I think I speak for the majority of the people when I say we are sick and tired of the back and forth between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner. To resolve this “fiscal cliff” problem, the following should happen:
First, the two parties should agree that whatever number they come up with should consist of 50 percent cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare and defense and 50 percent of revenue increases, including raising taxes and closing tax loopholes.
Right now, every proposal from the administration has a much smaller percentage of cuts, versus increases in revenues. Conversely, every proposal from the speaker and his advisers is top heavy on cuts versus revenue increases. If they could only agree on the 50-50 proposition, half the battle would be won.
Second, Democrats should be forthright with the people about what will be cut and by how much. The Republicans need to be clear by what percentage taxes will go up, and if revenue increases are planned by closing loopholes in the tax code. They should be specific what those loopholes to be closed are so that the Congressional Budget Office can calculate what the revenues will be.
The vague promise of closing loopholes does not tell anyone anything, neither do vague statements about cuts to programs. Come on, Washington, we can take it.
In case anyone wonders, I am on Social Security and Medicare. But I am also realist enough to know that we can’t keep borrowing and borrowing to survive. We had balanced budgets before, and we need to get there again.
Woven into the national fabric
The passionate plea for a disarmed America (“Become gun-free, America,” Dec. 24) has a number of inaccuracies in it. The writer’s first point that the Founding Fathers never meant for modern semi-automatic firearms to be covered by the Second Amendment to the Constitution is laughable on its face. By the same logic, radio, television and the Internet would not be covered by the First Amendment. This is simply ludicrous. It is the fundamental right that is protected by the Constitution, not the exact means and methods of exercising that right.
None of the other enlightened democracies that the writer pines to emulate has an explicit right of the people to keep and bear arms in its constitution like ours does. Therefore, his utopian hope of federal legislation to ban the manufacture and possession of all guns will have to wait until the Constitution is revised by amendment.
Besides, what makes collectors and hunters more deserving of firearm ownership in his view than the single mother living in fear of crime in Chicago, one of the most disarmed and crime-ridden cities in this country?
The assertion that the wonderfully disarmed societies elsewhere are free from armed criminals is very naïve. Great Britain, one of the enlightened democracies which has effectively banned private gun ownership for years, logged almost 12,000 crimes committed with firearms in 2011. It doesn’t sound like the criminals can’t get them over there like the letter writer believes.
We are a nation that was founded upon private firearm ownership and, like it or not, it is woven into our national fabric and Constitution and cannot be changed by liberal ideology or emotional sentiments of the moment.
I don’t want people like the writer deciding which of my constitutional rights I may enjoy today. In fact, if we go down that path, it may be someone else deciding which rights he may enjoy tomorrow.
George L.V. Rak
Our effective well-regulated militias
Here is the entire Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
“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.”
Look back at the time frame in which this was written: Our new country had just won a war against the British; the laws that would keep us independent were just being written; slavery was practiced throughout the new country; slaves sometimes struggled to gain their freedom; pirates ruled the seas, Native Americans protected themselves by fighting the invaders; survival of the new nation seemed to depend on each person being ready to fight in a “well regulated Militia” (the army).
The “arms” of this period were muskets, hand-loaded each time they were fired, swords, knives and pikes (sharpened poles for stabbing an enemy), perhaps bayonets for some soldiers and sailors.
This amendment does not say each private citizen needs “arms” like an atomic bomb, a multi-firing assault weapon, hand grenade, dynamite, poison gas, tanks, airplanes, drones or other weapons of modern warfare and mass destruction. These weapons were not invented until many years later. We — and the NRA — should not assume that our Second Amendment covers any type weapon.
We have National Guard units in each state (a well-regulated militia), the U.S. Army ( a well-regulated militia), the U.S. Navy (a well-regulated militia ) and the U.S. Air Force (a well-regulated militia).
Our country has grown and progressed since 1776-1783, thank God. But we have not become much more civilized if we think each person in the street, on the road, in a building or field needs a killing weapon to defend himself or herself.
We certainly do not need every Tom, Dick and Jane armed with military-type weapons. Surely, mass killings by assault weapons can be alleviated or at least lessened by well-enforced, civilized laws and by accessible and affordable prompt treatment of persons with mental or emotional illnesses.
B. Jean Mohr
Clear the way
Our first storm of the season reminds us that all of our transportation pathways need clearing, including sidewalks. Many communities aspire to be more “walkable.” Getting around on foot in the winter shouldn’t be a struggle. A clear sidewalk offers welcome and respectful access to public buildings and neighborhood business centers. Isn’t there an entrepreneurial opportunity here?