Democracy, high on U.S., court furloughs

09/30/2013 5:24 PM

09/30/2013 5:25 PM

Ensuring democracy

I was a proud Republican and voted for every GOP presidential candidate from Dwight Eisenhower through George H.W. Bush’s first term until I felt the party no longer represented me. I voted for Ross Perot twice and for Democrats since then.

Today politics at every level are controlled by big money, and we’re no longer a democracy. The Greeks had a word for what we are — plutocracy. It may not yet be too late to reverse course, but it’ll require a change in the way we select our president and other elected officials.

That probably won’t happen soon, if ever. Meanwhile, there will be little improvement in the economy and our standard of living.

Upon exiting the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” His reply, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

We have had our ups and downs, but I’m concerned that our government of the people, by the people and for the people, more than ever before, is in grave danger of falling. It will be our own fault if we let that happen.

Bob Cook

Manhattan, Kan. Positive on America

I read the letters daily. It has come to my attention that many of the letters are from old dudes who really have an ax to grind.

You may ask how I know they’re old. With names like Wilber, Emmet and Ned, you have to assume a certain age because almost no male babies have been given these names in 60 to 70 years.

It seems that most of these guys are really down on the country and feel it is going to hell in a handbasket. Many older people get these feelings because they no longer understand the changes that are occurring in the greater society.

It scares them. I remember my grandparents and parents had these feelings. The fear and anger is palpable in these letters.

The country still stands after more than 230 years, and I think the new leaders will be just fine.

I’m 66 and no spring chicken, but I hope not to disengage from my country, which has given me so much. I hope to never have a negative mindset, mostly because it is so unattractive.

Linda Katz

Overland Park Court furloughs

Kansas courts could close for seven weeks in 2014-2015 because of insufficient funds to pay employees. Is this a situation Kansans will tout when we are trying to attract business from out of state or maybe even keep the ones we have?

Will we be satisfied when staff shortages lead to errors that affect defendants by failing to cancel warrants in a timely manner, leading to wrongful arrests? Or when shortages force judges to prioritize cases and limit the amount of judicial attention?

Or when hearings and depositions are unreasonably postponed? Or when processing times for data entry and records management create an unmanageable backlog?

And how will those court-staff furloughs affect professional employees’ job performance? Will our judicial system be weakened because they seek employment elsewhere when they see not only their salaries but their retirement funds diminished?

Is placing justice on hold a value we want to teach our youth and a civil right we want to delay — and perhaps deny — citizens of Kansas?

These are just a few of many questions Kansans need to ask themselves and their legislators.

Diane Kuhn

Shawnee Distasteful TV ads

It used to be that feminine-protection TV ads ruled the airwaves with women skiing down the sides of mountains and competing in swimming events.

Now we have men soaring to new heights in ads showing cowboys out on the range or eyeing their wives or girlfriends like Wile E. Coyote from the cartoons, and, yes, the announcer tries to be discreet about seeking medical help after four hours.

But let’s face the facts, folks. How many parents are getting questioned by their children during the dinner hour about these magical drugs?

You can find these ads during all of the nightly national news broadcasts between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Maybe children would not be growing up so fast in our society if they were not exposed to such things at such an early age.

At the very least, these ads should not be shown until much later in the evening when most children are in bed.

Lynn Pierce

Independence Protect planet Earth

The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stone. Likewise, the oil/coal age should not be allowed to continue until we run out of these fossil fuels whose overuse is poisoning our planet. Instead, we need to slow down and wean ourselves from using so many fossil fuels and reduce the damage coming out of our oil/coal addiction.

The Keystone XL pipeline, hydraulic fracking, coal-fired electric generating plants, our desire for big cars and trucks and our planet’s overpopulation are all keeping us dependent on big oil and coal. There must be better ways.

We can change. There are sustainable alternatives.

Permanent climate change and global warming may be a hoax, although facts suggest otherwise. But what if it isn’t a hoax?

What then are we leaving for future planet inhabitants? We have recently been taking far more out of our planet than we have been giving back.

And none of this should be about politics. But governments, businesses, churches and regular people like you and me have important parts to play in addressing these environmental problems.

Bob Siemens

Shawnee John Adams’ words

Here is a pertinent letter from John Adams for today:

“We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular governments. But there is great danger that those governments will not make us happy.

“God grant that they may. But I fear that in every assembly, members will obtain an influence by noise, not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls.

“There is one thing that must be attempted and most sacredly observed or we are all undone. There must be decency and respect, and veneration introduced for persons of authority of every rank, or we are undone.

“In a popular government this is the only way.”

Michael Bennett

Lenexa Difficulty healing

It has been almost a year since the conviction of Bishop Robert Finn, when he was given two years’ probation by the Jackson County Circuit Court. He also is under a probation from Clay County — all about the cover-up of Father Shawn Ratigan’s case.

The intensity and interest has fast dissipated to where we now are at a stage of little interest or concern within or outside of the diocese.

This is a shame because neither the victims nor their parents have a place to take their concerns and proceed with the healing process. Meanwhile, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph proceeds as if nothing happened.

It is all quite sickening to a practicing Catholic like myself.

David Biersmith

Kansas City Misunderstood T-shirt

I wore my favorite T-shirt — “Perennial Optimist” — to the grocery store. The young lady at checkout asked me whether I knew anything about growing roses.

Esther Kreek

Overland Park Gun violence

Yes, I am talking to you Bible-carrying, gun-loving, constitutional bubbas, you legal gun owners and conceal-carry permit holders. Did you know that gun manufacturers make a profit from selling guns?

What you might not know is that our mayor, the Star editorial board and some City Council members believe that some of those profits from illegal gun sales contribute to Kansas City’s crime rate and that the mayor is asking that retirement funds divest themselves of gun manufacturers’ stock.

Blaming gun manufacturers for the black-on-black gun-crime levels in Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Miami and other cities is the height of absurdity. It’s like blaming liquor and auto manufacturers for drunken-driving accidents.

Ricci Ballesteros

Kansas City

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