LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

**Past Published Letters to the Editor**

Charter Schools....

George Will's article, "Crippling charter schools",Trib, 4/24/22, falsely states that "charter schools are the most accountable public schools." In fact charters make up 6% of public schools in Pennsylvania but account for about 25% of the lowest performing schools. They. have a large negative effect on the test scores of white students, and cyber charters have a larger consistent negative effect on all outcomes.

In 2021 Pennsylvania spent $3 billion of taxpayer money on charters with little oversight. They have no elected school boards, no budget audit and few regulations. Charters receive generous funds from the school districts but have few of their costs. Charters are a shell game, they may be non-profit but they hire a for-profit management company to operate the school. They game the system. They pilfer money and students from cash strapped district schools.

Pennsylvania's flawed and outdated charter school law is regarded as one of the worst in the nation. Governor Wolf has proposed a plan to save $400 million a year in the overpaying of charters. His plan would hold low-performing charters accountable and would increase their transparency. However, our state legislators again are refusing to cooperate and continue their obstruction.

Before you vote, find out where the candidate stands on vouchers and charters. Don't let them use our tax dollars to privatize our children's education just to make some millionaire even more wealthy.

                                                                                                    Julia Garing

Country Moving in the Right Direction....

It is encouraging to see so many articles in the Trib pointing to our country moving in the right direction. Work is beginning on repairing bridges and roads which provide good paying jobs. Several presidents tried to develop an infrastructure plan but failed. Joe got it done.

Unemployment is down, GDP is up, hourly wages are up. More people are able to look for better paying jobs! Consumer spending is up. Union activity is up, guaranteeing workers better pay and benefits. In the past few months, our economy has been performing at a rate better than most people expected.

We still have several severe problems to resolve: the Ukraine situation, inflation, climate change, COVID, and Big Money's attack on our democracy, but it looks like our country may have turned the corner. We are holding those who broke the law on January 6, accountable. We are growing the middle class from the bottom up and middle out.

After four years of flirting with authoritarianism, democracy is coming back and pressing forward. We are not home yet, but we are moving in the right direction.

                                                                                                   Sandy Kramer

Tax Cuts and Inequality....

In the 1950's, corporations contributed 32% to the federal revenue, in 2013 it was 10%, and currently it is 7%, equal to more than a 3/4 reduction rate. This reduction in taxes paid by corporations is due to the Reagan, Bush, Trump tax cuts for the wealthy-few plus corporations. Republicans supported those tax cuts with no concern about the trillions of dollars in losses for our government. Reagan's policies were the beginning of a long and steady rise in income and wealth inequality.

In the 1960's, we had a graduated corporate tax structure, where the low estimate on profit was 15% and the highest rate was 50%. Before Trump's tax cuts the lowest rate was still 15%, but the highest rate had been reduced to 35%. Then, Trump reduced the tax rate even further to 21% and completely eliminated the graduated tax structure. No matter how much money a corporation makes, they still pay only 21%. Keep in mind that corporations make their money from you, the American taxpayer, who does have a graduated tax.

 

However eager the Republicans were for tax cuts to corporations, they did not feel it important during this economic downturn to help the American middle class. The American Rescue and the Infrastructure Plans passed with little or no Republican support. It seems the Democratic policies are concerned with the middle class while the Republican policies are concerned with their donor class.

                                                                                                   Joanne Garing 

The Real Intention Of the Koch Brothers....

The Koch Brothers are part of the super-wealthy with a net worth of over $120 billion. They spent millions to influence our government and gave $20 million to get Trump's tax cuts passed. The money was well-invested, for in 2018 alone, they saved $1 billion in taxes. Their American For Prosperity, Freedom Partners, and dark money PAC, all try to shape policy toward their agenda of minimal taxes for the wealthy, minimal regulations for business and privatization of everything. The Kochs' are for unfettered, law of the jungle, free markets, while forgetting the many times in the last 30 years that the American taxpayer has had to rescue bad acting too-big-to-fail companies.

