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Issue Home October 4, 2005 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Who's To Blame

Well it's happening again. Racism, that catchall byword responsible for poverty, crime, welfare families, you name it, is being bandied about once again. And the enemy? That's the same, too: white, middle-class, male protestants, WIMP's for short – which, ironically, is itself an embattled minority. You'll understand if I, a member of that much maligned class, am getting a little impatient. After all, I've borne the brunt of the blame for unrest in Los Angles, Cincinnati, Miami, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, Crown Heights, Newark, and now, New Orleans.

Social unrest – riots to be plain – has left its scare in all those cities. In the aftermath of communal chaos the government has waded in with some pretty heavy-handed solutions to eliminate the putative cause: racism. To list a few there was the integration of schools to address inequality of education, Head Start to make up for a deprived a childhood, quotes to address discriminatory hiring, sensitivity classes to erase cultural differences at work, housing projects to provide affordable rents, racial enhancement in advertisements and movies to create a positive impression, and black studies to increase self-esteem.

A few of these initiatives have met with a modicum of success, most none at all, and not a few were plain counterproductive. Despite all, poverty et al is still with us and WIMPs are still the target of the accusatory finger. Well, I have a solution of sorts: another program.

No, certainly not a program funded by the government but one initiated personally and at no cost. It's called The Program For Individual Responsibility. This, a somewhat novel notion, takes a little explanation. Basically the idea is that people are not billiard balls on a pool table knocked about every which way by circumstances. While we are all affected by circumstances, we are not helpless bystanders, spectators to our fate. Regardless of circumstances, shouldering individual responsibility makes a difference. A case in point follows:

Brooke Ellison was paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident at age eleven. She can't even breathe without mechanical help. Mercifully, few face such obstacles. Yet Brooke graduated from Harvard summa cum laude and authored two books. Today, 13 years after her accident, Brooke is self-supportive earning a living as a motivational speaker and is a doctoral candidate. It makes me wonder about myself and others who with so much more have done so much less.

And it makes me wonder about the residents of New Orleans. Eighty-five percent of its white residents and 65% of black residents owned cars. Yet car insurers estimate 200,000 autos were ruined by the flood. Sidestepping statistical niceties, this means that 200,000 citizens could have evacuated with their families and some possessions, but did not – about as good an example of irresponsibility as one is ever likely to encounter.

Individual responsibility is a one-step program. It begins with pointing that accusatory forefinger not at others but at one's self, it does not blame others or excuse one's shortcomings, nor does it depend on government programs. It recognizes that people are not hapless leaves tossed about in an autumn's breeze or suppressed under the thumb of an imagined bogeyman. And, most important, it recognizes that all races and all ethnic groups have achieved too much to hide behind the flimsy excuse of racism.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

A Pet Peeve

I have seen a beagle with orange collar (daily) walking up and down the road where I live, toward Brandt SR1009.

I have also seen him many times in the road and almost hit by traffic.

I am an animal lover and don’t want to witness his death, like the little dog lying dead in the ditch on Jail Hill.

If you are going to have animals for pets, please take care of them, or don’t have them. They are God’s innocent creatures and depend on us for tender, loving care.

Your reward is that they will always love you back.


JoAnn Shofkom

Susquehanna, PA

Giving Your Money To The RICH

In the wake of the disastrous effects of Katrina and Rita, Americans have a clearer understanding of the Republican agenda that systematically benefits the privileged, at the expense of the people. Even in the wake of these disastrous storms – where thousands of our fellow citizens were left behind – Republicans continue to push an agenda that doles out billions in handouts to companies like Halliburton and Bechtel. Also, don’t forget how they recently passed a bankruptcy bill that punished the victims of financial catastrophe by allowing credit card companies to collect from them even after they were driven into bankruptcy from the loss of a job or a medical tragedy. This will also apply to all those who lost everything to the hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.

We have an energy bill that gave away billions in subsidies to oil and gas companies already celebrating record profits, while leaving Americans more dependent on foreign oil. They have done little to address rising gas prices, are exacerbating global warming and doing almost nothing to promote alternative energies.

Oh, and we have a prescription drug bill that lined the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies, but failed to control skyrocketing prescription drug prices. Not to mention the bill that prohibited imports of low prices from Canada and other developed countries. Whatever happened to capitalism?

Well, this is how the Republican Contract with America has played out. It has been a failure, there has been nothing done to restore accountability to the American people. Even our own state legislators voted themselves a raise, at our expense.

Remember all this when you vote next time.


Jay Harter

Susquehanna, PA

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