To the Editor:
Palestinian authorities have concluded that Shireen Abu Akleh, killed in May in Palestine, was murdered with a bullet from a Ruger gun. Palestinian Attorney General Al-Khatib said tests showed that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was a 5.56 mm round fired from a Ruger semiautomatic rifle, which is used by the Israeli military. This rifle is produced by Sturm Ruger whose headquarters are in Fairfield, Connecticut but it has a factory in Newport, N.H. It is possible that the weapon that took the life of this reporter was manufactured in New Hampshire.
Abu Akleh was a prominent Arab journalist, known all over the Middle East, who worked for Al Jazeera for 25 years. CNN described her as “a household name across the Arab world for her coverage of Israel and the Palestinian territories.”
Stanley Heller, Executive Director of the Middle East Crisis Committee, said, “For years we’ve been calling attention to sales of Ruger guns and ammunition to the Israeli military which is a serial human rights violator. We’re part of a coalition called “No Rugers to Israel” (website NoRugers2Israel.org). We can document over 200 Palestinians killed or injured by Rugers though we believe the true number to be far higher.”
N.H. Veterans for Peace says that Sturm Ruger should not be selling its weapons or ammunition to the Israeli government. Sturm Ruger, the U.S.’ largest firearms company, is known to have given millions of dollars to the National Rifle Association, which, after the Uvalde Massacre, itself has come under harsh criticism for its rejection of gun control measures and its promotions of gun sales. Apparently, for Sturm Ruger and the NRA, it is profits over the lives of precious, innocent children.
Will Thomas, N.H. VFP
Thank you for pointing out the direct connection between one of New Hampshire’s highly-esteemed corporations and the recent sniper killing of a Palestinian-American journalist. We can almost hear the pro-market apologists now, howling with outrage over the explicit assertion of this link: “But…but…the jobs!”
Of course, only a Communist would dare to suggest that the State of New Hampshire ought to favor the development of green energy technology over the manufacture of firearms.
Pro-Life’s Persistent Questions
To the Editor:
Why is it that so many people who call themselves pro-life vote for politicians who believe guns are more important than humans? Isn’t it time they call themselves what they actually are, which is pro-gun and anti-abortion, but not pro-life?
It’s only natural for so-called “pro-lifers” to mis-characterize themselves.
We would like to know why supposedly neutral news media allow them to get away with it.
Alito’s Draft is Revealing
A phrase in Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft of the upcoming Roe v. Wade decision deserves scrutiny: “…domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life.” This is about the product of forced, full-term pregnancies if Roe v. Wade is overturned. We accept moves towards more domestically-produced steel and more domestically-produced solar panels. Those are commodities in a business world, and all might benefit. But, babies? Slave babies were profitable commodities in America’s early centuries.
Good friends, when young marrieds, adopted two children (children now in their 60s). First was a girl with such badly crossed eyes she was considered unadoptable, and so was in foster care. The husband went to that house to adopt a puppy, went home with the puppy, and told his wife about the needy little girl, who was no longer a toddler. The wife said, “Operations can remedy her eyes!” They adopted her, and returned for an older foster-child boy, who was already like a sibling to their adopted daughter. They paid for eye surgeries. The daughter’s eyes were normalized—not just for looks, but for a good life. Those kids were loved.
Justice John Roberts has adopted kids, as does Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Do they and others think only in terms of perfect babies, as in looked-for-then-favored, the way a car by model, year, color, and warranty is wanted and bought? This is heartless, if applied to babies, and the girls and women forced to produce them. Alito’s language shows him to be tone-deaf. However, his wording helps by revealing a big flaw in overturning Roe v. Wade.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
Mass Shootings: a Public Health Problem
Since 1854, when John Snow ended a cholera outbreak in London by removing the handle from the Broad Street water pump, the public health epidemiological approach has been successfully applied to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, the burden of disease, as well as intentional and unintentional injury. This same public health approach can also be applied today to reduce the burden of gun violence in America. Unfortunately, the NRA has successfully pressured Congress to prevent the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from conducting gun violence prevention research. Gun violence, which kills tens of thousands of American’s each year, is the only epidemic that the CDC is specifically prohibited from investigating.
