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June 8, 2012
A Civil or Religious Union?
Mr. Schlesinger writes "No one on the side of marriage equality is suggesting that, say, the Catholic Church should be forced to perform gay marriages" ["Get God Out of the Gay Marriage Debate," May 25]. For now! There are currently many who are suggesting that, say, the Catholic Church should be forced to fund abortion through health insurance payments by associated service activities. Who would have thought this possible four years ago?
DAVID GRIFFITH Belleville, Ill.
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May 4, 2012
President Obama has time and again touted the importance of higher education even stating our nation needs two million more college graduates in the next decade. In fact, last week Obama dedicated significant time toward calling for college to be more affordable and accessible.
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June 2, 2011
Emmett McGroarty could not be more wrong in his representation of the International Baccalaureate in the United States [Emmett McGroarty’s opinion post “International Baccalaureate Undermines U.S. Founding Principles”].
The IB is a success story in primary and secondary education in the United States and across the globe. What started as a passionate commitment by international private school educators in post-war Europe has now grown to 3,264 schools in 141 countries. These educators set out to create an international curriculum that would not only provide children with lifelong learning skills and the habits of mind needed to become productive adults, they also sought to attempt to prevent future devastation on the scale of that war by teaching children about others: other cultures, religions, and societies.
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April 29, 2011
The entire premise of [Doug Heye's blog post, "Tax Payer Funded NPR Brings Rock Stars to Swanky Washington Party"] is simply misinformed.
Our guests are paying their own way. And our tables were made possible by a generous donor to NPR who felt it was important for NPR to have a visible presence at this major event.
NPR is also not “tax-payer funded,” despite the rhetoric and misinformation perpetuated by some.
First, NPR receives no direct appropriation from the federal government. Less than 2 percent of our annual operating budget (approximately $2 million in a budget of $160 million) comes from competitive grants sought from federally-funded organizations, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Those grant funds aren’t appropriated to NPR by Congress, nor are they used to support NPR’s general operations. NPR must apply and compete for the grants, and use the funds only for the specific project covered by each grant.
Federal funding from the CPB goes directly to local stations to serve local communities, NOT to NPR. Stations on average receive approximately 10 percent of their budgets from grants from the CPB.
When Heye writes that he’s “seen little from NPR” in the past few months, he must have missed the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, the tsunami in Japan, the one year anniversary of the deadly explosion at Upper Big Branch mine, the battle for soldiers with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder to get adequate treatment—and the countless other events and stories NPR alone manages to extensively cover day in and day out. It’s this work that was recognized for several Peabody Awards earlier this month. And that a growing audience of 27 million tunes to each week.
Director, Media Relations, NPR
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April 26, 2011
There is no choice but to raise the debt ceiling right now since the budget for the current fiscal year, ending September 30, is already locked in with more deficit spending ["Posturing on the Brink of Disaster," April 15]. However, there is no excuse for raising it next fiscal year if a balanced budget is enacted. Let's see how that turns out. (Note: Rome wasn't built in a day.)
RICK TANNEHILL Glendale, Ariz.
A Taxing Debate on Fairness
To the question "does the amount of income tax I just paid seem about right?" ["Editor's Note," April 15] Yeah, I guess it does—kind of. But I don't like it that the president and the Republicans and the Democrats all pontificate and pander, but none are moving toward really fixing what's so obviously broken. We need lower rates on corporations, but every profitable company should pay. We need to stop using the tax code to promote "good" behavior and punish "bad." Loopholes (yours) and incentives (mine) need to be greatly diminished or eliminated. We have an enormous federal government with enormous bureaucracies because the government does things voters want done. So we need to cut it back or to pay for it—all of us. Some time ago, a now long-gone senator said (approximately), "Don't tax you, don't tax me, let's tax the man behind that tree." He meant it as a joke—I think.
RON KOLLMAN SMITH Mountain Lake, Va.
Fairness requires each citizen to pay the exact cost of the benefits he or she receives. Unfortunately, it is impossible to calculate this amount, and it is beyond the ability of many to pay, regardless. Furthermore, justice demands citizens pay not only for current and, in some cases, future benefits received, but those previously received without payment. By allowing half of the current population to have representation without taxation, we are taxing future generations who do not have representation.
RICHARD LAWRENCE Clinton, Utah
Taxes, you can't abide them, but you can't live without them! Why does [nearly half] of our population not have to pay [income] taxes? They have no skin in the game and clearly vote for more and more largess. A progressive system makes sense, but a system that exempts almost half the population is madness. Revise the system. Simplify it so that one does not have to use a CPA to prepare one's tax form. Eliminate lots of deductions; that will clearly force the rich to pay more. If you live in the United States, you benefit from tax revenue in one way or another. You should have to pay for that benefit, even if it is a token amount.
DENNIS GREENE Aurora, Colo.
Something is definitely wrong when almost half of Americans do not pay any [income] taxes. How can only half of Americans support the other half? And now President Obama wants to increase taxes on those who already pay most of the taxes. It is time to take a discerning look at the U.S. tax system, totally rework it to make it fair. Obama thinks it's fair if we keep raising taxes on those who already pay the most. This does not seem fair to me.