 

Now, they want to privatize our public schools. Make no mistake, their funding of school board candidates in Pennsylvania, accompanied by their cry of freedom, choice, and liberty from vaccination and mask mandates is just a cover, a smoke screen.  They are weaponizing book-banning and CRT to hype participation by the GOP base. Few people realize their ultimate aim is to privatize schools for profit.

Public education is part of what made America great. We should support and strengthen our public school and our teachers and guard against this political theatre.

                                                                                                   Gloria Gralewski

The Cost Of Subsidies....

Government subsidies can have a very positive effect; think miracle drugs, the computer and internet. However, some could use scrutiny. Take Elon Musk, who has received $4.9 billion in subsidies, is worth $266 billion and some years paid little or no taxes. Or Jeff Bezos, who is worth $198 billion. In 2018 due to the Trump tax cuts, Amazon paid no taxes while receiving a $129 million tax rebate. Amazon has received $4.1 billion in taxpayer subsidies during the past 10 years that helped build its monopoly.

Subsidies should assist new innovations or struggling industries, but should not help billionaires build monopolies. Maybe the American taxpayer should receive interest on subsidies just like a bank receives interest from its borrowers.

Then there are companies like Comcast which has received state, local and federal subsidies of billions over many decades. In that time it has gobbled up other cable and related companies to become a giant corporation. Comcast chose company growth rather than affordable cost for its services. If you object to Comcast's price gouging maybe it is time for cable to be treated as a utility. Maybe Americans should be, in some small way, compensated for the profitable use of its taxes just like a royalty on a patent.

                                                                                                   Julie Garing

The Cost of Fossil Fuels....

The Biden Administration's Infrastructure Plan that includes addressing the dangers of abandoned mines, is great news for Pennsylvania (Pa. mine cleanup funding seen as game-changer", Trib, Feb.8, 2022). For too long we have had to deal with the negative aftermath of mines. Abandoned mine runoff is the primary cause of water quality issues in PA. In Westmoreland County we have 732 miles of impaired streams representing almost 33% of the total. Our water quality is an urgent issue.

 

According to your article, $245 million for 15 years has been earmarked for PA. That equals over 43.6 billion for this project. This is a lot of taxpayer money being spent to clean up the toxic waste left by a very profitable industry. There should be consequences for a money-making company that pollutes our environment and simply walks away.

 

But wait, it gets worse. The American taxpayer subsidizes the fossil fuel industry. According to a report released by Penn Future, ("Buried Out of Sight: Uncovering Pennsylvania's Hidden Fossil Fuel Subsidies,") a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, in Fiscal Year 2019 $3.8 billion was barely enough to cover the cost of Pennsylvania's annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, costing approximately $296 for every person in Pa. More than half the value of the subsidies went to the shale gas industry to support fracking and other activities.

 

To summarize, we pay the industry to make money and then we use tax dollars to pay to clean up their trash that is putting our health at risk. This is corporate socialism, welfare to the wealthy at its worse. In 2012 the coal mining industry contributed $15.3 million to mostly Republican campaigns, only 4% of donations went to Democrats.

                                                                                                   Patricia Oliver 

Ukraine-History Rhymes But History Matters....

Mark Twain once said, "History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme."

Putin has said that one reason for his invasion of Ukraine is to "de-Nazify" Ukraine, which would be humorous on an Orwellian level if it was not so obviously a vile and malignant lie. It is Putin, for reasons we may never fully comprehend, who is following the Nazi's path to war in the 1930's, albeit on a much more rapidly accelerated timetable.

Anschluss with Austria Spring 1938? Check. See the "friendly takeover" of Belarus at the request of its dictator, Lukashenko. Demanding that a border area, the Sudetenland, filled with ethnic Germans be incorporated into the Reich to prevent a fictitious genocide? Check. See the recognition of the "independent separatist republics" of Luhansk and Donetsk. Full-scale military invasion of the rump state of Czechoslovakia in Spring 1939? Check. See the current invasion of what is left of Ukraine. All of this done in the blink of an eye.

