Letters to the editor: Dec., 6, 2017


Re: Dec. 1 commentary, “Herman: Is this South Lamar holiday greeting vulgar or good cheer?”

The sign on South Lamar is really a sign of the times.

The expletive used is an integral part of the dumbing down of America because those with limited vocabulary can use it as an adverb, adjective, verb or noun. What’s more, it doesn’t require much thinking — and vulgarity is not a consideration, because the concept is no longer understood in our society.

Look for it to start creeping into more situations because of its flexibility and popularity as reading comprehension continues to plummet. Austin’s own University of Texas recently discovered that merely having a smartphone nearby makes you dumber.

LARRY CHASTEEN, AUSTIN

Re: Nov. 23 article, “Texas special education chief fired after questioning no-bid contract.”

Once again, the Texas Education Agency is in the spotlight for failing students with disabilities. Unfortunately, the story does not end with the firing of a highly suspect director or revelations about a questionable SPEDx contract. The Stateman’s findings represent a long-standing problem in Texas: TEA’s unwillingness to prioritize parent and student input.

For decades, TEA has tinkered with special education issues behind closed doors. Leaders made unchecked decisions to hire ineffectual people, squander limited dollars and dismantle access to services. Their choices show not only a lack of regard for federal law but also a lack of respect for Texas students.

When TEA works in isolation, students with disabilities ultimately pay the price. Families, advocates and other stakeholders have solutions to contribute. It’s time for TEA to treat them as allies, not enemies.

DUSTIN RYNDERS, DISABILITY RIGHTS TEXAS SUPERVISING ATTORNEY, HOUSTON

For decades, conservatives have been arguing that the U.S. government needs to be run more like a business — and that a businessman is needed in the White House.

Now, we have such a person in the Oval Office. So, how is that working out, given that the president’s own party is floating partisan tax bills that apolitical analysts are saying will raise the national deficit by $1 trillion? To put the country that much further in arrears doesn’t seem like a very conservative business plan.

JOHN LA CLAIRE, AUSTIN

Re: Re: Dec. 1 commentary, “Ala. needs to elect Moore so GOP can control courts.”

We cannot know what is truly in Pat Buchanan’s heart. He seems to write about abortion only when trying to energize the base.

I suspect he knows that reducing abortions is best done by providing contraception and education to young women, particularly poor ones. He watched as Texas restricted abortion and Colorado provided low-cost contraception and education. He saw Colorado reduce abortion rates — and teen pregnancies— by almost half, while Texas’s maternal death rates spiked and teen pregnancies rose.

A functioning democracy needs more than one party. Distorting the Constitution and electing people who prey on teenagers to get a Republican Senate and Republican judges is bad for our democracy. Any single party system becomes corrupt and dangerous; those in power ignore the citizens and work to stay in power. Putting “party before country” shows that you are not a patriot.

WILLIAM V. DOWER, AUSTIN

I am appalled that none of my elected representatives had the moral fiber to speak out against President Trump’s incendiary tweeting of hate group videos.

By their silence, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are complicit in putting targets on the backs of every American working, living or traveling abroad. They are complicit in denigrating our Muslim-American citizens, including those serving in our military; complicit in insulting our allies; and complicit in encouraging homegrown hate groups.

Do they subscribe to these abhorrent ideas, or are they pandering to anti-immigrant supporters? No matter, their acquiescence is shameful.

MARGARET LALK, AUSTIN

House Speaker Paul Ryan says the tax cut will cause corporations to hire more people, drive up competition for workers and increase wages. Why would they do that? Why wouldn’t they use the tax cut to increase profits and drive up the stock price — and the corporate officers’ personal bottom lines?

Case in point: Corporate profits are already near historic highs. Unemployment is low — but that hasn’t been reflected in wages. Congressional Republicans should be honest and admit that the tax cut is a gift to their donors — and nothing more.

CLAY OLMSTEAD, AUSTIN

What headlines reflect an “us vs. them” mentality today? The problem is that in telling that story, we are part of the problem simply by telling it, and we will always be someone else’s “them” as long as there is a “them.”

Instead of saying #itsnotme, let’s try #thisisus. We are all doing the best we can, and we have done the best we could. This is not an excuse for hurtfulness. It is a call to awareness and a different kind of action. Taking ownership empowers us to make a difference in our little part of the human system — and when we make a shift towards healthy behaviors and healthy stories, it can have ripple effects for all, even “them.”

Black-and-white thinking is a sign of anxiety — and it isn’t helping us anymore. It’s time for creative solutions to complex problems. We can do this.

JEANETTE HARGREAVES, AUSTIN



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