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March 29, 2011
The Disaster in Japan
Given the near impossibility of vehicular navigation in the ravaged areas of Japan, I do not understand why airdrops of food, clothing, prefabricated dwelling materials, and other necessities have not been suggested and implemented by our government and U.S. charities ["Crisis Reignites Nuclear Debate," March 18]. Helicopters should drop the necessities, including materials for lightweight, small, prefabricated dwelling cubes, on all areas containing shelters and people. Many will die, and doubtless have already died, of hunger and thirst who otherwise would have survived. The desperate people trying to inhabit their damaged homes should immediately be given the prefabricated alternatives.
CHRISTIE WAGNER Kensington, Md.
Nuclear Energy in America
If an earthquake cracked the Hoover Dam, resulting in a catastrophic flood, would we then dismantle all dams ["Editor's Note," March 18]? If a meteor hit the international space station, causing radioactive debris to rain down upon a major city, would we never again venture into space? If, on Inauguration Day, a sinkhole caused the Washington Monument to topple onto an audience of thousands, would we then dismantle every last tall structure? Progress and survival have always entailed a measure of risk. Yes, we can use the lessons from the tragedy in Japan to make nuclear power safer than ever, but shunning beneficial technology is not a reasonable move. It's my hope that people can work through this disaster with love, compassion, and positive actions, while guarding to keep their rational thinking intact.
BRYAN JAY KOEFF Granbury, Texas
I am under the impression that the U.S. nuclear plants must keep their own waste in cooled underground pools at each individual reactor site around the country because the radical environmentalists won't let the spent fuel rods be shipped across country to a relatively safe storage facility deep underground in the desert. We apparently have the means to safely transport this dangerous waste. After what happened in Japan with the spent fuel rods in one of their reactors, we should immediately begin consolidating all our nuclear waste in one underground location, rather than endangering many folks all across the United States.
RANDAL TOTH Pittsfield, Mass.
It's a shame that the U.S. nuclear energy program has stagnated for the past 40 years as a result of public fear. To put things in perspective, the event at Three Mile Island resulted in no deaths, whereas over one million people have died in automobile accidents.
DAN WAYLONIS Mountain View, Calif.
Time to pull back on nuclear energy? I say no, because we need it to help reduce dependence on oil imports and to cope with eventual reduced supply. We should, however, learn from Japan's lessons: First, stay away from coastal areas and known quake-prone areas. Second, why not use more desolate federal or state land and get lease income from the power company? Third, use only the latest and best technology. Fourth, noting the containment features used in Japan—require double that.
JACK STONE Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
No matter where companies put these power plants, and governments approve them, eventually something bad will result from them. They say these plants are safe, but I can tell you for a fact: Sometime in the future, something will happen. Whether it be caused by mother nature or man, something will go awry. It has happened time and time again. The best way to prevent these nuclear disasters from happening is, do not build nuclear power plants.
EMIL SUGAK Kodiak, Alaska
U.S. Support for Israel
Our government's credibility is not enhanced by supporting Israel's inhuman treatment of Palestinians ["No Words Can Explain the Itamar Massacre," March 18]. Now in Libya, the United States says it has to intervene for humanity. What about when Israel was bombing defenseless people in Gaza in 2008-2009? Instead of a no-fly zone, the United States supplied more arms to Israel. At least quit arming Israel with my tax dollars!
LINDA JANSEN Seattle, Wash.
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March 23, 2011
Federal Funding for NPR
It is my opinion that federal funding for NPR should not be decreased [“Editor’s Note,” March 11]. I’m sure the amount of money at issue is miniscule as a portion of the federal budget, yet the effect of eliminating NPR funding could be large. In an era when media conglomerates have gobbled up many of our alternative sources of information, NPR has a more vital role than ever before. We should guarantee our freedom of the press by federal funding rather than pulling the financial rug out from under the stations.
JEFF MURDOCH Edmonds, Wash.
I have been an NPR listener and supporter for more than 20 years. When traveling, I often seek out the local NPR affiliate and would hate to see the smaller markets lose their station due to lack of local funding. It truly has excellent programming, but we must be honest: It is just another entertainment channel on the radio spectrum. It serves no greater public service than other competing stations. If public radio management cannot work out a funding arrangement that allows its smaller stations to continue to broadcast, that is a loss to all of us. Our government is deeply in debt and needs to rein in its spending. It’s time for public radio listeners to step up and fully fund this programming.
