July 30, 2014

Inbox — July 30, 2014

Letters to the Editor

Support the Troops
There might have been a little too much self-fulfillment in Catherine Irwin’s comment that “poor kids (serving in military) want to trade a few years of being shot at for a job and maybe a free college education” (LEO Weekly, July 9). To which she added, “The children of the rich are not expected to participate.”

Irwin is a pacifist, apparently, and she believes that we are contracting out our national defense to young people who cannot find better jobs. I partly agree with her because I lived the draft with many others in my generation. There were plenty of deferments, exemptions and preferences, to be sure. Still, there were also millions of young people who believed they were personally obligated to perform “national service,” which translated into the military, the Peace Corps and VISTA. The numbers of war resisters in those days were greatly exaggerated. Many of those who didn’t resist felt betrayed later on. That’s another story much too long for this space.

So, times have changed. That old sense of obligation has almost died out. What’s left of it survives in the service of those who volunteer today. Let’s give these volunteers some credit. Yes indeed, the military hypes its college tuition programs and other veterans’ benefits. VISTA was eventually replaced by Ameri Corps. They promise scholarships, too. But none of this means today’s volunteers are in it for the money. I think a little more respect would be appropriate.
Tom Louderback, Highlands

Thank You, Attica
Today I listened to a very wise man talk about running up against the walls of injustice. He shared that when those walls are built, there are always a courageous few who show up and strive for resolution and restoration. I thought immediately of Councilwoman Attica Scott, whose entire life has been committed to justice.

When uncertain of our steps to a “beloved community” in Louisville, we should look to her example over these past years as a Louisville Metro Council member. We take comfort that her ability to lead us to what could be will not be lost due to this past spring’s election results. And we should join her on the path to what remains possible.

Last, as a Louisville educator, on behalf of the hundreds and hundreds of my students (of all ages) whose lives she has touched with grace and integrity: Con muchas gracias, Councilwoman Attica Scott.
Michele Hemenway Pullen, Highlands

King Coal
Is there disproportionate influence over the Kentucky legislature from the coal industry in Kentucky? Without question, the answer is yes, yes and another yes. Coal is king in this state, and the legislature has a select few elected members of its body with too much influence over the common good of all of Kentucky’s citizens. Should we call them the “Disproportionate Dozen”? Maybe the “Lopsided Eleven” would be more appropriate after Kentucky’s May primary in Pike County. Yes, it is true, there are at least a dozen members or more, including some in leadership, who have direct financial interests to the coal industry. Out of politeness, I don’t want to name names, but the information is part of the public record.

My point is this: The power of a few prominent legislators over the laws of this state affects everyone — to the detriment of the whole. Kentucky’s clean-air and water safeguards are protected by a coal lobby wielding undue influence. One person, one vote is a philosophy that doesn’t ring true in the halls of the Kentucky statehouse. Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it.”

We need elected officials who will be open to exploring a transition to the future that mitigates the pain it will cause some, with enough clarity and insight, to acknowledge that one of Kentucky’s signature industries must prepare for changes or be left behind. Understanding can be elusive while the fox watches the henhouse. As the coal industry braces for changes and employment declines, let us remember what Edwin Louis Cole once said: “Reasonable men adapt to the world around them; unreasonable men make the world adapt to them.” Or maybe that is too much of a dumb-ass philosophy for the Kentucky legislature.
Roy Lewis, Old Louisville 

Abandon ship!

By jrh1017
I thought Joe Sonka did a good job describing the severity of the situation facing the KY Retirement System(KRS) and most of the public retirees in this state in his article "Kentucky’s underfunded public pension system threatens to drown the commonwealth" it was pretty much spot on in my opinion in laying the blame right at the feet of those who are responsible for this mess. The question now is how the KRS gets out of the mess it is in. It is well past time for the powers that be in Frankfort to quit playing their political games, of trying to blame everyone else but themselves, and fix this mess they got us into! And do with as little pain possible for both the taxpayers and the pensioners, as both of these groups are pretty much blameless in this matter.