We have to change
Much is being said and written about the catastrophe at Newtown. The right solution begs for identifying the right cause.
The purpose of this letter is to share the view that our problem is the result not of a single cause, but of a concoction of toxic ingredients: the availability of automatic weaponry; writing off violence as inevitable; writing off the mentally ill as hopeless; and supporting an entertainment industry that pushes violent imagery.
We are buying into the message that violence is fun, saying nothing to a polarized political system driven by private interests uninterested in the common good of these divided states.
There is no eradication of violence on the horizon. Together, we can insist that violence, however tragically necessary it may sometimes be, is abhorrent.
We can surely reduce the probabilities of more patently unjustified killings. As our president said in Newtown, we have to change. The problem is about us.
Are we so intent on individual freedoms and the “live-and-let-live” philosophy that we conclude nothing can be done to keep our children away from the killing fields?
Together, let’s act: Boycott violent video games; stay away from “entertainment” that glories in the technology that makes spectacular violence sell. Let us persuade one another and our legislators that there are nonviolent ways to make America safe for the exercise of freedom.
Tax cuts misguided
Public programs can often benefit from competition with the private sector. Our local public school recently expanded its prekindergarten offerings to offer the early bonding opportunities kids were getting at local private schools. This is part of the healthy interaction that’s necessary between public and private if society is to thrive.
But government programs have suffered a lot here in Maine and federal programs are under similar threat in a misguided effort to help the private sector. The theory is that if you cut taxes for the wealthy, they will create jobs.
But recent history suggests just the opposite: taxes on the rich went up at the start of the Clinton administration and 23 million jobs were created over the next decade. High-end taxes were cut when George W. Bush came into office and the economy stalled, then crashed.
What really creates jobs is a confident, spending middle class, and you help create that confidence by bringing public budgets closer to balance and strengthening programs like Medicare. Both objects can be achieved through slightly higher taxes on the wealthy. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins should support the plan to extend the Bush tax cuts on middle-income families, but allow them to expire for the two percent of households with annual incomes over $250,000.
This would bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue over the next decade, reducing deficits and permitting targeted public investments (such as infrastructure improvements) that truly help the private sector.
Reinstate the ban
It’s time to reinstate the ban on assault weapons in this country. It’s time to stop perpetuating the notion that to ban the sale of assault weapons in this country is an affront to our Second Amendment rights.
It’s time to stand up to the gun lobby that has intimidated members of Congress by their campaign contributions, saying to cave on assault weapons will adversely impact “a citizen’s right to bear arms.” It’s time for some elected officials to stop inferring that a ban on assault weapons will somehow adversely impact the lawful, gun-owning culture in the state of Maine. It will not.
It’s time for our society to stop romanticizing the ownership of assault weapons, glorifying the “Rambo” image to our children and describing their possession as “being cool.”
We cannot hope to treat every deranged individual who may be capable of committing a heinous act. Nor can the ban on assault weapons eliminate the possibility that a similar tragedy could happen in the future.
We can as a society, however, make a clear statement and send a clear message in the memory of all the innocents that have fallen victim to gun violence that we had the courage to take this small but significant step.
Top sports achievement
An article in the Bangor Daily News (12/19/12) stated, “Penn State was voted top sports story of the year.” I myself cannot see any sport in this story. A “top sports story of the year” should be an achievement, not a tragedy.
Lester Francis Cote