The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 18, 2013

Anson Burlingame, guest columnist: Lots of questions, but few good answers

By Anson Burlingame
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — We were told recently that a big asteroid would pass close to Earth but not strike it. A few days later, a 10-ton meteor hit Russia. Why was Earth seemingly caught unawares of such an event and, had we known it was coming, what could have been done about it?

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has now explained some previously unknown facts related to Benghazi. Am I the only American who is concerned about what he revealed and does anyone else think his testimony should have made a difference?

I recently asked a postal worker, one with 34 years’ experience in that job, what that person thought of the Saturday mail delivery controversy. The individual said: “Who cares?” and then proceeded to debunk the whole controversy. I also asked how the U.S. Postal Service might handle layoffs if such came to pass. I was told that there is a no layoff clause in the labor agreement. Any downsizing that might result would be handled by “early outs.” I wonder if that means the Postal Service should now expect to pay more into its current retirement fund.

Most folks like the idea of early voting. I do as well, but if Grandma can simply mail in a ballot, how do we know that the ballot will not be filled in for her by a political operative and mailed for her (postage-free, of course, but no longer on Saturday). How do we  protect the privacy and sanctity of the voting booth when Grandma votes from home or the nursing home? Can anyone else envision a truckload of pre-printed, party-line ballots being delivered  that only need be signed by “someone” (different name for each signature )? Voting should be easy, but deciding for whom to vote, line by line, should require some critical thinking and privacy as well, should it not?

Many believe women should not be allowed to engage in military combat. Do they also believe that women should not be exposed to the stress of combat in the board room? Should women not be allowed to be cops in a rough neighborhood or firefighters who enter flaming buildings?

There was a woman reporter who was captured and reportedly raped in Egypt about a year ago.  Should women not be allowed to report from dangerous locations?

The National Rifle Association now objects to gun owners being required to carry a license any time they carry a gun. They also object to any gun being required to be licensed cradle to grave, so to speak. Does that violate the Constitution?

Across-the-board cuts in defense and domestic spending seem to be about to take place on March 1. Is that the way to run a government, cut everything a little but not whack off the unneeded entirely? Who in a position of national leadership, I ask, will stand and at least ask that question of Congress and the president, both of whom were behind that expedient legislation?

Do most Americans believe that earning the minimum wage should be sufficient money to live on for a lifetime, a comfortable lifetime with government providing many of the comforts? Or is the minimum wage only supposed to compensate people in entry-level positions for a reasonable short period of employment, with future wages dependent on performance, not government force?

Does anyone reading this column really believe the state of the union is headed in the right direction? I suppose people who think that is the case also believe all of the above issues have been correctly resolved.

Anson Burlingame lives in Joplin.