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Lyndon Johnson had it right after all

Ed Feulner, in his guest commentary for the Cheney Free Press, July 3, 2014, says that he’s learned, “you can’t improve something unless you can measure it.” He then goes on to label Lyndon Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ “an abject failure” without measuring anything. According to Feulner, “an ever expanding portion of the population” is receiving the largess of LBJ’s War on Poverty. Apparently the management course Feulner credits with teaching him about measuring things didn’t include the concept of “ceteris paribus,” i.e., other things being equal.

Austin Nichols, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center, puts it this way, “Economists always argue over the ‘counterfactual’ outcome..You don’t know what things would have looked like if the programs hadn’t existed.” See http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/05/17/the-great-society-at-50.

Imagine what things would have looked like after the U.S. fell into the Great Recession of 2008 without the “safety net” that resulted from LBJ’s “Great Society.” Consider just this one fact. In 1964, 44 percent of seniors had no health care coverage, and more than one in three Americans over 65 were living below the poverty line, more than double the rate of those under 65.

Now, thanks to Medicare, a part of LBJ’s War on Poverty, virtually all seniors have health care, and the poverty rate for the elderly has fallen to approximately one in 10 — a rate lower than that of the general population. See http://www.pbs.org/johngardner/chapters/4c.html.

Richard Badalamente

Kennewick, Wash.

More trains mean more chance for disasters

Cheney residents must be noticing more oil tanker trains and coal trains passing through our town. In addition, there are other trains that carry a variety of cars — oil, coal, and intermodal and others on the same train.

Of course with increased train traffic, there is a greater probability that these trains could derail and/or explode; and it is very unlikely the city of Cheney could adequately handle a major oil train disaster. A few months ago, the chief of the fire department in Spokane Valley testified before the Spokane Valley City Council that they wouldn’t have the resources to deal with a major oil train disaster.

Consider, too, the nearest hospitals are in Spokane — more than 15 miles away. To further complicate matters, we now have major fires in Eastern Washington to add to further increase the dangers. One former Cheney fireman stated that in the summer almost half their calls were a result of fires caused by trains.

A month ago, Canada banned using  “flimsy” oil tanker cars — they only use those of stronger construction. So most likely the weaker­-constructed oil tanker cars will be diverted to the United States where we have relaxed regulations. These oil tanker trains are considered by some to be bombs ready to explode under the “wrong” conditions.

Please check to see how far your house or business is from the oil blast zone on website explosive-crude-by-rail.org where you can enter your address. Also, visit the construction of a new BNSF rail line with enhanced concrete rather than wood ties behind First Street. Concrete ties are especially used for heavy train traffic, such as coal and oil.

We need to take some preventative action now!

Nancy Street

Cheney

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