What's next? Demand for a land corridor connecting Russia's Kaliningrad District, currently surrounded by the independent nations of Poland and Lithuania, replicating Hitler's demand for a land corridor connecting the Reich with Danzig? Perhaps. A nostalgic re-creation of a Greater Russian Empire, invading Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which like Ukraine, were part of the Tsarist Russian and Soviet Empires, with or without the use of the Russian equivalent of the word "Lebensraum?" Perhaps.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "It has been said of the world's history hitherto that might makes right. It is for us and for our time to reverse the maxim, and to say that right makes might."

Does might make right? Shall we accede to that noxious creed? That is why Ukraine, and History, matter.

                                                                                                   Eric Falk 

What Path will You Choose to Protect Our Freedom....

In the past, I thought the Republican party wanted to return to an idealized version of the 1950's and 1960's. Men were the breadwinners. A much lower number of women were employed outside the home in the workforce. However, recently I have begun to realize that what the GOP really wants is to return to the 1600's, a time when Galileo was placed under house arrest because of his forward-thinking remarks. Today, some threaten bodily harm to Dr. Fauci because he promotes what scientific knowledge dictates. A portion of our fellow citizens rail against getting vaccinated, even though doing so protects one's life and the lives of those around them. They attach more credence to talk-show opinion than proven data.

Banning books has surfaced again. If you do an online search going back even six months ago, the volume of attention to certain categories of literature has increased dramatically. The struggles for justice and even  the mention of our founding father's ideas often evokes pushback. Reality can be painful, and some of our fellow citizens are not ready to accept the truth of the past. Ignorance and prejudice flourish when facts and knowledge are hidden from access.

As for government, the GOP seems to suggest that the middle class cannot be trusted to supply useful and credible solutions for government issues. They promote a system that best enables the privileged to thrive affecting all those who are not part of that group. What path will you choose to protect our personal freedoms.

                                                                           Katie Forsythe

PA Republicans Acting Like Children....

When I think of our Republican lawmakers, I have an image in my head that I cannot shake. It is one of bored adolescent boys looking for mischief. Look at their recent antics! Some participated in the January 6 insurrection or in its planning and preparation. They compiled fraudulent phony electors for Trump and refused to verify the election of President Biden. The Pennsylvania Republicans gave a massive corporate tax break worth an estimated $280 million annually with little accountability. They paid lawyers $750 an hour to pursue a phony audit of an election that they knew was already audited and declared valid, and they put amendments on the ballot that gave them more power. It seems increasing their wealth and power is where their interest lie.

Constituents need lawmakers to do their elected duties, not demonstrate childish behavior. We need lawmakers that act as adults working for us. Their job is to improve our lives, not engage in performative acts to expand their base. Instead of doing their job, they obstruct, delay, and make up wedge issues to divide and anger the voters. We deserve better than this.

                                                                                               Joanne Garing

Three Days Of Infamy....

December 7, September 11, and January 6 will go down as three days of infamy. On the first date, the United States was attacked by a foreign power. On 9/11 we were attacked by foreign terrorists. On January 6, we were attacked by our own citizens, an angry mob intent on subverting our democracy and doing harm to our police and government  officials. They violently attacked the police, leaving more than 140 injured, some fatally. The trauma did not end for some leading to suicide. The mob shouted, "Hang Mike Pence," as they roamed the halls of the Capitol. They were intent on following Donald Trump's orders to stop the certification of the election, to stop our votes from counting. All this for a small-minded man whose oversized ego will not acknowledge he lost.

This tragedy was the culmination of weeks of effort to nullify the 2020 election. However, audit after audit confirmed results were accurate. There was no widespread voter fraud. Trump's litigation efforts also failed. His 64 post-election court cases were either lost or dismissed. Even William Barr said Trump's Justice Department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The Big Lie continues. It is being used to raise money for Trump's political  future. People are being intimidated and bullied if they disagree with the Big Lie. Violence is being promoted as a means of coercion. 

                                                                                               Sandy Kramer

Demonizing Socialism....

