Email letters, Dec. 31, 2012

Moving our culture forward requires critical thinking

I have to wonder…. Since folks were certain that the president was wholly responsible when gas prices were pushing $4 a gallon, will they likewise offer him kudos now that a gallon is nearing $2.90? I doubt it very much.

But either way, this is but one example in which early and regular application of critical thinking would be useful. Clear-headed, honest appraisals of the facts regarding any of the difficult issues we face might help us tame our incessantly reactive minds, our dysfunctional emotional states and their external expressions.

Who knows? Rather than remaining mired in useless, polarized bickering, we might even be able to reach consensus and, in so doing, move our culture forward in an adaptive manner for the benefit of all.


It’s noteworthy that many Grand Junction businesses shut their doors in 2012

May I suggest that you consider doing an article, or maybe a series, about all the businesses in Grand Junction that have closed during 2012?

Today I noticed that the Ace Hardware on the Redlands is closed and gone. And recently we have Gene Taylor’s, Hi-Fashion Fabric, Powerhouse Gym, Cinnamon Grill and many more restaurants, just to name a few.

And this during a supposed recovery, and before Obamacare and other business-killing tax increases scheduled for the New Year.

Grand Junction

All U.S. citizens must shoulder debt burden

The constant partisan bickering about the impending “fiscal cliff” has prompted me to share a few personal thoughts and observations. This latest of many childish tirades illustrates a much bigger problem that permeates our nation’s capital. We have leaders from both parties who are unwilling or unable to see the inherent failings in their own ideology; however, these same people are all too quick to point out the weaknesses in the other side’s point of view. True compromise is absent from the thoughts of our elected officials.

A question not often asked during the latest wrangling over the fiscal cliff is: “What will our annual deficit spending look like if we actually go over the cliff?” Many economists have stated that the deficit will be in the neighborhood of $500 billion—at least for calendar year 2013.

In 2014, when Obamacare really takes effect, the average deficit increase—using the Obama team’s own numbers—will add approximately $200 billion more to the existing $500 billion annual deficit.

Another salient point to ponder is that if a compromise is reached and the cliff avoided, then we will have fewer spending cuts and less tax revenue streaming in. This means that our annual deficit will be larger than previously mentioned.

It’s readily apparent that going over the fiscal cliff won’t solve our long-term budget woes. The cliff may be a necessary first step, but much more will have to be done, and this will take huge changes in partisan thinking. President Obama’s call for the rich to pay “their fair share” of taxes at a rate of 39 or 40 percent is simply inadequate to meet the needs of our debt-ridden country. The Republicans’ call for closing tax loopholes or simplifying the tax code is even more out of touch for generating needed revenue. Both parties are equally unrealistic with their ideas for funding entitlement programs and national defense.

Wealthier Americans need to pay more than “their fair share” of the tax burden, but the rest of us will need to pay more, as well. It’s time to quit looking for scapegoats and realize that all of us need to contribute substantially more than we do at the present time. This, however difficult for both parties to come to terms with, is only part of the solution.

It is fiscally impossible for us to continue entitlement spending as we have done in the past. More people are participating in entitlement programs than ever before, and there is insufficient revenue to continue funding them in their present form. Deficit spending has allowed us to avoid dealing with a major problem that isn’t going away. It’s only going to get worse. The same thinking must also apply to defense spending. Huge cuts are necessary and inevitable. Who knows? These cuts may lead to better decision-making when we are contemplating immersing ourselves into another country’s affairs.

Solving our debt problem won’t be easy. Everyone will have to bear an increased burden in one or more ways. Yes, it’s true, raising taxes and cutting spending will have a profound impact on each of us and on the economy as a whole. However, continuing on a course of unchecked deficit spending is not only unsustainable but also very dangerous. What happens when there is no more money to borrow? It’s time for Washington’s finest to show us that they truly are the leaders of our great nation and not just a bunch of partisan lackeys.

Grand Junction

Blame a subset of gun culture, culture of violence, for horrors

After the horror of the mass shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere, we hear a lot of references to the “gun culture.” It is important to understand that the gun culture is not homogeneous. There is the shooting sports culture, the personal protection culture and the violence culture.

You will not see those involved in the shooting sports in the headlines having mowed down their neighbors. It is families involved in hunting and target shooting with an overriding emphasis on safety. Rifles, shotguns, handguns and, yes, even semi-automatic rifles with high capacity magazines may be the tools of the sport.

Many reasonable people are also interested in personal protection. Owning a firearm and having it available to fend off those intent on doing us harm is a reasonable response in today’s world. Safe storage and handling is key, and the same firearms used in the shooting sports may be used.

The problem lies with the violence culture, which sees violence as a solution to problems or a way to achieve some sort of power. The same firearms used legitimately by others become tools of terror in the hands of someone intent on violence.

We, as a society, must then find a way to address this culture of violence. Whether it is increased emphasis on mental health programs or a serious look at the entertainment industry, we must find a way to change this culture. We can begin by maintaining the innocence of our youth, while teaching them responsible firearms use. We must not teach them that firearms are not a way to take out our aggression.


Grand Junction

Disarming law-abiding citizens incorrect way to stop violence

The Sandy Hook massacre rightfully impassioned us. It’s hard to believe what happened. The question is how can we stop it.

Believers in restricting the right to defend oneself think disarming all people will protect us. What about human ingenuity? The most destructive school massacre in U.S. history occurred without a shot.

Rationally, the right of individual self-defense is unquestionable and individual ability to destroy, plain. Nevertheless, trust in state protection manifested with unfathomable destruction throughout the 20th century in macabre scenes making recent horrors trivial.

