News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 27, 2013

READERS' FORUM: Jan. 27, 2013

The Tribune-Star

---- — Some pro-gun stances defy logic, reason

The absurd arguments from rabid gun proponents defy reason. The answer to gun violence is more people having more guns? The reason for mass shootings is mental instability? If more people have more guns, it is more likely that guns will be used when they are stressed to anger or despair. Today’s divisive society is stressful. Even supposedly normal people can lose it when their circumstances are controlled by others. Are not the shooters and mass murderers the invisible ones that have been suppressed, the ones that you never knew or suspected? More guns in more hands equal more mass shootings, more gun deaths.  

Assault weapons are for the mass killing of people, not hunting. The marksman hunter takes pride in the shot that takes the prey without its suffering. It is the soldier that needs assault weapons because his life depends on massive firepower to suppress the enemy threat. Where is the enemy threat from 6-year-olds? Where is the enemy threat from moviegoers? Is it citizens advocating constitutional rights that threaten us?

What domestic enemy does the private citizen need to overpower with 100-round assault rifles? Do you need to suppress the police? But no, you want police to guard our schools. Is it government? Our dysfunctional government can’t even speak coherently or act on anything, let alone mount a threat against its citizens. Perhaps we could resolve government gridlock by requiring Senators and Representatives to carry 100-round assault rifles. They have better health insurance.  

If it is not government or citizens or moviegoers or first-graders who are the enemy against whom we need 100-round assault weapons, perhaps the threat is mentally unstable, right-wing lunatics who foster absurd arguments against rational measures for public safety.  

— William Adams

Terre Haute

National debt worse than you think

A friend chided me the other day about my growing pessimism regarding America’s debt debacle. “C’mon, Reg, things can’t be THAT bad.”

Actually, things are much worse. Our $16.5 trillion national debt does not begin to tell the whole story. Recently, The Wall Street Journal published an article by Chris Cox and Bill Archer detailing what we really owe. They explain that one reason voters are ignorant of our debt problem is “less than transparent government financial statements.” Because of Washington’s dishonesty, voters learn only about current-year budget deficits and our accumulated debt as it relates to Gross Domestic Product.

Admittedly, those are frightening numbers in themselves when one considers that our national debt is 100 percent of GDP. But those numbers don’t reveal the true magnitude of our indebtedness. Why? Because the U.S. Treasury “balance sheet” does not include the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and other very real obligations.

“The actual liabilities of the federal government — including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees’ future retirement benefits — already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550 percent of GDP. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion. Nothing like that figure is used in calculating the deficit. In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure,” note Cox and Archer.

Since Treasury is not forthcoming with this information, one must dig for it. A good place to begin is the most recent Medicare Trustees’ report which reveals that the net present value of the unfunded liability of Medicare was $42.8 trillion. The comparable balance sheet liability for Social Security is $20.5 trillion.

Voters are told that the Medicare and Social Security trust funds have money to pay a portion of the bills that are coming due. In actuality, the cupboard is bare: all the payroll taxes for these programs are spent in the same year they are collected.

Cox and Archer: “In exchange for the payroll taxes that aren’t paid out in benefits to current retirees in any given year, the trust funds got nonmarketable Treasury debt. Now, as the baby boomers’ promised benefits swamp the payroll-tax collections from today’s workers, the government has to swap the trust funds’ nonmarketable securities for marketable Treasury debt.”

“Nonmarketable” is the operative term. The “trust fund” is a fiction. David Walker, comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, admits, “There are no stocks or bonds or real estate in the trust fund. It has nothing of real value to draw down.”

Think you can raise taxes to cover this enormous shortfall? Think again.

Cox and Archer: “When the accrued expenses of the government’s entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually. That is the total of the average annual accrued liabilities of just the two largest entitlement programs, plus the annual cash deficit.

“Nothing like that $8 trillion amount is available for the IRS to target. According to the most recent tax data, all individuals filing tax returns in America and earning more than $66,193 per year have a total adjusted gross income of $5.1 trillion. In 2006, when corporate taxable income peaked before the recession, all corporations in the U.S. had total income for tax purposes of $1.6 trillion. That comes to $6.7 trillion available to tax from these individuals and corporations under existing tax laws.”

Troubling, right? Well, Sunshine, things get worse when one looks at state pension funds.

“We’re facing a full-fledged state-level debt crisis later this decade,” writes Professor Joshua Rauh of Stanford University. A “defined-benefit plan” is a slick way to hide government borrowing. Here’s how it works: Public workers demand a pay raise, but it’s not financially feasible, so instead of a raise politicians agree to give workers a generous pension in 30 years.

“It’s a way to borrow off the books,” says Rauh.

As a result, existing state pension liabilities run into the trillions of dollars. And remember, those nasty Wall Street businessmen didn’t do this. No, Sunshine, your duly elected government did this to you.

— Reggie McConnell

Terre Haute

Views on crimes against women

Mr. Khwaja Hasan, in his letter of Jan. 13, writes about the problem of rape and the mistreatment of women in India. The problems he mentions exist in India, but are also prevalent outside India. Crimes against women that Mr. Hasan mentions, are punishable under Indian law, which does not discriminate against women.

