Thank you so much for carrying Mike Clark's very informed article (“Druggist for Public Option,” Oct. 22). I certainly agree with him and will be sending copies to both of our senators and Vic Snyder, my congressman. I am praying daily that “the Congress” wakes up and realizes that this is something we really need. I am one of those that cannot go to the doctor. What do you do when you are really sick? How many other Americans are in this same boat? We need good, reasonable health care for each and every American, rich and poor.
Free choice and faith
We realize that we are living in very difficult economic times. In the midst of these times, the community of faith must stand with workers in their struggle to provide for their families. All major religions recognize the dignity of the worker and the sanctity of labor. Yet, in the wealthiest country on earth, working Americans are facing difficult choices. They are forced to choose between paying for groceries and medicine, the mortgage and the college tuition bill. This must change.
Throughout the history of our country, the best way to move a family into the middle class was through forming unions at the workplace. It is the quickest way to eliminate poverty. It is important that we support the Employee Free Choice Act. It provides an opportunity for our country to take an important, concrete step toward fulfilling the dream of a just society.
The Employee Free Choice Act provides a protected and fair way for workers to come together and form a union at their workplaces. The act would provide much-needed balance to the system and put the choice on whether to form unions to improve their lives back in the workers' hands.
Unions have made the middle class in the United States. This is what has made our country the economic powerhouse it has been. They are also a crucial part of the broad movement to put the pursuit of justice ahead of the pursuit of profit and power. It is for this reason that people of faith should support the Employee Free Choice Act.
North Little Rock
Cap and trade
I was so happy to see that the energy and climate bill has moved out of committee and is headed for the full Senate. This legislation will help move our great country away from foreign oil imports that cost a billion dollars a day, it will protect our children from pollution, and it will create millions of jobs in clean energy, a field in which Arkansas is well-equipped to excel. A well-thought out cap and trade system will reward innovation, efficiency and early action, and can provide environmental accountability without obstructing economic growth. Please, Senators Lincoln and Pryor, vote for this important legislation.
I read that a new energy pellet plant in Camden is estimated to create over 500 new jobs — jobs in an area that desperately needs them. With family from the Camden area, I know that the community is absolutely blessed to be receiving the plant. Demand for the pellets is due to their use as fuel in countries that have agreed to limit carbon emissions. If the United States adopts a cap-and-trade policy, wood pellet and other alternative energy source companies who make them, like this new Phoenix Energy plant, would benefit for years to come. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and dealing with climate change are critical issues facing our country. I hope that Senators Lincoln and Pryor will take the important step toward addressing these critical issues and vote for the American Clean Energy and Security act, which includes a policy on cap-and-trade, when it comes to the Senate.
North Little Rock
No hate crimes law
Hate crimes laws are unconstitutional. They deny equal protection to all, and presume to punish thoughts as well as deeds, which would horrify out Founding Fathers. And, of course, special protections for the favored are political, and so may be withdrawn in favor of some other group. If the Bible thumpers seize power, can we look forward to special protection for straight white Christians?
Health care solutions
John Brummett's description of Obama's health care plan (actually, Obama does not have a plan, only talking points) as “centrist and incremental” manages to be both incorrect and telling at the same time. A right-wing plan would be to do nothing. A leftist or statist plan would entail a complete take-over of health care, as HB 3200 would accomplish in short order. A centrist approach should entail market-based reforms involving tax changes and the elimination of government mandates. We should eliminate the tax deductibility of employers' health insurance premiums and instead allow individuals to deduct the cost of the insurance they should be required to purchase. To cover this cost, employers can raise salaries by the amount of the employees' insurance costs, but the employees should get to take the deduction. This, alone, would reduce the cost of individual policies, which are now prohibitively expensive. Individual – not employment-based — policies would also remedy any problems with pre-existing conditions and portability. Employees would no longer suffer from “job lock.” We trust individuals to purchase life and auto insurance (auto liability coverage is required by law, with minimum limits). We can do the same with health insurance.
Government mandates (types of coverage that must be in every policy, whether or not desired or needed) drastically increase the cost of insurance. For instance, Arkansas law requires that every policy issued here provide coverage for maternity/newborn expenses and for in vitro fertilization. I do not want or need either benefit, but Arkansas law does not give me any option. There are other examples in every state. Let the people decide what level of coverage they need for themselves and their families (e.g., catastrophic event and disease coverage, with high deductibles), subject to similar “bare-bones” minimums we legislated for auto liability insurance. This flexibility would dramatically reduce the cost of insurance, which we all agree is necessary.
Brummett's description of the plan as incremental is telling and, I suspect, a slip on his part. An increment is but a step. The obvious question is: a step toward what? The answer is self-evident. What employer would pay for insurance (usually 10-20 percent of payroll) when it need only pay the 8 percent penalty under HB 3200 for failing to insure its employees? This is only one of the reasons the public option will swallow the private market. Is this not obvious?
The rush to pass HB 3200 told me all I needed to know about this horrendous legislation. As Emerson (no relation) once said, “A man on thin ice has to move fast.”
Brummett used to be a fun read when he was a gumshoe reporter covering the local beat. He is out of his league when discussing national affairs.
Michael J. Emerson
Once again, I am shocked at the position taken by the Republican Party regarding something the American people really need, affordable health care.
Republicans say it will be too expensive, and in the same breath say the insurance companies cannot compete with a government plan. Where were these voices when Bush was running up the national debt? What is the cost in human suffering every year compared to the cost of this program? Families are being financially destroyed as a result of their medical bills. This is a national shame.
They say that government-run health care is socialism. Yet government runs the military, the Post Office, Medicare, Medicaid and countless bureaucracies.
They say that our president has not done enough in 100 plus days, even though they are the ones obstructing his efforts.
I say to hell with them.