Readers comments 12.22.12

Definition of insanity

Dear Editor:

Regarding the latest in an extremely long list of shootings in this country, I would like to make some observations:  we glamorize war and invade countries that didn’t attack us; we promote further violence by having a death penalty; we have 2-and-a-half times the per-capita gun ownership of any other country in the world (and 2-and-a-half times the murder rate); it’s harder to register to vote than it is to get a gun permit in many states; we have an entire political party which voted unanimously against a ban on assault rifles and we promote (sometimes through religious groups) fear and hatred against Islam, undocumented aliens, African-Americans and gays (and others). Why are we surprised when horrifying incidents such as the shootings in Connecticut take place? 

To say we need to reevaluate our gun control laws is a gross understatement.

One of the arguments for more guns that I have heard is “If the teachers had been armed, there wouldn’t have been as many kids killed.” 

My question is this: Do we really want our children and grandchildren attending schools where the teachers carry guns?  It’s not a case of violating someone’s Second Amendment rights. It’s a case of what is going to make our nation (especially our children) safer and more secure.

The definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” What we are doing is not working; let’s drop our political partisanship and look at the facts.  The answer is not more guns; the answer is more complicated. Critical thinking about this issue is paramount.

It’s time for change and a re-evaluation of our priorities as a nation. To paraphrase a popular saying, I don’t want someone prying the weapon from my grandchildren’s cold, dead fingers.

Dan Kennan



Gun violence in America

Dear Editor:

Another mass killing of innocents—one of many this year, when nearly 10,000 Americans died by gun violence. It’s common event in our country where semiautomatic weapons are owned by more and more citizens, the same kind that were used in Connecticut. 

Yes, we need to stop glorifying violence in our media and provide access to mental health services, but the ready availability of lethal weapons fuels deadly consequences when anger or illness overwhelms reason. 

It has happened this year in Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan and now in Newtown, Connecticut, a town about the size of Claremont.

History tells us the gun lobby has dominated the policy debate with their passion, dollars and lobbyists, so the numbers of semiautomatic weapons and mass killings are likely to continue. Other civilized countries are incredulous, but America has 90 weapons for every 100 citizens and reformers have regularly been outmaneuvered by the gun lobby. 

Despite nearly two-thirds of citizens supporting bans on assault weapons, the fact is the gun lobby wants the right to mass murder weapons more than the majority of ordinary citizens want to end the killings. Since we have not demanded the 2004 renewal of the Brady Bill, to outlaw more assault weapons and large clips for ammunition, we all have blood on our hands and share responsibility for the deaths of these 20 innocent children.

We owe these children and families more than just our sympathy. We owe them action to curb the free flow of mass killing weaponry. Will you ask your congress member or senator to renew the Brady Bill?

History says you’ll let the NRA dictate the answers. Do they speak for you?

Mel Boynton



Slashing what helps

Dear Editor:

Robert Ferguson grouses that we are living in what he calls “an entitlement state.” He would prefer the good old times when “it was necessary for individuals to plan for and cope with tough times and take responsibility for their own lives.”

He is right that we have moved away from the old times that he loves so much and have created a modest but not great “entitlement state.” What he is wrong about is complaining about that change in American life. Instead, he and we should be proud that this country has taken important steps toward a better quality of life for very very many of us. It is a huge variety of “entitlement programs” that have accomplished that.

Mr. Ferguson seems to love the times when, for example, chalk would be added to milk to improve the appearance without regard to the nutritional consequences; when quite young children were sent out to work in order to keep their family afloat; and when, if you couldn’t save enough from hard work with meager wages, you had to struggle with lack of food, housing and medical care in your old age. And on and on.

We should all be very thankful that the United States has moved some distance away from those times that Mr. Ferguson  grows nostalgic for.

The aim of the welfare state is two-fold: to provide a safety net for those who, for whatever reason, typically something not or not fully their fault, are having a difficult time of it (food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc) and, secondly, to provide the wherewithal for everyone to have a richer and more full life (public education, etc).

Mr. Ferguson (and letter writers Scott Grannis and Bruce Spena) do not want income taxes to go up on those who have more in order to pay for an improved life for those who have less.

But they leap from there to claiming that what must be done is to cut those programs that have improved the quality of American life for most of the population (“cut entitlements.)”

