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April 6, 2018

Fixing Appalachia may be the first step to fixing America, says leading modern historian of the region

You may know Buzzfeed as the home of pop-culture listicles, but it recently published a thoughtful essay about Appalachia by Ronald Eller, the author of Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945, and professor emeritus of history at the University of Kentucky.

Ronald Eller, the author of Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945, and professor emeritus of history at the University of Kentucky.Ronald Eller, the author of Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945, and professor emeritus of history at the University of Kentucky.When most Appalachians voted for Donald Trump in 2016, he writes, liberal pundits made the region a symbol of the nation's broken politics and used it to explain his appeal, while some conservatives said poor Appalachian areas were "white ghettos" of dependency created by liberal policies.

Both sides ignore the real source of Appalachia's well-known problems with unemployment, opioid addiction, health problems and poverty, Eller argues: "Rampant, unregulated free-market capitalism has ravaged the land and people of the mountains since the turn of the 20th century, creating an internal economic colony that provided natural resources for the modernization of the rest of country but left the working-class residents of Appalachia dependent and poor. . . . Efforts to reduce regional poverty over the last five decades, including those of the present, have relied primarily upon the same market-expanding strategies that fueled these inequalities in the first place. They provide a semblance of growth and opportunities for a few, especially those well connected to outside sources of capital, but they do not fundamentally alter the economic, political, and institutional structures that have plagued the region for more than a century."

When those solutions failed in Appalachia, coal country elites told locals that wealthy outsiders, especially federal bureaucrats, were the source of the region's problems, not greed, exploitation or corruption, Eller writes: "This may be the central issue of the Trump era: whether we will continue to blame the people of the region for their own condition, or whether we will acknowledge the need for substantive structural reform nationally and within Appalachia."

Appalachia's problems show the need for nationwide policy change, and fixing Appalachia may be the first step to fixing America, Eller argues.

Written by Heather Chapman Posted at 4/06/2018

 

April 4, 2018

If You Quit

 

By Dr. Glenn Mollette

This column is about something I've thought about doing before and that's just saying the heck with it. Some of you might say it a bit differently.

When I was a pastor I would get so sick and tired of the same old people whining and complaining about the same old stuff that never amounted to anything. Yet, they seemed to relish in having something to complain about. Most of us have been there and done that. We have whined or just got tired of hearing others whine.

Chances are you are there right now. You've done all you can to help somebody and you can't do it anymore. You've hung onto something that you wished you had walked out of a long time ago. You've showed up at a job that you've hated for years. You've carried on in different tasks that you are tired of doing because it all seems so futile. Nobody would probably blame you much if you made a change. For good or bad the person you always have to deal with is you. You have to decide if you can live with your decision to give up.

Fifteen years ago I didn't know how I was going to eat let alone pay the mortgage. I was trying to start a practical way for ministers around the planet to study the Bible and earn a ministry degree at home. After two years it was pretty dead and going zero. I was so jobless that I was interviewing with a nursing home for a job that paid really nothing. The interviewer wanted to know what my current job was and I said, "President of Newburgh Theological Seminary, Newburgh, Indiana." She said, "That sounds like a better job." I replied "I would like it more if it at least paid a little something." I was ready to quit but one tiny small success eventually led to another and that was fifteen years and at least 6,000 students ago. I'm glad I didn't quit but nobody would have blamed me if I had.

I'm certainly by no means saying life is roses. Not everything turns out pie and cream in life. I've had plenty of failures. I have failures going on right now. I suppose the only way I can escape failing at stuff is to stop trying to do anything. I've thought about giving up this column. About the time I start having this thought I'll get email from different people telling me that something I wrote was meaningful to them. An editor will write me and thank me or somebody will hate something I wrote and write something ugly. At least then I know I'm being read. So, I'm going to stay with it for awhile. Who knows what will happen.

Today, maybe the whole point of all of this is to help you stay with it a little longer or maybe just one more day. When you look back you never feel that great about anything if you just quit.

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Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.

READ HIS NEW BOOK - UNCOMMON SENSE

Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette

 

April 2, 1018

Alison Grimes, KY. Dem. Secretary of State is considered a strong candidate for Governor in the 2019 election.Alison Grimes, KY. Dem. Secretary of State is considered a strong candidate for Governor in the 2019 election.

