Let’s all try being less combative
Dysfunction in Washington. All-time-low ratings for Congress. Embarrassing rhetoric from elected leaders. What to make of it all?
Over the course of quite a few presidencies, I’ve noticed something a bit scary among friends and associates — unabashed, even proud bias. This is coming from bright people, good citizens, people pretty much like you and me, good Republicans and good Democrats.
I’ve reached a sobering conclusion. Bias trumps reason. I used to think that really smart, well-educated people tend not to be very biased. Then I figured it out. Once we’ve taken a strong position on a matter, especially publicly and especially when the topic is controversial, from that point forward we tend to use our intellect and knowledge not to objectively explore further possibilities but, rather, to justify and defend our positions — avidly, passionately and with skillful rationale.
Some would say that’s quite useful, some would call it a waste. I think it’s both and a shame.
We, the people, are too often becoming victims of our own unyielding biases. The huge shame is that our elected representatives feed off of it. If we want folks in Washington to work together, let’s try being a bit less combative and closed-minded ourselves.
John Fettig, Papillion
‘Law of the land’ doesn’t mean it’s right
“It’s the law of the land.” That is what people say who support, or are resigned to, Obamacare.
That does not mean it is right. In 1857, Dred Scott v. Sandford was the law of the land. That was remedied during Reconstruction. In the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled “separate but equal” was constitutional, only to reverse itself in its 1954 ruling, Brown v. Board of Education.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, often esteemed for witty opinions, stated in 1927 in Buck v. Bell, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” The decision allowed states to scoop up those deemed promiscuous and forcibly sterilize them. Holmes’ opinion was later cited at the Nuremberg trials by Nazi defendants, who noted it was America’s law of the land.
Sometimes hindsight is 20/20. That is an eye exam the authors and supporters of Obamacare probably do not want covered.
Rob Butler, Omaha
Blame employers for lack of insurance
I agree with Wally Jernigan (Sept. 30 Pulse) that both political parties should share the blame for where we are. I also agree that workers are getting their hours cut by their employers. Here is where we begin to disagree: Jernigan blames the Affordable Care Act for the reduction in hours. I blame the employers.
Fast-food workers — the example cited — were not receiving health care benefits before Obamacare, and their employers are making a pre-emptive effort to ensure they will not get health care, at least not from them. The Affordable Care Act did not force these employers to cut hours; the employers’ inability to appreciate and reward their employees did.
Ted Tromler, Omaha
Don’t ‘protect’ judges from elections
I watched the Nebraska Supreme Court hearing about making bar association membership voluntary (Oct. 1 World-Herald), and two things really bothered me:
A lawyer for the bar association, Mike Kinney, said a voluntary bar wouldn’t be able to “protect” judges from retention elections. He mentioned Iowa as an example, where the voluntary Iowa bar was unable to prevent six activist state Supreme Court judges from being removed after they started legislating from the bench.
Retention elections exist for a good reason: to promote judicial accountability. Does the bar association really believe its role is to protect judges from us, the voters?
At another point, Kinney was asked whether the Supreme Court should conduct a referendum of bar members to see if a majority support having a mandatory bar. He responded, “It doesn’t matter what the members think.”
Does the bar association really not care what its members think?
Chips Mays, Omaha
Moment has come for wind energy
It’s time for Nebraska to take a serious look at wind energy.
Wind energy pricing equals or beats clean coal or natural gas. And with wind, the price is locked in for the cycle of production, usually 20 years. Coal costs are on an upward spiral, and with new carbon regulations they will continue to rise.
Nebraska has an abundance of wind. Wind energy produced in Nebraska creates tax revenue, enough to drastically change our state’s tax landscape. Wind energy brings tremendous economic benefits: hordes of construction workers spending money; lease payments to local landowners; permanent, well-paying jobs for the projects once they’re constructed.
With transmission infrastructures growing and new technologies such as compressed-air storage, many of the old issues wind energy has faced are being overcome. Right now, the biggest obstacle is an unwarranted negative bias based on outdated information.
Soon the Nebraska Public Power District will be making a very important decision regarding adding more wind to its portfolio. There’s a window of opportunity that must be acted on. Real tax relief. Real economic stimulus. Clean, home-grown, cost-competitive energy.
Mike Zakrzewski, O’Neill, Neb.
Chairman, Grand Prairie
Renewable Fuel Standard should end
It’s time to put the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in the rear-view mirror. When the mandate passed Congress in 2007, it was under the false assumption that demand for fuel would continue to rise year after year. Now, with inflated gas prices and decreased demand, the consequences have become devastating to the American economy and the American family.
Several proposals — from allowing ethanol derived from natural gas to granting the Environmental Protection Agency more flexibility to issue waivers — have been floated in Congress. All recognize that the RFS is extremely bad policy, yet they fail to solve the overall issue: Mandates in any form distort the market by picking winners and losers. The only true way to fix the RFS is to repeal it completely.
Any reform short of repeal will only provide political cover for supporters of the ethanol mandate. They will be able to tell constituents back home, weary of high prices at the pump and in the grocery line, that they’re working on solving the problem while at the same time placating the special interests that benefit from these market distortions.
Unless Congress fully repeals RFS, it should not deal with the issue at all.
Glen Flint, Springfield, Neb.
It’s defense against tyrants, not ducks
Alan Goodman (Sept. 29 Pulse) could not believe our founders envisioned modern combat weapons when they wrote the Constitution, but only hunting rifles and shotguns, and he called for a ban on all other firearms.
By that logic, when the framers wrote the First Amendment, they couldn’t have envisioned typewriters, computers, movies, TV, the Internet or the telephone, so I guess to avoid hypocrisy we would have to ban all those forms of free expression also.
The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms has nothing to do with hunting rifles. It has everything to do with combat arms in the hands of all able-bodied male citizens. That’s why it mentions militia, not hunters. The purpose is to defend every state’s freedom from federal tyranny, not from ducks and deer.
If one wishes to know what the writers meant, read what they wrote. It’s pretty clear.
Arnie Romohr, Gresham, Neb.
Move of veterans home is a shame
Why would anyone want to move a beautiful veterans home campus, which has been in place in Grand Island for 126 years, to an industrial area in Kearney with no trees or amenities nearby — and not even consult the veterans who would have to move?
Financially, it would cost less to remodel things in Grand Island than it would to build new in Kearney. It would take many years to bring the new site up to the standard of the Grand Island campus.
It’s simply wrong for the veterans to have an involuntary relocation. Shame on Gov. Dave Heineman and the committee that made this flawed decision.
Helen R. Brandt, Grand Island, Neb.