Letters to the Editor

Valued service

June 7, 2011


On Easter Sunday, my boyfriend suffered a life-threatening health incident, in which he stopped breathing. Thanks to the prompt arrival of the first responders from Lawrence Fire and Medical Station No. 1, he is alive today. I had a chance to thank some of the crew in person on Memorial Day, when they came to the Barker neighborhood to participate in our annual Memorial Day parade.

Even though I was extremely distressed and worried as they worked to revive my boyfriend, in a very cramped space on the second-floor landing, I was impressed with their calm efficiency. I admire people who choose this profession for a living, but until last Easter, this admiration was an abstraction. Now it is personal. If it were not for them, my boyfriend would not be alive right now.

In these days of public service budget cuts and the vilification of first responders and their unions, I wanted to take time to thank these people publicly for their service to our community and to my family.

For those who think firefighters, police officers, and EMTs are taking advantage of the system by demanding unreasonable pay and benefits: I hope you never have to find out the way I did how truly valuable they are.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

Jeez, you can never pass up an opportunity to proselytize, can you?

KSManimal 6 years, 9 months ago

Here's an idea, L1: folks like you can opt out of paying taxes for EMT's, firefighters, police, and more. However, you also give up the benefit of those services. House on fire? Put it out yourself. Having a heart attack? Walk to the ER - but not a public one; you can only use the private, for-profit hospitals. And when someone breaks into your house or steals your car, tough luck on getting that police report you'll need for your insurance claim. You opted out, remember?

Oh, and that flush toilet you used to enjoy? No longer available to you, because it fed into the socialized plumbing system which you opted out of. Enjoy your outhouse in January.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

I've said it before a million times, you can opt out any time you chooses. You just can't do it half-a@@. Buy your island and opt out. Or you can go to any country on this planet that you choose. Buy 40 acres in the Amazon, whatever.
What you can't do is accept the wealth this country provides, accept the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, those things that many have fought for and many have paid the ultimate price for, and then say, after having accepted those gifts, you don't want to pay for them.
Go find your utopian libertarian society. Surely it must exist somewhere where you will be happy, go, please go. But if you choose to stay, fine. It's your choice. You know the rules and by choosing to stay you're choosing to live with our rules. It's your choice. You want freedom, you have it.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

Like it or not, Liberty, we were both born into the same society with the same rules and the same conditions. It's you who wants to change things to your liking. Because it's you that wants the change, it's up to you to make that change. You want to make believe the world began on the day you were born (or at the very least the day you decided to become a libertarian). Well, it didn't begin on that day. People worked very hard to make OUR society what it is. Many died to make it what it is. They even died to give you the freedom to leave, if you don't like the society that we have all built for the benefit of us all. If it's not to your liking, you can either convince us to change our society (good luck with that), or you can leave our society. But we are under no obligation to change our society because Liberty_One in Lawrence, Kansas wants us to, no matter how much you pout.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm doing nothing to you. No violence, nothing. I've never met you. I've done no violence to your liberty or to your property. That's your problem, Liberty. You think you were born on an island and we've invaded your space. The problem isn't that we're taking your property or liberty. The problem is that you don'y like our system. But in the end, that's your problem, not mine. I gave you some suggestions how to solve your problem. If you don't like my suggestions, fine. Solve your problems on your own. But remember always, your unhappiness with the system you were born into is your problem, not mine.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

"Here's the truth: you would never really let me opt out, no matter how much I wanted to."

Translation-- it doesn't cost me anything to pretend that I'd opt out, so I'll just keep on saying it while taking full advantage of all of the benefits of living in a civilized place.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

Sleep well last night? It was bought to you courtesy of the fire dept. which you know will put out a fire if it erupts. It was brought to you courtesy of the EMT's that will deal with any medical emergency you might have. It was brought to you courtesy of the armed forces who guaranteed your freedom to rest in peace, uninterrupted by our foreign enemies. It was brought to you courtesy of all the teachers in this land who gave all of them the skills necessary to protect you. Sleep well tonight and tomorrow, knowing you enjoy all the benefits our society has to offer. Sleep well and say thank you. Sleep well, Liberty, knowing that that libertarian utopia sounds good when written on a page, but like communism, works less well in practice. Sleep well.

weeslicket 6 years, 9 months ago

somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

There's no theoretical problem for me with folks wanting to "opt out" of paying for things, as long as they'll never use them.

