OUR READERS' OPINIONS - 01/06/11

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NRA — help us please!

Lately there’s Tucson and the soccer mom who allegedly killed her kids for "being mouthy."

Gun rights people are afraid of letting through the smallest, most insignificant reforms regarding gun ownership. They see them as a "hole in the dike" that must be plugged at all costs.

You have to pass a test for a driver’s license. To buy a handgun in America all you need is money and to wait up to five days depending on the state, assuming you haven’t been institutionalized or haven’t committed a felony and the vetting list is correct and up to date. You don’t even need to take a drug test which, if required, might save many lives. In some states buying a handgun isn’t all that much harder than buying a box of cereal.

Gun rights advocates are in no danger of losing their rights to own firearms. The Second Amendment has been interpreted in their favor in the courts. So please don’t start the cry of "you are trying to take our guns away." You are in absolutely no danger of that happening.

It would be interesting if we could somehow bring Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and other "Founding Fathers" to the present and talk with them. They might say regarding the Second Amendment, "That isn’t what we meant at all, our concern was keeping weapons for the purposes of militias." The words regarding militias count for 13 of the 27 word total of the Second Amendment. How many gun owners today belong to a "well regulated militia?"

If we asked the Founding Fathers assembled, say around a table at Clarette’s, "Do you think anyone should be able to go into a gun store and buy a handgun that holds 31 rounds that can be fired one after the other in rapid succession, and without any tests whatsoever that show the person can use the firearm safely?" my guess is their answers would be something like, "Are you daft man, are you out of your mind?"

With the courts backing a strict interpretation of the Second Amendment and the NRA being one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington D.C., it appears it is really up to NRA members and other gun advocates to be the ones to push for laws that would enhance public safety without limiting gun ownership by responsible citizens.

Norm Osterman

Walla Walla

Eliminate Social Security taxation cap

I, like many previous writers, was appalled by the information in recent articles about our Social Security system. I do not understand why our elected officials have blinders on when it comes to fixing the funding problem.

They seem to only see benefits reduction or pushing back eligibility as options. Why not simply raise, or eliminate altogether, the threshold for earnings that are taxed? Currently only earnings up to $106,800 are taxed by Social Security.

If we raised that cap to say $250,000 the revenue stream would be increased by nearly one-third, depending on how many Americans earn more than $106,800.

Even if benefits were adjusted to recognize the additional contributions the program would be solvent.

I would recommend that no additional benefits be earned above the existing cap.

And, because of its inherent fairness, class warfare has been far more apparent in other administration efforts, it would be less toxic to the "careers" of our elected officials.

In 1950 there were approximately 16 workers contributing to the system for each retiree. That number is now about three workers per retiree. Something’s got to give. Without pointing fingers at one party or the other, the system has been changed numerous times, mostly to its detriment. This change is far more palatable than some. There are other fixes out there, but most step on the toes of one political or demographic group or another making passage next to impossible.

I implore all of you to write our elected officials and ask that the Social Security taxation cap be eliminated. It’s easy to contact them now, simply go to their website and fill out the form with your comments; no pen, paper or stamp necessary. If, in 2037, those who have contributed to this program their entire working lives are told full benefits aren’t available, we may, and should, see Egypt and Tunisia revisited.

Michael R. Lesko

Milton-Freewater

Gesture of respect appreciated

My sister and I recently attended a funeral and were driving in the procession of cars heading toward the cemetery for the graveside service. We talked about how customs change over the years as we watched other drivers pull over out of respect for the deceased. Some pulled over long enough for the hearse to pass by; others remained pulled over until the entire procession had passed them.

As the procession turned off Pleasant Street on to Fern Avenue, we could see signs of utility work ahead, a large truck and a three-man crew. To our surprise and delight, all three men were standing respectfully with their hard hats off! Neither my sister nor I have ever seen this happen.

We very much appreciated the Cascade Gas Company crew for the gesture of respect for our departed friend.

Sonya K. Watts

Walla Walla

Many questions about Kyron Horman

Where is Kyron Horman? It’s been quite awhile since we have heard about little Kyron.

Everyone wonders why he didn’t live with his birth mother. Also, why when the father left did he take the little girl and leave Kyron with the stepmother?

Why can’t the police and a doctor give the stepmother a shot of truth serum so she will tell the truth about Kyron? Hope we can find out so the little boy’s life will be made right somehow.

Maxine Bushite

Dayton

Suggested reading on Reagan

Jacob Heilbrunn’s article on the mythologizing of Reagan will probably be ignored or attacked. Nobody likes to be shown that their idol was basically human and probably not the person that they thought.

Another excellent article about Reagan was published in The American Conservative.

The title is "How right was Reagan?" and describes how centrist his actions really were. As well, this magazine discusses the meaning of "conservative" and "liberal" in historically correct ways.

All good conservatives should read this, and then stop attributing to Reagan characteristics he didn’t have.

Dick Swenson

Walla Walla

Put corrections officers back to work

It had to be the death of an officer to make you, maybe, listen to what the officers know.

Get rid of the extra captains, associate superintendents - all the CUSs and CPMs - and get the correctional officers back up to strength so there are enough to be safe. We do not need another correctional officer to die.

Dead is forever and now Officer Jayme Biendl is dead. She will not be able to see her husband, children or parents ever again. She will not see her children marry nor will she be able to hold her grandchildren.

