Conservatively Speaking

Conservatively Speaking – Articles Printed in The Daily Item

December 26, 2012: Principles Supported by Susquehanna Valley Conservatives – Bob Harder and Bob Lebda
January 29, 2013: The Expanding National Debt – Paul Hartman and Stan Zellers
March 20, 2013: Trampling on Religious Liberty – Pastor Glen Bayly
April 27, 2013: Gun Control and The Second Amendment – Michael E. Hanyak
April 14, 2014: Equal Pay for Equal Work – Bob Harder

Printed in the Daily Item on Monday, April 14, 2014


Equal pay for equal work, what does that mean? If you believe that it means all people, male or female, performing the same job should receive the same amount of compensation, I disagree with you. Equal pay for equal work should occur only if individuals, male or female, are performing the same job at the same measured performance level. There are several factors that should determine the compensation being paid two or more employees performing the same job. Qualifications and performance are the two most important. Gender and seniority should not be determining factors.

Individuals being hired for or promoted into a job should be compensated based on their qualifications for that job. Once in the job, pay increases should be based solely on job performance, and not any other factors like gender or seniority. It is erroneous to assume that the longer a person is in a job the better he or she will perform it. Merit pay increases reward good performing employees and help motivate them to continue to work hard and hopefully prepare them to accept more responsibility. Across the board pay increases are not fair to good performing employees and inappropriately reward average or marginal employees. And, don’t think that good performing employees don’t know when their fellow worker(s) performing at a lesser level receive the same amount or percent of increase that they receive. Good performing employees will not accept this disparity and will soon be looking for other employment or will become disheartened and will not continue to perform at their highest level.


The April 4, 2014 issue of The Bucknellian, the weekly student newspaper, contained the following front page headline, “University Strengthens Commitment to Diversity.” The lead paragraph states, President Bravman released the University’s new five-year plan on March 31, which focuses on the improvement of diversity in relation to all aspects of campus life. I commend President Bravman for taking this action to improve campus life.

By definition, diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means that each individual is unique, and recognizes our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. From everything I’ve heard, read and observed, the University is performing quite well in achieving diversity in most of the aforementioned areas.

As a Conservative, I’m especially interested in the University’s plans to strengthen its commitment to diversity in “political beliefs.” I believe it is safe to say that more than a few faculty members are registered as Democrats. Can I assume that the University will now make a conscious effort to increase diversity of “political beliefs” in the classroom by hiring more Republican, as well as Libertarian, faculty members? Can I assume that the University will make a conscious effort to foster the diversity of thought and critical thinking in the classroom that provides a balanced approach to the examination of topics? Also, most speakers brought to Bucknell to address the campus community are of the Liberal ideology. Can I assume that the University will now make a conscious effort to bring more Conservative, as well as Libertarian, speakers to campus in an effort to provide students with an opportunity to hear other sides of important issues? Only time will tell.

Diversity on a college campus is more than just recognizing individual differences and accepting and respecting those differences. I believe a conscious effort needs to be made to ensure that no single religious belief, political belief, or ideology is presented to students as the best one or right one. This will only happen when faculty members no longer interject their personal beliefs in the classroom and a richer climate of diverse thought is achieved. After all, students attend college to learn how to think, not to be taught what to think, especially when it comes to their religious beliefs, political beliefs, or ideologies.

Bob Harder
Board member, Susquehanna Valley Conservatives


Gun Control and The Second Amendment

‘A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ — Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

‘The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned’ — Article 1, Section 21 – Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Our forefathers knew from history, as well as from their experience with England in the 1700’s, that without the right to bear arms, citizens can easily be controlled by a government.  They were right.  One of the first acts of Hilter’s, Stalin’s, and Mao’s malevolent regimes was to confiscate their citizens’ guns.  This act left their citizens defenseless, resulting in the genocide of over 60 million people in Germany, Russia, and China (Historical Atlas of the 20th Century, Matthew White, 2011).

Also, our forefathers knew that citizens must protect their life, liberty, and property from an aggressor—an individual or a group of individuals.   Keeping and bearing arms for one’s protection is a fundamental right for our citizens, and this right must not be abridged.  In 2008, the Supreme Court in the D.C. versus Heller case affirmed that “the Second Amendment protects a right of individuals to keep and bear arms, not just a right to arms only in service of a government-organized militia such as the National Guard” (Heritage Foundation, Malcolm and Marshall, Backgrounder No. 2761).

