Email Letters: September 22, 2017

We should all have to pay our fair share in taxes for the common good

Letter writer John Nadolny is reluctant to support the upcoming tax initiatives for District 51 and public safety exclaiming “What have you folks been doing?” when it comes to schools falling into disrepair or crime statistics going up. Has John been living in a cave most of his life?

Ever since George W. Bush took office and slashed tax rates, America has been taking part in the Great Austerity Program where people no longer pay sufficient taxes to fund important basic needs like education, law enforcement, national parks, etc. And as a result, there are consequences like schools falling into disrepair or not having enough officers to deal with crime. Mesa County voters haven’t voted for any District 51 funding initiatives since 2004! You get what you pay for.

I’m tired of the selfish attitude that people have when it comes to not paying your fair share in taxes for the common good. I myself am willing to pay for new tax initiatives because there is no way you are going to “Make America Great Again” if you are not willing to invest in the future. John Nadolny argues detailed accountability but that just sounds like an excuse to not pay more in taxes no matter what facts you put in front of his face.

It’s particularly galling that Mesa County voters have in recent years voted down money for local schools and the Grand Junction Police Department. They don’t want to pay any taxes, period. It’s an extremely selfish attitude to the detriment of anything worthwhile.

JIM DENTON
Grand Junction

Representatives need to listen to constituents on health care

An open letter to Senator Gardner and Congressman Tipton:
Are Senator Gardner and Congressman Tipton, really going to allow a vote on a new healthcare plan before it can be reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office and released for further study? Really?

Please quit acting like a couple of “lemmings,” following “in step” at the direction of your party leaders. Yours isn’t supposed to be a career that you are trying to protect. Yours is supposed to be a responsibility that responds to the best interests of your constituents.

If you really look closely at the wishes of the majority of your constituents, most want to give the ACA a chance. Trump, with your support, has done nothing but try to undermine its chances for success. This is appalling.

Again, please show some reasonableness and don’t allow a vote just to satisfy Trump and McConnell and Ryan’s mantra of “Repeal and Replace.” Thank you for your consideration of my request.

TOM BACKHUS
Paonia

EPA ozone standard protects water and air from contaminates we produce

Perhaps there is a wall someplace where Dr. J. Winston Porter, “the national energy and environmental consultant,” can have his portrait displayed next to those of the consultants and officials who decided that the cost of providing safe water to the citizens of Flint, Michigan was “escalating out of control” and that the standards that protected safe-to-drink water were “unnecessarily costly and restrictive.” Flint’s citizens consequently endured years of polluted municipal water bringing illness and misery to the citizens of Flint.

Similarly, Dr. J. Winston Porter in his Sunday Sentinel Op Ed argues that Congress should weaken and delay the implementation of the EPA Ozone Standard of 70 parts per billion to reduce the costs of compliance and to enhance job creation. For Dr. Porter, economic growth in cities and counties with ozone levels around 70 ppb is more important than people’s health. He argues that a House-passed bill to delay implementation of the ozone standard is a good thing and suggests that most counties will be in compliance by 2025 if the Senate passes a similar bill.

Unfortunately, ozone above 60 parts per billion harms human health, increasing bronchitis, asthma, hospitalizations, and heart attacks. In 2009 an 18-year study of 448,850 people, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrated a significant increase in the risk of death from respiratory causes in association with increased ozone concentrations. Long-term, low-level ozone exposure for some is lethal. This study confirmed the findings of other studies including a 2004 John Hopkins study that indicated that more than 5,000 people die in the U.S. prematurely every year due to ozone pollution. Because of these health impacts, Canada’s standard is 63 ppb and the EU standard is 60 ppb.

Energy consultants need to support, and public officials need to implement, the EPA 70 ppb ozone standard to protect today’s air we breathe. Pollution controls of tailpipe and smokestack emissions should be required when communities are out of ozone compliance, and new industrial development should only be permitted with strict pollution controls when ozone levels approach 70 ppb. One of government’s essential services is to protect the water that we drink and the air that we breathe from contaminates that we produce. The EPA ozone standard tries to do this. It needs public support. Hopefully Sen. Gardner and Sen. Bennett will vote to protect human health and will support immediate implementation of the current EPA ozone standard.

CHARLIE KERR
Grand Junction

State sanctioned proselytizing of Christianity is still occurring

In 1962 my father received a notice from the Baltimore County Clerk informing my dad that he had been selected for jury duty. On that notice was a list of 11 questions to determine if my dad qualified to serve on a jury. Question number 11 was “Do you believe in God?”

That question had been stuck through, as a recent Supreme Court decision had made such a religious test for holding public office Unconstitutional. This is the same decision that had outraged Christians for “removing God from public schools.” Putting “God” back into public schools had been a rallying cry for all manner of Christians ever since, and has only recently been superseded by other call for oppression.

As recently as 1962, Christians have used the power of the state to force their views on society. I spent the first six years of my public education being required to recite the Lords Prayer at the beginning of every school day. Apparently many Christians feel “oppressed” because they are no longer allowed to use legal means to force their views on others.