She was only 34 years old and it is believed a convict who was serving a life sentence put a cord around her neck and choked the life out of her. This should make everyone in the state angry.

This inmate had a life sentence without parole and he was in medium security? What in the Sam Hill is this state thinking? It has fired (laid off) correctional officers; the folks who stand between the inmate and the support staff and the public. One of the first duties of the correctional officer is to keep the public safe.

The Department of Corrections has decided the officer is expendable and the support staff, including the extra personnel, are more important than those who are in daily contact with the inmate. The inmates have a point system that if they are good they can get to a lower custody level with more privileges and less supervision.

Get rid of the point system, rehire the laid-off correctional officers and put them on the floor so there are enough officers to protect each other. Let's get real people and let every officer go home safe every day whatever the shift they work.

Lydia Whipple

Walla Walla

Congress needs real plan to cut spending

The Spending Reduction Act of 2011 proposes to hold non-defense discretionary spending to fiscal year 2006 levels for 2012 through 2021. Thus, discretionary spending would return to levels last approved by a GOP-controlled Congress. Not mentioned is funding for our two wars as they have been funded off line through emergency supplemental spending bills.

Missing from this bill is a serious discussion of the role of the federal government during times of large deficit. Rather, this bill takes a meat cleaver to spending amounts and does not offer new discipline to the broken appropriation process. I offer the following additions to the bill.

1. Require the House of Representatives (where all appropriation bill must be initiated) to produce all 13 appropriation bills by March 1 every year. The Senate would be required to produce its versions of the bills within 60 after the House.

For every day the bills are late, Congress does not get paid. Summaries of the president's budget request and the House and Senate appropriations bills must be published in every newspaper so the electorate can compare priorities and offer feedback.

2. Starting with fiscal year 2012, all spending for the current war efforts must be included in a 14th appropriations bill. I also suggest war bonds be issued to help fund the effort.

3. For each spending cut, Congress must publicly identify the responsible federal agency and what program/actions that agency is to stop doing. (Why, because elected officials continue to say they want transparency and accountability. Reducing appropriation bills by an aggregate dollar amount or percentage, as has been done in the past, requires agency staff to distribute the cuts, thus eliminating elected officials from being held accountable for hard choices.)

4. All fees and charges collected by the federal government must go toward the program that generates the income.

5. For every dollar of domestic spending reduction, an equal percentage must be cut from foreign aid.

6. Funding of new priorities must be offset with an equal amount of other reductions.

If the governing principal is returning to 2006 funding levels rather than building a spending plan based on a bottoms up review of core governmental functions, then Congress must publicly identify what programs and/or program expansions took place since fiscal year 2006 and how they will be eliminated.

Paul Wemhoener

Walla Walla

Having a fair is a requirement

A $5 billion revenue shortfall, created by the past and current crop of adults either in office or business through active participation or apathy, is now going to be balanced by taking more away further from $2 million (divided by 39 counties) from children.

Never mind that RCW requires a county to hold a fair, never mind that long before this current "Great Recession" the fair budget was being cut (from $3 million to $2 million in 1993, which is how long it's been that little).

What about the fact that not having these fairs will cost more in lost sales tax revenue than it saves. While some larger fairs may be able to continue even with this drop in funding, many smaller ones will not.

Is there no shame left?

This state and its institutions were passed on to us to hold in trust for future generations, not to sell off or remove when they became an inconvenient burden. Since it does not directly benefit those currently in control is it unnecessary?

Perhaps schools and parks should go too? These children you want to take funding from now are the ones who will have to pay for your Social Security and Medicare benefits in the future, even knowing, as I do now, that we will never enjoy the same.

My grandparents in the "Greatest Generation" expressed concern about the future of this country when the "Me Generation" took power, now I see why.

Charles Amerein

Dayton

Letters from Muslim spur understanding

I have found a friendship with Mr. P.A. Jones, a Muslim, and am becoming a better understanding Christian because of it.

I would like to share some of his thoughts with you from one of his letters to me: "Thank you for your letter and the reading Material you sent to me. I truly appreciate it. All of the literature is good and interesting material. I hope you have read the Christian-Muslim Dialogue by now. I am wanting to know what you thought about it.

"It is very important that we understand and take into consideration the fact that God guides whom he wills, and allows to stray whom he wills. We have no authority over this, our only duty is to call the people to Allah. There are some who will not listen or ever believe, and their affair will be with God.

"For those who believe and have faith it is for us to serve Allah and shun the devil. Stay away from sin and worship God as He commandeth us to do.

"I would very much like the opportunity to address other people of faith, in hopes of teaching them what it means to be Muslim and why they have no reason to oppose Islam as a religion.

"It is my obligation to make clear our belief and take away people's ignorance. I do not wish that anyone be misinformed, because it is the lack of knowledge which brings about a lack of understanding.

"Allah made us nations and tribes that we may know one another. No one can create good relations until they let go of their xenophobia and prejudice. If we live according to God's law on Earth, then we would come to see the corruption of religion disappear!

"Man was created for no other purpose except to worship God!"

We are both growing in understanding our faith to believe in a universal transcendent Creator God.

My Muslim friend, Alvin, welcomes honest dialogue. You, too, may be blessed in greater knowledge to know him and yourself. I believe everybody's mind is like a parachute. Minds work best when open. God at work in a man's heart for a trusting relationship with his people of all creeds, classes and colors is priceless.

Phillip Monfort

Waitsburg

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