Many in the GOP show a marked antipathy to facts.
They deny evolution (despite scientific consensus).
They deny global warming (never mind that permafrost and polar ice caps are melting).
Never miss a local story.
They deny that decreasing taxes increases the national debt (they choose not to remember that national debt soared because of lower taxes in the Reagan and Bush years).
They deny that European countries with public health or single-payer options spend less of their gross domestic products on health care, with better outcomes.
They deny that government regulation can help the economy, even though inadequate regulation of the financial industry catastrophically damaged the American economy in 2008.
It is more fun to live with fantasy than facts, believing that lower taxes can decrease the national debt and that electing conservatives will lead to a smaller government (the number of federal employees increased in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush years).
Consider these Kansas budget numbers:
▪ $278 million — the 2015 fiscal year budget shortfall after Gov. Sam Brownback cut income taxes on top earners and certain small businesses.
▪ $141 million — the cuts in highway funds ($100 million) and public-employee pensions ($41 million) to help plug the deficit in the current budget.
▪ $1 billion — the amount that revenue is expected to fall short by the end of the 2016 fiscal year.
Compare those figures to these for the Koch brothers:
▪ $80 billion — the estimated net worth of Charles and David Koch ($40 billion each) — 13 times the 2014 Kansas budget of $5.9 billion.
▪ $900 million — the amount the Koch brothers plan to spend in the 2016 election to help elect politicians who will further lower taxes and weaken environmental and workplace regulations.
▪ Unknown — how many millions they’re saving in Kansas income taxes.
It seems the only thing the Koch brothers can’t buy is our respect. They should pattern themselves after Ewing Kauffman (“Let KC have baseball”) instead of Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”).
I’ve decided after watching years of bull, the top management of the National Rifle Association are for the criminal and the cowardly thug.
Any honest citizen can walk into a gun store and buy a gun. If you’re a criminal, cowardly thug or crazy, you can buy any kind of weapon you want at a gun show.
If you can reach the counter and have enough cash, you can buy any kind of assault gun, ammunition clip and anything short of a cannon.
About 35,000 people are killed in car accidents every year in the United States. About 30,000 people are killed every year by guns.
You could fill the Sunday paper with all the rules and regulations regarding cars and still not have enough space. You could put all the rules and regulations regarding guns on a postage stamp.
Not only that, our esteemed legislatures passed laws that you can’t sue the gun manufacturers.
The automobile manufacturers would love that — no recalls and no responsibility for any default. If all the wheels fell off your brand new car and you hit a loaded school bus, it would not be the carmakers’ fault.
I’m old, and I don’t want to leave this world to my children and grandchildren without some kind of hope of not getting killed by some stupid coward.
If we can’t have background checks at gun shows, then eliminate the gun shows.
We should tighten the rules for background checks so that unreliable people can’t buy a gun.
Gov. Nixon’s failure
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon wants to explore the idea of Interstate 70 becoming a toll road.
I am open to the idea because people who use the road would pay for it. At the same time, it is a federal highway, and some responsibility belongs to the federal government.
If it becomes a toll road, there must be a sunset clause on the tolls. Remember the Broadway Bridge became a general-revenue generator for years, and it took a lawsuit to stop the abuse.
For years, I paid tolls on the Henry Hudson Bridge in New York. In 1969 it was a dime, rising to a quarter, dollar, dollar and a half. Recently, the parkway went cashless, and now you are required to buy a pass or they take your picture and they bill you for $5.
My point is we must be careful, and the structure of the toll system must be adequately studied. The need for a toll really is about a Democratic governor failing to work with the Legislature and adopt a rational transportation system.
As a person of faith, I believe that every life matters and that everyone is deserving of respect and justice.
But our justice system in some places is acting contrary to this and is sending the message that the lives of some people do not matter the same as others. Fear and distrust of people who don’t look like us are all too common and are intolerable.
So I add my voice to those who are peaceably demonstrating and boldly proclaiming that black lives matter and that new levels of justice and accountability must be enforced.
Especially after the report on CIA torture was released, I believe that the standard of accountability for police officers as well as those implicated in the torture must be increased.
I feel compelled to speak out in opposition to these horrific injustices meted out by U.S. and local authorities.
Scientists now doubt that humanity can keep global warming below the 3.6-degree Fahrenheit threshold. That’s a limit beyond which the choice is between a newly unpleasant world and an uninhabitable one.
The window of opportunity for effective action is getting narrower. The U.S. has pledged with China to reduce carbon emissions by 2025.
There is a way to get there. Place an annually increasing price on carbon emissions, paid by fossil-fuel corporations (the polluters), with all funds collected returned to all U.S. citizens equally.
The carbon fee and dividend are strongly advocated by Citizens Climate Lobby.
To date, humanity has failed to meet the challenges in front of us. There must be a deep recognition we are part of the living world around us, completely interdependent.
Where there is a will, there can be sustainability. A choice.
EPA, nuclear power
Carbon reduction is the name of the game in climate action these days. The onus is on electricity producers.
This has generally been a good thing, prompting utilities to make full use of zero-carbon nuclear power, solar and wind energy. But the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a carbon-reduction rule that’s tailored to fashionable renewable sources but devalues nuclear power. The EPA rule, frankly, is flawed.
Rather than treating nuclear power with the fairness it deserves as provider of nearly two-thirds of all carbon-free electricity in America, the EPA allows a state to count only 6 percent of existing nuclear-generating capacity toward target emission rates.
This effectively says that a nuclear plant’s contribution to clean air is worth a small fraction of that from a wind turbine or a solar panel.
It should be the other way around because wind turbines have a capacity factor of just 25 percent, producing electricity only when the weather cooperates, and solar arrays have an even lower capacity factor.
By comparison, nuclear plants produce electricity about 90 percent of the time.
Despite its outstanding record, nuclear power is being relegated to the twilight zone of carbon regulation. It deserves better.
William H. Miller
University of Missouri