Letters - April 25, 2008

Cleary responds to Steele’s letter

I write in response to Harry Steele’s reply to an earlier letter published in the Coastal Point. Mr. Steele is often thoughtful in his reply. I will ignore the bombastic Fox News segments and respond to Harry’s intelligent persona.

(1) Harry, there is no point in staying in Iraq. We can continue to lower the bar to define success, but no matter when we leave the Kurds, the Sunni and the Shiite will never accept the current government structure. Yes, the Kurds will declare independence; yes, the Shiite sectors will bond with their co-religionist in Iran. The Sunni’s power will erode; they will continue be a disenchanted minority. There is nothing that the United States can do to make up for 1,400 years of history.

(2) Harry, we already pay too much for our current healthcare system. We pay almost twice as much, per capita, as all other industrialized nations, but there is little to show for our additional expense. We are falling further and further behind on every measurement of healthcare success. State and federal payments for Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration, military, etc, already constitute 60 percent of all U.S. healthcare expenditures. The cost of private pay is exorbitant to individuals and to corporations who foot the bill. Our private health insurance companies consume almost 30 percent of the premiums on bureaucratic practices that do not add to positive outcomes. Domestic manufacturers cannot compete with companies in Europe or Asia because foreign nations pay the cost of healthcare. Harry, the growth rate projects that we will soon spend 20 percent of GDP on healthcare. A universal plan needs to be implemented.

(3) Harry, you cannot have it both ways. The Euro is thriving because their governments tax carbon. Europeans pay $7 a gallon for gas. Most cars in Europe get 35 mpg. We gave tax incentives to purchase SUV’s that get 15 mpg. European economies are thriving because they understand that the internal combustion engine is an inefficient means of transportation. Europeans invest in rail and commuter transportation. Is that a form of socialism, or is it an intelligent use of national priorities?

(4) Harry, I believe that we agree that corn-based ethanol was a bad idea. It is largely a result of the Iowa caucuses. Bob “Call me ‘Sen. Ethanol’” Dole set the standard in the 1980’s. Since then, every four years politicians tramp through Iowa and tell the voters that corn-based ethanol is reducing our dependence of foreign oil. Well, we have driven the price of oil to $115 per barrel, and corn trades at record prices. But our consumption of corn has driven up the cost of staples such as eggs, meat and all other grains. Food cost has skyrocketed.

Finding more oil is not the solution. When you are addicted to a narcotic, making more available only enhances the high. George Bush and Dick Cheney listened to their friends in the oil and natural gas business. The next president needs to listen to the scientific community, and break the addiction to carbon-based energy.

(5) Harry, you are correct, over a long period of time the stock market does outperform the general growth of the economy and the benchmark Treasury Bonds. But who can make the kind of predictions that protects the safety net that Social Security provides. Look at some of the safest investments 20 years ago (GM, Xerox, Ford, Sears, and Bethlehem Steel). All of these companies have floundered. Do you think most people would have picked Google?

Perhaps you believe some government commission should invest Social Security funds? Do you really want the federal government picking stocks, bonds and mutual funds? Harry, can you imagine the political pressure? No investment in funds that have companies that invests in Venezuela! No investment in companies that prohibit employees from carrying guns at work! It would be endless.

Social Security is not an investment vehicle. It is the basis of a social safety net. There are many alternatives that can be implemented. We can reduce payments for the top 25 percent of current recipients. We can lift the cap on payments from $93,000 to some higher amount.

(6) Harry, I choose not to use the term flat tax, because most advocates of a flat tax, Steve Forbes) exclude some forms of income from the calculation (dividends, capital gains, tax shelters, etc) I propose a universal income tax on all forms of income. There would be no deductions! Congress would need to vote each year on the universal tax (20 percent is fair). The first $35,000 is excluded. A married couple could exclude $80,000. On an income of $100,000, a married couple would pay 20 percent of $20,000 or $4,000. The entire U.S. Tax code would be reduced to one page.

I would also do away with corporate income tax. It produces a shrinking portion of federal revenues, and has a corrupting influence on the political process. American business should be able to compete in the global market.

(7) Harry, our national economy would collapse without your illegal aliens. Let’s put them on a path to citizenship. All of the presidential candidates agree. Let us not pander to our historic fear of others. The colonial settlers feared the Irish, who feared the Germans, who feared the Italians. And all of them feared the Eastern European Jews. Each of these immigrants groups have contributed to the culture and concept of the American dream.

(8) Harry, I never stated my specific concern about the right of privacy. I was generally alluding to the fact that much of our personal financial data and medical information is subject to both government and public scrutiny.

I will however comment on the communication intercepts that you rose. Just ask that the Bush administration obey the law.

Finally, Harry, look out your front door. The enhanced dunes that protect your property come from the very pot of Congressional funds that you mock. The Bethany Beach Town Council, of which you were a member, voted to hire a Washington lobbying firm to convince Congress to provide all of us the protection from stormy Atlantic Ocean.

