The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 9, 2013

Readers' Forum 5-9 | Can’t we at least be kind to one another?

Submitted by Readers

— “Compassion” is a biblical word too often lacking in our lives today.

Why is it sometimes confined to only our loved ones going through difficult times?

There are those who were critical of welfare recipients until one of their family had to rely on welfare, or who were against abortion in all cases until their young daughters became pregnant due to rape or incest. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney changed his anti-homosexual views when his daughter revealed her sexual orientation.

And why did Congress overlook the hardships of others due to the sequester when members made changes to accommodate their own travel plans?

The message of the gospel is to love one another. We may never reach that goal, but a good place to start is to be kind to one another.

Doris M. Todorich


Norquist ‘reformers’ violating their oaths

As head of the Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist has transformed a single issue, preventing tax hikes, into one of the key platforms of the Republican Party. His tax pledge is hindering a solution to our debt crisis.

Norquist has never held elected office. He’s not a political appointee or a congressional staffer. Yet his power over the GOP allows them to give tax breaks for the rich and billions in subsidies to America’s wealthiest corporations.

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan asked him to head Americans for Tax Reform to push a tax package through Congress. Norquist challenged GOP candidates to take a two-part pledge:

1. That they would never raise taxes.

2. That they would only close tax loopholes if the additional revenue was used to pay for further tax cuts.

At that time, he had 112 representatives and 16 senators. Now he has 235 representatives and 41 senators.

The requirement for members of Congress to swear an oath to our country is in the Constitution’s Article VI. The senators and representatives shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution.

Article VIII says one of Congress’ jobs is to have the power to collect duties, taxes, imposts and excises to apply the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.

So how could a member of Congress swear an oath to a multimillionaire and refuse to perform one of the constitutional duties? If you are elected by the people and for the people and swear allegiance to our country and Constitution, do you then sign a pledge that supercedes all that?

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, D-12th, is a member of Norquist’s tax-pledge team.

Mike Chalich


E-cigarettes helping quit-smoking effort

Your April 30 editorial urging employers to ban the use of electronic cigarettes was dead wrong.

The evidence on e-cigarettes consistently finds the products pose no known risks to nonusers, are 99 percent less hazardous than cigarettes, are used almost exclusively by smokers and former smokers who quit by switching, and have already helped more than a million smokers quit.

In contrast to the absurd claim by state Department of Health press secretary Kathleen Gillis that “e-cigarettes have the potential to promote more smoking or attract new smokers,” there is no evidence e-cigarettes have ever addicted any nonsmoker or youth.

Joe Shetler was quoted as saying Conemaugh Health System banned e-cigarette use “because of the negative visual association they have with a real cigarette.” That’s not a health argument, but rather a policy to discriminate against people who recently quit smoking.

The only reason our organization campaigned to ban smoking in workplaces for the past three decades was because tobacco smoke pollution contaminates indoor air and is harmful for nonsmokers.

But instead of improving health, banning e-cigarette use in workplaces (other than schools) threatens public health by discouraging smokers from quitting and by deceiving people to believe e-cigarettes are as hazardous as cigarettes.

Last week, a tobacco stock analyst estimated that e-cigarettes will replace 1.5 billion cigarettes on the U.S. market this year.

The best way to further reduce cigarette consumption is to encourage smokers to use e-cigarettes.

Bill Godshall

Executive director, Smokefree Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh


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