Letters to the Editor

This is Viewpoints for Thursday, September 22, 2016

Selective memory

We all possess selective memories to some degree, some intentional, others assisted by age. Looking at the 2016 presidential race, it appears that Democrats in Georgia fall into the first category. As I remember, the Democratic-controlled Legislature chose Lester Maddox, of all people, over Republican Bo Callaway for governor.

No way was there to be a Republican governor in Georgia even if Maddox destroyed the state. And people, how did it turn out? As I remember, Maddox has been acclaimed “the governor of education” even if he once held an ax handle and rode a bicycle backwards.

Arthur D. Brook, Macon

Three interesting notes about that 1966 election. Lester Maddox beat former Gov. Ellis Arnall 443,055 to 373,004 in the Democratic primary runoff after losing three races (two for Atlanta’s mayor and one for lieutenant governor) In the general election, Bo Callaway won a plurality with Maddox coming in second, but Arnall received 52,000 write-in votes.


ACA’s biggest problem

The Sept. 15 Telegraph had an article about the problems of the Affordable Care Act in the face of companies such as Aetna deciding to withdraw from providing medical insurance through the government exchanges. Aetna’s position is that the ACA forces coverage of too many people with existing illnesses while not drawing in healthier ones whose premiums will support the former. It’s an argument that seems logical — though it does seem to call into question the rationale for having an insurance industry at all. It’s like the cliche about bankers: they only want to lend money to people who don’t need it.

If, however, Aetna is being forthright, the company’s fiscal statistics will prove it. Fortunately, Wendell Potter, former insurance industry public relations executive and now journalist, has published those statistics. (These can be examined in more detail at the HuffingtonPost.com or in The Progressive Populist, Sept. 1, 2016.) The numbers are revealing.

During the tenure of the much reviled President Barack Obama the price of a share of Aetna stock has increased 525 percent. Between 2014 and 2015, Aetna’s second quarter operating earnings rose 8.5 percent from $722.l million to $783.3 million. Earnings per share in the same period beat expectations by about 10 cents, an impressive achievement. There was also a significant increase in total quarterly revenue, which reached almost $16 billion. This impressive financial success has come at a time when Aetna’s only growth involved government support such as Medicare supplement policies. It lost a net (total losses less gains under the ACA) of 700,000 clients.

Since the company has quietly positioned itself so that it can return to the exchanges for the 2018 enrollment, one is led to wonder if the cause of withdrawing for 2017 has motivations other than money (what a thing to think of an insurance company). Aetna proposed merging with Humana, but the deal was nixed by federal regulators, concerned about loss of competition in the insurance business. Could this be payback to the Obama administration and the Democrats in an election year for attempting to encourage better deals for Americans through competition rather than supporting capital growth in the insurance industry? Of course the real problem is neither Aetna’s greed nor the ACA but that Americans tolerate a system in which profit is made from the misfortune of illness.

Fred R. van Hartesveldt,

Fort Valley

Handing over our money

After being married for 30 years to one of the many incredible Georgia public school teachers, I’ve seen first hand how hard they work. And I’ve come to realize that public schools always seem to get the short end of the stick. That instead of increasing resources and support, teachers who just love teaching their kids are forced instead to jump through ridiculous hoops by people who have never taught a day.

Public schools are the first place budgets are slashed when they should be the last. And that public schools, their teachers, staff and boards of education are constantly scrutinized and vilified by politicians with ulterior motives. Those motives are almost always revolving around money, hidden agendas, greed and power. Amendment 1 on Georgia’s November ballot exemplifies this fact. If passed, our public schools and our tax dollars will begin to be handed over to for-profit corporations. Their No. 1 goal will be to keep as many of those tax dollars for themselves that they possibly can.

We all had that special teacher, the one who “got” you, that woke your brain up and fired up your imagination. It’s for these teachers and the kids they inspire that we cannot let our schools be handed over to corporate and political greed by allowing Amendment 1 to pass. We need to stop these people who would rather put our tax dollars in their pockets than help a struggling public schoolkid in a poor neighborhood find a purpose.

David Reed, Woodstock

Fan revolt

I’ve read with interest all the pros/cons of QB Colin Kaepernick. This man has caused quite a stir within the NFL. The media, of course, has given him just what he wants, that is to display complete and utter disdain and disrespect for the country. A country is served by young men and women who fight daily for his right, under the Constitution, to protest in the manner of his choosing.

Yes, we have racial problems in this country, but my personal belief is the problem would be far less of one if the media didn’t sensationalize every act of racial injustice. Further, I have thought about how fans of 49ers football team can express their displeasure for Kaepernick. Just quit supporting this team. After all, it all comes down to money and without fan participation there is no money. With the game being played to an empty stadium, it wouldn’t take that long for things to change. This should be done throughout the entire NFL or any other sporting event. The fans hold this power and should use it.

Sam Ryan, Warner Robins