Our health care system is broken, and American small businesses urgently need a solution. Across the country, more than a third of small businesses have been forced to reduce or eliminate benefits in recent years.
As a small business owner, I believe I speak for others when I say that it's hard for small businesses to create jobs if they also have to bear the weight of skyrocketing premiums. If we fail to act, more Americans will lose their coverage, more businesses will close their doors, and rising costs will continue to explode our deficits.
I'm counting on Congress to pass real health insurance reform in 2009.
— Deborah Crowley
This is sinful
The health care debate comes down to how to, and who will, pay for it. In focusing on the material aspect, we have lost sight of the real issue of right and wrong.
Over the past 20-plus years, the American economy has greatly expanded, with most new wealth going to a small percentage. Some have used that wealth to influence Congress to protect their interests at the expense of other honest, hardworking Americans now struggling to care for their families.
This focus on self-enrichment, as old as mankind, is fear-based behavior. There is a reason greed is a deadly sin as defined by Christians and other faiths. For those who — in pursuing more material goods than they need — have forgotten, a sin is objectionable behavior and is immoral.
It is just wrong for anyone to be denied quality health care over inability to pay for it. It is wrong for the poor, the old and sick working Americans to suffer — or to lose their homes and all for which they've worked a lifetime. It is wrong that businesses are burdened with growing health care costs.
It is past time to knock down those walls of fear. It is past time for every American to have quality health care. If that means a small percentage of Americans, who benefit the most from a healthy and productive society, need to rid themselves of one of their expensive cars or one of their mansions, so be it.
Greed is a moral and economic sin. It deprives care to those in need and hobbles the economic growth of our society.
— Abe WalkingBear Sanchez
No, this is sinful
Michael Augenstein ("It's a right," Letters, July 23) contends health care is a right, along with eating, drinking clean water and sleeping safely in our beds. His premise has one major flaw: To access such "rights," we must force others to provide them for us, essentially making them our slaves. Nothing is a "right" if someone else is forced to provide it.
Prior to the Civil War, there were people who thought they had a right to free labor for their plantations. Is it really all that different, forcing others to provide us with free health care, free food or free security service? And why stop there? Why not provide cars for all Americans without transportation? I'd like an SUV to get around in the snow. Isn't that my right?
If there is a "right" to sleep safely, this would require police to be our bodyguards. Yet the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled there is no constitutional right to police protection, and American citizens are ultimately responsible for their own safety.
Augenstein is correct about one thing: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are socialistic in concept. The fact these programs are on the verge of going bankrupt indicates socialism doesn't work and cannot be sustained indefinitely.
In Civil War days, the federal government's edict was to free slaves. Today, our government seeks to force American workers into perpetual tax slavery, by paying for universal health coverage or by financing bailouts of the banking, mortgage and auto industries. If you think about it, this is slavery at its worst.
— Julie Daube
Ghosts and machines
Bill Forman's article ("Dead air," cover story, July 16), was excellent. We live in such an automated world that we're overlooking the need for the human element. How can you interact with a machine?
Now you have Buzz Corona at KPHT-FM 95.5 shoved into the archives by Clear Channel. Sounds like sour grapes to me. What a waste of talent! Makes you wonder what really transpired. In the quest to streamline and cut costs, video didn't kill the radio star, but deregulation, greed and politics did.
— Joanna Goodman
Pay to pray
The call is out for creative new strategies to save Colorado Springs from tax-hating voters, as the city slides into ruin. Some radicals want to sell parks or the City Auditorium or other city possessions, and let private profiteers take over. Wise observers advance clever tax changes to cover some of the damage done by smaller government and spending cuts.
Vice Mayor Larry Small bravely proposed a minuscule rise in property taxes for this low-tax, and now low-class, city. He was roundly attacked by those who think government runs on nothing.
In the spirit of practical solutions, I suggest a way to save parks, city properties, the Pioneers Museum, Rock Ledge Ranch, Starsmore Discovery Center, police and fire service, roads, snow removal, the health department and all the rest, in one startling, stunning stroke.
