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Commentary on life in Kentucky

By wmadministrator

There is No Free Heart Bypass
Taxpayers will ultimately pay for a government-operated healthcare system

The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress are proposing a number of significant changes to America’s healthcare system. There are many ideas under consideration – with the good intentions of improving the delivery of healthcare. Some of the proposals may be exceptional, some may be good, and some may be Band-Aids.

The cost of healthcare equates to approximately 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product or one in every $6 spent in America.

Before any changes are made to the healthcare system, the sound, “good government practice” should be to first test each component of the new legislation. Several states could be selected as test markets in which to analyze proposed changes. Each proposed change would be tested in one state so the impact could be accurately measured and evaluated for its effectiveness to determine if the ideas achieved anticipated benefits.

Market forces are powerful, and the most thoroughly evaluated plan may suffer from unintended consequences. No corporation with national distribution would take a viable product off the shelf and replace it with a new, untested product. But that’s what our federal government is proposing.

Economic business models designed and managed by governments have demonstrated throughout history that no government entity is smart enough to make market decisions for individuals.

Collectively, the spending and investment decisions of millions of people more efficiently and accurately establish supply, demand and market prices for goods and services. In a free market system, individuals select the products they want at the price they are willing to pay. This is the economic concept that made America great.

America is still a free country. Younger and healthy persons do not have to buy medical insurance unless they want coverage. Persons not buying coverage are taking a risk, but it is their right and choice in a free society not to be insured. If an uninsured person gets sick or has an accident, he or she must suffer the financial consequences for not obtaining health insurance.

If government elects to offer health insurance, competition from private companies will evaporate. Private companies must break even or make a profit to stay in business. Government, however, can just raise your taxes to pay for high operational costs or inefficient management.

There is no free heart bypass. Someone will have to pay! Let’s make government test its new healthcare proposals on a statewide basis and prove they actually work before trying to implement a national program. Any misstep will be devastating to the quality of America’s healthcare system and the financial viability of the U.S. economy.

Ed Lane, The Lane Report’s publisher, wrote this commentary in October as a guest columnist for the Hamburg Journal, a monthly neighborhood newspaper in Lexington. Because of the feedback received, The Lane Report has elected to re-publish it.

Making Hay, Ruffling Feathers
We thought it might ruffle some feathers when our August cover story on Kentucky’s poultry industry included statistics ranking poultry ahead of equine in generating farm income.

The article cited the USDA’s 2007 Census
of Agriculture finding that poultry was the state’s “largest ag sector” and “the No. 1
food commodity in cash receipts.” USDA’s 2007 Ranking of Market Value of Ag Products ranked poultry ahead of equine, $978 million to $952 million.

Executive Director David L. Switzer of Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders e-mailed The Lane Report to dispute the contention that the equine industry no longer ruled the state agribusiness roost.

“The problem is,” Switzer wrote, “the Ag Statistics Bureau that compiles these figures separated horse sales and stud season sales, but when combined they totaled over a billion dollars. In fact ’07 was higher than ’08, with ’08 being $1.08 billion. This ain’t chicken feed.”

Indeed, it isn’t.

Switzer included a news release from the Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner’s office that reports $1.08 billion in 2008 equine farm receipts and $917.5 million for poultry. USDA’s 2007 totals putting chicken income ahead of horses uses a formula that counts eggs as poultry but does not count Kentucky’s horses’ stud fees.

We’d rather focus on the fact that Kentucky farms had a record $4.84 billion in cash receipts in 2008, according to Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer’s office. That’s neither hay nor chicken feed.

‘The Governor is Going to Shoot Me’

During his One-on-One interview with Keeneland President/CEO Nick Nicholson, Lane Report Publisher Ed Lane asked how Nicholson had successfully managed recently to hire two key staffers from Gov. Steve Beshear: Vince Gabbert moved from deputy chief of staff for the governor to the position of executive assistant to Nicholson, and Jay Blanton moved from being the governor’s communications director to Keeneland director of communications.

Because of space limitations, we’re sharing those details here rather than with the rest of One-on-One.

“My first thought was that I can’t recruit two employees from the executive branch; the governor is going to shoot me,” Nicholson said. There was no intention to poach from the governor’s staff, though, he explained, and as of press time no shots had been fired.

“I had watched Vince Gabbert for more than a year and was impressed with his intelligence, work ethic and the respect he showed various groups, including people who agreed and disagreed with the governor,” Nicholson said. “I was impressed with his humility, the way he carried himself and his ability to grasp an issue. I heard a rumor that he was being courted by other public entities.

“So I called Vince one day and just asked him before he made a long-term employment commitment if he would call me. He said sure; we talked for a while. Then right before we hung up he said ‘Are you talking about something at Keeneland?’ and I said ‘Yes, I am potentially,’ and he said ‘What are you doing tomorrow?’

“So we met and I talked about the fact that Keeneland is growing in complexity. The industry needs leadership; we are involved in more issues. I’m out of time and want to be available to employees here. I don’t want to loose my ‘hands-on’ outside approach of spending time with our customers.

“I was just becoming overwhelmed and not satisfied with the job I was doing to fulfill my role. When I called Vince, I thought we’d be talking about six months from now. I wasn’t encouraging him to leave. It turned out Vince did have other offers and was going to leave. He liked this idea better.

“Totally unrelated to that, (longtime Keeneland communications director) Jim Williams had told me that he wanted to retire. I totally respect that because Jim had been at Keeneland for 38 years. Keeneland had announced a major national search, and advertised in sports business journals. Through the advertising process, Jay actually contacted Keeneland initially and directly.

“I’ve been very impressed with what Jay had done with the University of Kentucky. There are a lot of complex aspects to that job and he handled them with style, grace and competence. The same thing he had done at state government.

“Jay told the governor that he wanted more time for private life. He felt he had kept his commitment to the governor, but he didn’t want to go through a re-election campaign.

“I am thrilled. Vince has been here two weeks and Jay starts next week. I think they are going to be a wonderful addition in the depth of competence that is here.

“Keeneland also had a management opening in IT. We did a nationwide search and we found a person who was raised in Lexington but had moved away to pursue his professional goals; he ended up being in charge of all technology for NASCAR.

“At this stage in his life, he wanted to come back to Lexington and I’m thrilled; Keeneland just got lucky. His name is Brad Lovell. He has a lot of relatives in Lexington.

“We didn’t have to explain to him what Keeneland was all about. Brad understood it because he grew up here and knows that Keeneland wants to be on the cutting edge of technology.”

Kentucky’s Beauty is on the Money

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park will be honored in the new U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters program.

“Cumberland Gap is a great choice for our quarter because it symbolizes the path the brave pioneers took to reach prosperity,” Gov. Steve Beshear said.
The national park covers 24,000 acres in eastern Kentucky near Middlesboro. The gap provided a gateway for buffalo, Native Americans, longhunters and pioneers. Between 1775 and 1810, some 300,000 settlers crossed Cumberland Gap and began settling U.S. land west of the Appalachians.

The 56 America the Beautiful Quarters will be issued sequentially in the order in which the featured site was first established as a national park or site. Their obverse (heads) will feature the familiar “restored” 1932 portrait of George Washington. The Cumberland Gap quarter is to be issued in 2016.

Turner Joins The Lane Report
Kentucky sales and advertising veteran Lisa Turner has joined The Lane Report staff as an associate publisher based in Louisville. Her experience includes stints with several media operations, including WAVE3 Television and regional guide publication companies. Turner lives in Louisville.