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Letters to the Editor 7-19-17
National Debt

Dear Editor,
Our national debt is $19,849,797,859,667.97 and counting.  According to the U.S. Treasury, 2016 interest payments on our debt cost taxpayers $432,649,652,901.12 or, in rounded numbers, $36 billion per month or $1,185 million per day or $49 million per hour.  In other words, the con job that Democrats and Republicans alike have perpetrated against Americans for decades cost 432 billion tax dollars in 2016.
Imagine, the payment for interest on our national debt for one day could provide health care from birth to death for most of America’s 321 million citizens.  The cost of interest for less than seven hours of the one day could deposit $1 million in an interest-bearing account for each citizen to use for basic health care.  The interest payment ($864 million) for the rest of the first day could create an interest-bearing, catastrophic, health-care account, which would be accessible to individual citizens if needed.  Simple!
Such a plan would eliminate the excuse that hospitals and doctors use to justify inflated prices to compensate for citizens unable to pay (e.g., $2 for an aspirin tablet).  The plan would also eliminate Washington bureaucrats and the insurance companies that made over $15 billion in profit on human sickness in 2016.
Reason, responsible conduct by our elected politicians, and one day’s interest payment on our national debt could eliminate the complex health-care problem.  Now, consider what could be done with the interest payment for the rest of the month.  The 50 states and U.S. Territories could replace old bridges, pave highways, build new schools, and have money left over for contingencies.  That leaves 11 months of interest payments.  What if that money could stay in the households that earned it fair and square?
Sir Winston Churchill inspired my concluding statement.  Never have so many been conned for so long by so few.

Shafter Bailey
Lexington, KY

Letters to the Editor 7-14-17

Dear Editor,
Kentucky: Ranked #1 for Wrong Health Reasons
What I am referring to, sadly, are the horrible chronic diseases and premature deaths caused by Kentuckians using tobacco products.
Per Capita, Kentucky ranks #1 in cigarette consumption of all 50 states and leads the nation in lung cancer deaths. One-third of all cancer deaths in Kentucky are related to tobacco. The No. 1 killer of women is heart attack and stroke and of men, cancer; most are attributable to tobacco. Kentucky leads the nation by far in pregnant women who smoke (26.5% vs 10.7%).
The main groups of people that fare worst with tobacco smoking are kids and adolescents, pregnant women, and populations with low education and low income. Children and adolescents have immature brain function which predisposes some adolescents to substance abuse and addiction beyond nicotine. The vaping of nicotine by our youth is being successfully marketed by big tobacco companies and will lead to a whole new generation of nicotine addicts who may not smoke yet. Adolescents say that marijuana and prescription drugs can be easily obtained, even easier than alcohol; once again, raising a red flag of other substance addictions beyond nicotine.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking before or during pregnancy is the single most prevalent cause of illness and death among mothers and infants. Infants exposed to second-hand smoke in addition to respiratory infections are more likely to suffer from ear infections, asthma, failure to thrive, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Plus, anyone smoking around an infant can pose all the previously mentioned problems and health problems to other family members. There are also great financial costs associated with smoking in pregnancy. The direct medical costs of a complicated birth are estimated to be 66% higher in smokers. In Kentucky, smoking is attributed to 4.35% of the total neonatal expenditures (about $10 million per year).
Our poorly educated and lower socio-economical populations tend to have a higher prevalence of smoking. Unfortunately, this group may likely have no or inadequate health insurance and may procrastinate with their own healthcare.
How do we encourage those who smoke to quit? What can we do to discourage or prevent our population from starting smoking? Many states have addressed these problems with varying success. We know the initiatives that tend to be effective.
Smoke-free communities and workplaces: Kentucky has 24 smoke-free, community-wide ordinances or regulations in 10 of 120 Kentucky counties
Increasing a cigarette tax by greater than $1 per pack
Continue to fund anti-smoking education and counseling programs
Helping smokers quit: Recently our legislature passed Senate Bill 89. This bill requires private insurances and Medicaid to fund smoking cessation medications and counseling with no prior authorization required.
Non-smokers tend to live 13-14 years longer than smokers (Michigan Smoke-Free Community). Many employers like smoke-free workplaces because their employees are healthier and have less absenteeism.
Increasing the cigarette tax on a pack of cigarettes by greater than $1 is very effective in reducing and preventing smoking in adolescents, pregnant women and low income populations. Any reduction below $1 increase can and will be counteracted by cigarette companies. Big tobacco in the past has offered discounts and coupons (i.e. 2 for 1 pricing). The increase of the state excise tax by greater than $1 can generate $266-$332 million additional funds to the state as revenue yearly.
The Kentucky legislature is preparing to go to a special session in the next few months to consider tax reform and our underfunded pension programs. We have a golden opportunity to initiate programs that would benefit Kentuckians in many ways. The increased cigarette tax on a package of cigarettes greater than $1 will discourage smoking kids, pregnant women and lower income populations that have the most damaging effects from cigarette smoking. New revenue sources of around $300 million per year would be a good start for those underfunded pensions of state workers and retired teachers.
Preventing those children and adolescents who would progress from nicotine addiction to other more dangerous and lethal addictions makes perfect sense.
Medical cost savings from decreased tobacco use and diseases will help the state’s coffers; most importantly improve the health of our citizens.
Our tobacco farmers will not significantly suffer because nearly 70 percent of burley tobacco is shipped overseas where 20 percent of the world’s population smokes. States that have significantly increased cigarette taxes have noticed a slow and gradual decrease in cigarette consumption. The total revenue does not drop precipitously because of the increased tax per cigarette package.
This increase in tax results in a somewhat sustainable endeavor. Again, the most important reason to raise the cigarette tax by greater than $1 is for health reasons. Other nicotine delivery systems should also be taxed for reasons previously mentioned.
We are at a pivotal time in Kentucky history where are able to make a huge difference by saving lives and strengthening our economy.

