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Letters to Editor

Wind and sun

Dear Editor:

If you owned a house that had apple trees in the yard and you know they freely bear a good crop every year of the most delicious variety, would you rather let the apples hang until they fell, go to City Market instead and buy apples off their counter? If that’s what you did, wouldn’t your neighbors and friends think you’re strange?

Think of it: They’re free, plentiful, useful in a dozen different ways, the little waste is easily disposed of, and very little labor is required. The trees are there and they just do it all the time.

Now, apply this same logic to whether LPEA is a little “strange” for not getting into wind and solar energy, One argument I’ve read is that the technology isn’t perfect yet, that more time is needed to prove it is all it’s claimed to be. A quarter century of wind in Denmark and solar in Germany may not be enough time for some, but after how many years Ford, Chevy and Toyota still issue recalls and that doesn’t stop us. Donald Trump grieved over “unsightly” wind turbines off shore, in sight of his elite golf course in Scotland, but those I saw in southern Ontario were forward looking, practical and in that sense not unattractive. The small cluster of windmills outside Price, Utah, was a welcome visual surprise on the road.

The solar panels I see atop the road signs on the way to Durango tell me the highway department is thinking ahead in the right direction. But some would argue that we already have coal-fired electricity and solar panels are expensive. Well, apple trees don’t come cheap, but consider the return over the years, especially when the “fuel” is free and maintenance almost nil. The wind and sun are there and they, too, just do it all the time.

If you haven’t marked your LPEA ballot yet, vote for Kirsten and mail it in right away. She wants to put this free fuel to work.

Henry Buslepp

Numbers

Dear Editor:

Regarding Stansbury’s 4-19-2012 letter on “Obama Administration Statistics,” calling it “the most outlandish and flagrant distortion of data by a political machine in modern times,” I can only agree. Now Obama says that we only have 2 percent of the world’s oil supply, but use 20 percent. His own Department of Energy reports that, “Proved reserves are a small subset of recoverable resources.” As noted by Investors Business Daily, America’s actual oil reserves are 60 times higher than the president’s carefully chosen number: “The figure Obama uses — proved oil reserves — vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil poor, the USA is awash in vast quantities — enough to meet all our country’s oil needs for hundreds of years.” Newsmax reports: Obama uses flimsy and misleading numbers to justify his anti-oil and gas energy policy and his mega-billion dollar subsidies for “green energy” and “green jobs.”

Warren Buffet told CNBC, “I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than three percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.” Sounds interesting, but how many Americans are going to convert that miniscule 3 percent to dollars? It’s an annual deficit of almost a half trillion dollars, which ain’t exactly the “end of the deficit.” That’s about the average deficit the Bush administration’s bipartisan congress ran annually (and was severely chastised by liberals) until Pelosi assumed the House Speaker’s role, after which the annual deficit rose to about $1 trillion (in spite of Bush’s 11 vetoes of congressional bills in his last two years).

Obama asks for the “Buffet Rule” which significantly raises taxes on the upper 1 percent of tax payers, saying that it is necessary to lower the deficit and debt. Few Americans convert that to dollars, but if they do they find that with the Buffet rule in effect, at that rate it would take over 250 years just to recover Obama’s 2011 spending deficit, and you need to know nothing about arithmetic to know that lowering the deficit always raises the national debt.

Still on arithmetic and hokey numbers, a new book by Jonathan Karl states that “Only 13 Republicans supported the new entitlement (Medicare) in 1965 ...” In truth, over 48 percent of the Republicans in Congress voted for Medicare, including 13 of 32 Senators. The use of numbers requires the reader to find out how what is not told. Americans get incensed when our president says that XYZ Oil Company made Xteen billion dollars of profit in one year. That number, Xteen, is meaningless alone. Profit is the difference between costs and sales. If sales were a trillion dollars and profits were $30 billion, then profits were 3 percent; but if sales were a trillion dollars and profits were $90 billion, then profits were 9 percent. When all you’re told about a company’s profit is the dollars, you know nothing … If you’re told the profit percentage, then you know it all.

Harris Bynum

Building hope

Dear Editor:

It’s time to ramp up the preparation for the Relay for Life which will be happening Friday, June 22 beginning at 5 p.m. and ending on Saturday, June 23 at 8 a.m. This year’s theme is “Building Hope” and that will be the intention of every participant — building hope that in the future there will be no more cancer; building hope locally to support those dealing with the challenge of a cancer diagnosis; and building hope with the many cancer survivors in Pagosa who still need the support of those who care.

