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Letters to the Editor: April 24, 2014

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The right to vote

To the Editor:

I might have been more sympathetic to Richard Marzolf’s plight having to ferry his ill wife across town to vote had he not recited the lib’s/progressives litany against efforts to ensure our elections are free from fraud and corruption. But then I considered the plight of our men and women in uniform stationed throughout the world and the difficulty they have not only getting an absentee ballot but hoping it won’t be disqualified on some technicality they overlooked.

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To begin with, they have to have enough foresight to begin the process of having an absentee ballot sent to them far enough in advance so the paperwork and ballot are all completed by the time of the election.

In most cases, even if there is an office there is only one officer assigned, along with their other more pressing duties, to the task of helping our troops obtain absentee ballots. Even that is not a guarantee you will get an absentee ballot.

My own experience during the Vietnam era was worse. When I checked with administration at the air base I was stationed at they told me to write home. Write home to whom? Most of our military at the time were disenfranchised and had no chance to vote against the politicians who could send us to our deaths.

When I consider the sacrifice these people make to keep America safe, years of their lives, limbs and those who come back in a body bag, I don’t consider Marzolf’s trip across town with his ill wife much of an impediment to exercising her right to vote. Where is the sense of civic duty in exercising this most important right and privilege? We see people in third world countries risk death from those who would prevent them from voting. Marzolf’s case might be inconvenient, perhaps stressful, but somehow I doubt it would be life-threatening. Since the right and privilege to vote is critical in determining our future as a nation it should be protected vigorously. And exercised just as vigorously.

The left’s complaint is that requiring ID at the polls disenfranchises some voters. Fraud disenfranchises the rest of the electorate who are eligible to vote. Legitimate voters play by the rules while fraudsters cook the books and skew an election to those who are best at cheating. Loosening the requirements for absentee voting will only increase the incidents of fraud just as the so-called motor voter provisions have done. The left’s complaint against requiring an ID at the polls is spurious at best.

Marzolf’s concern about a plutocracy is misplaced at best. The rich get the same number of votes as the poor. But the rich can throw money around to influence not only the vote but the politician once they have achieved the office. If Marzolf is truly concerned about a plutocracy and not just hurling epithets he might want to concentrate his efforts toward curtailing the influence of big money in our elections. Jim Doyle’s pay for play administration is gone. Gov. Scott Walker’s balanced-budget, tax-reducing administration has primarily helped the average worker and allowed seniors to afford to stay in their homes and kept jobs and our young people in our state.

Jim Schroeder, Town of Somerset

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It’s about time

To the Editor:

This week U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) introduced a couple of pieces of legislation to reform several government agencies and hold the top executives accountable for bad performance. Here’s a new thought: I imagined that the reason top executives in the government behave badly was because the regulations told them to. Now we’re going to have new regulations to tell them to act even more badly, if that’s at all possible considering a lot of them do things on their own without the help of regulations. Case in point: Lois Lerner, Kathleen Sebelius.

The agencies that will see the results of this new legislation are the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Postal Service. Notice the agencies that need it the most weren’t mentioned, like healthcare, the IRS, Homeland Security and Immigration.

Under the new regulations it will be made easier to fire executives who don’t perform up to standard. That’s interesting. My question is ‘what standards?’ If this process was applied to every government agency there would be nobody in charge. It’s like I have always said, if we followed the Soviet model and executed all the idiots at the top at the end of the day the only ones standing would be the firing squad.

Another condition is that bonuses wouldn’t be paid and some would be exempt from any bonuses for five years. Currently, no matter how bad things are in the agency, the VA for example, executives will still get their bonuses. For example, if you made $180,000 and then received another $70,000 in bonuses you would end up paying a lot in taxes. In the private sector, your bonuses are usually paid in stock and you can take the losses from stock prices to diminish your tax payment. This would allow you to keep more of your money.

Most everyone in the government, even executives, belongs to the union and of course are protected from any wrongdoing. That’s why only the worst government employees need a union.

But would this legislation work as its intended? Of course not. The new regulations are being written by lower-level management. It’s like being arrested for murder and the perpetrator is allowed to rewrite the definition of murder before being charged.

On a more local note, our governor a couple of years ago went out and busted up the unions and the Department of Education so badly that today there is supposed to be some kind of teacher shortage. In the first year the expected deficit in the education budget was actually a surplus of $1 million. And those teachers who couldn’t be protected by the union’s anymore decided it was time to find another career. Gee, I wonder if our kids are going to benefit from that. Probably not.

Recently, the House has passed legislation without any Democratic intervention to reduce bonus payments at the VA by 18 percent. Boy, that ought to get them.

Robert Pike, Town of Stanton

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