JOE SNYDER Powder Springs, Ga.
In this time of media overload, where every conceivable interest is represented on TV or on the Web, there is absolutely no need for the U.S. government to use tax dollars to create radio or TV programming. If there is a market for even the most far-fetched subject, some channel, station, or network will provide it. (Only a matter of time before we have the Left-Handed Insomniac Reality Show.)
JIM BURDICK Rocky Face, Ga.
It’s simple—stop all the federal money. If enough private money (make that enough private interest) can be raised, the entity stays in business. If the money (make that private interest) is not there, the entity goes out of business—just like all the other businesses in this country. There can be no justification for spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars (make that my dollars) on what essentially is a private enterprise.
WALLY SMITH Alexandria, La.
With the huge expansion of outlets in recent years, there is absolutely no justification of subsidies to anyone.
DONALD WAITE Petaluma, Calif.
In our modern day, we do not need NPR anymore. It should be subscription-based for those that want it. On the other side, telling lies on a network is harmful to our society. Individuals should be able to sue those that broadcast an untruth. Freedom of speech was meant to be exercised in the town square for non-commercial purposes, not to excite the uninformed in order to sell more soap or incite a riot.
GEORGE DILL Escondido, Calif.
As I understand it, NPR gets a very small part of their budget from the federal government. Cut them off; the good programs will survive.
NORM DARLING Kissimmee, Fla.
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March 15, 2011
Is the president underexposed? ["Editor's Note"] While an interesting question, given Mr. Obama's "overexposure" in the first half of his term, it's the wrong one. "Is the president leading?" is a better question to ask of the American electorate. Determined to be the anti-Bush in foreign affairs, the president seems uncertain in the bully pulpit. People recognize that Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans, while similarly stunted by coercive government, face different obstacles to free expression. What's missing from the White House is clear, consistent, predictable affirmation of principle, in word and deed. Absent conviction, I suppose, the lower one's profile, the better.
LOU CARTIER Greeley, Colo.
Your question alone is inane. Just try for 24 hours to go without seeing Obama on TV, hearing him on radio, or on the Internet. The man is simply a talking head with no substance. His leadership "skills" thus far are to wade in where he should not (state issues) and pontificate, or to have a beer and try to make nice. He is a joke.
MICHAEL SHADE Broomfield, Colo.
My friends and I could not have been more turned off by Obama's nonstop appearances his first days. What the president has done recently is far better (though I disagree with his policies). Where Obama has really gone wrong is in not doing enough evening Oval Office chats on important issues, especially today with the deficit. He needs to explain what is at stake. Of course I understand, politically, why he is being advised not to do so . . . which is also why Obama will never be thought of as a great president.
BRIAN TRUMBORE Summit, N.J.
Closing Time for Unions?
Unions had their place in history ["Editor's Note"]. Now they have gotten out of control. And public employee unions need to go away or be downsized to nearly nothing. They definitely should not have the right to strike or spend public money to do their bidding for more money or to support candidates. Other states are starting the move in this direction. The Wisconsin governor should stand his ground.
MIKE FASSLER Eagle River, Alaska
Government unions do not deal with the "owners," which are the taxpayers. They deal with politicians. If the politicians are Democrats depending on unions for votes and campaign funds, they will get what they demand, and taxpayers are left out in the cold. To correct this outlandish condition, any agreement with government unions should be approved by the taxpayers or by their honest representatives, who should have veto power. Until this is done, Democrats will continue our march to socialist fiscal insanity.
FRANK SOLIS West Deptford, N.J.
What is really unconscionable is the waste incurred in both money and productivity in the preparation for the "possible" government shutdown over the budget, and worse if it actually happens ["Preparing for the Worst"]. I wish there was a way to personally bill the politicians!
VICTOR A. SMITH Punta Gorda, Fla.
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March 9, 2011
How is this to balance the budget? I can see raising the sales tax or reducing tax breaks doing so, but how does eliminating collective bargaining reduce the deficit? If you want to bust the union, fine, let us do that; if you want to reduce the deficit, fine, let us do that. But why mix the two? It just confuses the situation.
