Letters to the editor

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The New Deal was a responsible rescue

I am responding to the March 22 letter from the Rev. James Holland ("Individuals, Not Government, Must Care for the Poor"). Rev. Holland refers to Father Charles Coughlin as having "moved into liberal politics." I find that rather surprising as I heard Father Coughlin on the radio in New York City and he was pro-Nazi and viciously anti-Semitic. Shortly after the United States declared war on the Axis nations on Dec. 7, 1941, Father Coughlin was taken off the air.

I lived in Queens, a borough of New York City, in 1942 and was beaten up by some "Coughlinites" for being a Jew.

A responsibility of government, as generally understood, is to protect the people it governs. When it fails to do that, chaos ensues. FDR's "tragic New Deal" fed the hungry, created jobs, brought electricity to rural areas that lacked it, established a safety net for the elderly called Social Security and promoted the arts.

I lived during those times. Throwing around names like Lenin, Stalin and Hitler as mantras to support non-thinking caters to those who prefer slogans to information.

DONALD J. GILBERT
Mt. Lebanon


Societal imperative

With all due respect to the Rev. James Holland ("Individuals, Not Government, Must Care for the Poor," March 22 letters), you can't have it both ways.

I'm assuming Rev. Holland is like most Christians who want their political leaders to exhibit the Christian values shared by the majority of the country (and, as they'd stress, the Founding Fathers). It makes little logical sense then, that Rev. Holland could say that using federal tax dollars to care for the poor is not a Christian moral imperative but an imperative reserved for ideological ghouls like Lenin, Stalin and Hitler. This comes right after Rev. Holland says Christians caring for the poor is a moral imperative, not an option.

If we want our leaders to be led by their Christian values, then that means doing everything in their power (i.e., using federal tax dollars) to help the poor. It's not an option, as Rev. Holland stressed.

You can't pick and choose when you want your political leaders to act like Christians.

BRANDON SZUMINSKY
Canonsburg


Truths of our nation

In reply to the letter "Individuals, Not Government, Must Care for the Poor" (March 22): I don't quite know where to start in replying to the Rev. James Holland's rant on social justice. It took me a while to fully realize that he was actually saying what I thought he was saying.

His words "The Christian works of charity have no place in American politics because the Scripture ... does not demand Caesar ... feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and the frail."

As a nonreligious person, I can't really comment on what Christians want of their spiritual leaders, but I know that if I were a member of Rev. Holland's church, I would seriously consider whether I wanted to be associated with someone who thinks that anyone in favor of using tax dollars for social programs are "ideological ghouls like Lenin, Stalin and Hitler." There's more, though, as he goes on to call liberal Catholic social justice "obscene."

Besides the huge stretches of Jesus' teachings that this type of thinking ignores, Rev. Holland's screed ignores many of the truths that this country was founded on. Whether or not the Scripture demands the government take care of the disadvantaged is not at issue; the Scripture does not make policy in his country. This is a secular country which used many Christian teachings to form its Constitution. I am thankful that our founders did not use Rev. Holland's interpretation of the Bible, or the poor and hungry among us would be left to the "charity" of mean-spirited, intolerant religious leaders such as him.

SCOTT JACKSON
Dormont


In this together

A priest from Moon wrote recently that individuals, not governments, must care for the poor. Although there is a grain of truth to his thought, overall he panders to the American mythology of the rugged individual, the lone ranger, the isolated pioneer. And he neglects Jesus' emphasis on the communal nature of effective caring.

Jesus most often urges his followers to work together, not just individually, to live out his compassion in a troubled world. In the original Greek of the New Testament, he tends to use the plural "you" addressed to a community. In the King James Version it's "ye." In the South "y'all" would be a good translation. In Pittsburgh, "yinz."

So in the parable of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25, for example, the king says to his people, "Whenever yinz fed the hungry or clothed the naked, together you did it to me." True, he doesn't specify how many of yinz should be involved here. Maybe it's a congregation or a community. Maybe a state or even (gasp!) a nation. But together you all can and must get the job done. Not isolated cowboys or rugged individuals screaming to get the government off their backs, but "we the people, in order to form a more perfect union," struggle together to forge a compassionate society.

And we use governments, faith communities and voluntary associations as necessary tools.

BILL WINZELER
Moon


An extra prayer

After reading the letter by the Rev. James Holland (March 22) I found another reason to pray. I pray that Rev. Holland will never, never be transferred to my parish.

JOAN KOSINSKI
Baden


Cruelty is criminal

Regarding "CMU Looks Into the Case of Spray-Painted Chickens" (March 18): Under the Pennsylvania animal cruelty law 5511(b), a person commits a summary offense if he colors, stains, dyes or otherwise changes the natural color of baby chickens, duckling or other fowl or rabbits. Accordingly, those responsible for spraying paint on the feathers and face of nine or more hens at Carnegie Mellon University should be identified and charged with animal cruelty. This cruelty should not be treated as a student "prank" and it certainly would not be if instead of chickens the mistreated animals were dogs or cats.

Spray paints are toxic if ingested, and spray paint cans carry warnings about the danger of breathing the vapors from these paints. Spray paint will definitely contribute to eye and respiratory problems in chickens, and spray paint oil is virtually impossible to remove from feathers and skin. Chickens will naturally preen their feathers to try to remove the paint which in turn will lead them to ingest the paint with probable harmful effects.

The people who did this heartless thing to helpless birds should be charged and prosecuted for their criminal activity. In addition, if they are students, they should be significantly punished by Carnegie Mellon University. They should be suspended, expelled and prevented from graduating.

KAREN DAVIS
President
United Poultry Concerns
Machipongo, Va.

The writer's organization is a nonprofit that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl (www.upc-online.org).


An odd pairing

I was rather horrified to look at the top of the front page of my Post-Gazette last Tuesday to see references to two articles inside the paper: (1) "Saving Face: Plastic Surgery Feels the Pinch" with a picture of a Barbie doll and (2) "Math and Science Careers: How Women Fit Into the Equation."

Is this irony or failure to see the connection?

LAURA HILLENBRAND
Point Breeze


Government shouldn't be in the business of health care

It's really very simple. Regardless of your views on abortion or pre-existing conditions, the debate of health care reform comes down to one question: Is it the federal government's job to provide or regulate health care? I argue that it is not, given my understanding of the Constitution.

To simplify even further -- when, ever, has adding a layer of bureaucratic control made anything more efficient and less costly? I agree that our system needs to be reformed. I am one of the millions who can't afford health insurance. But I maintain that removing layers of middlemen is the way to lower costs and ensure better care.

Making a system more complicated always increases the chance of incompetence and the opportunity for corruption.

VICTORIA DILLIOTT
West View


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We welcome your letters. Please include your name, address and phone number, and send to Letters to the Editor, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. E-mail letters to letters@post-gazette.com or fax to 412-263-2014. Letters should be 250 words or less, original and exclusive to the Post-Gazette. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity and accuracy and will be verified before being published.



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