Mr. Hasan, a Muslim, should know that the treatment of women is much worse in the Islamic world, where Sharia (Islamic Law) discriminates against women; besides, women in the Islamic world are victims of honor killings. The Islamic world has the highest incidence of honor killings of women in the world. For many forms of honor killings, there are no punishments prescribed in Sharia. It is well-known that old men marry very young girls in the Islamic world much against world norms, to earn merit in Islam as good followers of the Prophet of Islam, who is considered the Ideal Man (Insaan-e-Kameel) to be emulated by all Muslims.

1. Proving rape under Sharia is almost impossible; this requires four male witnesses.

2. Wife beating is legal under Sharia, and is permitted by the Quran.

3. The Quran (in verse 4:24) and therefore Sharia, gives explicit permission to Islamic Jihadists to rape female captives.

4. The testimony of two women equals the testimony of one man under Sharia.

5. Sharia allows temporary marriages (called muta). Under Sharia, it is possible for a man to marry a woman for a few hours, a day, a few days, or for a longer duration.

6. It is very easy for a man to divorce a woman under Sharia. It is very difficult for a woman to divorce a man under Sharia.

7. Under Sharia, a man can have up to four wives at the same time. However, since it is very easy for a man to divorce his wife, in practice, a man can marry, serially, as many women as he pleases.

Aisha (Prophet Mohammed’s preteen bride) said, “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women.” (Sahih Bukhari Hadith 7:72:715)

— K.S. Rao

Terre Haute

Get vaccine, avoid pain of shingles

It you are age 50 or older and had chickenpox when you were a child, do yourself a big favor, get the shingles vaccine. My mother contracted shingles three years ago in her left eye and the left side of her head. It has left her with poor vision in her left eye, and she can no longer drive because her vision is bad.

Right after she got shingles, I began asking my doctor at the VA Hospital for the vaccine and was told they don’t administer the vaccine unless you’re 60 years of age. Last year at the age of 52, I got shingles on the left side of my body below my armpit. It you’ve ever seen the commercial on TV about the burning sensation and pain it causes, believe it.

It cost me many sleepless nights and the pain was terrible, not to mention the scars it leaves when you finally heal after three to four months of taking medication for it.

—Robert Chumley

Terre Haute

A ‘Militia’ solution to the gun debate

This is an open letter to President Obama, Governor Pence and the citizens of Indiana.

Just the other night, I heard an elected official, who had been an Indiana sheriff, being interviewed by a television news channel. This official was upset that the Federal Government was trying to regulate weapons sales and possession. l agree, this is not a function of the Federal Government.

Since the recent events in Connecticut, there has been much debate about the “right to bear arms.” As frequently happens when someone quotes a source, they are only quoting a part of the source.

The Constitution of the United States, in Amendment II, states in whole:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Militia at the time the Constitution was drafted was controlled by each state’s governor and has evolved into today’s National Guard, which is still controlled by each state’s governor.

It seems to me there is an easy answer to today’s issue of access to “military grade weapons” by the general public. Granted, each state could not afford to pay every man and woman in the state to be a part of the state’s National Guard, but the state could formalize the “well regulated Militia” and require every person who was a resident of the state to be a part of an unpaid National Guard Reserve. This could be formalized by registering every resident 18 years of age and older, anyone moving into the state and taking up formal residency and all residents as they attain the age of 18. The only exemptions granted could be for verified medical or mental issues. Just as many police agencies have reserve deputies who receive no pay for their service, the members of the National Guard Reserve would received no monetary compensation but would be issued a National Guard Reserve identification card.

Once the system is in effect, anyone purchasing a weapon from any source, anyone purchasing ammunition in any quantity, and anyone desiring to use public or private firing ranges would have to present their National Guard Reserve ID card and, in the case of weapons purchase, the validity of that card would have to be verified. Anyone found in possession of any weapon who did not have the required ID card would have that weapon confiscated.

This system could not be challenged on a constitutional basis, since Amendment II specifies the “right to bear arms for a well regulated Militia” and those members of the “well regulated Militia” would be allowed to purchase and bear arms.

I am a combat-wounded veteran who has and does defend the Constitution but who also believes not everyone has the right to arm with military grade weapons. If you are buying these weapons to protect yourself or your country, then you should support the idea of a National Guard Reserve and be one of the first to obtain an identification card.

— David W. Page

Chief Warrant Officer

United States Navy, Retired


Customer praise for vehicle service

I would like to thank the staff of Dorsett Auto for being so wonderful to me when I came for an oil change. First of all, they honored a coupon that was Fuson, because that’s where I thought I was. And of course even though I wasn’t on their appointment list, they took me with open arms and a smile.

In fact my car was done in record time. They even gave me a paper to mail in for a $10 discount on my next oil change.

Now to top things off, a man named Darrell, who was behind the counter, came out with me to my vehicle with needle-nose pliers and showed me how the defrost switch was broken and put it on defrost for me, so my car could defrost, which I had told him wasn’t working. He was honest enough to tell me I could probably get a switch at a junk yard for very little cost.

I went away with a smile on my face that some people do care and just won’t blow off a woman on her own. Thank you, guys, so much. You will have my business for life, and I wanted all of Terre Haute to know your kindness to me.

— Barbie Turner

Terre Haute