Kingston Times letters (3/23-30)

A new doctrine

I have been binge-watching, yes, the horror, the series House of Cards over the past few weeks. I pity those who watched, week after week, year to the next year. Taking the crash course, diving in, is the only way to fully grasp this representation of politics today.

The horror I speak of is that the storyline predicts much of what the state of our political affairs seems to be. I would venture to guess that this is the only TV drama Donald Trump, our (non-) president, watches and from which he draws his cues. It is with dread that I await the viewing of the fifth season. But more so, I dread that so many can be blinded to facts, histories and deception.

Moral superiority, me first, me better, has supplanted the morality that placed each and every one of us as equals within a world that needs to work as one. Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” seemingly right at its basis, does it allow we humans the right to genocide, annihilation, or enhanced extinction? I proclaim Darwin to have misread the human condition, or is it that humans have misinterpreted, malappropriated his doctrine, making us the superior force to be reckoned with unbounded.

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Events are slipping by so fast but our processing of them is slow. Get bored, throw up your hands, for you are not superior, you are expendable. Aren’t you? So are we all.

I would like to declare a new doctrine, “The Survival of the Fit.” Somehow it all fits if we could only let it. Help it we now must. Right makes tight makes bright out to be our mantra, not might makes right. Now bring it on — ignore false narratives.

Fred Farnum
Hurley

 

Allow drug returns at pharmacies

In his State of the County address, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein states “You should be able to return your unused prescription drugs to the very same place you got them, the pharmacy.”

Injuries and deaths from prescription drugs have soared in recent years. Far too many families have tragically lost someone to an overdose. Nearly half of opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid (CDC). Medications are the leading cause of poisoning deaths in children. Seventy percent of teenagers say it is easy to get prescription drugs (2014 Partnership for Drug-Free Kids).

In 2014, the DEA expanded the Controlled Substances Act to allow pharmacies to take back controlled medications. Dr. Nathaniel Katz, an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine said that prior to 2014 “they only removed an infinitesimal fraction of the reservoir of unused drugs that are out there. It’s like trying to eliminate malaria in Africa by killing a dozen mosquitoes.”

In 2016, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart reported revenue of $28.6 billion, $28.9 billion, $.7.8 billion, and $124.62 billion respectively. Yet no chain in Ulster takes back controlled pharmaceuticals. The closest DEA Disposal Locations are independent pharmacies in Rock Hill, Liberty, Greenville and Coxsackie. Local law enforcement agencies absorb the cost of destroying collected pharmaceuticals. The cost surely isn’t prohibitive for chain pharmacies.

A new Rockland County law, passed by a unanimous vote, requires chain pharmacies to take back drugs and safely dispose of them. Ulster County youth and families deserve no less.

Cheryl DePaolo
Kingston

 

Teachers, pay more

The problem: Said Superintendent Paul Padalino, we are nearly twice as far away from balancing the 2017-18 budget than first thought, as there is roughly a $1.1 million chasm between a rollover plan and the state-mandated tax cap.”

Said Assistant Superintendent Allen Olsen, the bad news is our teachers’ health plan insurance premiums are going to increase by several percentage points more than our wildest imagination allowed us to think. Employee health insurance costs will increase by 13.3 percent or $460,000. Which means the Kingston City School District will spend $35.5 million on health insurance in 2017-18, 21 percent of the district’s budget. More than one out of every 5 dollars is spent on health insurance.

So the two financial geniuses, Padalino and Olsen, have the standard solution to all short falls — “We need more state aid.”

The solution: How about a thinking-out-of-the-box solution? Isn’t it time for the Kingston City School District employees to start making contributions to their very expensive taxpayer-funded health plan? Most employees in the real world contribute 20 percent to their health plans. Twenty percent of $35.5 million is $7.1 million. Voila — we have a solution at no additional cost to the local taxpayers and no need for additional state aid.

Charles Landi
Kingston

 

Good story

Thank you very much for the article on the Beverly Lounge that appeared in the last edition of Almanac Weekly. I’ve been a long subscriber, and it was such a delight to see new owners of Kozy place such a value on my grandfather’s business “JA Cassidy and Son.” I still remember going with my dad to “the shop” on Foxhall Avenue and every now and then I pick up tidbits of area bars and refrigeration units that still bear the JA Cassidy name.

I’ve shared this with all the Cassidy Clan, who now live all over the U.S., so they can see where we began to build our family name and the value of our workmanship and products.

