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Letters to the Editor Policy

Wheelbarrow Currency

Last month the U.S. got hammered with three floods. First, Katrina pushed a 30-foot storm surge onto 150 miles of the Gulf oil coast devastating cities, obliterating communities. This precipitated a second flood: refugees, maybe half a million victims escaping with their lives and the clothes they were wearing. Then less than four weeks after Katrina came the third flood, Rita, rampaging up the Gulf a little to the West of Katrina's wake.

There is yet a fourth flood. And this one packs the potential to be more catastrophic than the other three combined. It is a flood of dollars, a stampede of congressional spending that could bring back the double-digit inflation of the early 80's or worse. Take a look at some of the expenses that threaten to wash away the buying power of your dollars.

The cost of caring for hundreds of thousands of displaced persons left destitute in Katrina's wake is about l to 2 billion dollars a day. Taking the lower figure of 1 billion will cost 365 billion for one year.

It's not know yet how much money the government will pour into Rita, but it's safe to say that it will be in the billions.

Alongside of this there is the President's war in Iraq. The common estimate here is 1 billion per day. Throw in another 1/2 billion a day for Afghanistan and this totals 547.5 billion a year.

Then there's the trade deficit – i.e., the difference between exports and imports. This isn't congressional spending but nevertheless it adds to the deficit. The trade deficit is a negative balance of about 600 billion for the year.

Finally, there's a wild card in this deck which can neither be calculated nor discarded: another disaster. What happens if the Big One rocks Los Angles, or a major volcanic eruption in the Cascades, or a terrorist attack, or another Katrina? Stretched to the breaking point between Iraq, two cat 5 'canes, and a crushing trade deficit another disaster might well rent the entire economic and social fabric of the United States.

Putting the wild card aside and summing up known expenditures leaves Uncle Sam in the red to the tune of 1.5 trillion dollars. And where is all this money going to come from? Not from the tooth fairy.

Like Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire," who confesses "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," so the United States is dependent upon strangers, but not their kindness. Foreigners will buy our debt if the interest rate is high enough and if they think the currency is sound. But if they suspect that the profligacy of our government is undermining the dollar then....

During the inflationary period of the Wiemar Republic in the early 20's a man loaded his wheelbarrow with marks to buy a loaf of bread. When he came out of the bakery to get his money he found that a thief had dumped the money on the ground and had stolen the wheelbarrow.

There is no backing for our currency, no gold, no silver, only faith in its buying power. But if that faith is compromised by a federal spending spree without commensurate cuts in the budget, then double-digit interest rates will be the only way to attract foreign buyers to purchase the federal debt. And if high interest rates fail to attract buyers, then the dollar becomes only a piece of high-grade paper.

Putting it another way, there is only the fiscal responsibility of congress between us and wheelbarrow currency. Indeed, we may already be headed toward hyper-inflation. According to the French Finance Minister, Thierry Bracton, Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of The Federal Reserve, told him that the United States has already "lost control" of the budget deficit.

Wheelbarrow currency? Extremely improbable, but then so were two cat 5 'canes in the same year and in almost the same month and in virtually the same place.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Recognize Veterans

If you define heroes as people who have made significant sacrifices to benefit others, then you have been blessed by the heroic efforts of millions of servicemen and women who put their lives on the line so you can enjoy freedom. Whether they lost their lives in battle, returned to civilian life or are now taking the fight to terrorists, all Americans should pay tribute to military personnel who defended our nation so today we could be free of communism and tyrannical dictators, and have a strong defense against today's enemies of democracy.

Since the Revolutionary War and through our current efforts to defend freedom and liberty, Americans have been protected by well trained and dedicated soldiers, pilots and sailors. They watched over citizens' backs and marched forward into danger. Veteran's Day should not be seen as just a day off from work or school. Rather, it's a federal holiday to maximize the number of people who participate in remembrances that honor those who placed their country's future before their own safety.

