The ill conceived Medicare prescription drug coverage forced on seniors by the present administration is nothing short of a cruel joke. We were told it was to help us with prescription drug costs. The very poor may benefit and the rich don't have to worry, but it lays an even bigger financial burden on those of us who fall between the cracks.
HMOs subsidized by Medicare deduction from seniors' Social Security are required to follow Medicare guidelines. If the HMO raises the "cap" on medication as mine has done, it also compensates itself by raising its premium and its co-pays, plus the deductible for hospitalization. If its formulary does not include drugs the patient requires, the out-of-pocket cost can be unaffordable. Another bitter pill to swallow, no pun intended.
We can now add this new financial setback to the escalating list of increased prices of almost everything essential to our basic needs. The ripple effect starts back at the invasion of Iraq and there is no end in sight.
We were better off before President Bush decided to take advantage of our seniors' naivete and thrust this poor excuse of a prescription cost "solution" on our helpless backs. Of course, he will never have to worry about covering his health-care needs. Nor will the politicians in our government. It make me wonder if the so-called middle class is on its death bed.
I was dismayed by the letter from the parent of a young woman who joined the Air National Guard. The sentence that caught my eye: "She can serve where she is needed while attending college." That is so upsetting to me, a mother of three children aged, 22, 29, and 33.
Our younger daughter just attended the funeral of one of her classmates who had previously attended Monroe High School.
You see, he had high aspirations of attending college, too. He was in basic training; then, after a period of about three or four months, he was sent to Iraq. He was on patrol with full body armor when a sniper shot and killed him. He recently was buried with full military honors. What we are not hearing is that, more than likely, these young people will be shipped to Iraq, not one time but possibly two or three or four tours of duty. If they survive that, then they can attend the college of their choice.
I for one am extremely proud to pay for our daughter's college myself. At least I know where she'll be after her schooling, not in a hell-hole they call Iraq!
In the late 1980s mortgage interest rates fell below 10 percent. Credit card interest rates stayed above 20 percent. The credit card industry persuaded our government to let credit card rates remain at this high level so that losses from people filing for bankruptcy could be recovered. The credit card companies helped push for tougher bankruptcy laws now in effect. Are they going to lower their rates now?
I side with the companies to a point. People should be responsible for their careless financial actions. In turn companies must be responsible for their actions. I am referring to companies that decide they no longer will pay for pensions and other retirement benefits that were promised. Companies have a large responsibility to the economic development of this country.
When the senior citizens lose their retirement benefits, how are they going to pay for medicine, emergency expenses, and the standard of living that they were once proud to achieve? Just charge it, I guess!
Like millions of other Americans victimized by outrageous home heating costs this winter, I will be lowering my thermostat, covering my windows with plastic sheeting, and using electric space heaters to keep my personal space temperature tolerable.
The fossil fuel crisis is only likely to get worse, as an exploding global demand confronts the reality of a limited supply and the vagaries of Middle East politics. We can blame the Bush Administration and the oil companies for the current crisis. But, for the long run, we must reduce drastically fossil fuel consumption in our cars, our homes, and our diets.
Yes, our diets. According to Cornell University Professor David Pimentel, production of meat and dairy products accounts for approximately 15 percent of our national fossil fuel consumption. Most of that goes to manufacture fertilizers, operate farm machinery, and run irrigation equipment for growing animal feed. The rest is used to operate factory farms and slaughterhouses and to process, transport, refrigerate, and prepare meat and dairy products.
Anyone who cares about the cost of fuel this winter should consider these impacts of meat and dairy production on their next trip to the supermarket.
Those who say they want to drive safely and talk on a cell phone (either hands-free or not) are hypocrites, plain and simple. Research shows how cell-phone talk affects your attention to the road. It isn't the button-pushing or other fiddling with the phone that is the culprit, it is the fact that when you talk to another person who is somewhere else, you go there mentally to talk with them. Hands-free cell phones will not solve this either.
I have observed literally hundreds of drivers with a phone conversation going on in their car, and they all have the same distant stare on their faces as they try to negotiate the road. Often they are cutting a corner too close, weaving slightly across their lanes, or coming at me with a "deer in the headlights" look. I pray each day that I or someone in my family won't be hit or killed by such a self-indulgent hypocrite whose "important phone call" is more important than seeing me before a crash occurs.
Our legislators are hypocrites, too. Most of them pay no attention to the research and obvious stares they see from cell-phone drivers because they themselves have become dependent on cell phones while driving. In Michigan they want to pick on young drivers and limit their use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Well, guess what. Distraction while talking happens to all drivers, regardless of age. When it comes to driving while distracted, lawmakers are no better than the kids and "hands free" will not make it any better.
Remember these life saving words: Hang up. And drive! The life you save may be your own.
The recent massive earthquake in South Asia was a tragedy of epic proportions. It predominantly affected the Pakistan-held Kashmir and to a lesser extent the Indian Kashmir. Paradoxically, it has brought the two South Asian neighbors closer together than ever before, except perhaps in pre-partition India. The Pakistan government, hapless and clueless, has asked for international help, and the death toll is expected to climb, according to an unconfirmed source, to 100,000. The world, already weary of worldwide tragedies, has been somewhat slow to respond.
In the midst of all this, certain disconcerting factors have come to light, almost unnoticed by the world. Al-Qaeda has offered monetary help to the Pakistan government to deal with the tragedy. Pakistani officials were mum on the issue. If the Pak government has no dealings with al-Qaeda, the aid, drug money tainted with the blood of innocent people, ought to be rejected. The recent four simultaneous bombings in New Delhi, resulting in 59 deaths, points to involvement of a foreign country. This and the acceptance of aid from al-Qaeda would be tantamount to a tacit admission of still-persisting links between the Pakistan government and al-Qaeda.
After looking over the candidates for mayor I have come to the conclusion that if this was the best Toledo has to offer, we should immediately return to the city manager form of government.
WARREN H. COTTLE