Sounding off: Use money sent to Central America for migrants
The government does not seem to have a plan to deal with current or long-term migration issues. We propose ending all federal aid to Central American countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and perhaps Mexico. The theory is that the millions of dollars we send to these countries do not go for humanitarian, educational and health care needs, but into the pockets of corrupt leaders and their cronies.
Money saved could be used for building homes/towns in the U.S. for immigrants who will be permitted to work, with a path to citizenship if they agree to common-sense rules such as learning English, getting an education or learning a trade/skill, not committing crimes and not selling/taking drugs. These towns could be built by the immigrants themselves, volunteer organizations and college students (with an incentive of loan forgiveness).
In a Teach for America-type program, college graduates and retired business owners/entrepreneurs could teach migrants English and other subjects necessary to obtain at least a high school diploma. Immigrants could be taught skills for such occupations as computer coding and operations, nursing assistant and truck driver, all needed in our employment ranks. They could fill high-demand unskilled positions in landscaping, agriculture and hospitality.
Volunteers with appropriate skills could help immigrants organize governmental and community structures in their towns, eventually merging into other communities to make immigrants part of the American fabric.
Key components are proper vetting to keep criminals out, meaningful education/training and ensuring a safe place to live and grow in the American traditions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Mark L. and Jane Heckman, Lower Burrell
Who’s responsible for the deficit?
I have heard several times recently that the Obama administration increased our budget deficit by $8.5 trillion. This is true. But, I believe the root cause of the huge deficit increase was the result of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. This repeal was Republican legislation, signed by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and backed by Wall Street and free-market promoters.
The repeal ultimately led to the banking/housing crisis of 2008, for which the government had to ultimately bail out a number of banks and businesses in order to prevent a total collapse of our economy. The extreme recession caused a significant drop in government revenues as unemployment soared to 9.5 percent. So, the government either had to borrow or cut expenditures drastically. Cutting expenditures would have increased the unemployment rate even further and possibly created an even further downward spiral.
It would seem that the deficit was caused by Republicans, Democrats, Wall Street and free-market ideologues.
Dennis Piper, Hempfield
Let’s be respectful
Are you a proud American who upholds democracy by showing respect for the duly elected occupant of the highest office in the land, or are you one of the disrespectful mob that ridicules every effort the president makes? Are you one of the Pittsburghers who was horrified by the massacre in Squirrel Hill, chanting “Love not hate,” who immediately forgot that slogan when the president came to town?
Did you perform your civic duty and get out there and vote, or are you one of the many who likes to complain but contributes nothing to the democratic process?
In an election someone wins and someone loses, but no one needs to act like a loser. Let’s all be proud Americans. Stop all the mud-slinging and hateful diatribe. Be respectful of everyone, regardless of their race, religion or political preference. This lack of respect breeds situations that cannot be tolerated, like the one at Tree of Life.
Remember, Thanksgiving is not about turkey. As Americans we all have much to be thankful for. Respect our flag (stand up) and each other. God bless you and our country.
Eileen Condie, Hempfield
A wall needs guards
Almost 3,000 years ago various Chinese dynasties built the Great Wall to protect themselves from their enemies. To the degree that it worked, it was not the wall alone that kept their enemies out. At regular intervals along the length of the wall, there were guardhouses manned by armed warriors who could safely run to any point under attack and repel the attackers with arrows, spears and whatever debris they could fling down.
A wall along our southern border will slow down invaders and reduce the numbers, but it will not stop the invasion unless we have armed men on our side of the wall prepared to defend it. Are we ready to do this? If we are not, we might as well save the money that would be spent on the wall and use it to relocate the hordes of invaders.
Make no mistake, these people are invaders. If each one of them carried weapons, we would see them as what they are. Their actual weapons are the destruction of our economy and way of life. Perhaps these weapons are more dangerous than arms.
Lloyd B. Kline, Mt. Lebanon
Republicans for small government?
Are Republicans actually for small government, or is that a lie?
In order to answer the question, it is necessary to review past presidential budgets going back to Reagan. By taking the ratio of each president’s last and first budgets and prorating those presidents with less than an eight-year term to an eight-year term, the resultant increases in the size of the federal government are as follows.
Republican presidents: Reagan, 57 percent; George H.W. Bush, 42 percent; George W. Bush, 60 percent; Trump, 43 percent.
Democratic presidents: Clinton, 27 percent; Obama, 17 percent. As an example, Obama’s first-term budget was $3,517 billion and his last-term budget was 4,099 billion. That’s an increase of only 17 percent.
The results are not as expected, are they? Republicans are famous for cutting taxes, but actually make government much larger, not smaller. This only leads to massive deficits put on the national credit card. That would be your children and grandchildren’s credit card.
Larry Josephs, Penn Township, Westmoreland County
Republicans and guns
As the mass shootings continue, it is just a matter of time before the media stops reporting. We will become desensitized to the carnage soon. Truth be told, the sadness and tears really haven’t affected most people. Sure, it is sad, and we talk about it. We offer thoughts and prayers, all meaningless.
I’m tired of the cliche “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Enforce strict gun laws and ban military-style weapons/extended clips to see gun deaths decline. No matter how many tragedies occur, until we vote out NRA politicians, nothing will change.
Yet in Westmoreland County voters are strong Republicans. Our county went for Lou Barletta and Scott Wagner, as it did for Donald Trump. What is so appealing about the Republican platform? It is against unions, choice, the Affordable Care Act, environmental safeguards and any gun control/banning of weapons. It endangers Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
As our population increases, so do all the many good things we stand for, but so do the many horrible things. Republicans stress mental health is the cause for the shootings. That’s a laughable argument, since mental health issues are nearly impossible to detect in stopping the tragedies.
Our newly elected Rep. Guy Reschenthaler has an A rating from the NRA and is the largest recipient of NRA money in Pennsylvania. Changes will be difficult when electing politicians like this.
Frank Flori, Hempfield