Biblical aliens

Thanks so much for your article on immigration ("God before country," cover story, Sept. 22). Caleb Lázaro has the right of it.

Christians would be well-served to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's biography and think about how it applies to us.

Instead of taking a simple interpretation of Romans 13 — "submit to government" — Bonhoeffer knew that the greater commandment was to love his neighbor. When Nazi government practices and policies resulted in suffering for the Jews, he knew he must work both to alleviate suffering and to oppose the government. Providing care was not enough; the practices and policies that led to widespread murder needed to end. He would be executed in a concentration camp for his role in a plot to overthrow the Nazis.

We could learn from his example. Instead of embracing nationalism, we should be more concerned with those the Bible calls "aliens" — those among us who are marginalized, hurting and far from home. We need to be about the business of loosening the chains of injustice, especially those chains that our own government tightens.

— Josh Bennett

Colorado Springs


Popular inaccuracy

It is a popular teaching, but completely inaccurate, that Romans 13:1-4 applies to secular/civil government ("When in Romans," cover story sidebar, Sept. 22). It is specific to, and only to, the "Church" (Body of Christ). This is established by at least two scriptures in the New Testament: John 18:36 ("My Kingdom is not of this world ...") and Romans 12:1-2 (1: "I beseech you therefore brethren ..." and 2: "And be not conformed to this world ...").

The Old Testament also verifies this in 1 Samuel 8, when the Israelites demanded that Samuel (Yahweh's prophet at that time) appoint a king over them, like the surrounding nations had. There is also the refusal of Satan's offer to Christ of all the Kingdoms of this world when they were both in the "wilderness."

Yahweh God has very little to do with secular authority, unless His children are involved or are praying in that regard.

— Gregory Alan Johnson

Colorado Springs

Hyperbaric works

I am writing in response to Pam Zubeck's "Pure hope" (cover story, Sept. 8) regarding the latest research in hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the current Fort Carson work on a study with promise for treating traumatic brain injuries.

I can speak from firsthand experience that hyperbaric oxygen is a "miracle treatment." I am a site supervisor at the TBI Freedom location in Colorado Springs. This organization works with hundreds of soldiers facing the military and battlefield impact on their lives. On a daily basis, I see what hyperbaric oxygen has done to change the lives of these brave men and women.

I am a two-time cancer survivor and used this treatment for over a year under the exceptional direction of Ric Rooney at Pikes Peak Hyperbaric.

I read with great interest the story of former Fort Carson soldier Graham Facer and the impact the treatments made on his health, including the 35 mild hyperbaric treatments he underwent at "a local outfit that operates in the back of a tanning salon."

I personally take great issue with "local outfit." Your readers need to know that Ric Rooney and Pikes Peak Hyperbaric are cutting down costs by housing this wonderful clinic at this building, and should never be regarded as a "local outfit." He is without question making a huge impact on the lives and well-being of hundreds of individuals.

It is small-business owners like Ric Rooney that are the backbone of this nation and should never be given a dig and referred to as a "local outfit." His business needs to be shown some respect and uplifted for its work.

— LloydNeale Hardesty

Colorado Springs


Raging over Stormwater

I just received a notice in the mail informing me I'm responsible for late Stormwater fees prior to January 2010. I never lived in Colorado until June 2010, and closed on my property in August — but I'm responsible for this? I never even knew this discontinued program existed!

I tried to call the number listed on the notice but was unable to get through. It says I can leave a message. So I did. Many times. I dug up a fax number and faxed my notice with a note to call me. No reply — they want my money but won't return my call.

On my final call there was a recorded message explaining that, among other things, my closing company should have gone over this charge prior to closing. It goes on to say that I may contact them about this but they are not required to do anything about it. I also e-mailed the mayor's office — shocker, no reply.

I have never experienced a situation like this with a local government and I'm disgusted by it. Luckily it's not about the money, but it may be for many others. (And if you are one, contact the city government and let them know what you think.) It's the principle of the matter.

— Tom Sindledecker

Colorado Springs

Who's at fault?

I liked Michael Miller's letter ("Windy City West?," Sept. 15) except that he wanted the Independent to follow up. If there are criminal acts and he has that information, why doesn't he take it to the attorney general's office so they can investigate it?

I like the Independent because you do print articles even if they're pointed toward you, and the Indy is also an alternative to the Gazette. One problem we have in our society now is too much one-sided research on all subjects. In the political arena we're split between liberals and conservatives, and I blame both parties. The real problem: We no longer think for ourselves.