MIKE LEBLANC Colorado Springs, Colo.
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April 20, 2011
Debating Paul Ryan's Budget
Rep. Paul Ryan has the courage to tackle the "third rail" of politics and come up with a sensible plan to get America back on track ["Deficit Hawk Takes Aim," April 8]. Democrats railing about "shared sacrifice" really mean to avoid any sacrifice and to let our nation slide into an economic disaster. We need real leaders who are worried about us and not their re-election, and who truly have our nation as their first priority.
JOHN GOODRICH Estero, Fla.
Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are winning anything but contempt from the American people. The Fed prints money faster than anyone can keep track of, and no one is doing anything to stop it. Families and businesses have had to make drastic changes to their spending to try and balance income with spending. No one in Washington is doing anything. The Republicans always cut taxes and add to the national debt. They have always borrowed against the future. The Democrats have always tried to raise taxes and then spend more that the new taxes will cover.
PAUL KRIG Katy, Texas
Ryan has it right. All of Medicare and Medicaid need to be updated to reflect modern life spans. It is also time for the Democratic Party to remember its history. About 50 years ago, a Democratic president said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Today’s Democratic mantra is, "Ask not what you can do for your country, rather ask, nay, demand, what your country can do for you."
ROBERT MILLER Woodbridge, Va.
Donald Trump has completely ruined his credibility as an aspiring presidential candidate by restarting the old far-right claim about President Obama having been born in Kenya ["Editor’s Note," April 8]. Watching his interview, I found him arrogant and self-promoting. He reminds me of a neighborhood bully. Are we looking at one more candidate who is willing to say anything just to call attention to himself?
MICHAEL BANN Mount Bethel, Pa.
Trump is a fresh voice unrestrained by the practice of divisive party politics. Many people might turn toward Trump out of frustration with our current political process and the system’s leaders (or lack thereof). I just wish he would get off the Obama birth certificate kick!
ROBERT H. WILLIAMS Sanibel, Fla.
Trump is only a serious self-promoter—he is not interested in being president or the leader of anyone he cannot say "you’re fired" to on the spot.
TIM MILLINGTON San Antonio, Texas
The American electorate is stupid enough that Trump has a real chance.
JAMES BOUSMAN Honolulu, Hawaii
That Trump is spending all his time investigating President Obama’s birth certificate is a perfect example of why he is basically unqualified to be president. He should be talking about real issues that matter to most Americans and not some wacky ideas from the fringe right wing.
DAVID P. SMITS Kaukauna, Wis.
Just because Trump makes statements that the media or other people claim are ludicrous does not mean that he is exempt from running. For the most part, running for the presidency requires money, ego, and self-promotion, and Trump seems to have all of the above.
SHARON ZIRNGIBL Alpharetta, Ga.
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April 12, 2011
The Frustrating Budget Debate
Reading about the budget battle in Congress is the most frustrating experience I have ever encountered [“Let’s Make a Deal,” April 1]. We have a bunch of talking heads who are beholden to special interest or ideology and have no idea how to govern. The Tea Party is winning the media battle but has no real plan. Most Americans have the attention span of a gnat and make judgments on sound bites, and the country is going down the tubes. The main goal of the Republicans is to win back the White House, and they are willing to run this country into the ground to do it. We need members of Congress to do what is best for the country, not their districts, party, or special interest. Until that happens, expect things to get worse.
JOE MARRA Seaside Park, N.J.
Discussing the Death Penalty
I find Mary Kate Cary’s choice of words interesting when she talks about opposition to killing innocent children as anti-abortion instead of pro-life [“The Case Against the Death Penalty,” March 25]. Using her argument about innocent people getting the death penalty, how could she justify driving a car? She could make an honest mistake and kill an innocent person. Does that mean no one should drive a car? We don’t live in a perfect world; mistakes do happen. The fact that California spends $250 million to execute one person shows a broken-down judicial system with activist judges. Is it any wonder California is in dire financial straits? Comparing the killing of an innocent child to a convicted murderer hardly seems fair. Now that we have more scientific evidence at our disposal, let’s try to make the trial fair so the verdict will be fair.
ALAN WOOD Honolulu, Hawaii
The more than 30 states in the United States still using the death penalty are the only remaining jurisdictions in the first world that hold on to it. The majority of nations forbid it and have found other ways to bring justice to those who are harmed. Fortunately, the trend in the United States is to abandon it, and each time another set of lawmakers and a governor does so should be celebrated. The best conservative argument I can think of is that you can’t trust government to fix potholes, so why trust it to single out the right persons for execution?
PATRICK DELAHANTY Louisville, Ky.
Only relatives and loved ones of murder victims have the right to decide mercy for convicted killers. Unless one of your loved ones has been murdered by one of these animals, you have no right to dispense mercy. Period.
TOM WOMACK Port Orchard, Wash.
There is no contradiction with being pro-life on abortion and prodeath for murderers. On the one hand, you have completely innocent babies destroyed while waiting to be born. On the other, you have vicious and vile human beings guilty of murder and the worst of atrocities. The circumstances are totally different, so you treat them differently, not the same. To do otherwise shows that you are morally blind.
AARON VESELENAK Rogers City, Mich.
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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.