Forum, July 30: America’s Game: Wealth; Beware Single-Payer; The Obession of the ‘Valley News’

Reading Is Still Fundamental

To the Editor:

On May 31, members of the American Legion Post 84 joined White River School staff to help us raise money to preserve our Reading is Fundamental program. Adjutant Dan Hillard and his colleagues learned that federal funds for the RIF program had been eliminated and they organized a coin drop to help us maintain this important program.

The Post 84 Legionnaires coordinated with the Hartford Police Department, the Town of Hartford and transportation officials to obtain permits that allowed us to hold the coin drop. Their coordinated efforts helped us raise $1,537. These funds will be used to purchase books for students at White River School.

Reid Burriss and our librarian, Gail Haynes, together order books for our students in grades pre-K through 5. Five book distributions a year put “forever” books into the hands of our students, books that they can keep and pass on to younger siblings. It has been a tremendous challenge for us to maintain this program due to the fact that Congress eliminated federal funding in 2011. Our wonderful PTA has contributed, but it is getting increasingly difficult to maintain the program. Thanks to the outstanding community support from the American Legion Post 84, our students at WRS will continue to have books that will allow them to practice at home and develop a love of reading. I’m grateful to the members of Post 84 for their commitment to our community and the students at WRS.

Sheila Powers

Principal, White River School

White River Junction

America’s Game: Wealth

To the Editor:

It has been said that America is at its best and strongest when all three levels of income and wealth are doing reasonably well.

So how does America get back there? Well, at this time 1 percent of the population has roughly 38 percent of the wealth.

However, any suggestion or use of the word “give” or “share” will be met by a G.O.P. demand for offsetting hurt. So the poor would have to pledge to be poorer. But, that’s what is happening anyway.

Meanwhile, the disparity of wealth in America is tremendous and growing. The problem: how to move a stalemate while the top bracket accumulates? We’d like to think that the people will rise up, vote and make new laws.

If Peyton Manning and Tom Brady represented roughly two percent of their teams’ allotted salary space and suddenly demanded 38 percent, their fans would riot. Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association is discovering that when you give up the lion’s share of your budget to two or three players, there is not enough money left to make a winning team.

Well, as an 89-year-old fan of America, I ask the same question: How does America stay competitive with such imbalance of wealth. Is “all levels doing well” an impossible dream?

Are our wealthy becoming more allied to their class in Europe and Asia than to us?

Ironically, I expect that the initiative for a better balance must come from the top. A few powerful Republicans, individuals and CEOs must surely see the dangers that lie ahead.

Al Stevens


Beware Single-Payer Care

To the Editor:

Those enthusiastically anticipating full implementation of Obamacare or single-payer health care (in Vermont) would be wise to take a close look at what has been happening in the VA.

We see a new face of the ongoing scandal at the VA almost every day. First it was long lines, then it was deaths due to long lines, then it was whistleblowers being threatened, then a database of “disruptive” or “disgruntled” veterans, then secret waiting lists, then excessive bonuses to bureaucrats who knew about and implemented these practices, and on it goes.

I should say that I have read of and personally experienced excellent care at the VA. It is my experience that the caregivers, nurses and doctors at the VA are top-notch.

The problem is a simple one: Bureaucrats have no connection with the patient, yet it is the bureaucrat who sets budgets and determines policies. The doctors did not invent the secret waiting lists, the bureaucrats did — to cover the fact that patients were not being treated. The bureaucratic answer is always more money and more personnel. The Secretary of the VA has asked for $17 billion more to fix the problem, but former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has said the 2013 budget was “more than double the amount in constant dollars appropriated in 1980, when the veterans population was larger by a third.”

While some prefer to think government can provide any service, the VA shows this is clearly not the case. The patient has no recourse when he cannot get an appointment or necessary treatment. The VA is his only source — the dreaded monopoly.

The VA is demonstrably a single-payer system and it should give single-payer enthusiasts pause that one proposed solution to the scandal is to allow veterans to seek care outside the VA system. What will happen to us when there is no outside free-market system? Hidden waiting lists? Deaths while waiting? Uncontrolled costs?

Allan R. Wylie

South Strafford

A Website Made in Canada?

To the Editor:

Tuesday’s editorial (“This Does Not Compute,” July 29) mentions that the primary vendor accountable for the website is a Canadian technology firm to which the state of Vermont has already paid $52 million dollars on an $84 million dollar contract. Canada? Really? Is there no company in Vermont let alone in the whole U.S. capable of doing this work? Whatever happened to sustainable Vermont’s mantra, “Shop Local”?

Gretchen Pear


Unhappy Holidays for Seniors

To the Editor:

I am a senior citizen, and I just want to make readers aware of something that happens every holiday. Because they are manned by middle-aged or younger people, the facilities which are supposed to operate for senior citizens shut down on holidays. The senior centers are closed, post offices are closed, most businesses are closed, schools are closed, etc.

I am not begrudging a day off, but just want to say that for a segment of the population, holidays are the loneliest days of the year. And the trend is to have more and more three-day weekends (and I hear four-day weekends are becoming more and more prevalent) in celebration of a holiday. The only sacred days now are Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year’s. The population that is senior is probably in the minority and I don’t think we have much clout. I just want to say holidays are dreaded by some people.

Carole Haehnel

White River Junction

The Valley News’ Obsession

To the Editor:

What’s this obsession of Jim Kenyon and the Valley News about the regrettable firing of two Co-op employees? Is niche obsession a way to stay relevant for local print media? Or shall I just admire how the Valley News’ top-notch investigative journalist is making gold out of hay?

At this point there is no substance to a story that has evolved into pure entertainment, a reality show of some sort. It’s dangerous territory for a “news organization” to make news instead of reporting it.

Let the board handle this, they have the facts; the Valley News just speculates and spreads rumors. Please leave the gossip to the social media; it’s where it belongs.

Oliver Herfort