Soap Box

Health care facts versus fiction

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

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


The finest of light
Is in each of us
If we allow it to shine.
Each precious moment,
A note of a greater song.
The harmony of love
Lessens the burdens,
Showers the anguish
And gives us the strength
To meet the challenges
To make us whole
Under the continuous
Pulse of time.

– Burt Baldwin, Ignacio

Not all in CPW oppose wolves

To the editor,

As a former Colorado Division of Wildlife (before the merger with Parks) employee and part of the staff involved in the development of Colorado’s existing plan for managing wolves ( Species/SpeciesOfConcern/Wolf/recomendations.pdf) I wanted to help clarify a statement in a Jan. 9, Durango Telegraph on the wolf restoration effort (“Call of the Wild / Wolves going to the ballot box.”)

The last paragraph states in part, “state wildlife managers have also come out opposed to releasing wolves. In 2016, Colorado Parks and Wildlife commissioners voted against any sort of formal wolf reintroduction.” It’s important to understand that the Wildlife Commission is a  governor-appointed political body that develops and directs policy for the agency. That’s perfectly appropriate, but the Commission members are not biologists or professional wildlife managers. While I don’t know what the views of all professional biologists in the agency are, some (and perhaps many) support the restoration of wolves to Colorado.

Some of the folks opposed to wolf restoration disparage the initiative as “ballot box biology.” It’s not ... it’s ballot box policy making, which is as it should be. Biology informs wildlife management decisions, but very few of those decisions can or should be made on the basis of biology alone; politics are a necessary part of the process.

Just as the Commission has stated its policy, the voters of Colorado have the right to state theirs. That’s why the initiative process exists.

– Gary T. Skiba, Aztec

Riding the Trump gravy train

To the editor,

With all that’s going on in Washington – impeachment, Iraq, Iran and many other things – what does a press secretary do?

Stephanie Grisham was appointed in July 2019 with a salary of $179,000 a year. I bet you, an editor would like that kind of a wage for not having a press conference for over 305 days. Sara Sanders, whom she replaced, was at the start of the 305 days and same pay.

Sen. Gardner and Rep. Tipton get a base pay of $174,000. At least they do some work and release statements. You, the tax payer, are paying Grisham’s salary for doing nothing. If you think this is OK, call someone who can get you a job like that. No press conference for the public on what’s going on and great pay. For anyone who loves Trump, he has had three press secretaries in three years. You could be next very soon. Great pay, no work but short lived in the job.

– Bob Battani, Durango