Letters to the editor-05-23-2013

May 23, 2013 

RIGHT TO WORK

Anti-labor laws holding Idaho back

Idaho has a real problem which shows its face in many areas, especially in economics and education. Since Idaho passed a so-called "right-to-work" law rendering unions weak, wages have gone way down and will stay down until Idaho changes the law. This reflects in many areas of Idaho economy, including educational funding.

Since many Idaho residents aren't making enough money, they continuously reject any proposal on their ballots that would adequately fund education, especially in cities like Nampa. This is why Idaho is at the bottom pertaining to education and wages in the United States. I personally know of companies that haven't settled their union contracts in six or more months because they want to lower wages and take away benefits. This needs to be corrected or the last middle class and poor person to leave Idaho, please turn off the lights!

MELISSA SUE ROBINSON, Nampa

SCHOOL ISSUES

School assignments defy logic, parenting

My child is supposed to be attending first grade this fall. We had him in a private kindergarten this year because they provided full-time day care. Both my spouse and I work.

We went to enroll him in the school by our house (our district school) in March. They said they were full, he would be unable to attend this school, they would end up busing him out of our home district and can't even tell me what school he will be bused to.

This practice is completely ridiculous as we can't tell him what school he will be attending. We don't know how to set up care because they don't know where he will go, and can't make plans yet because they can't tell me what time he will get home if he is bused. The district school is four blocks from our house.

Seems we are really blowing it for our children and spending lots of money in the process to bus them out of an area to a different school, plus adding confusion and frustration for parents and kids. No wonder private schools are doing so much better. You really do get what you pay for.

KATHY KONTES, Boise

FREEDOMS

Moral views frustrate our basic liberties

I sit back and shake my head. Have we all forgotten what this country was founded on? Freedom, freedom of speech, freedom to worship as we see fit and freedom from persecution. Yet many of us sit back and wish to trample others rights in the name of our own moral judgements. We elect politicians who either do not understand the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, or just chose to ignore it.

Why is there such a debate over gun control, isn't it a constitutional right? What about gay marriage? I thought it was illegal to discriminate. Abortion, drugs and numerous other controversial topics are debated and legislated. While people feel very strongly about these subjects, they are about morality, and do we really want the government to legislate our morality? Didn't our forefathers come to this continent in search of freedom? Please ponder these few things and look at your options for the future. Lets send a message across America that says no more business as usual. Our president ran on a ticket of change and the only thing that has changed is government being more intrusive. Look into alternatives and vote libertarian.

BARRY JOHNSTON, Kuna

AGRITOURISM

Don't issue a free pass

The May 13 lead, front-page story touting the wonderful legislative grant of civil immunity from liability to owners of "agritourism" businesses in Idaho only told one side of the story. Any avoidance of liability to special interests granted by the Legislature not only removes the common law duty of businesses to guard against injury to citizens but then transfers, in most cases, the costs of a negligent act and resulting injury to taxpayers instead of the person or entity which caused the injury or to its insurance company.

These attempts to make business owners feel "less stress" are really nothing more than an effort to avoid legal responsibility for negligent conduct and are a great benefit to the insurance industry. Unfortunately, there are dozens of these laws passed each year on behalf of such special interests and their lobbyists. Next time, please tell the whole story.

JIM C. HARRIS, Boise

PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Nurse points out benefits of clinic

To the person who said Planned Parenthood fails to give the straight story - it is obvious that he has never visited the clinic as a client. Having worked for Planned Parenthood in Idaho and attended many conferences with Planned Parenthood personnel when I worked for Public Health, I know that Planned Parenthood is very good at testing for STIs as well as educating clients in the proper use of birth control methods. Planned Parenthood is much more about educating their clients on reproductive health than it is about abortion.

Planned Parenthood, public health departments and most doctors offices don't do mammograms or prenatal care unless they are OB/GYN offices. The health care agencies refer those clients who need them to the proper health establishment to receive proper care, i.e. prenatal care, mammogram or cancer treatment. Planned Parenthood is about offering good reproductive health care and education to each client. If a client doesn't want to hear about abortion services, it is not pushed.

Contrary to what some are saying, Planned Parenthood is a good, quality reproductive heath care system, and that is based on more than 20 years of experience as a nurse and health educator.

WILLA HARRELSON, Retired RN/WHCNP, Meridian

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Health consumer applauds exchanges

It's amazing to me that we are only five months out from the Oct. 1 deadline when new health insurance plans become available through the Affordable Care Act, and so many Americans do not even know it's the law of the land. According to the Kaiser Health Foundation, 42 percent of Americans do not even know it is in effect, many assuming it was overturned by Congress or the Supreme Court.

As a pregnant mom who has recently benefited from purchasing costly new baby feeding tools without a co-pay, I wanted to remind my neighbors here in Boise how great this law is and how beneficial it will be to Idahoans and their families. Tax breaks will be available to help middle class families purchase plans on the exchange, and plans are required to be easy to understand and navigate. Plus, no woman will be charged more for insurance on the new plans, and pre-existing conditions (including being pregnant) are no longer allowable as reasons to deny coverage.

Three cheers for health care reform!

HANNAH BRASS GREER, Boise

EDUCATION

Takes issue with school assessment

It was interesting to read the Reader's View May 7, 2013, by Rod Gramer, president and CEO of Idaho Business for Education, regarding Idaho's students lagging behind the nation in nearly every educational category, especially in reading and math. "One of the most devastating statistics is that only 4 out of 10 Idaho high school graduates go on to college and of those, only one graduates."

I find it really disingenuous when a writer fails to complete the story. Yes, we are near the bottom in many educational categories, but we are also near the bottom in K-12 funding per student, in teacher preparation and professional development opportunities, and we continue to raise fees for higher education that price our students out of attending. Idaho is at or near the bottom in nearly every social metric you can name whether it's salaries, education funding, mental health care, prenatal care or whatever. Why?

When will we finally decide to focus on the solutions to our issues instead of continuously describing the problems? This only serves to continue to denigrate teachers and schools. And yes, there are solutions. In fairness, the governor's education task force is a step in the right direction.

TOM C. FARLEY, retired, State Department of Education, Star

LOOPHOLES

One man's deduction is another's lifeline

One recent letter to the editor advocates the elimination of all tax "loopholes," strongly implying that all tax loopholes are bad because they benefit specific interests. The letter writer states that a "loophole" is any tax preference that benefits a specific group and/or has lobbyists that support it.

What about the mortgage interest deduction? It benefits homeowners but not renters. Should we eliminate this? Elimination of this "loophole" would certainly help with deficit reduction!

What about the exemption that Idaho gives services from the sales tax? Should we eliminate this? I suspect the state could do a much better job of funding our schools if this were done.

And, what about the deduction for charitable contributions?

Each of these exemptions have interest groups and lobbyists that will support them. Therefore, they are "loopholes," using the letter writer's definition.

My point - one man's "loophole" is going to be another man's "necessity." And this is why elimination of "loopholes" is not a simple issue.

DAVE CHURCHILL, Boise

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