Sunday, February 25, 2018 1:00 am
Letters to the editor
Tax cut can't cover utility rate hikes
Last year, the Social Security increase was, at least in this household, totally absorbed by the increase in Medicare/Medicaid. Net raise, zero. This year, the increase added 80 cents to my Social Security check.
I read the opeds daily and see working people complain that they have received various amounts over and above three quarters and a nickel after taxes. I have to wonder how our Congress critters made out with this astounding bit of legislation. What did the tax cut add to their take-home on a base pay of $174,000?
No other group in this country can legislate their own salary increase and expect no repercussions from the folks back home, then get an 80 percent retirement after four years of service.
The logic of a tax cut giving more people more take-home pay sounds good on the surface, but the minuscule amounts that the middle class and below seem to be getting are more than negated by the increases the various utilities are asking for. Utility increases of 20 percent and more are a slap in the face to working people and a stab in the back to retired folks living on a fixed income. One bill, currently $54 per month, if the 20 percent hike were allowed, would make that item nearly $65.
To those who have already written letters complaining about the joke that Congress has hit us with, I must say, I hear you loud and clear.
Time to turn out NRA-bought politicos
Twice a year, for my prescription to be refilled, I need to make an appointment with my doctor for a full examination. When he's done, he will ask me whether I feel like harming myself or others. Then he will reluctantly give me another bottle of 30 pills, reminding me of how many refills I have until he sees me again to do the same evaluation, all to continue to take a medication I have been on for nearly five years.
All in all, it will take almost an hour. This is normal and, compared to other medications, relatively painless.
When I'm done with my appointment and I have my medication, I can go buy an assault weapon. No one will ask me what I want to use it for. No one will ask whether I feel like harming myself or others. No one will even bat an eyelash. Then I can drive to an elementary school with my assault weapon, shoot my way in through a window and kill 20 schoolchildren the way Adam Lanza did in 2012.
What happens next will be the same. Politicians like Marco Rubio, our own Todd Young and dozens of others who have received millions in NRA donations will make public statements about this tragedy, offering their thoughts and prayers.
These politicians will then sit on their hands and refuse to help craft or push sensible gun-control policies. There will be a vigil, the American people will shake their heads at this senseless tragedy, and we will wonder what could have prevented it, although we already know.
And then someone else will buy an assault weapon tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and they can shoot into your child's elementary school. There have been 1,606 mass shootings since Sandy Hook.
You can say that evil people will find a way whether there is a gun or not. But I ask you this: When is the last time an evil person killed 59 people in less than two minutes with a knife? They haven't, and they can't. Only assault weapons can do that.
Now is the time to talk about this. We need to talk about how it is harder to get life-saving medication than it is to buy an assault weapon that can kill 59 people in two minutes. We need to discuss the failures of our policymakers as they take millions in NRA donations to keep assault weapons in circulation and to perpetrate lies that the government is coming for our guns. We need to write to our legislators and demand they take action. And if they won't, we need to turn up at the polls in November and vote in legislators who will listen to us and who will not be bought by the NRA. We need to make our voices heard.
Enough is enough.
We must become the heroes we need
All this long year I have been waiting. Waiting for heroes to rise out of our Congress. Waiting for someone to say that diversity does not equal divisiveness; that concern does not equal fear; that the ideals put forth in our Constitution, while being elusive, are worth pursuing. Waiting for someone to acknowledge that we cannot afford name-calling and pettiness to pose as discourse; that we cannot let discomfort with difference become a mantra of hate.
And I realize, sadly, that no hero will arise from that body.
And so, it is only us, the people. We are the ones who hold the power of the vote. We are the ones who can demand more from those whom we elect. We do not need to agree on everything; for indeed, if we have the same strengths then we will have the same weaknesses. We can insist on civility and honesty. We can agree that there are bridges to repair; there are children to feed; there are cures to find; there are jobs to create. There is no time for hate, there is no time for lying, there is no time for fear-mongering, there is no time for blind adherence to party line.
This is a time for heroes, and they are us.
Sickening massacre should spur action
It was not the incorrect setting of my alarm clock that awoke me in the middle of the night. It was my subconscious alarmed by yet another mass shooting. This time 17 people were killed with many injured in this Valentine's Day school mass shooting.
A review of U.S. mass shootings over the last four decades provides a mounting count of death and injury. More than sobering when you stop to think that the following list amounts to a fraction of the overall deaths and injuries that can be attributed to firearm violence.
On an average day, 96 Americans are killed with guns. Seven of these deaths are children and teenagers. In an average month, 50 women are shot to death by intimate partners. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of the woman being killed fivefold.
Not counting military weapons, we have more firearms in this country than we have men, women and children. With so many firearms it is hard to know where to begin to curb the death and injury surrounding firearm violence.
A good place to start is drawing a red line in the Senate to stop passage of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which has already passed the House. This bill would essentially allow the most lax state regulation of concealed-carry guns to become the de facto national standard.
On the heels of this action, the sleeping giant that is the American public must be awakened so it may insist that Congress:
• Restore the ban on assault weapons.
• Regulate ammunition such as hollow-point bullets and limit magazines to a maximum of 10 bullets.
• Close loopholes in background checks for all gun sales.
• End the ban on federal funding for research into gun violence.
The truth is the First and Second amendments allow our local, state and national elected officials to create reasonable firearm regulations while not removing our valued right to bear arms.
On camera the Parkland, Florida police chief said of this latest school mass shooting, “I am sick to my stomach.” The question is, is the American public also sick to its stomach?
If so, is the sleeping giant now sick enough to take decisive action?
Awkward situation made worse by mayor
If I worked for a company that provided a company car for my personal use, I would be responsible for payment of any and all tickets I may get. It would not be the fault of the company that I drove with expired plates.
What gives Tom Henry, as mayor of our city, the right to have the city controller write a city check for a car he parked and drove with an expired plate. Should he not be the one to pay that ticket? After all, the city provided the car for his use. It would seem that any tickets acquired by him would be paid out of his personal funds, not city funds. Henry was (or should have been) aware of expired plates, just like anyone else responsible enough to have a license and drive should be.
I don't care why the ticket was written; it is Henry's responsibility to pay for negligence on his part. Own up to your error, pay the ticket out of your own funds and let city business proceed as usual.