Some ‘think tanks’ don’t think

Some ‘think tanks’ don’t think

I’m used to be stunned at the distance conservatives will go to spew their displeasure after losing the White House. An item posted by so-called “think tank” conservatives says that the bailout loan to the auto industry was merely a gift to the United Auto Workers because the workers didn’t take any cuts. Right there it shows you just how ignorant these thinkers are. I wonder if they applied these insights to the Wall Street “gifts” too?

As a Lordstown retiree of 30-plus years, my wife and I lost 100 percent of our eye care and 100 percent of our dental care. I’ll add that we contributed toward those benefits, and the loss came at a time when retired folks need these two benefits the most.

Through mostly good times as world-leading car producers, GM failed to contribute to their retirement fund knowing full well it would take a hit as baby boomers reached retirement age. Instead they funded their new product designs coffers hoping to keep their lead over non-union foreign competitors.

The UAW let them get away with this without a strike by being promised later funding to agreed levels. Never happened.

Think tankers called this an Obama bailout, overlooking that the “loan” to the auto industry started with a “conservative” named Bush. I guess those of us who are just happy for the chance to retire with a bit of dignity with our toothless smiles and using reading glasses from Big Lots are pleased that both Presidents Bush and Obama “loaned” the auto industry the help they needed.

D. Buck Hornberger, Niles

The touch, the feel ... of paper

The Vindicator’s June 17 arti- cle, “New Orleans’ effect on newspapers” by Todd Franko was definitely news to me.

I understand progress, but is it really progress to no longer hold a piece of paper in your hands and read about the world around you both locally and abroad?

Yes, I have a laptop and a Kindle, but I don’t always enjoy looking at the screen or dragging a finger nail to change a page. I want to feel the print, and yes the ink, between my fingers as I turn the pages. If there was a power outage, I could even light a candle and continue to enjoy the printed word through the soft glow of its flame. Can’t do that online.

There is something to be said about how we preserve history and proceed with progress. It is up to each and everyone of us to voice our preferences. We can each make a difference. History so far has developed methods to get information to us quicker, simplier, and move available. All this has a single thread. That thread is the recorded word whether on stone, papyrus, pulp, or paper. We can still view even though it was written 2000 years ago or more. Can we say the same for our ipads, emails, and Facebook? Will people 2000 years from now be able to learn about us if our screens are void? I like to think we are more than a micro-chip.

We are living beings. Paper is made from a living plant. It is only fitting that the stories of our lives, our community, our world, go on living too. I pray there is a balance to what lies ahead for us. A balance for progress with respect for history and the human spirit. Am I a little melodramatic? Maybe. Just remember to feel, touch, breathe, read, learn, grow — cherish — no one knows what tomorrow will bring.

Sharmon Lesnak, Youngstown

Not to worry: OPERS is solvent

The Ohio Public Employees Re- tirement System is and continues to be well funded. Mr. de Souza’s June 10 attempt to compare failing, underfunded pension systems in other states with OPERS is misleading and incorrect. His further attempts to link and compare other state and local pension systems which are asking for more taxpayer contributions with OPERS is editorial dishonesty. OPERS is not asking for any taxpayer contributions or higher taxes to fund their retirement system.

Unlike many other states, Ohio workers pay 10 percent from their own salaries into the OPERS pension fund. The average employee contribution is 5.9 percent, according to a Boston College study of 126 public employee retirement systems in the states.

Ohio Law requires that OPERS be able to fund pension liabilities within a 30-year frame. Currently, OPERS is fully funded within the Ohio state law requirement. OPERS, which is fully funded, cannot be put in the same category as underfunded out-of-state pension systems. The San Diego, Calif., public pension system is the most underfunded public pension system in their state, according to the San Diego City Auditor’s report dated September 2011, studying 14 comparable pension systems.

Spiking is also being addressed by OPERS. “Spiking” refers to those public employees who ”pad” their final three years to increase their pension benefits. New legislation passed by the Ohio State Senate, Bill No. 343, addresses spiking and will have pension calculations based on a 5-year average. The bill has broad bi-partisan support, will also increase retirement eligibility by two additional years for those current employees with less than 20 years of service.

OPERS will continue to make recommendations to the Ohio Legislature to reform the pension system. The Ohio House of Representatives can pass the OPERS Pension Reform Bill after mid-July of this year. Expeditious passage will save the pension system over $1 million a day, so early passage is imperative. Most members of OPERS recognize this pension reform is necessary to save the system so that we will not fall victim to the same fate as California, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, and other states. Governor Kasich has indicated he is amenable to signing this bill when it hits his desk.

Janet Virostek, Youngstown Gary Machin, Warren

Our demons reveal themselves

For years I have been telling people in my sermons about how each one of us has a little demon in himself which must be kept under control lest it come to the surface. Imagine my surprise when, while reading “What Do You Say After You Say Hello?” by Eric Berne (Grove Press), I came across the same idea in the subchapter entitled “The Little Fascist” on page 268.

Dr. Berne tells us that every human being seems to have a small fascist in his head. In civilized people it is usually buried beneath a platform of social ideals and training, but as history has shown time and time again, it can be liberated into full bloom. In the less civilized portion of the population, it is openly exposed and nurtured, and awaits only proper opportunities for periodic expression. He who is not aware of this force in his personality has lost control of it.

The small fascist in every human being is a little torturer who probes for and enjoys the weakness of his victims. If this comes out openly, he is a cripple-kicker, a stomper, and a rapist, sometimes with some excuse or other.

We have examples in the present day anti-life or pro-abortion mentality. The arrogant fascist to whom living tissue is legitimate prey. He must obtain some sense of satisfaction in watching an aborted fetus writhe and even cry as it dies in a surgical pail. And arrogant because his own existence is purely accidental.

By accidental I don’t mean that his parents slipped up on their contraceptives, but that they had no way of determining which sperm would reach the ovum first, and had no control over the genetic makeup of either reproductive cell. And this is so even if he be an exalted member of the Supreme Court or even the president of the United States. Thus purely accidental beings who did not give themselves the gift of life, subrogate to themselves the authority to determine whether other life will continue or not. From a naturalistic point of view this is pure fascist arrogance. From a theological point of view, this has to the epitome of diabolical pride.

The Rev. Edward J. Neroda, Youngstown