Dr. Patrick J. Withrow
Co-Chair of the Kentucky Chapter of American College of Cardiology’s advocacy committee and the director of outreach for Baptist Health Paducah.

Letters to the Editor 7-12-17
Gas prices

Dear Editor,
I live in the Paintsville Kentucky area, called a depress area for jobs.  I find that our automobile gas prices are always higher than our neighboring cities.  Posed prices here constantly range 10 to 25 cents higher, and then when neighboring cities prices start lowering, that does not happen here.  We are always days later than our neighbor cities.  Talking to delivery tanker drivers, they think its unusual that our prices are always higher.   Sure looks like price rigging amongst the gas station owners of this area.

Harry L. Bennett

Medical marijuana

Dear Editor:
There has been a lot of local conversations about the State of Kentucky “going for medical marijuana”. I am sure you have local citizens/public officials that favor this. A lot of these persons want people to believe that the majority of voters are in favor of such a law. This is the same argument they use with abortion. I sincerely believe that both would lose if placed on a ballot.
Notwithstanding that I am against the approval of “medical marijuana” on religious grounds, I decided to do some research. I quickly found an article by the National Institute On Drug Abuse, dated April of 2017. This is extremely important for the future life of our children and grandchildren.
The first important question is, “What are the health effects of marijuana?”
Marijuana use has a wide range of effects, both physical and mental.
Physical Effects: Breathing problems, increased heart rate and problems with child development during and after pregnancy
Mental Effects: Temporary hallucinations – sensations and images that seem real- though they are not, and temporary paranoia.
Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. People also report less academic and career success. For example, marijuana use is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. It is also linked to more job absences, accidents and injuries.
The last important question is, “What does the bible say about this issue?”
Christians are all required to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us (see Matthew 25:14-30). That includes our earthly bodies. Marijuana (and other illicit drugs) is an extremely effective way to destroy your health, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Also, there is another biblical principle that concerns our susceptibility to deception. Many verses in the Bible are designed to remind us that we must be vigilant against the wiles of the Devil (1 Peter 5:8) who seeks to ensnare us through deception.
All drugs (including marijuana) are all psychologically addictive. Psychological addiction is an enslavement of the mind, often characterized by obsessive tendencies and a lack of desire to quit. While physical addiction brings the body into subjection, psychological addiction brings the will into submission. Any time spent kneeling before the god of drugs is time spent with your back towards the God of the Bible.
We, as parents and as individuals, are responsible for all our choices. As for me and my household, we will keep our minds clear and serve the Lord. Medical marijuana should never become legal and cannot be controlled. Any elected official favoring such an awful law should be voted out.
If voted on, the choice is yours. There is always a penalty for every bad choice.