We watched in horror the pictures of the bombings at the Boston marathon where many people were killed and maimed.  There was a 24-hour lockdown in Boston while police hunted for the killers.  Wouldn’t the people, hunkered down in fear in their homes, have felt safer if they had firearms to defend and protect themselves?

As did our forefathers, many of our citizens today fear the confiscation of firearms in the USA.  This confiscation could happen in one of two ways.  The first way is by amending our constitution to repeal the Second Amendment, which is a purposely-designed process with a high level of ratification.  The second way is by the slow creep of passing new gun control laws with a lower level of ratification—a hidden agenda to achieve complete gun control which the populous will not realize until it is too late.  Whenever the next gun-related tragedy occurs, advocates of gun control will undoubtedly use emotion, not logic, to attempt to enact more gun control laws.

Logic and history show that gun control laws do not work.  These laws target law-abiding citizens and do not address criminals, who usually get their guns illegally.  Fewer guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens only embolden criminals to commit more crimes.  The first responder to criminal acts on someone’s life, liberty, or property should be the responsible gun owner, while waiting for the police to arrive and take control.  After Congress passed a 10-year ban (1994–2003) on semiautomatic rifles, a federal-funded report concluded that this ban had “no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence” (Christopher S. Koper, Award 98-IJ-CX-0039, July 2004).  After Australia banned semiautomatic rifles and shotguns and England banned rifles and handguns in the 1990’s, their strict gun laws “haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres” (Joyce Lee Malcolm, WSJ, 26 Dec. 2012).

Finally, what can you do to protect your right to bear arms?  Fight for the support of traditional moral standards in our society—in yourself, your home, your schools, your universities, and your local, state, and federal governments.  Advocate for the proper training and use of guns and the aggressive application of existing gun laws .  Elect public officials who stand on principles and uphold those moral standards and existing laws.  Be vigilant that the fruits of their political labor conform to their sworn oath to uphold the State and Federal constitutions.  Get involved in your local community, engage your public officials, and “hold their feet to the fire.”

Michael E. Hanyak
Planning Committee Member for the Susquehanna Valley Conservatives

†“The U.S. Justice Department could increase the prosecutions of people who falsify information on their gun background checks. In 2009, the FBI reported 71,000 instances of people lying on their background checks to buy guns. But the Justice Department prosecuted just 77 cases—that’s about 1/10th of 1%. A lack of follow through from the federal government is letting these gun criminals walk, and that sends a message about lack of enforcement that only encourages systematic disrespect for existing gun laws” (John Avlon, CNN Opinion, 11 Jan. 2013). “During the Bush and Obama administrations, only a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the violations was prosecuted. The Justice Department has seen little value in prosecuting cases in which background checks have already stopped prohibited people from buying guns” (Nancy Madsen,, 1May 2013). Allocating more resources and directing the Justice Department to follow-up on the 70,000 violators per year and find those violators who obtain firearms illegally might be a better strategy than passing another gun control law.

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printed in the daily item on Wednesday, March 20, 2013


“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, disciplines or exercises.” Jefferson’s Letter to Rev. Mr. Millar, Jan. 23, 1808 (Words of Thomas Jefferson, Vol 5, pg 236.)

The religious liberty controversy that has been raging on the national scene for nearly two years has come to the Susquehanna Valley. Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Lancaster-based firm with two factories in Snyder County, is among several companies and non-profit organizations attempting to avoid a key element of the Obama Administration’s health policy.

In 2011, the Obama Administration issued what is referred to as the Health and Human Services mandate. The mandate required that contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs be covered in all employer-provided health plans. While some media attention has been given to the mandate’s threat to religious institutions that must now fund a product contrary to their moral beliefs, little attention has been given to private employers who also wish to practice their faith freely. Many of these employers are now being asked to violate their consciences by providing health care that meets the guidelines.

Consequently, Conestoga Wood Specialties and its owners, the Hahn family, were forced to file a federal suit seeking protection against the federal mandate. The owners of Conestoga as well as many other business owners and a large percentage of the American population define this issue as maintaining the sanctity and nobility of human life.

Charles Proctor III, lead counsel in the Conestoga case stated, “As government grows and pervades every detail of life, we risk what happened in this case: the government telling citizens that they need to subsidize something as controversial as drugs and devices that can result in the death of a human life…..Government must know that this creates a moral dilemma for millions of religious employers like the Hahn family. Government should not be in the business of micromanaging our lives in this way.”

