Letters to the Editor - Jan. 27

January 27, 2013

Unions are not to blame for economic problems

To the editor:

Some blame unions for what’s wrong with America’s economy. The facts don’t support this. American workers are the backbone of our economy, and they work best when they have the freedom to unionize. Unions are good for America.

Our economy remains the strongest in the world, even though we are still climbing out of the Great Recession of 2008. This was the worst recession in 80 years. American workers did not cause the recession. The big banks and mortgage companies did. Many American workers lost their jobs because of the corporate greed that nearly destroyed our economy. Nevertheless, American workers bailed out the big corporations, and American workers are leading our recovery.

Evidence regarding the overall economic impact of unions is mixed. On one hand, unemployment is generally higher in states that have higher union membership, but not by much, and not consistently state by state. On the other hand, union jobs pay more than nonunion jobs, and those extra earnings go back into the economy. Additionally, union membership is low in the deep South, and the standard of living there is low as well. Finally, as union membership has declined since 1980, so has the economy. Overall, I don’t see that union membership has a significant impact on the economy.

The bigger issue is freedom. Our country was founded on freedom. Our freedom is our strength. American workers should be free to join with other workers in negotiating with employers. A work force that feels that it has some say in the workplace will be a better work force, and employees and employers will benefit together. That’s the power of freedom, and we should embrace it. Nevertheless, freedom requires responsible behavior. Unions should not be allowed to limit employees’ freedom by requiring membership. Nor should they hurt others’ freedom by promoting violence or by threatening crucial services.

We are not China or Russia. We are the United States of America. Freedom, including the freedom for workers to unionize responsibly, is what made us strong, and will keep us strong.

Bill Limpert

With mass shootings, when will enough be enough?

To the editor:

After the shootings in Newtown, Conn., politicians and others are saying with outrage, “Enough is enough!”

Columbine was not enough. Virginia Tech was not enough. Aurora was not enough. The yearly shooting of thousands of Americans is not enough. There is still widespread opposition to reasonable, additional gun-control measures. Membership in the NRA has increased. Orders for semi-automatic, assault style rifles have escalated. Ammunition is sold before it can reach retailers. High-capacity clips are on back order.

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state ...” meant keeping flintlock rifles and pistols. Today, such a militia would have to have automatic assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, flame throwers, etc. The NRA will not be happy until that happens.

So what would be “enough?” If someone shot all the babies in a nursery, would that be enough? I doubt it. Our populace is saturated with firearms and the bad guys will not obey any law. Of the thousands who are shot yearly, is there someone with mental illness at each trigger? If so, we are going to need more institutions to house and feed them.

Vance L. Creech

Privatization of Pa. lottery disrespectful of residents

To the editor:

As the House Democratic Policy Committee chairman for the past four years, I recognize the crucial role public hearings play in vetting an issue. Hearings are essential for analyzing issues and for educating people on the potential impact of policy changes. That is why I question the Corbett administration’s disregard for this useful tool in his “investigation” of selling our state’s lottery to a foreign company.

It would’ve been prudent for Gov. Corbett, before considering a bid, to first determine if the state lottery ought to be sold. Judging by the slow trickle of limited information released by his office, it seems the investigation he began last spring was far from exhaustive.

The governor disrespected the General Assembly as well as Pennsylvania residents when his administration announced an agreement had been reached with British-owned Camelot LLC just three days before a scheduled public hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Judging by the standing-room-only attendance at this three-hour hearing, there seems to be massive interest in this issue on the part of the public.

The lottery is a profitable asset. Owned and operated by the people of Pennsylvania, the lottery grew a record 8.5 percent last year, driving net profit up by more than $100 million. Every cent in profit goes to programs benefiting our seniors, and we owe it to them to ensure that their funding won’t be sacrificed as a result of privatization.

Camelot’s $34 billion offer only promises a growth rate of about 3 percent to 4 percent annually over the next 10 years. We’re achieving that already without privatization, and all of the profits go to Pennsylvanians — not to CEO salaries or stockholders.

The only real potential for increased revenue from this “deal” comes from the governor’s promise to allow Camelot to expand gaming, something the state can do without giving control to a foreign corporation.

Regardless of Gov. Corbett’s true motivation, to the citizens of Pennsylvania this looks like one more generous handout to big business.

Nicole Reigelman, chairman
Pa. House Democratic Policy Committee

Americans have right to civil defense weapons

To the editor:

I have a little more information about the term “assault weapon.” There is such a thing. They are used by armies to fight wars. These weapons are fully automatic rifles. A semi-automatic rifle would more accurately be called a civil defense weapon. No one in any branch of the U.S. military would feel comfortable going to war with anything less than a fully automatic weapon.

Assault (fully automatic) weapons are available to U.S. citizens, but only by going through a long process that involves filling out ATF Form 4, being fingerprinted and paying a $200 fee to the government. Not many are willing to go through this process to get a real assault weapon. That’s why there are not that many of them around.

Those who want to eventually take all guns away from everyone want to start by banning civil defense weapons. They think it will be easier to do that if they call them assault weapons. They might be right, but we need to think long and hard before we let them take away our right to own a civil defense weapon by calling it something else.

If you read history, you will remember that according to Japanese generals after the second world war, the Japanese decided not to try to invade the west coast of this country because they knew that many Americans owned guns. It’s not likely we will be in a position again anytime soon where we need to defend this country from an outside invader, but I would rather be safe than sorry if it should ever happen. Let’s keep our civil defense weapons just in case. It’s better to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them.

James Dupont
Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Old bulls on Capitol Hill need to wake up

To the editor:

Ignorant old bulls on Capitol Hill attacked Secretary of State Clinton in public hearings. They exposed themselves. She defended herself spiritedly.

I suppose it is too much to pray that the old bulls’ brainwashed constituents will wake up and oust their so-called friends, but acutal enemies, from public office.

Harold D. Craig Jr.
Emmitsburg, Md.

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