Letters to the editor, The Courier-Gazette
Enact reasonable reform
Driving into Rockland on Dec. 28, I stopped with traffic to wait for the light to change at the corner of Park and Main Streets. A young man and woman had placed themselves there, both holding bright yellow banners. Hers was exhorting motorists to "honk for gun rights," and his contained a black stenciled image of an assault rifle with the words “from my cold dead hands,” written underneath. They seemed nervous and fidgety. Possibly this was because of the cold breeze blowing, or possibly it was because of the dozen or so motorist briefly waiting there — no one was honking.
One had to wonder if either of them had seriously contemplated the lifeless hearts and hands of the innocents slaughtered in Connecticut, using the very weapon that they so prominently displayed. Any expression of human compassion or gracious respect for the victims and families of gun violence were not on their agenda this Friday. They were simply serving the continuing echo chamber of National Rifle Association rhetoric, where the answer to such horrific tragedies is simply more guns — condemning us to a devolving culture where we are asked to accept senseless violence as a norm, only to be met with more fire power.
I’m not naïve enough the think that we will ever repeal the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as some have suggested, or that even sensible gun control legislation will ever be easy, but hopefully as we enter a new year we can collectively create and maintain a resolve to do something. It was affirming to see in the Dec. 25 edition of the Bangor Daily News a column by Karl Turner of Cumberland who served as a Republican state senator from 2000 until 2008. In his column Mr. Turner proposes four specific steps for immediate legislative action that are reasonable and bear repeating. He suggests that our law makers should:
1. Support an assault weapons and high-capacity bullet clip ban with no exceptions except for military and law enforcement.
2. Support background checks for the purchase of any weapon or ammunition without exception and regardless of location.
3. Require trigger locks and the separation of weapons and ammunition when they are not in the direct possession of the owner.
4. Make owners and their estates financially responsible for damages done by their weapons.
Even if enacted, Mr. Turner’s suggested actions alone will not end the scourge of gun violence, nor do they begin to address the mental health dimensions of the problem. However, they are reasonable staring points for the change that we so desperately need, and they do not unreasonably restrict the right to responsible gun ownership.
At this time of year we have the easy habit of wishing our family and friends a safe and happy New Year. We’re also inclined to believe that whether or not that happens is a matter of happenstance, or simply a matter of luck.
In this matter we must be more intentional. In light of the national gun-related tragedies of 2012, and even the more recent ones in Maine, we must collectively demand that our policy makers show leadership, resist the bullying tactics of the NRA, and enact reasonable reforms. As President Obama declared, we have been through this too often, and we must change. Our children and our communities deserve no less if we are sincere in our wishes for a safe, more peaceful, and happy New Year.
We must make a difference
I ask that you take the time to consider this subject carefully. In our recent election the specter of our country with an overhanging national debt in excess of 16 trillion dollars had little if any effect on a very large segment of our population. Why do you think this is the case? Is the figure so beyond the understanding of many or is it possible that a large segment of our population simply has little if any fear of debt ? It may well be a bit of both, but I sincerely believe that the majority of the electorate under 40 years of age has so much personal debt themselves, that discussion of our national debt is simply ignored or conveniently overlooked.
I do not wish offend any on this email list in the 40 and below category, however, the culture today is so hell bent on trying to convince everyone that we owe it to our ourselves rather than take a dose of personal responsibility. Lets examine a major source of this reasoning. This age group rarely, if ever, reads the newspapers today. Their primary source for information is the social media via the Internet or some TV. My contention is that this group also in watching TV is not oriented toward TV news but on sports, reality shows or sitcoms. Couple this with the utilization of credit cards and paying only the minimum balance and declining further and further into a financial hole. I was discussing this situation recently with an individual who has been in the banking business for over 25 years. I was stunned when he told me that it was not unusual for someone in this group to come to the bank for a loan and telling the bank that they had five or more credit cards and they owed somewhere between $12,000 to $15,000 up to may be $50,000 to $60,000 and needed a loan to help them resolve their crisis. In addition many of this group was also the "owner" of a new late model automobile. I am sure that the vast majority of our email list will find this difficult to believe, but if this age group has no fear or understanding of debt why would they have any reason to fear the national debt when our Democratic friends continue to promote more and more spending and no recognition of huge problems with our burgeoning entitlement debt. Obama's answer is of course to tax the rich. That unfortunately does not even come close to solving our spending problem.
