Letters to the Editor - March 2013

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February column read like Democratic talking points
To the Editor,

Mr. Niemeier’s recent editorial, “Business Democrats may be edging out of the closet,” though touting the magazine’s “nonpartisan” stance, reads like talking points straight from Democrat headquarters. In regards to health insurance, Mr. Niemeier states:
“Employee health premiums have heavily subsidized care for indigent, unemployed and otherwise uninsured segments of the population.  Should it really be the role of Main Street to pay these social costs?  Maybe government should play that role.  Reform is much needed.”

“Government” means taxpayers. There is no money tree from which the government harvests cash. Since businesses already subsidize these costs, they’re passing them on to consumers (taxpayers) anyway. This would not address the real issue – needed tort reform and an easing of regulations and implementation of free-market principles. Besides, since when has government playing a role in financial and actuarial-related matters ended well? Mortgages? Anyone want to go there? Social Security? It’s headed toward insolvency.  Ditto Medicare and Medicaid. Quoting President Reagan: “Government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”

Mr. Niemeier then drags out the perennial straw man of “chronic underfunding of Virginia’s infrastructure.” I’ve been following Virginia politics since 1979, and this “crisis” is raised about every other election cycle in an attempt to draw more blood from taxpayers. Efficiency and waste reduction is needed, not more “funding.” Public education should have taught us by now that throwing more money at every problem doesn’t have a very convincing track record.

By now, we know this is all about more Twinkies for Miss Piggy, so we’re then served up the following:

“While the idea of ‘no-new taxes’ has populist appeal, especially for the well-heeled, it doesn’t add up to a workable long-term solution . . . No-tax pledges have made underfunded, dysfunctional governance the norm.” 

I can’t believe I’m reading this in a business journal. We do not have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem. I worked in Virginia government for 12 years and witnessed such waste as intentional over-staffing in order to save and increase agency budgets from year to year and ridiculous taxpayer-funded seminars where state employees were treated to lectures on how best to get a good night’s sleep. No, I am not kidding. Those are just two examples. Mr. Niemeier is correct when he states that government is “dysfunctional,” but it has absolutely nothing to do with being underfunded.

After reading this piece, I came to the conclusion that there are, indeed, Business Democrats edging out of the closet – and they appear to have taken up residence in the editorial department of Virginia Business magazine.

Rick Williams, Staunton
Rick Williams is a business owner and entrepreneur in Staunton who served 12 years as a Virginia magistrate.

Sequestration would hurt Virginia and the military
To the Editor,

As I type this, only two weeks remain before sequestration kicks in, and the base defense budget is instantly and mindlessly cut by $50 billion every year.

This magazine, as well as the Center for Security Policy and the Bipartisan Policy Center, has documented its economic impact on Virginia well, while the military services have documented its military impact. Air Force flight training hours face an 18 percent cut, the Global Strike Command a 20 percent cut, the Marines will have to ground their Hornet Squadrons, and the Navy will have to forgo maintenance on 23 ships and 250 aircraft this year alone, and eventually cut its ship fleet deeply while the carriers Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington will not finish or receive refueling overhaul.

Sequestration will also aggravate rather than solve the problem of Department of Defense waste. Procurement contracts will have to be renegotiated and stretched, order quantities cut, and weapon development delayed. Spending on everything, whether wasteful or essential to national security, will have to be cut equally.

If those who complained about DOD waste were really concerned about it, they’d be campaigning to cancel sequestration or, at minimum, give the DOD flexibility to decide where to cut. But they’re not.

Those who downplayed sequestration’ impact on the military have been proved dead wrong.  Sequestration will cut the base defense budget down to $469 billion and keep it well below today’s level ($525 billion) for well over a decade.
All while entitlement spending will remain shielded from any cuts or growth slowdowns.

History will not favorably judge those who allowed sequestration to happen or those who downplayed its impact and thus misled the public.

Zbigniew Mazurak, Norfolk

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