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Letters 12-27-2012

Sandy Hook

A reaction to painful event

I just could not just sit still and listen to the horrifying details of the holocaust of Sandy Hook Elementary without speaking out. As an elementary school teacher I want to share aloud that every one of the slaughtered 20 students, was a student of every teacher in our nation. The names and faces may be different, but every student “is ours.”

I am not sure how Sandy Hook will be able to come to grips with this senseless, evil act, but one way to help this community and nation to heal is for our Congress to work together, strap on some “balls” and start working to protect us. If these high-paid representatives cannot figure out where to start, may I suggest that the photographs of the 20 children, six teachers and two administrators be hung in the halls of Congress. Place an armed officer in every school in our nation. If each Congressman and Congresswoman had a child killed in any of the school shootings over the past 10 years, there would be armed guards posted in the schools.

If Congress cannot banish the assault guns, then limit the amount of ammunition any one person can purchase, or start taxing the manufacture of the ammunition, at a premium. I believe in the right to carry guns, but not the right to keep an arsenal of weapons and ammunition.

It is not just the guns that ended the lives of these innocent children and adults, but the person behind the gun. It is a total disgrace how our country has tossed aside and ignored the mentally ill in this country. Each and every one of the school shooters over the past 10 years has had the common denominator of being an outcast in school.

I have seen these withdrawn kids. These are kids who others bully and who never get invited to a classmate’s birthday party, the ones who are the last chosen in a game. I know most schools have excellent counselors who try and help these kids and conduct anti-bullying lessons; but all of this care ends at the end of the day and totally ceases when the child leaves the school system.

At age 18, these “different” children are cast out into society, and for the most part, unless they have financial means, are left to make it on their own. We see some of these “misfits” walking the streets of Kona. Our society is only as strong as how we treat our children. It is shameful. Imagine what would happen if one of the shooters had been the child of a member of Congress?

I watched the interfaith memorial for the Sandy Hook 28 dead and witnessed a community’s unification of the major religions of our country, praying shoulder to shoulder, together, giving strength to each other and asked myself, “Why do we wait for a horrifying incident to erase our prejudiced beliefs and not embrace our differences to celebrate life?”

My heart and prayers go out to not only the community of Sandy Hook, but to all of us. We are a hurting nation; it is time for triage.

Joy Johnson



Losing the war

Suppose for a minute someone in Congress proposed a law that would place a major industry off the books and totally outside the law.

Say it is an industry that employs more than 1 percent of the population and is patronized by more than 25 percent. Abandoned tax revenue would be in the tens of billions a year or more. Neither the employees nor their employers would pay any taxes. Nor would there be any taxes on the product, or many of the supplies.

Under the new law there would be no purity, safety, labeling or even packaging standards for the products. New products could be marketed at any time with no oversight. Teenagers and even children would be recruited as customers and salesmen. There would be no safety standards for the employees, no pensions, no vacations, no sick pay, no health care, no collective bargaining.

The products could be made anywhere including residential locations in unsupervised factories that pollute, poison and often explode or burn down. Employers could fire, physically punish or kill employees at will, but pay themselves huge bonuses and collect unimaginable perquisites. Dissatisfied employees would have no recourse, except violence. Since the industry officially would not exist, all traffic would be covert i.e., smuggled. Who is better at smuggling than international organized crime: the CIA, al-Qaida, the Taliban, perhaps? Competitors, denied due process would settle disputes by violence, creating a feudal secondary government with large armies and a black market for military weapons, equally unregulated.

Would anyone vote for such a bill?

To further complicate the matter, assume that while the industry is totally unregulated, contact with the products (direct or implied) will be a crime that has severe penalties. With the industry underground, enforcement would be random. Overzealous enforcers would cram the prisons with mostly harmless people (including your children, people you know, love and depend on) costing more billions. Prisons become crime universities. Your natural rights as a human being will be subordinated to the enforcement effort. Your property could be seized on mere suspicion.

Would anyone vote for that now?

Surprise, Congress has already passed it, bit by bit and it’s known collectively as the War On Drugs and it has been being lost for more than 100 years.

Ken Obenski