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Published: Tuesday, 5/17/2011

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Executions primitive, barbaric

Death penalty executions continue to discredit our state and our humanity (“Ohio executes man who killed jail mate as he awaited sentence in murder of drug trafficker,” April 12). According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (both admirable concepts), its mission is essentially to protect the citizens of Ohio.

We are protected every bit as securely if a felon is incarcerated rather than killed. The citizens of Ohio do not then have blood on their hands.

How do we teach respect for life by taking it? Executions are primitive and barbaric, and the United States is the only First World country still practicing them.

I and thousands of others object to them on moral and religious grounds, but there are other reasons to imprison rather than kill. First, the death penalty has not proved to be a deterrent to murder in states where it is still practiced.

Second, it is less expensive to incarcerate a person for life than to pursue the death penalty because of the enormously costly appeals.

Third, time spent in prison can allow murderers to redeem their humanity, giving time for reflection, remorse, and some measure of restitution in whatever ways present themselves.

An execution is legalized vengeance. Incarceration of perpetrators of heinous crimes is equally effective in securing our safety from them and is the approach of those countries that we consider civilized. Isn’t it time to join them?

Sister Pat Schnapp
Sisters of Mercy Adrian

Bin Laden wasn’t on FBI list for 9/11
While people revel in the news that Osama bin Laden is dead (“Bin Laden killed,” May 2) , there is some misinformation that has been lingering for nearly 10 years.

According to the FBI, bin Laden was wanted for several terrorist plots, but masterminding the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, was not one of them.

Tony Geis
Brott Road

Domestic oil is no better for us
Your May 14 editorial “Gas-pain snake oil” does nothing to dispel the myth that domestic oil is better for us than foreign oil. In fact, all domestic oil becomes the property of the oil companies, which then sell it on the world market at the going rate.

There are two winners in this game: Big Oil, which gets billions of dollars in tax breaks, and self-serving politicians, mostly Republicans, who benefit by getting kickbacks from Big Oil for keeping this scam going.

Mike McFarlane
Edgerton, Ohio

Does Big Oil hold America hostage?
U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Ohio) went on a junket on oil exploration to a few years ago to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with other Republican lawmakers. It was a waste of time, effort, and money.

Now he has voted to give big oil companies a 10 percent tax break (“Latta: Make oil exploration easier,” May 10).

Mr. Latta’s also under the impression that taking away a $4 billion tax benefit for big oil companies will raise prices at the pump.

Is he saying that America is being held hostage by big oil?

Is he saying that $27 billion in first-quarter profits keep gas prices down?

Jeff Pitzen
Northwood

Adequate staffing is Business 101
General Motors is responding to increased demand for its cars by preserving as many as 400 jobs at its Powertrain plant in Toledo (“GM plans to spend $260M at Powertrain,” May 10). That’s Business 101.

Republicans, in their denunciations of everything run by government, often say they want government agencies run more like businesses, with sound business practices. But what they really want are government programs run by business — private business.

The Social Security Administration is a good example. Those of us who spent careers there have watched staffing levels dwindle, waiting times increase, and quality of service decline. We have known all along what many studies over the years have shown. There is a Business 101 solution: Staffing in Social Security offices needs to be increased.

A first-year business student could predict how the Baby Boom generation reaching retirement age would affect an agency such as Social Security. The problem isn’t a failure to use good business sense. It’s the refusal to do so.

It’s a deliberate political strategy to wreck such programs. Adequate staffing and excellent service are not serious concerns to those who want to privatize the agency — or eliminate it altogether.

Richard Pietro
Shaker Heights, Ohio

OSHA continues to make a difference
In the 40 years since the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created, the agency has led the way to historic declines in workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Today OSHA continues to make a difference in the lives of all workers by ensuring that businesses provide safe and healthful conditions for their workers.

At the turn of 20th century, death in American workplaces was common, working conditions were dreadful, and few laws existed to protect workers.

Through efforts by individual workers, unions, employers, government agencies, and others, significant progress has been made in improving workplace conditions.

Since OSHA’s inception in 1970, workplace fatalities have been cut by more than 65 percent and occupational injury and illness rates have declined 67 percent. At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled and now totals more than 107 million workers at 7.6 million work sites.

In 1970, on average, 38 American workers were killed on the job every day. That rate has now fallen to just over 12 workers per day. That’s an outstanding collective achievement.

But there is clearly much work to be done to ensure that all workers can be productive and safe, while looking forward to a retirement free from disabling occupational disease and injury.

In northwest Ohio, fall hazards, trenching hazards, and grain-handling hazards remain serious issues that our inspectors have identified. These are hazards for which there have long been common sense OSHA regulations in place.

These protections are designed to keep workers safe and earning a paycheck, while also allowing businesses to continue to operate without the tragic interruptions and high worker retraining, insurance, and compensation costs that accompany workplace tragedies.

In 2004 and 2007, we witnessed tragic accidents during the building of the Veterans Memorial Glass City Skyway, which resulted in five workers being killed and many others injured. In 2010, there were 42 fatalities throughout Ohio.

These were preventable situations that don’t need to be repeated, as long as employers and workers are committed to safety.

OSHA has had a positive impact on the lives of all Americans. However, until every worker can return home safely, free from harm at the end of the day, we must celebrate cautiously and never lose sight of the fact that no job is a good job unless it’s also a safe job.

Rhonda Burke
Deputy Director for Public Affairs
U.S. Department of Labor
Chicago
Editor’s Note: The writer is the OSHA area director for Toledo and the northwest Ohio area.

What does Kasich have in mind?
Gov. John Kasich continues to look for ways to collect one-time money, such as selling off prisons, selling away future liquor sales, and leasing the Ohio Turnpike (“Turnpike may be leased, not sold, ODOT chief says,” April 15). I wonder what will become of the State of Ohio and its employees?

What does the governor have in mind for all this money? If he thinks we should trust him with newly acquired billions, he’s mistaken.

I see Mr. Kasich as a one-term politician who is looking to gain whatever he can in the shortest amount of time.

His agenda doesn’t include helping Ohio workers.

It’s time to correct the mistake made by voters. Remove Mr. Kasich from office.

Robert Neeley
Oregon



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