The right likes to demonize the word "socialism" and conflate ordinary public policies with authoritarian regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, or Nazi Germany which are socialist in name only. But, a detailed look at some of our democratic socialist policies paint a more nuanced picture. Social security, Medicare, roads and bridges, public parks, libraries, and schools are all socialist policies and favored by the vast majority. The U.S. military is the largest and most funded socialist program in the world. The NFL, like our economic system, is both capitalistic and socialistic. Its private ownership is capitalistic but the draft, revenue sharing, rules committee, and stadiums are all socialistic. In fact, their guiding principal is the desire for parity. That sounds a lot like, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

However, they don't seem to complain when it is billionaires or multinational corporations taking advantage. Socialism for the rich costs real taxpayers billions of dollars. The American taxpayer subsidizes the salaries of the low paid employees of Walmart, McDonalds, and Amazon, etc. with government assistance programs because they refuse to pay them a living wage. Rich people are the real welfare queens and Donald Trump is their king.

Like it or not, we are dependent on each other. And we are stronger when we acknowledge this. Socialism makes possible the things that we could not accomplish as individuals.

                                                                                                 Mike Garing

Senator Yudichak supports Industry over voters wishes....

Senator John Yudichak in his December 6, Trib article, "America's energy future depends on Pa," is a bit disingenuous. He states in his article, "During the last decade, natural gas production in Pennsylvania has helped reduce CO2 emissions in the United States by 758 million metric tons, more than any country in the world." It is common knowledge that the problem with natural gas is not CO2, but methane. According to the EPA, "Because methane is both a powerful greenhouse gas and short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, achieving significant reductions would have a rapid and significant effect on atmospheric warming potential." Methane has 80 times the warming power of CO2. This means that cutting methane emissions is the fastest opportunity we have to immediately slow the rate of global warming.

According to a recent poll commissioned by the sustainably-minded think tank, Ohio River Valley Institute, a clear majority of Pennsylvania voters support the immediate or eventual end of natural gas drilling or fracking in the commonwealth. Residents of PA have brought dozens of lawsuits against the fracking industry. Mounting evidence shows that it poses serious threats to our health, environment, and climate future. The money spent on weather-related incidents has ballooned in recent years. Fracking is just not worth the risk. 

What is puzzling to me is that Senator Yudichak chooses to take the side of the fossil-fuel industry over the wishes of his constituents, over their health and well-being, over the safety of our air and water. Instead of siding with a dying industry, he should be leading us into the 21st century.

                                                                                                Patricia Oliver

Penn State University & Salary Inequality....

The 12/10 Trib article, "PSU names 1st female president", illustrates how wage disparity contributes to our wealth inequality. The salaries for college instructors varies widely. A tenured full professor's salary averages around $150,000 a year, while associate and assistant professors make less than 2/3 of that figure. Instructors and lecturers average about $60,000 to $65,000 per year. Adjunct professor's medium annual salary is $32,000. The yearly total compensation of the new Penn State president is $1,300,000, approximately 9 times what the average tenured full time professor makes and 40 times what the average adjunct professor makes.

College instructors do the basic work of the institutions of higher learning. Their talent and skills determine the success of educating our children. Their salaries do not reflect their contribution. The salaries of the support staff (administration) should not be many times greater than these essential workers.

The discrepancy goes even further. One third of all adjunct professors make less than $20,000 to $25,000 yearly, which is below the poverty level. Twenty-five percent rely on public assistance and 36% to 50% of all classes are taught by adjuncts. Is this how we value the people educating our children?

The salary of Penn State's football coach, $8,000,000 yearly, guaranteed for 10 years regardless of outcome or employment, further illustrates the inequalities. The salary of the coach is 250 times the salary of a person teaching classes. Inequality is the result of our tax and wage structures and demands our attention.

                                                                                        Joanne Garing

The American Rescue Plan....

