I am proud to be part of the N.H. development services system

To The Daily Sun,

Recently, Lakes Region Community Services (LRCS) celebrated 40 years of service to our community. For me it was a week of reminiscing — thinking about how the organization began, remembering those who together affected change and created a community-based system that supports independence, dignity, and opportunity in the lives of people with disabilities. It made me think not only about how far we have come, but also of all that is left to do.

LRCS was formed in 1975 by a small group of citizens who felt better coordination was needed for human services. We have grown and evolved since 1975 from a state that institutionalized our citizens with developmental disabilities to one that embraces a community-based system. While LRCS started with two employees it now employs over 350, supports over 1,200 individuals and families each year and is an integral part of the community in central N.H.

Now that the pause to celebrate our past achievements is over, the realities of today's challenges loom even larger. As an organization and state, we are facing devastating cuts to Developmental Services as proposed by the N.H. House of Representatives. I am working to inform the community and prepare families and individuals we serve and our employees and contractors to understand what would occur if these cuts come to fruition.

Eighty percent of people served by developmental services live with their families. By partnering with area agencies, families can continue to work, provide for themselves and contribute to their community. The cuts approved by the House of Representatives would undermine and diminish this partnership with families, underestimating the impact of the state's reliance on families in this service model.

The people of New Hampshire have a community-based support system for people with disabilities that we can all be proud of. It is cost effective, falling below our neighboring states and those states that rely on an institutional model of care. This system, which is the safety net for some of our most vulnerable citizens, is being put at risk. The dismantling of existing services proposed for New Hampshire citizens who need support and supervision for their basic health and safety, would result in real harm. The needs of these individuals will not go away; they will not "fix themselves." Any changes to the existing service system must not be done in haste. Change must be careful and thoughtful to ensure that no harm will come to any individual or family served by the developmental services system.

I am proud to be a part of the developmental services system. I am proud to lead an organization with many caring, dedicated employees and providers that are true stewards to the community for the individuals and families we serve. I am deeply concerned and troubled about the impact of these cuts and the irreversible harm they will cause if implemented. It has been a long and arduous road to get us where we are today and if the system is dismantled in haste, the individuals, families and communities impacted may never recover.

Christine Santaniello

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I enjoy being able to discuss & debate issues with mutual respect

To The Daily Sun,

How ironic that I'm not PC enough for Mr. Wiles. I used the wrong word, apparently, when I used the term denier to refer to folks who deny that climate change is occurring and also deny that there is human causation. His claim that I was associating climate change deniers with Holocaust deniers is absurd. There is no comparison between those who doubt climate change and those who doubt the attempted extermination of my people.

Mr. Wiles accused me of "attack(ing), demean(ing), and destroy(ing)" him because I didn't like his ideas. I do disagree with his position on climate change, but my letter merely pointed out that his sources were bogus.

I'm not a 'liberal/progressive' ideologue though I do hold liberal opinions in regard to the economy and wealth inequality, among other things. However, I also hold opinions associated more with conservatives on things like the power of free enterprise and the value of entrepreneurship and I find common ground with some libertarians on civil rights and in opposition to our military involvement in other countries. If I'm to be labeled anything call me a "pragmatist". I go where the evidence takes me.

I don't believe liberals or progressives or conservatives, or libertarians, or any other ideologically driven group has the truth. I think we get there by putting our thoughts into the "marketplace of ideas" and seeing what comes out. I suspect that on most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle of the ideologically driven fringes. I enjoy it when my conservative, and libertarian, and, yes, Tea Party friends and acquaintances and I are able to discuss and debate the issues with mutual respect.

Dave Pollak

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E. Scott Cracraft - The Paris & Conrad Hilton III spoiled brat trust fund tax

