CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- WEST Virginia lost a lifelong civic servant this week when former Charleston Mayor Joe F. Smith passed away at the age of 94. He was emblematic of a generation that relentlessly gave of itself to make life better for others.
Born in Bristol, Va., Smith graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He joined the U.S. Army and encrypted military intelligence during World War II, then spent a career at C&P Telephone Co.
He went on to serve the city of Charleston for eight years as a city councilman, five years as city treasurer, and three years as mayor between 1980 and 1983. It was a critical time that saw completion of Charleston Town Center and revitalization of the capital city as a retail destination.
Smith subsequently served as executive director of the Public Employees Retirement System, which he improved as well. He also served two terms in the House of Delegates.
"For him, politics wasn't some sort of ugly game," his son, Tom Smith, told the Gazette. "He was simply interested in public service and making sure that citizens were treated properly. That's how he operated."
How true. How fortunate we all were to have him.
THE success of the Democrats' comprehensive health care law rests on getting young healthy people to buy health insurance. It's essential to funding the costs of an expanded publicly funded health care entitlement.
Thus, the old military recruiting poster, "Uncle Sam wants you," is taking on new meaning.
Mike Dorning of Bloomberg News reports that data miners who worked to recruit potential voters in battleground states are roaming cyberspace to identify 2.7 million uninsured healthy 18- to-24-year-olds to sign up for insurance on health exchanges starting Oct. 1.
These hunters of young uninsured people use 32 data points to predict who is unlikely to have insurance and approach them to sign up.
"The law offers subsidies to lower the insurance cost for people making up to four times the federal poverty level," Dorning wrote. "Based on 2013 data, that means a discount on ordinary insurance rates for individuals with incomes up to $45,960.
"A single, 25-year-old nonsmoker who makes $20,000 a year can enroll in a basic insurance plan for less than $42 per month because of a $2,009 annual subsidy."
That's affordable health insurance for the subsidees. The subsidizers will have to wait and see.