Letters to the Editor: December 16, 2011

Local doctor will be missed

After reading the news article recently published regarding Dr. Brent Fox, pain-management physician, of Salisbury, Md., I felt compelled to write this letter.

The Lower Delaware area is losing two pain-management physicians this month, though it seems only one will truly be missed. Dr. Gabriel Somori of Coastal Pain Care Center of Lewes recently announced he is closing his practice to relocate to Tampa, Fla., and he will truly be missed by myself and the many local residents he treated.

Dr. Somori provided compassion and relief to many individuals suffering from chronic pain and other illnesses, and is the textbook example of what a responsible physician should be. He provided this care, while at the same time safeguarding the local community against the ravages of prescription drug abuse.

I know firsthand the many criteria Dr. Somori employed while practicing his art here in Delaware, and we need many more like him to do the same in the battle against substance abuse, especially prescribed-drug abuse.

Dr. Somori, we love you and wish you all the best as you leave us to serve the Tampa, Fla., area. May God bless you, and thank you!

Joseph Gooding
Ocean View

QRCF grateful for support with gala

Happy holidays! It is with gratitude and appreciation that I send this message. On Saturday, Dec. 3, the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation (QRCF) hosted our annual Caribbean Christmas fundraiser. This terrific event was held at Mango’s and raised funds to support local, all-volunteer fire companies.
I am delighted to preliminarily report that more than $36,000 was raised for the brave and dedicated work of the men and women who serve the Quiet Resorts as firefighters.

This gift was made possible by the many sponsors, volunteers and guests who attended the event.
Thanks to our sponsors: Bethany Blues, Beach Liquors, Bethany Florist, Coastal Coffee Works, Cottage Café, Creative Resource Group, Coastal Point, DiFebo’s, DiFebo’s Bistro, Harpoon Hanna’s, Mango’s, Matteo’s Restaurant, Mio Fratello, Northeast Seafood Kitchen, Off the Hook, Overture Home Electronics, Perucci’s, PNC Bank, Sedona, Turquoise, the Delaware Wave and Wilgus Associates.

Thanks to event chair Karen Taylor and vice-chair Sue Baxter and the members of their committee: Steve Alexander, Diane Comolli, Mimi Drew, Ernie Felici, Mary Franz, Denise Goehner, Kate Herrman, Jackie Inman, Jerry Kappes, Tom Lannon, Susan Lyons, Ellen Magee, Jeff Osias, Marion Parrot, Cathy Schultz, Liz Weiss and Jean Wode.

Our thanks also to the over 300 attendees who supported the event as guests, bought raffle tickets and bid on silent auction items. As a representative of the QRCF and on behalf of the dedicated board and advisory members, my thanks for this incredible broad effort staged in support of local charitable organizations.

Our good work this holiday season continues! On Jan. 1, 2012, at 9:30 a.m., in downtown Bethany Beach, we will host the inaugural Hair of the Dog Run. The 5K and 10K run features overall and age group awards, a walk/run-with-your-leashed-dog division and a post-race party at Mango’s on the Boardwalk and Garfield Parkway in Bethany Beach, featuring complimentary 16 Mile brews, sponsored by 16 Mile Brewing Company of Georgetown; 10K finishers will receive finisher medals.

Pre-registered runners are guaranteed a technical shirt and goody bag. Hair of the Dog 10K Run is $45 for pre-registered runners, $50 for day-of registrants. Hair of the Dog 5K Run is $25 for pre-registered runners, $30 for day-of registrants. Participants are encouraged to pre-register now at www.HairoftheDogRun.com.

The Hair of the Dog Run is presented in conjunction with the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber’s Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimos Swim on New Year’s Day at noon. Proceeds from the Hair of the Dog Run, and the Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimos Swim following the Run, benefit the many groups, clubs and organizations that are served by the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation and the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce.

K. William Scott, President
Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation

Shore Democrats thankful for support

Shore Democrats wishes to thank the following ladies for their kindness and generosity: Linda Cooper, Beverly Hurd, Betty Kemble, Joanne Peltz and Sandy Roskos. They responded to our request in the local papers for crocheted and knit items to be distributed to the Veterans Hospital in Elsmere, Delaware Hospice in Milford and LaRed Health facility in Georgetown.

We are still accepting donations, and anyone interested can contact Janet Skibicki at 539-8053.
Shore Democrats

The legacy of unfunded liabilities

As the premise for this short analysis of unfunded liabilities accrued to the U.S., I shall use the figures put forth by President Fisher of the Dallas Federal Reserve during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, and that proffered by Professor Kotlikoff in a recent IMF financial journal.

