Social Security needs reform but not at the expense of the truly disabled
I work with disabled Americans; those who have spent years working but now find they are unable to provide for themselves and their families due to injury or illness.
This election year is producing growing misinformation about Social Security Disability.
First, this program is, in fact, an insurance program, not an entitlement. Taxes workers pay into Social Security for retirement also pay a form of disability insurance.
Working five of the prior 10 years paying into the program triggers possible eligibility. Second, pundits suggest it is easy to get. It is not! Claims can take years to be successful. Undocumented pain, diabetes and obesity are no longer sole criteria for eligibility.
The severity of conditions documented by a doctor founded upon objective medical evidence is required.
Today's climate of limited access to health care can make this difficult. Third, the high unemployment rate is not resulting in more persons receiving disability.
Baby boomers are now reaching the age where injury, illness and disease are prompting eligibility for benefits in numbers much higher than even 10 years ago.
The demographics of workers in the United States have also changed. In 1970, fewer than 40 percent of women were insured for disability; in 2010, that number reached almost 70 percent.
In an election year, cases of fraud run rampant through social media. Supporting reforms to eliminate waste and abuse while strengthening the program are goals I embrace.
The program is not to be used by the lazy or the unemployed.
However, allowing the disabled to become victims of misinformation for political gain is askew from the program's core mission: protecting those workers who have paid into an insurance program in the event that illness or injury undercuts their ability to work.
Not protecting them is an injustice that ripples through families and communities.
Kimberly A. Lamb, Social Security Disability Attorney, Petoskey
Fracking, benzene and safety
What would it take for you to leave your home? How much benzene is safe for your family to breathe?
These are questions that Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of Dish, Texas, asked the audience. On a tour of Northern Michigan sponsored by Don't Frack Michigan and local conservation groups, Tillman told his story of how he fought to save his family and community from the devastating damage to property, health and the environment brought by the heavy industrialization process of Slickwater Deep Shale Fracking.
We know that war and famine drive people from their homes, but Tillman told a personal story of how the largely unregulated activities of the natural gas companies and the accompanying compression stations, venting gases, piping, trucking and drilling, made his children sick, and drove him from the "only home my kids had ever known. The home where we went to church, where our children went to school, the home we planned to raise our family in."
According to Tillman, the root of the problem is that the oil and gas companies largely have written their own rules, and the regulatory agencies protect the industry rather than the public. He said fracking has exemptions to seven major health and safety laws (including the Hazardous Waste Disposal Rules, the Safe Drinking Water, Clean-up, Community Right to Know and the Clean Air Acts). And while the industry would like to focus attention deep below the ground, unconventional dense shale fracking uses hundreds of times the amounts of chemicals and water and land area. The devastating impacts of heavy industrialization occur in the communities, forests and rural areas above the shale plays.
Mr. Tillman suggested we watch The Sky is Pink, a new film by Josh Fox at http://player.vimeo.com/video/44367635 . Also see www.dontfrackmichigan.org.
JoAnne Beemon, Charlevoix
We are spending most of the summer in Charlevoix working remotely while enjoying all the many delights and the people of Northern Michigan. But it saddened me to see how often Old Glory is flown at half mast knowing that another military hero has fallen. There is a time to make war and there is a time to make peace, we are way past the time when we should have been making peace. That in my opinion is President Obama and his lack of courage in pursuing peace is his biggest failure among many. It is time for change and when I vote in November it will not be for the man who is prolonging these wars.
Bob Ludwig, Charlevoix
Congratulations, tennis teams
Congratulations to all the participants in the city tennis tournaments this past week. Dree Lo did a great job running the tournament for all ages. It was a fun and positive atmosphere enjoying the sport. Thanks to the city and all the sponsors.
Sharon Walker, Petoskey
Support Frank Foster for House
Two years ago, our region was at a crossroad. We had to choose in picking from two distinctively different men to represent us in the 107th District of Michigan's House of Representatives.
I believe we made the right decision in picking Frank Foster to join other representatives across the state, in going to Lansing and getting Michigan back for us. Michigan's unemployment has dramatically decreased since the Granholm administration. I am extremely proud of Rep. Frank Foster and I would like to explain why you should support him for re-election in November.
Rep. Foster voted with the majority of the State House to pass a bill cutting the retirement health care benefits for representatives and senators in the Michigan legislature.
Rep. Foster has also been a part of a legislature that has introduced and passed a balanced budget two years in a row, which has given a 2 percent increase in funding to our public schools. Rep. Foster is the chair on the Natural Resources Committee and has introduced a bill into the State House called the "Dark Sky Bill."
This bill has since passed and was signed in to law this past July by the governor. This bill has brought many "Dark Sky" advocates and tourists to the Northern Michigan region and has helped our economy greatly.
For these reasons, I ask you as a fellow constituent of the 107th House District to please re-elect Frank Foster as your state representative on Nov. 6.
Mike Sullivan, Petoskey
The right to be happy
It's an evil perspective that a lot of people have bought into ... government instead of God. I do think this need to control others instead of respecting their free will is at the base of every one of our problems. Isn't that the original sin ... wanting to be God?
Jesus and the prophets, have made it perfectly clear that man has free will and can choose to cooperate with God's "nudging" or choose not to pay attention and do their own thing, suffering the consequences.
Jesus has shown us a loving father who created us to do one thing ... to love God with our whole mind, body and soul. In order to do that, God created man with free will ... honest to goodness free will. So that when we do love God and others, as He loves, He knows that we are freely choosing to love, not because we had to.
The socialists and others who want government to control everything, absolutely abhor free will. They say they just want to protect us from suffering the consequences of some of our "bad" choices ... like drinking too much soda. However, they think they know as much as God; what's good/bad for us. So they want to decide all things for us.
Even if they were right about their omnipotence it would still be a destructive perspective. When you take away man's free will, man is no longer human. Man is no longer capable of loving in any situation. Man must be free in order to respond to his/her God.
Vote this November for your personal freedom.
Vote for those who are trying to protect your right to live your life as you know it should be lived!
Don't give away your God given right to pursue your own happiness.
Nancy Sarowski, Harbor Springs
Writer questions Boyne school bid award
Come on Boyne City School Board, what is going on?
A notice was posted for bids on a new irrigation system to be installed at the elementary school. Three local irrigation companies submitted bids.
But, the bid was not awarded to the company who had the lowest bid. No, the bid was awarded to the company who submitted the highest bid. Why?
Does our school system have so much money that they can spend at will? Why did the board award this bid to the highest bidder? The bid system is for the school to get the best price for the job.
Is the Boyne City School Board getting a "pay off" or "kick back" to award contracts to the company they want to do the work, not the one who won the bid? How many more local companies have lost out on bids because of favoritism? The school board is voted on to do the best for our schools and that means not spending money that is not necessary and being honest about it.
Marty Monroe, Boyne City