The epidemiological approach to a public health problem analyzes the causes of a disease or injury, studying the agent causing the disease/injury, how the agent is spread, and if the susceptible host at risk of the disease or injury can be protected from the threat. This is called the chain of causation, where each link in the chain being connected to each other can spread a disease or cause an injury. Searching for the weakest link in this chain of causation, and removing it, is how the public health approach prevents or at least reduces preventable disease or injury. In some cases like polio, a vaccine is used to make the host non-susceptible. Air bags and seat belts are added to automobiles, to reduce the level of injury during a crash. A condom is used to prevent HIV from entering a susceptible host.
With regard to gun violence we know the agent causing the violence, people prone to violence, the vector (that which spreads the disease), a gun, and the susceptible host, all of us. To reduce gun violence we need to attack the cause at its weakest link. We cannot eliminate the agent, or even all the mental health issues that cause a person to use a gun to kill people, and we cannot make humans non-susceptible to bullets. That leaves the agent, the gun, as the weakest link in the chain of causation.
Reducing the number of guns, especially those capable of killing many people very quickly, and eliminating high capacity magazines, would reduce the burden of gun violence. Like malaria, one of the deadliest diseases on the planet, the mosquito does not cause the disease, the agent parasite does, but eliminating or reducing the number of mosquitoes is the best method in the absence of a vaccine, of reducing the number of malaria cases. While in both the gun violence and malaria examples, the disease or injury is not eliminated, by using sound public health science the burden of both these scourges can be reduced significantly. As with John Snow, the Broad Street pump, working like an assault-style weapon spreading many deadly bacteria with each pull of the handle, was not the cause of the cholera outbreak, but eliminating the pump ended the problem.
Rich DiPentima, MPH
On Regulating Guns
The 2nd Amendment enshrines gun ownership, nevertheless, gun usage can and should be regulated, to preserve our safety and security.
We need laws to regulate gun use like automobile use is regulated:
• License gun owners for usage only after they pass periodic safety tests.
• Require periodic inspection of licensed people’s arsenals to enforce modification prohibitions (like smog checks on automobiles).
• Require gun users to carry insurance for damage done by their guns.
• Maintain and enforce background check databases to restrict guns from criminals, terrorists and mentally ill people.
• Require a three-day pause before gun delivery.
• Enable “red flag” powers for police to temporarily confiscate a person’s armaments.
• Prohibit gun makers from marketing their lethal products to minors.
• Raise the minimum age for gun ownership to 21, or even 25.
• Prohibit sale, transfer, and ownership of military-grade weapons.
These are sensible regulations; they are not radical and they do not conflict with the 2nd Amendment. Opposing these regulations, Republican officials are actually enabling and condoning the ability of mass-murderers to kill innocent children, women, and men.
We thought of tackling these proposals point by point, but soon gave up.
Enacting effective gun regulations which have broad public support would be a simple matter if we lived in a functioning democracy.
Until we do, it’s all deck chairs on the Titanic.
The Truth About Inflation
To the Editor;
Inflation-driven prices are causing pain to U.S. consumers affecting a wide range of goods. Although there is disagreement regarding causes, some reasons for inflation are clear.
The proximate cause for inflation can be explained by basic economics. When demand for goods exceeds the economy’s capacity to supply them, price will increase until equilibrium between supply and demand is achieved. After two years of pandemic isolation and restrictions, huge pent-up demand for consumer goods aided by significant government support and stimulus payments overwhelmed the ability of supply chains to deliver the goods. Asian supply chains were hindered by continued Covid outbreaks in Chinese factories and container ports. Moreover, the container shipping companies had reduced capacity and mothballed cargo carriers in anticipation of a global recession due to the pandemic. Space on container ships has become almost impossible to find especially for small businesses. The cost of a trans-Pacific container has increased from $4,000 to $5,000 to $15,000. The Russian invasion of Ukraine further roiled already tight energy and commodity markets driving food and energy prices higher. All these factors contribute to the current inflation, but they do not tell the full story.