President Fisher’s Dallas office estimated the net present value of the unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Social Security alone to be in excess of $99 trillion, or about seven times our current GDP. Fisher lamented that our political leaders have “dug a very deep hole” for the country.

But, as bad as the DFR report is, that is the good news as a recent 2010 IMF journal puts forth U.S. unfunded liabilities as reaching a total of $200 trillion, or about 14 times our current GDP. Professor Kotlikoff notes “that we should get real … as the U.S. is bankrupt”! The welfare state is mathematically impossible, and during the 20th century it has fostered a true dreamtime by fooling the masses.

Most economists agree and believe that we are positioned at a crossroad concerning our country’s financial future, as there is no reasonable expectation that we can tax, grow or borrow our way out of such a crushing, unfunded debt. It is now clear that we have a severe structural problem within our economic system and those do not wither away as some hope and believe. Citizens fear a national fiscal disaster is in the making as we continually transfer the national debt to our progeny and their personal wealth to us. What could be more egregious?

The recent announcement of the downgrading of our bonds by S&P speaks directly to that point. Hauser’s Law states that federal tax receipts always fall short of 20 percent of GDP. That alone makes any suggestion these programs can be fiscally supported divorced from reality. One cannot take a vacation from the history of past financial catastrophes.

The U.S. repudiated two centuries of fiscal prudence by the Founding Fathers when they entered into this Faustian model of debt, dependency and default. It is Ponzi on steroids and our unsuspecting citizens, those who put their faith in their elected representatives, are the final victims! Such schemes inevitably end in a national tragedy. The best government governs least; and, the free market and the Invisible Hand are the inevitable defining elements of prosperity. Interfere with them and you have only misery and, eventually, violence.

However, this is not the first time that the matter of unfunded liabilities for these two programs has been raised to the level of public concern. Neither the reasons nor the solutions are a puzzle. Over four decades ago, Milton Friedman, Nobel laureate in economics, identified rising medical costs and the coming deluge of “baby boomers” that would flood the national retirement and medical programs leading them, and possibly the country, to bankruptcy.

This looming financial disaster for Medicare and Social Security is the progressive legacy of the New Deal and Great Society policies, with their reckless idea of abstract “social justice.” As Hayek aptly stated, “Social justice … is an empty formula.” From a balance sheet perspective and beginning with the enactment of Social Security during the 1930’s, every single citizen since born is a financial liability to this country rather than an asset.

Those touting these programs neither measure results nor discuss unintended consequences; the public hears only the false promise that more money will bring a better solution. The economic distortions created by the promise of a “permanence of plenty” are foisted upon a guileless citizenry. Such programs, along with the last presidential election, seems to be leading to a fundamental change that is engendering a permissive, anti-market, redistributive welfare society rejecting American Exceptionalism.

As many suspected during the lead up to specific program enactments, these “solutions” have created more problems, and greater ones as well! All government interventions that are state-centered rather than individual-centered breed conflict rather than cooperation.

Unwisely, our president and the Democrats in Congress now seem to be on a fast track to turn the country into a disorderly and failed society by increasing entitlements even beyond those enacted long ago. It is galloping socialism in a race to the bottom.

Throughout world history where the state owns or controls much and the individual little, these false promises of altruism that revolve around consuming more than one produces are failing and plunging the inflicted societies into financial and citizenry chaos. Greece has been a sad but not final example of the “great” failed promise of equal wealth and equal lifestyle through the forced redistribution of individual wealth.

The PIIGS of Europe are marching toward an unknown financial fate, but sure to plunge personal lives into complete disorder and confusion. The recent EU and IMF requite of forced austerity are but a harbinger of the future financial disorder of those countries; riots will not solve the problem.
Even though much of Europe is making a brave effort to exit the morass created by the pursuit of socialist ideals that breed a strong sense of entitlement through profligate spending, our current Democrat administration seems to be embracing them. They want to go where Europe has failed.
Always prescient, Dr. Friedman tied a large measure of the rising health care costs to the “free medicine” that was being given as a tax-free supplement to the employee. He described our third-party payment system as “…a socialist-communist system of distributing medical care with a communist result.” He also identified the problem of Social Security morphing into one’s only “retirement plan” rather than a supplement to one’s life savings as eroding the will to assume personal responsibility.

