By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Platteville Journal Letters to the Editor for Sept. 12
Placeholder Image

Boland vs. Kind

Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville, 42, has served the First Congressional District since 1999. He rose quickly through the congressional ranks and is now the Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget. He was chosen to give the Republican response to the State of the Union address in 2011. He is best known for the Ryan Budget Plan (passed by the House in March) and is now the Republican nominee for vice president.

In contrast, Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse, 49, has served the Third Congressional District since 1997. He is best known for faithfully attending every community parade in his district.

Voters of the Third District have a unique opportunity in November to fill a serious leadership vacuum by electing Ray Boland. Col. Boland served two tours of combat duty in Vietnam during his 30 years of active duty in the U.S. Army. He was a Battalion Commander, a Brigade Commander and the Garrison Commander at Fort McCoy.

Ray Boland has been a public school teacher, a member of the Wisconsin State Workforce Investment Council, the Chairman of the Wisconsin State Education Approval Board, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, the president of the National Association of State Directors of Veteran Affairs, and a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.

Rep. Kind has spent half his career as a practicing attorney and half as a practicing politician. Col. Boland has spent his entire career as a soldier, statesman and public servant. The choice could not be more clear. We need a proven leader as our representative in the Third District. Ray Boland is that man.

Dorothy Westermann
Eau Claire

The ‘nanny state’

Thirty-five percent of American homes, more than 100 million people, are now receiving welfare payments. Fifty years ago that number was 6 percent.

Today the Social Security Administration tells us more workers are on disability than any other time in the nation’s history. Almost 9 million today are collecting federal disability checks. In February 2001, only 5 million were. So in just over 11 years, disability payments have doubled.

Are you telling me that the work place is that much more dangerous? That the health of Americans is that much more precarious? Come on, we all know what’s going on here ... our society is changing from self-reliance to “give me stuff.”

We are indeed becoming a “nanny state.” That’s the primary reason we have $16 trillion of debt and that’s why the workplace is stagnant and individual ambition is on the decline. Why work when we can have the Obama government get me on welfare? Remember his quote “redistribute the wealth.” By the way, the 100 million Americans receiving welfare are not likely to vote for Romney.

Do you want to continue to back the president as Provider-in-Chief or do you want to take back, we as Americans, our pride in fiscal responsibility? You decide what path you want to go. Vote!

Carla Cooke

Raise taxes on the rich

About Thomas Skubal’s letter in your Aug. 22 issue: For starters if one is concerned, as Mr. Skubal apparently is, about fiscal “irresponsibility,” it seems worth noting that when George W. Bush became president in 2000, he inherited (from the prior Clinton administration) a federal budget surplus. The newly elected president promptly proposed and got passed a tax-cut amounting to a $1.6 trillion decline in federal revenue over the next 10 years — with nearly 90 percent of the tax cuts going to the country’s richest 5 percent of taxpayers.

With a serious recession at hand, resulting in even greater losses in revenue, by 2001 our federal budget had fallen into a $150 billion deficit. Nevertheless, by 2003 more tax cuts were enacted that mostly benefited the wealthiest one percent of taxpayers. Altogether, tax cuts enacted under President Bush cost our Treasury $2.5 trillion by the end of 2010. But does anyone recall the famous member of the Bush administration who liked to say: “Deficits don’t matter”?

It was perhaps that attitude as much as anything that led the Vulcans among us to think that they could engage in “shock and awe” in both Afghanistan and Iraq with nary a tax levied to pay for it. The message was: “Just put it on the national credit card.” So we did, and what didn’t “matter” grew exponentially.

Meanwhile on the home front, true believers in the fairy tale that “government should get out of the way” (of what anyone wants to do to make a profit) happily proceeded — in an atmosphere of deregulation and no government oversight — to blow up the economy, leading in 2007 to “the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression” and the initiation by the Bush Treasury of a “$700 billion bailout of commercial and investment banks.”

Keeping in mind historic facts like those just cited would seem to be crucial for establishing a context of civic “information” of the sort that Mr. Skubal calls for. Examining in greater depth our country’s recent political-economic history would also disclose how not only Republicans but some Democrats, too, have drunk the Kool-Aid of both “deregulation” and “starving the beast” (i.e. cutting taxes — particularly for the most affluent) over the past 30 years. The two, eliminating any regulations or limitations on the free expression of “market forces” and deep cuts in government revenues, logically, of course, go together, for rules can hardly be enforced if there are no funds to pay for referees to enforce them.