There is an additional cause for inflation—excess profit-taking by corporations. This factor has been discounted by conservatives and some economists who claim that impersonal market forces alone explain inflation. These market fundamentalists consider markets as objective mediators of price beyond the control of individual buyers and sellers. They are not. Markets are social constructions. Their structure and conduct are determined by human decision makers. Markets where neither buyer or seller has little power to affect price are rare. Increasingly, industries are made up of a few, large corporations that have significant power to influence price and the incentive to do so. Their decisions are guided by a Wall Street culture that places profit and returns to shareholders first and customers and employees second. In markets dominated by corporations with great bargaining power, it is disingenuous to claim that excess profit seeking is not part of the current inflation.
Corporate concentration has been on the increase across several industries since the ’80s, driven by mergers and acquisitions often designed to exploit growing global markets. In the U.S., consolidation has been accompanied by a decline in antitrust prosecutions. An example is the meat processing industry. Since 2000, the concentration of the industry has doubled without intervention from antitrust regulators. Today, only four companies control 80 percent of the beef processing capacity as well as significant portions of chicken and pork processing. This gives them significant market power over suppliers of beef, chicken and pork as well as wholesalers and retailers. In the past year, beef prices have increased by approximately 24 percent while processor profits increased 300 percent. In the face of skyrocketing profits, it defies logic to claim that retail price increases are simply market adjustments to supply chain problems. In a competitive industry, these firms would minimize price increases because they would fear the loss of market share to a competitor. In an industry characterized by monopoly power, however, supply chain chaos provides the cover for price increases that include profit maximizing.
Concentrated markets also contribute to inflation by restricting industry capability to respond to shortages, as the case of Intel illustrates. In the 2000s, Intel, the largest U.S. producer of semiconductors, began to acquire smaller competitors. The acquisitions were often supported by government regulators, as Intel was perceived to be the U.S. champion in the global chip industry. As Intel’s size and power grew, it offshored or sold off most of its U.S. chip capacity, relying on lower cost Asian manufacturers to supply standard chips. To the delight of Wall Street investors, Intel’s profits improved, but when the pandemic virtually eliminated Asian chip supply, it lacked capacity in the U.S. to expand production. The result has been persistent shortages of vital semiconductors contributing to price increases in a variety of products.
Inflation is a serious problem with a complex set of causes. Some are the result of impersonal market forces, but this explanation often masks deeper causes that grow out of market structures and behaviors. Markets are not an act of God; they are a human creation and often favor powerful actors that influence prices to their benefit. Too often markets are used to enforce the philosophy of maximizing shareholder value to the detriment of consumers and workers. Imperfect markets must be regulated to protect the social interest rather than the financial interests of the economic elites.
Robert D. Russell, Ph.D.
Thank you for this concise disquisition on a highly relevant topic. Let us hope another of our correspondents takes the time to read it.
Our Errant Supreme Court
To the Editor:
The Supreme Court (majority) was and is wrong about the 2nd Amendment.
It was written by two Virginia slave holders (Madison and Monroe) who wanted a well-regulated militia in order to be able to put down a slave insurrection.
“The people” who they wrote have “the right to bear arms” (not modern military assault weapons) were white, male, property owners. No others counted in those days.
Those (mostly Republican) Senators who gladly take money from the gun-makers care more for their political futures than the people (many times that of any other country) who are murdered every year by weapons that should never be available to the public.
The only solution is to elect Senators who understand that the 2nd Amendment was written for a time long gone by.
Neal W. Ferris
Clear, concise, and correct—no wonder you’ve never been appointed to the Supreme Court.
Good Guys, Guns, and Hypocrisy
To the Editor:
Republicans and the gun lobby and Fox News love to tell us that, “The answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I have heard this mantra ad nauseam after each slaughter.