JOEY BROCKERT Madison, Wis.
[Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker is right. Why should public unions get to lobby with taxpayers' money? It's a shame that so many public workers would rather be unemployed than be earning a living. Average teacher salary (pre-benefits) in Wisconsin is around $48,000 annually for 190 workdays. Where in the private sector can a working-class citizen make that while working so few days? Stay strong, Walker!
CODY ARENDT Plover, Wis.
The attack on unions is a continuation of the conservative drive to enrich the rich at the expense of working people. In Wisconsin, I understand the governor passed some tax cuts for business and wants public workers to pay. In less developed countries, the policies of enriching the powerful is called "corruption." In America, it is called "capitalism." [See photos of the Wisconsin protests.]
KENNETH VISTE Boise, Idaho
As a retired federal civil servant, I note that these workers are now referred to as "public employees" or "public sector employees." I can't help but think that this is a further attempt of the left to hide the fact that they are supposed to be civil servants working for the good of the public and not just other employees who happen to work for the government. It must be remembered that regardless of what they are called, it is the taxpayers, including me, that pay their salaries and benefits, and for whom they are supposed to be working. We should go back to referring to them as civil servants, and there simply is no justification for public sector unions.
RONALD SMITH Williamsburg, Va.
If we are going to take bargaining rights away from average people, then we need to make lobbyist activities illegal. That would be an equal trade-off. I bet we could raise taxes/plug loopholes for billionaires then.
DEBBIE ESCHMANN Arlington, Va.
Whenever there are more than four tiers of management in a company or institution, it is necessary for the frontline workers to have independent representatives to bargain for their needs. Therefore, in the government bureaucracy, such union bargaining is needed if we want to keep people from being alienated and disaffected in their work.
H.D. URIEL SMITH Lexington, Ky.
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March 1, 2011
You ask if the United States should assist in the Iranian government's downfall ["Editor's Note"]. As much as this is something we'd like to see happen, my answer is a definite no. We should not interfere at all in other governments, ever, no matter the circumstances. I am so tired of our leaders thinking of us as "World Leaders" and therefore assuming we can tell people in other parts of the world what they should do. Our minding others' business is one reason so much of the world hates us.
JACQUELINE JOHNSON Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Fearing the Brotherhood
The mission in the Muslim Brotherhood's constitution is still the same (elimination of Israel, enmity to the United States, jihad) and the recent polls showed a high degree of positive feelings about fundamentalist aspects of Islam on the part of the Egyptian people ["Democracy in Egypt No Easy Matter"]. And the situations in both Gaza and Lebanon demonstrate the fallacy of hoping for a full-fledged democracy when there are organized parties to take advantage of the voting process. Indeed, if what we are seeing now is Egypt for the Egyptians, it's not paranoia to be concerned about the future in the Middle East.
LENORE FORSTED Wynnewood, Pa.
Schlesinger Is Crazy
Robert Schlesinger is as loony as he accuses others of being ["When Did the GOP Become the Crazy Party?"]. I don't mind views from both sides, and that is what I have always enjoyed about U.S. News, but those views should be thoughtful and respectful. All Schlesinger cares about is his own extreme left wing vitriol. Enough already!
LEE ADAIR Coto de Caza, Calif.
Appreciating George H.W. Bush
To know George H.W. Bush and to have had the opportunity and honor to serve in his administration [in the Office of Advance] is the ability to see that this man deserves the Medal of Freedom and the appreciation of all Americans for his contributions to this country during his presidency and up to the present day ["Bush's 'Points of Light' Keep Shining"]. Congratulations and best wishes for a job well done and the recognition he deserves.
LUCY MUCKERMAN LAMB Alexandria, Va.
One of the most gloriously optimistic statements George H.W. Bush ever made was about the nature of Americans who took on the toughest challenges our society presents. To paraphrase, he said, "Every problem in America is being solved, somewhere." It's such a simple but profound statement. The challenge was how to replicate the solution, how to share it, how to learn from one community and apply those lessons to the next. His Daily Points of Light program was a noble attempt to do just that. For that, and so many other reasons, I was thrilled to see him honored today by President Obama, and proud to have served in his White House [as assistant to the president and senior staffer].
DAVID DEMAREST Sausalito, Calif.