We no longer even know what the Constitution is about. Our president comes out and says to pass his bill to help the economy. He can't write a bill; bills are made in the Congress; all he can do is suggest what he would like done.

When I vote, I check all parties and sometimes I vote for the party I don't belong to, so we have the check and balance we need. We even have judges and senators and other elected persons that completely disregard what is the law. Also, the way our president is acting, he is not working for all the people but a select few. When he got elected, he became president of us all.

— Rodney E. Hammond

Colorado Springs

Memorial alternative

I was surprised to read that the proposed transfer of Memorial Health System to an outside operator entailed the freezing of Public Employees' Retirement Account pensions of Memorial staff and the provision of a defined contribution plan instead. I suspect this issue may ultimately be decided in court.

This proposed plan is immensely disrespectful to the staff of Memorial and their career expectations. One would think that a retirement plan change would be applied only prospectively, to new hires, so that everyone would know the rules — in particular since the PERA pension is in lieu of Social Security. I wonder if the rights of Memorial employees have been fully analyzed.

For instance, if a Memorial employee has been paying into PERA instead of Social Security for 20 years, and now must pay into Social Security, can that employee be assured that, any defined contribution plan aside, he or she will not suffer a net decrease in Social Security benefits that may not be made up for by a partial PERA pension?

When the Denver Department of Health and Hospitals was transformed into the Denver Health and Hospital Authority in the 1990s, employees of Denver General Hospital (now Denver Health Medical Center) were given the choice of becoming employees of the Authority or remaining employees of Denver and receiving their Denver defined-benefit pensions, with appropriate cost reimbursement from the Authority.

One wonders why a similar arrangement could not be worked out with PERA and the proposed new Memorial operator for Memorial employees.

— Norm Bangeman


Hurt on the job?

I am writing the Independent to hopefully reach at least a few of the thousands of abused injured workers in this area; especially the ones who have found themselves without an attorney, fighting alone in this corrupt system.

The insurers for the employers become vicious and often have an unwritten contract with the occupational medicine clinics that will subject you to more abuse than you have ever dreamed would come from a medical provider. They, in turn, have networks of therapists and specialists, to whom they will send you, who are just as corrupt and paid-off as the "authorized treatment provider," who is dependent on the workers' compensation insurers for their business.

The occupational medicine doctors and providers actually get paid more in bonuses from the insurance companies to see that you get as little treatment as possible. And if they keep medical costs really low, the employers will send them all of their injured workers, thereby forming an unwritten contract. It is crooked, damaging and deceitful. It should not happen. But it is the reality of the workers' compensation system in this area and most of the country.

It is especially important to me to inform injured workers that they should not buy in to the shame that the corrupt providers, and often the employers, will heap upon you. Keep fighting, and speak out about it at every available opportunity.

I am asking injured workers who have been abused in this system to please write letters to the Independent and other newspapers to bring attention to this horrific injustice in which injured workers find themselves treated as criminals as a matter of course. What they do is racketeering and a violation of federal law. If we put our heads together, we can find detectable patterns and expose them.

— Lisa Ruffin-Smith

Colorado Springs

A Ponzi scheme

We need another president hailing from Texas like we need a hole in the head. However, I do agree with Rick Perry's assessment of Social Security being another Ponzi scheme.

I am 32 years old. My Social Security deductions from my paycheck are currently funding a retired Baby Boomer's Social Security check. The only way I will receive any money from Social Security is if the workforce grows in number and in monetary production. Without an increase in taxes or a decrease in benefits, Social Security is estimated to expire in 40 years — when I'll be eligible for benefits.

"Projected long-run program costs for both Medicare and Social Security are not sustainable under currently scheduled financing, and will require legislative modifications if disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers are to be avoided ... Social Security expenditures exceeded the program's non-interest income in 2010 for the first time since 1983." (ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/index.html)

This is the government's estimation. How far do we trust that?

How is that not a pyramid scheme? The current contributor pays a fee, which pays previous members. The current contributor is only paid if more people are brought in. Otherwise the scheme collapses on itself. Claiming that only "millionaires" see the connection obviously disregards a billionaire who authored the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, Bernie Madoff.

On a lighter note, I love how people criticize Obama for being a "socialist" but will fight to the death to defend "Social" Security.

— Jason Martin

Colorado Springs


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