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Columns
OTHER VIEW
Other View: I was at the Ariana Grande concert where a bomb exploded

MANCHESTER, England — I went to the Ariana Grande concert Monday expecting it to be one of the best nights of my life. I hadn’t been to a concert since I saw Miley Cyrus on her Bangerz tour in the same arena back in 2014. Both my friend and I (I’m 17, he’s 18) are huge fans of Ariana — or Arianators, as we’re known — and we’d been looking forward to this since we bought tickets on pre-sale late last year.

At 10:29 p.m., the show was just wrapping up. Ariana had just finished performing “Dangerous Woman,” which was the final song. The atmosphere was the same as it had been all night, filled with love and happiness. She finished the song, and people started leaving the arena. I was sitting in the upper tier with my best friend, and we both left via the stairs leading down to the main corridor everybody uses to leave the arena.

That’s when the explosion occurred.

It came from outside near the main foyer, I think. I heard the sound and immediately saw everybody’s reactions of fear and panic. It didn’t seem real, and, initially, I had no idea how to react. I had no choice but to run with the hundreds of screaming parents, children and fans all heading toward the nearest exit. My head was filled with panic and terror, and my focus was on not losing my friend in the crowd. I was right behind him and made sure it stayed that way. I saw one woman’s shoe had come off, but she didn’t stop to go back for it, and I don’t blame her.

It was horrible, and I feel so bad for the children who had no idea what was going on — at this point, I didn’t even know what was happening, and I don’t think anybody did. There were countless children present at the concert, as well as parents and teenagers. It was complete chaos outside, with crowds of people crying on the phone and trying to get away from the arena. Once I got outside, I immediately rang my mum to let her know I was safe and ordered a taxi home as the Metrolink tram had stopped running by then.

When we entered the arena, security hardly even checked my bag, and I hope security is tightened in the future, because it was ridiculous how little effort they put into checking. Their “exam” consisted of opening the bag, having a three-second glance, then feeling the exterior of the bag before allowing people to enter.

The entire night had been so amazing, and Ariana preached so much positivity and happiness. What happened makes me sad, because concerts are supposed to be safe and a celebration of music. More than four hours later, I am still unable to sleep. I hope Ariana is staying strong, because nobody expected tonight to end the way it did, and she is such a kind and compassionate role model. I am shocked and at a loss for words. My heart goes out to the victims and their families — nobody deserved to experience the events of this night. And I truly believe the community of Manchester has been brought even closer together.


Columns
OTHER VIEW
Other View:Another bad budget from Trump targets the poor

This appeared in Tuesday’s Washington Post:

President Donald Trump released a proposal for fiscal year 2018 discretionary spending — the “skinny budget” — two months ago, and the $1.1 trillion plan garnered deservedly poor reviews. In a nutshell, Trump would have gutted the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health and similarly crucial domestic agencies to fund a big boost in defense spending and border security. On Tuesday the White House releases its ideas for the remaining $3 trillion or so in federal spending, including large-scale entitlements such as Medicaid, and the early indications are that the priorities embodied in this sequel will be no more humane or rational.

Not surprisingly, Trump has decided to embrace the House Republican health-care bill’s $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid (over the next decade), according to The Post.

To do this, he would apparently add cuts to other safety-net programs, including housing and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as food stamps. The latter could be changed by enabling states to stiffen work requirements for those who receive the assistance.

Such cuts are being contemplated, of course, at a time when Trump is also promising huge reductions in taxes, mostly for upper-income individuals and corporations. This reverse redistribution is unconscionable on its own terms.

In addition, Paletta reports that the Trump budget documents may claim that tax cuts drive so much additional growth that they — plus the safety-net cuts — will restore federal budget balance a decade hence. Thus do warped budgetary priorities produce warped budgetary arithmetic.

The truth of the matter is that there can be no plan for long-term fiscal balance that does not include both enhanced revenue and reform of the two biggest entitlement programs in the federal budget, Medicare and Social Security, which together account for 39 percent of all spending. Yet Trump promised during the campaign not to touch these middle-class favorites, and his budget apparently honors that pledge — with the possible exception of Social Security’s disability program, which primarily helps low-income beneficiaries.

