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I was glad to read in the June 2 edition of the Press that sex education is being discussed at meetings of the Grant County Board of Education. It is an important subject that has not been adequately addressed.
As a sophomore at Petersburg High School in 1955, our biology teacher was Rogers McAvoy. When we came to the chapter on reproduction, he stated that this is an important subject, it is not “dirty” and you need to know about it. We read the chapter and learned a lot about the anatomy and physiology involved.
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By Don Smith
West Virginia Press Association
What is the “the future of West Virginia”? Each year government leadership offers a new economic plan in hopes of improving the future of West Virginia.
New ideas are good. West Virginians should hope everyone running for elected office thinks they have the answer, or at least a new idea. After all, when your state has been at the bottom of most national economic and social rankings for generations, the status quo isn’t the answer. We’ve spent decades proving bad can get worse.
In recent years, “the future of West Virginia” has been natural gas, tourism, free community college and elimination of state income tax.
Natural gas and tourism are definitely growing industries in West Virginia, though perhaps not as fast as expected in the case of natural gas or as revenue intensive as hoped in the case of tourism, which has been slowed by COVID. As for eliminating the state income tax to attract new residents, well, that one is still up for debate.
The best answer? The smart money is on education.
When it comes to the future of West Virginia, education offers a life-long payoff. Education is never about the immediate benefit, but it may solve the most problems.
In fact, West Virginia’s leadership might want to increase its support of education.
What if we make all college education free for West Virginia residents?
Education turns our current negatives into positives. The benefits would be immediate and measurable: Each child in the state would immediately be able to afford a college education – a positive change.
In a few years, West Virginia would have the most educated workforce in the nation – a positive change.
Our universities and colleges would see increased and stable enrollment – a positive change.
State funds spent on higher education would directly benefit residents of all 55 counties as well as the institutions – a positive change.
Every college saving plan would become disposable income – a positive change.
West Virginia college graduates would not have massive student loan debt – a positive change.
Our young people would have another good reason to consider staying and raising their families in West Virginia – a positive change.
Families who value education would have a new reason to move to West Virginia – a positive change.
Businesses and industries needing an educated workforce would have a new reason to consider West Virginia – a positive change.
West Virginia becomes the education state – a positive change.
If West Virginia’s goals are to improve the quality of life for our current residents, attract new people, improve our workforce and change our image, education is a win-win.
With free college, we attract new families who value education while offering the same benefit to our current residents. West Virginia parents who are struggling economically would know if their children get the grades, they can go to college and have more opportunities.
West Virginia would be more attractive to families across this nation.
If we reduce in-state college costs for new residents by 25 percent each year, parents know that college is free for their children after four years of living in West Virginia.
Potential new businesses and industries would find a better workforce, and their current employees would also have a reason to move here.
Can we eliminate the state income tax and provide free college education?
Probably not, but would residents – current and potential – be willing to pay income taxes to give their children and grandchildren a free college education?
People work to afford a better life, a better house, a better community and a better state. They know being cheaper isn’t the same as being better.
If the question is how to make West Virginia better, education is the answer.
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Marilyn M. Singleton, MD, JD
While everyone is preoccupied with mask-shaming and vaccine-cheerleading, scientists are engaged in critical research with a more lasting effect on our lives.
For 100 years scientists have dreamed of creating and developing life outside of a womb. In March, that dream came true. Scientists grew naturally conceived mouse embryos in tiny beakers for six days—the equivalent of the full first trimester of gestation. At this point the embryos had an identifiable body shape and organs. This miracle of modern science, posted in a YouTube video, garnered a mere 9,400 views.
In 2016, scientists developed the “right cocktail of growth factors and nourishment” and were able to incubate human embryos in a dish. The embryos attached to the dish “as if it were a uterus, sprouting a few placental cells.”
The researchers halted the experiment due to the 4,000-member International Society for Stem Cell Research’s (ISSCR) 14-day rule. The ISSCR arrived at this limit based on the point in time at which the nervous system begins to develop.
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By Jane M. Orient, M.D.
The most important public health concern, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), is systemic racism. We should turn away patients requesting early at-home treatment for Covid (“not enough evidence of effectiveness”) and focus on uprooting the racism that is assumed to lurk in the subconscious of every white person and to cause “health disparities.”