President Biden's American Rescue Plan, Infrastructure Bill and Build Back Better Bill are all designed to help Main Street, to finally help middle America. Of course, journalist such as Pat Buchanan and George Will are bemoaning the cost. However, when Presidents Bush and Trump gave trillions of dollars in tax cuts to large corporations and the wealthy few, the effect on the budget was not an issue. We were told not to worry; the tax cuts will pay for themselves. Of course they did not. As a result of those massive tax  cuts, corporate profits after taxes have skyrocketed from $500 billion in 2000 to 1.9 trillion in 2020 and the top 20% now own 86% of all wealth. Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage, the purchasing power, and the wealth accumulation of the bottom 50% remains essentially flat. Our extreme economic inequality is a direct result of our tax policies.

Most republican lawmakers voted for the Trump tax cuts. All Republicans voted against the Build Back Better Bill, and many voted against the other two bills.This Republican action demonstrates more concern for their own money and donor money rather than their constituents. Our middle class is shrinking while the lower and upper class are expanding. Remember who is working to make life better for middle Americans.

                                                                                                Julia Bojalad 

Critical Race Theory....

Until the recent Republican self-serving promotion, Critical Race Theory was an obscure academic concept discussed in law schools. It dealt with how the law and legal institutions serve the interest of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poor and marginalized. Contrary to GOP talking points, CRT was not taught in grades K-12. But to FOX News and the radical right, facts were unimportant. They were interested in weaponizing the term to inflame emotions. CRT was a handy propaganda tool to stoke hatred and fear. Using the race card and money, this tactic was successful in the Republican's win in the recent elections including school board races. So, now we are back to the Middle Ages with banning and burning books.

Of course this fits into the conservative agenda; divide the 99% with wedge issues so the wealthy can pursue their goal of minimal taxes and regulations. It is all about money and power.

When the media tries to stir up resentment, fear and anger towards other people, turn it off and walk away. Our neighbors and coworkers, people we depend on for our health care, food and clothing might be of a different race, religion or beliefs, but we depend on one another. Together we can beat back the destructive influence of big money.

                                                                                                                       Sandy Kramer

Clarification needed on the Trump-Russian Dossier....

Your 11/5 article on "Analyst who aided Trump-Russia dossier charged with lying," needs clarification. Let's start at the beginning. The amount of communication between the Trump campaign and Russia set off red flags inside the FBI. Then, when George Papadopoulos talked to The Australian Commissioner to UK concerning this situation, an investigation began. The FBI would have been negligent if they had dismissed the dangers in these events. A Republican anti-Trumper contacted Fusion GPS who contacted Orbis Business because they were knowledgable in Russian spying. The Clinton campaign then picked up on what is now known as the Steele dossier. These events led to the two-year Mueller investigation which uncovered extensive criminal activity, 37 indictments, 7 guilty pleas or convictions of mostly Trump top aids, and 14 criminal referrals. Mueller stated that he was lied to multiple times and Trump himself refused to answer questions. Mueller's report found that the Russian effort was aimed in part to help Trump win the election, and that Trump's allies welcomed and encouraged that help.

Compare these findings with Durham's two and a half year investigation. The first charge mentioned a lawyer lying in one e-mail involved Carter Page. The lawyer pleaded guilty. The second charge is being contested as wildly inaccurate. The third charge against Danchenko again involves Carter Page who was exonerated in Mueller's report. Durham hasn't been charged of a crime to any actions central to the research itself. 

                                                                                                                      Joanne Garing

The Cost We Pay for Questionable Relationships....

We recently learned that Trump has lost $70 million on the Trump International Hotel. In 2018, Deutsche Bank gave him a six-year deferral on payment of a $170 million loan for that same hotel. In 2017, the state of New York and the UK won a $630 million lawsuit against Deutsche Bank for laundering Russian money. Under Obama, the federal government started their own lawsuit; it was estimated that the fine could top $1 billion. But under Trump, it was settled for $85 million in  2018. Was there a quid pro quo?

Trump and many of his associates have had quite a few such questionable relationships with Deutsche Bank. Just look at the three amigos: Wilbur Ross, the king of bankruptcies, Donald Trump, the king of fraud and lawsuits, and Steven Mnuchin, the king of foreclosures. These three form the trifecta of questionable behavior. If their actions are not criminal, they should be. Each has robbed people, not with a gun but with a fountain pen. We need to reform our laws involving bankruptcies, market manipulation, foundations and tax exemptions. These are some of the ways the 0.1% steal from the rest of us

                                                                                Mike Garing

Setting the Record Straight...

