Soap Box

Time for Trump to pay the piper
11/14/2019

To the editor,

Had enough yet? The stench surrounding us is emanating from the rotten remains of what once was the Republican Party. While Republican congressional members have picked our pockets to the tune of $250,000 annual salary, plus all the well-funded benes of office, they have done little to repay working taxpayers. Instead of being responsible representatives of the people, they have enabled the criminal in our “dump” (his words) of the White House. Every outrageous, disgusting, law-breaking act by Trump has been ignored by these cowards in office! They have done nothing to stop his lawlessness and next to nothing to earn their pay.

Over 100 bills have been passed in the last eight months by the Democratic House of Representatives – all of them stopped from a vote in the Republican Senate by “Moscow” Mitch!

Our democracy is being corrupted from within – all for money and power for a handful of morally bankrupt people. To stop what is happening will not come from those elected with a (R) after their names. It must come from us – the people – the majority of us who care about America.

Someone famous once said, “A man’s character will be his fate.” It is time for Trump to meet his fate. The Republicans running for re-election in Washington will meet their fates in the next election.

– Susan Troen, Durango

The plastics 'bucket list'
11/14/2019

To the editor,

Although I have not personally seen it, there’s an art installation that recently opened, called “Arcadia,” which is said to evoke our love of our natural environment while simultaneously educating the public about humans’ impact on the planet.

In the end it asks participants, “What is your vow?”

It made me think of my “vow,” so that I will increase the chances of leaving this Earth habitable for the next generation and the other living things we share it with. I know I am only a small drop in the bucket, but it’s many drops that make one bucket, including my own.

My vow is to decrease my wastefulness – especially my single use trash – which is not an easy task as you may know. Plastic, for example, is everywhere. Avoiding it completely is virtually impossible, so just decreasing it has become a big part of my monthly challenge.

Here are the things I have been chipping away at, as I progressively work to reduce my waste:

1. Plastic bags – bringing my own reusable grocery and produce bags when I shop;

2. Take out waste – bringing my own supplies for “to go” food when I am on the run, such as a travel mug, utensils and take-away containers.

3. Bringing my own reusable jugs and jars to local stores where I can make bulk purchases.

I know there are many readers who have similar “vows.” Thanks to our community efforts, we can see the way to a bucket of solutions for future generations.

– Michelle Herringer, Durango

Reverse the divisiveness
11/14/2019

To the editor,

A recent solicitation letter from Sen. Cory Gardner closed with these words: “Help me fight back against the radical liberal hoards (sic) that is descending on Colorado ... to defend the radical liberal policies, socialist programs and restrictions to our constitutional rights ... .”

Does he truly believe that Coloradans are under attack? Probably not. More likely he believes what his campaign and party leaders are advising based on research of what fires up potential Republican voters. Just like the Democrat candidates who rely on polls, surveys and focus groups to craft messaging that pushes the buttons of potential “blue” voters.

Campaign marketing is all about eliciting emotional responses – the stronger the response, the greater the impact on our decision-making. Fear, blame, resentment, anger and even hope are the most potent triggers.

We’re being played. And the sad result is that we’re getting pulled further and further apart, divided into partisan tribes ruled by emotions over reason. We’ve evolved into a society that has normalized lying, shaming, bullying, yelling, humiliating and attacking others.

I wonder how, as a society, we reverse the divisiveness. Is it possible to get back to treating others like we want to be treated, recognizing and respecting differences, striving to find common ground, and agreeing to disagree respectfully when we don’t? Can we influence elected officials, the media, celebrities, athletes and other public figures to be positive role models for our children? How do we encourage and reward acceptance, tolerance, kindness and respect?

Do you think it’s doable?

– Greg Phillips, Durango

Better health care that costs less
11/07/2019

To the editor,

Debate moderators and rival candidates constantly try to lure Democratic president hopeful Elizabeth Warren into a political trap, pushing her to say she’ll raise taxes to pay for universal health care. Thirty seconds isn’t enough time for a cogent response.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently estimated that families making $100,000 annually spend 13 percent of their income on health care. That’s on top of what their employers contribute on their behalf. For some large companies, about 20 percent of payroll costs goes toward financing employee health plans.

The fear mongering comment that Medicare for All (MFA) means “higher taxes for middle-income families” ignores that payment for health care premiums, co-pays and deductibles isn’t already coming out of American families’ pockets. Under Obamacare, the poor pay a larger share of their income for health care than the affluent.

Bernie Sanders’ M4A bill outlines only one potential funding source that may affect middle-income house-holds: A 4 percent tax on families (exempting the first $29,000 of income).

The other funding sources affect only those making greater than $250,000 and million dollar-plus businesses. These proposed M4A payroll taxes are designed to exempt small businesses and low-income workers, while leaning more heavily on the high end of the pay scale. None of this would increase the burden on low-or middle-income earners.

Workers would “replace” their under-valued employer-based health insurance with improved, comprehensive coverage for everyone. Current Medicare recipients would see a simplified system with improved coverage. No denying claims, no surprise medical bills, no medically related bankruptcies, no exclusion for pre-existing conditions and no profits diverted to the top 1 percent.

Taxpayers currently foot the bill for nearly two-thirds of America’s health-care spending including Medicare, Medicaid, veteran care and corporate subsidies, plus coverage for congressional members and families, with tax-payers covering 72 percent of lawmakers’ premiums.

Economists across the political spectrum estimate that total health-care spending under an efficient single-payer, universal Medicare system would cost $39 trillion over the next decade.

Our current spending under the ACA is projected to be $45 trillion over the next decade. Apples to apples, a savings of about $6 trillion over the next decade using M4A.

Of course, every bill goes through a rigorous overhaul before being enacted into law. Which is why we must elect officials who are truly committed to the welfare of their constituents instead of wealthy special interest groups.

Fifty years after we put men on the moon, we clearly should be able to create a workable universal health-care system. All the globe’s other major countries have done it, and 10 countries have healthier outcomes than the U.S. A universal health-care system can contribute to social solidarity and national pride. Something that is sorely absent today in America. Doesn’t it make sense to pay less for better care?

– Jan Phillips, Healthcare Durango

Defending final end to prohibition
11/07/2019

To the editor,

By ballot initiative known as Amendment 64, Colorado began legal sales of marijuana on Jan. 1, 2014. As a result, the dispensary and its emblematic green cross are now refuge for the suffering where traditional pharmacological medicines could not palpitate. From thousands of miles away, people came to escape the harsh and repressive state legislatures of their origin. The science of marijuana, once confined to wall-less jails and quarantined with dangerous schedule I drugs, has been freed. But no economic measure being that of revenue or tax could greater sum the aggregate of persons now able to live functional lives with medical marijuana.

The State with recent passage of HB 19 1230 grants the privilege now to consume marijuana in the most common of places. The places where people freely exercise their most fundamental Constitutional rights with each other. The places of hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and leisure and the places providing medical and psychiatric care. The common nexus of all these places: a sense of belonging and affirmation that life’s adversities need not be taken alone. Vulnerabilities we all share are best absorbed by an exercise of human mutuality and that expression mustn’t deny legal and safe consumption of marijuana in the commonality of others and in the commonality of places without judgement, without prosecution and without stigmatization. The virtue is mercy, the right is freedom and the protection above all else is equal.

– Jaime McMillan, Durango