Letters: 6/1/17

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

An open letter from faith leaders in response to 2018 proposed budget

As faith leaders in Boulder County, we seek to move beyond partisan politics as we consider the ethical and moral implications of the proposed 2018 federal budget. We have pledged to use our voice to unify people around issues of human rights and increasing economic and racial justice. We hope to bring ethics and morality into the forefront of our political conversation. As a basic tenet of our faiths, a measure of our goodness is how we care for children, the sick, seniors, low-income families, those without homes and others who are typically considered most at-risk during difficult times. We believe that the proposed federal budget puts these vulnerable people further at risk, which not only places long-term economic burdens on our community, but is ethically and morally unacceptable for a country as wealthy as the United States.

Some of the programs the federal budget proposes to eliminate include Meals on Wheels, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and HOME housing funds for low-income families. Programs that would see drastic reductions include the National Institutes of Health, Colorado Legal Services, Pell Grant student financial aid program and workforce training. Medicaid expansion and housing vouchers are also at risk.

The money saved by cutting these programs would be diverted to defense spending. In 2015, Boulder County taxpayers sent $830 million to the Pentagon. The proposed budget increases that amount by $80 million. This amount more than covers our share of the programs that are slated to be cut and, in addition, could fund local programs for the common good such as college scholarships, infrastructure improvements, public education, new housing for low income families, fire/flood mitigation and sustainable energy.    

We are writing as faith leaders with diverse political and social perspectives, but we come together around the guiding principle that it is right to treat others the way you would like to be treated. We do not believe that the proposed budget aligns with this core ethic. Please add your voice to tell Senator Gardner, Senator Bennet, Representative Polis, Representative Buck and Representative Perlmutter to prioritize the moral implications of the federal budget.

Faith Leaders of “Together Colorado” in Boulder County

State can’t be trusted on oil and gas development

A few points on “Warning: Oil and gas development may be hazardous to your health”  [Re: News, May 18]

1) “With so many questions swirling about its methods and conclusions, many around the state are questioning whether they can trust the state health officials are doing their best to ensure public health and safety.” The answer to this point is: absolutely not. The reason being that in a fascist state, the focus is exclusively on the dollars for profit, not on the health and safety of the people. In the fascist state the corporation is the government and vice versa. Too bad for the citizen victims.

2) In horizontal well drilling and with the tremendous pressures that are used to fracture the strata there is no controlling the direction of the fractures, or the distance the cracks can travel. Therefore, it seems logical that they can go right up to where the bedrock stops and the sand, gravel, dirt is located. The oil and gas vapors then have an easy access to the looser material and then to the atmosphere.

Remember the terrible condition of the air in Pavillion, Wyoming, and how smoggy it got when they had started drilling? This may be the cause.

Gary Beane/Longmont

Class-action suit casts light on Monsanto’s actions

I am writing in light of a class-action lawsuit cancer patients have filed against Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, which blames their illnesses on the product. I was shocked to read their claims that Monsanto is manipulating scientific studies, the EPA and the media itself.

Even when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, came to a conclusion in March 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” Monsanto responded with a backlash. Monsanto kills weeds as well as its consumers. There seems to be overwhelming evidence but no innovation. Unsealed documents reveal that Monsanto tried to discredit the March 2015 report before it was even published rather than changing their product. While each side retaliates against each other, there are still people consuming carcinogens without knowing that they could suffer. The EPA is a part of the problem by bending its own regulations to benefit Monsanto. Sheppard deserves an apology, let alone a recall of all Roundup products to prevent Monsanto from stripping away another person’s life.

In response to this negative publicity, Monsanto is not fixing its product — instead, Monsanto recently launched an ad that highlights family and food, ignoring that they’re poisoning families with contaminated food. This “family” ad campaign launched a year after the World Health Organization declared that Roundup is a likely carcinogen. Suddenly, a staple company in the food business has to reassure their consumers — but it didn’t stop them from selling a probable carcinogen.

Money is being thrown around to benefit everyone but the consumers themselves. Corruption lies within Monsanto, but the EPA is also to blame for allowing the use of these likely carcinogens. Don’t put your own self-interest before your consumers, Monsanto.

Tara O’Gorman/University of Colorado student

American Health Care Act would imperil millions

On May 4, the U. S. House Republicans found the necessary votes to  “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act. While their vote does not make the American Health Care Act law, it does bring the act one step closer to becoming law by moving it to the Senate. In its present form, were it to become law, 14 million Americans who are now insured would be without insurance in the first year, and by 2026, 24 million Americans now insured would be without insurance. In the bad old days before the Affordable Care Act, 50 million Americans were uninsured and 45,000 Americans died every year because they lacked insurance.  The Affordable Care Act had reduced the number of uninsured to around 28 million Americans, a number still unacceptably high, but the trend was heading in the right direction. By 2026, should this new “Trumpcare” become law, there may be a grand total of 52 million Americans uninsured and a death toll in that year that surpasses the pre-ACA death toll.

So what does the Republican House do when it has just condemned thousands of Americans to a premature death? What do they do when they have brought back pre-existing conditions and skewed the system so that premiums rise astronomically for older American workers, putting people at increased risk for bankruptcy and financial ruin? They celebrate! They even send out for beer!

Looking for a historically comparable event, I find myself going back to the Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned in the first century. How could a leader be so callous as to turn his back on the suffering of his fellow citizens and play his fiddle? History does report celebrations associated with conquests of “others,” but condemning our own citizens to such a fate should be no cause for celebration.

The Nero fiddling analogy may be apt in another way. Nero looked upon the burning of Rome as a form of urban renewal. He had to burn down Rome to make it “great again.” But in tearing down “Obamacare,” Republicans are not creating anything that will make health care “great again.” They are taking us down a dark road to the past, to a past in which people with pre-existing conditions (and that is a very high percentage of our population) will find insurance inadequate or unaffordable and where the minimal funding offered by this bill to establish “high risk pools” will leave those pools still out of reach of ordinary Americans. We will be taking a step into a past where free market insurance inserts itself once more between doctor and patient. The past will once more swallow us up by underfunding Medicaid both throwing many Americans off of Medicaid coverage and shrinking the pool of physicians who will see Medicaid patients. Hospitals here in Colorado which have large numbers of Medicaid patients will find it increasingly difficult to keep the doors open.

Richard Gingery, MD, The Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care/Boulder