It never crosses their minds to think of other cuts that could and should be made (our military budget) and, especially, they never think of what would be the most effective means of improving our revenues and preserving the huge successes of our welfare state: putting people to work through the government creation of jobs. 

No, their sole thought is to slash the programs that the less well off depend on and the programs (even Big Bird) that make life better for the 99 percent of us.

Merrill Ring



City finances

Dear Editor:

I am concerned about the quote attributed to city of Claremont Finance Director Adam Pirrie regarding selection of a new bank for city funds, “Pricing (bank fees and charges), while important, will not be the primary factor in identifying the successful bidder.”

I am troubled by the idea that charges a bank levies for services is not one of the primary factors being taken into consideration. Yes, entrusting city funds to a bank that has exhibited socially responsible behaviors is a factor that should enter deliberation, but it seems irresponsible to pay less attention to expenses levied by that bank.

Mr. Pirrie states, “The bank with the highest overall rating [California Reinvestment Act ranking] will be recommended to the council for approval of contract.” I think it is safe to assume these rankings are based on various actions of which citizens of Claremont may, or may not, be supportive, but over which they will have no oversight or control.

Although Claremont tax dollars, in the form of bank fees and charges, will be involuntarily utilized regardless of which bank is chosen, it seems that the pricing of those fees and charges should remain a major consideration.

The more money we keep available to the city, the more oversight and control we have about how we want that money to be utilized.

John Roseman



Local olives

Dear Editor:

I read with interest the article titled “The Gift of Bounty: Scripps hosts college’s first olive harvest” in the COURIER’s Holiday Magazine.

For many years living in Claremont, I enjoyed going around to neighbors’ olive trees, and trading with them for a bucket of olives and, in exchange, giving them a quart of eating olives processed Graber-style.

Then, a few years ago came the insect infestation, still prevalent today, whereby every local olive tree is infected by a moth which lays eggs on the olive and in each olive are born many little worms. If you look closely at a local olive you’ll note tiny spots and, if you cut into a spot, will find a worm.

Now, Graber can only use olives from their orchards in northern California, where the infestation has not yet reached. I now have to buy from Graber any olives I wish to process for eating. I do miss the local olive largess. Or, have you found it possible to press the local olives, worms and all?

John Suchocki



Secret Santa revealed

Dear Editor:

On behalf of our organization, I wish to thank the volunteers and donors that made this year’s Secret Santa event a success. We played Santa to 150 deserving children from more than 60 families at the Citizens Business Bank Arena.

These children from throughout our communities were thrilled to visit with Santa, who granted their wishes.

This was our tenth year of providing help to local families. Along with our crew of volunteers, more than 75 students from the Cal Poly Society of Accountants, the Circle K, the Honor College and Beta Alpha Psi wrapped more than 400 gifts to get ready for Santa’s arrival and served as elves on the night of the event.

Funding for this project comes from donations, our annual film festival and year-round activities.

You can help us help others by joining us Thursday, May 23, 2013 at the Laemmle Theatre for our fifth annual Claremont 5 Second Film Festival.

Thank you!

Vince Turner

Claremont Community College



Dear Editor:

We, Americans, constantly hear from the right wing of the Republican Party the refrain that we should go back to the good old days of personal responsibility and do away with so-called entitlements.

In the Preamble to the Constitution and in the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, the founders talked about providing for and promoting the general welfare of we the people. Since when is it an entitlement to provide for a guaranteed retirement pension for the elderly and retired? Fewer and fewer corporations include pensions as part of their benefit package, thus it is even more important today to insure all Americans that they have a safe and dependable retirement income.

Health is a right and not a privilege. Medicare provides for those over a certain age healthcare. Government exists to provide for the health and safety of all Americans, and yes, to provide and promote for the general welfare of all of the people.

This tough love, paternalistic view that no matter what the circumstances of a person’s fate it is up to their own devises to provide for themselves, ignores the reality of life where many among us are in a tough way not of our own doing. It was not long ago when banks, created the Great Recession, which put people out of work and in harms way. It is a fiction to believe that government is not necessary and that we can be totally responsible for taking care of ourselves. We live in communities and not on an island separated from the world. We are dependent on each other.

One is tempted to believe that those who espouse this Clint Eastwood, fictional world of Dirty Harry and personal responsibility are the same ones who don’t want to pay any taxes. The world of the rugged individual died with the Mountain Men of the 19th Century. For those who live with the assistance of Social Security we have earned what we receive.

Gar Byrum




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