Letters to the Editor
Readers write about Europe and Russia, political contributions, and Medicaid.
Regarding your Aug. 15 editorial, "Europe's (dis)unity over Russia": The editorial suggests that France and Germany are going easy on Russia. In some ways, perhaps, but these issues have many dimensions.
France generates more than three quarters of its electricity through nuclear power, thereby reducing demand for Russian oil and gas. France is also the largest exporter of electricity. Furthermore, it has greatly improved the technology of nuclear-energy generation and exports the equipment and technology to many countries, including the United States.
Germany has been the center of wind power. It is also a major center of research into energy conservation.
The Europeans in general have huge taxes on gasoline, which also reduce the demand for Russia's gas and oil.
It would help a lot if America would follow the European leadership in many of these areas.
Regarding your recent editorial on Russia's invasion of Georgia: Georgia plays a minor and temporary role in the transport of oil for Russia, and certainly Russia had to know such an aggressive move would cool its trade relations with Europe, which has been its principal consumer of Russian oil.
I believe that Russia is thinking more strategically. Russia was, first and foremost, assessing NATO and the United States as to their resolve in reacting to Russian aggression. Supporting this are the recent remarks by Russian leadership, blaming the US for Russia's own aggression.
Political contributions: legal corruption
Regarding the Aug. 15 article, "Lawmaker ethics. An oxymoron?" The article overlooks the major problem in Congress: political contributions. While lawmakers have tied themselves in knots adopting reforms that put distance between themselves and lobbyists, the pace of political fundraising has increased dramatically. So now the $50 lunch that these reforms prohibit me from buying for a member of Congress or his staff aide can be paid for legally by a $500 political contribution.
Moving efforts to influence public policy from the legislative to the political arena is the antithesis of reform. The media continues to miss this legal corruption of our representative system of government.
Regarding the recent article on lawmaker ethics: The way to fix our dysfunctional Congress is to enact strict term limits, i.e., no more than eight years in Congress.
It is bogus to think that longevity makes for a more competent Congress. Anyone elected should be able to hit the floor running.
Furthermore, a competent incumbent would have a seamless transition plan.
How to lower Medicaid costs
Regarding the Aug. 15 article, "Medicaid feels brunt of states' budget crunch": The story correctly discusses how states are proposing to address increasing Medicaid costs, but fails to mention a major source of these growing costs: long-term care. Between 1995 and 2005, Medicaid spending for long-term care increased substantially – from $63.4 billion (adjusted for inflation) to $94.5 billion. With the aging of the baby boomer generation, the problem will only become worse.
What our country needs is a national insurance trust with premiums that provide cash benefits to pay for long-term care expenses. Based on sound financial principles, this trust would make it affordable to care for our elderly and people with disabilities.
Our policymakers can wait no more.
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