Letters graphic

An open letter to all elected representatives

I am terrified that this is the world my child has to grow up in.

I am scared to send my kid to school. I worry a lot about my wife who works in a high school. Many of my friends are teachers and students at various education levels in cities around the country, and I live in fear that I’ll see any one of them on the news as the latest statistic.

I fear for my African-American, Hispanic, and LGBT friends. This country has taken a 70-year step backwards, and I can’t believe that I’m seeing swastikas in anything that’s not grainy black-and-white documentary footage.

I no longer feel safe at the movies, a concert, a bar, the bank, the post office, and now I can’t even go to Walmart without worrying I’m not going to walk out alive. Even churches aren’t safe anymore.

Guess what? If a good guy with a gun didn’t stop a bad guy with a gun in El Paso, Texas, your argument is totally invalid!

Children are dying in cages, mass shootings happen at in unbelievable numbers, which doesn’t happen anywhere else on the planet, people are dying because they can’t afford to get adequate healthcare, we’re being scammed by our very own government on everything from energy to healthcare to education costs, and I can’t take it anymore.

And the worst part of all of it? So much of the problem is curable by our elected officials but they’re too morally bankrupt and greedy to grow a spine and actually do what their constituents need. Instead, they’re too busy collecting fat contribution checks from big oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, the National Rifle Association, and a myriad of other entities with dollar signs on their mind and no compunction about screwing over the American people.

We need gun control now. We need to step up and end racism now. We need equal rights for LGBT people across the board now. We need legitimate healthcare now. We need to end the concentration camps at our southern border now. We need to end police brutality against African-Americans now. We need to put an end to lobbying giants from buying our country now. We need to stop giving first-offenders for non-violent crimes harsher sentences than those convicted of sexual assault now.

Anthony Schneider, Council Bluffs

Vaping and Juuling: The tobacco’s industry opportunity to fool us again

Our country spent decades being able to smoke in restaurants, airplanes, classrooms, and even doctors’ offices. Progress meant being able to pick a non-smoking room at a hotel. It took far too long and millions of lives were claimed for years, but we have finally adopted some tobacco policies that put public health ahead of profits — profits to Big Tobacco. These policies were made possible only because people in power began listening to science.

Fifteen years ago, people argued that making a business or establishment 100% smoke-free took away people’s freedoms. Today, society has accepted that there is no benefit that outweighs the damage of allowing people to smoke in an enclosed space. Society has paid attention to the endless data about how many people die from smoking and secondhand smoke. We see the commercials warning that smoking makes people lose money, opportunities, organs, health, and family members. Society has also refused to turn a blind eye at how much money the tobacco industry pays to advertise to children, how much money they spend on lobbyists, and how they have essentially sold their souls to the devil to keep making profits.

When will we learn our lesson? The exact same people that brought us to our knees from cigarettes are trying to sell us another addictive substance that has already put people in the hospital, exploded in pockets, been advertised to youth, caused numerous lung problems, and yet goes unregulated and also untaxed.

Did you start vaping instead of smoking? Good for you. I’m glad I don’t have to smell cigarettes on you anymore. But don’t pretend that it’s healthy. And don’t pretend that the money you spent isn’t lining the pockets of the most powerful industry in our nation.

Maggie Ballard, Omaha

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