Letters to the Editor
Obama's lessons not appropriate
In response to the letter of Michael Lackey ("Youth need to seek education", Sun Tribune, Sept. 12) I was not concerned about what Mr. Obama would say to our students.
I was concerned about what the Obama White House and his Department of Education had sent out in advance to many schools to use as a lesson plan, or as they put it: Menu of Classroom Activities.
From what they told the schools to do, you'd think that Pope Benedict XVI was going to address all Catholic students via TV, and that the Vatican had sent out instructions on how the students were to react to the words of the Holy Father.
For instance, as reported by the "Minneapolis Star Tribune" and other news media, the plan suggested that activities revolve around Obama himself, his thoughts, his desires, his admonitions and what the students could learn from the leader.
As reported, the plan for prekindergarten through 6th grade suggests that teacher prepare the students by studying Obama. It said that teachers could build background knowledge about the president and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama.
For the higher grades, the lesson plan from the White House and the education department suggested decorating classrooms with the president's sayings: It read, "Teachers may post in large print around the classroom notable quotes excerpted from President Obama's speeches on education."
The study plan also suggests that for higher grades, items such as: "Why does President Obama want to speak with us today?" "How will he inspire us?" "How will he challenge us?" be used. Students were also asked to write down key phrases of the speech and capture direct quotations. The one that hit the news channels the hardest and was changed was the request for the students to "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." But, as far as I know, the rest of the suggestions stood as written.
And I could go on and on about what teachers were advised to do on this great day, but we don't have room here.
Again, had the Vatican sent out these instructions to Catholic schools before the Pope spoke, I could understand it, but not sent out to public schools when the president was to speak.
A broken system
Recently, I watched Senator John McCain's town hall meeting in Sun City, Arizona. A woman stood up and said, "The health care proposal needs to be killed, now, in its entirety. No compromises. Senator, please. No compromises, no compromises. Senator, nuke it now."
McCain replied, "Let's have some real straight talk. The system is broken. The cost of inflation is not acceptable, OK? The Medicare trustees say the system is going broke. Social Security is going broke. Whenever you have double-digit inflation, then you have a problem. So, I can't just go back, in all due respect, ma'am, and just say we'll do nothing, because our kids and our grandkids should be able to have Medicare and Social Security as well. It has to be there for them."
While it is amusingly ironic that McCain is now a great guardian of two government-run programs that he and many other Republicans wanted to privatize a few years ago, he is right about a broken system.
As a nation, we now spend about $2.5 trillion per year on health care. If we assume a 10 percent inflation rate for health care, we will be spending $5 trillion in seven years and $10 trillion in 14 years. If we further assume a direct correlation between premiums and cost, then a family of four who are presently paying $8,000 for insurance will in 14 years be paying $32,000.
Private insurance companies take about 32 percent of the $2.5 trillion we spend, or about $800 billion. So, they have plenty of money to support giant salaries, lavish lifestyles, perks and bonuses while denying coverage and care to millions.
To preserve all of this, they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on ad campaigns designed to frighten ill-informed people half-silly. But the millions of dollars of bribes to Congress (euphemistically named campaign financing) act as the greatest preservative of our broken health care system.
I once again would like to direct people to a very informative video. Google: Marcia Angell testimony congress.
Water act saps property control
I suppose you would think that I am just full of good news, but since it is a very direct loss of my private property rights and yours, I would like you to know this. I am speaking about the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2009. Sounds good doesn't it? We all want clean water and clean air. This act, which has been around for a few years, has used the word "navigable" to describe any water that the federal government has control over.
This year Sen. Russell Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, and 24 co-sponsors offered an amendment to this Act (Bill S 787) and they have deleted the word "navigable" from the act. This will give the federal government control of any surface water in the United States. This includes all lakes, streams, mudflats, sand flats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds and all impoundments of the foregoing. This means that any surface water, no matter how small or how big or regardless of location, will fall under the control of the federal government. The next step, of course, will be to tax us for the water use. This is my land and my water -- I am fully capable of taking care of it myself. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to tell the federal government that it is not their job to have complete control of our properties and our lives.