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January 15, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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January 15, 2014
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 71B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE Trust... but definitely verify in today's skeptical climate Of all the numbers thrown at us over the course of last year, one stands out for me. I hope we can avoid repeating it this year. That number is 12. It'.s the percentage of Americans in a December Quinnipiac poll who said they trust the government in Washington to do what is right most or all of the time. It's a depressingly small number -- especially compared to the 41 percent who say they "hardly ever" trust the government. This meshes with recent polls that echo a bleak truth: trust in government is at historically low levels. That's not all, though. Americans are feeling vulnerable and highly distrustful of both government and private-sector prying. More worrisome, a few months ago an Associated Press poll WHERE I STAND LEE HAMILTON DIRECTOR CENTER ON CONGRESS AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY found that fewer than a third of Americans trust one another. The poll's message is clear: Our society is in the midst of a crisis in trust. This might seem like a touchy-feely concern, but it's not. Trust is essential to our political system and our way of life. The belief that people and institutions will do what they say they will do is the coin of the realm in our society. It is what allows people to work together -- in their dally interactions with others and in their communities, legislatures and.Congress. Negotiation, compromise, collegiality and the mechanisms our complex and diverse society depends on are impossible without trust. Trust is one of the medley of virtues that have allowed our institutions to develop and prosper, along with honesty, competence, responsibility and civility. A breakdown in trust between Congress and the executive branch invariably brings problems: the turmoil of the Vietnam War era, Watergate, Iran-Contra, our current budget travails. A societywide lack of trust imposes real costs. It makes the drafting of laws and their implementation extremely difficult: government becomes more expensive because it requires more emphasis on regulations and enforcement. In fact, you could argue that we see all around us the results of our trust deficit. Government dysfunction, an economy performing below its potential, public officials' scandals and misdeeds, trusted institutions' willingness to skirt the law and standards of good conduct, our social safety net under attack because people mistrust recipients -- all of these speak to a society struggling as trust weakens. Yet here's a question. Do the polls match your experience? In my case, they do not. Trust still figures in my dealings with institutions and individuals, most of whom are good people trying to live a decent life and to be helpful to others. They deal with one another honorably and with care. I'm convinced that this is because, no matter what the polls say at the moment, the habits instilled by parents, schools and a vast number of public and private institutions do not just disappear. These habits include the experience of grappling with the challenges that representative democracy throws at us -- and they serve as a reminder that we need trust in one another to make our national experiment in representative government work. As idealistic or even naive as this may sound, we need to work toward more trust among our people and between people and their government. Some new laws might help, but the challenge is more basic than law can address. Higher standards of conduct at all levels of American life must become the norm. Trust may have weakened, but most of us do not see or experience a corrupt America. Even as we have become a larger, more diverse nation, a sense of community remains crucially important to make this country safe and secure for ourselves and our children. We cannot take for granted our success at self.government over the centuries: The only invisible hancl guiding and preserving our institutions is our collective will. Events in recent years have given us plenty of reason to be distrustful. Clearly, healthy skepticism is warranted in the wake of the NSA revelations, the problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and other evidence of both government and corPorate misbehavior. In the end, however, "trust but verify" is still the golden standard. Our ability to function and move forward as a society rests on trust. Think about it. Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member oF the U.S. House of R epresenta rives for 34 years. American universities are the real taxpayer lottery winners A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit is normally a charity, church, religious group or community service organization. It could even be IAberty University in Virginia, which enrolls more than 50,000 students a year online and receives more than $450 million each year from the federal government. The money comes from the students who use federal aid to pay for their education. This happens in all states but usually on a smaller scale. The college or university eventually qualifies for a Council on Higher Education Association accreditation. Schools who want the free federal dollars jump through WHERE I STAND GLENN MOLLEI"rE COLUMNIST every hoop and dance every step necessary to keep their accreditation. A CHEA accreditation means mega millions to universities. This accreditation gives the school a federal college identification number that students use when filling out their FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) for free government money. FAFSA lets them know if they are approved to go to the school. Once approved -- hooray! The school has won a lottery right from We American taxpayers' pocket. The school, over the next four years, may expect to receive as much $40,000, $50,000, $70,000 or more. The school financial aid office must use a formula for those who are approved to apply using FAFSA. A determination is made about how much the family can pay. If the family can pay some then the student will receive less via FAFSA. However, consider how many millions of families are in poverty in America and you are looking at least one-third of our nation that is qualified for free federal money. This means the student will receive a free ride for all four years of college -- paid for by you. Students from middle-class families who can pay some receive much less and some families make enough that they do not qualify at all. Again, the middle class and those who work hard to make money in America pay out the most and receive the least amount via FAFSA -- usually none. I would rather see our country spending money on college tuition than Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Iraq. Some of the best money our country spends is on education. The problem is that federal tax dollars have become gold mines to American universities. Salaries of professors and those in administration have skyrocketed in recent years, while Average America has been taking pay cuts or standing in unemployment lines. Colleges across America have taken a good thing too far. They hgve been living on Fantasy Islfind for too long. They build the finest buildings, pay handsome salaries to some professors who only teach three times a week and are mostly paid for by your tax donars. University presidents and trustees must lead the way to cut college costs. Cutting college costs would ease some of the fmancial burden on this nation. All would benefit, including the millions of families who Often do not qualify for free federal money. Many of these working families see higher education as becoming almost impossible for their-children. Glenn Mollette is an American columnist read in all 50 states. Contact him at GMolletteaol.com. He is the author of "American Issues" and numerous other books. LETTERS to the EDITOR. Guidelines for Letters All letters must contain an address and a phone number. We publish only one letter per week per person and only one letter per person per month regarding the same subject. We do not publish third-party, anonymous, or open letters. Letters must be limited to a maximum of 300 words. The editor will ct any letter in excess of 300 words. The deadline is Friday at 3p.m. (Deadlines may change due to holidays.) Letters may be taken to any of Feather Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952, or e-mailed to dmanald@plumasnews.cor We are responsible for our actions I have been musing over a recent statement made by Rush Limbaugh. He said "See, in my humble opinion, folks, if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming." First; I would like to compliment him on his humility and the qualification that he is stating an opinion. I find, however, several layers of meaning here. Apparently, he does believe in global warming, but he makes a huge leap from believing in God and not accepting man's hand in global warming. I suppose one can see global warming as an act of God in the way insurance companies have seen damage done by hurricanes, floods and other disasters caused by nature as acts of God and, therefore, out of their hands; although one can now buy flood and earthquake insurance. Also, his statement echoes of Calvinism where nothing in the universe is done without God's will. All is predetermined and nothing man can do will change it. Before one is born, his fate is predetermined. One's earthly prosperity and decency are simply a manifestation of his having been one of God's select. That philosophy completely ignores the concept of free will. In my humble opinion, man is responsible for his own actions and the care of God's earth. Salvatore Catalano Taylorsville Concerned about ethics 2013 was a year of the grand jury exposing corruption in government, and questioning the use of public funds. Job well done! The Board of Supervisors were not pleased with the fmdings and delayed their response to a point that they violated the law. Concerned citizens have felt that their concerns with their elected officials were futile and a waste of their time. A few of us come to public meetings to participate whether our elected officials like it or not. Others write letters to the editor while attending to their business. The kangaroo court and resignation of the new Portola city manager after two months of performance management was the