Letters To The Editor 11/13/2018

November 13, 2018


Reversing course

Editor: I applaud the new Scranton School Board members who are cleaning up the mess within their ranks and dealing with those who continue to hang on to bad practices from the past 15 years.

The district has, without a doubt, been robbed by old- guard board members. Until 2013, board members handed out jobs like candy. That can be described only as a theft of the public’s trust.

It appears people like Director Bob Lesh are willing to do the wrong thing or do not know they are doing wrong. Hence, Lesh’s comment about not needing to be an Einstein to be a board member shows his attitude that anyone can do it.

It takes more than a high school education to be a good board member.

The old guard would rather give jobs to friends than have people fill out applications and do job interviews. They did it to collect votes and build up IOUs that they could collect in the future at the expense of the district.

I take a hard line on theft, incompetence, nepotism and patronage, as should board members. Anyone stealing a $45 vehicle inspection should be fired immediately. Gosh, you don’t suppose any of those employees hired by board members were involved in this thievery? The board not only has the right to require the administration to fire everyone involved in this theft, but has the moral imperative to do so.

As a former human resources manager involving 1,000 employees, I thought I had seen it all until I saw what the past board did to the district. It is a disgrace. I always kept termination forms in my desk, so if an employee threatened to quit, I would just open my drawer and pull it out and help them fill it out.



Entitlement trouble

Editor: A recent letter (“Lie perpetuated,” Oct. 24) accused Republicans of “hanging the entitlement tag” on Social Security and Medicare and accusing Rep. Lou Barletta of being inexcusably ignorant about these matters or a liar.

These comments are unfair and reflect a lack of knowledge. Entitlement describes mandatory spending that must be fully budgeted. Entitlement spending totals $2.739 trillion and consumes 62 percent of the budget. Medicare is funded at $625 billion, only 57 percent of which is covered by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, while Social Security requires $1.05 trillion.

When budgetary needs exceed income, mandatory spending directly affects the deficit because there is not enough money to cover discretionary spending. Social Security benefits are not paid out of the dedicated trust fund. Congress appropriates that money. Social Security outlays are debited and Social Security taxes go toward that debt. Any surplus goes into the trust fund in interest-bearing Treasury notes. There is $2.9 trillion in the trust.

In 1940 the average life expectancy was 63 and 160 people paid FICA taxes to cover each Social Security recipient. Now, life expectancy is 78.7 and the ratio is 2.8 to 1. Congress adjusts to cover Social Security debt shortfalls, which came to a head this year when, for the first time, it had to make trust withdrawals. Such withdrawals add to the deficit. Without correction the fund will be wiped out by 2039 and FICA will only cover 69 percent of Social Security expenses.

No one wants to cut benefits but hordes of people collect benefits that the program was never intended to cover. Part of the solution is to close loopholes and eliminate special legislation allowing such individuals to collect. The finger pointing has to stop. A joint effort is required to fix it.




Facts corrupted

Editor: I am confused and angry about alternative facts, or the post-truth era.

To construct an alternative reality requires a competing narrative describing the event and an institution or group that nourishes and propagates that perspective.

President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 in order to maintain and enforce environmental standards and laws. Republicans accepted the need for monitoring and oversight of environmental hazards. Today, Republicans act to diminish the role of the EPA and refer to climate change as a hoax. Is this an alternative fact?

President Trump’s EPA has removed any mention of climate science from its website. He has removed or reassigned scientists working on climate change to other areas. He replaced learned professionals with lobbyists. The head of the EPA was a coal industry lobbyist.

A United Nations document says the United States has the largest gap of income inequality of all civilized nations. It said recent tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. Another U.N. document from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes: “There is alarming evidence that ... tipping points have been reached or passed in a variety of ecosystems” and that “CO², the product of burning fossil fuels, is directly linked to the average global temperature on earth.”

AM radio has included alternative construction of facts, with conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh declaring a “false flag” interpretation of recent pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats, saying that they were “most likely from Hillary Clinton.” Another alternative fact?

Congressional Republicans voted multiple times to end the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration. The Texas attorney general has argued in court that since the law’s individual mandate was deemed unconstitutional, the notion of pre-existing conditions should be viewed the same way.

There is a difference between patriotism and nationalism, or is that an alternative fact?




Teacher’s impact

Editor: Tim Cusack’s Oct. 31 guest column was a great reflection on the recent passing of Scranton teacher Eleanor Langan.

Although not surprising, it’s a shame that the administration of the Scranton School District, the teachers union and the school board have yet to comment on her many accomplishments and the positive impact she had on her students and the school district.

One of Cusack’s comments — “She encouraged all of us to apply to schools outside of the narrow bandwidth that our guidance counselors were attuned to” — really hit home and is spot-on. In contrast to today’s “don’t volunteer” climate, Langan gave freely of her personal time and money. More important, she gave a damn and she will be sorely missed.



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