Letters to the Editor

This is Viewpoints for Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016

Flag burners are protected, but not respected

Now Donald Trump has said there should be consequences for desecrating our American flag, even after the Supremes have ruled that it is a form of speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. As a firm believer in the Bill of Rights, I find it a little difficult to defend Trump’s position, except, of course, that what he said was also speech, and therefore protected by the same amendment. So the question is not that he had no right to say it, which he manifestly did, but does he, as president, have the right to do something about it?

There is a process for amending the constitution, of course, and amendments have been proposed to ban flag desecration. None have succeeded, like many others that failed, including the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s tough to amend the constitution, as it should be. Congress can propose amendments, but it takes a super majority to pass them, in both the House and Senate. The state legislatures can propose amendments or call a constitutional convention to propose them. Trump won 30 states. That’s 60 percent of them, and he would need 3/4 of them (75 percent) to get the Constitution amended prohibiting flag desecration. Not likely.

But is burning the flag or and performing other acts on it really speech, as the Supremes ruled? My Websters dictionary lists many definitions of the word “speech,” but none of them describe an overt act which has nothing to do with the spoken word. The Supremes simply said it was “symbolic speech” — whatever that means.

Why do people burn the flag? What message are they trying to convey to society by this act? Without some conversation in connection with the act, how are we to know? The act itself has no intelligence. Flag burners certainly know that a great many of us and our ancestors have risked their lives under that banner. We pledge allegiance to it all the time, “and to the Republic for which it stands.” So they burn the flag to upset us and call attention to their grievances. But without real conversation in connection with the act, how are we to know what their grievances are? That’s the real speech part. Burning the flag is just their way to get attention. One thing we can say about flag burners: They don’t revere it as a symbol of our republic and probably would not pledge allegiance to it either. So they automatically distance themselves from people who do, and thereby earn no respect from them nor understanding or support for their grievances. They do more harm to their purpose than good.

Richard Jones,

Warner Robins

Health care act is working

•Just under 25 million Americans depend on the Affordable Care Act for insurance, and another 5 million for Medicaid coverage. These 30 million are among the most underserved in America, across racial and geographic lines. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we also now have the lowest uninsured rate in American history.

Charles Cofer,


Not enough to live on

Re: “Dregs Last To Go” by Jimmy Patterson.

I totally agree with Mr. Patterson’s take on Social Security $3 (COLA) raise being given to recipients. This amount is an absolute travesty and highly insulting to the citizens living on the paltry funds given each month. I don’t think anyone realizes that with the same stroke of the pen that raises our Social Security by $3, the members of Congress gave themselves a $2700 raise. With this action, politicians show beyond any doubt that the members of the Congress don’t give a hoot about their constituents who put them in office. I absolutely have no faith in the political system that runs the country. I do not trust any politician from any level, local, state nor federal. They are the very essence of lying to one’s face, while stabbing one in the back. I am a veteran of Vietnam, living on less than $1500 per month. I live alone in an apartment complex, and once I pay rent and utilities that amounts to 49.8 percent of my entire check, leaving about $735 for the rest of my expenses, auto and life insurance, cable, phone, fuel and groceries. I would like to see a Congress member to live on what I make each month.

Sam Ryan,

Warner Robins

They really need to go

I, too, am appalled by the minuscule .003 percent increase in the Social Security payments. This may be the last increase we get. Our recently re-elected incumbents have a history of forgetting taxpayers. Military retirees can expect the same minuscule increase in their retirement checks, if any. Based on their record to date, I think the only thing we can expect is an increase in the Social Security tax to 8 percent, and the full Social Security retirement age will be raised to 70.

For the last 10 years they have passed deficit budgets and increased the debt. They have no plan to reduce spending or reduce the size of government. The only thing they have proposed is to reduce tax brackets and keep the existing deductions. They have not proposed how they will pay for the 20 percent reduction in the corporate tax rate. They claim it will pay for itself due to the projected creation of jobs.

As long as voters keep re-electing incumbents regardless of their records, things will not improve. The size of government will continue to grow and the debt and interest will increase. The only thing they do is use Social Security tax revenue to keep the government solvent by limiting payments and force workers to work longer before they can receive benefits.

Jim Costello,


Whoopie on that increase

Yes indeed, I too received notice of the cost of living increase that I will be receiving from Social Security. For the first time in three years we will actually be getting an increase. Hooray! Oh wait, the increase is 3 tenths of 1 percent. You read that right: 3/10s of 1 percent! About four dollars a month for me. Never mind that the actual cost of living increases about 4 percent every year. But that’s not the best part. My deduction for Medicare increased from $100 to $110. In other words, my check will actually be six dollars less per month in the coming year. Apparently, if I were to live long enough I would eventually have to send them a check. To rub salt in the wound, I just read where President Obama and company recently approved themselves an 18 percent increase in their retirement for life. And they wonder why people “go postal.”

Randal D. Duckworth,

Warner Robins