We are all most likely pretty tired of the political folly that plays out daily in virtually every media outlet. I would like to suggest a simple solution to the back and forth while producing some quantitative data for review and reliable assessment of the impact of the Affordable Care Act.
I am suggesting a national pilot program. This is how it would work:
Phase I: On Jan. 1, 2014, all (without exception) federal employees and members of Congress, the IRS, the Postal Service and our courts be moved off federally provided health care plans and into the exchange market.
We know how much the health care plans for federal employees cost. We know how many people would be impacted. So we would have a perfect pilot to assess actual costs and savings.
We would gain an understanding of what the proposed product actually does or doesn’t provide; how it can be improved; and how satisfied people are with it. It would cover all 50 states.
Private consumers would not be impacted until the third complete year of the pilot and only if it works.
The plan would provide significant savings for the government (taxpayer), or not.
Phase II: Anyone applying for or receiving any type of federally funded assistance would be assessed for having or not having insurance coverage and added if not currently covered.
Why not? It is this simple.
Mary Ellen Drive
If measured by the number of Nobel prize winners and innovation, our country is exceptional. As the oldest developed world democracy, we now have the largest income inequality in the Western world.
Our great superpower has stumbled badly, tarnishing our image and breaking the trust bond of international confidence essential to our economic stability.
The recent self-inflicted political crisis, wrought by less than 10 percent of elected members of Congress, underlines the need for serious systemic political and structural reform.
The top 1 percent has seen its share of the economic gains since 2008 increase by 142 percent while the remaining 99 percent has seen a decline of minus 0.2 percent. The once burgeoning middle class, our economic driver, is atrophying at an alarming rate.
Concentrating wealth in a sliver of our society encourages concentration of political power, nullifying the value of the vote of every citizen. This overt wealth-based influence permeates and corrupts policy making. Laws are being passed enhancing self-serving plutocrats at the expense of the country’s needs as a whole.
The debt ceiling is not about future prudent spending balanced with revenue inflows, but the need to meet a commitment for previously incurred and authorized congressional expenditures. To default on this past debt obligation would be absurd.
Clearly these ideological conservatives are ignorant of how world financial markets operate, and through misplaced zeal they break the faith in the United States meeting its past obligations.
U.S. treasuries are the gold standard of global credit markets. The alarming naiveté of a few representatives is undoing our country’s well being, to selfishly satisfy monolithically safe, gerrymandered districts. There are better ways to shoot ourselves in the foot.
David J. Waldron
The Huffington Post reported Oct. 15 that the famous White House garden had been reduced to nothing more than a garden plot with vegetables rotting on the ground and vine.
“Due to the shutdown, garden maintenance has been reduced considerably and only being watered as needed,” a White House official confirmed. White House staff who normally volunteer to pick the weeds were on furlough.
Why didn’t the First Lady, whose pet project is to eat healthy food and to fight obesity, go outside with her two healthy kids and pick the bounty going to waste? That would have been a good example for all.
I am an independent voter, and I am fed up listening to President Obama and his cohorts promise to take good care of our military and veterans and then do the opposite.
It matters not that they have corrected the problem by the time of this writing. From my perspective, they committed one of the most reprehensible acts against out military that this country has ever seen.
As a combat wounded Marine veteran on 100 percent total permanent disability from the Vietnam War, I feel sorry for the families who recently lost their loved ones and were caught up in the government shutdown power play by Democrats and Republicans.
There is no excuse that either party can use to defend preventing our dead and their families from being honored properly as they returned home; nor is there any reason that the families have to be involved in a political debate over compensation for the loss of their loved ones.
And there is certainly no way that anyone in government can maintain that it was a simple misinterpretation of the law by our Defense Department that created the problem.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel should resign. Those involved at the highest level should be charged with non-feasance of office for failing to carry out a required act.
This country was built by the military and allowed to survive as a democracy because of them.
It’s sad, to say the least, that people in office who have never served would disrespect the sacrifices made by those who have.
Gregory J. Topliff
I recently finished the great evolutionist Richard Dawkins’ new autobiography. I had read “The Selfish Gene” but his primary discovery did not sink in until I read his autobiography. We all know of natural selection, even if we may not believe or understand it. But does natural selection apply to species?
As Darwin did not know about genes, he may have thought so. But Dawkins states that there is no reason to expect natural selection to make species good at avoiding extinction.
Group survival may emerge as a consequence of improved individual survival, but that is a fortunate by-product.
He says that genes are replicators and we are their survival machines. When we have served our purpose we are cast aside. But genes are denizens of geological time: genes are forever.
This would suggest that neither the collective activity of human consciousness or the mythological “invisible hand” of the market is likely to head off mass extinction from threats such as global warming.
This is especially so if we depend upon what goes on between the ears of today’s politicians. As with any fungible commodity, that is too easily sold to the highest bidder.
Philip J. Murphy
Big Book Sale
Congratulations to Emily Everett and the “Friends of the Library” for the recent successful Big Book Sale.
With libraries nationwide faced with budget crises, the Friends of the Library has succeeded in raising money to help keep the Charleston library system in good shape.
While my wife and I no longer live in Charleston, we have properties there. As a taxpayer it does our hearts good to see a private group providing such a great public service.
The big book sale featured good prices, an enormous number of great books and the volunteers were highly competent and happy to help customers.
All in all, a splendid event that I plan to attend again in 2014, God willing.
Sautee Nacoochee, Ga.