Depending on the era of their service, veterans received a varied reception when they returned from military duty. Remember that without their service, our nation and the world would be completely different, and for the worse. On November 11 support these brave patriots by attending a parade, visiting a veteran's grave site, flying the American flag, praying for troops, sending packages to deployed personnel, supporting military families and thanking veterans for their service. They deserve our gratitude and have earned our respect.


Robert C. Eiler, Vietnam War Veteran

VFW State Commander

With Great Sadness

I read, with great sadness, of the recent deaths of our local brave men in uniform serving in Iraq. The condolences offered by the staff and management of the Susquehanna County Independent and the Times Shamrock Group is appropriate and appreciated.

Yet, like so many spin-doctors in Washington, D.C., their letter attempts to tie the (in my opinion) illegal and immoral war in Iraq to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Fifteen of the nineteen men who attacked the United States were Saudis, two were Emiratis (UAE), 1 was Egyptian and 1 was Lebanese. There were no Iraqis involved. If the United States was justified in invading any country, because of that attack, it seems to me, it should have been Saudi Arabia. No matter how much President G. W. Bush wants us to believe there is some connection between Iraq and September 11th, there is none.

As a citizen and veteran, my heart goes out to the families and loved ones of military personnel killed and injured in service to our country.


James Jennings

Brooklyn Township

Constitution Clarification

There seems to be some misconception regarding our U.S. Constitution, as both Bob Scroggins and Stephen Van Eck in recent letters referred to that document as granting "rights.” This is a popular but erroneous belief. The U.S. Constitution does NOT grant rights since our rights are deemed to have come from our Creator and are therefore unalienable. “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.” Thomas Jefferson.

Rather, the Constitution is a blueprint for the structure of government and is meant to “bind men down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution.” The “men” referred to means government officials and those in positions of political power. It does not address us as individuals at all but sets limits by which the federal government is bound. We, the People, are expected to be responsible, self-governing, sovereign individuals. We grant our power to government personnel so they can serve us. That's the American way.

Maybe the rights confusion is due to the Bill of Rights at the end of the Constitution. It was put there as a specific guarantee that the government established was/is charged with upholding and protecting those enumerated rights, emphasizing that they are the most basic and primary to all other rights. For instance, the right to privacy comes out of the Fourth Amendment, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...” The Declaration of Rights in the Constitution of Pennsylvania echoes the same “Security from Searches and Seizures” in Article 1, Section 8.

On the other hand, if an officer shows up at your door with an Arrest Warrant and you do not know your rights or what information a legitimate Warrant should contain, you'll wind up a guest at the Graybar Hotel. All the laws and guaranteed protections won't protect you from your own ignorance. One young man told me he had been taken to jail for non-payment of a traffic fine (who said there were no debtor's prisons?). When I asked him if the warrant was in proper order he said, “Oh, I didn't know I could look at the warrant.” This is very sad but it's what comes of an improper education and generations of being dummed down.

Please remember that no matter what's written in the books, if you don't know your rights, then you don't have any!


Claudia Montelione

Susquehanna, PA

Where’d I Go Wrong?

I am dismayed by Bob Scroggins’ letter of 10/12 in response to one of my own. I thought I had done an adequate job of explaining that we do indeed have a Right to Privacy, even though it’s not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. And I warned of the folly of denying this right just because it was the basis for legal abortion. Mr. Scroggins seems to have ignored what I wrote; for certain, he did not bother to refute any of it. Perhaps someone can explain to me how I might have done better.

To reclarify it for the people: The Supreme Court has stated, and ratified it in numerous subsequent decisions, that we have a Right to Privacy, so, we do! To claim that “the Court’s wrong and I’m right” is impudent. To demand that the Court go back on these decisions would be like (to borrow an analogy of our new Chief) instructing the umpire to change his call (a whole spate of them, in fact). And to stack the Court with Ideological Activists to produce a predetermined outcome is a radical scheme: it circumvents the only proper way to deal with an unacceptable decision – Constitutional Amendment.