So, watch out! As the chair of the Luminaria project for Relay, I will be increasing my visibility in town … maybe at your favorite store, or at a meeting you regularly attend, or at a special event. Why? Because I am selling Luminaria bags that can honor a survivor or memorialize someone who has died from cancer. My goal this year is to not only line the track at the high school field, but to light up the infield with bags that show this community’s support of the Relay for Life.

Bags can be purchased for $10 each. I am encouraging the purchaser to take a few minutes and decorate the bag in a way to make it personal to the honoree. I will have all kinds of decorations, markers and stickers so you can really make a statement. In addition, we are asking for a donation of a boxed or canned food to support the food banks in Pagosa Springs. “Building Hope” is not limited to the Relay; it must embrace the entire community. And the food banks are again feeling the pinch from those in need.

If you would like me to come to your meeting and make a presentation about Relay for Life and to sell Luminarias, please call me at 731-9019 and be sure to leave a message if I am not available. And watch for me at locations around town. You never know where I’ll show up next.

Sam Conti

Stores

Dear Editor:

I hope everyone knows that a Dollar General store is currently being built in our county on the west side of town. I understand that it is the most successful “chain” store in the world, and that it will sell groceries and produce.

Meanwhile, among Wal-Mart’s other serious shortcomings, news is out that executives have apparently been hushing up a vast (millions of dollars) bribery campaign in Mexico since around 2005. This was to promote building enough stores to win “market dominance,” but likely violated both Mexican and U.S. laws.

Phyl Daleske

Optimism

Dear Editor:

The growth of health spending has slowed substantially in the last few years, surprising experts and offering hope for improvements to the federal government’s long-term fiscal performance.

Most recent figures show that health spending held steady in 2010 at 17.9 percent of the gross domestic product, growing at the slowest annual pace in more than 50 years, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. This is after years of taking up a growing share of the economy.

Much of the slowdown is because of the recession, and thus not unexpected, health experts say.

But a broad, bipartisan range of academics, hospital administrators and policy experts believe some of it is attributable to consumers and providers of health care changing their behavior to bend the cost curve down.

For example, experts were surprised at a drop in spending on some hospitalized seniors — people enrolled in Medicare, whose coverage the recession should not affect. They also noted that some of the states where health care spending slowed most rapidly were states that were not hit particularly badly by the recession, suggesting that other factors were at play.

This means that health care costs may grow more slowly as a percent of GDP, even as the economy picks up.

Ironically, this is happening just as the new health care law is coming into force, and before the Supreme Court can weigh in on it or the voters can pronounce their views at the polls.

The implications of a bend in the cost curve would be enormous. Policy makers on both sides of the aisle see rising health care costs as the central threat to household budgets and the country’s long term deficit reduction.

If the growth in Medicare were to come down to a rate of only 1 percentage point a year faster than the economy’s growth, the projected long-term deficit would fall by more than one-third.

The Medicare and Medicaid Center itself points to the explosion of high-deductible plans, in which consumers have lower premiums but pay more out of pocket, as one main factor. One study by the RAND Corporation found that health spending among people who shifted into a high-deductible plan dropped 14 percent

Also, some health economists point to a shift toward accountable care, in which providers are paid for the quality of care, not the quantity.

A lot of the big savings come from keeping people out of the hospital and the emergency rooms by putting an emphasis on chronic-disease care. The direct result is going to be a reduction of hospitalization and associated costs.

Perhaps providers are making changes in anticipation of the health care overhaul, which further emphasize accountable care?

Muriel Eason

Appalled

Dear Editor:

Reply to “Appalled:”

Dear Sir: Apparently, you were downtown one day. The businesses you passed with the sign are there seven days every week of the year. Every day, they experience with the same person for nine years, sitting, smoking and spitting within spitting distance of their front doors.

You obviously do not have that problem or hear the hundreds of complaints from locals and tourists of the disgusting things coming from this person. Hobo is a kind word to describe a person who has turned down any kind of work for nine years. I have rarely been out of work for nine days at a time for 59 years. I see no excuse for such conduct except mental incapability.

Dear “Appalled,” perhaps we could have your address and give it to this person and you would allow him to sit within spitting and smoking distance of your front door for several hours a day. That would certainly be very tolerant of you.