Murderous rampaging in gun-controlled Mexico continues every day to the tune of 50,000+ dead. Genocide suffered in Guatemala and the murders of Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Hitler and the Ottomans, amongst many others, led to more than 250,000,000 people being murdered in the 20th century by believers in government protection. Piers Morgan types who childishly advocate for a state monopoly on weaponry allowed it.

Enough of us must have the sense to value the relative freedom from violence our culture has enjoyed due to individual arms. Self-defense is natural and not given by the Constitution, only recognized. It is fundamental to life itself. It has been reaffirmed by the greatest leaders of our time, from the Founding Fathers to Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Society cannot be free without an armed citizenry, so how then can we stop violence? We must take self-defense seriously, making sure that we are armed and able to quickly respond to deadly violence with force. The principal from Sandy Hook should have shot back. What if she and other teachers were concealing firepower? Likely, several armed staff, or perhaps even one, could have stopped the perpetrator before 26 people died.

Hardliner believers in the nanny state use deception to steer us toward a completely illusory solution: victim disarmament. Lawrence O’Donnell said that “the NRA has made sure that mass murderers in America are the best equipped in the world.” This statement misdirects from the fact that while the rest of the world has suffered through massacres of the unarmed numbered in the millions, we have not. We must not submit to disarmament.


Rich pay fair share, but federal spending out of control

The class warfare mongers on the left would have you believe that the top 2 percent pay no taxes whatsoever. According to the Tax Foundation and Daniel Horowitz in Red State, in 2010 the 1 percenters, with the full force of the Bush tax cuts, and including all the so-called loopholes and deductions, paid 37.4 percent of federal income taxes, even though they only earned 18.9 percent of the gross adjusted income in the country. The top 5 percent paid 59.1 percent of income taxes, and the top 10 percent—those earning more than $116,000—paid 70.6 percent, yet earned 43.1 percent of AGI.

Do they want blood from these people? We’re talking about job providers and people who donate to charity big-time.

The problem is federal spending, as well as outdated fed departments and programs that we don’t need, not to mention the Affordable Care Act (using the term loosely, of course). We’re seeing businesses lay off workers, cut hours or completely close down due to the financial burden of this monstrosity.

Don’t even get me started on the implications of “Obamacare’s” trampling of a business’s religious beliefs in its operations.

Grand Junction

President should ax wages, benefits of legislators

It is my opinion that the surest solution to force our legislators to perform their sworn duty in the question of passing the necessary bills to ensure the fiscal viability for our nation is simply this:

Encourage the president to pass an executive measure to withhold all wages, benefits, and access to health care for every single member of the United States House of Representatives and Senate until such time as the bills are formulated, discussed, debated and passed.

Can someone please start that petition to the White House?

Thank you.


Legislators must protect average families, seniors

I’m an advocate for seniors here in the 3rd Congressional District, serving as a member of both the Colorado Commission on Aging and the Colorado Senior Lobby.
We are just hours away from going over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which would result in a series of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes on all Americans.

If Congress doesn’t act to avoid large cuts to non-defense discretionary spending, seniors will feel the effects almost immediately due to fewer food subsidies and home-delivered meals, reduced transportation assistance and major reductions in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program. Additionally, a typical Colorado family will see its taxes raised by more than $2,000 if Congress is unable to act fast and approve the Middle Class Tax Cut Act.

This bill, which passed in the Senate in July, protects the middle class by extending the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of us. It asks the wealthiest 2 percent to pay a little more, which will help to protect programs for our most-vulnerable populations, such as low income and older seniors.

Please join me in asking Rep. Tipton to vote for the majority of Coloradans by helping to resolve the fiscal cliff in a manner that protects average families and our seniors.


Grand Junction

Don’t miss beauty of ‘Quad’ race up, down Mt. Taylor in New Mexico

For the past five winters, I have participated in an amazing multi-sport race called the Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon (Quad), and I am looking forward to racing on a three-person team in February. I was surprised to learn from several long-time Quad racers that participation has declined this millennium. I believe many multisport athletes would love this race but just do not know about it.

During the Quad, individuals or teams race up Mt. Taylor by way of bike, running shoes, cross country skis and snowshoes, and then back down again by the same four sports. The Quad occurs every February in Grants, New Mexico, just one hour west of Albuquerque and three hours east of Flagstaff on Interstate 40. With almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain and a total distance of 43 miles, completing the Quadrathalon is a great accomplishment.

The night before the race, participants leave their gear at the firehouse, labeled and color-coded with their race number and separated into piles, to be dropped off at the bike/run transition or run/ski transition. Racers must carry their snowshoes with them on the ski portion of the race.

Packing the right gear for multiple sports, clothes and food and water for cooler snowier conditions at the top of the mountain requires a lot of planning, but this is part of why the Quad is unique. Luckily the Quad is also blessed with incredibly friendly and helpful volunteers who (among many other things) shuttle gear and team racers up and down Mt. Taylor and also keep the gear organized at the transitions so it can be easily found.

The journey from town to snowy mountaintop includes a rewarding view of the desert far below and reminds you just how far you’ve raced. The uphill first half of the race is difficult, but it is broken up by the transitions between sports and the varying terrain. Gravity speeds your descent, making the second half of the race a very gratifying (and fast) experience.

I look forward to the Quad all year long because it is such a challenging, entertaining and satisfying race with wonderful volunteers and beautiful scenery. If you’re interested in signing up, the Quad will be on Feb. 16, 2013. Its website can be found at


Albuquerque, NM


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Mr. Rininger: before blaming Obamacare, I suggest you consider which of these businesses you mentioned have large corporate competitors.  Most of them, I think.  Perhaps you should instead be blaming the Chamber for attracting big-box stores, chain restaurants, and other “too big to fail” businesses.

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