News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 13, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: Jan. 13, 2013


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Sarcastic idea has some value

I am responding to the letter published in the Jan. 10 edition of the Tribune-Star from Shirley Thomas.

Let me start out by saying what a great idea about having gun owners volunteer to patrol our local schools. I am retired and I would gladly volunteer a couple of days a week to protect my grandchildren and their classmates from a lunatic with mental problems. Even though Ms. Thomas is being sarcastic, her suggestion is one solution to the problem and I am sure there would be a lot of  gun owners that would volunteer to keep our schools safe. They would be required to go through special training before being assigned to schools.

I hate to inform Ms. Thomas of the fact that a shooter in any mass shooting situation only stops his killing when another person with a gun shows up to stop them. Unfortunately by the time the local police show up it is too late, the murderer has already slaughtered several innocent people. The principle at Sandy Hook lunged at the shooter and was instantly killed by the shooter. If she would have been armed their would have been 25 children and adults alive today.

There is no gun law on the books or being proposed that could have prevented this shooting or any other similar situation. If you want to place blame, start with the decline of our great nation led by the so-called progressives. Taking God out of our schools, doing away with mental institutes for treatment of the mentally ill and the onslaught of political correctness to name just a few.

In closing, I must correct Ms. Thomas on her misinformation on so-called loopholes at gun shows. There are none. If you purchase a firearm at a gun show you go through the same background check as you would if you made the purchase a your local gun store. She also refers to Internet purchases.  

All purchases of firearms over the Internet are shipped to a federally licensed dealer and a background check is completed before the firearm is transferred to the purchaser.

The only major illegal firearms transaction was perpetrated by the Obama Administration’s Justice Department’s Fast and Furious scandal that the left and their cohorts in the mainstream media continue to ignore.

When they get ready to put armed citizen volunteers in the schools, sign me up.

— Richard Hoffman


It’s time to lasso those sacred cows

My lone New Year’s resolution has already been fulfilled by virtue of having disposed of a certain pair of blended-fabric stockings, an act that, sadly and grotesquely, was long overdue. Anyone who has ever been kind enough to show concern for my well-being should be pleased to learn of this feeble accomplishment, if only because aforementioned feat required a certain degree of emotional detachment I am unaccustomed to achieving. And now, I hear that politicians in Washington, D.C., have moved a half a click off of long-held positions of intransigence.

First comes a new plateau amid the wonders of modern housekeeping. Then, at the very edge of the “fiscal cliff,” Congress brakes abruptly and spins sideways, thus finally managing to avoid going all Thelma and Louise on us. We have surprised ourselves! It is a bright new world indeed.

Thus far, only half of the great debt compromise has been lassoed; the remainder is dangling by a thread. Liberals and conservatives alike gave up some long-held ground on issues of taxation. Now comes the hard part. Where to cut spending and by how much? Which strings to trim? What ballast to shed?

It is said that Social Security is the third rail of politics. There is a second third rail in politics. There are other third rails as well. These supplementary third rails are never discussed because everyone is afraid to even approach them.

The second third rail of politics is a package of entitlements lumped loosely together under a banner known as “The Farm Bill.” The Farm Bill is untouchable as a black hole. Even mere thoughts of curtailing or trimming its benefits are immediately sucked in by the sheer gravity of its immense political mass never to be envisioned again.

I forgot what I was saying. My thoughts escape me.

You see!?! The black hole got them.

The difference between those recurring expenditures that have been labeled as entitlements and those that have not been so labeled is largely a matter of a more effective marketing campaign by conservatives (especially the wealthy). That needs to change.

And there are other entitlements deemed to be equally too dangerous to approach.  Perhaps the most lethal of these is tax abatements and other subsidies to business. In free markets, there would be no tax abatements. Abatements provide unfair advantages to one company over another, to the consternation of competition and the detriment of other taxpayers. It is a system of briberies and imbalances and a burden to consumers.

Abatements and their ilk? Snip. Snip.

Also, phase out depreciations.

Then scuttle offshore tax havens.

Although we are taught not to think of these things as entitlements, they fit the description. They are specters of entitlement as tangible as any though no less politically charged than other “third rails.”

So, let us take this once in a lifetime opportunity to look beyond decimating Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment benefits or diluting the authority of the EPA, diminishing the power of the IRS or whitewashing OSHA and the FDA to see where else we might make spending cuts, expedite efficiencies or find more savings to help balance the budget.

Let us hope the compromising has begun. Right now, at first. Congress seems to be proceeding by baby steps. That is no reason not to celebrate. Once they get their feet under them and begin toddling about in earnest, we shall find ourselves scrambling to put locks on all the cupboards and to secure the crayons, boot polish and school funding in high places beyond their reach.

We didn’t get into this fiscal mess overnight, and it is going to take awhile to work our way back out of it. On the ledges before us are spread fine instruments from which to choose. We can make whatever changes we so desire. We can start with the socks and work our way up.

