Things I've Tagged ‘Letter to the Editor’

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Letter to the Editor: Response to Claims of Historical Ignorance

Dear Editor,
This is in response to the letter, “Tea Partiers should try learning some history” published Friday April 23rd.

Limiting government is a very real and historical American political tradition; from the founding and the institution of the Articles of Confederation, limiting Federal power in such a way as to make the common defense of our citizenry difficult, to the balance created in the United States Constitution so as to ensure ONLY those powers specifically enumerated to various levels of government are exercised, as a people we have often been at odds with government power whether for ill or good.

What the Tea Party represents is simply a reflection of this tradition: a simple repudiation of a level of taxation and spending that is hardly good for the fiscal future of this nation; a realization that what works best in a Federal system is more local control, rather than centralization of control; and finally, a problem with elected officials adhering to a set of principles that serve their careers better than constituents, whether Republican, Democrat, or somewhere in between.

Another bit of history: the debate concerning the power of the Federal government has been taking place since the Articles of Confederation were in place. There was a very real concern at the time of the Constitution’s writing that the Federal government would be granted too much power, and the debate has continued well beyond its ratification.

You can read what arguments were written in favor of our constitution in the Federalist Papers, but note that these arguments do not emphasize the need for unlimited Federal power, only enough to grant the government the authority to attend to its affairs without the constraints placed on it in the Articles of Confederation, which made such action impossible.

I didn’t learn any of this from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, et al. Instead, I cracked open a few books and read them long before the Tea Party was ever in place. Traditions change, and there is nothing wrong with that, but we should read and understand the real needs and concerns surrounding the founding of our nation in order to better understand why people feel the need to continue in them. This debate is a legitimate one, but it is better to address the issues rather than to disparage the messenger for the beliefs they hold.

Mike Mattner

Sent to the Herald Palladium for consideration.

Letter to the Editor: Response to the Moral Argument

In this paper, and among other sources, I have read the claim that the most moral action would be the passage of universal healthcare; and while, from the perspective of some it would indeed seem to be a moral imperative to ensure that the less well off are cared for, it is difficult to claim that the most moral action is a government run program.

From a certain perspective, what is deemed moral is that which is seen as the “greatest good for the greatest number of people.” Though the act of passing universal healthcare is done with great moral intentions, it will ultimately impact the greatest number of individuals more negatively over time, and will serve to help the fewest at inception.

What negative impact would such a program have on a greater portion of society than that which it is designed to serve? Simply, its costs will become increasingly astronomical and undeniably unaffordable over time, and in such a way as to cause catastrophic collapse unless a change is made in expenditures or in tax collection.

And while we are, in sum total, the wealthiest nation on earth, a great deal of this wealth is built on debt, from the car or house many own to the ever increasing debt of the federal government built year after year on deficit spending for various social programs and military expeditions.

This is not to say that those less well off should be left to wallow in misery; it is simply the role of societal institutions, and not government, to ensure individuals are cared for, and seemingly the most moral way. And so from this interpretation of morality it is difficult to say whether the passage of a government program designed to assist such a small percentage of the population is truly the most moral path to take.

But, of course, the issue of morality is complicated. Our tradition of governance is not; it is about negative liberty, or rather what the government will not do in order to maintain an individual’s right to life, liberty, and private property.

Passage of universal health care, or the passage of a similar program, diminishes this tradition by creating a sense of entitlement in a population looking for positive liberty—or what the government will provide—at the expense of an individual’s right to property, by increasing taxes, and the liberty one enjoys when deciding how to provide their own health and wellness, by supplanting that with a system designed to mandate what qualifies as quality care rather than that which is based on an individual’s needs.

Mike Mattner
Benton Harbor, MI

Letter to the Editor: Public Option Costs


I submitted a letter to the editor in the past few weeks concerning the numbers of the uninsured in this country as well as the cost of the program to the government.

The primary point of contention with that letter seems to have been with the numbers I cited, (and it didn’t help that the Herald Palladium gave the letter a headline of “phony numbers”) but the crux of my argument was not the numbers in question those were to merely point out that it is disingenuous to use them in order to say that the problem is extreme and needs our attention immediately, the real point I wanted to make in that letter concerning health care is that it is too costly for our government to fund a public option.

The congressional budget office has run numerous reports citing the deficits our government must run in order to fund the plan being considered. We mention sustainable spending and activity constantly, and it’s pretty clear that continuing to run and fund programs that require massive deficits won’t send our government into the black, but into the territory of not meeting its financial obligations. That is clearly not a sustainable state of affairs.

The only way to decrease deficit spending in that scenario would be to craft and implement new or increased taxes. In our progressive income tax structure the brunt of the burden likely will fall on the small percentage of the population making the most money. In many cases that means small businesses, or other providers of jobs. Taxes are to innovation, progress, and chances of employment what bleach and ammonia are to bacteria. An extreme comparison, but you get my point.

But, taxes will also be raised for the poor; not only directly through income taxes but also through increased taxation on various vices, luxury items, et cetera that create a regressive tax structure. These sorts of taxes (not relating to income) are more likely to be felt by lower income earners than those earning a higher income.

I agree, the costs of health care are indeed extremely high, and reform is needed to make the insurance market more open and competitive, but the option currently on the table is too large, too expensive, and not deliberated well enough for me to say that this is the reform we need; this option does not breed competitiveness or control costs in a way that is beneficial to the future operation of this nation or the well-being of its people; it creates a future tax obligation that will be impossible to meet.

So, let’s continue the discussion, let’s critique each other’s facts and ideas and hash out some kind of solid, truly sustainable reform, but let’s remember to not disparage one another simply because we cannot agree; instead let’s figure out why we do, and see if we can find some common points of concern to address in any future healthcare legislation.

Mike Mattner

Update: I was told this was published in the rag of record in our region, however I never saw it and was never informed of it being published. Oh well.