Keen Johnson
Former Johnson County resident
Vero Beach, Fla.

Letters to the Editor 7-5-17
Oppose KY Power Increase

Dear Editor,
I read your article of June 21 on the increase of our power bill at an average rate of 12.6% which will cost each of us approximately an additional $24 per month! This comes after several previous rate increases attributed to Obama’s war on coal that caused the Louisa power plant to stop using coal to generate power in our area. You never mentioned that in your article. Why? No matter what your political inclination, it is incumbent on you that you report the wider story and the causes of that story, if you know them.
Surely everyone in this region knows about the liberal Democrat war on coal which the good people of Kentucky have voted against repeatedly in the elections since 2008. In war there is what we now euphemistically call “collateral damage” usually meaning noncombatants killed in the fighting. Eastern Kentucky is filled with the “collateral damage” of the Obama war on coal. Thankfully, President Trump has better common sense and he is reversing that policy, but a great deal of permanent damage has been done to our livelihood and the lives of many of our citizens. Note the fact that this rate increase is being justified in part because “KY Power has lost nearly 2,000 residential customers”. People have had to leave this area as a result of the loss of jobs  related to the coal industry being shut down by Obama’s war. Meanwhile he is frolicking from one fancy vacation spot to another, is a multimillionaire and earns hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech as a result of his government career. There are many other results of his presidency that we are now living with, such as the messed up healthcare system which he and the Democrats have done their best to turn into a government run system which is by definition a socialist type solution. If you think socialism is a good idea, look at Venezuela to the south which is now living a normal socialist nightmare. And if you think government run healthcare is a good idea, try the VA out for your medical care. Our Founding Fathers knew what we have forgotten, that to be free, we must limit the size of government power and the control it has over us.
Another omission in that article was the contact information to oppose this rate increase. When I called Ms. Belcher she told me she had realized that she omitted it, and she has placed that on Facebook. You can also find it at the end of the rate increase notice in that same issue. I would urge people to voice their opinion to the Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 615, Frankfort, KY 40602-0615 or contact them via the internet at concerning Case No. 2017-00179. Perhaps if YOU speak up we may be able to stop or at least reduce the size of this increase. We have already had too much of an increase before this last proposal. Write today before this decision is finalized.

Donald Barlow
Staffordsville, KY

Letters to the Editor
City Budget

Dear Editor,
Hello to all the taxpaying people in the city of Paintsville. If you have not noticed, the city budget was printed in the paper on June 21, 2017. Here is something I found startling, astonishing and amazing.
The previous 2016-2017 general fund revenue of the City of Paintsville was $8,228,200. The total anticipated revenue for the 2017-2018 general fund is $8,359,143, an increase of $130,943… $74,750 of which goes to the golf course, 57 percent of the entire increase.
The golf course was previously funded at $904.65 per day or $330,200 a year. It will now receive $1,109.45 per day for a total of $404,950 annually.
By the way, this increase makes the golf course the BIGGEST WINNER of any program in the city budget. On the other side, the combined Fire Department/EMS is the BIGGEST LOSER. Formerly these two departments were separate line items in the budget but are not listed as combined. We don’t know which one of them may have lost the most but together they are down $46,468 a year. Stay tuned.

David “Doc” Blair

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