Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’


Elections, of course, have consequences. In the case of Kentucky, Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin has threatened to dismantle Kynect (the Kentucky version of the Affordable Care Act) and to create a Right to Work state.


Just so we understand what stands to be lost as a result of this election, Kentucky led the nation in the largest drop in the percentage of residents without health insurance from 2013 to 2014.

The percentage of uninsured Kentuckians dropped to 8.5 percent in 2014 from 14.3 percent in 2013. The drop of 5.8 percentage points was double the national decrease of 2.9 percent. The report says 366,000 Kentuckians were uninsured in 2014, down 250,000 from 616,000 in 2013.

The vast majority of the newly insured enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program, which covers previously ineligible individuals whose income is up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.


In addition, Kentucky (pdf) had 189,000 union members in 2014. (In addition to these members, another 30,000 wage and salary workers in Kentucky were represented by a union on their main job or covered by an employee association or contract while not union members themselves.) Thus, union members accounted for 11.0 percent of wage and salary workers in Kentucky, just under the national average of 11.1 percent.

According to the secretary of state’s office, election turnout in Kentucky was only 30.7 percent. Bevin (with 52 percent of the vote) defeated Democrat Jack Conway (who received 43 percent) to become only the second Republican governor in the state in four decades. Bevin’s election gives Republicans control of the executive branch along with a commanding majority in the state Senate. Democrats still have an eight-seat majority in the state House of Representatives.


University of Louisville students protested the decision by university president James Ramsey to host a Halloween party with members of the university staff at Amelia Place, a mansion owned by the University of Louisville Foundation.

The University of Louisville apologized Thursday after President James Ramsey [lower right in the photo above] faced criticism for a photo in which he and other university staffers were depicted at a Halloween party wearing stereotypical Mexican costumes with sombreros, which a university spokesman said some had “considered offensive.” . . .

“We made a mistake and are very sorry,” Kathleen Smith, chief of staff to the president, said in a statement, which noted her office had met with a top official of U of L’s Office of Hispanic and Latino Initiatives and shared “our deep regret for the hurt this experience has caused.”. . .

As social media criticism grew, university officials released an apology Thursday evening, addressing it to “Hispanic/Latino Faculty, Staff and Students.”

“We commit to a series of campus conversations with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to further focus on diversity and racial equality issues underpinning the pluralistic society we all support. This event shows we have much more to learn about our community,” Smith said.

This is what we’ve come to in the United States: a university president hosting a party at which he encourages his guests to dress in costumes that mock Mexican-Americans, and an apology that presumes only Hispanics are offended? While one of the major political parties debates the best way to build a wall on the southern border and deport the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Happy Halloween, everyone!


Special mention

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Jean Ritchie, who brought hundreds of traditional songs from her native Appalachia to a wide audience and wrote additional songs, especially about the disasters of coal mining—”and in the process helped ignite the folk song revival of the mid-twentieth century—died on Monday at her home in Berea, Kentucky.

Here are the lyrics to her “Black Waters”:

I come from the mountains, Kentucky’s my home,
Where the wild deer and black bear so lately did roam;
By cool rushing waterfalls the wildflowers dream,
And through every green valley there runs a clear stream.
Now there’s scenes of destruction on every hand
And only black waters run down through my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand,
Black waters, black waters, run down through my land.

O the quail, she’s a pretty bird, she sings a sweet tongue;
In the roots of tall timbers she nests with her young.
But the hillside explodes with the dynamite’s roar,
And the voices of the small birds will sound there no more;
And the hillsides come a—sliding so awful and grand,
And the flooding black waters rise over my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

In the rising of the springtime we planted our corn,
In the ending of the springtime we buried a son,
In summer come a nice man, said, “Everything’s fine—
My employer just requires a way to his mine”—
Then they threw down my mountain and covered my corn,
And the grave on the hillside’s a mile deeper down,
And the man stands and talks with his hat in his hand
As the poisonous water spreads over my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

Well, I ain’t got no money and not much of a home;
I own my own land, but my land’ s not my own.
But if I had ten million – somewheres thereabouts—
I would buy Perry County and I’d run ’em all out!
Set down on the bank with my bait in my can,
And just watch the clear waters run down through my land!

Well, wouldn’t that be like the old Promised Land?
Black waters, black waters no more in my land!

“West Virginia Mine Disaster” was another of her original songs, performed here by Betsy Rutherford:

And here are the lyrics:

Say, did you see him walking? it was early this morning
He passed by your house on his way to the coal
He was tall, he was slender, and his blue eyes so tender
His occupation was miner, West Virginia his home

It was just about noon, I was feeding the children
Ben Moseley come running for to give us the news
Number eight is all flooded, many men are in danger
And we don’t know their number, but we fear they’re all doomed

So I picked up the baby and I left all the others
For to comfort each other and pray for our own
There’s Timmy, fourteen, and there’s John not much younger
Soon their own time will be coming to go down the black hole

Now if I had the money to do more than just feed them
I’d give them good learning, the best could be found
And when they grew up they’d be checkers and weighers
And not spend their life drilling in the dark underground

And it’s what will I tell to my three little children?
And what will I tell his dear mother at home?
And it’s what will I tell to my poor heart that’s dying?
My heart that’s surely dying since my darling is gone

Say, did you see him walking? it was early this morning
He passed by your house on his way to the coal
He was tall, he was slender, and his blue eyes so tender
His occupation was miner, West Virginia his home


Special mention

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children homeless

According to a new report from the National Center on Family Homelessness [pdf], a staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless each year in America. This historic high represents one in every 30 children in the United States.

In just one year, from 2012 to 2013, the number of children experiencing homelessness increased by 8 percent nationally. It increased in 31 states and the District of Columbia and by 10 percent or more in 13 states and the nation’s capital.


And because we’ve just survived the midterm elections, when Mitch McConnell was reelected as senator and will likely be the next majority leader in the Senate, and as Rand Paul prepares his run for the Republican presidential nomination, I should note that Kentucky is ranked 50th in the extent of child homelessness!


While a special compensation committee of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees met Tuesday to discuss whether or not to increase President Eli Capilouto’s salary, which is currently $615,825, the Lexington Herald-Leader discovered that the UK president’s pay increased an average of 9.7 percent each year over the last decade, eclipsing the average annual tuition increase of 7.3 percent and far outpacing the average faculty and staff pay increase of 2.1 percent.

In 2012, analysts at the financial management firm Bain & Company wrote in a white paper for its clients about administrative spending in higher education,

Boards of trustees and presidents need to put their collective foot down on the growth of support and administrative costs. Those costs have grown faster than the cost of instruction across most campuses. In no other industry would overhead costs be allowed to grow at this rate—executives would lose their jobs.

As colleges and universities look to areas where they can make cuts and achieve efficiencies, they should start farthest from the core of teaching and research. Cut from the outside in, and build from the inside out.

The problem, of course, is that the presidents of colleges and universities are the ones benefiting from the increase in administrative spending.