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Letters to Editor

Pipe dream

Dear Editor:

Interesting that Mr. Blake wrote about Singapore, one of the “Asian Tigers,” (The Republic of South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the city states of Hong Kong and Singapore). It is well known that China and India are making phenomenal economic progress, but how about Thailand? In this month’s Scientific American, there is a 20-page advertising section devoted to Thailand. The article states that Thailand’s ultimate goal is to become a knowledge-based society. Quoting from the article, “One of the fastest-rising sections in recent years is medical tourism, with foreigners visiting Thailand to take advantage of Thailand’s world class and extremely affordable health care system. In 2008 some 1.4 million foreigners sought treatment in Thailand.”

The American health care system is terminal with no hope of recovery, as proven by the most recent debacle. Americans spend about 2.5 trillion dollars per year, roughly $20,000 per person on health care. Assuming a conservative 10-percent inflation rate for health care, the cost per person will double in seven years to $40,000 and quadruple to $80,000 in about 15 years. (For those of you who have forgotten how to calculate compound interest, just divide the interest rate into 72 to obtain a good estimate of the doubling rate. Even better, if you own a side rule, just multiply 20,000 by 1.1 seven times.) One reason for choosing a 10-percent inflation rate is that it is in line with the historical record. Another reason is the population is aging. The Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age and the lifespan of Americans has increased to almost 80 years. Additionally, ever more expensive treatments and drugs are being introduced on a daily basis.

I am bemused by all this talk about balancing the budget. There are three major components to the federal budget — military spending, Social Security and Medicare. The rest is just pocket change. More precisely, 447 billion out of the 3.5 trillion dollar federal budget. To put these huge numbers in perspective, it is well to note that 3.3 trillion dollars (the equivalent to the 2010 federal budget) are traded every day in the foreign exchange markets.

Unless the soaring health care costs are brought under control, any hope of balancing the budget is a pipe dream. Can’t America do better than Thailand?

Bob Dungan

Arboles

Get it?

Dear Editor:

The point of my “Slippery Slope” letter was not to suggest a magic fix for all county vs. property owner issues. The primary point was to question the rights of the county to bypass private property signs without prior notification. The underlying point was to ask property owners to speak out as to how much control they wish the county to exert.

I know the county serves an important purpose in trying to keep our standard of living high. Since law is purportedly based upon common sense, then common sense should occasionally be applied.

If a property owner constructs an unsafe building or dumps pollutants, then they should be stopped and held accountable. Common sense. Yeah county! Go county, go!

If a property owner wants a tool shed, picnic table area, inner tube rope swing, or to enjoy their property in any low impact common sense way, there should be no question or issue. Common sense. Boo county! Stop county, stop!

Get it?

Barry and DeEtte England

Santa Clara, Calif.

Non-starter

Dear Editor:

Reading the editorial today advocating Pagosa Springs recasting itself as an “art friendly” town, I could not agree more.

However, the suggestion of Reservoir Hill as a location for a venue is a total non-starter. Why would anyone select a location for an expensive facility, accessible only part of the year? To be economically viable, such a location will need year-round, easy access in order to serve the community, not only as an arts incubator, but also as a convention suitable destination.

Thank you,

Ed Lowrance

An honor

Dear Editor:

What an honor it is to be part of Archuleta Seniors, Inc. (ASI), the organization that makes it possible to assist needy senior members through the Medical Support Program. No board members can ever claim any responsibility for this service. All ASI members as well as other community members make this service possible through two sources.

First, monies are available because ASI members hold fund-raisers. Second, ASI receives grants and other contributions from Pagosa Springs businesses, churches, and civic organizations. This kind of help makes possible such financial assistance to needy members of Archuleta Seniors, Inc.

The number of seniors receiving this assistance depends solely on need; the economic situation is the determining factor. More need — more distribution of funds. ASI board members can claim no pride in providing this help; all our members and also other community groups deserve all the credit.

It is also an honor to serve ASI, a group of seniors who are both energetic and enthusiastic. These active seniors rejected the recommendation from some members of the 2009 board, a suggestion made last fall that no election be held for 2010 officers and board members. It is heartwarming to see concerned seniors come forward, capable people who are aware of the need and who are willing to serve.

Regarding the health of Archuleta Seniors, Inc. — ASI is alive and well. All our members are honored to give assistance to members in need, and every member deserves credit for this service, along with cooperatioin from our fellow citizens of Pagosa Springs.

Mary Lou Maehr

2010 president, ASI

Important vote

Dear Editor:

A little-noted but extremely important vote took place in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, Jan. 26. All those interested in long-term fiscal sense and responsibility should take notice.

The vote was on Sen. Conrad’s amendment (No. 3302) to ”establish a Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action, to assure the long-term fiscal stability and economic security of the Federal Government of the United States, and to expand future prosperity and growth for all Americans.” The amendment failed by a vote of 53 Yea and 48 Nay — it took 60 votes to avoid a filibuster: 38 Democrats (including Democrat leaders Reid and Durban) and 15 Republicans voted for the bill, while 21 Democrats and 27 Republicans (including Republican leaders McConnell and Kyl) voted against the measure. I am pleased and proud to say that both Colorado Senators voted for the action! For details on the vote see www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=2&vote=00005#position.

Why is this important? A Congressionally approved commission would have been charged to come up with a set of actions to ensure fiscal solvency of the U.S. in the long term. It would create a commission empowered to examine without limits everything on the spending and revenue side of government. The commission would have 18 members — eight each of congressional Democrats and Republicans and two members from the Obama administration. It would come up with a series of recommendations to put the federal government’s fiscal house in order. If 14 of its 18 members could agree on a recommendation, it would go without delay — and without amendment — to the House and Senate for a vote. Passage would be subject to a double bipartisan test: First in the commission itself, where neither party would “control” more than 10 votes, and then in Congress, where majorities of 60 percent would be required in both the House and Senate — all still subject to presidential veto. This approach has worked well in the past for military base closings (Base Realignment and Closure Commission 2005 (www.brac.gov/finalreport.html) and the adjustments for Social Security (www.gao.gov/new.items/d08238t.pdf). Its main asset is that it would do what no party alone could do given the perceived political consequences.

As reported on CNNMoney.com, “Conservatives didn’t like it because they were sure the commission would lean too heavily on tax increases to help close the looming fiscal shortfalls. Liberals were equally convinced the commission would lean too heavily on draconian spending cuts, particularly in Medicare and Social Security.” http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/26/news/economy/fiscal_commission/. There is something to be said for a proposal that neither extreme likes. But, keep in mind that a bipartisan majority voted for the amendment; once again, a minority prevented a good bill from moving forward in the Senate.

Write Senators Bennet and Udall and let them know you support their vote. Further, write the Republican Senate leadership and ask them why they blocked necessary and prudent fiscal policy progress!

Want more details? Take a quick read of the former Controller General David Walker‘s book, Comeback America (www.comebackamericathebook.com/).

Respectfully,

Terry Pickett