Divided they fell in Wisconsin | June 10, Robyn Blumner column
They got theirs; we can suffer
The rich and powerful celebrated a huge win in Wisconsin with an affirmation of Gov. Scott Walker and his agenda to drive collective bargaining into the ground. Robyn Blumner points out that Walker outspent his rival by a 7-to-1 ratio. I have heard higher estimates, but what is important is where that money came from. We voters should always know where the money is coming from to support any particular agenda.
The bizarre thing about the election is that Walker was put over the top by people who owe everything to collective bargaining. They had health care, fair wages and retirement pensions in their lifetimes and now have voted for a government that is determined to get rid of that same collective bargaining and leave individuals to contract as best they can with big business and government. Good luck with that.
The middle class has been declining steadily and on the same downward slope as union strength. The corporate donors to Walker's campaign are, to say the least, doing very well indeed. Corporate profits are higher than they have been since World War II. Executive pay is immoral. Yet the agenda of the elite — deregulation, low taxes, cheap labor — is somehow the same agenda of many of those Americans who are losing their way.
It is time we turn off the for-profit propaganda machines paid for by the moneyed class and come together as a people for rational debate to decide what kind of country we want. We probably have a lot more in common than the television and radio talking heads want us to believe.
Thomas Maciocha, Tampa
Divided they fell in Wisconsin | June 10, Robyn Blumner column
Public unions are different
This assessment of the recent Wisconsin vote doesn't distinguish between private sector unions and government unions.
Robyn Blumner asserts that the Wisconsin vote was a referendum on the power of the people versus the power of money. It was, indeed, a referendum that involved the power of the people — but it was that power versus the excesses of the government employee union, not money. Such excesses prevail in many other states and in the federal government.
The assertion that the labor movement raised workers from degrading conditions, brought safety to factories, and provided middle class security is most certainly true. But how does this relate to government employees? The legislative and executive branches of local, state and federal government have, for decades, been all too happy to secure the support and votes of these workers by providing generous benefits. The situation, aided by government growth, has been spiraling out of control. Hopefully the Wisconsin outcome will help dampen the spiral.
Donald Barnhill, Trinity
Voters knew the score
Robyn Blumner's lamentations over Gov. Scott Walker's recall victory in Wisconsin were sadly predictable, and utterly insulting to the citizens of Wisconsin. She attempts to convince us that, in a nutshell, large amounts of Republican money persuaded the gullible and feeble-minded people of Wisconsin to vote, in effect, against their own self-interests. The progressive left would have us believe that only they know what is best for the people, despite the fact that 38 percent of voters who claimed to be a union member, or lived in a household with a union member, voted for Walker.
Perhaps many of the citizens understand that President Franklin Roosevelt was correct when he said in a letter in 1937 that "all government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." Further, "The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress."
The "whole people" have spoken in this matter twice now.
Alex Vann, Brooksville
On Syria, a new option | June 11, commentary
Put Assad on trial
Elie Wiesel's proposal is right on. President Bashar Assad of Syria and his cohorts need to be publicly warned that they will soon find themselves before the International Criminal Court.
This court has been underused so far, so to give a warning sense of reality I recommend broadcasting the trials of Nazi criminals after World War II for Assad and company and the whole world to see.
We all need to be reminded that evil rulers, and not uninvolved people who are hurt by sanctions, must suffer for their actions.
Mary McCall Fullerton, St. Petersburg
Is pleasure a sin? | June 7, commentary
Beacon of hope
Charismatic leaders are often rejected for their outspoken views. So it is with Sister Margaret Farley, the Catholic nun recently denounced by the Vatican for her theological views on Christian sexuality. I served for many years in the Sisters of Mercy, the same order as Sister Margaret, and had the privilege of knowing her when I lived in Connecticut. She was a revered theologian, always on the cutting edge of research in the field of ethics and morality at Yale.
The Sisters of Mercy take a vow to "serve the poor, sick and uneducated." The exercise of this vow — by seeking justice and equality for all, whether in their health care system, institutions of higher learning or other social and political spheres — has often incurred the displeasure of the Vatican hierarchy.
Sister Margaret Farley's book on Christian sexual ethics shines like a beacon of hope for so many marginalized and fallen-away Catholics. Perhaps the crumbling, aged hierarchy should tend to its own house before trying to suppress free-thinking, intelligent Catholic women who are focused on serving the contemporary needs of the people of God.
Tricia Nielsen, Dunedin
A poor maid and my church | June 10, commentary
A denial of God
Lodovico Balducci's article regarding his Italian uncle not receiving absolution as a member of the Communist Party failed to mention that to be a communist you had to swear to uphold the beliefs of the Communist Manifesto, the denial of God, and obedience to state policies that eradicated all freedom to practice religion. The penalty was death, concentration camps and exile.
Under Lenin and Stalin, 23 million Russians were murdered including rabbis, priests, ministers and the faithful who sought to practice their faith. That Balducci's uncle was refused absolution because of his membership in the Communist Party was a valid step by the Catholic Church.
Patricia Jenkins, St. Petersburg