Soap Box

Not voting could be costly mistake
09/27/2018

To the editor,

There are so many serious issues facing voters in November. This mid-term election may be the most crucial in our lifetime.

One of the major concerns of voters is affordable health care. Medicare and Medicaid have been targeted by Republicans as a means of reducing the deficit. The $1.5 trillion tax cut the Republicans gave corporations and people making over $250,000 annually will add $1 trillion in 2019 alone to our country’s deficit!

The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee voted on June 21 to cut Medicare coverage by $537 billion plus reduce Medicaid health-care programs by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

The Republicans’ health care plan presently offers deficient insurance policies for low cost but of no value if you need medical care. They plan to move all of us to a “system of private for-profit health insurance plans.” A Kaiser Family Foundation recent poll found 59 percent of those polled support a single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care system.

The Koch Brothers, who hate any form of democracy or government oversight to protect “we the people,” put out a deceptive report on the actual cost of a Medicare-for-all plan. Over the next 10 years, they claim the cost would be $32.6 trillion. They never mention that in 2016, health care cost us $3.3 trillion in that one year alone!

If we stay on the present for-profit insurance corporation system, the government projects our costs will balloon to $49 trillion for the years 2018-27.

If the Koch Brothers’ claims are any way near to reality, then Medicare-for-all would save us $15 trillion!! And all of us would have better medical care – just like the other “developed” countries have had for years.

Vote! Your voter matters!

– Susan Troen, Durango

A chance to reverse inequality
09/27/2018

To the editor,

The cover of Time magazine this month (Sept. 28) says it all. Our current economic system is not working for our future. Shout it out! We are the ones who must do something about it. Educate yourself. Become active. Come to hear Chuck Collins talk about how income inequality contributes to this bleak future. Learn what we can do to reverse this trend.

Collins is a nationally renowned activist, a former one-percenter, and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. He will be speaking at Fort Lewis College Ballroom on Thurs., Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. This talk is free and open to all. Now is your chance to participate.

– Steve Krest, Marvel

It is time for a Trump-ervention
09/20/2018

To the editor,

There’s something really strange and disturbing going on in this country. Roughly 35 percent of the country seems to be under some kind of delusional spell or mass psychosis. I’m talking about Trump’s followers. His supporters will believe what they’re told by Trump, regardless of the facts, evidence and even common sense

It’s baffling to try and understand why you would continue to trust someone who has been documented telling 4,229 (as of August) lies or false and misleading statements. If your significant other is caught lying to you repeatedly, how much longer are YOU going to trust them? Trump’s Whitehouse relies on “alternative facts” and his clownish lawyer Rudy Guiliani has stated “truth is not truth.”

This plague of delusion and willful ignorance is not new. We’ve seen this before with the Branch Davidians led by David Koresh, the Manson Family led by Charles Manson and the infamous Peoples Temple led by Jim Jones. Over 900 members of the Peoples Temple drank poison mixed with Flavor Aid and died as a result of their blind devotion to a fool.

What’s described above are eerily similar to the Cult of Trump we’re seeing now. But the Cult of Trump literally has millions of followers and one very large media outlet: Fox News.

Some of the Sociological characteristics of a cult are:

• Charismatic leader who has no meaningful accountability yet becomes defining element of the group and its source of power and authority. Trump’s followers know he lies but just don’t care. They support his tariffs even though many will suffer bankruptcy when their farms no longer are profitable.

• Exclusivism: Cults often believe that they alone have the truth. Trump’s followers ONLY watch Fox News. According to Trump followers, all other news outlets are in conspiracy to hurt Trump and dispense fake news. It is not rational or reasonable to believe that every news outlet is in a vast conspiracy to defeat their beloved leader. But this is typical of a cult member.

• Opposition to Independent Thinking: Typically, cults discourage members from thinking independently. The “thinking,” as it were, has already been done for them by the cult leadership; the proper response is merely to submit. Only Trump tells the truth.

• Climate change is a myth. Ignore the science (plus historic wildfires, extreme weather, drought, floods etc.) and even your own common sense.

• Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions. Propagate myths like the black man is to be feared and kept down; Mexicans are rapists and gang members. Prevent even legitimate claims for asylum while taking extreme measures such as separating children from families. Ban all Muslims. When Trump says “Make America Great Again” what he’s really saying is “Make America White Again.”

• The group leader is always right. Trump claims his Hurricane Maria response was an unsung success. Really? Nearly 3,000 Americans died due to his slow and pathetic response. He gives himself an A+. Seriously! Trump actually said he’s “a stable genius.” Try not to laugh, but who talks like that?

The problem really isn’t with Trump – the problem is with his followers. To them, Trump represents what they wish they were: rich, powerful, famous. Trump can make racist comments publicly, without penalty. But if they did, they would be called out on it. Trump can fire people at will whereas most of his followers have no real power and are usually on the wrong side of the desk. Trump has multiple affairs with porn stairs and Playboy bunnies and commits sexual assault with no accountability. His supporters (mostly white men) are envious. His followers sincerely believe that this economic boon was started by Trump not Obama! Remember the economic pile of crap Bush left for Obama?

If it were not for Trump’s solid support (among Republicans), his political minions in Congress who are terrified of his base turning on THEM, would probably have impeached him by now. Trump’s support is much higher than is Congress.’ This explains why Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other politicians will not utter a word of condemnation. Yes, they’re gutless cowards, but they’re also craven politicians.

Their re-election and addiction to power outweigh what’s best for the country.

There is a two-pronged solution: 1) register to vote and then vote for a Democrat; and 2) try to talk some sense and reason into his followers. They’re scared and confused by a changing world and they need help. Maybe have an intervention.

– Bill Vana, Durango

Backing up the College Drive plan
09/20/2018

To the editor,

After attending a recent meeting on the city’s College Drive & 8th Street safety project, I came away thinking we’ve got good people working on public safety, but is the project itself a good one in its current form? Jim Horn, of Russell Engineering, explained the plan to reduce College Drive down to three lanes (two lanes plus a center turn lane). Also included would be: bike lanes on each side (to “create friction & slow traffic” Jim said), sidewalk enhancements, bump-outs, three bus stops, ped-Xings, and a possible “hot flash” light crossing (like 7th & Camino Del Rio). All this and the current 800-1,200 cars per hour, and Jim assured us this would be possible without traffic slow downs (other than at rush-hour times). It would also improve safety and increased business traffic.

I hope he’s right. If not, I and others at the meeting fear that if the flow of traffic slows (along with the speed limit), cars will move to side streets like 7th Street (with only one stop sign at 5th Avenue) to get from 8th Avenue to E. 3rd Ave. On the biking front, I tried to explain that as a city commuter and biker, I try to avoid busy streets like College or Main and instead use side streets (which have bike route designations). Even with bike lanes, why would I want to bike with more traffic, and have cars turning right on my side of the street – either having to wait for me to pass the intersection, or speed up to turn in front of me?

All things being equal, I think the city is right in trying to improve traffic flow and citizen safety with this project. I just hope the $1 million the city is matching with the grant moneys it has received will not create traffic and safety problems on adjacent streets. I urge the city to also have an action plan if the proposed re-configuration doesn’t work as promised.

– Tim Thomas, Durango

Smith, more than a cowboy hat
09/20/2018

To the editor,

1) His leadership style is inclusive and effective, earning him prestigious awards from both state and federal agencies for his competence and diligence during the 416 Fire.

2) His excellent record of fiscal responsibility. Having the largest budget of any county agency, he has saved $2 million over three years! And he brought in $750,000 of new outside revenue at no cost to taxpayers. He also acquired over $250,000 worth of emergency equipment – at virtually no cost to the county.

3) He’s a Desert Storm veteran. He understands and upholds the Constitution of the United States. Not only the Second Amendment but the entire document!

The responsibility of this office requires more than a big cowboy hat and promises; it needs hard work, experience and proven leadership.

Vote for Sean Smith for Sheriff.

– Helen Kunz, Durango