To be sure, federal safety-net programs should not be immune from pruning; we’ve called for many such measures in previous editorials. Social Security disability in particular could be adjusted to help people return to work sooner, without losing needed cash aid. Yet America’s poorest and most vulnerable people should be the last group called upon to sacrifice for the sake of deficit reduction, not the first — and certainly not the only.

Fortunately, presidential budgets are notoriously ephemeral, as illustrated by the fate of the “skinny budget,” which was quickly dismissed on Capitol Hill. The policy vision it embodied was too upside-down, apparently, even for the conservative Republican majority. That view of the world does not improve through repetition.


Mailbag
Letter: What's in Comey's notes?

A good technical support representative keeps notes. They are time and date stamped and contain the topic, names of the participants, what each one said and the conclusion of the conversations. In Comey’s position as head of the FBI I believe such files do exist. However, I would not be able to accept just select files about a conversation without seeing the complete file of all conversations he has had since becoming head of the FBI. Too easy to make one up the night before he testifies.

Our misrepresentatives in Congress should demand to see all the files, if they exist, or accept none. They are all secret. Maybe they will see why Hillary’s lying was never prosecuted as a bonus. Washington and the liberals have had six months to tell us what the Russians did to change the election and, amazingly, not one thing has ever leaked out about it because apparently there was nothing to leak.

Gayle Fixsen

Twin Falls


Columns
COMMUNITY COLUMNIST
Brugger: A case for single-payer health care

I was excited last week to have comments on my column posted online. The lead-off was a comment against a single-payer system, and I promised a follow-up in my column this week. I hasten to add, however, that my original intent was to say that I support mandatory coverage for any health problem that arises and oppose insurance that limits the conditions which are covered.

The single-payer insurance programs that exist in the United States work pretty well. They place limits on cost and allow a wide range of care — for the old, the economically disadvantaged young and the disabled. However, in states which have not expanded Medicaid, economically disadvantaged adults are left out. I know that these systems are not perfect — perhaps a subject for further comment.

I have studied several articles on the economic benefit of single-payer insurance. The fact that it is a not-for-profit plan eliminates some costs. A single-payer negotiates the cost of providing care and medication resulting in a level playing field for determining the cost of the insurance to the insured and to the federal government. Providers need to be familiar with how to bill only one company and what pre-authorization or documentation is needed. Single-payer insurance is considered the most economically efficient way of providing health care.

My concern is that imposing single-payer insurance would disrupt the economy. The health insurance industry provides a large amount of economic output in the United States. Not only would there be job reduction in claims and administration, but insurance agents would take a big hit.

I know that in many countries with single-payer insurance, there is also add-on insurance that covers the co-pay, more expensive providers, upgraded rehab facilities, private rooms, etc. Perhaps that would lessen the impact on the industry as a whole. Many Medicare recipients already have some version of this insurance as well as Medicare Part D.

When I hear the alarm about waiting times, poor facilities, traveling to the U.S. for treatment, etc., I always consider the reason for spreading this news — which is, to some degree, false. There are many economic interests which want to protect the status quo. There are also many people who have reasons to complain or to seek care elsewhere. Care is sometimes insufficient even in the U.S. Some people expect medical outcomes that are not possible anywhere. Some people look for renowned providers. Some people prefer better medical architecture to surround them as they are healing. Some people do not want to wait for procedures that are elective or not life-threatening. There is one undeniable fact: Despite paying more of our gross national product in health care, we are not the leader in medical outcomes for health care.

Since I travel internationally at least once a year, I have met many people who live in countries which have single-payer insurance. I have never met one who wasn’t satisfied, and I ask at every opportunity. I am passionate about everyone everywhere having adequate health care.

I agree that the ACA did not fix all the problems surrounding the cost and accessibility of health care in the United States. It was a giant first step. Now we must study its weaknesses and strengthen them. Just recently, Rep. Simpson told the Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce that if we don’t find solutions with a public-private partnership, a single-payer plan will be devised within five years.

My passion is health care for everyone. My demand is for further legislation where it is appropriate. My prayer is that reasonable people will come together and solve the problems that exist.