The Mt. Ashland fable; Scooter riders beware; The public option; Demand a bipartisan health care bill; In-person history tour
The Mt. Ashland fable
Once upon a time in a beautiful valley, where a magic river wandered and a snow-capped mountain bordered, lived a group of people who prided themselves for their sustainability. The mountain provided the locals and their children a wonderful winterland to enjoy the joys of skiing, snowshoeing and cavorting with nature. They felt so strongly about this jewel that they raised money to maintain this magical place. It was to be a local place to be enjoyed by those who lived in the valley and nearby.
But alas, those who ran the nonprofit decided that a "status quo" was not the "American Way," and they felt growth was the vision of the future. They talk of "improved terrain balance" and "financial sustainability" as the way forward.
They brushed aside the talks of watershed stability or preservation of the unique Englemann spruce grove ensconced in a terminal glacial moraine. They refused to talk with those local citizens or nature organizations that wanted to protect what would be lost by ongoing "improvements." Never mind the potential threat of global warming or the fact that their business plan made the cost of using the mountain unaffordable for many of those who lived in the valley.
The original mission of this nonprofit, to provide an affordable place for the valley dwellers to enjoy winter sports, has been lost in the fable that "bigger is better."
What will it take for the citizens of this valley to take back what was once theirs?
James F. Moore Jr.
Scooter riders beware
Scooter riders — beware! The city of Ashland wants to discourage you from saving gas/parking and will give you a $254 ticket if you do not have a motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license.
So if your scooter is 50 cc or less but can go faster than 30 miles per hour, you need an endorsement. Even if you never drive it that fast, you will get a ticket. Maybe. Depending on the officer who stops you.
And how will you get that endorsement? Take the written test in Ashland but then drive your scooter to Medford for a driving test. But only on a Thursday. On a road where the cars are going 55 mph and you are going 30 mph. Real safe. Makes a lot of sense — not!
Thanks, city of Ashland, for enouraging us to save energy but slapping us in the face for riding a scooter.
The public option
The public option essentially exists now. Medicare and Medicaid cost taxpayers approximately $60 billion in 2008. Most of the Medicare money went for long-term care. Medicaid paid for the higher costs of health care of the uninsured at hospital emergency wards.
Tell Congress to bolster Medicaid and put regulatory teeth in the legislation. Create a robust public option as a real viable choice for the uninsured that will compete against the private insurance plans through the consumer-friendly nonprofit exchanges of each state. Set it up in supportive/progressive states as a choice or not in other states on a voluntary or optional basis as three-year pilot programs.
The exchanges should be like what our U.S. Senators and Representatives have (Federal Employees Health Benefits Program). Like them — like us!
It would be more cost effective if the Medicaid subsidies were shifted to the uninsured as low-cost premiums based on the recipient's ability to pay. I.e. a single working individual could pay $25 a month/$300 a year and consume up to $2,000 of preventative care. A working couple or single parent could pay $50 a month/$600 a year and consume up to $4,000. They'd also have a choice of primary care doctors and be covered for catastrophic care.
Demand a bipartisan health care bill
The health care debate is nothing less than a referendum on the type of society we want — is health care a natural/human right, or is it only a part of a strong social safety net in a country where individualism and personal responsibility predominate?
Collective left-wing Democrats would replace the entire system with a universal coverage, single-payer government plan. Far right-wing Republicans would halt the reform process for the sake of denying the president re-election in 2012. We must stop name-calling and find a reasonable compromise. Americans are split nearly 50-50 in our political philosophies. If both sides cannot find some measure of satisfaction in the plan, then the partisans will win — producing either no plan or a flawed, divisive one. Republicans must accept an Obama victory in the passage of legislation and Democrats must cede their goals of a European-style system.
We need reform, but we are not in an immediate crisis. Because of the breathtaking scope of its social and fiscal effects, the legislation must be made available for all Americans to study and debate in detail. The Congressional Budget Office must present a fair estimate of costs; and remember, any plan will surely cost even more than projected. That said, I would gladly pay my fair share to fund reasonable and bipartisan reform legislation.
This is what we must demand, from both the left and the right. We can't let the extremists on either side dictate the terms. We have the time, let's do this right!
In-person history tour
I read with interest your great coverage of the new audio walking tour of Ashland history. Did you know that there has been a wonderful in-person walking tour of Ashland's history for some time, hosted by a real person with a Ph.D. in history? And you can do it for free! It's sponsored by the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department.
I went on this tour and was amazed at Suzanne Marshall's knowledge and exhaustive research. I've lived here for 27 years and learned much about Ashland and my own neighborhood.
Your readers can schedule a walk by contacting Marshall at 482-8867. Perhaps the mayor would like to go along!