Public Employee Unions, Kagan's Nomination, and the Gulf Oil Spill

From public employee unions to gauging the president’s response to the oil spill

+ More

Pensions Are Too Costly

Mr. Zuckerman’s observations about public employee unions are spot on [“The Price We Pay for Public Employee Unions,” May 14]. It is unsustainable for government entities to pay retirees a stipend virtually equal to the salary they earned and for a retirement period often longer than their employment. Taxpayers will soon grow weary of supporting these lavish benefits packages conferred by politicians with no skin in the game.

CHARLES STEINER Mt. Lebanon, Pa.

Judging Elena Kagan

Based on my reading of your article on Elena Kagan [“A Non-Judge for the High Court,” May 14], I would concur with many that she is a brilliant nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. [Check out our editorial cartoons on Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination.]

FRED KAHN Bethesda, Md.

If anyone takes the time to read some of Kagan’s Oxford thesis, “The Development and Erosion of the American Exclusionary Rule: A Study in Judicial Method,” he or she will see that Kagan can express herself with clarity and precision. Since the ability to express oneself with clarity, conviction, and brevity would seem to be an essential quality for a Supreme Court justice (but a quality often lacking), Kagan will probably be a refreshing improvement.

MICHAEL GORMAN Whitestone, N.Y.

I have two problems with Kagan being appointed a justice of the Supreme Court: She has no judicial experience and she’s from New York. There would be four Supreme Court justices from New York. Believe it or not, there’s a huge country outside of the northeastern United States that has different experiences and perspectives.

PEGGY SUTTON Camas, Wash.

Kagan simply has no clue about ordinary Americans, except her and her fellow liberals’ views on how we should live our lives. The obvious result, if she has her way, is more government direction of our lives and the loss of freedom to live as we choose.

RONALD SMITH Williamsburg, Va.

Your story was not very well researched. You left out that Kagan tried to eliminate military recruitment at Harvard during the height of the Iraq War because of the military’s policy on homosexuals. Even one of the most liberal Supreme Court justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) said this was “wrong-headed.” [Kagan] is way to the left of the mainstream and does not merit a position on the Supreme Court.

FRANK AUGUSTINE Clifton Park, N. J.

The Offshore Oil Mess

Let’s not drill any more until we can be very sure this type of disaster can’t happen again [Editor’s Note, May 21]. And why are we depending on BP, whose fault it is, to clean it up? It looks as if all they’re interested in is salvaging what they can of the spill, rather than stopping the outrage.

JACQUELINE JOHNSON Deerfield Beach, Fla.

It is time for [President Obama] to launch a major effort to wean us from our addiction to oil, as he promised during the campaign. The time for talk has passed. It is time to put a stop to this ridiculous dependence upon those who wish us ill. We should lead on this one—not follow others.

RALPH HYDE Lakeland, Tenn.

The thing isn’t so much the tragedy at the BP oil well, bad enough as that is, but the poor job government has done regulating the practice of offshore drilling. Big government has become a tumor. It is growing out of control, yet is just not performing as originally designed, if at all. We have abdicated so many things that once worked fairly well, and offshore drilling is just another case. The Interior Department has let us down once again; the regulators having tucked nicely into Big Oil’s back pocket on several occasions. The thing that stuck out in my mind, and came as a surprise, is that oil companies are able to go to foreign nations for their flag and safety standards. Anyone who is supposed to be regulating drilling, who saw BP’s move to the Marshall Islands, should have known that we were asking for trouble letting this happen. Allowing this has permitted the companies working the rigs to get sloppy and take unnecessary risks to boost the bottom line. The gulf is too fragile not to take every possible precaution, and we should never have allowed this awful thing to occur. The good news is there is now no excuse not to conserve and seek green energy sources vigorously.  

RONALD ZIMMER Schenectady, N.Y.

I am a retired engineer and find it amazing that the oil companies are at a loss for coping with the well failure. It is incomprehensible that years of drilling could not have developed better equipment, safeguards, and contingencies. As much as I hate big government, it is a shame that industry cannot regulate itself. Like Three Mile Island [nuclear accident], this could be the turning point. I am certain the technology is available to safeguard drilling operations, but I am not sure how to enforce its use. The profit motive of the oil companies appears to trump everything else.

JERRY APPELL Palm City, Fla.

America needs to reduce its dependency on Mideast oil, which makes the drilling in the Gulf [of Mexico] absolutely necessary. However, in  light of the current spill in the Gulf, better and more efficient methods must be developed. Safety standards seem to be either very lax or even nonexistent. Nuclear and clean-coal energy need to be developed to lessen our dependency on oil.

PETER PFEFFERKORN Kerrville, Texas

On the PBS NewsHour the other night, they had an interview with a maritime official from the Middle East who talked about a massive oil spill of hundreds of millions of gallons. Their solution for this oil spill (which dwarfs the Gulf [of Mexico] spill) was to use oil tankers and suck up the oil-and-water mixture. It was a success. The mixture was later separated into oil and water. Why don’t the powers that be—BP, the United States government—use the same method before the Gulf oil spill turns into an unmitigated disaster. Here is a proven workable solution and no one is using it or even talking about it. Dragging our feet is not an option when it comes to a fragile environment.

RON LOWE Nevada City, Calif.

  • Check out our editorial cartoons on the Gulf oil spill.
  • See who is donating to your member of Congress.
  • Become a political insider: Subscribe to U.S. News Weekly, our digital magazine.