Carrie McConnell Muniz and Dana Barvinchak Williams are candidates for Norwin School Board. As Norwin graduates with children at Norwin, kids are their primary focus. Both have educations and experience that make them uniquely qualified to be productive school directors. They believe politics has no place on the school board.

Carrie and Dana recognize the rights of all neighbors to be heard, but believe there is a professional and respectfully to do so. Social media is not an appropriate forum. therefore, they have not addressed the false narratives posted there.

Membership in Voice of Westmoreland, an organization committed to social issues, does not make one a socialist. PA United has never received funding from George Soros or any related entities. Carrie and Dana have fully complied with state campaign finance laws. After the primary, they engaged their own Norwin volunteer team to focus on the specific needs of Norwin residents.

 

They actively support equality, diversity, and inclusivity in all things, and believe ALL people should be respected. They have no desire to supersede parental control; to state that they would support harming and and indoctrinating children with a scare tactic such as CRT is false and hurtful. They have spent years supporting and volunteering in children's activities.

 

Carrie and Dana have run a clean campaign. They have not engaged in negativity. They are honest, truthful, and mature candidates who deserved your vote.  

                                                                            Diana Gray

Once Again, Accountability..

I read your October 15 article, "Pa lawmakers spend millions" with sadness and frustration. It appears the system is set up to encourage corruption. Effective government must have transparency and accountability. We must challenge the practice of redacting.

Pennsylvania voters deserve to know how and why their taxpayer dollars are being spent. Spending $750 per hour on lawyer fees is outrageous. These same lawmakers refuse to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, but are willing to spend 100 times that amount for their own lawyers. To add insult to injury, that $750 per hour was spent on a frivolous lawsuit that never should have been brought in the first place. There should be strict guidelines on when and why legislators hire lawyers, and how much of the taxpayers money they spend.

Not only did Mike Turzai, past Republican Speaker, spend excessively on lawyer fees, but he is also guilty of the revolving door scam. He gave the fracking industry a sweetheart deal, then quit the government and took a lucrative job with the industry.

 

We must demand that our legislators promote and support bills to correct the corrosive influence of pay to play, revolving doors, and secrecy.

                                                                                                     Julia Garing Bojalad 

It Makes No Sense..

In our area, there are many yard signs stating, We Support Our Police". Many of these households also feel that gun laws are an infringement of their rights. At the same time, we have the law-and-order Republican Party opposing gun safety laws. It is difficult to understand these contradictory positions. How can you support the police, be the party of law and order and not support actions that will help the police? Law enforcement officers support strengthening our gun laws, according to the Trib, August 10/21, "Police unable to slow gun law rollback". Law officers are on the frontline of gun violence. There is a link between an increase in gun ownership and an increase in shootings of police officers. So how can you support the police and not support gun safety measures? How can you be the party of law and order and not want to reduce gun violence.

The January 6 insurgence used poles with "We Support Our Police" flags to violently attack police officers. "We support Our Police" has become a slogan that everybody supports. That is the whole point of good propaganda. Say something that nobody can be against because nobody knows what it means. If you support the police, you would also support their goal of increased gun safety measures.

                                                                                            Sandy Kramer

The Very Wealthy Pay Few Taxes...............

You had two articles in your September 25 issue dealing with poverty in America. One mentioned that 23% of Americans do not have enough to eat. The second stated the fact that one in five children in Southwestern Pennsylvania are food insecure. In researching poverty statistics, I found additional figures. One source states that 1 in 7 Americans have resources below the poverty level. *Another states that 65 million non-elderly individuals live in families with earnings below the poverty line, $25,500 for a family of four. *The number of individuals living at or near poverty is increasing at the same time the number of our uber-wealthy billionaires is also increasing. There are now 724 billionaires in the U.S. *Five of the six top billionaires in the world are Americans. Some of these billionaires pay little or no federal income tax. The 25 richest Americans paid a true tax rate of only 3.4%. *At the same time from 2014 to 2018 their collective wealth increased $401 billion. Compare this to the 14% in federal taxes paid by the median American household while they accumulated little wealth.

