Our Readers’ Views

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Tough times call for tight belts

An awakening has happened here and not a moment too soon. It seems that the county commissioners have looked outside their ivory offices and seen that the little people are not doing so well and have decided to act. It also seems up in Olympia the governor has awoken and seen that the state’s finances are dismal and she has decided to act, before it’s too late.

Though I’m afraid it’s not all good news. Here in little old Battle Ground the city council and city manager have decided to hole up in fortress city hall and hold onto every dime of the citizens’ money and rake in even more. Too bad. Things move slowly here in Battle Ground, so I can only hope that the city awakens soon and sides with the people, before the people decide to side with new representation.

Philip L. Johnson

Battle Ground

Profits drive up our premiums

Lisa Way, in a Dec. 15 letter, “Balance needed in health insurance,” complained about rising health care costs over the decades and asked why should her taxes should pay for federal/state employees’ insurance that is better than she and her husband can afford for themselves. It is not the fault of workers that health care costs are so high; it’s because of our profit-driven insurance companies and delivery system.

Look at a system that allows a CEO of United Health care to receive $1.7 billion in compensation for making a profit instead of paying health care expenses. It is a crime when over 30 percent of our premiums go to pay non-health related bonuses and advertising. Instead of lowering everyone’s benefits we need to be fixing a broken system that puts profits ahead of people. No one should become rich on disease and death.

Sally Filler

Battle Ground

Effort to spend other people’s money

As our Congress contemplates extending tax cuts, we would be prudent to remember some facts. The Heritage Foundation reports (as of 2007) that the top 10 percent of wage earners in this country pay 71 percent of all the taxes, http://www.heritage.org/budgetchartbook/top10-percent-income-earners. Might we be thankful for their mandated generosity? Might we be thankful that the top 10 percent in this country don’t hire their own collective lobbyist to reduce that share? May I pose the question: “How much is too much?”

I understand that perhaps 40 percent of all Americans pay no taxes whatsoever. So many Americans are living off the generosity and good will of other Americans, and in my view, are increasingly righteous about it, rather than embracing their humility.

And as our own governor struggles with the state budget, recall the words of the venerable Margaret Thatcher: “They [socialists] always run out of other people’s money.” I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage folks like Bill Gates, Sr. and Warren Buffett, as they lobby for higher taxes, that long ago Congress authorized individual donations to the federal treasury. Just write your own checks, boys, and leave the rest of us alone.

Dave Anderson

Vancouver

Renegotiate county contracts

Recently, I attended my third Clark County Commissioner meeting in 33 years. I am appalled at the disparity between government and private workers’ benefits. Our taxes pay 100 percent of the insurance premiums (medical, life, disability, vision and dental) for Clark County employees and their families. For family coverage in 2011, those premiums will range from $1,300 to $1,700 monthly. (Full-time county employees will pay a portion of premiums starting in 2012.)

A minimum-wage earner making $8.67 hourly and working 40 hours weekly will only gross $18,033 a year, often without health care coverage. That’s less than county employees receive in medical benefits alone. Our county is hurting with unemployment more than 13 percent. To add insult to injury, many of us who pay the taxes that fund these Cadillac benefits cannot afford coverage ourselves.

The governor recently renegotiated labor contracts with state workers to boost contributions to health care premiums from 12 percent to 15 percent. Teachers and private business employees all contribute to insurance premiums, on average 27 percent according to a Kaiser Foundation study.

Commissioners have failed to require county employees to contribute their fair share to insurance costs and raised taxes instead. I urge county commissioners to renegotiate county contracts to a fairer plan and stop tax hikes.

Sharon Long

Vancouver

Our rights are being plundered

The Republican agenda to “fix” our country’s problems is being dispatched with enviable speed to implement unconscionable goals that serve the wealthy, banks and corporations, while the middle class and poor slip farther into poverty and decline. Their formula includes legislation to raise the Social Security retirement age to 69; cutting cost of living increases, deep cuts in Medicare, education and more, while they protect the interests of the rich.

The Republicans sent a clear message of loyalty to their big money backers who anonymously donated huge sums that were used by such hate peddlers, i.e. Karl Rove, to craft their nefarious campaign of hate. Corporations, banks and the wealthy can wage war in anonymity on Americans to profit themselves and promote feudalism. The wealthy elite powers are systematically “dumbing down” Americans.

Their agenda is the plunder of civil rights. The right to free speech, press, protest and redress of grievances and more are already being destroyed in the name of anti-terrorism. The Republican/Tea Party has created plans to destroy the very freedoms they falsely claim to protect.

Patricia Dell Veneri

La Center

Heart disease risk factors defined

Thanks to reporter Erin Middlewood for the Dec. 12 story “At the heart of healing.” I have learned much about women and heart disease since my own experience. While we women in the story are older, heart disease in women doesn’t just happen to us. Young women, even girls, are now a significant number affected by heart disease.

Risk factors include: obesity (even 10 pounds), waist measurement over 35 inches, diabetes, menopause, smoking, eating primarily fast food/high fat diet, high cholesterol and triglyceride numbers that signify heart disease potential. Since one in four U.S. women die of heart disease every year, it’s not too soon to ask your doctor to order blood tests.

WomenHeart is a national, nonprofit organization formed by and facilitated by women living with heart disease and for those who wish to know more. Meetings are on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital, Conference Room B, 3rd floor. It’s free to all women.

Leslea Steffel-Dennis

Vancouver