- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 5, 2005

‘Three strikes,’ but no outs

In this country, an individual who is convicted of a third felony is sentenced to a long prison sentence (20 to 25 years) even for a relatively small crime such stealing a bicycle. There are large defense contractors who are repeatedly required to return tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to the government for contract fraud, but there is no further consequence (“Homeland Security business faulted,” Nation, Monday). These companies are supercriminal. Why isn’t there a “three strikes” law for businesses? We frown and scold Iraq for its ‘oil-for-food’ fraud. Our business criminals are more sophisticated but equally reprehensible.

JAN POLESTAR

Bethesda

Extreme makeover?

Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States is attempting to use smoke and mirrors to make people think he and his gang of anti-hunters and anti-fishers only want our hunting and fishing options reduced a little (“Pro-fishing, anti-cruelty,” Letters, yesterday).

This is called incrementalism. This is how our rights are lost. Organizations such as Mr. Pacelle’s take a little here and a little there until they have what they want; after all, it’s just common sense and reasonable restrictions.

The ultimate goal is the elimination of all hunting and fishing. Their strategy is the same as that of the anti-gun advocates. In fact, if you were to compare the anti-gun supporters with the animal- rights crowd, you would find a lot of crossover on the names and funding.

First they came for the Saturday Night Special; then they came for other handguns; then they came for the so-called assault weapon; and now they want your 30.06 rifles and your goose guns.

They’ll use the elimination of hunting to get them. After all, if you can’t hunt, why do you need a shotgun?

Hunters and fishermen, don’t be fooled: They don’t just want a little; they want it all.

ROBERT E. BRAND

Frederick, Md.

Though I agree with Mr. Pacelle on most of his “hit list,” I would like to caution the Humane Society of the United States to step carefully on the fur issue.

Though I agree that breeding, keeping and killing animals for their fur is inhumane, I would like the HSUS to understand one form of similar harvesting that should not go away: leather.

As a biker who suffered a recent accident, I can attest personally to the statistic that leather is the most protective of all riding gear, leaving denim and Kevlar far behind.

Additionally, leather usually comes from animals we eat. (My beloved jacket is cowhide.) I do not know if the meat industry is also the source of my leathers, but it shouldn’t be too hard to make it so (and it probably would be very profitable to the meat industry). Waste not, want not.

Mr. Pacelle, please keep the Humane Society a respected cornerstone of our culture. Do not go down the extremist road of PETA. If an animal product serves human life beyond mere greed, we can hardly be faulted for using it.

Bovines, especially, and other livestock serve a wide variety of our needs: meat, dairy, leather. Do not marginalize the Humane Society by ignoring human needs. The greater bulk of the animal population kills other animals to maintain their own lives. Why shouldn’t we?

Please, keep fighting animal cruelty, but fight cruelty, not sane and natural use or responsible pet ownership. I would hate to see the Humane Society reduced to yet another gaggle of fools, chaining themselves to the doors of the nearest department store.

THOMAS M. SHIRK

Springfield

India’s contribution to relief efforts

The chart on tsunami aid by the world’s 20 largest economies that accompanied the article “Aid efforts push into stricken areas” (Page 1, Tuesday) was incorrect in its information on India.

This inaccuracy was somewhat surprising, considering the gracious public acknowledgment just a day before by President Bush on India’s contribution to the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts as a member of the core group established at the initiative of the United States.

India also has contributed indirectly by refraining from availing itself of any intergovernmental or international assistance in the wake of the tsunami disaster. More significant, India was the first country in the region to commit its assets, including seven naval ships, nine fixed-wing aircraft and several helicopters, in search, rescue and relief operations and the restoration of infrastructure, such as re-opening ports and providing medical care, drinking water and food and other assistance to those affected by this tragic calamity. In Sri Lanka alone, about 1,200 Indian personnel are involved in relief operations.

Apart from this immediate and large-scale material assistance, India has pledged $26 million to the affected countries.

Thus India, which has its resources fully stretched with internal relief operations covering 1,400 miles of its coastline and its remote island territories, has demonstrated in deeds its sympathy and solidarity with its neighbors while coping with one of the worst natural disasters in its history.

GAUTAM BAMBAWALE

Press minister

Embassy of India

Washington

SSNs aren’t required

Although the United States may soon have a nationalized driver’s license thanks to some of the ill-advised “extras” buried in the so-called intelligence reform law just signed by President Bush, the Cato Institute’s Richard Rahn errs by writing, “Every American citizen and every foreign worker in America is required to have a Social Security card” (“Do we need a national ID card?” Commentary, Dec. 22).

In fact, as the Social Security Administration will tell anyone who asks, Americans are not required to have a Social Security number to live or work in the United States. Even if a person has an SSN assigned to him and voluntarily agrees to disclose the number to his employer, the Code of Federal Regulations requires the employer to accept the number even if the person does not possess a Social Security card.

You see, neither the Social Security Act nor any other act of Congress requires Americans to obtain assignment of an SSN. No federal law or regulation authorizes employers to refuse to hire any worker who does not have an SSN or other taxpayer ID number (TIN), such as the individual taxpayer ID number (ITIN), which the IRS issues to any alien who does not qualify for assignment of an SSN.

Of course, employees still must certify their work eligibility on a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services I-9 form and pay all taxes, including Social Security taxes. If any worker does not provide an SSN or other TIN, the employer must withhold federal income taxes at the single, no-allowance rate.

As we enter the new year, Americans should be heartened to know that they are not required to enumerate their children with Social Security numbers and that they may work, obtain a U.S. passport and even buy and carry guns without disclosing their SSN, even if they have one assigned. Americans won’t need a national ID card in the future, and, thankfully, we aren’t required to have SSNs today.

MIKE STOLLENWERK

Chairman

Fairfax County Privacy Council

Alexandria

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