And as for the businesses who did not post the sign, for those of us who did I can’t count the number of people who have thanked us for finally doing something about this unfortunate but disgusting situation. And large numbers are tourists, some who come regularly to Pagosa Springs to enjoy the friendly people and our natural beauty.

I am writing on behalf of Richard Kirk, Bob Bradshaw, Eddie Ring, Deborah Kerns, Sara Collabolletta, David Cordray, Ray Lucas, Kathy Lupien, Leila Gonzalez, Nettie Wood, Kim Jones, Jerry Fankel and Cindy Peden.

Jim Holloway

Bribes

Dear Editor:

Wal-Mart has worked hard in recent years to polish its reputation with a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, giving elected officials, community groups and shoppers a reason to say yes to their stores. Now, the revelation of a bribery scandal involving the retailer’s Mexican subsidiary is giving critics a new reason to say no.

Last week and this week, The New York Times reported that Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary, its biggest foreign operation which opened 431 stores last year, had paid bribes and that an internal inquiry into the matter had been squelched by its corporate headquarters in Arkansas. Further, the Washington Post reported that Wal-Mart has participated in an aggressive and high-priced lobbying campaign to amend the long-standing U.S. anti-bribery law that the company allegedly violated. The 1977 law, known as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, prohibits U.S. companies from offering fees or gifts to foreign officials to advance corporate interests.

So, not only did Wal-Mart bribe local Mexican officials to ease their Mexico expansion, but now they want to change the law? The Mexican government has begun investigations into the retailer’s dealings with local officials. In other countries where Wal-Mart operates, including China and India, the reaction was slower, but the company is expected to face significant new obstacles.

Furthermore, in just the last week, more cities in the U.S. are pushing back on new Wal-Mart stores. In Los Angeles, a building permit is getting a closer look. The New York City Council is investigating a possible land deal with the retailer’s developer in Brooklyn. A California state senator is pushing for a formal audit of a proposed Wal-Mart in San Diego. Boston is asking embarrassing questions! City after city has denied Wal-Mart entry. So, in the last few years, Wal-Mart has smoothed the way for new stores with donations to politicians and local nonprofit organizations, arguing that it helps economic growth.

Sound familiar?

There definitely is a pattern of giving campaign contributions to politicians who support what they want. And Wal-Mart said the company would not change its pattern of giving to politicians and nonprofits in areas where it wants to open — in essence buying its way into communities.

In town after town, this has resulted in pressure on politicians to respond to awkward questions about whether or not Wal-Mart is buying them off. So not only does Wal-Mart put local small businesses out of business, they pollute according to environmentalists, they don’t pay a livable wage to employees, and they discriminate against female employees. Now Wal-Mart fosters corruption abroad and is actively trying to emasculate corruption law here at home.

Most concerning, they actively contribute to local politicians as a widespread corporate practice to ease their way into communities. So we might reasonably ask, what gifts has Wal-Mart foundation given to local politicians and nonprofits in the Pagosa Springs area? Maybe we should ask. And we should certainly ask that no taxpayer subsidies of any kind be offered!

Susan Junta

Editor’s note: The Town Council earlier this year did away with 50-percent fee rebates — permits, planning and impact fees —that would have saved Wal-Mart nearly $250,000 in costs.

Personhood

Dear Editor:

Recently, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favor of the 2012 Personhood Amendment giving you and me another opportunity to be a voice for the preborn.

I hope you are as excited as I am about the opportunity to educate and affirm the rights of all humans, big or small.

You are having such an impact on the nation! Let me explain:

The personhood effort started in Colorado with just a few individuals and grew to 1,300 great folks like yourself gathering 131,000 signatures and winning 27 percent of the vote in the 2008 election; in 2010, our volunteer base grew to over 2,500, and we won 30 percent of the vote.

But the impact that the Colorado personhood efforts have had is not limited to Colorado. Since 2008, the personhood movement has spread like wildfire to a majority of the United States, with several states coming within a hair’s breadth of passing personhood measures.

Now is the time to advance — time is of the essence.

Millions of people from the U.S. have joined with folks from countries such as Mexico, Hungary, Poland, Colombia, Portugal, Canada, and many others who are now fighting for personhood.

So, when folks ask you, why you are doing this again after losing two elections, the answer has never been clearer. We may have lost a battle or two, but with God’s blessing, and your hard work and perseverance, we are winning the war against the culture of death.

So, now we have the task once again to gather 100,000 signatures by July 6.

