Dollars won't fix mental care

The News & Advance’s May 26 editorial, “Mental health reform creeps along in Virginia,” while highlighting an area for Richmond to address, uses a logical fallacy and omits other key factors that would constrain efforts in that area.

Ordinal rankings are meaningless. Washington, D.C., and New York City spend the most money on education and get terrible results. The fact that Virginia is 41st in the number of health care providers is irrelevant, too. The real issue is how good are the results, and why?

You all claim the cause is low pay, which is meaningless. Pay relates to supply and demand and is not something to be set by its alleged “worth’’ as so many liberals want to do. Quality of living, as well as the cost of living locally, play a big part in pay as does the demand for such services.

More importantly, mental health care has to compete against other needs such as other health care needs, fire, police, roads, water, education, clean air, business, consumer protection, emergency/disaster services, courts, libraries, parks and a myriad of lesser functions that make up the complete state government. And we should eliminate things that are not true government functions such as spending on public “art” that steal spending from valid and important functions.

The inconvenient truth is that perfection is not possible and that we have unlimited wants but a very limited budget to spend on some of the critical areas with the most value.

The fundamental law of systems theory says that you cannot optimize the system by optimizing the subsystems. The corollary is that to have the best overall government we can afford requires that every department be less than optimal. And that includes mental health.

The way to achieve the optimum sustainable operating state of our government is to use a tool from systems engineering called “multiparameter optimisation techniques.” Unfortunately too many politicians have no idea what that is, and if they did they would still make decisions on a political basis so as to ensure their reelection no matter what that would do to Virginia.

Clearly if any department is not being managed well, then that should be improved to create better outcomes at lower cost. Schools are a big waster of resources while providing poor outcomes. Mental health may also be a department needing improvement, but not necessarily more money thrown at it.

Instead of calling for more mental health, or any other aspect of government, it would be more productive to push for a logical process to optimize our overall allocation of spending based on how people value the various government services.

It is unfortunate that neither Lynchburg, the Commonwealth of Virginia nor the federal government uses a logical process to optimize their spending of our tax money.



Bedford needs Miller as sheriff

In our highly mobile society, it is not uncommon to see an individual move from job to job in search of higher pay, employment at a different level or, perhaps, to change occupations all together. There is nothing wrong with that. However, there is a lot to be said for the individual who is loyal to one employer, strives to make that workplace better and becomes involved in the community and works for its improvement. That latter is career choice that Mike Miller has chosen.

Miller currently is captain of the operations division of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, overseeing a number of different departments. In the past, he has served as captain of the administrative division, which deals with the budget of the department. Sheriff Mike Brown certainly believes Miller has leadership abilities, or he would not have advanced him through ranks, giving him such vital responsibilities. More recently, he has been tasked with going within the community to places of work and worship to talk about security and threat assessments that, unfortunately, are now so necessary to keep our citizens safe.

When we vote in the June 11 Republican primary, we should not be voting for the candidate with lots of fancy job titles that have nothing to do with what goes on in Bedford County. We need to cast our votes for the person who has had allegiance to Bedford County and the safety of its residents for more than 34 years and who will not have to learn the job as he goes. Miller already knows all aspects of the job and deserves our votes.



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