It is time for our government to correct this economic inequality. If the billionaires complain that not enough Americans pay income tax, there is an easy cure, pay all working Americans a living wage. 

                                                                                                                  Sanjay Schendige

*Sources

www.urban.org

www.cbpp.org

www.poverty rate in America in 2021

www.forbes.com

www.propublica.org

Hedge Fund and Private Equity...

In the early 2000's, Wilbur Ross, known as the king of bankruptcies, purchased steel companies through his private equity group. Among others, Bethlehem Steel and Weirton Steel were included in these transactions. Ross then sold them to an Indian company and made $2 billion. In the process, our steel industry collapsed and 190,000 workers lost their jobs. They also lost their healthcare and pensions that they had contributed to for many years. In this wake, the taxpayer was left with the bill for cleaning up the environment and covering the worker's healthcare cost and their pension, which ended up being a fraction of the contractual obligation. Since that time hedge funds and private equity have utilized this playbook on many of our businesses. They are now into healthcare and newspapers. These hedge funds and private equity groups have one objective, to make money. They are not interested in improving the company or product, being fair to the employees, customers, and stockholders or the health of the environment and the local community. Their aim is to make money by any means necessary. They have destroyed untold number of companies and jobs. Their greed is insatiable.

This is vulture capitalism, redistributing wealth upwards, and socialism for the upper-wealthy at its worst. We must insist that our government protect the middle class against the greed of the one percent by enacting laws to prevent this predatory behavior.

                                                                                                                  Janet Golia

Republican Priorities...

This election of 2020 was secure and verified. Masks and vaccinations saves lives. Man made climate change has happened. These three things are facts. There are no alternative facts or different opinions. They are undeniable facts.

It is puzzling that our Republican leaders continue to deny these three facts. We can see and feel climate change all around us. Refusing to take corrective action is killing our planet. Refusing to acknowledge that masks and vaccinations work is killing our people. And saying the election was fraudulent without proof is killing our democracy. The Republican leaders seem to care about their wealth and power more than our planet, our people, our democracy. Stand up!! Speak out! Do not let their destruction succeed.

                                                                                               Joanne Garing

First Hydroxychloroquine, now Ivermectin...

First it was hydroxychloroquine and now it is ivermectin. People all over this country,  particularly those in red states, are taking this livestock medicine to ward off Covid-19 and poisoning themselves in the process. 

Thousands of our fellow Americans acting on the advice of right wing media and politicians, are exposing themselves to illness and death. As mentioned in your May 3 article, "Carlson's disgusting new low", some on Fox news deliberately lie "just to get people fired up, angry and afraid". We find ourselves in a position where some of our news sources and some politicians lie to us while profiting from it. However, we have the power to change this situation. We can demand that our politicians and our news media, whether print, airways, cable, satellite or internet, use due diligence in checking the accuracy of their statements. This in no way infringes on our First Amendment rights. We have the right to free speech. We do not have the right to lie. We should not tolerate politicians and news media who lie to us. There should be consequences for those who do. We must bring the old fashion virtue of honesty back into our discourse. Honesty, integrity and character should be more important than  money and power. Without truth we will not only lose our democracy, we will be pushed into another dark ages.

                                                                                               Michael Garing

Is This Your Personal Freedom?...

Personal freedom from the tyranny of a fascist or totalitarian government is what we all desire. However, the word freedom is sometimes used incorrectly. What has happened in Texas is a textbook example. The government of Texas wanted freedom from wearing masks and getting vaccinated. So Covid cases spiked, sickening and killing many, overwhelming the healthcare system, and putting many at unnecessary risk. Of course, the federal government came to the rescue using federal government manpower and tax dollars, our tax dollars, to assist the citizens of Texas.

