The letters on this page are written by UUSDBA members and friends and were published in the Daytona Beach News-Journal Letters to Editor column. The most recent letter is at the top of the page. Scroll down for other letters printed this year. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily of the general membership of the UUSDBA or the UUA. Permission to reprint these articles has been obtained from the News-Journal and the authors
THE DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR and COMMUNITY VOICES
Letters to the Editor 2013:
May 3, 2013
RETHINKING DRUG CRISIS
The just-released book entitled "Clean" is a must-read for all concerned with the failure of the war on drugs and its (sometimes well-intended) cost of tens of billions of dollars, to little avail.
Award-winning author David Sheff, inspired by wrenching drug problems in his own family, explains how the U.S. attacked the supply of brain-damaging drugs for 40 years and should instead do a full-court press on treatment.
He supports this move with thorough research, understandable explanations of the human brain's physical reactions to all addictive substances, and the various possibilities of treatment.
He also calls for the creation of an organization fashioned after the American Cancer Society, aimed at destigmatizing addiction and broadening support for treatment.
This book may be a game-changer.
Please don't miss reading it.
March 16, 2013
RECONSIDER HEALTH CARE
Mac Thrower confuses obstinacy with principle in his Sunday column. At issue should be a clear cost analysis, not a spurious attack on a person's consistency — be that person Gov. Rick Scott, former Gov. Charlie Crist or anyone else.
The principle at stake in the entire debate is whether health care is a commodity or a human right. If the former, the apportioning of scarce medical resources should be — as it is now –– the task of financial institutions and human-resource departments that will classify people's worth by wealth and ability to pay. If the latter, an objective analysis of successful medical intervention will govern scarce medical resources.
What a society must pay for, it must find a way to pay for. Bellyaching about the discomforts of a possibly strained purse is not a proper response to meeting human rights. After all, slavery and exploitation are exceedingly inexpensive ways of running a business, but they are not right ways of running a business.
The News-Journal should make an effort to deal with facts, not with ad hominem fallacies. I recommend some solid research, keeping in mind Emerson's valuable reminder from “Self-Reliance”: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines”
March 12, 2013
LOOKING BACK AT CHAVEZ
Daytona Beach Shores
Who was the real Hugo Chavez?
The voices of the international community, particularly the people of Latin America, portray him as a heroic figure, one who fought for justice and equality in his own country as well as the rest of Latin America. He fought against poverty, provided his own people with health care, education and basic needs which they had not had in the past. He became the most admired leader of the vast majority of his people.
Here at home, the major media and some politicians describe him as a tyrannical dictator. How can we call someone a dictator when he was elected by the democratic process four different times?
We keep making the same mistake, labeling someone as a socialist. This word in itself creates such a negative impression that we cannot see beyond the label. There is no country in the world, including the United States, that does not have a blend of capitalism and socialism. What do you call Social Security, Medicare and the military? It would serve our interest better if we would tolerate and accept others who disagree with us.
Hugo Chavez had something in common with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They all came from poor families. The difference is that Hugo Chavez never forgot where he came from. I do not doubt that President Obama admired Hugo Chavez. But I don't blame him for being afraid to express his views as he would alienate too many.
My own criticism is that Chavez stayed in power too long. It is unhealthy for democracy for any of us to believe that we are irreplaceable.
March 3, 2013
THE WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE
In the recent letter "Skeptical about warming," the writer claims that "Republicans and other conservatives investigate the facts before climbing aboard the bandwagon" of concern about global warming. Although he admits that "climate change is occurring," he explains it as a result of "periodic cyclical change" due to natural causes. He paints as "fearmongers" those who might point to human causes. The work of one scientist seems to convince the writer of the "facts" — Dixy Lee Ray. Ray was a marine biologist who served as chairwoman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and was elected governor of Washington state. However, she was also connected to The Heritage Foundation and other conservative think tanks, which actively dismiss environmental science and deny global warming. No surprise there, since from 2006-2010, the Heritage Foundation received over $2.5 million from oil and gas interests.
Nowhere does the writer mention the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, composed of over 2,000 respected scientists from around the world. Their reports require not only their agreement with each other, but also a consensus of all the 154 participating countries. Those reports have concluded that human activity is seriously contributing to and accelerating climate change.