catalyst for the formation of the Concerned Citizens Coalition. Other concerned citizens like Trent Saxton are now focusing their attention on local issues. He has written recently on the expense of LAFCo to the city of Portola and conflict of interest of Supervisor Kennedy in hopes of a positive change. Kennedy's involvement in city matters, the kangaroo court and subsequent contract with the city presents an image of impropriety that should be investigated and taken up by the BOS. The inside investigation conducted by the City Council into the personal conduct of Ian Kaiser is another issue for concerned citizens. The meeting of the accusers before the City Council meeting, whether to rehearse their testimony that they believed would be held in open session or to have a few drinks together, was an image of impropriety. The testimony and accusations should have been kept confidential like the procedure of the grand jury. While the City Council is looking for a manager with ethics, concerned citizens are praying for elected officials and a staff with ethics in the new year, Larry F. Douglas Portola Pension injustice In addition to "social justice," the progressives' latest emphasis in social engineering is "income inequality." For example: Rank-and-file U.S. Representatives and Senators receive $174,000 annually. House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders receive $193,400 and the Speaker of the House gets $223,500. They pay less than 2 percent into a pension fund and contribute 6.2 percent to Social Security. They can retire after five years of service and meeting age requirements. They are limited on outside income to around $28,000 a year. They get paid travel and other expenses. They spend their days thinking, talking, traveling, appearing on talk shows, working out in their gym,' eating gourmet meals (by normal standards), attending meetings, entertaining lobbyists, occasionally writing a bill -- and have staff to answer mall and telephone calls and research information. Their families are accessible at nearly any given time. The military hasmany grades of pay, but an example for a typical soldier (E-5, married, six years of service) serving in a war zone is about $55,000 tax free (2011), including base pay, food and family separation allowances, hazardous and hardship duty pay. They may be eligible for house loans, education, etc. They must serve 20 years before potential retirement. what do they do? Face death dally; run from mortar fire; eat cafeteria or plastic food; get their legs and arms blown off; watch their friends writhe in pain and/or die in their arms; have nightmares of the horrors of war; dig ditches; build schools; sleep in the dirt; have no air conditioning; often face freezing conditions; live away from their families even on holidays; and return home to food stamps, waiting months for medical care, children who don't know them, and more. Progressives don't address this "social injustice." And their answer to the "income inequality"? Cut military pensions. Brilliant! Lynn Desjardin Portola 00d=Offidais., PLUMAS COUNTY SUPERVISORS - 520 Main Street, Room 309, Quincy, CA 95971; (530) 283-6170; FAX: (530) 283-6288; E-Mail: pcbs@countyofplumas.com. Individual supervisors can also be e-mailed from links on the county website, countyofplumas.com PRESIDENT - Barack Obama, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500. (202) 456-1414. Fax: 202-456-2461. E-mail: whitehouse.gov / contact / U.S. SENATOR - Dianne Feinstein (D), 331 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3841; FAX: 202-228-3954; TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501 District Office: One Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco, CA 94104; Phone: (415) 393-0707; Fax: (415) 393-0710 Website: feinstein.senate.gov. U.S. SENATOR - Barbara Boxer (D). District Office: 501 1 St., Suite 7-600, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 448-2787; FAX (916) 448-2563; OR 112 Hart Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-3553. FAX (202) 228-0454. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, 1ST DIST. - Doug LaMalfa. 506 Cannon HOB Washington, D.C. 20515. (202) 225-3076. lamalfa.house.gov. DISTRICT OFFICES: 1453 Downer St., Suite #A, Oroville, CA 95965; 288 i Churn Creek R., Suite #C, Redding, CA 96002. STATE SENATOR, 1st DIST. - Ted Gaines. State Capitol, Room 3070, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 651-4001, .FAX: (916) 324-268,0. E1 Dorado i Hills Constituent Service center. 4359 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 112, E1 Dorado Hills, CA 95762. (916) 933-7213, FAX (916) 933-7234; Redding Constituent Service Center. 1670 Market St., Suite 244, Redding, CA 96001, (530) 225-3142, FAX (530) 225-3143. STATE ASSEMBLYMAN, 1ST DIST. - Brian Dahle, State Capitol, Room 2174, Sacramento, CA 94249, (916) 319-2003; FAX (916) 319-2103. District Office, 2080 Hemsted Dr., Ste. #110, Redding, CA 96002; (530) 223-6300, FAX (530) 223-6737. GOVERNOR - Jerry Brown, office of the Governor, State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814. Website: gov.ca.gov/ (916) 445-2841 FAX: (916) 558-3160. BE HEARD Don't sit back and let others do the talking for you. Express yourself in our LETTERS TO THE EDITOR email: dmcdonald@plumasnews.om