Guest opinion: Let’s focus on policies that enrich lives |

Guest opinion: Let’s focus on policies that enrich lives

Valerie Gilliam

I offer the following counterpoints to the op-ed column written by James Kellogg that appeared in the PI on Sept 20. Limited government is a nice idea if we could trust others to always do the right thing. Laws are in place to establish what is expected in a fair and just society so that we can live together. Our government is designed to be of the people, by the people. You must participate and pay attention in order for this to work.

Using the Sandy Hook massacre as an example, imagine your child was murdered by someone who shouldn’t have a gun. You would look to your government (that’s us) to come up with a solution to gun violence. Many just want sensible gun laws in effect so that we don’t have to fear going to the movies, going to school, or going to church; we do not wish to take away your right to bear arms.

The Affordable Health Care Act has helped millions of Americans to have health insurance, especially those with a pre-existing condition. It is a popular notion among critics that ACA should be repealed; however, I have not heard of any programs being offered up to replace it. It is a dichotomy of principles in a fair and just society to be critical of such an important component of the health and happiness of the people.

It is reported that Aetna’s CEO makes $17 million per year, yet Aetna is pulling out of the ACA exchanges due to its losses. The U.S. health-care system is failing its people. If the insurance company executives can make that much money yet speak of great losses in order to insure people, then we need to change our system, and the people of the USA are smart enough and industrious enough to do so. Let’s work together for quality, affordable health care for everyone.

In my lifetime I have seen our capitalistic economy create great wealth for a few while taking away from the many. Case in point is the mortgage crisis of 2008. Many people lost their homes, their retirement investments and their jobs. Where did all of this money go? Into the pockets of those who utilized free market principles to create wealth for themselves. We need laws in place to regulate the financial institutions and Wall Street.

Pharmaceutical company Mylan increased the cost of EpiPens to $600, which is another example of people taking advantage of free market principles to create wealth for themselves. It is reported that Mylan’s CEO has made $25.8 million in salary, options and incentives. We need laws in place to regulate big pharma.

We are destroying our planet with our consumption and experiencing the reality of water supplies unfit to drink. Fossil fuel extraction and other human activities are to blame for our loss of water supplies. Water is finite. Water that has been contaminated with chemicals cannot be put back into the potable water supply. That is a simple fact. Contaminated water has been injected deep into the earth because it can’t be used again. These injections are beginning to cause earthquakes. We need laws in place to guard against pollution and to create clean energy to replace outdated fossil fuel extraction. We are smart and industrious enough to create an economically viable plan to phase out dirty energy and ensure clean air and water for everyone.

Rather than believing that helping people to rise above their circumstances is encouraging a dependent population, let’s use our collective ingenuity to help end poverty and hopelessness. When there is no hope there is violence and there is crime. Education is a critical component to end poverty. It is a tragedy that we hero worship sports and entertainment figures to the point that they make millions yet teachers are not paid a wage commensurate with their task at hand. Government programs are needed for education of the people.

All are free to worship and pray as they see fit and no one is trying to take away that right. It is a dichotomy of principles to uphold the sanctity of unborn life yet not pay for government programs to help those who are born. It is a dichotomy of principles to build a wall to keep out immigrants. Where is our compassion?

More people are killed in the U.S. due to gun violence than terrorist attacks. Fox News has perpetuated a falsehood that all Muslims are terrorists and refugees are to be feared. This and other falsehoods are spread to win elections and are not based on truth.

President Obama is a person who was free to go as far as his ambition would take him. His ambition is to help people from all walks of life to realize their potential and unlock their inherent talents so that our society as a whole succeeds. That is why the president and the first lady have been big proponents of education. President Obama and Hillary Clinton have spent their careers in public service.

You and I may not agree on all of the policies put forth by Obama and Clinton; however, that is not a reason to spread lies and rumors. If you don’t agree, then get involved and help make the changes you believe in. Let’s stop the hate mongering and collectively come up with government policies that enrich the lives of all Americans. It is important to remember that it is not just the presidency that matters but also those who fill Congress. Vote for education, clean and sustainable energy, the environment, the economy and compassion. Of the people, by the people — your vote matters.

Valerie Gilliam lives in Carbondale.

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