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Letters to the editor 8/30/18

Time to stop supporting the railroad

It’s high time for the communities in the Upper Delaware River Valley to seriously consider whether to continue supporting a moribund railroad that threatens our way of life and brings little or no value to our local economy. In my opinion, the recent derailment [August 9 in Deposit, NY] should be a wake-up call to those who live along and enjoy the Upper Delaware River.

I seem to remember hearing the railroad threatening to leave if they couldn’t get a tax break on the approximately 250 acres they occupy in Sullivan County. They said they couldn’t afford to operate without a tax break. For some reason, Sullivan County decided to grant that tax break, but I’m curious what the benefit is to the residents of Sullivan County? And it’s my understanding that the railroad’s maintenance is funded largely with tax dollars. That means we, the taxpayers, are paying for it. It sounds to me suspiciously like corporate welfare, paid for in part by residents of impoverished communities that can barely afford to handle their own ever-growing expenses, not to mention skyrocketing property taxes. Now we have the additional burden of expenses incurred in the cleanup of diesel fuel from the river.

Thankfully, it wasn’t worse. The train was carrying, among other things, radioactive waste and sulfuric acid. A release of sulfuric acid or other toxic chemicals, such as chlorine or ammonia, could have been a true catastrophe, devastating the fishery and the local tourism economy for many miles, or even causing the deaths of hundreds or thousands of local residents. Is that what we want for our families? Is the New York Susquehanna and Western railroad prepared to reimburse the various local, state and federal agencies involved in the cleanup?

We’ve already seen sick and dead birds in the river. Next time it could be human life. We need to reconsider whether we want to continue to support this dying railroad. I would suggest that the area citizens ask the counties and states to pull back all support. Let’s make way for a cleaner, healthier, safer future.

Stefan Spoerri

Damascus, PA

 

Let’s do something for our dairy farmers

Agri-Mark dairy cooperative recently held an event that attracted a large assembly of dairy farmers and interested parties. At the event, I:

1) Asked the crowd if they truly supported a feasible supply management program. A substantial amount of hands went up in support of my question;

2) Asked the crowd if they supported a milk-pricing formula that would allow them an opportunity to cover their production costs.  Again, a substantial number of hands went up in support of this proposal.

I can’t understand why the news media has ignored this survey.

So let’s do something that dairymen said “yes” to: figure out a way to reasonably limit production, while guaranteeing them sufficient pay for what is produced to make a living.

Farmers’ production could be analyzed, and if needed, dairy farmers who over-produce their established base would be penalized on the milk they over-produce above their base—but they would receive a full price on the remainder of their milk.

And that “full price” has to cover their costs of production. The only way that I know of to do that is for the United States Congress to take appropriate action to place a $20 per cwt. (hundredweight) floor price under milk used to manufacture dairy products. This could be done in two or three increments, but it must be started now.  If needed, a base excess plan could be developed.

A controversial item I also brought up is the escalated use of whey and milk protein concentrate that could be causing some if not much of the so-called “over-production,” due to the fact that the non-dairy fillers added to these products are falsely being counted as “milk.” Some people are claiming that at least 20 billion pounds of milk are being displaced by these products. We need to get to the bottom of the issue of fillers in concentrates being counted as milk “overproduction.”

Meanwhile, make calls to your representatives in Washington and urge them to put a $20 floor price under milk.

Arden Tewksbury, Manager, Pro-Ag

Meshoppen, PA

 

Response to letter on pharmacists

In response to the letter “Online mega-corporation hurting local pharmacists” in the August 2 issue, it is critical to remember that patients and plan sponsors need access to affordable prescription medications, especially those managing chronic conditions. That’s what Express Scripts’ Preferred Home Delivery Program does. For members who require maintenance medications, the program offers additional savings through a negotiated 10% discount on drugs obtained through the Mail Order Pharmacy Program, which creates significant value for both patients and plan sponsors. These programs affirm Express Scripts’ commitment to financial innovation on behalf of our members: providing the best care at the lowest cost.   

In terms of the program’s clinical advantages, research shows that home delivery improves both drug safety and medication adherence for patients. For example, dispensing accuracy for the Express Scripts pharmacy is greater than 99.99%—better than retail pharmacies. As a result, Express Scripts pharmacies eliminate 2 million drug errors annually. Moreover, the convenience of home delivery increases medication adherence, facilitating better health outcomes for at-risk members. Only 67% of patients who receive 30-day prescriptions at retail pharmacies remain adherent, whereas 85% of patients remain adherent when using 90-day prescriptions through home delivery.

While home delivery is Express Scripts’ preferred option for distributing maintenance medications, we rely on our national network of over 70,000 pharmacies to handle the day-to-day healthcare needs of our 100 million members. Without these equitable partnerships, Express Scripts could not deliver on its mission to provide a more affordable and convenient pharmacy experience for all.

Phil Blando, Senior Director, Corporate Communications

Express Scripts, Inc.

 

Climate change: happening faster than you think

One problem with global warming is that the changes seem so small and far away. One degree here, one degree there and such and such will happen by the end of the century. So what? I’ll be long gone.

Actually, the seemingly small changes are very significant. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, a mere 250 years ago—a tiny blip on the geologic time scale—our burning of fossil fuels has caused massive greenhouse gas accumulation. I am old enough to remember that rain usually came down gently, and we rarely if ever had to water our gardens. I don’t remember any storm that dumped five to 10 inches of rain when I was younger.

Now, deluges, flood and drought are common occurrences. Snowstorms are now more erratic. Hurricanes are more powerful. Tornadoes come in multiples more often than they used to. Wildfires are huger and more intense. Environmental refugee numbers are swelling. Despite climate-change deception tactics by some big businesses and corporate-controlled media, about 80% of the people in the United States accept that climate change is real, according to a 2018 Gallup poll.

Unfortunately, the poll also shows wide political polarization on the issue, which has gotten more extreme under the current administration. No matter where you get your news, the on-the-ground truth will prevail, quashing the rhetoric. Can your grandkids and the other innocent species in the world wait for the deniers to acknowledge the truth? Do they deserve our passiveness, our ignorance? I strongly suggest we err on the side of caution and elect people for office who don’t muzzle science, and put the climate change fight at the forefront of their agendas.

Katharine Dodge

Lake Ariel, PA

 

Jen Metzger for state Senate

State Senate candidate Jen Metzger understands that the stakes could not be higher. If she’s elected, Democrats might finally get a working majority that’s able to move forward on a number of good and important bills that have been bottled up for years. Chief among them is the New York Health Act, which will provide all New Yorkers with access to health care without expensive insurance policies or costly deductions. A pipe dream? Not according to the Rand Corporation (https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2424.html).

It found that the bill would deliver increased patient care while saving consumers $80 billion over a 10-year period by reducing administrative costs.

Jen also understands that charting a sustainable energy future is a challenge we cannot afford to ignore. Few people have mastered the complexities of energy policy the way she has. When she talks, Albany listens. As executive director of Citizens for Local Power, and as a member of the town council in her hometown of Rosendale, she has already played an important role in reshaping the energy landscape. She’s been a leader in the fight to oppose new fracked gas infrastructure, and a champion of locally produced renewable energy. Metzger deserves a good deal of the credit for getting her local utility (Central Hudson) to reduce rates for its electric customers.

For those of us who are sickened by the nastiness that characterizes politics these days, Jen is an effective antidote. She is a good listener, and she understands that a senator must be able to work across the aisle in order to be effective.

Bruce Ferguson

Callicoon Center

 

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