Another example of the misuse of the word freedom is what happened in Texas in February. Because Texas wanted freedom from regulations, they established an independent grid system not prepared for severe weather. The energy grid collapsed during a winter snow storm and cold snap which in turn caused water system failure. Again, many Texans died, and many suffered extreme hardships. Yet again, federal resources and money had to be used in the rescue operation.

These two disasters did not need to happen. They were caused by people in power bastardizing the word freedom. Going against medical advice is irrational not freedom. Going without regulations for monetary gain is corruption not freedom. It is not acceptable when personal freedom results in death and destruction to others. 

                                                                                              Joanne Garing

ACCOUNTABILITY

Pat Buchanan's comparison of 1/6 to 9/11, (Why left can't let go of 1/6," 7/28/21,Trib) is a good example of turning the facts upside down. January 6 was not "just a protest, a riot, a shameful disgrace." Most sources say it was an act of domestic terrorism, a violent insurrection. I would add that it clearly was a fascist attempt to destroy our democracy. Comparing January 6 to mass shootings is a false equivalency. The loss of life and bodily harm done to our police by our own citizens was tragic.

I see so many of my Republican neighbors displaying their "support the blue" signs, but they clearly support their Republican legislatures who choose to not support the Capitol Police in their search for the truth. A sad and disgraceful reaction, clearly Un-American.

The mob, thinking it had the right to nullify the election and hang Mike Pence, is incomprehensible!

Who is responsible for that angry mob? Which government official planned, encouraged, and participated in their actions? I think there is a good case to be made that those officials are traitors. Buchanan's concern should not be the slap on the wrist the foot soldiers received, but what accountability there will be for the instigators. Will we have two systems of justice, one for the foot soldiers and one for the rich and powerful? Or will we demand that justice be applied to all, based on their role on that tragic day, regardless of their position of power.

                                                                                    Patricia Oliver

THE FALLOUT FROM A RIGHT WING COURT

The Republican party has allowed the Federalist Society to pack the Supreme Court with radical far right activist judges. The result is a court that is pro-corporation, anti-worker, and anti-voting rights. Bush vs. Gore, Citizens United, and the 2013 Shelby County decisions, all from the twenty-first century, have the dubious distinction of being included in Time magazine's list of all-time worst Supreme Court decisions. And, coincidentally, all three limit voting rights. Bush V. Gore was a precedent-setting political decision the court had no jurisdiction to make. In Citizens United the court limited the voter's right to not be lied to by allowing corporations and rich individuals plow as much money into false political advertising as they want. Shelby County put the onus on the voter to fight for their rights. With the recent court decisions upholding Arizona voting restrictions and halting California collecting names of big donors (Friday, 7/2, Trib), the Roberts Court further limited voting rights. In his majority opinion Justice Samuel Alito, without any real justification, gave states the ability to ignore the Voting Rights Act. 

When you have the Supreme Court rewriting laws and making decisions along party lines, the system is broken.

                                                                                                           Michael Garing

For The People...

On this July 4th, it seems fitting to write about our "Rights" as derived from the Declaration of Independence. "That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the CONSENT of the governed", (Trib, 7/4/21). We the people decide the laws and rules of our government. Yet, our Pennsylvania legislature is working to deprive us of those rights. They continue to promote the Big Lie that our elections are not secure. Even though there is no evidence of voter fraud, they promote a remedy for a problem that does not exist. They have even convinced people there is a problem by repeating the lie over and over. They demean the thousands of Americans who work tirelessly to ensure our elections are safe and secure.

The reason for their effort is obvious. They want to take away our voting rights. That is why they are promoting gerrymandering and voter restriction. That is why they want voting rules in the hands of state legislators. They want election audits to be in their control. They want to throw out our votes and place a person in power that they, not we the people, choose.

Do not let them get away with their undemocratic effort to interfere in our election process. We do not want to go the way of Turkey, Hungary, and India by losing our rights and freedoms as a result of giving election control to state legislators. Let's not politicize our election process.

Our state legislators seem more interested in expanding their power than in. working for the good of their constituents.

                                                                                    By Mary Hofford