Friedman was always shocked at the arguments that were used to defend these programs. In both instances, the workers’ penchant for personal responsibility was being crowded out and their future put at risk by these largely unfunded federal programs that were relying upon an ever expanding, young work-force base for financial solvency. Members of Congress touted them as “free” to the recipients and guaranteed as well.

Friedman and other economists, in rejecting the Progressive agenda, have always expressed strong opinions supported with empirical data, that in all democracies the application of free market principles to our everyday lives is still the best hope for economic and personal freedoms.
Excess imposition upon free market activities through government regulations speed the desire for those with working capital to deploy it to the geographical regions most profitable; and, that is away from undue hindrance to their progress. Thus, many government regulations/policies are actually economic fallacies, as they generally trace their “successful outcomes” only to a select group. The unintended negative economic consequences for all groups are ignored. The government is a clumsy manager, and the policies of false hope quickly become a scourge to the people they are intended to serve!

Free markets do not accede to power hungry political parties wishing to degrade the individual and make him a ward of the state. On the whole, free markets breed cooperation and allow citizens to act in their own best interest while holding individuals responsible for their personal actions.
Such freedom of action renders selfish political power grabs inert. The application of free markets to develop cures for social ills is the enemy of the professional politicians who so invade our lives. They will do or say anything in combating it, as their interests are best served through their control of those programs that entangle us for life.

Friedman’s solution for medical insurance is simple: unleash the powerful forces of the American entrepreneurial class by separating health insurance from the employer and thus returning the individual to his rightful place as the first-party participant.

Employees would have their present salaries increased by the amount the employer has been paying and they would then be responsible for purchasing their own insurance. Those that wanted to remain with a health plan provided by the employer could do so with an imputed tax liability for its cost.
Since the present cost per employee family has exceeded $15,000, the employee would soon want control of his health insurance money, as he could buy a tailored policy for about a third of that. The vast majority of Americans would opt for a catastrophic policy with large deductibles, and that would return the patient/doctor relationship to its rightful place, with personal choices and without government interference leading to the bureaucratic rationing of services.

The free market thrust for the health insurance dollars of our over 300 million citizens would be enormous, and prices would be competitively adjusted. Reductions would begin the minute a national policy of citizen responsibility for his health insurance was announced. The entire medical field would be in competition and have no choice but to change its pricings structure, as they want and need your business. As in all free-market situations, the citizen is now in control of his expenditures and that is a powerful mitigating factor against runaway costs. You pay, they play!

Additionally, for the country to survive the impending bankruptcy of Medicare, it has to immediately begin to shift health insurance to the free market and to the individual in order to decrease costs across the spectrum.

Obamacare care is quite the opposite of a free-market solution and such state-based medical care models have never worked in any country and have led mostly to long lines with long waits, waste, insufficient physicians, inferior care and general patient frustration. Our VA system, even though touted as a shining example of a national healthcare model – one that I have been a participant since 1961 – is a prime example of a state-run system that is riddled with the above.

Again, Friedman’s free market solution for Social Security is fairly simple and based upon a centuries-old financial practice: That of issuing “bonds in perpetuity.”

To begin, the government would select a birth date that all those falling below must exit SS and all above have a choice to remain or exit. Let us take 55 years of age as an example. Those below 55 must exit and will receive bonds in perpetuity that have been valued to include the worker’s past payments with interest. Additionally, he can now open one of the individual retirement plans available until he retires to add to his bonds. Those above age 55 will have the same choice to “cash out” or to remain within the system. Those who exit SS will now have a financial asset, and those who remain will not. It is as simple as that!

Bonds in Perpetuity pay interest only, cannot be cashed in, can be sold in the secondary market by the holder and become part of our federal debt. Unlike a typical bond, because the principal is never repaid, there is no present value for the principal. Even though a seemingly large federal debt and interest load is assumed at issuance, as the GDP grows over time these become comparatively smaller than the debt ratio of endless unfunded liabilities.

These bonds completely eliminate the specter of Social Security bankruptcy and provide the basis for a personalized retirement account. Experience with such financial management groups as TIAA, the Texas Plan, and the Chilean Plan, where individuals have a personalized retirement account for their life’s work, the worker is able to draw down three to five times per month versus that of Social Security and still have a remainder for family inheritance. Sadly, SS now projects a negative lifetime financial return.

Presently, excess Social Security funds are used to buy bonds from the government in order that the government is able to pay its bills, so those monies are not invested in the capital markets. Friedman’s program of personal individual retirement accounts would add enormous funds to the markets, keeping interest rates low for both business and personal borrowers.