Of course this state sanctioned proselytizing is still occurring, After all our Pledge of Allegiance still contains that McCarthy Red Scare era addition “Under God,” as well as that exclusionary statement “In God We Trust” legally being required on our currency.

I don’t trust in “God.” I don’t think our nation was founded “Under God.” Somehow these supposed “men of God” (I challenge that premise as well) left out references to God or Jesus when they wrote the Constitution. They specified that government couldn’t make laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion, as well as laws that establish religion. Yet until 1962 more than half of the United States had laws that essentially established religion by mandating school prayer as well as requiring a belief in God in order to hold public office. That included service on juries.

Few people relish the prospect of jury duty, especially in 1962 when a jury summons meant that a person was highly likely to take hours, days, sometimes even weeks or months out of their lives. Being summoned for jury duty could be a major disruption in a person’s life, thus my father was unhappy to see “Do you believe in God?” struck through. My father did not believe in God, so he had an out, until 1962.

Throughout the history of Christianity, until the 18th century at least, the Christian moral foundation of society was created by torture, gruesome execution and genocide. Until 1700 or so a statement casting doubt on minor issues of religious orthodoxy, or casting doubt on the existence of a supernatural deity, could lead to the rack and the fire. Or some other imaginatively agonizing form of execution.

When I someone complain that religion is being suppressed in our country what I really hear is that Christians are being prevented from forcing their beliefs down our throats. When I hear them proclaim the need to be tolerant of other faiths I hear them add, in my mind, “For now.”

ANDY WOMACK
Grand Junction

If Wagner feels money is not the key to better education, then what is?

If Rick Wagner feels money is not the key to better education, what is? Using a study by the very conservative Cato Institute is hardly instructive. No bias there!

Do studies about the affect of poverty and low property values, thereby limiting educational revenue, have a bearing on educational achievement? In Colorado the Cherry Creek system has high funding and high achievement. It also has high property values and a highly educated population. Is there any correlation with either, or both?

So, what is the answer, Rick? Is your article a way to imply that our board and all the employees of District 51 are sub-standard and don’t know what they are doing? And your answer for the district is, what? I don’t recall that your name was on the list running for the board.

Does the level of education of parents and the average level of incomes here have a bearing on our achievement? Will higher wages for teachers, here, be wasted? In fact, do teachers have any bearing on achievement levels? We’ve hired a bunch of greedy slugs here and that is one explanation for our shortcomings?

You have written your article on condemnation of our situation. So, what is the answer? Assumedly, you have the key. Share it with us. You are the critic, which usually means you have some answers; otherwise you don’t know what you are talking about. Or is it your job to criticize just for the sake of stirring things up?

Did I read somewhere that you were a product of this system? There must have been a “good old time” in our system when you were attending or are you saying that your education was lacking? When was that time and why did it work then and not now? Or are you merely complaining about the education available then, which has been perpetuated until now?

JOHN BORGEN

Grand Junction

Why the hypocrisy of ‘In God we trust’ should be challenged

Thanks to Mesa’s peripatetic partisan Dave Kearsley for confirming the coalescence of unprincipled “conservatism,” malevolent Republicanism, empty-headed Trumpism, and self-righteous religiosity (“’In God we trust’ is being challenged”) – which is precisely why the magical thinking and hypocrisy of “In God we trust” should be challenged.

To paraphrase Kearsley, “throughout the history of mankind, religion has been used to” explain what humans could not yet comprehend about the natural world they lived in. Along the way, evolving religious beliefs encompassed cultural principles of morality, ethics, and law which shared one thing in common – some version of the Golden Rule.

Inherent in many religiously hidebound cultures were those who questioned or doubted the self-ordained priests when their prescriptions and/or prophecies proved unreliable. Some were crucified, some were burned at the stake, and some were tortured by the Inquisition (all in the name of “Christianity,”) and some recanted to save themselves.

While the U.S. Constitution is clearly “based on Judaic/Christian values,” the Founders (albeit nominally “believers” in Providence) were well aware of the atrocities committed by various “Christian” sects against one another – even in the American colonies. Thus, the very purpose of the First Amendment was to secularize our government by keeping it out of religion – and vice versa. So, while Kearsley pays lip service to Constitutional protections for “other religious beliefs and atheists,” he refuses to recognize that the First Amendment was indeed intended to thwart (“oppress?”) Christians who would subvert it.

Therefore, Senators Feinstein (Jewish) and Durbin (Catholic) had good reason to question Trump’s federal judicial nominee Amy Barrett (Catholic) about her personal commitment to “orthodox Catholic dogma” – which irreconcilably conflicts with American women’s constitutionally protected right to chose an abortion (at least, prior to fetus “viability.”)

Indeed, while the 14th Amendment sought to secularize the Golden Rule by guaranteeing “the equal protection of the laws,” so-called “Christians” have abused their purported “religion” by using it to justify slavery, racial segregation, and discrimination against women, gays, and now transgender citizens. Thus, it’s high time we returned to “E Pluribus Unum” (From Many, One).

BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction


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