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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, November 09, 2017 1:00 am


Lawmakers' own rules to deal with harassment

According to the Washington Post's 5-Minute Fix, “Congress plays by different rules when it comes to sexual harassment.”

“Accusers can only file lawsuits if they first agree to go through months of counseling and mediation. Then, a special congressional office is charged with trying to resolve the cases out of court. If after all of that, (the) lawmaker-harasser is found guilty and there's a settlement, they don't have to pay. ... When settlements do occur, members do not pay them from their own office funds, a requirement in other federal agencies. Instead, the confidential payments come out of a special U.S. Treasury fund.

“Congressional employees have received small settlements, compared with the amounts some public figures pay out. Between 1997 and 2014, the U.S. Treasury has paid $15.2 million in 235 awards and settlements for Capitol Hill workplace violations, according to the congressional Office of Compliance. The statistics do not break down the exact nature of the violations.

So, lawmakers have created a special fund for sexual harassment that essentially lets them get away with it?”

In 2010, Mark Souder resigned after an extramarital affair, stating that he blamed the “poisonous environment of Washington” for his downfall. It certainly doesn't appear that federal legislators have done anything to fix the problem. They've simply gotten really creative at sweeping the problems under the rug by making accusations of sexual impropriety exceedingly difficult.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal which is even reaching to former President George H.W. Bush as a perpetrator, I heartily encourage the media – both print and TV – to do some investigative journalism. I, for one, would really like to see how pervasive this problem really is. If there is extensive corruption, the voters should learn of it before the midterm elections.

Patricia G. Stahlhut

Fort Wayne

Poor record on toll roads

Have people forgotten that when the state ran the Indiana Toll Road, it lost money every year?

Why should we believe that our state government has suddenly figured out how to make money running toll roads? Prior experience has shown that toll roads run by the state end up losing money. This is a really bad idea!

David Peterson


Conventional wisdom helps steer nation wrong

There was a letter in the Oct. 29 edition by IPFW's David Schuster that at first glance seems relatively minor but actually demonstrates a major point that explains the current state of our culture. Schuster was responding to the factual errors in an Oct. 7 letter by Ken Selking (which I don't remember reading) concerning slavery.

Schuster chastised Selking for what he called “dubious claims” then gave actual factual information to refute Selking's assertions. This letter stimulated my memory.

In 2005, I read a book called “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, in which they quoted economist John Kenneth Galbraith's definition of “conventional wisdom.” I think it was conventional wisdom that Selking was using. Galbraith says conventional wisdom is our belief in things that are simple, convenient, comfortable and comforting, but not necessarily true. All of us, I suspect, would rather live in the comfortable world of imagined history than in the real world with its sordid realities.

Thanks to Schuster for calling us out. Seeking truth is hard, time-consuming work that tends to make us very uncomfortable, and we need to be regularly reminded do it.

Why is this important? When a culture refuses to seek truth and relies on conventional wisdom as defined by Galbraith, we get results like Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. The state of the nation is in their hands – what a scary thought.

Ron Flickinger

Fort Wayne