With Covid, people of color do worse. Is it delayed treatment because of racial discrimination? In fact, delayed treatment for everybody, and silence on preventive measures except for vaccines, is the official policy of the AMA.
There is plenty of evidence that vitamin D deficiency is a key factor in poor outcomes. Darker-skinned people need more exposure to sun to make adequate vitamin D and are even more likely to be deficient. The AMA talks about “white privilege,” but not about vitamin D supplements.
The AMA’s desired result — equity — is apparently health outcomes proportional to a group’s representation in the population. Overall, or for certain groups, the “equitable” outcomes could be better or worse.
The disparate outcomes that correlate with race and ethnicity also correlate with income, obesity, diet, family structure, drug use, and personal responsibility about health. And these social determinants of health also correlate with race and ethnicity.
If we change attitudes and shift resources away from higher socioeconomic and healthier groups into underserved groups, will we have better outcomes or more equitable ones? In the days of “evidence-based medicine,” we have no evidence.
We measure what is easy to measure, and change what is easy to change. Institutions are appointing equity and diversity officers, and changing the composition of the workforce. Medical schools celebrate the “diversity” of the entering class. This is a zero-sum game, not an expansion of opportunities, and one obvious feature is a greatly reduced number of white males.
Less obvious is the change in admissions requirements and correspondingly in the curriculum. Courses like calculus and organic chemistry are being eliminated. The entrance examination (the MCAT) now emphasizes politically correct attitudes, not just knowledge.
The old pre-med was recognized for being a drudge — i.e. for having a strong work ethic. This sort of person could tolerate brutally long hours in the laboratory, lecture hall, hospital wards, clinic, and operating room.
Now, work hours are limited. And who needs a person with some knowledge of chemistry or the intelligence to comprehend it when treatment plans are chosen from drop-down menus? The new medical student is woke and computer-adept. Will patients be better off?
The AMA’s anti-racism campaign demands atonement and reparations. Its own history is rife with outright discrimination. Its highly honored founder Nathan Davis excluded blacks and women from the AMA House of Delegates. Its still highly esteemed dignitary Thomas Huxley expressed an opinion, in 1871, about “the average Negro” that I dare not repeat. The acclaimed 1910 Flexner Report resulted in closing most black medical schools, when other medical schools declined to admit black students.
JAMA recently forced deputy editor Howard Livingstone, “who is White,” to resign because of a podcast in which he questioned the concept of systemic racism and said that many were offended by the assumption that they are racist. Being “not a racist” is insufficient — one must be “anti-racist,” obsessed with race and identity politics.
It’s the same type of logic that caused the purging of some books by the progressive Dr. Seuss — one of the first people to fight against racism — because of some possibly offensive cartoons. His desire was for race neutrality: He wrote about how the Plain-belly and the Star-belly Sneetches learned to accept each other.
Civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King also advocated color blindness. Would he be canceled today too?
People want their doctor to focus on their problems and on doing what is best to help them. They would probably like their doctor to be studying about the latest diagnostic and therapeutic developments, instead of attending a struggle session where he is expected to confess his guilt about “white privilege.”
Most Americans — probably all of those who are patients — are concerned about their own and their family’s health, not about statistical outcomes by race. They are likely not willing to have their health sacrificed in order to hypothetically improve the health of some politically designated disadvantaged group.
Are white Americans who feel this way racists? Will doctors who put their own patients first be canceled in favor of “anti-racists” who divide society into “victims” and “oppressors” and redistribute care accordingly?
Jane M. Orient, M.D. has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.
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Parkers News & Sentinel
Gov. Jim Justice went into overdrive Thursday to gain public support for his plans to reduce the personal income tax rate and raise other taxes as state and national business groups push back against the proposals.
During an impromptu virtual town hall Thursday evening with barely seven hours’ notice, Justice accused lobbyists for businesses interests of trying to sabotage his tax plan.
“You’re going to see an orchestrated effort in the days ahead … by those who are out there who are absolutely probably thinking in my mind ‘pennywise and pound poor.’ They’re good people, but they’re thinking selfishly,” he said.
“You have lobbyists circling around everywhere because no one wants to give a little bit,” Justice continued. “We do not want to be run by the lobbyists … are the lobbyists and are the money going to continue to run all of us all the time? It’s a swamp completely overtaking us all.”