That, in turn, would continue to allow the American citizenry to maintain an extraordinary standard of living without interference from government bureaucracies and to provide immeasurably more personal freedom. It would also eliminate a present unacceptable and dirty little secret of Social Security, that since it has salary caps for payments into the system, the end result is that poorer workers subsidize the richer.

The past sophistry used by politicians in order to amass political power by persuading the victims that they are being robbed for their own benefit finally seems to be failing as the populace begins to assess the true burden of government taxation, spending and debt.

It has been estimated that when one adds in federal, state and local taxes, along with the cost of regulation, that in excess of 50 percent of the GDP is being taken by government officials to spend as they see fit. It has become a form of legal plunder as politicians continually ask for more, spend more and borrow more.

The unique origins of American Exceptionalism do not support these present efforts to degrade the individual and put him under the care of the state. Those who lack faith in American Exceptionalism lack faith in the fundamental principles of our country: Liberty and Individualism.

We are witnessing a shift toward a massive introduction of regulations from above, an ever-expanding welfare system, new and more sophisticated forms of protectionism, and continuously growing legal and regulatory burdens on business. All of these weaken and restrain personal and economic freedoms.

The false promises of socialism claimed by the Progressives, that they can create a personal Utopia through wealth redistribution, has never worked and its absurdity is foreboding of national ruin. This present path leading to the government becoming the main pensioner and medical provider, in turn, further leads to the loss of personal and economic freedoms. It sounds much like the policies of those countries that we spent the 20th century freeing with our blood and treasure.

Further, it is a shameful partisan and political act that has become a national disgrace to set up our progeny to live in a debt-laden country because we are unwilling to accept personal responsibility. Someday, the children of these political charlatans will refer to their ancestors as the “horse thieves” they are. Sadly, honesty and integrity seems to have deserted the present political class.

It is our choice to repudiate these false promises of government care and to let the free market work as it always does by providing affordable products, including health insurance and retirement plans for all; or, to be a part of the offending generation that bankrupts the country through selfishness. By doing what is right, we will gratify many and astonish the remainder!

After over two decades of studying this problem, my challenge to the reader is to suggest a better framework than stated above. One that saves us from bankruptcy and chaos and that is a long-term solution rather than a short-term political fix. A solution that enhances the American experiment rather than one causing our citizens to continue to suffer a humiliating loss of self-esteem through the present fostering of state dependency. I have not found one nor heard of one. If you have, then let me know.

Lastly, Friedman’s solution allows personal portability of both medical insurance and retirement saving plans. There would be no more discussion about not being able to leave an undesirable company because of loss of benefits. Everyone could seek work with whatever company he or she so desire for any length of time without eroding his or her financial future.

Since one’s personal freedom and his economic freedoms are inseparable, this solution gives the American worker what he so richly deserves: freedom from the tyranny of those who think they know better than he. Now, I await your solution.

Richard L. Spencer

Time to forgive Wichmann?

Here we are again, for the third time, discussing the censure of [Bill] Wichmann. Maybe it is time to remove this censure. Maybe it is time to remove this blot against the good name of Wichmann. After all, Ocean View is a forgiving town.

No one, at Wichmann’s age, should have to live with the stigma of being the only town councilman to be censured in the history of Delaware.

Sometimes, small things get blown out of proportion. As all of us may recall, this whole thing started when Wichmann ordered a generator without authorization. How was Wichmann to know that he was violating the town charter and town ordinances?

What the heck, he was only on the town council and had taken an oath of office to uphold the charter and ordinances. What’s the big deal? In today’s world, an oath is just not what it used to be. Why, even Councilman Christ, with his distinguished law degree, could probably make a case that the whole process of taking oaths is illegal.

Another thing for us to consider: Why should anyone take issue with Wichmann’s often quoted reasoning, “The end justifies the means”? What the heck. Did not Machiavilli, the great 16th century philosopher, share the same philosophy? And we all know how that worked out for France in the late 1700’s and Europe and Asia in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Adding insult to injury, Wichmann ordered the wrong kind of generator. How was Wichmann expected to know anything about gas. Gas — propane gas – natural gas. How was Wichmann to know there is a difference? What the heck: They all have the word gas in them. Gas is gas. Some peoples only experience with gas is resolved using Gas-X.

Too bad the fix to this mistake was not as cheap. Ocean View had to spend over $40,000 to fix this mistake on a generator that cost $40,000. What the heck. What is $40,000 to Ocean View taxpayers? No problem.

Wichmann just voted to raise taxes. What a simple solution. No fuss, no muss. It is a wonder the rest of the Council could not see the simplicity of this. Wichmann may not know anything about generators, but let’s give credit where credit is due. He knows how to spend the taxpayers’ money.

