We encourage readers to submit letters to the editor on issues of interest to East Valley residents. Submissions should be no longer than 300 words, factually accurate and original thoughts of the writer. Please be brief and include name, address, city and phone number for verification. Letters and call-in comments may be edited for clarity and length.
Law of diminishing returns
Gov. Janet Napolitano’s proposal to have society pay for post-high school education for anyone with a minimum grade average is likely to lead to grade inflation in high schools. Her proposal could result in “free” post-high school education for nearly everyone. In the short run such rapid expansion will lead to disruptions and large capital expenditures at colleges and universities.
Worse yet, the governor’s proposal ignores basic economic principles. Expanding post-high school education will mean spending resources on a segment of the population that benefits least from them. At some point the value of the resources spent educating additional students exceeds the value of the education. There is evidence the United States has already reached this point.
Attention focused on the sub-prime mortgage market has overshadowed trouble in the student loan credit market. Recent increases in university tuition coupled with easy credit and subsidized student loans directly parallel the factors which lead to problems in the subprime market. Stock prices of companies associated with student loans have plummeted.
Graduates are finding they do not earn enough to pay off their student loans. For them the value of the university education was less than the cost of the education. Having society pay for the education, thereby increasing the number of students, will make the problem worse. Politicians like to tell you that more education is the answer to our economic problems. While some education pays for itself, spending more money on education than the education is worth makes us poorer, not richer.
Some may see Napolitano’s proposal as an attempt to aid one of her chief political benefactors — teacher’s unions. More likely she does not appreciate the economics of education. In any event, the Legislature would we wise to ignore her proposal.
THOMAS C. SCHUELKE
Paul a better way
Voters who ever consider that they must choose between the “lesser of two evils” may not be doing the homework required to make the best choices about issues or candidates.
Electing a candidate for president is one of the most important selections I will ever make. I will not surrender to the “noise” of the election campaigning going on right now.
People of faith claim that knowledge of a higher power brings peace to their lives. They may also be aware that every idle thought they have will one day bring an accounting to the eternal reward they seek.
Thus, my need to exclaim my support for the Republican candidate, Ron Paul.
There is no need to select the lesser of one evil over another. Voters must do their homework and never be idle in making such an important decision as the leader of this free nation.
To one Ross Perot supporter claiming to not want to throw a vote away again, only knowing the result of a Clinton presidency, I say this, if the voters don’t do the homework they must in this primary election and vote for Ron Paul, then the country, sadly, deserves another Clinton in office.
It isn’t always a party
Darn! Your article on Ron Paul came after I early-voted! Also on Jan. 21, you had two excellent articles from opposite sides of the political spectrum, Linda Turley-Hansen and Sam Coppersmith. Both were well thought out. As a person who, from age 21 in 1949, always voted absentee and missed only the spring primary in 1968 — my unit was preparing to deploy and my ballot request was late — I enjoy my privilege of voting, I fulfill my duty.
In 1950 my ballot, the only absentee, decided a municipal election. A judge violated her secrecy oath and told me when I was next home on leave.
At times I have (as now) been disgusted with both main political parties, even voting Socialist Labor, and more recently, for Ross Perot and twice for Ralph Nader. With 24 names to choose from this time, I could select “none of the above” easily. That is why Paul sounds sane. And a pox on both parties, both in Washington and Arizona!
Captive guinea pigs
Electric power from solar and renewable resources has now become the plan of our governor and the Arizona Corporation Commission.
APS’ goal is 15 percent renewable energy by 2020, given adequate regulatory support and funding (their words). Meaning the state is requiring them to produce electricity from renewable resources without regard for costs and requiring customers to pay enough to cover all costs and funding, meaning subsidies. Alan Stephens (“6 ideas for the legislative session,” Jan. 13), believes that 20 percent would be better.
To force electric suppliers to use technology that is not as cost-effective as current methods is to force them to raise rates to their consumers. If it were cost-effective you could not prevent them from changing over. These increased rates burden those least able to bear higher costs. I believe that the corporation commission forcing utilities to use inefficient methods is illegal and not part of their original reason for being. The argument is made that by using the new methods, efficiency will improve and costs will come down, that by delivering captive customers to the utility costs will decrease. Nothing could be more wrong.
Captive consumers will provide a continuing subsidy that will be dissipated in endless changes and engineering experiments.
Finally, if costs might be reduced by using and developing these new methods, then let the development work be financed by ratepayers in other states where all the people can afford it, and when proven, then use the new methods here.
Cities must play fair
The article “Mesa faces costly retirement crunch,” (Jan, 10) concerning the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System spotlighted underfunding of public employee pension systems. However, as a fire captain/certified peace officer and member of the fund, I felt it neglected important facts.
The system is a statewide pension fund to provide pension benefits for police/fire employees. It is funded jointly through contributions by police/fire employees and city employers. For 30-plus years, employees have contributed 7.65 percent of their paychecks to the plan. However, employers, such as Mesa, have contributed as little as 2 percent during the same period.
Primarily due to weakening stock market values the retirement fund, which was more than 100 percent fully funded, is now only 67 percent funded. To prevent pension fund failures, as in the private sector, state law now requires city governments to increase their contributions. Failure of cities to budget for and pay their liabilities is not the fault of employees. Cities happily paid lower contributions when earnings were good, thus obliging employees to fund the system.
The article’s tone inferred the underfunding was caused by the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) available to police/fire employees. False. When police/fire employees retire they can either end employment then, or extend service for 5 years maximum. The extension time is called DROP. Employee pension checks are deposited into an interest-earning savings account and held until completion of DROP. Cities do not contribute to the account. But cities do retain experienced/trained employees, having time to train and fill expected vacancies. Employers have no added expenses beyond salary since DROP employees do not earn additional pension benefits.
The requirement for cities to increase contributions to the pension fund is not the problem, but rather the solution to an unfunded government liability.