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Saturday, Sep 20, 2014
Letters To The Editor

Letters to the editor: Indigestion over monopolies

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Digesting monopolies

Regarding “With Comcast deal, antitrust deserves spot on progressive agenda” (Other Views, Feb. 18): Ryan Cooper, like probably all of us, doesn’t like monopolies. He describes monopolies as “hulking monstrosities.” The $45 billion cable provider merger, however, pales in comparison to the $3 trillion mega monopoly, also known as the U.S. government.

Of course, some people see the deficiencies in corporate monopolies but ignore the magnified deficiencies in government monopolies. At $3 trillion, the U.S. government trumps all other organizations. The U.S. government doesn’t like competition from state governments. Being a true monopoly, the federal government doesn’t have to be efficient — just print $20 trillion.

Cooper wonderfully described monopolies as “sclerotic.” Is there any other organization less adaptable than the U.S. government?

The sad irony of “political economies” is that it becomes increasingly impossible for small, agile companies to thrive. Getting the “ear” of politicians costs money in lobbying. Meeting increasing government regulations requires lawyers and paper pushers.

It is no surprise that as government control gets bigger and more central to determining winners and losers, mega-mergers, like the one that Cooper deplores, will be a necessity.

Conservatives blame the government for setting the table. Liberals blame corporations for coming to dinner. In any case, consumers and taxpayers are left with indigestion.

Thomas West

Trinity

Gun control

The Tribune’s article Feb. 18, “Accidental death nets probation” (Across the Bay, Metro) caused me to think that legally requiring personal accountability for all firearm discharges, accidental or intentional, is a very common-sense approach to improve gun control. The article revealed that, although a woman admitted shooting and killing an unarmed man, unprovoked, “...she won’t spend a day in prison for it.” She thought the gun was unloaded.

There are four primary rules that everyone handling a gun must accept responsibility for knowing and following.

The most important are the first two: Any gun is always loaded. And never allow the muzzle of a gun to point at anything you are not prepared to destroy.

Following these two rules, anyone who picks up a gun must personally verify the gun is unloaded — no exceptions! They must never take anyone else’s word that the gun is unloaded. Even then, the gun must never be pointed at anyone.

If either of these two most basic gun rules had been followed, the victim would still be alive. Firearm owners are responsible to ensure their guns are only handled by someone responsible enough to know and follow the two basic rules.

Any legally responsible person violating the first two rules of gun safety who uses a gun, causing death or injury, must be held accountable. It should not be within the prosecutor’s or judge’s discretion to excuse such actions.

Instead of doing their jobs to prosecute this killing as manslaughter with a firearm, the prosecutor’s office excused its inaction, saying the shooting was “... a classic example of why people not trained in firearms should not be around firearms.” There is nothing complicated in knowing not to point a gun at someone.

Human nature dictates that we will always have accidents. By following the basic rules of firearm safety, we can change accidental shootings into accidental discharges. The true meaning of “gun control”: The owner and user of a firearm is responsible for their actions.

Walter Repak

Spring Hill

Education’s purpose

In his seminal work “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the late Stephen Covey challenged us to begin with the end in mind. Covey believed that if we knew where we were headed it would be easier for us to chart a course to get there.

Sadly, the simplicity but poignancy of Covey’s advice has been lost in our quest to prove that we have all the answers. That approach, unfortunately, has left us grabbing at straws in search for ways to better educate/prepare our students for the challenges of tomorrow’s world.

Herein lies the question, “What is the purpose of education?”

If you were asked that question, how would you respond? Would you say that the purpose of education is to prepare students for entry-level work? Would you say it is to provide students with the skills they need to more effectively manage the challenges of tomorrow? Would you, rather cynically, respond by saying that it is to increase test scores across the board? Sadly, we are doing a poor job on each count.

As far as test scores are concerned, there are too many false positives — we keep lowering the bar to allow otherwise average students to become above average. In so doing, we indirectly discourage our students from working hard. What, then, is the purpose of education? If we don’t have a definitive response, how are we going to know how to get there? More importantly, how are we to know which road to take to get there?

Until such time that we can “universally” agree on the purpose of education, we will continue to give the impression that we are doing well. In effect, we are not doing as well as we portray — we are shortchanging the consumers of our service.

John L. Black, Ed. D

Wesley Chapel

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