Bark up Right Tree
In "Unsafe Environment" (issue of Oct. 6-12), Stephanie Dunlap proceeds to explain the continuing problems along the Mill Creek related to pollution -- a serious condition affecting citizens not only along the banks of the creek but potentially into the lake at Winton Woods and all who visit this park. This is indeed a serious matter.
But, while I'm not a supporter of the Bush Administration, it's my opinion that to elevate this local situation to the federal level is an exercise in exaggeration. The state of Ohio, Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati are primarily responsible for this problem, and to simply pass on the responsibility to the federal level is to grant the Metropolitan Sewer District a reprieve of its responsibility. If this MSD district is in difficulty, the case needs to go the county, city or state authority and not to Washington.
In the last 50 years, we have slowly ceded many of our local responsiblities to Washington simply because of funding. Each state is required to have a balanced budget. The federal authorities know no such limitations, and it's entrusted to each senator and to each representative from Ohio to shovel as much money to the local level as possible in their attempt to stay in office. This has created a terrible unbalance, giving an out to the local authorities and creating a magnificently out-of-balance tax code.
Dunlap is barking up the wrong tree. The MSD needs to get its act together and, if they're not able to do so, it's time to go to the county, city, state or to court (again) or to the news media with this issue. We all know how we create pollution, yet we fail to realize the cumulative effect on all of us from water, air and waste pollution until we're directly affected.
Yes, the courts are slow and the agreements long term and, yes, the Bushies have had an environmental agenda since coming into power. But, in my opinion, not all of our local problems are necessarily dealt at the federal level. The MSD needs better management, and that's a local authority. Let us bark up the appropriate tree.
Re-Election or Jail?
I would like to commend CityBeat for the article "Unsafe Environment" (issue of Oct. 6-12). While some of these problems are longstanding, President Clinton enforced the New Source Review of Power Plants, which the Bush Administration wants to end entirely. New Source Review states that when you expand a power plant built before the Clean Air Act you need to install pollution controls to comply with the act. When it comes to the environment, the military, the budget and health care, the Bush Administration has given us government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations. Bush funds his election campaigns off of gifts from these billionaires.
In an AARP Bulletin article (October 2004) about the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit that Bush signed into law, Sen. John Kerry says, "Republicans hid from Americans that they were taking out the provision to allow people to import drugs from Canada and prohibiting Medicare from negotiating bulk purchase prices, so it could transfer $139 billion of windfall profits to the drug companies and $49 billion to the HMOs at the expense of seniors and other tax payers who fund the program.
President Bush should be in jail, not running for re-election. Kerry has my vote for what he's done for the environment and health care in the Senate.
Get on the Bus
President Bush could learn a lot riding the bus. Not a campaign bus filled with his worshipful entourage and a bevy of media flacks. He should ride the Metro through Price Hill or Avondale or Over-the-Rhine.
He might learn a thing or two about the people he alleges to govern. He'd meet people on the way to work. People with low-level jobs like office workers, factory laborers and restaurant help, not lobbyists and beltway insiders. These are people who live from pay to pay. You see them lined up at the check-cashing places for an advance when the next payday fails after the rent is due. If they have air conditioning, they can't afford to run it.
Bush could practice his Spanish. He could explain to our Latinos how reducing the capital gains tax would further their pursuit of the American dream. First, he would feel obligated as a public servant to examine their green cards.
The president might encounter recent dropouts from the middle class. A lot of them ride buses now. People who are now working two low-paying jobs to try to maintain a middle-class lifestyle. They shudder every time their children sneeze because they can no longer afford health insurance. They keep taking aspirin because the cost of a doctor's visit or a prescription is beyond reach. Public health clinics are acceptable in emergencies, but with the budget cuts the wait is too long and the humiliation is too real. Yet they march on without complaint, firm in the belief they'll be taken care of if they just keep working. They find perseverance preferable to whining.
These people deal every day with the hazards of a low-income lifestyle. They lose their children to the drug culture. They worry about gangs and violence and drive-by shootings that aimlessly kill and cripple innocent bystanders. These things don't just happen on TV. They happen on their doorsteps.
Bush won't meet the blind man hurt by the cuts in bus service. Years ago he bought a house on a bus line so he could get to work every day. Services were reduced, and now he has to walk two blocks and cross traffic. The president would smile, pat him on the shoulder and grin. An empty gesture from an empty man.
The president is out of his scope here. He never had to be so tough or resilient himself. Of course, riding a bus poses some risk. A senior citizen might ask him to explain the ins and outs of these prescription plans. A Medicare patient might ask why she has to sign up for a plan if they just want to reduce the cost of her medications. Why does it have to be so complicated? Who invented this? And why is it cheaper to get the drugs from Canada? That is, if it were legal to do that.
Bush would have to refer the person to the drug companies. After all, they wrote the legislation.
But our fearless president will never see these people. If he did, he would tell them to tough it out, to work harder, to accept that their lives will get tougher as the rich continue to get richer.
Maybe we expect too much? The man never had to find a job for himself. Every single solitary thing in his life was arranged for him.
For him, the election is not about little people -- it's about the people who sponsor him, his elite from the upper echelons of the tax bracket, the ones who benefit from a reduction in the capital gains tax.
Too Hard for Bush?
President Bush's performance during the presidential debates shows why he's offered so few press conferences to the public throughout his administration's term. Bush stumbled in his speech, used the same retort and statements to answer different questions and smothered his responses in emotional language -- unprofessional behavior for the leader of the United States.
Emotional language won't convince the public either candidate is competent and capable to lead the nation as president the next four years, because the public is already emotional about their loved ones fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and is seeking real answers to win the peace and bring their loved ones home.
Foreign policy is supposed to be the cornerstone of the Bush Administration. Bush's performances show he has little knowledge of and hardly a plan for U.S. foreign policy and isn't serious about the issues. The administration has proven it's not difficult to lead the United States into a war and gain the American public's support, especially when they have the opportunity to capitalize on a national tragedy like 9/11 to convince the public that war is necessary. But the Bush Administration hasn't proven why Iraq was the center of the war on terror before the war, and Bush's response to how to win the peace is "it's hard work." Too hard for his administration to handle?
Sen. John Kerry has showed a commanding understanding of foreign policy and used facts to argue his case. Kerry might have miscalculated the federal spending on Iraq at $200 billion, with actual costs thus far $120 billion, but he might be using other factors to reach his estimate. Regardless of the actual total, it's billions more than Bush estimated and told the public was necessary to win the peace, and the costs continue to rise.