There are several petitions being circulated in our area by your friends and neighbors, and at several churches.

Paul Matlock

Chair lift

Dear Editor:

Reference 4/26/12 Pagosa SUN. Front page, Chair lift plan.

Davey Pitcher told council it was a mistake, with many reasons, to purchase the chair lift.

I am not a ski area employee, but well aware of the involvement to operate/maintain a chair lift.

Davey Pitcher warned the town, the town did not listen.

Sell it now.

Pam Morrow

Welfare

Dear Editor:

The promise of the American dream has been in place since our Founding. Everyone — including those born into humble circumstances — has had a fighting chance to follow their aspirations, work hard and prosper.

Until now. Thanks to liberals, who have decimated the middle class by directly assaulting its core values and ideals, that dream has been shattered. Generations of cradle-to-grave liberal policies and programs dispensing freebies — housing, health care, cash assistance, food, now even cell phones — have succeeded only at creating huge disincentives to work.

The number of people on the dole has soared dramatically under Obama, increasing 23 percent in just two years according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Dependence on Government. Today, more than 70 percent of the federal budget is spent on programs fostering dependence.

If you do a little research on this scenario and look at a hypothetical one-parent family of three. In some states, if that single parent had a part-time job and making only $14,500 a year, the family’s eligibility for generous government benefits increased their disposable income to a shocking degree. You would find that you can do as well working one week a month at minimum wage as you can working a $60,000-a-year, full-time, high stress job. That part-time counter job at McDonald’s is now lookin darn good.

Even the plutocrat in Arboles, Mr. Dungan, knows that if you create options for people where they can have a viable life without workin, many won’t work. And that’s not an indictment of their laziness; it’s an acknowledgment of their common sense. The government not only makes it possible to avoid work, it creates a more comfortable lifestyle without work.

It is a fact. The federal government has made work a foolish enterprise for millions of Americans. It’s sad that you are worse off earning $15 an hour than you would be if you went on welfare. In conclusion, when it comes to income equality, the United States of America makes the professional couch potato the equivalent of the factory worker.

Folks, it’s very simple. The welfare state is all about keeping low-income people comfortable in their poverty so they remain dependent on the state and vote Democrat. Those who try to better their circumstances by working harder or striking out on their own are punished with a lower standard of living for leaving the state’s tender care.

Benjamin Franklin famously warned, “The best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” Actually, it’s jist another way of saying, liberals measure compassion by how many people are on government programs; conservatives measure compassion by how many no longer need them.

The most compassionate thing this country could do would be to smash the entire government dependency edifice erected by the left.

Jim Sawicki

Vets

Dear Editor:

A group of the invisible men met last fall in Pagosa, Combat vets from the Vietnam era. They are human reminders of a painful national adventure. They’ve accepted being embarrassing distractions to public concerns in the decades since Vietnam. The medical and psychological needs of all vets didn’t gain wide or popular public awareness until post 9/11.

Since then there’s been a popular awakening to the importance of our military and the depth of a veteran’s sacrifices. We do better now as a nation. At least we say we want to. Our volunteer army veterans receive our “Thanks for your service” gestures, even if not always adequate support from our institutions. But we’re trying. We acknowledge that surviving a war and returning home is often only the beginning of a veteran’s sacrifices for his country.

The Vietnam combat vet’s meeting was addressing a local problem that had festered and worsened for years. Our local population of vets is large. Many have severe physical disabilities, some have PTSD syndrome problems that haunt them and limit their ability to function well. Our local and regional veterans’ services were letting the most needy of them down. Not all combat vets need help, but the lucky ones don’t abandon their buddies — not then, not now. So, a meeting was called.

Our vets had difficulty getting counseling, medical support and earned benefits support. This drove many to seek help in Durango, or Albuquerque or Farmington. The transportation services they were promised weren’t working. The paperwork assistance was ineffective. A network of local vets helped, but the system was supposed to be providing much more than it delivered. Life threatening failures of services delivery was a fact. The local vet organizations exhausted their efforts for support through official VA channels. The leaders of these Pagosa veterans invited a county commissioner to the meeting.

Steve Wadley was a new commissioner — not elected, but appointed to fill a vacancy. That’s probably why he was given the assignment. He sat and listened. He heard the stories of men in need. He promised nothing except that he would do what he could.

Since that meeting, our county has restructured its veterans’ services. The county attitude towards the veteran community has changed from lip service to effective advocacy of veteran rights and support. Something we should all be proud of.