What about Wichmann’s threat against the town manager? How can anyone take a comment such as “the town manager ought to wear body armor” seriously? What is the big deal about threats of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening behavior? Maybe the whole concept of treating employees with dignity and respect is way overblown. I am sure Councilman Lawless even allowed this type of behavior at his former place of employment.

What about making false statements to the town council? No problem. It only shows that Wichmann finds himself in the same company with such distinguished individuals as President Clinton, Roger Clemens, Lord John Brown (CEO of BP Oil) and the infamous governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. If it is OK for people at this level, it certainly has got to be OK in Ocean View.

Now for the charge of “attempting to use his position as councilman to influence a Town employee to take action that would have resulted in the cover-up.” What the heck. What is wrong with a little “influence peddling”? It is done in government all of the time.

Why should Ocean View place itself above such behavior by refusing to repeal Wichmann’s censure? Why should the citizens of Ocean View expect more from their elected officials? Are we asking for too much? Maybe Mayor Wood found this type of behavior to be acceptable while working on Capitol Hill.
I think former Mayor Meredith has it right. What is the problem with a little corruption in local government? Meredith voted for the censure. Now he is against it. Let bygones be bygones. Wichmann is his friend. Sweep it under the rug. What are friends for?

Yes, maybe it is time to make Wichmann’s name whole again. How can a forgiving town not forgive someone for such small things like breaking the law, breaking his oath of office, squandering taxpayer money, threatening employees, misuse of the office of councilman and lying to fellow councilmen? Maybe it is time to forgive and forget about this blatant abuse of the public trust.

What the heck. If this town council can wipe the slate clean, who am I to stand in the way? Like all good Ocean View citizens, I can put my integrity and ethics aside and move on.

I have a great idea. Let’s all join the rest of the council members at Bill’s Bar after the council meeting and celebrate this removal of censure. They are all there after every council meeting anyway. Maybe Chief McLaughlin can join us, as he often does.

Roy Thomas
Ocean View

Fire departments thankful for support

The men and women of the Bethany Beach and Roxana volunteer fire companies and their ladies auxiliaries would like to thank the Board of Directors and volunteers of the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation for grants from the Caribbean Christmas held on the 3rd of December at Mango’s restaurant.

As always, any donation to the fire companies is greatly appreciated and will go a long way toward continuing the services that our districts expect and deserve. It is especially gratifying that a volunteer organization (QRCF) provided a way for other volunteer organizations (our fire companies) to raise money.

In general, the entire community responded and a great time was had by all. Thanks again.
Monte Wisbrock, President

Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company
Todd Marvel, President
Roxana Volunteer Fire Company

Turkey Trot a hit, thanks to many

On Thanksgiving Day, more than 380 locals and visitors – many in festive costumes – and 60 pets attended the 4th Annual Turkey Trot in Fenwick Island. The Turkey Trot is a 2-mile fun run/walk that starts on Lewes Street, goes south to the Maryland line and back.

I am delighted to report that the event was terrific success, not to mention a lot of fun! There is no charge to participate, but each year, I select two charities to support and encourage participants make donations. This year, the event supported two wonderful local organizations: The “New” Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse and Safe Haven Animal Rescue, and it was the most successful Trot ever.

In all, we raised over $2,000. Over $1,700 will go to help create a museum in the original lightkeeper’s house in Fenwick Island; over $300, three SUV loads of food and other pet necessities for the pets at the shelter. We also received donations in cash and pet needs from many people who wanted to join the esprit de corps, but could not attend.

My sincere thanks to our generous sponsors: Just Hooked and Off the Hook was our gold sponsor and contributed $300. The following Silver Sponsors contributed $200 each: Aerofit Mobile, the Bookend Café and Indulgence, Nantuckets, Pottery Place, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Surf’s Edge Deli and Pizzeria.

Other sponsors included: Aerofit Mobile, Delmarva Board Sport Adventures, the Dispatch, hipAHA, House Pawz Pet Sitting and McCabe’s Gourmet Market. A Pre-Trot party was sponsored by the Bookend Café in the Village of Fenwick; the Post-Trot Party and Safe Haven donation site was sponsored by Perks Café at the Pottery Place in Sunshine Plaza.

I am already planning the 5th Annual Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012. With the continued support from the Town of Fenwick Island, local businesses, dedicated volunteers, and people who want to trot for charity, we will be able to help more worthy organizations next year!

Lori Martin, President