The West Virginia Business and Industry Council, a special interest group consisting of 50 trade associations and businesses, wrote a letter to lawmakers Wednesday asking them to carefully consider the effect of Justice’s tax plans on businesses throughout the state.
“We applaud Governor Justice’s initiative to do all he can to make West Virginia the most attractive state in the nation to live and work, but our members have concerns over the impact this income tax plan will have on every West Virginian and West Virginia business,” wrote Mike Clowser, chairman of BIC.
“We all agree the elimination of the personal income tax is a laudable goal, but BIC members believe there needs to be study, debate, and public input in order to develop a comprehensive tax restructuring plan,” Clowser continued.
“There’s no mention in this at all that all West Virginians will end up cash-positive,” Justice said in response to the BIC letter. “I wouldn’t have done it any other way. There’s no way on Earth I would have let the low-income wage earners carry the burden of this.”
House Bill 2027 and Senate Bill 600, the governor’s tax plan, was introduced Tuesday in the House of Delegates and state Senate. Under Justice’s proposal, personal income tax rates would be cut by 60 percent starting in July for fiscal year 2022. The tax cut would affect income earned from wages and salaries, pensions, annuities and IRAs, Social Security, and unemployment.
However, the personal income tax cut would exclude income from Schedule C business profits; Schedule E rents, royalties, and pass-through entity profits; Schedule D capital gains; Schedule F farm income; supplemental gains and losses, taxable interest income, dividend income, and miscellaneous income.
According to Ryan Maness, a senior policy analyst and tax counsel for government relations association MultiState, wrote in a blog post that only cutting personal income tax rates on some forms of income and not all amounts to a “phantom cut.”
“Assuming that this definition of ‘business personal income’ encompasses the entirety of state business’ liability under this tax, West Virginia employers would receive no tax benefit at all from this proposal,” Maness wrote. “In other words, it is likely that the $100 million personal income tax cut identified above is a phantom cut that will not be effectuated.”
“The proposal reduces the personal income tax obligation of an individual wage earner based on their income level but does nothing to benefit a business,” Clowser agreed. “The majority of West Virginia businesses are operated as sole proprietors, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, or general partnerships. As we understand the proposed legislation, owners of these businesses will see no benefit from the plan.”
In response, Justice said eliminating those additional personal income taxes that affect business owners is a long-term goal.
“We’re going to eliminate taxes on our businesses … as well,” Justice said. “We’re on a pathway right here that could absolutely substantially benefit and draw all kinds of businesses to West Virginia.”
Justice’s tax proposal also includes several tax increases to offset the $1.088 billion tax reduction from the personal income tax cut and a $52 million tax rebate for families making less than $35,000 per year.
Tax increases include $902.6 million in proposed tax increases in the consumer sales and use tax; a tiered severance tax for fossil fuels; a tax on certain luxury goods; and increased taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, beer, wine, liquor, and soda. Justice would also remove sales tax exemptions from professional services, such as legal services, accountants, computer hardware and software, and other categories.
“Combined with the cost of the tax rate increase, businesses would be on the hook for at least $330 million in new taxes from the sales tax provisions alone,” Maness wrote. “This would be mitigated somewhat if businesses are able to subtract out the income tax cut–leaving a new additional liability of $230 million–but the plain language of the legislation suggests that the true tax increase which would fall on state employers is $330 million.”
Jared Walczak, the vice president of state projects at the Tax Foundation’s Center for State Tax Policy, had posted on Twitter last week his concerns about Justice’s plan.
“At first glance, this reduces liability for many (West Virginian) taxpayers, but shifts much of the burden onto businesses,” Walczak said. “That complicates the growth expectations … “
Even with additional savings and efficacies, Justice’s plan still leaves a gap between $185.1 million and $90 million if assumptions in the plan — such as cutting the budget by $25 million, $10 million in estimated savings from elimination state jobs through retirement and attrition, and $60 million in estimated tax revenue growth – are accurate.
“The proposed legislation leaves a funding gap,” Clowser wrote. “The Legislature would need to identify significant cuts to state services or programs to make up the difference.”
Personal income tax revenue accounted for 43 percent of $4.5 billion in tax revenue collected for the state’s general revenue fund.
In the first eight months of the current fiscal year as of February, the state collected $1.5 billion in personal income tax, which was 47 percent of the $3.1 billion collected in total taxes for the general revenue fund year-to-date.