 

"...As thousands march on Frankfort today and the halls of the Capitol are swept with a sea of red, our teachers and public employees are showing that they will not be silenced. These men and women wake up every day committed to the work of educating, protecting, and serving our Commonwealth. Their voices are reverberating across the state with the resounding message that a war on the working people who serve Kentucky will not be won.

This  message will be carried to the ballot box in November. I encourage any Kentuckian who is not registered to vote to visit GoVoteKY.com and become a voter.

I'm proud to stand with Kentucky's teachers and public employees today and every day.

 

April 3, 2018

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: President of Ky. Public Retirees supports teachers

 

Kentucky Retirement Systems stakeholders are shocked and appalled by the actions of the General Assembly regarding public pensions. Last week, in the space of about nine hours, the majority party produced a 291-page pension bill and voted it out of the House and Senate. Senate Bill 151 awaits Gov. Matt Bevin’s signature.

Taxpayers need to understand three important points about this bill as it relates to Kentucky Retirement Systems. First, KRS pensions were comprehensively reformed in landmark legislation in 2013. That legislation reduced future liabilities by eliminating retiree cost-of-living adjustments and adopted a hybrid cash-balance plan for new hires in which future risk is shared between employees and employers.

Second, the new pension bill produces no significant reduction in KRS liabilities, according to the KRS actuary. Third, stakeholders believe strongly that the benefit reductions in SB 151 violate the contract rights of members. Attorney General Andy Beshear and others will litigate.

We urge taxpayers to remember these three points when the November election approaches. If your legislator voted “yes” to Senate Bill 151, it was a vote to make illegal benefit cuts that produce no significant savings for a system that already had been comprehensively reformed just five years ago. We urge citizens to vote accordingly.

Jim Carroll
President, Kentucky Government Retirees

 

March 30, 2018

State lawmakers have adjusted their 2018 legislative calendar to delay the start of a recess period and allow the Senate and House to convene on Monday, April 2. They hope to have a final state budget agreement ready to be voted on that day.State lawmakers have adjusted their 2018 legislative calendar to delay the start of a recess period and allow the Senate and House to convene on Monday, April 2. They hope to have a final state budget agreement ready to be voted on that day.


FRANKFORT -- Efforts to reform the state’s public pension systems have taken a winding road and faced uncertain prospects at times since the issue came to the forefront of public discussion last year. But after making changes based on input received from stakeholders throughout the General Assembly’s 2018 session, public pension legislation reached the end of its legislative journey this week as lawmakers approved a bill on the issue and delivered it to the governor’s office to be signed into law.

One notable change to the legislation in recent days was removing a provision that would have reduced the cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers. The previous proposal would have reduced that adjustment from 1.5 percent to 1 percent, but there’s no such reduction in the plan lawmakers ultimately approved.

The goal is to stabilize pension systems that face more than $40 billion in unfunded liabilities. More funding is one part of the plan, according to the proposed state budgets both chambers have approved but, as of this writing, have not come to a final agreement.

Changes proposed by the pension reform legislation, Senate Bill 151, are aimed at shoring up the system in a number of ways, such as by placing future teachers in a hybrid “cash balance” plan rather than a traditional benefits plan and by limiting the impact of accrued sick leave on retirement benefit calculations.

While much of the focus at week’s end was on the movement of the pension legislation, a number of other bills also received final approval and were sent to the governor this week, including measures on the following topics:

Prescription medicines. Senate Bill 6 would require a pharmacist to provide information about the safe disposal of certain prescription medicines, such as opiates and amphetamines.

Terrorism. Senate Bill 57 would allow a person injured by an act of terrorism to file a claim for damages against the terrorist in state court.

Police cameras. House Bill 373 would exempt some police body camera footage from being publicly released. It would exempt the footage from being released when it shows the interior of private homes, medical facilities, women’s shelters and jails or shows a dead body, evidence of sexual assault, nude bodies and children.

Abortion. House Bill 454 would prohibit a certain type of abortion procedure, known as a D & E, if a woman is more than 11 weeks pregnant. The legislation does not ban other types of abortion procedures.

Lawmakers have adjusted their 2018 legislative calendar in order to convene the Senate and House on Monday, April 2, with hopes that a state budget agreement will be reached between the chambers at that time. A legislative recess is scheduled to begin on April 3, with lawmakers returning to the Capitol to adjourn the session by April 14.

Citizens who want to share feedback on the issues confronting our state can do so by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.

 

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