? The Affordable Care Act discriminates against those that have employer-provided health insurance and those that do not.

Due to the interaction between income and health insurance assistance, the premium tax assistance credit is phased out as income rises. A married couple with two children and a combined income of $50,000 would have their insurance premiums capped at 6.72 percent of income or $3,360; their premium tax assistance credit would be $8,640.

Now let’s assume that you pay for your health insurance, while your brother or sister has company-paid health insurance. If both of you earned another $10,000 taking your income up to $60,000, your brother or sister would pay an additional $1,500 in taxes, while the maximum premium threshold would increase to $4,913, so you would be required to pay an additional $1,553 in health insurance premiums plus $1,500 in tax. Is it fair that on $10,000 one person is paying 15 percent, while the other is paying and additional 30.53 percent? If you honestly believe that, what other factors would you allow to determine who to discriminate against?

With a slight change in the law, our local union workers, police officers, firefighters and school teachers could all be discriminated against and forced to pay more in taxes under the Affordable Care Act, as could any other group.

The Affordable Care Act requires larger employers to report the value of employer-provided health insurance. Do you know what that information provides to the government? The amount of additional revenue it can raise by eliminating the tax-free fringe benefit that most of you enjoy now. In the end, the tax-free health care benefit that currently exists will be eliminated.  

If this law is going to work as it has been presented, why not remove all exemptions and waivers that have been granted and implement the entire bill today? Both the president and Congress are ignoring a portion of the law that said that they had to purchase their insurance through an exchange.

Why should you care? Every person that chooses not to purchase insurance, refuses to pay the penalty that is actually a tax, and is smart enough to adjust their withholdings to have no federal refund will end up moving the date that you lose your tax-free health insurance a little bit earlier.

— Joe Coonce


Stop playing with federal services

The inability of our elected leaders in Washington to keep the federal government open is appalling. As a federal employee in Sullivan, I am proud to go to work each day to do my part for the country I love. I facilitate real estate transactions involving a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Since I am not allowed to work, these transactions cannot take place. This means real estate sales and mortgage refinance transactions are being lost. This has a tangible impact upon those trying to sell homes or refinance to secure a lower interest rate.

Because of the shutdown, families will cancel trips to national parks, first-time homebuyers may see delays in the processing of federally backed loans, and we will question the safety of the food we eat. None of this is necessary. Congress can and should pass a clean continuing resolution (CR) today.

Federal workers are also being penalized in the pocketbook. Even employees who aren’t furloughed will not be paid as long as the government is shut down.

Our representatives in Congress need to stop playing games with our nation’s services and those who provide them. They must immediately resolve the budget crisis so federal employees across the nation and right here at home can get back to work for our country.

— Shawn Kennedy


Parents should just feed the kids

News 10 reported on Saturday, Oct. 5, that nearly one half of school children in Indiana receive free or reduced lunches, and in Vigo County that number is 53 percent. They also report that this is up 27 percent since 2004.

I do understand that we need to ensure that kids are nourished, I get that. Why, though, aren’t we ensuring that parents and caregivers just feed their kids? I find it hard to believe that more than half the kids in Vigo County aren’t getting enough to eat at home. What do the parents of these children do with their money?

Don’t we already provide extra money to parents to take care of their children’s necessities in the form of tax credits, tax deductions, WIC and welfare (to name a few)? What’s the purpose of the Earned Income Credit and Head of Household Credit? It certainly can’t be intended for a vacation or to buy a laptop or 4-wheeler. People get these benefits because they have kids, and it’s intended to help them care for them properly, and this includes lunch.    

If this “money” isn’t intended for parents to take care of their offspring, then why aren’t the rest of us receiving this extravagant form of income for our next frivolous purchase? What’s next, are the schools going to purchase clothing for kids because some parents opt for smoking and drinking instead of purchasing new children’s clothing?

