Pike County Times
The Pike County Times, PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor@pikecountytimes.com
 
Online
 
Welcome to the Pike County Times.com Letters to the Editor Page.

These editorials reflect the opinions of their authors and don't necessarily reflect my personal opinions. Feel free to express your opinion with a letter to the editor to: editor@pikecountytimes.com.

Letter writing guidelines are as follows: I do not have a word limit. However, all editorials must be respectful even when hard points are made about any topic including local, state, or national politics.

If I have a problem with an editorial, I will let you know by email and it can either be resolved or not printed because I will proof your letter for grammatical errors, but I do not edit letters based on content. And last but not least, your editorial must be accompanied by your name and a county or city of residence.

 
Thought for the Week

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." - John 15:13
 
Thank You from the Pike County American Legion Family

5.15.17

Dear Editor,

To Pike County and surrounding areas:

The Pike County American Legion Family consisting of Post 197, Legion Auxiliary Unit 197, and Sons of the American Legion Squadron 197 thank all those who sponsored, supported, volunteered, and participated in the 6 May 2017 Molena 5K/10K Run/Walk for Veterans. The City of Molena was a gracious host and on that sunny Saturday was a very scenic. The Pike County Times and Pike County Journal Reporter were avid promoters of our event. Greggs Graphics produced an awesome T-shirt with a caricature of the Molena Old Jail House. The Legion Family wants to also thank The First Bank of Pike, Narrow Path Ministries International, Wild Daisy Farm B&B, Storytellers Antiques, Molena Food Mart, and McCrary Farms for sponsoring our event.

We also would like to thank the friends and relatives who signed up to honor deceased Veterans. We honored Veterans Lawrence E. Brock, William C. Dials II, Daniel A. Kiser, Franklin D. Thrift Sr., and Charlie H. Tidwell on the back of the event T-shirt.

The Pike County Legion Family conducts Programs that help honor Veterans; assist Veterans and their families; and educate the community on Veterans affairs and patriotism. Sponsorship and event participation allows the Legion Family to continue these programs.

The next 5K/10K Run/Walk will be conducted in Williamson, pending the City’s approval. We are working to make this another enjoyable event. More information will be provided in the future.

Again, thank you to our sponsors and participants for your continued support to these community events.

Sincerely,
Bryan D. Richardson
Pike County American Legion Post 197, Commander

Top
 
Isakson Op-ed: Biennial Budgeting: A Positive Idea for America’s Bottom Line
As published in ‘The Ripon Forum,’ Volume 51, No. 02 April 2017

5.1.17

Dear Editor,

This year, a businessman took office as president. President Trump’s promise that Washington would work differently on his watch resonated with Americans and was the overarching theme of his entire campaign.

As a businessman myself of more than 30 years and a taxpayer, I appreciate his calls to make Washington run more efficiently and effectively. Tackling our mounting and unsustainable national debt is a major part of that equation, and I have worked toward this goal during my career in Congress.

Over the last 37 years, since 1980, Congress has passed all 12 annual appropriations bills on time only twice.

Too often, the current appropriations process results in a chaotic spending spree each fall when both chambers wind up hastily passing a temporary funding measure up against an end-of-the-fiscal-year deadline to avoid a government shutdown. This is no way to run a business, and it is no way to run the government.

To help achieve a more efficient and effective Washington that would also tackle the core drivers of our debt, we need to change the system by which Congress appropriates federal dollars because the current process is clearly not working. I have introduced legislation that would move the federal appropriations process to a system known as biennial budgeting.

Biennial budgeting is a commonsense concept that has been endorsed by both Republican and Democratic presidents and by numerous federal budget experts. Its value is proven daily in the 19 states where it is currently in use.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has worked with me to advance the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act, S.306, because she has seen the results firsthand as governor of a state where it has operated with great success.

Specifically, biennial budgeting would convert Congress’ current broken annual appropriations process to a two-year budget cycle, with one year for appropriating federal dollars and the other year devoted to oversight of federal programs. This would allow for better oversight before we start spending more. Oversight is critical to running a business or even a household, and it should be a priority when spending taxpayer dollars.

Businesses and government organizations – including our military and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – need to know the level of resources in their budget so they can operate and plan for the future. Biennial budgeting would help our leaders to plan ahead better and to become more efficient stewards of their resources.

Every day, our national debt and deficits are growing. The impacts are felt throughout our government, with profound effects on our economy, our long-term national security, and the legacy that we will pass on to the next generation.

Biennial budgeting would help fix our debt problem. It would help cut spending by giving Congress and federal agencies time to learn what is working, and what is not. It allows time for adequate review and would provide greater guidance for administrators at every level.

Building consensus in Congress is always a lengthy and challenging process, but during the last several years as our problems have grown, more and more members have seen the wisdom of this this bipartisan proposal. Members of Congress have seen biennial budgeting working in their own state governments or in neighboring states and in turn, it has received increasing support in Washington.

