Rabble-rousing time

Re: "Government unions taking more 'official time,' " Feb. 20

President Obama's executive order in creating the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations, a "nonadversarial forum for managers, employees' union representatives to discuss government operations," is without a doubt another gross example of our taxpayer monies being wasted. Should these rabble-rousing official union reps find a need for this type of nonsense, then let them congregate on their own time.

Are they and their members aware of the fact that there are numerous capable workers waiting in line to take their places?

Bernard Helinski


Transit subsidy, no job

In January, it was fear of the "fiscal cliff." Now it's sequestration. While the reasoning behind budget reductions is undeniably being politically spun in both directions, the underlying realities of tough budget constraints have been heavily reported on these and other pages.

This month, as difficult, life-changing decisions are being made regarding furloughs and reductions-in-force, a costly employee benefit slid through. For the last two years, many federal employees who use public transportation to commute in the D.C. area have paid a significant portion of their commuting costs. Now the personal fiscal pressure has been reduced with the federal employees' commuting subsidy being increased to cover many employees' full commuting costs.

While the gesture is greatly appreciated, it just seems awkward that it's extended at this time. Even more awkward is that Congress made the decision to spend this money as part of fiscal cliff avoidance discussions. This change means that my transportation costs will be fully paid for in the future. However my reason for commuting -- my job -- may not exist much longer.

Jeff Wright


Child control

Many gun control strategies have been discussed, including a national mental health database for individuals with severe conditions, increased background checks, gun registries, strong-arming gun stores to close and limits on the number of magazines a person can have. Each of these ideas may have some merit, but laws and executive orders will do little to solve the problem. For example, there is the loophole that will preclude background checks that no one has mentioned -- inheritance of firearms. With 43 to 55 million U.S. households owning firearms, it is estimated that a quarter of them will be passed down to family members.

Although there have always been gun murders, society seems to be increasingly violent and I a blame a significant amount of it on ineffective parenting. One can argue that both the Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., massacres could have been averted if parents took more of an interest in the lives of their children, recognized any mental health concerns and got them the needed help, and encouraged them not to use firearms. In general, loose parenting leads to tragic events affecting many families such as deaths from firearms, alcohol/drug overdose and reckless/impaired driving.

Kurt M. Kleier

San Francisco