It is finally and belatedly time to do the obvious: Tax all properties owned by religious organizations in Colorado Springs. There is no legitimate reason under the law why one set of properties escapes the same taxes all the rest are forced to pay. No reason to have them enjoy tax-free living while the rest of us pay their fair share. No reason at all.
This town is loaded to the bursting point with all types of churches and various religious headquarters. Their property is choice. They pay no tax on it. We non-religious citizens pay for their share. It is manifestly unfair.
If the same rock-bottom tax rates were applied to all religious properties, this city would be rich overnight. Forget about spending cuts. Give the police and firefighters and all city workers a raise, right now! This is an idea whose time has finally come.
— Larimore Nicholl
Now and then I'll hear about a new word being added to the dictionary, like "frenemy." We should also drop the old, stale words we're not using anymore. A good example would be the word "privacy."
I remember how freaked I was when Bluetooth first came out. I thought all the people were losing their minds, walking around babbling to themselves, LOL-ing, waving their arms around. Once I realized what was going on, I realized I had to listen in on their conversations. Can't wait for video phones to catch on ... and I think I've finally gotten rid of the last company that makes me yell my personal information at a voice recognition system.
Camera phones routinely catch us undressing in our hotel rooms, bending over in a bikini or worse. And Microsoft has good news for computer users. (How many Microsoft engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. They just change the standard to darkness.) Soon you'll control your PC by waving your arms in the air like a 12th-century wizard. I got an early start by moving breakables away from my desk and installing a sturdy cup holder. And I bought a pointy hat.
A friend of mine is convinced that the government is recording all phone conversations and Internet traffic and storing them in an underground facility. I think they can safely shelve that project. We have met Big Brother, and he is us.
— Steve Suhre
I am writing to demonstrate my complete support and genuine gratitude to the Manitou Springs Economic Development Council and Kitty Clemens ("Ms. Money," News, July 30).
I have been involved with Manitou Springs for many years with numerous projects. Manitou has gone through many changes over the years and the positive changes, which have emerged recently, are due in large part because of the tireless efforts of Kitty and the EDC.
The EDC has been responsible for preserving and revitalizing Manitou's business district. The passage of Referendum 2A in 2003 dramatically improved the business climate and made the city more desirable for local businesses and visitors.
The EDC personally guided and supported me as I took on the enormous challenge of the restoration of the Historic Manitou Springs Spa. Kitty was professional, knowledgeable and critical to the success of this unique project.
In addition, Kitty contributed her expertise and passion to the Cliff House project, which again required the leadership of a well-respected person. Kitty didn't waver or hesitate to lend her talents to such an important project.
Kitty Clemens is tried and true, and we are very fortunate to have such a treasure in our midst. Kitty should be given much adulation and gratitude for all she has done for Manitou. I, along with many others, applaud the many positive changes that have emerged thanks to Kitty Clemens and the EDC!
— Chuck Murphy
The private option
I offer a strategy for our city's financial dilemmas: Paint a picture of doom and gloom, and offer the only hope as a tax increase. Convince voters they control the future. Make promises like: If we just had some dedicated funds, the sky would be the limit. Get your employees on board to promote the tax because they have the most to lose if it doesn't.
It is obvious most of the budget problem is wages and benefits. Two of three city employees come from the previously untouchable police and fire. Simply privatize them.
Hire a private contractor known for low wages and benefits and labor/management problems. Lay off police and firemen and have applications ready for them to hire on with this company. They should be happy to "serve and protect" for lower wages, insurance they cannot afford and no pension contributions because the company's profit has to come from somewhere. They need to learn what it really means to be a public servant, and it saves money for the taxpayer.
Kick them out of their publicly funded police stations and firehouses, and put them up in used modular buildings to keep them humble. You will need space for more city staff to monitor the contractor. With the new multiple layers of management and administration and fragmented systems, no one will know who to blame for inefficiencies, low morale and poor public service.
This strategy may sound familiar. It's the game plan the city applied to Metro Transit. But with transit on the chopping block, and promises of increased service and routes a faded memory, it might not work. Hopefully the taxpayer won't remember.
— Dan Francis
In the 7 Days to Live section of the July 30 Independent, the award attributed to the film I Am the Bluebird should have been a Sunscreen Film Festival award, not a Sundance Film Festival award. We regret the error.