In 2013, the biennial budgeting proposal introduced by Sen. Shaheen and me passed by a 68-31 vote in the Senate as an amendment to that year’s budget resolution. While the budget resolution was a non-binding blueprint, the strong vote for our amendment provided additional momentum and demonstrated the appeal of this proposal across party lines.

It led to a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the legislation in 2015, and in 2016, both the U.S. Senate Budget Committee and U.S. House Budget Committee chairmen included versions of biennial budgeting in separate proposals to reform the federal budget process.

Biennial budgeting would increase oversight, reduce spending and make our federal government more efficient and more accountable to taxpayers.

I urge President Trump, our nation’s new businessman-in-chief, to take a close look at this legislation. It may very well make its way to his desk, and it would be a wise investment in our nation’s future for him to sign it.

Biennial budgeting is an effective, proven, disciplined way to go about making sure the people’s money is spent wisely. It’s a good idea whose time has come, and that’s good for America’s bottom line.

Johnny Isakson is the senior U.S. Senator from the State of Georgia.

Top
 
Healthcare now but what is possible

5.1.17

Dear Editor,

Healthcare spending is approximately 18% of GDP so it affects all of us, is front and center with attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare and is presently unsustainable. This is the first of three articles. They will include an overview of where we are now, why it is unsustainable and finally suggest a number of changes. I am not an expert in this field but I was a Chairman Health Appropriations for the Georgia House of Representatives so I’ve had more involvement in healthcare issues than most lay people.

Presently 49% of Americans are insured through their employer’s health insurance plan. This percentage has been slowly declining since the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, went into effect in 2010. This is one of many problems with ACA.

20% are covered by Medicaid/CHIP and 14% are covered by Medicare. Note Medicare is NOT an entitlement since those covered by Medicare have paid for it for years before they got/can get benefits.

7% basically purchase individual coverage and 2% in the military are covered by Tricare or receive their care through the Veterans Administration. This leaves about 8% uninsured many by their own choice. Paradoxically the “uninsured” percentage includes about 2M American Indians/Alaska Natives covered by the Indian Health Service at a taxpayer cost of approximately $5B per year.

There are numerous ways the federal and state governments subsidize health insurance costs. This includes employers paying some part of group health insurance. While this is income to the employees receiving such they do not pay taxes on this. It is estimated that the lost tax revenues of this amounts to $160B/year as part of the $660B/year federal “subsidies” for healthcare. This is projected to grow to $1.1T by 2026!!

The 20% covered by Medicaid grew quickly starting in 2010 due to Medicaid Expansion; a major part of ACA.

Those targeted by “Medicaid Expansion” are below 138% of the poverty level as determined by the Department of Health & Human Services. For a family of 4 they can earn up to $33,534 and still be eligible.

To give you an idea of the staggering cost of Medicaid in FY 2015 just Georgia spent $9,750,156,735 (that’s Billions) on Medicaid. 68% of that was paid for by you and me through our federal taxes and 32% paid for by us through our state taxes! FY 2015 in the US Medicaid costs taxpayers $552B!! This helps explain why $1.00 out of every $6.00 spent on healthcare in our country today comes from Medicaid.

Medicaid expansion was/is optional for states with the federal government offering inducements to reimburse states 100% of the extra costs through 2016. It then moves to 90% versus the normal reimbursement to states for about 67% of their total costs of Medicaid. 31 states implemented Medicaid Expansion and 19 did not. Most of the 19 states who did not agree to Medicaid Expansion had a Republican legislature and/or governor.

The best numbers that I can find are that approximately 14,000,000 previously uninsured became insured through Medicaid Expansion. However some research reported that approximately 11,000,000 of those people were already eligible for Medicaid without the ACA provision.

KEY: I believe that people at this level of poverty need help paying for adequate health insurance. However I have a huge problem with many on Medicaid who are in poor health due to being overweight, smokers, consume alcohol above fairly accepted limits, not exercising, not following other basic health standards, significant fraud by both those on Medicaid and providers, having babies as teenagers at much higher rates than the rest of the population, etc. Some may consider the foregoing to be insensitive to those on Medicaid BUT it is fact! Being PC about it is a disservice to ALL of us!

For the benefit of all of us AND in particular those receiving Medicaid I support the work requirement (Workfare) as some in Congress have proposed. I have written several articles about Workfare. Also I formed a local committee to explore how we could require this locally for anyone but the most disabled on any welfare program. HOWEVER without a huge effort that will involve a WPA/CCC (think federally created jobs during the Depression) simply requiring recipients to get a job is a pipe dream for many. Therefore Medicaid will continue to be toxic charity and the costs will continue to increase at unsustainable levels unless….

Health Exchanges are the other major component of ACA which cover about 13,000,000. Most people buying insurance from private insurance firms on the exchanges are using refundable tax credits to supplement the cost of the premium. A major problem is that many are waiting until they are faced with a serious health issue before signing up. This cost the insurance companies more than they projected. Additionally the expectation that younger/healthier individuals would sign up in greater numbers creating a surplus to offset the cost the less healthy and older population incur did not happen. Even a family of 4 at 400% of poverty which is $97,200 can get some tax credit! Net/net it is not surprising that many insurance companies have withdrawn from the exchanges. Humana and per the New York Times last week Anthem who owns Blue/Cross Blue Shield are considering whether to withdraw possibly leading to even fewer choices.

