Orwellian times, KC schools, NSA

01/22/2014 4:54 PM

01/22/2014 4:54 PM

Orwellian times

There is one extremely important question missing in the National Security Agency storage-of-data discussion. It is being ignored by the mass media, public opinion letters and fringe blogs.

The question: Why is it OK for tech and communications corporations to store and sell this personal data to other corporations for advertising purposes without paying royalties to the individuals who generate that information? The fact that corporations can store information does not result in the right to store and sell the information.

Aren’t corporations taking the position of a burglar who has the ability to break into your home? Does any human society allow that burglar to extend his ability for entry into a right to sell your personal property and/or information? Sixty days of storage is sufficient for reconciliation of disputed bills.

One fact being ignored: Orwell is now the corporation.

Sarah E. Karl

McLouth, Kan. KC schools redo

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro and her group of reformers who have the answer to the ills that trouble the Kansas City Public Schools should look at implementing the blueprint from the recently published book “Reinventing Schools.”

It offers a fairly concise step-by-step process that could follow the apparent charter-school solution for the entire district. Moving from the industrial model of education to the informational one should be considered if mass change is going to be instituted next.

Why not get it right the first time instead of experimenting with other solutions as has been done for the last 15 years with little to show in the way of progress? A radical transformation needs to be considered if real improvement is to occur.

Mike Somodi

Olathe NSA, credit card

Given that the National Security Agency can collect data on millions or billions of phone calls, emails, etc., why not have the NSA track down card services so I won’t be called every day to lower my credit card payments?

John C. Abshier

Leavenworth KCI convenience

Yes, yes, here is one more airport letter. Having just used the Indianapolis airport (walked blocks from gate to luggage) and recently the Houston airport (walked miles), I truly appreciate the Kansas City International Airport.

Friends — seasoned travelers all — from East Coast to West Coast and all places in between say KCI is the best airport anywhere for convenience.

Why trade our short security lines for lengthy lines and long waits? KCI updates and some perks would polish some rough edges.

All said, an airport is not an entertainment destination but a source of transportation.

B. Parks Eubank

Lee’s Summit Steve Paul column

Hallelujah, there is someone at The Star who understands the need for historic preservation (1-18, Steve Paul, “Historic apartments deserve another chance”).

Kansas City is besieged with benefactors, businesses and institutions that want to destroy irreplaceable history in return for their largess. Well, a little bit here and a little bit there, and after a while we will be left with strip malls and regret.

Our historic infrastructure is one of the best resources that Kansas City has to differentiate us from newer areas. To save these buildings will mean we are saving a historic streetscape that no other city can claim — four original John McKecknie apartment houses that have survived for more than a century.

The Star, the neighborhood and the Landmarks Commission all understand the urgency of preserving these structures. Now the City Council and the mayor’s office need to step up and help Antheus, Silliman and MAC Properties do the right thing, help them realize that they can set a preservation example by saving these unique and irreplaceable structures.

Take care of them, use them for their intended purpose, and they can still make a reasonable profit.

Ross Freese

Kansas City Widening inequality

A Jan. 15 letter states that “an increase in the minimum wage creates an artificial increase in incomes because it is not based on real increased economic activity.” Try making that argument to someone who is working full time on poverty wages with no health insurance.

The writer further states that many economists think increases in the minimum wage increase unemployment. Many of these economists are the same ones who have been predicting for more than 35 years that tax cuts for the wealthy will result in more jobs and higher wages for the average working American.

In 2004 (well before President Barack Obama’s first term), after allowing for higher prices, the average worker in America made 16 percent less than he made more than 30 years earlier. Meanwhile, corporate America is exporting jobs overseas while sitting on one of the largest piles of cash in our nation’s history. How is that trickle down working?

I don’t believe minimum-wage workers will invest their additional income in off-shore bank accounts or factories in Third World countries. Instead, they will likely spend it quickly, thus stimulating stagnant demand brought about, in large part, by broadening economic inequality.

Frank Ross

Topeka ERA, Missouri

The Star’s front-page Jan. 19 article, “Enforcing equality,” examined developments since Kansas City’s 1964 ordinance was passed outlawing discrimination, and says, “Today (the ordinance) not only prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin and ancestry, but on disability, age, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Hooray for Kansas City. The Constitution does not yet protect its citizens against sex discrimination, although most Americans think it does.

The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was introduced in Congress in 1923. In 1972 Congress passed the ERA and sent it to the states for ratification. Although 35 states approved it, 38 were needed.

The American Association of University Women , with supporting organizations, is asking the Missouri legislature to become one of these last three states and pass the ERA this year.

The ERA reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Missouri women need equal protection.

We continue to average 78 cents for each dollar paid to men, a wage gap following us into retirement, where 38 percent of Missouri women 65 and older now live at or near poverty.

Jane Crigler

AAUW

Missouri

Public Policy Chair

Kansas City Swamp of hatred

The “Duck Dynasty” family has taken pages from other wealthy families such as Joseph Kennedy Sr. (anti-Semitic), the Koch brothers (relative fostered the John Birch Society), the Coors family (funded white supremacy) and others using their prejudices to advance their wealth.

The “Ducks” are the new idols for those mired in the swamp of hatred.

John Nelles

Shawnee At last, health care

My wife and I have been without health insurance for the last four years because we could no longer afford the $2,000-a-month premiums. Now, our president has made it possible for us to have coverage at $276 monthly.

Who else, in the last 40 years, has done anything but make empty promises on this subject? Not to mention it was accomplished in arguably the worst economic downturn in American history.

Will the plans be successful? Time will tell. Will adjustments have to be made? It would be ludicrous to think otherwise. But finally someone had the guts to take a stab at it instead of doing nothing.

And, of course, all the armchair experts are predicting gloom and doom. I am so sick of hearing everybody bash Obamacare (it should be called Humancare). How about we all get behind our quarterback and see whether we can get a first down? Some touchdowns get scored 10 yards at a time.

Come on, America, let’s pull together.

Joe Hoppenthaler

Parkville

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