Letters To The Editor 10/02/2018

October 2, 2018

Return to sanity

Editor: It feels like we live in a twilight zone, caught between “Animal Farm” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” If it weren’t so tragic it would be comedic.

Recently released books about the current crisis in the White House, the alleged taping of conversations and so forth, should not cause such a huge uproar. We’ve heard similar things for some time. What is terrifying is watching our democracy simply disintegrate. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and right now Congress seems to be hugging the trunk.

Their behavior signifies their approval simply through inaction. Some complain that the president’s advisers should step up to the plate. Why bother? Their advice is ignored or they are fired. The president will do as he pleases, Congress and country be damned.

It’s not just about the serious issues, but by not publicly denouncing his bullying, bragging, personal attacks, outright lying and constant reversals of decisions, Congress essentially approves of and endorse this behavior.

People may have wanted change, but at what cost? We have lost sight of the very basis of democracy. It is OK to seek change but do it through the democratic process.

The presidency should represent not only policy but morals, respect, admiration for where this country has been and where it wants to go and to provide a guiding light for others in the world still seeking peace. How do we deal with the dichotomy of the ideals of the office versus the attitude that currently resides there? Do we tell our children and grandchildren some version of “once upon a time” or do we unite in an effort to restore the United States to its hard-earned place of distinction in this world and put our government back on the road to sanity?




Symptom of problem

Editor: Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District typifies what’s wrong in America.

Two millionaires will go at it to represent the folks in this part of Pennsylvania. The incumbent is worth somewhere around $4 million. The challenger is worth somewhere close to $24 million, although it could be between $14 million and $80 million. That doesn’t matter so much as the fact that they are both very wealthy and that’s pretty much true of candidates all around the country.

The only people who have any chance of winning in the political sweepstakes of the elections for Congress are wealthy. If you’re not wealthy or don’t have a very wealthy backer, you are going to get pushed aside in the primaries. Do you think that was the plan by the founders of our country? Were the Founding Fathers all sure they wanted only very wealthy people to lead our country? I don’t think we would be any worse off if only paupers were allowed to run the country.

If that was the case, at least we might not have nearly as much graft. That’s because poor people don’t have the connections that rich people have in order to play so fast and loose with other people’s money.

So, the best way to eliminate the problem would be to get dark money out of politics. Put a ceiling back on donations and election spending. But since that has been ruled unconstitutional, we need to make it constitutional. That, in turn, could interfere with the right to free speech.

Speech is money. The more money you have the more speech you get. That’s why only rich people can win federal elections. In Pennsylvania’s 8th District race, it’s between a Pennsylvanian and a resident of New Jersey and the guy from Jersey is richer.




Least of brothers

Editor: Last October, the World Bank began including high-income countries in its global estimates of people living in poverty.

Comparisons of people living in poverty in rich and poor countries, like the United State and India, have become much easier. World Bank data reveal that 769 million people live on less than $1.90 per day and they are the world’s poorest. Our dirty little secret is that 3.2 million of them live in the United States.

According to Angus Deaton, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2015, we need to recognize there are necessities of life in rich, cold, urban and individualistic countries that are less needed in poor, warm and agricultural areas. It has been estimated needs-based absolute poverty lines for cold, rich countries to match the $1.90 for warm, poor countries is about $4 per day. Using the $4 number, there are not 3.2 million people in absolute poverty in the United States, but 5.3 million. The cost and difficulty of housing makes life miserable for many Americans.

Most people believe we have an obligation to care for the truly destitute. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has written that “those in power are morally obligated to preference the needs of the poor.”

Perhaps President Trump’s evangelical soldiers could coax him to do the right thing and comfort the afflicted as he already comforts the comfortable. But one of his stalwart supporters, Jerry Falwell Jr., tweeted last fall to counter the notion that Christians should factor concern for the poor into their political decisions.

Ezekiel, the ancient prophet, would not think much of Falwell’s tweet.

In the 16th chapter of his book, he complained of people from Sodom who were “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned” for the poor.





Death penalty foe

Editor: Several years ago in the throes of accepting DNA evidence into our court systems, Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, proved through DNA evidence that 13 of 26 death row inmates in Illinois were innocent.

Afterward, then-Gov. George Ryan instituted a moratorium on the death penalty.

We now see legislative consideration of possible reinstitution of the death penalty in Pennsylvania, in reaction to Gov. Tom Wolf’s moratorium. In what way is the legal system superior in Pennsylvania to that of Illinois? Let us be not only humane but human in the application of such consideration.

In the words of Victor Hugo, “It is man’s place to give life, not to take it.”



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