P.S. My original letter to this newspaper was a complaint about the poor quality of questions asked is the dozens of presidential debates. This was before the journalistic malfunction that was the “debate” on ABC. George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson are spending too much time treating our leaders in the same manor that they treat Britney, O.J. and Michael Jackson. Lapel pins are not on the minds of the American public.

We need answers to the complex issues that challenge our future.

Dennis P. Cleary
Bethany Beach

VA must do a better job with veterans

Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Joseph Biden and Rep. Mike Castle, and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

On CBS Evening News today, a segment was devoted to the Department of Veterans Affairs misrepresenting actual statistics about our veterans committing suicide. As I recall, CBS reported in actuality about 1,000 veterans per month were committing suicide, but VA reports cited about 790 per year.

If you are unaware of this issue, CBS also reported that U.S. Congressman Bob Filner was cited as an elected official who was working on this issue. CBS also displayed copies of e-messages from a Dr. Katz, Veterans Affairs, who admitted to the true statistics of about 1,000 veterans per month committing suicide, but reporting to the public that the figure was 790 per year.

My only conclusion can be is that this was an attempt to hide VA’s malfeasance in not providing sufficient care to our veterans.

This report by CBS is but a continuation of recent reports I have read and heard from the general news reporting media about an issue I consider to be abuse to our military persons. This abuse, to be sure, stems from simple neglect and includes improper attention, to say the least, to our physically and mentally wounded veterans.

To me, their mental and physical well-being is not an issue of rewarding our veterans for service, but an issue of our government not satisfying an obligation to take care of service persons whom our government sends to war. At the very least, I believe it is simply a humane issue.

It is inconceivable to me that scores of our representatives and senators do not take umbrage with this inhumane attention to our military people.

With that in mind, I respectfully request you to give this matter your utmost attention.

As you may have noted, I have CC’d my state representative and senator in event they would be able to address this matter at the state level.

Please be so kind as to let me know what you intend to do in resolving this deplorable issue.

Harry Kreger
Ocean View

Mitchell thanks voters, supporters

I would like to thank the voters for their support, and especially those who volunteered many hours of campaign help making this a winning campaign. Seventy-four percent of the eligible voters is a record turnout on a rainy day. It is a tribute of civic pride for Ocean View that so many turned out, and it may be one for the record books.

My margin of victory, doubling, plus two votes, of my nearest opponent, was not a personal one for me, but a victory for all voters of Ocean View. I am humbled by their overwhelming support.

My opponents fought their valiant campaigns and contributed their diverse ideas, which I believe is part of the mosaic of our community. I commend and respect them for their ideas and efforts. However, voters sent a clear message of change, transparency and budgetary constraints. The old way of doing business must stop and we must enact change.

I want to stay in touch with all Ocean View voters and will create an e-mail distribution list for sending you town news. If you are interested in being on this list, e-mail me at pmitchell@mchsi.com.

I will also propose a newsletter for town citizens who do not have a computer, but this will be dependent on town funding, and may have to await next year’s budget. My e-mail list will be a substitute until we have that newsletter.

As President Kennedy once said, “So let us begin anew – remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.” While meant to apply to foreign governments, I believe that it equally applies at the local level of government, too.

Please come to town meetings and continue to participate in your government. I look forward to seeing you there.

Perry J. Mitchell, Councilman-Elect
Ocean View

Reader throws her support behind Carney

On Saturday, April 5, I went to the grand opening of John Carney’s Sussex County campaign office in Georgetown, Del. John walked around, welcoming people and asking for their support. He already had mine. John has a unique understanding of Sussex County. He knows that the needs of people here may be different than the needs of people in Wilmington or Dover, and he is prepared to work to be the governor of all of Delaware.

John knows what it’s like for working families because he comes from one. John grew up the son of two teachers, with eight brothers and sisters, living in a one bathroom house in Claymont. You can’t grow up in that environment and not come away with the values of hard work, compromise and taking care of others. John has spent his whole career in public service working for the people of this state. He’s exactly the kind of person we need as governor.

Linda Cavanaugh

Bethany resident thanks town for efforts

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Bethany Beach Mayor Carol Olmstead and Bethany Beach Town Council members and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication:

Congratulations on the new dune and replenished beach. Years of your, and your predecessors’, hard work has paid off, and the beach is in healthier shape than it has been in decades.

Please disregard the few, but persistent, complainers who believe the dune is too high. As anyone who has observed the ocean over time knows, the dunes are not static. What seems high today will be carved, sculpted, and adjusted over time; in some areas it may grow higher, in many it will likely shift downwards.

One need only to look at the broken remains of the nascent subdivision streets scattered among the dunes of Assateague Island National Seashore to have a poignant reminder of the fragility and vulnerability of human endeavors in the face of Mother Nature’s strength. Or look at photos of Bethany after the 1962 storm, with the old Seaside Hotel broken in half and beds hanging out from its upper stories.

Thank you, Mayor Olmstead and Town Council members for your long range vision and determination in protecting Bethany’s future.

William and Robin Baxter
Bethany Beach and Arlington, Va.