I hope some of you will add facts and/or correct any misstatement above by going on my Facebook or LinkedIn page where I post these articles, or at www.lagrangedailynews.com or email me at jeffwarnerbrown@gmail.com.

Rep Jeff Brown (Ret)
La Grange
jeffwarnerbrown@gmail.com

Top
 
India Mistreats the Families of Our World War II MIAs

3.9.17

Dear Editor,

For most American families, "India" evokes such positive images as India's wonderful cuisines, its many cultural treasures such as the Taj Mahal and the great Hindu books, Gandhi's historic civil disobedience campaign against British rule, the epic accomplishments of Indian scientists, and the physical and spiritual benefits of the discipline of yoga. Unfortunately, for a small group of American families, numbering in the hundreds, India does not evoke such positive thoughts. They are the families of US servicemen killed in India during World War Two - servicemen whose remains still lie unburied there because of the Indian Government's long history of callousness toward their humanitarian plight. For these families, who only want the Indian Government to honor their right to repatriate their loved ones' remains for proper burial, "India" only evokes thoughts of frustration and resentment.

A fundamental aspect of basic human decency, shared by all religions and all cultures worldwide throughout history, is that families have not only a right but an obligation to honor the mortal remains of their deceased loved ones ceremonially with a funeral ceremony as soon as possible after they die. If families are refused access to the mortal remains of their loved ones, they are illegitimately deprived of the ability to exercise this right and obligation, and those who refuse this access deserve the severest condemnation. This right is well-established in both the Geneva Conventions and customary international humanitarian law.

An estimated 400 US servicemen still lie unrecovered at or near a multitude of World War II crash sites in northeast India. Since the turn of the millenium, 15 of these crash sites have been located, photographed, and documented by the American MIA investigator Clayton Kuhles. From the late 1970s until late 2008, and then from 2010 to 2015, the Government of India did not permit US Defense Department recovery teams into the region of India – Arunachal Pradesh – where most of the remains of US airmen in India lie unburied. For a brief time only (late 2008 until late 2009), the Government of India permitted only one of the many well-known crash sites in Arunachal Pradesh to be investigated for remains, a crash site located on a mountainside in the Upper Siang district near the village of Damroh. In late 2009 the UPA Government withdrew that permission, without a word of protest by the Obama Administration, before any human remains could be recovered. From early 2010 until the assumption of the Government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a de facto moratorium was imposed on Arunachal recoveries. Even after the Modi Government took over, the de facto moratorium continued for well over a year, until the Modi Government, faced with bad publicity over this situation in the Indian press, finally relented and permitted some token recovery efforts.

During the years (2010-2015) the Indian Government imposed a de facto moratorium on remains recoveries in Arunachal Pradesh, many close relatives of these airmen died, forever deprived by the Indian Government of their right, recognized by the Geneva Conventions (to which India is a signatory). to reunite with the remains of their loved ones killed in wartime, and give them the honored funerals they deserve. Among these loved ones are Dr. Stephen L. Chambers, Ethyle Renee Wolfe, Frances E. Lenox, Theopa Christine Owens Sheen, Forrest T. Riley, Jr., James R. Hixon, Susan Brown Parham, Fred Morris Oxford, Helen Patricia Campanaro, Bill Verhaegen, Anna Catherine Swanson, and Dorothy Mae Brizzi.

Faced with this violation of such a foundational principle of humanitarianism, I (a nephew of one of these MIA servicemen) founded Families and Supporters of America's Arunachal Missing in Action to lobby the Government of India to honor its obligation to allow the recovery of the bodies of these men from its sovereign territory, an obligation frequently supported by statements of Indian leaders, but almost never honored by action.

Secondarily, our efforts have focused on trying to get our own Government – the US Government – to pressure the Government of India to honor these obligations. The Obama Administration was more concerned with selling to arms to India, conducting joint military exercises, and concluding lucrative commercial contracts with Indian companies than with recovering our war dead. The Obama Administration even went so far as to make patently transparent excuses for the Indian Government's inaction.

With the transition to the Trump Administration, it's anybody's guess whether President Trump will make recovery of our MIAs in India a higher priority. Disturbingly, when US Secretary of Defense Mattis recently talked with Indian Defence Minister Parrikar, published accounts of the conversation made no mention of US MIAs in India.

Those who counsel patience to the families of these men are tragically unrealistic. Many of these MIAs still have elderly brothers and sisters who deserve to have their right to bury their loved ones honored during their own lifetimes. These relatives do not have many years left themselves - patience is the one thing they cannot afford. They deserve to have the remains of their relatives repatriated NOW.

Gary Zaetz, nephew of B-24 “Hot as Hell” navigator 1st Lt. Irwin Zaetz, missing in action in Arunachal Pradesh since January 25, 1944
Founder and Chairman of Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action www.facebook.com/arunachalmissinginaction
North Carolina

Top