An interesting look at Cuba

Matthew Hansen's magnificent stories on "The New Cuba" have been very interesting. A family I knew well escaped the country in 1962 and ended up in Omaha. The father was a very respected psychiatrist at a local hospital. The son was my age. The family were forever grateful that they were part of this great country and taught me some things about being a good citizen.

Char Parmenter,Fullerton, Neb.

Failure to act could cost lives

A Feb. 10 World-Herald news article detailed how much Legislative Bill 1032 would cost if passed ("State cost put at $1 billion over decade"). What the story doesn't say is how much it would cost the state if Medicaid expansion doesn't pass and people don't have access to adequate insurance.

People who don't have insurance spend much more on health care because they put off seeking it until they are so sick they have go to an emergency room. Nebraska taxpayers end up paying for those trips through increased insurance costs. Some states are even closing hospitals rather than having to pay for uninsured people using the ER.

When people are sick, they can't go to work, which can mean they don't have money for the basics. Some people lose their lives by not seeking medical care because they lack insurance.

Why do our representatives care about the unborn but not the people dying for lack of insurance?

Dale Rezac,Omaha

We must help those without insurance

Like Gov. Pete Ricketts, I am an opponent of the Affordable Care Act. Unlike the governor, I do not have health insurance because I don't qualify for Medicaid and can't afford private coverage.

The cheapest coverage I have found for my family would cost more than a quarter of our monthly income and have a deductible that we would likely not reach.

I understand that our state leadership is opposed to Medicaid expansion. But can we please stop spending time studying things we are not going to do and find a solution for those of us who are in this gap?

Not only are there thousands of Nebraskans going without health care because of a lack of health insurance, we are paying thousands of dollars in penalties for not being able to afford coverage. Why can't we use the money we are being fined to buy a partial Medicaid policy that meets the requirement?

We need a government that spends more time doing things and less time stopping things.

Troy A. Burress,Papillion

Don't use taxes to change behavior

I am not a smoker. Having established that, I think the idea to raise the tax on tobacco products in order to lower property taxes is absolutely wrong ("Cigarette tax could go up to $2.14 per pack," Jan. 16 World-Herald).

The government was not given the power of taxation to use it to try to change people's legal behavior. If you accept the premise that such taxation is a good idea, then where does it stop? Why not tax cheeseburgers because they raise arterial cholesterol levels? How about raising taxes on candy bars because they may directly affect obesity?

Once that "taxation for your own good" box is opened, it's like putting toothpaste back in the tube — impossible.

The power of government to tax is an enormous responsibility and should not be abused.

Howard Schanzer Jr.,La Vista

We must be diligent ratepayers

The Metropolitan Utilities District is a public utility. We elect the people who serve on its board of directors, which sets priorities and rates for the gas and water utility.

If MUD is sued ("Suits likely to rise from ashes of M's Pub, MUD lawyer says," Feb. 4 World-Herald), then the ratepayers will surely pay.

If investment in a responsible maintenance program of MUD's natural gas infrastructure isn't a priority, then we bear the risk of delayed maintenance and the higher risk of infrastructure failure. We either pay now or pay later.

I am sure that the MUD technicians involved in the M's Pub fire and MUD leadership are fully investigating their actions and the woulda, coulda, shoulda.

In June 2014, MUD announced a program to accelerate the replacement of older infrastructure. According to The World-Herald, "By 2018 the district wants to be on pace to replace 40 miles of gas mains and 20 miles of water mains a year — roughly 10 times the amount replaced a decade earlier. . . . Until recently, retiring the system's aging pipelines wasn't a priority, and MUD managed to replace only two or three miles a year. Infrastructure replacement was just another line in the budget, and the thinking was, 'That pipe can always go one more year,' (MUD President Scott) Keep said."

I am grateful for Keep's focus on maintenance and the safety of our natural gas infrastructure. Perhaps if previous MUD leaders had the same focus, we would be having a different conversation.

I did not attend any board meetings, review the budget or question the safety or replacement of aging infrastructure. Frankly, it did not occur to me until I read this article in 2014. It is easy to sling mud at MUD, but the question should be, as citizens and ratepayers, what is my responsibility?

Marcia Anderson,Omaha

Real conservatives reject Hagel

After reading The World-Herald's Feb. 10 report on former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel's address to the Greater Omaha Area Chamber of Commerce ("Hagel: GOP won't nominate guy like Trump"), it's obvious that members of the GOP establishment still don't get it.

A great number of Republicans are fed up with the current Republican officeholders.

Voters in 2014 gave Republicans control of both the Senate and House only to have them sell out to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former House Speaker John Boehner, current Speaker Paul Ryan and the Democratic Party elites.

Hagel bemoans the candidacy of Donald Trump when it is GOP elites like him who have made the Trump phenomenon possible.

Don Brunken,Logan, Iowa

Details, details, details

I'm still waiting to hear or see Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's detailed plan of how, as president, he would build a border wall and, especially, how he will make Mexico pay for it.

Michael O. Johnson,Omaha

Who pays for Bernie's promises? We do

I hope Americans understand that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders can only pay for everything he is promising voters by raising the taxes of working people.

We pay for K-12 schools, and, if he wins, we'll pay for college for everyone, too.

Nothing is free — that's why we are $19 trillion in debt. If we run up the debt to pay for free college, what kind of jobs will be available for the kids? Fast food or retail?

Hey, Bernie, how about a tax credit for never having kids? Or how about, once people reach the age of retirement, they never have to pay taxes again?

I like that one.

Luann Denholm,Fremont, Neb.

Manners aren't everything

Which do you suppose upsets the Republican base more — a candidate that lets loose an occasional vulgarity or the establishment members of their party totally capitulating to this administration on every spending item they wanted in the last budget?

Klaus P. Lindner,La Vista

Reject New Hampshire's choices

The voters of New Hampshire have done a great disservice to our nation. At least Iowa caucus-goers gave us a serious "snapshot" of the doubt in this convoluted election, but not so New Hampshire voters. I pray the rest of the country has better horse sense.

Donald Trump, who won the New Hampshire primary, told voters, "We are going to do something so good and so strong and so fast, and the world is going to respect us again, believe me."

My word. New Hampshire voted for this man? Respect? Try laughing stock.

And Democrats rejected Hillary Clinton by a big margin. I know the Clintons aren't perfect. But all they ever get is savagery — despite years of effort.

The Feb. 10 More Commentary "Voters deserve answers on Clinton emails" says it all. How many times have these public servants endured endless harassment?

We need someone who can lead, not react. When your turn comes, Nebraska, please, please, think it through.

Cliff Switzer,Carroll, Iowa

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