I hear a lot of people excited by the arrival of February each year, eager to head to local tax preparers to have their taxes calculated because they know that their tax returns will far exceed their meager tax withholdings. These people also seem to boast about their plans for a vacation, or a new quad or other inane wasteful purchases because they get so much money “back” from their taxes, they’re anxious and impatient to get at that handout. These are many of the same people whose offspring are receiving free or reduced lunches provided by taxpayers because many of them are giddily squandering this free money on things other than the basics for their children.

Not all parents so flippantly waste money intended for their children, but it appears that more than half the parents in Vigo County willingly permit others to pay to feed their kids, and that’s just wrong.  

I suggest that for those receiving free or reduced-price lunches that the government treat the cost of food and providing food as income for the parents; after all, they’re apparently not using their own income to feed their kids. Send them a tax statement at the end of the year detailing what it costs to feed their kids, and reduce that overgenerous tax return or welfare payment they receive because others must pay twice for food for their kids. I feel certain that this would reduce the number of people signing up for “free” or “reduced” lunches in the state and maybe cause those parents who are joining in simply because they are permitted to join in to think twice and to provide their children with lunches.

If we can reduce the money that schools have to pay to feed children, we can use this money to educate these youngsters so that maybe in the future these kids will have good careers and won’t have to depend on the others to feed their kids, twice. The only losers might be the cigarette companies, alcohol venders, sport equipment dealers, travel agents, airlines and others who won’t get the money the parents should have been spending on their children’s food in the first place.

— James C. Kmetz

Terre Haute

Has the tea party reached its goal?

What if the tea party shutdown is not about the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare) at all?

You see, for years and years, ever since Gov. George C. Wallace ran for president, a certain faction has called employees of the government “pointy-headed bureaucrats” and has lamented that socialism is taking over America because there are too many government agencies. More recently, they have been using the term “nanny state” to refer to American government. Rich crooks just can’t seem to get away with enough these days.

The tea party has called repeatedly for the abolishment of government agencies such as the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency and the IRS, not to mention abolishing Social Security.

The tea party legislature-sponsored government shutdown has either completely closed or severely curtailed the operation of the EPA, National Institute of Health, HUD, Department of Immigration, Department of the Interior (National Park Service), Department of Labor (including Wage and Hour), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, all Social Security Disability Hearings, U.S. State Department, Department of Agriculture (including Woman, Infants and Children, farm supports and USDA food inspections), IRS tax refunds, U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Transportation, much of the city government of Washington D.C., Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health, Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Centers for Disease Control, NASA, Department of the Treasury and employees of the Supreme Court.  

Since Obamacare is not defunded by this nonsense, then why do it? Unless … Congratulations to the tea pParty. Mission accomplished.

That is, except for our own congressman, Dr. Larry Bucshon. He has fallen so far and his is such a tragic story. You see, Dr. Bucshon wanted to defund Obamacare. That is why he ran for office and how he campaigned. He has failed in his mission. Now, he no longer represents those who elected him, and he is but a mere puppet in the larger tea party purpose of abolishing much of the federal government. He couldn’t care less if he ruins the whole Republican Party in the process.

— John Garner

Terre Haute

Elected officials disappointing

My husband has written a few letters to the editor. Recent events have reached a point it was time for me to try one.

Why do we continue to pay our representatives and the president in Washington? They are wasting our time and theirs with this budget situation. They were elected to make things better, not worse.  

Now, news is coming out that we will not support the families of those members of the Armed Forces who have died in service to this country. My father was a member of “The Greatest Generation.” He served in the Battle of the Bulge and through VE day. He is probably turning over in his grave. Today, we cannot even afford to let a family see their honored loved ones come home and provide the financial support to bury them because of the budget.

Do these people in Washington work for us or not? As a community, we would help a friend or neighbor if money was lacking. Why, as a community, can’t the United States of America afford to respect the ultimate sacrifice of these people?

Pay for Congress and the president should be stopped until they get their act together. Let them try to make some kind of a monetary sacrifice. It is a small thing compared to people we will never see again. If Congress and the president resolve things soon, I hope we see them even less, and no incumbent will deserve re-election.

