Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor on nonvoters, schools suing, Roberts and Hagel, Kobach, ethics commission, guns, civility

If you didn’t vote, don’t complain

“Proceed with caution” (Jan. 15 Eagle Editorial) showed an absolutely outstanding command of what the 2013 Legislature should focus on. I was, however, dismayed at the tone of the second to last paragraph, which encouraged Gov. Sam Brownback and his conservative allies to represent all Kansans.

It’s my opinion that the 1.3 million Kansas souls who did not bother to vote last August should sit quietly on their hands, just as they did at election time, and accept any and all edicts that come out of this session without comment. If they are injured by some forthcoming legislation, so be it. They chose not to participate in the appointment process, so they should not expect to participate in the subsequent discussions of legislation.

The first question that should be asked of any person who desires to discuss, criticize or address any of the products that come out of a legislative session should be: Did you vote? If you did not, then you have no voice in the matter.

It is a Little Red Hen sort of thing. They did not help to gather the grain, pound it into flower or bake it, but they are usually the first to want a piece of it or to criticize the way it is baked or tastes.

In a nutshell, vote or get back up on the porch, because you will not be allowed to run with the pack that did.



Break the cycle

School boards use tax money to sue taxpayers for more money to fund more lawsuits to get more tax money. We need to break this vicious cycle. Here’s how:

Elect school board members who will sign a pledge to not use tax money to sue the state. Amend the state constitution to clarify that only the Legislature sets school funding.

Pass legislation that school boards cannot use tax money to sue the state, and that the state will only fund curriculum mandated by the State Board of Education. Require local school district taxpayers to fund extracurricular activities, which would be voted on.

Require each school district be audited and the public notified about tax money directly related to mandated curriculum, extracurricular activities and administration. Also, taxpayers should be told how much of their money has been used for lawsuits and lobbyists.



Support Hagel

Well in advance of confirmation hearings, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced his opposition to the appointment of his “very good friend” former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary (Jan. 9 Eagle). He thinks Hagel is too soft on Iran and too tough on Israel.

The eminently qualified Hagel should and probably will be confirmed.

Then Secretary Hagel will help make decisions on where to base the new tankers, which bases to close and where to allocate research funds as the defense budget is reduced. These decisions are all crucial to our state’s economy, and that means jobs.

Are Roberts’ constituents in Kansas less important to him than his interest in Israel or threatening war with Iran? More likely, declaring opposition to Hagel prior to hearings can only be viewed as naked political posturing in advance of Roberts’ campaign next year for a fourth term. When a senator places re-election ahead of his state’s interests, he has been in office too long.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., needs to support Hagel and give Kansas a voice before it’s too late.



Out of touch

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach thinks President Obama is “out of touch” with the U.S. House and American public when it comes to immigration (Jan. 15 Eagle). I believe Kobach is the one who is out of touch and has forgotten our country’s history.

The United States was formed and built up by immigrants and descendants of immigrants to this land. It became a melting pot in which people of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds could live together in community.

Kobach gives the impression that he thinks many immigrants are freeloaders, while most probably just want an opportunity to better their lives. Has he ever stopped to think that Democrats aren’t pushing this legislation to “look like champions of an important voter bloc,” but to help fellow humans embrace an opportunity for change?



Ethics challenges

Concerning the complaint that the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has been tougher on conservative Republicans than other officials (“Kansas ethics panel could face overhaul,” Jan. 9 Eagle): I wonder if state Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, has considered the possibility that conservative Republicans might be ethically challenged. They do appear to be self-righteous. That could make them unable to be aware of their own shortcomings.



Bleaker picture

Regarding “Australia’s example” (Jan. 5 Letters to the Editor): I am unabashedly pro self-defense. When danger confronts you and you have seconds to respond, the police are minutes away.

When I Google “Australian firearms laws,” it paints a slightly bleaker picture than the one the letter writer portrayed about statistics in the assault weapon-free utopia. Accidental gun deaths have actually risen slightly since 1996. Suicides by gun have indeed gone down, but there is a corresponding spike in non-gun suicides. Assaults have markedly increased, as have armed robbery and burglary.

The main point to be learned is that determining the effect on crime rates of changes in Australia’s gun-ownership laws and the government’s firearm-buyback program requires a complex long-term analysis and can’t be discerned from statistics offered here. Also, those draconian measures aren’t necessarily applicable to the United States, where laws regarding gun ownership are (and always have been) much different from those in Australia.



Civility crisis

What fuels violence? Depersonalization? Hostile thoughts? A select form of alienation, mental instability? An intemperance that makes individuals or a group not see a common humanity?

We have a crisis of civility in our society that is eroding our claims to civilization. We have seen it in our deadlocked Congress and the campaigns that surround our elections. We view it now in the derogatory National Rifle Association attack on our president. It is such a destructive approach that exacerbates extremism and gives rise to the violence that causes the deaths, which we mourn and which scare us.

How is the NRA’s hostility convincing us that it is exercising its responsibility to create a “polite society”?

Our species has a history littered with rabble-rousers constructing the fears that produce the emotional forum within which we destroy ourselves. In this and other cases, guns can be very effective in spreading trauma and death – one can often trace the bullet back to the weapon and the weapon back to the perpetrator. It is more difficult with words.

It is not unthinking, unfeeling guns that kill people. It is those wrapped in thoughts of hate. First come the words, then the gestures, then the deaths. It might be hypocritical to judge otherwise, NRA.


Bel Aire

End civil war

As we continue insisting among one another that what I want is more important than what you want, other nations are wondering what the heck we are doing. Those nations are improving routes of exportation, making high-speed rail transportation a reality, and creating many other good ideas as we continue our societal civil war.

If we can’t agree on a national goal, and can’t bring ourselves to a more synchronous society to achieve the goal, one must ask: What are we doing?