Printed letters, December 28, 2012
We have finally heard recommendations from the NRA for ensuring that a massacre of school children never occurs again. Wayne LaPierre, voicing “horror, outrage and grief at this incomprehensible loss and unspeakable crime committed by an evil monster,” paid scant attention to what many people consider the basic issue, namely, guns.
He blamed video games, blood-soaked films and an entertainment industry catering to our collective blood lust. He was right to call attention to the lack of health services for mentally deranged and potentially dangerous individuals.
His main contribution, however, was that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” To that end, he urged that there be armed security personnel in our schools. The NRA will generously finance studies on how this can best be done.
At first sight this seems a solution to the problem. But on closer examination it fails on a number of counts. Two armed policeman were at Columbine, but they could not prevent the carnage.
And how are we to ensure that the proposed guards will be at the right place in a school when the next madman shows up? An estimate of the cost to provide security in the nation’s approximately 90,000 schools could reach $500 million annually. The NRA counts on many volunteers to reduce this cost, but that is problematic.
I have a better proposal: Impose a surcharge on the sale of every gun. The proceeds would fund mental health services for potentially dangerous people. Roughly 14 million guns are sold in this country each year, and a nominal $10 levy would bring in $140 million — a substantial sum. NRA management will oppose this, but its reasonable membership should endorse it.
Federal workers should not sacrifice more than others
There is a lot of talk about the need for a balanced approach and shared sacrifice when addressing our fiscal deficit. But it seems one group is being asked to sacrifice repeatedly: the federal workforce.
Through a lengthy pay freeze and higher pension contributions, federal employees are contributing $103 billion over 10 years to address these serious problems. Although federal employees have faced such cuts three times over the past two years, there is talk of returning to federal workers for still more contributions. That is the wrong path.
As president of Chapter 32 of the National Treasury Employees Union, I see the contributions of this workforce every day serving the public. My members serve the public throughout the state of Colorado as employees of the Internal Revenue Service, and they do so proudly as part of a union that represents more than 150,000 federal workers across the country.
These are middle-class working men and working women, who have committed their talents to the service of others. They were called on to do their share to deal with the nation’s economic situation, and they have done so.
They face rising costs of health care, food, gas and college tuition, just like other Americans. They should not be asked to do more without the shared sacrifice of all Americans.
Now is not the time to cut federal debt
Gary Harmon’s recent news article regarding info fed to him by Congressman Scott Tipton included this jewel: “We’re not having a serious discussion about paying down the debt, and we need to start doing that now,” Tipton said. “Debt is consuming the economic vitality of this country.”
Is Harmon’s job merely to pass on what he’s told, or is it to ask questions to explain assertions by the interviewee? How is the debt a current drain on our economy? In fact, it is adding to our economy and is far from a drain. It is one of the things keeping our economy afloat, albeit at an unacceptably weak level. Depression beckons, otherwise.
The classical theory is that when there is a need for more investment in the economy, deficits leading to debt by the government squeeze out funds that should be available for business expansion. Billions of investment funds are sitting idle on the sidelines — mainly in government securities — because there is no place to invest them because of poor consumer spending, primarily due to high consumer debt and job-related constraints. How do government deficits impact that?
We do have to reduce our government’s debt level and deficits. But right now is absolutely the wrong time. You reduce deficits and debt when government revenue is at high levels, not now, when the economy and government revenue are suffering.
So, is Rep. Tipton really that illiterate in economics, or is something else going on? His peers in Congress are using this “crisis” to try to water down Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Is that Tipton’s objective, or does he just not understand what he’s saying and the ramifications of it?