Americans pride ourselves in our education system and we have a lot to be proud of. But, do we really value education when many conservatives bash teachers and professors and view education in terms of the "bottom line"? Or when many retirees who are far from poor do not want to pay taxes for schools since their kids no longer are in school?
Our other problem is that many politicians do not really see education as a priority that the taxpayers ought to pay for. After all, the U.S. House (and the N.H. House) has recently cut funding for public services and while giving tax breaks to the rich. They want to abolish the inheritance tax on the rich and sell this by calling it a "death tax". Would the idea "sell" if we called it "The Paris and Conrad Hilton III Spoiled Brat Trust Fund Tax"?
They also want to give billions to what Eisenhower called "the military industrial complex". Everyone is for better national security but having a poorly-educated population hardly makes us "secure."
There are countries that do things better than we do with education and with impressive results. In Germany, higher education is now free. In Denmark, students get free tuition as well as a government stipend to live on. Our students not only go into debt but often have to work full-time. Perhaps that is why many European students know so much about what is happening in the larger world: they have the time to travel abroad.
Germany also has an education system that fits country's needs. Every German student receives a basic, general eight grade education. Then, based on tests and the student's interests, those college bound are sent to one of two types of public high schools. One is the gymnasium where you go if you are humanities-oriented. If you are more science and math oriented, you attend a Realschul.
If you are going into a skilled trade, you go to still another type of high school that combines general studies with hands-on training. By your last year, you are often working in a PAID apprenticeship. The German government, companies, and the unions all cooperate in these programs. In the U.S.A, there are very few paid internships for students.
While public education has made this country great, many want us to go backwards. The conservative Christians want the taxpayers to subsidize their private schools where they teach Creation "science", revised history, and "abstinence only" sex education. But, they are not satisfied; they want it in public schools too.
Others want to remodel education along neo-liberal lines. They want vouchers for private schools. They see the failures in our education system as an argument for privatization.
Actually, this model has been tried. The first real experiment in neo-liberal economic policies proposed by Milton Friedman was in Chile. But these policies could only be imposed after a U.S.-backed military coup that installed a brutal dictatorship where no one could oppose them. A group of economists trained by Friedman called the "Chicago Boys" were hired to supervise it.
Funding for public services were drastically cut, unions were suppressed, and public enterprises were sold off to private investors. Followers of Dr. Friedman like to talk of a "Chilean Miracle". While it did make some Chileans rich, it was very hard the working classes. The "miracle" fell apart and it was the economic problems it caused that led to a concerted effort to remove dictatorship.
In education, the neo-liberals created an system that conservatives here would approve of. Deep cuts were made to higher education and "subversive" professors were fired. Chile had some of the best universities in South America but the government promoted private "universities" which were for-profit and were of dubious quality. And, as in America, funding of public schools was tied to a community's tax base with poorer areas getting poorer schools. Since then, Chilean students have had to pay higher and higher tuition and take out loans. Sound familiar?
After democracy was restored, Chilean students set about to change it. A series of strikes over the last several years by both high school and college students (supported by parents and educators) finally produced results. Recently, Chile has decided to provide free education at public universities and cut the public funding of private schools and "universities".
It baffles that the wealthiest country in the world cannot follow the example of other democracies.

(Scott Cracraft is an American citizen, taxpayer, veteran, and resident of Gilford.)

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Upper management shouldn't earn more than 20X lowest paid

To The Daily Sun,
I was intrigued by an article on page 11 of The Daily Sun on April 16 about Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, who decided to cut his own pay so that each employee under him could earn a base salary of $70,000. I would hope and pray that corporate America would take notice of this story and act accordingly. I think most people would agree that greed at the top of most large companies is hurting those at the bottom.

I am employed by a company that the CEO who recently retired earned in excess of $11 million a year. While he has taken all that money out of the company, myself and many co-workers have been struggling to make ends meet. I have worked full time for 11 1/2 years with this company and had all above average evaluations, yet my wages are such that I still qualify for fuel assistance. My wife and I have not had health insurance for more than 5 years now, since my employer has steadily increased the rates for it. In 2008 I filed bankruptcy, in 2014 I avoided foreclosure (at least for the time being) and I am still struggling to pay the bills. My wife and I have only one vehicle between us though we need two and that vehicle will not pass inspection this coming June, nor do we know where the money will come from to replace it. We tend to buy 10-15 year old vehicles since that is all we can afford. So it was nice to read that not all those at the top of companies are so greed struck that they let those under them languish in poverty.
I have a potential solution for this problem. No, it's not a higher minimum wage (that only hurts the small businesses), nor is it having a labor union (though I have previously been a union member and my needs were met). I propose that a law be written that says no one at the upper end of any company can earn more than 20 times the wage of the lowest paid worker if that lowest paid worker is earning less than 400 percent of the federal poverty rate. Also a law like that should only apply to medium and large businesses so as not to hurt the smaller up and coming competitors. I don't know what the exact numbers should be in a law such as that; I'll leave that to our lawmakers.
I think of the biblical example of Jobe and how he was one of the wealthiest men of his time. Not one of the many people that served under his leadership would say anything against him because their needs were taken care of. Now that's a great example of how to treat your employees.
Thank you Dan Price for setting an example and I sincerely hope that you are blessed many times over and others at the top take notice and follow your lead.
One last thought, as our state legislators are about to vote to legalize casino gambling, just remember if it passes no product will be produced, though many workers will be taken out of the workforce to fill these non-productive jobs. Many who can least afford it will become addicted to gambling and most of the money put into it will leave our local economy for Nevada to line the pockets of greedy executives at the top of that industry. Call and write your representatives and let them know your thoughts.
Bob Ely

