Letters to the editor March 19
Middle school expansion option `short-sighted'
I have recently been involved in the debate regarding the Fairfield Woods Middle School expansion project, and was the only person who dissented on Option D. I have two children who will be attending the middle school in the next five years and was not opposed to an expansion of the school to meet the additional students, but wanted this town to be more fiscally responsible. I was told by one of the parents that my position was "short-sighted." ( This was the same parent who wanted to have all of the "older people" move out of Fairfield to make room for more families).
My position has not changed, and I still believe that the $24 million dollar expansion is fiscally irresponsible based upon the current economic times, families losing jobs and taking pay cuts, the federal governments runaway deficits and proposed tax hikes, the short time the students actually attend this middle school (only three years, as opposed to elementary school which is six years and high school which is four years), empty classrooms currently within the school and the overall size of the project.
This town has a "what's in it for me?" and an "I want what they have" attitude. This is exactly why the taxes in this town have doubled in the past few years, and shows no sign of letting up. People must consider that a student is successful not because of bricks and mortar, but because the families work together to bring the best education to the students at school and at home.
Those who support this Option D plan are "shorted-sighted" because they simply do not consider what will occur when Fairfield no longer needs such a large facility, and this town will have to maintain these buildings for generations.
Fairfield is not
I just want to clarify a few things that I said about the pension plan situation in Connecticut and especially Fairfield, as reported in the Fairfield Citizen.
First off Fairfield is in very good shape financially as of now, much better than the state of Connecticut. There is no chance of Fairfield going "bankrupt" in the near future. I might have overstated what I see as a long-term problem which has recently been covered in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week and now Barrons this past weekend. Even this newspaper is devoting its front pages to this issue. CNBC, FOX and many other stations have also started to talk of this impending problem -- the growing pension crisis. The irresponsible thing is not to discuss this issue now.
This problem is similar to the Social Security system, which is slated to run out of money (go bankrupt) in the future unless changes are made. My suggestion is that "new" employees be put on a different pension plan similar to a 401K instead of the typical pension plan they have now. This is only one idea out there.
As Paul Hiller the CFO of Fairfield said "there is no perfect solution." I agree, but we should start having this conversation sooner rather than when it is too late. People should realize it is the taxpayers who will make up any short fall and fund the current plan. That's you and me paying higher taxes.
While Fairfield is in good shape relative to other Connecticut towns, this could change. There is absolutely no guarantee that we as a town we can keep earning the required amount of money on our investments to pay future retires.
Just do the math. Look what happened just this past year. Does the name Madoff ring a bell? Forty-two million dollars we thought we had in our town pension fund disappeared in a micro-second. I would point out that the phoney Madoff money was largely responsible for the many years we avoided the need to contribute taxpayer money to the pension fund. That was of course an illusion and we (you and I), now are required to contribute millions of dollars to make up the shortfalls.
You should also know by now that nothing is "too big to fail." Who would have thought GM could go bankrupt, or that Lehmann Brothers would vanish, or AIG would need billions of our tax dollars to survive? Look at other states, especially California (CalPers), and even many of our neighboring states all running up huge deficits. Look what's going on in Greece!
Our public employees deserve the very best now and in the future. Now is the time to address the "pension issue" before it becomes a real problem. We need a win-win situation for our employees as well as the taxpayers. We can't stick our heads in the sand and ignore this issue and say it does not exist.
Finally, I am proudly speaking out on this issue by myself. I do not speak for the administration or any other Board of Finance member. I encourage you to educate yourselves to this issue now, and also to come out to BOF meetings and RTM meetings when this is discussed. This is an issue that will affect all of us one way or another.
Kupchick has my vote
I'm so happy that Brenda Kupchick is running for state Representative. Kupchick was my RTM rep and she was an amazing dedicated advocate for our community. When our school was making our children sick and no one would listen, she was right there helping us so our voices would be heard.
She worked right along side us attending hundred's of meetings, always taking our calls for advice and help. Kupchick never gives up, she sees through the nonsense and gets results.
Kupchick is just what's needed to put an end to the foolishness going on up in Hartford. Finally, some honesty and common sense! She has my vote.
`Follow the laws
This past Sunday, much like the unusual weather we experienced, I observed something of an anomaly as I was driving home. While it was not as severe as the damage this storm created, I noticed someone rolled through a stop sign.
The driver had a state representative license plate. Now it could have been one of our distinguished representatives or a member of his or her family, as I could not see the driver. Where I find irony is the very people who we elect to create laws that protect this great state and expected to follow the laws they create or have been created, (just as any law abiding citizen would) are breaking them themselves.