— Nancy Owens

Terre Haute

Beware what lurks out there Ah, the blessings of progress! Or not!

From prehistoric times when cavemen chiseled on stone tablets messages of amour to today’s sexting on e-tablets, communication has clearly evolved. For better or for worse.

In between those extremes, papyrus (from which we get the word “paper”) was used via scrolls, as, for example, the “Dead Sea Scrolls.”

Laboriously hand-printed books on parchment or animal skin followed for centuries until about 1400 when a German, Johannes Gutenberg, invented the printing press by use of movable type. A quantum leap forward for the production of books. At least for the scholarly and priestly class.

Still greater by far comes the mass production of books with the Industrial Age of the 18th and 19th centuries when millions of copies could be made by machine-power.

In the 20th century we have seen the paperback revolution that allowed far more millions to be distributed and at far less cost.

With the microchip and the Digital Age, books can be paperless and accessed via tablets, cellphones and computers.

In the l960s, media guru Marshall McLuhan authored “The Medium is the Message,” a pivotal work in the history of communication, describing how the post-industrial Electronic/Information Age and its “hot media” were changing our thought and behavior whether in sociology, art, science, religion, politics, etc.

Books, knowledge, news, entertainment AND visuals were literally at our fingertips.

Again, for better or for worse.

As a cynic put the latter: “Garbage in and garbage out.” Nothing new surely from the stone age to the paper/parchment age to the book age to the age of the telegraph, telephone, radio, television, computer, tablet and cellphone.

Which — God help us! — brings us not only to texting and sexting but Miley Cyrus and “twerking.”

I researched the meaning of the latter term that everyone seemed to know about except a dinosaur like me.

The Wikipedia and the venerable Oxford English Dictrionary Online reveal the following:

“Twerking is a type of dancing in which the dancer, usually a woman, shakes her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer’s buttocks to shake, “wobble” and “jiggle.” According to the Oxford Dictionary Online, to twerk is to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance. The word twerking is of uncertain origin. Possibilities include a contraction of “footwork” or a “portmanteau of twist and jerk.”

From Madonna to Lady Gaga to Miley Cyrus twerking and then her total nudity. Progress or soft porn?

No wonder the U.S. kids have slipped to 17th among the advanced nations in math and science skills.

Worse yet: online bullying has resulted in more than a few suicides across the country.

Recently a 12-year-old girl, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, was tormented by as many as 15 middle-school girls bombarding her with all kinds of harassments, including, “You should die” and “Why don’t you kill yourself?” Last December Rebecca was hospitalized for three days after slashing her wrists. Her mother home-schooled her, confiscated her cellphone, and then transferred her to another school. This Rebecca loved. But the bullying continued. Her mother took her off Facebook and Twitter. The bullies found four or five other ways to torment her daughter online.

Rebecca jumped to her death from a tall cement structure.

In recent years several dozen youngsters have killed themselves as a result of bullying. The figure is believed to be higher.

Yes, 30,000 years of communicating have brought great progress and promise for the human family, but also a serpent into our potential paradise.

Not only because of bullying but because of online debauchery and the pornification of the innocent, parents should be well warned: “Caveat emptor!” Let the buyer beware!

— Saul Rosenthal

Terre Haute Health care and politics don’t mix

I’ve worked in health care since 1978 in public health, research, clinical, education and industry roles.

Besides personal experience, I’ve also researched the more than 100 years the AMA has wielded political power, the 80 years of taxpayer subsidized health insurance, 60 years of socialized health, education and welfare, and the almost 50 years of even more directly socialized health care in the form of our rapidly swelling Medicare system.

I’m appalled that we think we want more politics in health care. I’m disgusted that we’ve been lead to believe that health insurance is what we want when that is often antithetical to health care. And I’m embarrassed that “We The People” haven’t seen a better way to live that’s always been right before us.