New Hampton

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Leftists aren't satisfied that people only tolerate their thinking

To The Daily Sun,
They say, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." Similarly, you can present facts in clear language using small words to make it simple, but if the facts don't coincide with a leftist's fantasy world, then the leftist will refuse to acknowledge the facts and respond with name calling and irrelevant or false charges to try to intimidate people into silence.
Leftists are wrong so often that they have become very creative in their name calling, diversions, and false charges. A good example is Ed Allard's letter of April 15, 2015.
Allard's letter is a response to my letter (April 11) regarding Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In Allard's fantasy, the Indiana law allows people to frivolously discriminate against others; it doesn't.
The Indiana law is similar to the Federal RFRA which describes (Sec 2A3) the purpose of such laws: "governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification".
Allard insists that the words "substantially burden" don't exist in the Indiana law although my letter quoted them directly from the law and provided a link to the Indiana law. So I checked again; there they are, "substantially burden", right in the Indiana law, Chapter 9, IC 34-13-9, Sections 8, 9, and 10.
The RFRAs are not intended to allow discrimination, for examples of their use: http://tiny.cc/tvdfxx.
Since Allard wants to make these laws about discrimination against gays, let's consider it. A business owner couldn't successfully use these laws to deny any normal non-religious service they offer. A business owner without serious evidence of their religious convictions couldn't successfully use the protections of these laws. A business owner who faithfully practices his/her religion which believes gay marriage violates God's Laws and can convince a court how performing a religious related activity "substantially burdens" his/her religious exercise MIGHT succeed in court in using this law as a defense UNLESS the state can show a compelling justification for burdening the person's religious exercise. Allard hasn't presented and I am not aware of any successful use of any of RFRA to defend against discrimination.
This issue is about the rare conflict of two rights that we all want to protect, Religious freedom, the first right protected in the Bill of Rights, and the right to equal treatment. The RFRAs provide reasonable frameworks for resolving those rare conflicts.
Allard also makes the ridiculous suggestion that the RFRAs are the same as the Jim Crow laws which were state laws which enforced discrimination; Jim Crow Laws couldn't be more different from laws that help resolve a conflict between people's legitimate rights.
Allard also seems to think that people can have their religions if they want, but they must confine them to their places of worship. It seems to me that our society would be much better off if more people lived consistently with their religious principles in all aspects of their lives, not just in their places of worship.
Allard charges that the RFRAs are "a smokescreen to impose their dogma" on others, but he presents no (and I am aware of no) evidence of that happening in any case involving a Religious Freedom laws, none of these people tried to prevent the gay wedding. In the cases where a bakery and a flower shop denied serving gay weddings both owners had previously provided the participants with non-religious related services, civilly explained why they couldn't participate in the wedding, considered them friends, and wished them well. Then the businesses were sued.
If we expect to have a free and peaceful society, then everyone should be respectful of everyone else's rights, customs, and beliefs because it is the right thing to do, not because it is required by law. No one should knowingly offend another person or ask them to violate their beliefs or rights. Unintended offenses or (non-harmful) violations should be ignored.
The uproar over the Indiana RFRA is part of a decades' long attack by leftists on America's Judeo-Christian heritage and values. Have you seen the media reporting the real incidents of Muslim bakeries refusing to provide cakes for gay weddings? Probably not. Isn't real discrimination a bigger offense than hypothetical discrimination?
Have you heard of any Indiana businesses which discriminated against gays? I haven't. But, you probably heard of an Indiana pizzeria which responded to a reporter's theoretical question that they wouldn't cater a gay wedding. You probably didn't hear that the media had to search to get the story they wanted, nor that the pizzeria advertised its Christianity, nor that it hadn't ever been asked to cater a wedding. Also, you may not have heard that the diversity advocates closed down the business by threatening to burn down the business and harm the people there.
Why should someone be able to demand a service that the service provider feels is offensive, promotes harmful actions, or violates his religious beliefs? Must a business make "T" shirts saying things like, "Muslims deserve to be killed" or "Gays deserve to be beaten"? I don't think so. The same people who refused to participate in gay weddings because of their religious beliefs probably would also refuse to make "T" shirts sayings those things, and they should be able to do so. A society that wants to be peaceful must allow people to act in according to their beliefs (that don't harm others) of right and wrong.
Unfortunately the leftists who constantly advocate for diversity and demand their "rights" are unwilling to accept the diversity and rights of others. Leftists aren't satisfied that people tolerate their beliefs or actions, leftists demand that everyone endorse and support their beliefs and actions; this is tyranny.
Tyranny does not lead to a peaceful and prosperous society.
Don Ewing

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