I was not, contrary to Mr. Scroggins’ accusation, defending abortion. What I was doing is rejecting the popular rightwing strategy of overturning any established precedent one chooses. To ignore precedent, as some Justices do, makes hash out of Constitutional jurisprudence.

I did challenge people who oppose Roe v. Wade to come up with a Constitutional basis for depriving women of their rights when it comes to pregnancy. I am still waiting on that one. Mr. Scroggins came up with a very hazy basis for a law in general that amounts to little more than “because the state government passes a law” or “because that’s what the majority wants.” This portends tyranny of the majority, something we should strive to avoid. No majority viewpoint should be allowed to restrict the rights of the individual without a solid Constitutional basis. If, in attempting to stop abortion (an impossible task) one goes along with the expedient of ignoring precedent, ALL of our liberties are at risk. This is a mighty high price to pay for a purely symbolic ban on abortion that’s unenforceable and will be ignored. How content would fetus fanatics be with that?

Stephen Van Eck

Rushville, PA

Interesting Observation

At the recent Republican Fall Rally a commissioner made reference to county health care costs increasing another 20% next year. The commissioner put the blame on our state legislators for not enacting a change that would reduce health care costs. Not once was any reference made to the reason for county health care costing taxpayers about one and a half million dollars, yearly, due to free health care for approximately 190 employees.

I just read in one of our fine newspapers that elected officials were asked if they would pay 10% of their health care costs next year. “Surprising” the response was a resounding NO! My gut feeling is that this may have been orchestrated to make elected officials look good if later they agree to 10%. As a citizen, I say NO way, let’s get in step with the rest of the world. Accept your fair share or expect to be replaced.

From certain letters to the editor it appears to some of us that a resident is teaming up with a commissioner to gain a foot in the door. Unfortunately a citizen is on the receiving end of much criticism . This will only make it more difficult getting good volunteers in the future. I only hope our past experiences have educated us to thoroughly investigate the background of any candidate. Political promises end on election day and you only have yourself to blame for poor performers.

We still need to be searching for candidates not looking for self gain, but instead want to serve the fine people of this county. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that such individuals exist.


Tom Jurista

Silver Lake Township

A Letter To Susquehanna Junior Sabers

My name is Robin Burdick. I graduated from the University of Scranton with a degree in Elementary Education. I have been working with behavior modification for the last two years. I also coach the Boys’ Junior High Track Team at Susquehanna Community High School.

I’m disappointed with what I see going on with SJS. I have been part of the organization for two years. My daughter is a cheerleader on the “C” squad, which has prompted me to speak for all the children. Prior to reading my letter I would like to touch on the points I’d like to address.

It’s not just about my daughter.

Let’s talk about positive self-images.

A parent’s point of view.

The coach’s responsibility.

Coach/parent community relationship.

It is about learning at this level.

Low enrollment.

Parental support.

The moral price.

I’m just like most parents wanting my children to join some activity that can help build positive self-images. I believe in setting children up for success so that they can build good self-esteem. At this level it’s not always about being number one, being the best, having the best sneakers, etc. It’s about learning, so that children can excel.

My daughter was assigned a lift position early on in the practice for the cheerleading competition held at Susquehanna Community High School. I had nothing to do with this decision. I have attended most practices throughout this season.  My daughter has a very good attendance record. I was not aware of any problems that my child had learning to do the task that she was given by the coach. A day and a half before the competition, my daughter raised her hand to give the position to someone else. I was not at this practice and neither were any other coaches. I asked my daughter why she gave this position away, after so much time had gone by. Prior to this she had been very excited about doing the lift. She replied, “Mom, the coach was going to take the position away anyway.” At this point I asked my daughter if she had been threatened by this coach and she said, “Yes, she made me nervous.” She said that the coach said, “If you can’t get up, I’m taking the position away.” I have heard the coach say this to many children before. I wonder why she waited so long to make this change. By this time the coach should know each child’s capabilities and the amount of work needed to meet each individual goal. I went to an Ohio competition with my daughter and many times my daughter had been threatened that if she would not do a stunt, it would be taken away and it (threat) was by the same coach. I have seen my daughter yelled at and brought to tears, along with many other children and other witnesses.

