Soap Box

The end of animal oppression
01/23/2020

To the editor,

On Jan. 27, the world will observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Hitler’s largest death camp.

A key question facing historians is how could an enlightened society that produced our civilization’s greatest philosophers, poets and composers also produce its most notorious mass murderers? How could it get millions of ordinary citizens to go along? Was the Holocaust a peculiarly German phenomenon, or are other enlightened societies capable? Why are we Americans willing to subsidize unspeakable atrocities in our own factory farms and slaughterhouses?

Jewish Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer concluded that: “To the animals, all people are Nazis.” His message was that we are all capable of oppressing the more vulnerable sentient beings in our midst, frequently without giving it a second thought.

Indeed, our own enlightened society has translated the arbitrary Nazi dictum “the Christian lives, the Jew dies” into an equally arbitrary “the dog lives, the pig dies.” Only the victims’ names have been changed. The blissful ignorance of death camps and slaughterhouses in our midst remains.

On the long road to end all oppression our very first step must be to drop animals from our menus.

– Dante Gomez, Durango

Time for Trump to hit the road
01/23/2020

To the editor,

No American is above the law, including the President of the United States. Donald Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election demonstrate that he is a danger to our democracy. Thanks to public testimony during the impeachment hearing, we have irrefutable proof that Trump abused his power – threatening to withhold $400 million in security aid unless Ukraine complied with his request.

If any other American or public servant committed these crimes, they would be behind bars. Now that the House of Representatives has voted to impeach Trump, it’s up to the Senate to hold Trump accountable. Lawmakers are bound by oath to defend the Constitution, and Trump’s behavior, as outlined in the House’s articles of impeachment, make it clear that he’s unfit to remain in office.

Poll after poll demonstrates that the American people are sick and tired of Trump’s assault on the rule of law. The way forward is clear: removal.

With the integrity of our elections and the health of our democracy at stake, it’s the right decision to make.

– Jan Clark, Durango

Look for property tax notices soon
01/23/2020

To the editor,

You should receive your property tax notice by the end of January. These notices are mailed to the address on file with the county assessor. Even if you do not receive your notice, you are still responsible for the tax payment. You may obtain a duplicate notice on the La Plata County website or by calling the Treasurer’s Office. This notice is for your records.

Many homeowners have a mortgage and an escrow account with their bank. If you do, check with your bank as to when they will be paying your taxes. You are paying your taxes through your mortgage payments. If you both pay the property taxes, we will refund the money to the person or entity that paid second. Why? Because....

We pass on all property taxes collected to the local taxing authorities, such as the school districts, library districts, fire districts, etc. the month following our collection of taxes from you. School teachers and firefighters depend on you!

You may pay taxes in two half payments (March 2 and June 15) or in one full payment (April 30). Partial payments will be returned. Interest accrues after the payment deadlines, per the schedule on your tax notice.

Also, on the back of your tax notice is information on the senior and veteran exemptions. For an application, contact the Assessor’s Office. Applications are due by July 15.

Please contact either the County Treasurer Office (970-382-6352) or Assessor Office (970-382-6228) for more information or clarification.

– Allison Aichele, La Plata County treasurer and public trustee

Health care facts versus fiction
01/23/2020

To the editor,

Many politicians and pundits oppose Medicare for All (M4A) because they say Americans are “happy” with their employer-provided private insurance. Recent surveys have shown that a large portion of those workers (40 percent of Americans) have huge gaps in their coverage, causing them to skip or delay treatment because of cost. It’s hard to find a single example of a worker or union-negotiated health plan that can match the great benefits and a nationwide network of doctors and hospitals that are currently in both M4A bills.

Private health insurance adds no value to worker’s health care. Private insurance drowns us in confusing complexity, causing excessive and costly paperwork. Plus, many small businesses are being crushed by insurance costs themselves.

M4A would relieve employers who currently spend huge amounts on health care, to instead offer much needed wage increases to their employees. It would provide a pathway to recover sunken wages from earlier negotiations.

What workers loathe worse than their insurance company is the fear of going without insurance. Opponents of M4A capitalize on this misleading fear and have turned it into a mythical love affair with private insurance. Both M4A bills have either a two- or four- year transition period, where certain people would be immediately covered, but no one would lose their insurance. Before you vote, remember that M4A means never losing your comprehensive health care EVER. The sooner we can work on it, the faster we can prevent the suffering, unnecessary deaths and financial ruin imposed by the current system.

– Jan Phillips, Durango

The GOP elephant in the room
01/23/2020

To the editor,

Sen. Cory Gardner, seeking reelection in November to another six-year term, clings to the elephant in the room while pretending not to see it.

The “elephant” is Trump’s abuse of power; not just any abuse of power, but gross abuse. It comes in the form of conditioning release of Congressionally authorized and legally mandated military-defense funds to Ukraine on that country’s president’s participation in a fraudulent campaign to malign Trump’s political opponent. This was all done for Trump’s personal gain and directly contrary to the security interests of the United States.

The “pretending not to see it” is Gardner’s strategy of stepping up emails to his constituents, extolling his accomplishments while remaining silent about the paramount issue facing our country – the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump.

– Edward Packard, Durango