The United States Congress passed what is known as the Hyde Amendment in 1977 to ensure that no taxpayer would be forced to fund abortions. The current administration has taken an end run around this respect for individual conscience to force Americans to pay for this practice by including it in its healthcare policy.

The Administration has provided some exceptions for religious institutions but the freedom of religion concerns go much further than just religious institutions and churches. In their actions, the Obama Administration has callously ignored the consciences and concerns of many if not most Americans.

Promises not to impose this disrespect for human life allowed the Obamacare legislation to become law in the first place. Now those promises have been almost totally ignored. Another major national employer that has challenged this infringement by the federal government is Hobby Lobby. Again, this is a beneficial employer of thousands which desires to keep a clear conscience on this matter.

Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel of the Independence Law Center, has said, “No one should be forced to violate their conscience and religious beliefs in the way they run their business.” He went on to say, “The free exercise of religion, guaranteed in the First Amendment, is not something confined to four walls of a church. In America, our Constitution guarantees to all the freedom to live out our faith according to our conscience in all areas of life.”

Our country is increasingly on a divided path. Consequently, those who have little or no religious faith, or whose beliefs conflict with traditional Judeo-Christian values are looking for more and more places to suppress religious freedom. Our country has experienced an increasing number of clashes over a variety of religious expressions from the display of crosses, nativity scenes, and the Ten Commandments, to prayer in public gatherings and other public references to God.

Those who hold Judeo-Christian values provide innumerable benefits to our society from encouraging good citizenship to the respect of all human beings as created in the image of God, to the innumerable charitable ventures both here and abroad. The Christian community responds to emergency needs of our country as quickly and effectively, if not more so, than our government agencies as seen in the aftermath of recent disastrous storms. It is not to the benefit of our communities to suppress the activities of Christian people who desire to freely and openly express their faith in word and action.

The federal Government must be kept in check by the courts when it attempts to restrict the freedoms of its citizens, especially the freedom of religion, our first right in the Bill of Rights. Since there is no compelling reason to excuse this imposition, the courts have a responsibility to maintain the protection of religious liberty.

Indeed, preserving our precious religious freedom is paramount to preserving our national heritage.

Rev. Glen Bayly
Susquehanna Valley Conservatives Planning Committee Member

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Printed in the Daily Item on Tuesday, January 29, 2013.

Think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty.” Benjamin Franklin

It’s been ten years since my son graduated from college; twelve for my daughter.

These were personal milestones for my wife and me, and for them. We look back on those college years with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and, to a lesser degree, relief.

Relief ? Why relief? The answer is easy for any middle-class family who has ever been in the same situation. We simply could not have borrowed another dime – for education or any other reason – if our lives had depended on it. Thank goodness we weren’t hit with some sort of fiscal crisis.

It’s not a good feeling to know your choices have been so narrowed that all you can do is wake up each morning, go to work, and pray that ‘this too shall pass.’ But pass it did, because we tightened our belts and lived within our (restricted) means for several years.

What my family didn’t have those ten or twelve years ago, was the option to print our way out of debt or continue to borrow against ‘the full faith and credit of the Zellers family.’ Our personal debt limit had been reached.

We only had two choices: 1) Reduce spending 2) Increase income. We did a lot of one (#1) and some of the other (#2).

Through those years, neither Standard & Poors, nor Transunion, Equifax, or Experian had to downgrade our credit rating because we had the desire – founded on our sense of personal responsibility – to manage our finances responsibly. This is one reason we call ourselves ‘conservatives’. We wanted to take care of ourselves – not create a financial mess that someone else would have to clean up later.

By now you must have guessed this isn’t about family, but about the path our nation is on.

For the first time in the history of the United States, our credit rating was downgraded, (Standard & Poors – Aug 5, 2011) and there are rumblings it will soon happen again.

Susquehanna Valley Conservatives meetings always open with two rituals: first we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and second, we post the current national debt for everyone to see. At the end of our meetings we post the debt again and calculate the difference.

Rather than cite a bunch of statistics that will just make your eyes glaze over, here are two numbers that are easy to relate to:

On average, over the course of the 90 minutes of any Susquehanna Valley Conservatives meeting, the national debt increases at a rate of roughly $ 2.6 million PER MINUTE !
If the U. S. stopped accumulating debt right now, and started repaying at the rate of a dollar every second, it would take over 33,000 years to pay back the $16.5 trillion we owe. Stunning !