But, there are a myriad of practical issues that would seem to make that a bit hard to put into practice.

As well as the problem of folks changing their mind after many years of not contributing, if things don't work out well for them.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

"Gee, without the government we'd all be making $0.05 an hour"

you mean without the unions...

  1. you'd be working 80 hour weeks

  2. no raises

  3. no vacation pay

  4. no vacations

  5. no work safety guidelines

  6. no lunch break

  7. no overtime pay

  8. employee protection from abuse

  9. no medical insurance

  10. no 401 k plans


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

"Of course, merrill can't explain the improvements made prior to unions becoming relatively common,"

And you'll just deny any benefits that came after unions, because that's what your religion wants you to think.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

On May 5, 1955, union delegates gathered in NY on behalf of 16 million workers, to witness and support the merger of The American Federation of Labor and The Congress of Industrial Organization. The merger is a result of 20 years of effort put forth by both the AFL and CIO presidents, George Meany and Walter Reuther.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was elected in 1952, was the first to publicly address and congratulate the new union, which was now the largest in the world.

In Eisenhower’s telephone broadcast to the United States he acknowledged the impact union members had made to better the nation and one of these impacts was "the development of the American philosophy of labour." Eisenhower states three principles which he feels apply to the philosophy of labour.

The first principles states that: "the ultimate values of mankind are spiritual; these values include liberty, human dignity, opportunity and equal rights and justice." Eisenhower was stating that every individual deserves a job with decent compensation, practical hours, and good working conditions that leave them feeling fulfilled.

His second principle speaks of the economic interest of the employer and employee being a mutual prosperity. The employers and employees must work together in order for there to be the greatest amount of wealth for all. Workers have a right to strike when they feel their boundaries are being crossed and the best way for the employer to fix the employees unhappiness is to come to a mutual agreement.

His last principle which he preached stated: "labour relations will be managed best when worked out in honest negotiation between employers and unions, without Government’s unwarranted interference." Eisenhower was saying that when both parties cooperate and act in mature fashion, it will be easier to work out situations and a better outcome will result because of it.

Once he was done delivering the speech, everyone across the U.S. knew of the new AFL-CIO whose "mission [was] to bring social and economic justice to our nation by enabling working people to have a voice on the job, in government, in a changing global economy and in their communities."

Flap Doodle 6 years, 9 months ago

1955 was a long time ago, skippy. The big unions are more concerned with protecting their own executives than doing anything for their peons now.

weeslicket 6 years, 9 months ago

republicans have unions now ?!? sorry. you must've meant corporations. my bad.

Brent Garner 6 years, 9 months ago

Unions, non-public unions, served a purpose in helping to address many of the labor abuses that occurred during the era of their creation and rise. There is no question on that point. However, can we say, with a clear conscience, that such is the purpose and function of unions today? My personal experience calls that into question. As a teenager I worked in a grocery store which was unionized. I had to join the union in order to keep my job. If I refused, I would be fired. At the time I was earning $3.08/hr. I paid $18/month in union dues. I worked anywhere between 20 and 40 hours per week. No, the $18/month wasn't particularly burdensome, but it was irritating. I had been the one who had shown up clean shaven, neatly dressed, with a clean history, with references, and then sat through the interview as well as followed up with that employer and landed the job. The union had nothing to do with my getting the job. Granted, their contract dictated what my pay rate was but I still found it grating that I had to pay someone so I could work. Later, I got a teaching degree and went to work as an elementary school teacher. I was approached by the teacher's union and declined their invitation. Not long thereafter I started getting threats. This culminated in a specific note left in my box at the school in which I was told that if I didn't join the union bad things would happen to my automobile. This made me very angry. I took said note and went straight to the local union leader. I informed him that if anything happened to me or to my property this note was going to the police. I further told him that he and his thugs could take a long walk off a short pier. As a consequence, and in light of numerous other examples of union thuggery, I have a very negative image of unions today. I recognize that the working person needs some kind of protection against those employers who would exploit, but I strongly doubt that unions, as presently constituted, are that protection.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

That's unfortunate, if it's true.

I have no problem with people not wanting to join unions, as long as they're willing to forgo any benefits that the unions have negotiated for employees - wages, benefits, working conditions, etc.

Most people, of course, don't want that - they want to eat their cake and have it too, by benefiting from the unions without contributing to them.

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