I made the decision that I can no longer sit back and see these children suffer such negativity. I need to be my child’s advocate, to protect her from people and coaches that don’t set children up for success. Throughout this season I have seen children screamed at (in their faces), moved to back lines, and constantly threatened to not receive rewards such as lollypops, pizza and snacks with the rest of the group. Is this okay? I’m tired of seeing children set up and feelings being hurt, at this level. When a person becomes a coach he/she takes the responsibility of helping each child reach their potential and to treat everyone equally using constructive criticism. I only see destructive criticism being used.

I asked the coach to show me what my daughter was having a problem with, she said “no.” The coach told me that I didn’t have a say because she was the head coach. I am the parent, the one who puts gas in my car to take my child to practice, the one who paid to be part of this organization in the first place, who pays extra money for sneakers, socks, $16.00 bodysuits, raffle tickets, and helps volunteer when asked or needed. Does this sound right? The coach said that she was making a safety precaution judgment. I said, “Let’s teach my daughter the move.” The coach said, “No, I’m not” and asked other SJS board members and an assistant coach if they remember, in all the practices, there being a problem with my daughter and they said no, but they were not at this specific practice. I try to explain my frustration to other coaches. The coach says that she is doing her job. Another coach told me that I was making a big deal out of it and that my daughter was fine.

At this point, I hope that it is obvious that it isn’t about the stunt and it’s not about my daughter. I ask myself and others if it’s okay that my child, or any other child be set up to do a task and when he or she can’t do it the coach fails to help reach the goal that she herself set? When a child’s self-esteem is shaken, the coach doesn’t say, “You can do it!’ I wonder, what has this coach taught my daughter and other children? Does she set a good example? Did she set my child up for success, or failure? Did my child build self-esteem by not doing the stunt because I thought it was the coach’s job to teach children perseverance?

Another SJS board member tells me this year went pretty good with the coach; but, her daughter didn’t get moved four times and never was her daughter in the front and not lifted. If this were not the case, if she saw her child not being treated equally, would she think the year went good? This isn’t okay and it is a big deal. It affects the SJS name. it affects children and the most important thing of all, their sensitive self-esteem and need to build and experience positive relationships with peers, coaches and community. If SJS isn’t about using constructive criticism, equality, setting children up for success and learning to reach goals so that hey can reach new ones, I’m not sure that I want to be a part of it.

SJS wonders why they have low enrollment. If children don’t learn at this level and are always watching the same guys play or the same girls in front and going up, they grow wary. They get tired of never achieving and eventually go to something else, hopefully to meet their need to build a positive self-image. By the time they get in high school, they haven’t learned or experienced enough to do the plays, the jumps, the stunts. They, the ones that could have been the junior high football team or cheerleaders have lost interest and been overlooked. It’s a chain reaction and it is a big deal.

SJS wonders why they have low parent support. When organizations don’t work hard to build positive relationships between coaches and parents there’s a problem. When parents don’t feel a sense of equality from their coaches, you have feelings of anger. Every parent wants his or her child to be treated fairly and set up to succeed. Every child is unique, they have some talent and it’s up to the coach to help teach children how to do things and then give them the opportunity to practice, practice, practice, achieve and learn more.

The “C” squad got second place in the competition, but, morally, was the price too high? Do these girls want this coach next year? Please do not forget what it is really all about.


Robin Burdick

Thompson, PA

200 Million Plus?

Dear Lou,

Your 200 million dollar plus team did not look very good, again. I guess praying can only go so far.


Your Friend,

Bob (Lanesboro)

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