Do more with less
Missouri transportation officials have said that roadways and bridges will not be repaired because of shrinking revenues. They cited the failure to increase our state tax on gasoline sales as the major problem. They also cited the reduced price of gasoline.
In Missouri, we have been paying 17 cents per gallon on all gasoline sales for years. Our sales-tax revenue has not been reduced by lower gasoline prices. In fact, with the decline of gasoline prices, people are traveling more and buying more gas than last year.
Apparently, transportation revenues are down, but please don’t blame it on the price of gas. The state is getting the same revenue per gallon as before.
Maybe transportation officials should do what the rest of America has been doing for years: Try to do more with less.
Economic development is falling apart in Kansas. Under Gov. Sam Brownback and his Republican Legislature, Kansas is suffering a budget crisis. According to the Kansas Supreme Court, funding for schools and higher education has been woefully insufficient. Unions, teachers in particular, have been undercut.
Arts and cultural programs have been minimized or eliminated. The needs of seniors have been ignored.
Better health care has been denied to thousands of disadvantaged citizens. Development of clean fuel alternatives has been attacked. Gun legislation has gone crazy, and the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people have been trampled.
Tax rates favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, and the widely held perception is that wealthy moneyed interests have essentially purchased the Kansas political system for their personal benefit.
Kansas legislation and politicians during the reign of Brownback have been on numerous occasions, and rightfully so, the butt of jokes in national and local media.
Are these the conditions that Brownback and his cronies seriously think are going to lure new businesses to Kansas?
Is this the kind of leadership and legislation Kansans expect from their governor and legislators?
Regarding the Feb. 12 editorial, “Brownback’s ugly edict will damage Kansas,” I say bunk.
Gov. Sam Brownback’s edict to rescind then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ executive order giving special treatment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees was the right thing to do.
This action will not in the least hurt the state. Any employer who believes this class of people deserves special treatment should not be welcome in the state.
The LGBT community is entitled to fair treatment, just like any other class of citizens, and no more. I suspect the overwhelming majority of people in this country, and especially Kansas, oppose most LGBT issues and pay attention to them only when rabble-rousers cause a commotion in the press, on TV or in a public place.
Why does the LGBT community feel the need to discuss sexual preferences in public, and thus feel threatened by this edict? One’s sexual preference is not a matter that needs public display. I never discussed my sexual exploits in the workplace.
As for young people seeking jobs, Brownback’s edict will have little or no effect on their willingness to seek employment in Kansas.
This issue is just one more way The Star seeks to discredit Gov. Brownback.
During a visit to the post office in Liberty the other day, I saw a line of customers that snaked through the lobby waiting for the lone clerk on duty behind the three-station service counter.
On the wall behind her were slogans from the U.S. Postal Service’s recent holiday-themed ad campaign, apparently aimed at attempting to reverse the post office’s ever-declining business. The signs proclaimed: “This is our season!” “You are our priority!” “Nobody moves more packages than we do.”
Meanwhile, employees wandered in and out of the counter-service area without even glancing up, apparently oblivious to the line of customers waiting to be served.
The situation provided a graphic example of how far removed the organization’s marketing efforts are from the realities of the actual service it is providing.
‘Right to work’
So-called “right to work” and “paycheck deception” bills before the Missouri legislature are economically unjust and make it more difficult for working families to find jobs with good (living) wages (2-10, A1, “‘Paycheck protection’ bill aims at unions”).
Moreover, as a rabbi, I am compelled by both the letter and spirit of Jewish religious law (Halachah), wherein laws relating to the hiring of workers are imbued with respect for labor rights and in some cases has anticipated by thousands of years secular law protecting the rights of workers.
This includes, but is not limited to, the rights of workers to band together (read, unionize) and to strike for higher wages and better working conditions. Our rabbinic sages describe what is certainly one of the first recorded strikes in history, a job action by craftspeople associated with the Holy Temple.
Right to work shows disdain for the needs of Missouri working families, lowers wages, hurts our economy and violates our obligation to treat workers with dignity. No one who is truly serious about supporting the middle class can support this legislation.
In the interest of our Missouri workers, our economy and our moral decency, we must defeat right to work legislation.
Rabbi Doug Alpert
Congregation Kol Ami
I have seen the Lebanon-Benghazi comparison once too often. It seems to be a very bad case of selective memory and sour grapes.
The Marines killed in Lebanon were there in response to a request for more security. No ambassador was ignored.
The troops knew they were entering an active war zone. No false reports were issued by the State Department after the tragedy.
Lessons were taken away from the tragedy to improve security, including the building of barricades around embassies and military barracks to prevent truck bombings.
Finally, the secretary of state in 1983 never responded when questioned, “What difference does it make?”
Future for Cuba
Republicans denounce President Barack Obama’s Cuba initiative. They demand free elections and an open society just like ours.
They imply that this was Cuba before the revolution that put Fidel Castro in power in 1959.
In fact, military dictator Fulgencio Batista ran the island for the benefit of the wealthy and the Mafia to the detriment of the people. His contracting economy had income disparity even greater than ours. There was no freedom.
The abusive, corrupt landed gentry was the first wave of Miami-based Cuban exiles. They want the U.S. to return them to privilege, not democracy. Thankfully, their power wanes as they age and die. Younger Cuban-Americans have a much healthier perspective.
Subsequent waves of exiles escaped for freedom and opportunity. They have built a thriving community here. They don’t call for a return to a repressive past.
Castro is no angel. His repressive regime shouldn’t be and is not lauded. But, Batista’s regime was no better and in some ways worse. Casino owners disagree.
Why does the GOP pander to the aging Cuban elite that backs economic inequality, harmful and dangerous gambling, loan sharking and unrepresentative government?
Why champion a group longing for an imaginary past instead of others looking to the future?