So, as it was for our family ten years ago, the choices for our country are narrowing.

Provide relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy ? Repair roads and bridges? Upgrade an aging power grid ? Maintain a military that is so strong that no other country would even think about an act injurious to America ? Our debt level restricts our ability to deal with these needs.

As conservatives we believe our national debt, if allowed to continue to expand, will further narrow our choices and eventually handcuff our country.

Susquehanna Valley Conservatives meetings are free and open to the public. For information about past and future meetings view our website:

Paul Hartman and Stan Zellers
Susquehanna Valley Conservatives Planning Committee Members

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Printed in the Daily Item on Wednesday, December 26, 2012.

Who is a Susquehanna Valley Conservative? The year was 2009. A few individuals, primarily Bucknell retires, a retired chemist, and a Lewisburg business man had been meeting monthly in each others homes to discuss politics. At least three admitted to previously being Democrats but were now Republicans. To be more specific, all had become conservative in their political ideology. Much of the conversation centered on what the current President was doing or not doing. Although the group was often unified in identifying the action or actions needed to resolve an issue or promote a cause, frustrations set in when the members realized that the President’s liberal agenda would set policy for the next four years. Nevertheless, the monthly meetings continued as did the sharing of each others concerns about the future of America.

In the fall of 2009, two members of the group decided that they wanted to reach out to other conservatives living in the Susquehanna Valley, believing that an attempt should be made to encourage other conservatives to join with them in “supporting conservative principles and policies and providing area conservatives and the general public with education regarding issues at the local, state, and national levels”. The wording in quotations was eventually adopted as the mission statement for the group now known as Susquehanna Valley Conservatives. SVC also believes that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America form the bedrock needed to secure our fundamental rights. Many conservatives have joined the group which has been meeting monthly since November, 2009. With a mailing list of more than 300, attendance ranges from 75-350.

SVC supports the following the following principles:

  • Government is elected by and is responsible to the people.
  • Lower taxes and a smaller government with limited power will improve the standard of living for all. Lower taxes create more incentive for people to work, save, invest, and engage in entrepreneurial endeavors. Money is best spent by those who earn it, not the government.
  • A strong military is needed to preserve our freedoms.
  • Freedom of religion, speech, and the press is vital. The First Amendment to the Constitution prevents the government from establishing a national church or denomination. It does not prohibit God from being acknowledged in schools and government buildings. Government should not interfere with religion and religious freedom.
  • A free market system, competitive capitalism, and private enterprise create the greatest opportunity and the highest standard of living for all. Free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs and higher standards of living than those systems burdened by excessive government regulation.
  • Legal immigration is encouraged. The federal Government should secure the borders and enforce current immigration law.
  • The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Individuals have a right to defend themselves. Current gun laws need to be enforced. Gun control laws do not prevent criminals from obtaining guns. More guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens mean less crime.
  • Freedom from unreasonable searches is a freedom that must be protected at all times.
  • A workers’ right to a secret ballot must be protected at all times and support for right to work laws in all states must be encouraged.
  • Market-based health care and energy reforms are very important. All Americans have access to health care. The debate is about who should pay for it. Health care should remain privatized. The problem of uninsured individuals should be address and solved within the free market healthcare system. The government should not control healthcare. Increased domestic production of oil, gas, and coal creates lower prices and less dependence on other countries for oil. Oil drilling should be increased both on land and at sea as should support for increased production of nuclear energy.
  • Freedom of choice for education is vital because school vouchers create competition and encourage schools to improve performance. Vouchers will give all parents the right to choose good schools for their children, not just those who can afford private schools.
  • Term limits will encourage elected officials to focus on what is best for the people who elected them rather than spending time on and voting for what will help them to get reelected.
  • Ensure a person’s right to protection of innocent life and property. Human life begins at conception. An unborn baby, as a living human being, has separate rights from those of the mother. Oppose taxpayer funded abortions. Support legislation to prohibit partial birth abortions. Respect ownership and private property rights. Eminent domain should not be used for private development.

Susquehanna Valley Conservatives meetings are free and open to the public. For information about past and future meetings view the website:

Bob Harder and Bob Lebda
Co-founders of Susquehanna Valley Conservatives

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