Robert Pear of The New York Times has it right as far as he goes (“Incomes fall despite end of recession,” Oct. 10), but he missed an important loss of income to everyone who is trying to save for retirement, college or other major items and all those who depend on investment income to make ends meet, especially the elderly.
The Fed has forced interest rates to all-time lows, which is great if you you want to refinance your house, but crummy if you depended on 5 percent or greater interest from your investments to survive. Banks with their 0.5 percent and less interest on CDs means all those trying to save are getting only 10 percent of what should be a reasonable return.
No wonder incomes have fallen. Of course, our wonderful government would be hard-pressed if it had to pay a higher interest rate on the deficit and the continued borrowing that is and will drive this country into bankruptcy — 42 cents of every dollar the Fed spends is borrowed!
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Doesn’t anyone care?
Sorry for the trouble
Phil Dirkx’s column about regulation and cigarettes (Oct. 14) touched my soul. I just returned from two weeks in Southeast Asia.
In Cambodia, the average wage is $1.50 per day. A big portion of that goes toward tobacco. In Vietnam, the government regulates couples to have only two children. However, there seems to be no limit to the number of cigarettes one may smoke. There’s also no limit on the number of people one may carry on one motorbike in either country. I saw six people traveling on one bike. Two held babies; two held open umbrellas.
I’ve lost many friends and relatives to the ravages of smoking. Most recently my brother passed a hard and slow death as a result of lung cancer. He was quick to point out that he did this to himself. He smoked for over 30 years.
He started smoking while in the service. During World War II and the Vietnam conflict, cigarettes were standard issue in rations. My brother certainly looked forward to the tin of chocolate cake and package of smokes with each meal.
So to the young man and woman whom Phil witnessed: “I am so sorry you feel inconvenienced by regulations preventing you from causing an early death to yourself and others. I can only hope this inconvenient regulation eventually causes you to quit smoking.”
Elect better reps
The Sunday (Oct. 9) edition carried a story about Dr. Donald Ber-wick, who is currently acting as head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and who has been implementing innovations that attempt to “cut hospital-acquired infections and other problems by 40 percent by 2013 and hospital readmissions by 20 percent,” as well as evaluating and implementing even more procedures to improve the quality and delivery of health care services, which both saves lives and money.�
The story ends with the note that Dr. Berwick will “have to step down at the end of the year after Republicans pledged to block his permanent appointment.” So the country loses the services of a real innovator in order to placate the needs of a handful of purist Republicans — another example of how Republican idealogues are having a life-and-death impact on real lives in real time.
The moral of this little story should be clear: You can’t have better government until you start electing better representatives.