Now as we go about our day-to-day in this fast-paced world, this seems like a trivial and minor traffic violation that we probably all tend to do every now and again. Most of us are constantly in a rush to get to home, work or an event. There certainly could have been an emergency or an important destination to get to in a hurry for this person. However, it was the license plate and driver that made for an intriguing observation of rolling past a stop sign. Actually, it was three stop signs that I witnessed.
Again, this is a little observation in this larger world, but I just couldn't help to share this with the general public. While I'm relatively new in town and really have no political ambitions or interest aside from making sure I vote and voting for the best person for the job, I simply question who have we elected?
Now I might receive a direct explanation from the perpetrator, a supporter (who retorts this is nonsense, the representative is a good and decent person, and there are much more important things to focus on), or simply no answer at all. The point is whether we're in a rush or not, we should all take time to smell the roses, enjoy life while it's here, notice what's happening around us, but be sure that if you're an elected official, you should follow the laws you legislate.
`Pass health care
In response to the letter in the Fairfield Citizen, "Political Sleaze At Its Zenith," (March 12,), I would like to make some comments.
Remember the TV show Dragnet? Jack Webb, as police Sgt. Joe Friday, was always saying, "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts." Unfortunately, in the health care reform debate, individuals often react to the discussion with their emotions. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, when surveyed, most people agree with specific provisions of reform legislation. It's a case of what they have heard vs. actual bill content. The non-partisan AARP champions these long overdue health care changes.
Legislation would: cover 30 million uninsured Americans; prevent insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions: protect workers from losing coverage if they lose or change their jobs; provide subsidies to low and middle income individuals and families to buy insurance; increase payment to primary care physicians; and educate more primary care doctors.
While the majority of health care reform legislation applies to persons under 65, seniors would also benefit. Guaranteed Medicare benefits would be retained. In addition, seniors would get a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs in the Medicare Part D donut hole, as well as the gradual closure of the donut hole over 10 years.
The bottom line is that Congress must pass health care reform now. Let's not allow the insurance industry to once again frighten us into inaction.
Elizabeth M. Brandt
I've been reading the letters to the editor over the past couple years agreeing with some and disagreeing with others. Yet a recent letter from Richard Ross has compelled me to speak up.
In the same letter that Ross champions the tolerance of the American left, he goes on to rail against those who disagree with his world view as "sycophants, teabaggers and freedom fryers." Apparently people are required to be tolerant of all human beings with the following exceptions: Republicans, conservatives, church-goers, bankers, CEOs, insurance company employees, SUV-drivers, smokers, soda-drinkers, hunters, fishermen, talk radio host, and Roger Ailes. In other words anyone who doesn't fall in line with Ross' enlightened utopian vision. It's pure hypocrisy, but that's nothing new from progressives like Ross. When the American people openly reject collectivist ideas from liberal progressives they are called names and portrayed as uneducated ignoramuses.
Ross continues to pull from the Alinsky playbook by attempting to diminish and demean the Tea Party movement and Fox News. For those of us who live in the universe of reality we know that the Tea Party numbers are growing rapidly and that Fox News' viewership is absolutely crushing its competition. This is a necessary tactic in making your world view appear to be in the majority. Ross certainly can't believe that his, speaker Nancy Pelosi's, George Soros' and every other collectivist's world view represents the majority of the American population. He must not have been paying attention to the elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. More likely, Ross knows he's in the minority but has utter disdain for those living in "fly-over" country who are too stupid to embrace his politics. This tactic of appearing to represent the "educated and enlightened" segment of the population is also used to pander to and recruit the younger generation to their cause.
Ross' excitement about the upcoming millennial voting block is nothing new. As a Generation X-er, I was part of the youth movement highlighted by the "rock the vote" campaign in the Clinton Era. However, our political enthusiasm eventually waned when we began to enter the real world and question the efficacy of utopian ideals that punish achievement and give everybody a trophy for participation. As a result of this reality, Ross and his collectivist comrades over the past century have sought to eliminate this awakening by prolonging the idealistic adolescent mindset. They wish to entice young people to come aboard by growing the number of public sector jobs with high salaries and entitlement benefits. However, the fundamental flaw in this plan is that those jobs are funded by a diminishing number of private sector jobs through taxation. Eventually it all collapses. Take a look at what's going on in Greece. That's our future.