Well, there’s one place in Texas filled with “good guys” and it is safe! But that’s not why it’s safe. It’s safe because everyone is frisked at the door, no one is allowed to carry, open or concealed. It’s called the NRA convention!
Now why would the NRA ban guns? It’s because the NRA hierarchy knows that in a room full of people carrying guns, the chances of someone, or lots of people, getting shot is very high; they know their “good guy with a gun” mantra is total BS.
Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway all had a culture of gun ownership, and all tightened restrictions after a mass shooting. Their gun violence statistics are now sharply lower than those of the U.S. Obviously America needs gun legislation to protect citizens. If other countries can do it so can we!
As with our friend Bruce Joffe, you seem to be operating on the assumption that the will of the people might be done here in these allegedly United States.
Well, we have not given up hope.
Working the Polls
To the Editor:
As a recent retiree, I now have time to be a poll worker. It is an honor.
I can only speak to the process I personally experienced. Everyone connected with the election realized we were stewards of an awesome legacy. Poll workers were required to attend two hours of training, learning routines and becoming prepared for exceptional circumstances. We took our oath of office, recognizing its weight.
On election day, floaters in every room helped as needed. Voters proceeded in the assurance that each vote mattered. As we voted or enabled the voting, we rededicated ourselves to democracy.
Governor Sununu has announced “New Hampshire is the gold standard” in elections. So why is there a Special Committee on Voter Confidence? Their website states “New Hampshire is one of the easiest places for voters to register and cast their ballots, but concerns about declining voter confidence have been voiced in the state, as well as nationally.”
How can such doubt exist? Lies about stolen elections and bad machines have influenced public opinion. There is no evidence of bad actors in our election process, except those who want to change the outcome by any means necessary. Do not allow this “misinformation” to poison our faith in New Hampshire elections.
Please send a quick email to VoterConfidence@sos.nh.gov. Let the Special Committee know you admire the integrity of elections in your town. What needs fixing? The ability of citizens to believe rumors, contrary to their own experience! Become a poll worker and see for yourself.
Poll workers deserve the nation’s unstinting respect. Instead, in too many places they’re being burdened with pointless extraneous tasks as part of a cynical power grab.
Why Does Biden Hate America?
To the Editor:
How rich, ignorant, and/or uncaring must people be to not realize that President Biden’s policies have been disastrous, especially for middle- and lower-income Americans?
Today’s over eight percent inflation means a family with a $60,000 income last year now needs an extra $5,000 to maintain the same modest lifestyle. The gasoline price jump from $2.099, just before Biden’s attack on our petroleum industry, to yesterday’s price of $4.589 hurts most families.
Biden now imports dirty oil…[xenophobia, paranoia]…clean oil here, enriching American workers, generating American taxes, protecting our national security, and reducing prices.
Wealthier Americans’ incomes, safety, health, and children’s future success are less directly harmed by the millions of illegal aliens flooding through President Biden’s open border.
Illegal aliens…[xenophobia, paranoia]…degrading their schools and hospitals.
Crime skyrocketed…[disinformation, cheap political slur]…without bail to victimize others.
Democrats…[disengenuous BS]…depriving them of decent educations and prosperous futures.
Democrat taxes…[simplistic hogwash]…taking many millions of good paying jobs with them. [Fantasy-based economics]…middle- and lower-income families.
[Pious condescension]…but they need to awaken to the fact that today’s Democrat leaders are not the patriotic, pro-American worker Democrats of the distant past.
Thank you for continuing to favor us with these screeds. By publishing them we hope to preserve a record of misinformed, bad faith arguments in the early 21st century.
Thank you, too, for your forbearance. Unlike so many others who share your views, you consistently refrain—despite clearly viewing Democrats as evil incarnate—from threatening to murder them.
You cast inflation as an evil Democratic plot. See page five for Robert Russell’s excellent primer on the topic.