fBy Mike Austreng, Editor
Something we need to clear up this week is that this page in this newspaper is an “opinion” page. It is open to the public to write Letters to the Editor – yes, the Editor of this newspaper has the ability to deny or accept any letter from anyone, but to clarify, just because a letter is accepted for publication it does not mean the Editor and this newspaper agrees with the writer, nor does publishing a Letter to the Editor in this publication mean that the newspaper endorses the writer and his/her views.
A few weeks ago there was a letter presented that endorsed a candidate who was running against someone who was a Muslim. The writer warned readers that the Muslim beliefs don’t align well with the writer’s beliefs and the letter was more about warning people of some of those differences.
Honestly, we spent some time debating whether that letter should be published. We debated the values of our freedom of the press and the freedom to express our opinions given to all of us in our First Amendment. We knew there would be people who wouldn’t agree with the writer and might be offended. We also knew there would be people who would agree with the writer.
Then, one day last week, we learned there was a reader who expressed his support, on Facebook, for a follow-up Letter to the Editor. Understand, we go on Facebook very, very rarely, but we know people who do and those people are who let us know about the disgruntled reader who apparently intended to cancel their subscription, or “talk to the newspaper” about the disappointment they felt that this particular letter was allowed on the pages of this newspaper.
Again, as Editor, and a firm believer in our First Amendment rights, we felt the writer of the letter had a right to express their opinion as much as the writer from last week did when he called out what he perceived to be an error in judgement on our part as Editor of this newspaper.
In hindsight, maybe we should have said “no” to the letter because it had bias against a religious affiliation. It isn’t our intention to be a bigot and we remind you that publishing a letter doesn’t mean we agree with the writer – there have been dozens and dozens of letters we’ve refused over our 32+ years editing this newspaper. There have been dozens and dozens of letters we didn’t agree with, but published just the same because we defend our First Amendment, which is a tough position to be in when there’s a chance someone isn’t going to agree with something someone else writes about. To say someone’s opinion is bigoted, racist and discriminatory and to say that person’s opinion shouldn’t be allowed, is to say we don’t have freedom of speech – right or wrong, this newspaper doesn’t endorse, nor agree with letter writer’s opinions just because the letter was published. If you don’t agree with a letter writer’s opinion your beef should be with the letter writer, not the Editor of the newspaper.
As careful as we are to not offend people, we know it’s an impossible task, especially when there are about 7,000 people reading these pages each week. When letters are received we try our best to not allow offensive content (especially if individuals are named), if readers were offended by the letter from a few weeks ago, we apologize, but please know we don’t necessarily agree with the content just because it shows up on these pages.
The person who did the Facebook post (which we did read) is welcome to submit a Letter to the Editor or stop at our office for a visit any time.
Perhaps something much more important to focus on is the good this newspaper does for our communities and all its organizations and groups (like the one the Facebook poster used this newspaper to promote over the years) — much more positive than focusing on one letter that maybe shouldn’t have been published.
Did they lie to us? It seems that way.
During the long campaign season many ads featured candidates bragging about how they helped lower health insurance premiums, starting this year. Some told us the decrease would be as much as 27% – we were excited. After years and years of big increases, we were being told we’d be saving some money.
Then our health insurance contract renewal notice came in the mail. The truth is MUCH different than the campaign rhetoric.
Unless you buy your own health insurance, or you own a company that provides health insurance for your employees, this probably doesn’t mean that much to you. If you are the one paying that monthly bill, it means a lot to you.
As we skimmed the 2018 rate next to the 2019 rate, we noticed anywhere from at least 10% to over 15% increases – across the board. It made us sick. It made us angry.
The Cold Spring Record is a small company, and adding 10 to 15% to what is already a significant expenditure makes being profitable even more difficult
When we expressed this to our agent it was suggested we may have to raise our rates – not something we like to do.
This news was like pulling the rug right out from underneath us. We were hearing great news, health insurance premiums were going down for a change – then the truth came in the mail and the great feeling we had, that we might finally be catching a break, left.
We’d love to ask the candidates who’s getting the lower rates? Is there a small group of people this affects? The group certainly isn’t the majority – or the group we’re in. Or was this another one of those ploys that has been used in the past? The one that tells us our premiums are being lowered when the truth is the increase isn’t as big as originally expected so it’s being called a reduction?
We’d make some phone calls and ask questions, but to what end? We’re not likely to hear what we want to hear, and even if we do, we’re not likely to believe it.
We’ve said this for a long time – Affordable Health Care is a joke. There’s absolutely nothing affordable about our health care or the insurance premiums that are supposed to cover our health care. We’ve gone to the highest deductible – one that nobody reaches each year – and we pay higher premiums. The only benefit we have is that our insurance reduces the cost of some of our prescriptions.
If any newly elected people would happen to read this, PLEASE fix this. Health care and the insurance meant to cover it is getting very unaffordable
Have A Good Week!