Every empire eventually falls, and we’re close
April 13, 2011 - 1:02 am
To the editor:
Thomas Mitchell’s Sunday Viewpoints commentary on entitlement costs and federal debt (“ ’Today it’s not a problem’ ”) was excellent.
It was also very disturbing, more so when you factor in some other unpleasant facts. For example, in 2009 more than 1 billion cell phones were produced, not one made in America; since 2001, the United States has lost more than 40,000 factories, and an additional 90,000 manufacturing companies are at risk of going out of business; and today there are more Americans employed by government than in manufacturing, farming, fishing, forestry, mining and utilities combined.
In the book “The Martyrdom of Man,” author William Winwood Reade described the economy of ancient Rome: “By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.”
Today, the biggest export from America, via ocean cargo container, is waste paper, the modern-day equivalent of dung.
Have we passed the point of no return? I don’t think so, but we are getting dangerously close.
To the editor:
In 2010, the U.S. government paid $413 billion just in interest on the national debt. How much is that?
It is more than the 2010 budgets of the following federal departments: Health and Human Services, the Small Business Administration, Transportation, Energy, Justice, Commerce, Labor, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Labor and Treasury.
Since 1988, the U.S. government has spent $8 trillion in interest. By 2021, annual interest on U.S. obligations will be $1.12 trillion. By the year 2026, every dime of tax revenue will be spent on interest alone. If the U.S. government quit borrowing tomorrow and paid $100 million a day in interest payments, it would take 389 years to pay off the national debt.
If you are worried that Social Security and Medicare will not be there for your kids, you get it.
If a majority of Americans think that these social programs should not be reformed in any major way, it may already be too late to save our way of life.
North Las Vegas
No support for schools
To the editor:
Nevada’s economy will recover one day, but if the proposed budget cuts to education happen, our schools and, therefore, our children may never recover.
My husband and I taught in another state for six years before joining the Clark County School District. Coming here was a career gamble. Our years of service in Oregon’s pension system didn’t transfer to Nevada, so we have a small account in one state and a separate account here. Clark County School District rules also require that teachers forfeit Social Security. My 14 years of contributions are lost; if I collect, the money I get from Social Security will be reduced because of my PERS pension.
We took the leap. We liked the health insurance benefits, Nevada PERS was (and still is) stable, and the growing district offered more job security. We came and brought with us our teaching experience, our multiple degrees and our commitment to providing our students with the best possible education.
Were we in the same position today, however, the Clark County School District would not be our choice, not because of our students, but because of the lack of support.
The state’s budget cuts may increase our health care contributions, increase our retirement contributions and cut our pay. We still get less from Social Security and, with decreased pay, saving for retirement will become even more difficult. Eighteen co-workers from my building have been told they may not have jobs next year. My classroom is so cramped that there is literally only 6 inches between desk rows, but I may need to fit three to five more desks in the room for next year. We don’t have enough books, but we have no money to buy more.
Yes, someday Nevada’s population will start to grow again and our economy will recover. New students will flood the district, but who will teach them? Not a teacher who plans to retire someday. Not a teacher with advanced degrees and high-need specializations, who will be drawn to a state that respects her and provides her the materials she needs to teach. Not a teacher with a family he needs to support.
Teachers understand that they must sacrifice. Historically, we have forfeited raises in order to fund PERS. We gave up the right to strike in order to keep the right to bargain, trusting that everyone would work together for the sake of doing what’s best for education and to attract the best teachers. We have gone without raises in order to keep our schools open.
Even now, we are willing to accept pay cuts via furlough so that our co-workers can stay employed, keep their homes and pay their bills. But we are frustrated. The majority of Nevadans have expressed that they would support a tax increase if the money went to education, but our governor is deaf to their words.
He cannot imagine the domino effect his deafness will cause.
Cancer center layoffs
To the editor:
I was so saddened to hear of the layoffs at the Nevada Cancer Institute (Saturday Review-Journal). It is an important part of our community, and an extremely important part for cancer patients. We all still need to support them and work toward better days ahead for us all.