Boost national service programs

In the midst of a health, economic and educational crisis and with predictions of a second wave of COVID-19 infections in the fall, it is time to expand national service programs. We have workers out of jobs (33 million Americans have filed for unemployment) and much work that needs to be done. It is estimated that in the public health arena alone, as many as 300,000 more workers will be necessary for months and perhaps years to come.

I am urging Sens. Fischer and Sasse to work across the aisle and support the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act, which would fund 750,000 service positions in such programs like AmeriCorps over a three-year response and recovery period.

I am also asking that they go further and support a movement to create 250,000 “service year fellowships.” Young people would get the fellowships directly and could serve in rural as well as urban areas with any certified nonprofit. This program would streamline administration. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and 88% of Democrats surveyed support voluntary national service.

We are now at Depression-era levels of unemployment. People need work, and our nation needs workers! Let’s do it!

Carol Windrum, Omaha

Full testing info is needed

Gov. Ricketts and staff replied angrily to a recent Rachel Maddow interview with State Sen. Adam Morfeld. I saw the interview and to answer his accusation that Maddow — not Sen. Morfeld, BTW — has an agenda, I would answer that her agenda appears to be transparency. Ricketts called it “fake news” and engaging in “totally blind partisan gamesmanship.” Apparently, he knows better than the county health departments and journalists what the people need to hear. Paternalistic at best, and not the benign kind.

I guess Philosophy 101 at the University of Chicago was not a requirement. If he had taken the class, then he has not learned that an “ad hominem” attack, or go on the attack, is a logical fallacy, employing invalid or faulty reasoning in an argument. It is a fallacy whose goal is to deflect attention away from the issue rather than address it like a rational adult.

It is suspicious that the data that is aggregated regarding prisons, packinghouses and nursing homes. I don’t want to say that the governor thinks, like other Republicans have suggested, that these citizens are dispensable, but it doesn’t seem very pro-life to me. Of course, Ricketts brought back the death penalty, so it is clear that right to life applies to the unborn, not so much to the people who process our food, the elderly, the infirm and prisoners, at least not when business is at stake.

Rachel Maddow is right that history will judge not just our actions, but our reactions. It’s not looking good, governor.

Rachel Dowd, Omaha

Unfair pricing during this crisis

Not a drop of rubbing alcohol/isopropyl available at pre-panic pandemic prices, and very little gel-based hand sanitizer available at a reasonable price. It appears that the suppliers of these products willfully are arbitrarily keeping these items scarce or not available to either jack the price or sell higher-priced alternative items.

We live in a state that has ethanol plants that produce 2.2 billion gallons of ethanol, and our neighboring Hawkeyes produce 4.2 billion gallons a year. Sure, the majority of this output is blended with gasoline, but with the downturn in consumption, how much of this capacity could be diverted for denatured ethanol to be used as sanitizers/disinfectants at a really cheap price to produce?

Face masks are another area with similar solutions. These practices give price fixing and gouging a whole new name.

The larger ticket items like med equipment and ventilators are watched and supposedly scrutinized by the feds, but they drop the ball on the small-demand items whose costs really add up and hurt everyone. I wish I had a way of following the money to identify the perpetrators, but unfortunately it likely is a combination of players through the supply chain and they all are taking a cut.

Michael Garman, Papillion

Help for dialysis patients

Too often, we forget about the personal and mental health struggles facing patients with serious medical illnesses. This is especially true for dialysis patients, who often have to upend their lives to receive the treatments they need.

I’ve experienced this personally when after three years of balancing dialysis treatments and doctor’s appointments, I was forced to close a successful restaurant that I had built from the ground up. What followed were years of struggle in order to manage my treatments and ensure that I was receiving the best care possible. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and the lives of patients with kidney disease can be improved with better care coordination.

A bill called the BETTER Kidney Care Act would help doctors to coordinate more effectively and provide useful benefits that many dialysis patients on Medicare can’t currently receive. That’s why I am hoping that Representative Cindy Axne will support this bill as it moves through Congress.

As health concerns remain top-of-mind for patients everywhere given the spread of the coronavirus, it is crucial we do everything to make things easier. With the BETTER Kidney Care Act, we will have a chance to do that for dialysis patients across the United States.

Mark Johnson, Atlantic, Iowa

Hard to believe

The Saturday, May 9, World-Herald edition had an article about the virus and nude dancers titled: “Nude Dancers will wear masks, gloves.” I thought for a moment that I was reading an article from that satirical newspaper, The Onion.

Pete Menks, Omaha

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