Tom (Yusha) Sager
The Misfit Mathematician

tom (at)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Columnist's potpourri:
Tying up some loose ends

War is coming home: A Vietnam veteran posted the following online comment. We should all be aware of what he is saying:

“The beast, ‘PTSD’ can lay dormant for years before it rears its ugly and sometimes deadly head. I know. I live with it 24 hours a day. There are those who will tell you it can be cured; but it can’t. It can be treated; but the longer it takes to recognize the symptoms, the more difficult it becomes to treat.

“I had a friend who was with me in Nam. His first night back to ‘the world’ he killed his wife and then blew his own brains out. Nobody knew he had a problem.

“The VA is a joke when it comes to helping the vet. A lot of the time the nearest VA hospital is 80-100 miles from the vet that needs help; and then they pump you full of pills that just keep you going. I survive on medication that leaves me like a zombie; and believe me; that is not living.

“As long as we have politicians who start these ‘wars for profit,’ we will continue to have the walking wounded (both in body and mind); and they will continue to be cast aside like so much trash.”

Regardless of our opinions about current and past wars, I hope we can all agree that this is a national disgrace. Congress has spent close to $500 billion (and counting) on the Iraq War, but can’t allocate funds to care for the casualties of past wars. To quote the late Dr. Martin Luther King: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Ron Paul: When I endorsed Ron Paul in the Presidential Primary, I had no idea that so many wonderful people support Ron Paul.

Many of his supporters have written to me or posted online comments thanking me for my endorsement, praising Ron Paul's character and honesty, and supporting his stance on various issues.

Almost totally absent was the disrespect for opposing viewpoints and candidates that so pervades our national political discourse.

In addition to his stance against U.S. involvement in foreign wars, I am impressed by Ron Paul's position on inflation. When our government borrows money to fight a war or to support a trade imbalance, the money to pay back the debt doesn’t come from the “fiscal faerie.”

In a large measure, it comes from devaluing the dollar which is a transfer of wealth from the people to the government. This is a “hidden tax” that impoverishes the people.

Ron Paul and Ralph Nader seem to be among the very few candidates who understand this.

Sadly, Ron Paul is almost totally ignored by the mass media. Our nation needs respectful political discourse that includes all points of view. We need to hear more from Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and others. What are the Republican and Democratic Parties and their “front-runners” so afraid of?

Rolla should not become another Kirkwood: In last week’s column, the phrase, “but [Rolla Municipal Utilities] will use [at least $1 million overcharged to its customers] to help stop future rate increases," was inadvertently added in the editorial process. This is strictly hearsay. This claim can neither be proved nor disproved.

The two major points this article makes are:

1. When government fails to respect the people, there is a risk that unstable individuals may overreact in ways that can be devastating to society.

2. Government actions that are disrespectful of its citizens can end up hurting everyone, including those in government who are responsible for these actions.

The original article is posted here.

(Tom Sager is a retired professor at the University of Missouri - Rolla. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at or at his website, The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Rolla Daily News, GateHouse Media, or their staff, employees or affiliates.)