Leadership and corruption
Early voting has started and the March 1 primary is coming up fast. There is only one candidate who is not taking Big Money donations and is willing to seriously take on Wall Street and other powerful interests. Our soldiers supposedly kill and die for democracy all over the world, but our Supreme Court and congressmen work overtime to dismantle democracy at home. Only one candidate can be trusted to get Big Money out of politics, and actually protect and improve our democracy, which is drowning in corrupting cash.
Our national government is broken and gridlocked, in large part from campaign finance corruption and a tragic dearth of real leadership. Too many politicians are mere followers, following Big Money donors and opinion polling. These status quo followers will change nothing.
A real leader takes positions that may be unpopular and then leads with the people toward goals that are good for all. Why can only Europeans have tuition-free college and a more cost- efficient, fully public health care system? A real leader can lead us out of our putrid swamp of systemic corruption and gridlock.
Only one leader is running for president, Bernie Sanders. He also happens to beat all the clown car candidates by larger margins than his scandal-plagued, untrustworthy Democratic opponent.
Stand up and vote wisely.
Hunger and senior health
In the next couple of months, the Arkansas legislature will make key decisions about health care access, delivery and quality for low-income and vulnerable Arkansas populations, including Arkansas seniors. In addition, upcoming budget hearings will determine the level of funding for senior services such as senior citizen centers and Meals on Wheels.
These programs are critically important to low-income and/or homebound seniors, many of whom live in food- insecure households. Currently about a third of all Arkansans aged 60 or older — more than 160,000 people — are not sure where their next meal is coming from, giving Arkansas the dubious distinction of No. 1 in the nation for senior food insecurity.
This is a major public health problem for our state, as senior hunger leads to poor health, depression and limitations in mobility and activities of daily living. Adequate nutrition is essential for preventing and managing chronic medical conditions, including diabetes. Without proper nutrition, seniors are at increased risk of disability, deteriorated physical and mental health, decreased resistance to infections and lengthened hospital stays, all of which have the potential for substantially increasing Medicare/Medicaid costs.
During the 2015 legislative session, the state Department of Human Services budget for senior services was cut 20 percent — from $5 million annually to $4 million. Thankfully, our legislators voted to restore the lost $1 million with state general revenues to avoid substantial cuts to senior centers' services — socialization programs, wellness and fitness activities, transportation and, especially, home-delivered meals. However, this was not a permanent fix.
Vulnerable Arkansas seniors need their legislators to restore the senior services budget to its previous level or possibly increase it to accommodate the growth of Arkansas's aging population, which is expected to double in the next 20 years.
Food security is essential to the health of Arkansan seniors, and senior center meals programs play a major role in ensuring that Arkansas seniors do not go hungry. It is time for our legislators to acknowledge that providing adequate funding for critically important senior services is both morally right and a good cost-containment strategy for Arkansas Medicaid.
North Little Rock
Buses are lifelines
Buses are among the vital lifelines that help keep a city vibrant and alive. You may not ride the bus, but you sure do know lots of people who do — those who wait on you at your favorite restaurants, who assist you when you are in hospitals. The buses transport hundreds of hard-working employees to their jobs daily and reliably. The buses are there for the elderly who no longer drive, there for all the kids too young to drive, and there to give the disabled and visually impaired a lift to places they could not get to without the buses' help. So please consider voting for the buses on March 1 — and keep these lifelines flowing.
From the web
In response to Sarah Scanlon's guest column, "For Bernie":
I just voted for Bernie today. I voted for Bill Clinton every time he ever ran for anything, and I think he was a tremendous president, but Hillary Clinton is running the campaign of 20 years ago, not the campaign of today. Believe it or not, when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, income inequality was not the problem that it is today. It was incongruous for her to deny that she was an "establishment candidate" in the debate with Bernie, because, of course, the Clintons own the Democratic Party. If the party is to nominate her, it will be politics as usual. What has that got us? It is time for a revolution, rather than politics as usual, and that is why I am supporting Bernie Sanders. Hillary would not change anything. She is too indebted to the rich and the powerful.