To say, as Mr. Skubal does, that “our economy is on the brink of disaster with little chance of recovery,” is perhaps self-serving enough if one’s objective is to scare the reader into thinking that the only possible solution is to vote for the Romney/Ryan duo in November. The utter irony of such a choice, however, should become clear when one realizes that Ryan, the highly touted Romney running mate, has the “Kool-Aid” mentioned above as a constituent part of his bloodstream.

And as for the myth, believed by Paul Ryan and enunciated by Mr. Skubal, that taxing “the wealthy … will result in fewer jobs,” it is just that, a myth. Billionaire Warren Buffett has said as much. If Buffett’s judgment is not convincing, though, consider the following other facts.

First, while since 1986 the top income tax rate has been 28 percent (having been reduced in a span of five years from 70 percent to 50 percent to 28 percent), in the 1950s when the top rate was 90 percent and regulations were not considered inherently evil, the following companies were born and flourished in our country: Xerox, Kodak, IBM, Sears, Syntex, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Hewlett-Packard, to name just a few.

Second, in just the past month Christian W. Thwaites, the president and CEO of the asset management firm Sentinel Investments has written: “Tax revenue has not kept up with transfers which is why the deficit increased. What should happen next? Well keeping rates low helps fund the deficit. And it could be more easily funded with a progressive tax rate and a more sensible, loophole free corporate tax rate. There. Said it.”

Third, for the past several years there have been a whole host of wealthy people, many of whom are millionaires, who have joined together in a common cause that is identified by what they’ve named their “organization.” The acronym for it is R.A.P.U.F.A.T.I. and it stands for “Rich American Patriots United For A Tax Increase” — on people with their kind of wealth, that is.

It is heartening, I think, that at a time when, to use the language of Jeff Madrick (in his 2011 book Age of Greed), a goodly number of our fellow citizens seem to be getting “comfortable with shedding their sense of obligation to a larger community,” the existence of CEOs like Christian Thwaites as well as groups like RAPUFATI is a reminder that there are still citizens among us for whom “liberty” does not trump “justice” and thus that in our land the idea of the common good has not completely disappeared.

Barbara Parsons
370 W. Pine St., Platteville

About the safety net

In a speech in late August Paul Ryan said that it was necessary to maintain a robust social safety net to protect those of us in need; but, he said “We don’t want to make it a hammock.” He is right. We should not make it so comfortable that elements of our population prefer it to work, but we should also not make it a bed of thorns, either.

Access to food, shelter and health care should not be something we debate. It should be a right for all. The logic of this position is simple. First of all, but for a lot of luck, I might be one of those in need. None of us have to think too hard to find the name of a friend, relative, neighbor or co-worker who has suffered because of the Great Recession. They may have been downsized out of their job, lost their home or lost their savings because of illness. I am happy that the only hit I experienced was to my retirement account;  but, if a few facts in my life were rearranged, I could have suffered more. If I were to need food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance or other public assistance, I would not want the process of obtaining that help to be humiliating, nor would I want it to be so miserly that my loved ones would be endangered.

Second, slashing the programs that are the safety net is dumb economically. It could cut the federal budget, but the cost will simply be shifted and probably increased. Think about health care. We have laws that require hospitals to treat people in need, even if they have no money. If we cut public health programs like Medicaid or Badger Care, those in need will still get care when they really need it, but the hospitals will simply pass the cost onto the rest of us who can pay. The first difference is that it will not be a tax. It will be a higher hospital or clinic bill. The second difference is that the total cost may well be increased as the poor forgo preventive care or care for chronic illnesses. Manageable illnesses will then become emergency room visits or hospital stays.

Substandard housing or diets can have the same effect as not caring for chronic illnesses. It will cost someone in the end and it may be more costly.

Finally, I do not want to live in a society where the poor, the handicapped, the elderly, or those who are simply down on their luck are allowed to suffer or are made to be the object of public ridicule. America and Americans have always been better than that.

Unfortunately, this is not a pointless discussion. While Mr. Ryan says that he would maintain a robust safety net, it is unclear how he would do that while destroying Medicare, slashing Medicaid, limiting unemployment insurance and cutting food stamps.

Ernie Wittwer

The Platteville Journal will print most letters to the editor, regardless of the opinion presented. The Journal reserves the right to edit material that is libelous or otherwise offensive to community standards and to shorten letters the Journal feels are excessively long. All letters must be signed and the signature must appear on the printed letter, along with a contact number or email for verification. Some submitted letters may not be published due to space constraints. “Thank you” letters will not be printed. All letters and columns represent the views of the writers and not necessarily the views of the Platteville Journal.