Letters to the editor Feb. 3

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Open letter to federal representatives

Now that the latest budget crisis has been temporarily resolved, it is time for all our congressional representatives to stop placing our government, our federal employees and contractors, and our republic in such a ridiculous situation again. This means that you and your colleagues must develop and pass a complete budget for the operation of the government on time each and every year. This is one of the few specific constitutionally mandated duties for the Congress and it has been woefully neglected for far too long. It is completely and fundamentally irresponsible of the peoples’ elected representatives to ignore this crucial responsibility any longer. Employing the facile devices of manipulating the fiscal year and continuing resolutions to fund and operate the most powerful nation in the world, the country that the rest of the world looks to for leadership and solutions, is shameful. Please lead the way and get our Congress back on track to fiscal and constitutional responsibility so we never experience another shutdown and retreat from the existential threat presented by our national indebtedness.

—Marc Rold, Kalispell

Remain open and vigilant

Woodstock Whitefish is in full swing at the Whitefish Winter Carnival Grand Parade and the other frolicking festivities. The theme includes the elements of Peace and Love and Community, of sophisticated sparkle and wonderful wildness in happy balance that reflects the incredibly special place and spirit of our valley home that we share with the world. We have met visitors from so many parts of the planet - Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, France, England, Poland and more. Everyone is having a marvelous time, and it makes this King’s heart happy.

We are also aware that all is not frivolous in the realm. In the last several weeks the valley has seen the loss of some of our shining young stars, and it is tragic beyond words. Our community grieves for these losses. If Ullr had real power, he would command that we stay alert and open to each other, to be sensitive to the possibility of hidden pain and suffering, to reach out and support each other to stay alive, to realize that the sun rises every day after the dark of night, that there is more love and support here than may be apparent. Depression and mental illness can kill. We must remain open and vigilant, even when it seems that all is safe and secure.

Peace and love to all in the realm!

—Paul Coats is Whitefish Winter Carnival King Ullr LX

Legislation protects firefighters

I’d like to ask for the support of everybody in our community for Senate Bill 160, which protects firefighters (career and volunteer) against certain cancers, heart and lung disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I have been a firefighter/paramedic in the city of Kalispell for over 15 years and I’m proud to be a public servant in the place I now call home. Some of our mantras are “we will risk a lot to save a lot” and “we will risk nothing to save nothing.” These concepts illustrate how most of us, I think, view our work. We understand and accept that this can be dangerous work, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t value our own lives or health. Another mantra of ours is “everybody goes home.”

The reality is that firefighters are regularly exposed to a toxic soup, physically and mentally. Our world is filled with plastics and chemicals, and when they burn, they become immediately life-threatening. But, those substances sneak into our bodies through the skin as well through our lungs. Which means that firefighters are exposed simply from smoke-soaked protective gear. The result is that firefighters have almost three times the rate of cancer than any other occupation and we have more than twice the rate of heart and lung disease. And, the effects of sleep deprivation and increased stress levels means that firefighters have more than twice the normal rate of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

I often meet people on the street, in the store, almost anywhere, who are kind enough to stop and say “thank you for what you do.” We appreciate their gratitude and it really means a great deal to us. But now we need your help. So, please, take the time to contact your legislators and ask them to support SB 160.

—Greg Daenzer, Columbia Falls

Health-care options

Over the next 1 3/4 years, you will hear a Democrat propose Medicare for all and a Republican counter, “It will cost $32 trillion” over the next 10 years.

As an Independent, I want citizens to know that the current health-care system will cost conservatively $35 trillion over the next 10 years; with the Democrats’ proposal saving Americans a minimum of $3 trillion.

Therefore, if the decision is made on cost, Medicare for all should win. However, we may choose to keep the current system for the values of individual responsibility it represents. Or we may choose the cost-effective system, for the values of rational compassion for the injured and ill it represents.

—Dave Host, Kalispell

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