Let Tucson be a wake-up call

Americans, myself included, have long taken the civil peace of this country for granted, though not lacking in reasons to think otherwise. But, after hearing about the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others at a public event in Tucson, Az., it is hardly surprising many of us immediately thought of the violence fomented by the Tea Party movement, right-wing talk radio and TV hosts, and certain politicians. Whether or not the suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, is himself a Tea Partier, or was anti-immigrant or anti-health care reform, let this shooting be a wake-up call to the seriousness with which we should interpret the violence that has been encouraged within right-wing political movements and by some of its leaders. Some will say that leaders of a movement cannot be blamed for the act of a lone member. I might agree with that if those leaders are actively condemning and discouraging calls for violence coming from their ranks. But it is pretty clear they haven’t been. Now is their chance, not that I hold out much hope.

Picking the wrong fight

In the U.S., instead of getting mad at the super-rich, who enjoy low tax rates (lower than many of us!), and instead of pointing a finger at our out of control defense budget, many people choose to get mad at the middle class public sector employees like teachers and government workers, rather than holding their job benefits up as an example to which private companies should aspire. By all means, scrutinize the six-figure pensions earned by firefighters, police officers, and politicians, but don’t scapegoat the average state worker, who in New Jersey is paid less than $20K per year in pension funds. And don’t forget, pensions are deferred income that were funded in part by employees’ own contributions.


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