Note that I did not say "causes" climate change. We need not fall into the "either/or" logical fallacy and conclude that there is only one answer to the very complex issue of why our earth is warming, why this past summer was the hottest one on record or why we have "freak" storms such as Hurricane Sandy. To dismiss all but one's own pet theory as "fantastical" is dangerous. I'm curious if the writer lives on waterfront property. If so, he will have a front row seat to observe the effects of our warming Earth.
LANI VAN PETTEN
GET REGISTRATION ONLINE
In an age in which people can pay their bills, buy almost anything they want and even start their cars via electronic gadgets, it is high time our voter registration system joined the 21st century. Paper-only voter registration is antiquated, costly and by no means free of errors. All signs suggest that the system should be modernized, via the creation of an online voter registration system.
As a resident of Ormond Beach, I am eager to see improvements made to all facets of our elections system, and the creation of an online voter registration system should be one of the first places we address. Currently, 12 other states have online voter registration (with three more in the process of implementing it), and they have found that it saves a significant amount of time and money. Furthermore, online voter registration can eliminate the human errors and mistakes that occur from misinterpreting handwritten forms.
I join with the League of Women Voters of Florida in urging the Legislature to help Florida's elections into the modern age with the creation of an online voter registration system.
February 7, 2013
POT AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE?
I was interested to notice two stories on the same page of The News-Journal: "Lawmakers target looming budget cuts" and "Effort builds to change U.S. pot laws."
An $85 billion federal spending cut looms on March 1, and many cuts would affect persons needing mental health and humanitarian services.
For the record, I have never smoked pot. But I wonder what would happen if a bill similar to the one proposed by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, was passed, and portions of the estimated $20 billion revenue were given to mental health organizations in each state? Would there be less possibility of a mentally troubled person shooting a weapon at innocent children or adults?
It is time to "think outside the box" regarding budget woes, and shooting rampages.
February 6 2013
FIND WAYS TO WORK TOGETHER
The News-Journal recently published two columns by Jonah
Goldberg and Leonard Pitts that provide a startling contrast
contrast in subject matter, logic and tone. For example, Goldberg
argues, in "Trading great good for small benefit," that any effort to
control guns is foolish and fruitless. In contrast, Pitts proposes
compromise and cooperation with active communication among
all parties in Washington.
Goldberg refers to former Food and Drug Administration regulator
John O. Nestor's efforts to prohibit new drugs reaching the market
because they might be dangerous. He compares this effort to the
Obama administration's efforts to control the selling of military-style
weapons, high-capacity ammo clips and to require buyer background
checks at gun shows. But Goldberg uses a false analogy to make his case,
since the new proposal does not try to eliminate 100 percent of guns.
According to United Nations statistics, as reported by The Washington Post,
Americans are 20 times more likely to be gunned down than individuals in
any other developed country. Certainly these are not figures to be proud of
or defend. Even the National Rifle Association should be sobered by the
horrific killing in Newtown. Goldberg claims that it's "ridiculously impossible"
to keep children from harm, but that does not mean we should give up on trying.
In contrast, Pitts argues that for our country, and its government, to make any
progress at all, we must begin to "restore civility to public discourse" and stop
allowing partisan politics to freeze most positive legislative efforts such as the
compromises suggested by the Obama administration's efforts to control gun
violence. Such partisan intractability frustrates sane discussion in a nation
where — as Pitts puts it — "reason is treason." Maybe we can hope that Goldberg,
and the gun advocates he supports, can see beyond their own paranoia to a
February 2, 2013
A COLD CALCULATION
The News-Journal's report about closings of public restrooms in a Holly Hill park to save soap that the homeless might use makes that city look exceedingly cynical.
When the homeless can be ticketed for public defecation or public sleeping, the cities of this area should at least support alternate venues. No one should be forced to follow laws that do not acknowledge the facts of our common humanity.
Such a Catch-22 seems much more imposing on the homeless when compared to the burden that putting up a bit more cash for soap would place on the city of Holly Hill.
I wonder when the citizens of this area last listened to "what you have done to these the least of my brothers, you have done to me" (Matthew 25:40).