The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 18, 2013

Readers' Forum 10-18 | Tea party sought notoriety wrong way

— “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government.” – Henry David Thoreau.

The tea party’s goal to reduce spending by the federal government is admirable. Its efforts, however, are misguided and reflect a lack of commitment.

The partial shutdown of the federal government has halted services that numerous Americans are dependent upon and has left thousands of federal employees and their families without money to pay bills.

Meanwhile, it is business as usual for this tea party group, especially for those who are members of Congress. (The 11th commandment, “Thou shall not interfere with another’s ability to earn a living,” must not be included in their ideology.)

In July 1846, while living in Concord, Mass., Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay a poll tax, in protest against the government’s support of slavery and the Mexican War. He believed that the reasons for the war were contrived. He was released when someone paid the tax.

As evidenced by the name of their party, members of the tea party knew that protests against the actions of government are not new.

However, the difference between Thor-eau’s actions and theirs are infinite. He did not expect others to suffer the consequences of his decisions.

It is doubtful that the tea party believes in its cause as Thoreau believed in his. If it did, its members would consider not paying their income taxes as a form of protest. They would certainly garner much more support than they currently have.

Stephen J. Verotsky


Refusal to pay benefits is national disgrace

The recent effort by President Obama and his administration to inflict maximum pain on the public makes me sick. I am referring to the refusal to pay death benefits to the families of our fallen military. This is a national disgrace.

The president and Chuck Hagel, his secretary of defense, are solely to blame for this total snafu.

As commander in chief, Obama is ultimately responsible for the people and troops under him.

As secretary of defense, Hagel is directly responsible for the operation of the defense department. It’s one thing to play games at the national parks, etc., but there are surely a few places where such games are outrageous.

Hagel is supposedly a former noncommissioned officer. I don’t know how he got his stripes, but he has certainly forgotten the responsibility he should have for his men. Neither Obama nor Hagel show any respect for the unfortunate men and women serving under them.

When I was a young platoon sergeant, an old sergeant gave me the best lesson in leadership I ever received. He taught me  that, “Leadership is the art of influencing others toward a common goal in such a way that you gain their respect and loyal cooperation.” Hagel should resign. I’m sure Obama will find someone to blame.

Neither the president nor Hagel have gained one ounce of my respect or cooperation.

They may be in charge but they are certainly not leaders. I wouldn’t leave my foxhole to follow either one of the them.

Patrick J. Mulcahy