I’m not sure exactly what Steve did after the meeting. He’s a modest man and probably a little unpracticed in political self-promotion, but he’s made a difference. If you get the chance, even though he’s not a vet, tell him thanks for his service.

Jerry Smith

LPEA

Dear Editor:

The LPEA ballots have arrived and the deadline to return them is May 11th. Have you voted? We are fortunate to have a candidate who is not only highly qualified, she also brings the promise of considering the future when making decisions which have serious consequences beyond the present. Kirsten Skeehan, who already is a deeply engaged member of our community — with Pagosa Baking Company and all of its generous involvements in our town, is on your ballot, bringing a broader view to the issues facing LPEA.

Recently, we have reflected upon two anniversaries, April 20 marked the second year since the Deep Water Horizon explosion, and the environmental and economic destruction still remain to be assessed and resolved. Earlier, we passed the one-year mark of the Fukishima nuclear disaster which, in addition to all of its untold devastation, has poisoned the food and livestock for generations. The time for development of power sources close to home, therefore independent and cost-effective, and with the goal of cleaner and safer energy is now.

Kirsten brings business acumen and leadership to a board which needs to set its sights on that development and on the future. I urge you to find your LPEA ballot, cast your vote for Kirsten and send it in today!

Cate Smock

Support

Dear Editor:

Relay for Life — Pagosa fights back.

Now is your chance to join the fight.

The Archuleta County Relay for Life will be held Friday, June 22, at the high school football field. We are very excited about our event this year. We will be doing new things and have lots of entertainment.

In conjunction with the Relay for Life, local businesses will be donating a portion of their profits every Tuesday in May: Liberty Theatre, May 1; The Springs Resort, May 8; Dorothy’s Restaurant, May 15; Boss Hogg’s, May 22; and the Pagosa Ice Cream Shop, May 29.

Support our great local businesses and a great cause all in one stop.

If you would like to help us fight cancer and get involved, please call me for more information at (970) 406-1355.

Debbie Waddell

Urgent

Dear Editor:

An Obama campaign ad boasts that he has brought this country from darkness into light. David Burge at Iowa Hawk Blog states, “Apparently, I’m supposed to be more angry about what Mitt Romney does with his money than what Barack Obama does with mine.” This letter invites SUN readers to examine how enlightened Obama’s financial acumen has been.

Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman provides the illumination (see “Money Mischief”): “the U.S. is bearing down on a 1970s style meltdown … followed by a possible depression-era collapse.” Obama’s record (first two years): Food prices up 57 percent, gas up 34 percent (now 111 percent), cotton up 210 percent. Debt: under Jimmy Carter 907 billion dollars, under Obama 15 trillion dollars (more than all previous presidents combined). “Tax bracket creep is stealing the middle class blind” (p. 256).

Under Obama, the U.S. has the largest number in history below the poverty line, on food stamps and not paying taxes. Since Lyndon Johnson, the war on poverty has cost 15 trillion dollars, but the poverty rate remains the same. Obama should have heeded the wisdom from 2,006 years ago: “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome (Washington) become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance (Cicero 55 B.C.).

Obama’s budget was 1,000 days late and was rejected unanimously by Congress. The Republicans’ budget alternative was not allowed by Reid to reach the Senate floor for discussion and vote. Obama bragged he would cut the deficit in half, but increased it 150 percent. He also vowed to keep unemployment under 8 percent, but it has exceeded eight percent for all of his tenure. Bailouts and stimuli: 4,740 percent more than FDR’s great depression recovery plan; 1,579,900 percent higher than Jimmy Carter’s bailout of Chrysler.

Friedman concluded: “Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless.” His wife echoed, “The administration’s actions are the death of common sense.”

So, if Obama has not brought us from darkness into light, who can? The obvious answer is Jesus Christ, “the light of the world.” The great English saint and doctor Anselm (1033-1109) taught about Jesus: “It is by Your light that I do see all that I can … I am overwhelmed by its immensity … Apart from Your life sees nothing but darkness.” Saint Peter had taught: “Christ is the one who called you from darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5).

It is most urgent, then, that we pray earnestly to the “ruler of nations” to enlighten our nation, especially the Supreme Court, to make a correct decision, and voters to elect truly enlightened leaders, to bring us out of the darkness into which Obama has immersed us.

Eugene Witkowski

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