Whether spotted or monochrome, sacred cows beware. Cometh now the knifeman.  May his blades be twofold and overlapping, dispassionate and compromising, and in his cuts may goodwill and reason prevail.

— Clay Wilkinson

Terre Haute

Upsetting thefts from grave site

I write this letter because we as a family want to expose a crime. Only the perpetrators know who they are.

When my brother died, his first Christmas that he was gone my mom got out her trusty glue gun and made a special wreath for his grave gluing special things all over it. Every year (for 14 years) she and my dad trudged through the snow, digging through the frozen ground placing the wreath that she had made on his grave and always lighting a candle on Christmas Eve for him. They never missed a year.

She also had purchased a little silver cherub angel and placed it on his stone. After Christmas they would go back, and remove the items to save for the next year. You see my brother’s death was way too soon. He had just turned 40. My parents are the ones who found him in his home, so the death of their son was something they never got over and haunted their daily lives. He was her baby; the youngest in our family.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer and went through radiation treatments for 10 years. Still, as sick as she was, just like clockwork, she and my dad continued to go and place the wreath and the special angel on my brother’s grave.

My mom passed away last November, so as she had done for so many years, I, my dad and husband went to the grave site at a Terre Haute cemetery and placed the items on my brother’s grave as she did for so many years.

This year, my husband decided as a special gift to her, that we would buy two solar lights that looked like stars and place them on both graves instead of lighting a candle. My mom loved Christmas and all that went with it … decorations, family time and all the pretty lights. So we thought the two little solar lights placed on the graves she would have approved of. We put them on the graves about a week before Christmas so they would be there and lit for Christmas Eve.

We later went back right before Christmas to see the lights, and they were gone. The lights were stolen right off the graves. Heartsick, we went back to the store and purchased two more and placed them on the graves on Christmas Eve, hoping they would be there for that evening, as my mom had always wanted. Surely the perpetrators would not return. We went back this past Saturday after Christmas and took my dad. The lights were gone again, along this time with the cherub angel my mom had placed on my brother’s grave for 14 years.

I just want to say that I know we live in a different world now. People have no respect for anyone else, or anyone else's things. To steal from a grave is absolutely the worst. It was not about the money we spent. It was about knowing that someone else took it upon themselves to come and steal from a grave, graves of family members who are still fresh in the minds of all of us.

The lights were a gift to my mom, a new tradition for her and my brother. A light to be placed on my brother’s grave because that is what my mom did every year. Gone. Gone because someone decided that their reason for wanting the lights was more important than our reason.

So, I will say this to the person who took the lights and angel, I hope you look at those lights when they come on and think to yourself that those lights shine for my family and not for you. That the angel you took from my brother’s grave will never give you the peace it gave my mom when she placed it on his grave, as she grieved for her son.

I could wish ill will for you and at first I did. However, my husband reminded me that as upset as we all were, it was not our place to wish ill for you, but rest assured God will surely judge you for this action.

— Debra Graham

Daughter of Betty Joy and sister of Randy Joy


Gang rape exposes India’s problems

Tribune-Star readers must have read about the brutal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi on Dec.16. Since then numerous other cases of rapes and attempted rape have been reported. Several members of Indian Parliament and state legislatures have been implicated for molesting women and even minors.

All this casts a cold light on how badly India treats its women. These reprehensible crimes reflect an alarming trend in India, which basks in its success as a growing business and technological Mecca but tolerates shocking abuse of women.

Rape cases have increased at an alarming rate, roughly 25 percent in six years. New Delhi recorded 572 rapes in 2011; that total is up 17 percent this year. And those are just the reported cases. Many victims, shamed into silence and callously disregarded by a male-dominated power structure, never go to the authorities to seek justice.

Women are routinely blamed for inciting the violence against them. Recently, an 18-year-old girl from Punjab who had been gang-raped in an earlier incident killed herself after police and village elders pressured her to drop the case.

India’s news media now regularly carry horrific accounts of gang rapes, and this has begun to focus national attention on the problem. But the rape of the 23-year-old woman seemed to take the outrage to a new level, prompting tens of thousands to protest in New Delhi and elsewhere across the country. Still, political leaders were slow to react. It was days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared on television to plead for calm and to promise to make India safer for women.

Since the attack, six suspects have been arrested and the government has announced the formation of two commissions, one to identify police “lapses” and another to recommend ways to speed up sexual assault trials. Reforms are needed in the law enforcement system to make convictions more possible and punishments more convincing.

More broadly, India must work on changing a culture in which women are routinely devalued. Many are betrothed against their will as child brides, and many suffer cruelly, including acid attacks and burning, at the hands of husbands and family members.

India’s sex ratio has been disturbed due to aborting the female pregnancies for decades. There is a serious shortage of young women in that country.

India is a rising economic power and the world’s largest democracy. She can never reach its full potential if nearly half its population lives in fear of unspeakable violence.

— Khwaja A. Hasan

Formerly of Terre Haute

Wadsworth, Ill.