In every field of science and technology that isn’t so political, costs decrease while quality, efficacy and availability increases with every new advance. Luxuries of yesterday like cellphones and personal computers are now ubiquitous and powerful necessities.

There’ve been innumerable health care advances in the last century that would’ve made health care cheap, effective and easily available to all, if not for all the politics.

Politicians have made everything related to medicine unfair, complicated, ever-changing, severely limited and ghastly expensive.

However, none of the preceding is any part of my main objection to more politics in health care.

I’ll let others quibble over whether politicians will finally be able to keep a promise, or make something work at all as advertised.

The real problem, whenever we rub that genie’s lamp of politics, is corruption and calamity.

Everything government does, it does by force. Politics can’t do anything without at least the threat of fines, taxes, courts, guns and prisons.

It’s easy to dream that this kind of force can be used for good. But the usual reality, as evidenced by all of human history, is a scale and degree of injustice and death that only politics can achieve.

Power is of course a seduction for those who’d wield it. But it’s just as attractive to those who can simply buy the portion of such power as suits their purposes.

Whenever politics takes a new power, there’s a new industry in lobbying for the use of that power. We can see how that lobby has worked for the military industrialists and bankers, and we should see what it has done to our health, education and welfare as well.

Adding more power to government, with more snooping into things that are more personal than ever before possible, only makes the resulting corruption more dangerous.

Hitler’s infamous “T4” eugenics program under Germany’s socialized health care system certainly demonstrated one hazard in giving politicians so much power over life. But think about what we already know of our own government; what they’ve admitted to from the past (testing plutonium on school kids, syphilis experiments on black men, experiments on soldiers), and what they’ve been forced to admit recently about their spying, militarization and deceit. Think hard about how much more secretive, powerful and deceitful we know our government to be now than ever before; and just what such a government is capable of doing.

And changing the role of health care workers from healers to government agents who’ll give to politicians everything from your DNA to your intimate personal and family details, will, over time, change the sort of people who’d seek out such a career.

You really shouldn’t want that to happen.

“We The People” have exactly and only what we have freely and repetitiously chosen not just every day we sigh, and yield to what we know is wrong and isn’t working; but also every Election Day.

Elections were meant to be a means of peaceful revolution. We’d better finally use them for that purpose, because the power over our bodies we’re granting to politicians now will have no good end, unless that end is determined by our change of heart and mind.

— Andrew Horning

Horning for Congress


Giving humane care not a joke

Having read about the Vigo County Council’s reaction to the Humane Society’s “rooster charge,” I have been stewing about it all morning. Perhaps I am a bit sensitive since I just benefited greatly from the Humane Society’s two-month care of a little rescued dog that I recently adopted, but the so-called humorous responses from the County Council are a big slap in the face of everything the Humane Society does.

A nonprofit, volunteer organization, Humane Society organizations care for the far-too-many abandoned or abused animals that exist. In this case, rare it is hoped, there was a quantity of roosters plus of the usual dogs and cats. It was necessary to keep the roosters separated, plus the judicial necessity of keeping these evidence exhibits intact for an unknown period of time.

I don’t know the details of what it took to actually care for “more than 40” roosters that needed to be kept separate, fed, housed in a clean ! area, etc. I can only imagine. But I can tell you this: If I board a dog at my vet, it costs $9 a day. If you multiply 40 days times 40 dogs times $9, that bill would come to $14,400. So it’s not that much different for $17,900 or $20,000 for roosters, a much more specialized, and presumably unexpected, pet care situation.

Even if it’s just one rooster or 40, there is still a bottom line. If the council needs an itemized invoice and didn’t get it, then by all means, provide it. But the other bottom line: someone had to take care of those roosters. Quickly.

The Humane Society stood up to the task. Pay up, or next time, please tell the police where to deliver the 40 pythons, monkeys or mole rats.

Let’s see, there are seven council members, so that works out to 5.7 animals apiece. Better start getting those guest rooms ready.

— Marsha Miller

Terre Haute