If we are to have a reasonably good chance to turn this tide, I believe that the Republican Party on the local, state and national levels must have a well-organized message via social media that makes the case for personal responsibility and the enormous danger of debt and default. This will take time but if we do not attempt to turn this situation around our nation will become Greece or perhaps a defaulting "Banana Republic".
I also believe that there must be changes in our school systems. Instead of teaching on how to put a condom on a banana, we should have a "required course" in every high school that could be called a "Personal Responsibility" class. Some topics to teach should be as follows: the need to prepare a family budget, how to reconcile a bank statement, the danger of paying only the minimum balance on credit card charges, the danger implied in a mortgage with a floating rate of interest, the need to save money in a retirement account such as a Roth IRA. I feel sure that all of you could add innumerable items or areas for learning basic economics. However, the kicker is this, if a student cannot pass this Personal Responsibility course that they remain in high school until its passed. If this program was in place across the state or nation, within a 10-year span the outlook of most young adults would be changed drastically and even more importantly our country would once again be on a sound economic footing.
Earlier today I forwarded a message stressing the need for re-energizing our moral values. If we in Knox County and our friends across Maine and other areas as well will work together we can make significant changes in our nation. No individual, family, business or government can spend its way into prosperity. It is imperative for all of us to work together to change the fabric of our beloved country back to its guiding principles, if not, we are leaving our children and grandchildren an economic and moral cesspool. Please get back to me with your thoughts.
We must make a difference
Chairman Knox County Republican Committee
Hope for the new year
Well here we are in a new year. Let's hope and pray that the shooting sprees are over in the United States, that our children are safe in their schools and shoppers are safe in shopping malls and also no more shootings in the streets of America, small towns and large cities. I know they say Friday the 13th is bad luck, but lets hope the New Year 2013 is going to be a good year for all of us. We didn't go over the cliff so there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Rich in the heart
There's an old familiar children's story about a man who said he could make delicious soup out of stones. As he was preparing the soup he stirred the stones in the pot and said, "Oh, if only we had some potatoes to put in how much better it would be." Quickly someone ran and fetched some potatoes from their garden to add to the stone soup. While stirring the potatoes into the soup he said, "if only we had some carrots how much better it would be." Quickly another ran home returning with some carrots. "Oh, if only we had a soup bone that would truly make it wonderful," said the man. Quickly someone brought a soup bone and dropped it into the pot. When the soup was done everyone marveled how wonderful the stone soup was, and could scarcely believe it. The man who had nothing made soup out of stones.
Such a nice story — one that shows us nothing is impossible if we all work together. Many of us see others we would like to help. We say things like, "if only we had more, or if only I were rich, I'd help that person." The truth is, you need not be rich in the wallet to make a difference, just rich in the heart. A hot meal for someone who would otherwise go without, a ride for one without transportation, offering to babysit for a single parent so they can have a break, visiting a senior citizen, etc. These are just a few of the things we can do as individuals. We all have something to put into the soup. Together just imagine what a difference we could make.
Congratulations to the winners of The ARC’s Winter Raffle: Jamie Harris, Doug Rosene, Nathaniel Doyno, and Dinah Moyer.
A very, very warm thank you to the following businesses who reached into their hearts and into their wallets to help The ARC continue to serve the youth and community of Vinalhaven: Hampton Inn, Tidewater Inn, The Granite Inn, Trade Winds, Surfside, Second Hand Prose, Alternative Oil, New Era Gallery, Hair Haven, Go Fish, Fisherman’s Friend, Five Elements Gallery, Pizza Pit, Just Teasing Salon, Vinalhaven Fuel, Island Closet, Island Lobster Supply, Vinalhaven Fisherman’s Coop, Americanus LLC, Camden National Bank, The Video Store, Aerofit, South End Grocery, Michael Good Gallery, Hall Antiques, Thorndike Creamery, Fiore, Clan McCleren, Lobsterman’s Restaurant, Camden Snow Bowl, Brass Compass, Puffin’s Nest, Embroidery Shop, Brocks Restaurant, Lynn Snow Gallery, Time Out Pub, Oakland Lanes, Penobscot Island Air, Rock City Coffee, Rheal Day Spa, Lucky Dog Gallery, Myrtle St. Tavern, By George Jewelry, PDQ, Timeless Treasures, Navigator Restaurant.
Many thanks and warm wishes!
Karen McKusic-Ames & The ARC Team