History has shown that collectivists, progressives, socialists, communists, et al, have attempted to hijack the youths of their respective populations as Lenin deemed, "useful idiots" to further their vision. Woodrow Wilson once said, "I have often said that the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible." This progressive vision implies that an individual man doesn't have the capacity to raise his own child as well as a group of self anointed social engineers. Well, Mr. Ross, I am excited about the millenials as well. I'm excited that they will eventually shed their Che T-shirts, shun your propaganda and come to their own conclusion as I did. I know I don't need a surrogate government father-figure. I can't think of a single human being on the planet that I would rather emulate than my actual father.
• ational security
Many of those who consider themselves good patriotic Americans and who consider national security of paramount importance somehow miss our most pressing national security issue. Nearly a million Americans will suffer and die during the next 20 years for lack of medical insurance unless we change our current system.
Remarkably, the only valid threat to our national security is perceived to be combative. If a challenge is militaristic, no problem. "Bring it on." Get out the guns and the troops. Let the missiles fly. Throw trillions of dollars at it. Internal challenges, we pretend, will just go away. The attack of Sept. 11 is pale compared with the enormous toll of our very broken health care system.
A Harvard University study estimates that 45,000 Americans die each year for lack of health insurance. It might cost upwards of a trillion dollars over 10 years to correct this. Too much for us to bear in this tough economy? Interestingly enough, even during the prosperity of the 1990's and the profligate Bush years, it was still too much.
Many Americans with health insurance don't consider the national tragedy and shame we share being the only industrialized nation in the world without universal health care. Not only do we not lead in terms of taking care of our own people, we are dead last. Just because we have the best care available for some does not mean that we have the best system. We have tens of millions without coverage. It's outrageous and heartbreaking, unconscionable and reprehensible.
Though we have the world's biggest, best and most expensive military, we lack compassion for our own citizens and their right to lead happy, healthy and productive lives. Thomas Jefferson wrote, in our Declaration of Independence, the most inspiring sentence in the history of the United States; "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These remain words worth fighting for. Our nation was founded on these ideals. Those ill Americans without health care are in fact denied these rights which are literally the essence of what it means to be an American.
By the end of 2010, we will have spent about $3 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can spend $3 trillion to avenge 3,000 lives lost but we have great difficulty spending a third of that to save 45,000 American lives each year, year after year after year. The national catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina cost 1,700 lives. The Vietnam War had about 47,000 battle deaths, the Korean War about 34,000. Have we no sense of perspective at all? Have we lost our sense of common decency? How quickly did we rush into the Iraq war? How slowly did we respond to Katrina? "Shock and awe" certainly seems to trump the old fashioned values of saving the lives of our neighbors in trouble. Has America lost its moral compass? I certainly think so.
I favor a balanced budget. If we can't afford to spend the trillion dollars needed for health care, just precipitously get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and poof, there's the necessary money. We expect to spend a trillion dollars on these wars this year alone. If we can't or won't get out of these wars, we have to belt-tighten, ante up and reapportion our spending to take care of our most pressing need ... saving the lives of yet another 45,000 American men, women and children needlessly suffering, becoming destitute, bankrupting their families and ultimately dying.
The media needs to show Americans dying because of lack of insurance the way they show tragedies like earthquakes and tsunamis. Perhaps we would get "Let Americans Live" telethons and enough ground swell of support to be good citizens and get the job done.
Martin Luther king Jr. said "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." If we have any sense of patriotism and a desire to have an equal and just society, we have no choice but to find a way to provide adequate health care to all Americans as our priority.
Reform must be truly comprehensive with all states sharing costs fairly. Everyone who needs medical care must get it. I believe that it's the job of every patriotic American to demand of all members of Congress that they get the job done well and done now and preferably in a bi-partisan fashion. Let them know that their jobs and the lives of so many Americans depend upon it.
We could break the Congressional impasse with an up or down vote on each individual aspect of reform disallowing the current tiresome excuses that they dislike some aspect of a massive bill and therefore choose to kill the whole thing. A public vote would guarantee that each individual congressman would bear responsibility for each line item decision. For example, "Why, Mr. Congressman, did you vote against the abolition of `pre-existing conditions' as an excuse for the predatory Insurance industry to deny life-saving coverage? Are you aware that little Johnny Doe died as a direct result of your vote?" I suspect that there would be many more positive votes if they didn't want their constituents to hate them and for their names to go down in infamy.
We have no greater foe outside our borders than the inertia, negativity and complacency within. We must wage a war against this insidious cancer that is consuming our society. Through simple concern and positive action, we can rid ourselves of this abomination which affects every facet of our lives, not just health care.
Get in touch with our congressional representatives today. Their addresses are at www.usa.gov. Tell them we want America to have the world's best health care for all, not the worst. Tell them we care about all of our citizens, not just for some. Tell them America needs universal health care now.
K. Steven Kunstler