What a treat!

Susan “Cassidy” Gilmore
Highland

 

Disturbed by Tillerson

It was deeply disturbing to hear that the AG had discovered that former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson apparently used a fake email name for eight years to discuss climate change and the risks it posed to the company’s business. The company allegedly continued to conceal these emails even after receiving a subpoena from the AG.

The damages caused by climate change are all too real. Many thousands have died and billions of dollars in property damage have resulted from heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and flooding due to global warming and extreme weather.

I am glad that the attorney general is willing to help hold accountable those who caused this damage.
Eric Wood

Project Coordinator, NYPIRG
New Paltz

 

We’re paying attention

John Faso’s rhetoric in regard to heath care legislation has not been as radical as some in the GOP. He said he favored “reform and fix” of the ACA rather than outright repeal, but has not effected any changes to that end. Though he speaks to constituents of his opposition to defunding Planned Parent hood, his concern for loss of subsidies for those of low and middle income, amongst other issues that could affect some 100,000 of his own constituents alone, he has not taken a stand in the House. In fact he was the deciding vote passing damaging legislation out of the Budget Committee.

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Though he says this vote was just a “procedural” matter, he is in effect toeing the line for Trump, Ryan, Chaffetz and the like, as they railroad draconian changes to health care through Congress. He has used similar cover in the past as in his vote to block long negotiated water and stream protection from the dumping of coal wastes, saying they were “covered elsewhere.” From corporations making payments to foreign governments to allowing the mentally ill to purchase guns, Faso has voted over 90 percent in favor of Trump’s agenda, should we expect something different on health care?

How can we trust his rhetoric if his actions belie no effort to support it? What is his plan to actually put into effect the principles he has espoused? The vote on GOP health care legislation comes as early as Thursday. We need to push him to vote ”No” on legislation as it stands and insist on measures that would encourage health care coverage, not disenfranchise millions by removing financial support while giving vast tax breaks primarily to the very wealthy.

His office’s contact information can be found at his website: http://faso.house.gov/.

Click on “CONTACT” then “Office Locations.” Keep calling, or try different offices, if you can’t get through. E-mailing helps too. We need to let him know we are paying attention to his actions, not just accepting his “line.”

Marcus Arthur
Saugerties

 

Trumpcare is senior genocide

I am writing this letter in hopes that this will be a glimpse into who this new “Healthcare” will affect. It appears it is easy to cut a person’s medical coverage if you don’t assign them a voice. I am 62 years old, married for 44 years, I have a beautiful daughter, a son-in-law, two beautiful grandchildren. I am disabled, I have pigmentary glaucoma, lung disease and an auto-immune disease. I worked many years as an advocate for the disabled, traveling from site to site to help them find employment, until my vision took a bad turn. I developed Graves’ disease, I had 22 radiation treatments to my eyes for malignant cells. I drove myself to Westchester Medical Center. I still worked, bleeding eyes and all. Eventually the driving wasn’t good for my eyes, everything hurt them. I developed a lung disease, I am on oxygen. Five years ago, I had respiratory failure. I was in intensive care two days, regular unit seven days. Up until two years ago, we had private insurance, I also had double coverage with Medicare. I am on oxygen, I see many specialists, I use an oxygen concentrator, I use a nebulizer, many eye drops, medications,  I wonder how this will  lay out under President Trump’s “healthcare”? Am I one of the disposable seniors? Do you want to tell my family that?

My husband had a massive stroke two years ago. He was blessed and suffered no after-effects. He returned to work two days later. He sees a neurologist, takes medications, has tests. Is he one of the disposable seniors under the new Trump healthcare plan? He has worked both years since retirement, the bills go up and up, the co-pays keep increasing, now you and your fellow Republicans want to cut our coverage?

I really want to reach out to Mr. John Faso, who was elected into Congressional District 19 and ask, “are we the ones?” The seniors that President Trump’s Healthcare will kill off? Does anyone care that our friends with disabilities, our children with disabilities will be disenfranchised? Our weakest and most vulnerable, the poor, the sick, the elderly. So after paying into Medicare 48 years, we get cut off, pay for the wealthy to get tax benefits? As if that isn’t enough, now you get rid of meals on wheels. Talk about kicking them while they are down. Mr. Faso, I can’t sleep at night, how can you? This is a type of genocide. I am ashamed and embarrassed of this new administration, of a lack of empathy and compassion.

Marlene Alfieri
New Paltz