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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 3, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Governments cutting budgets

State should protect the basics

Today, a sense of security does not mean knowing we are safe from an attack by an outside force. In our current times, a sense of security means simply the basics. It means a roof over one’s head, even if you do not actually own the home. It means enough to pay for utilities and food.

Basic security should mean our children have a proper education in K-12, and the opportunity for an advanced degree. In addition, basic security should mean knowing you have the security of health care and do not risk losing everything because of lack of insurance coverage.

It is simply counterintuitive for our elected officials to cut education across the board, and to curtail our state health insurance [“Hunt is on for $4B in cuts,” NW Wednesday, April 1]. All of us are reeling from the economy on every level; our expectation of the future is uncertain; our concentration focused on the basics.

A message to our elected officials should include a strong suggestion that now is not the time to undermine basic security. Now is the time to put aside all the things beyond basics for the sake of our security, and the future of our ability to exist as individuals within a community.

— Marcia Landry, Bainbridge Island

Sacred cows should be sacrificed

Why is our educational system, which is currently just above Mississippi in student funding, being further sacrificed to balance the budget? Why are years of referendums undone in one fell swoop by the ad hoc Legislature? Why do our elected government officials at all levels not take a look at these sacred cows in solving the current budget as longer term remedies?:

Liquor Control Board: Why not dismantle this entire archaic apparatus? Why can we not buy liquor at the grocery store like most other states?

Monopolistic workers’ compensation: Why is this state in the insurance business? Why are we one of the few remaining states where you can only get workers’ compensation from the state? Why are not the billions of dollars of reserve funds that are terribly redundant held for injured workers’ available to help bail out the state now? What are their investment returns and have they been mismanaged so that we have lost money in the stock market? Let’s join the rest of the country and dismantle another expensive and archaic system.

Government-employee-defined benefit pension plans: When the private sector has moved to 401(k) and 403(b) retirement programs, why are the deputy sheriffs and bus drivers working big overtime-accruing defined-benefit expenses in bloated pensions? They have made the change in California and elsewhere in the nation; why not here? Let’s level the playing field and dismantle another out-of-date and expensive system.

Why are these sacred cows not on the radar screen to be sacrificed before our teachers and our children’s education? Where is the debate? What are our priorities?

I, for one, am sick of the lack of public discourse on these sacred cows. The emperor has no clothes, who is that man behind the screen and what is the pink elephant doing here? Where is the public outrage?

— Scott and Maria Strickland, Seattle

Iraq, Afghanistan wars caused economic crisis

The predictions and prognosis from many experts is that we are spiraling into a downturn that is reminiscent of the worst days of the Great Depression. Jobs are lost and eliminated nationwide at a clip that can only be described as tragic. And coupled with this are the Draconian state cuts that will impact and harm the most vulnerable among us — children and the elderly.

As we head into this heart of economic darkness, it is stunning that one huge causal factor is consistently overlooked and minimized. It is hard, if not impossible, to find any political leader or corporate spokesperson to address the United States military budget — more than $600 billion in fiscal 2009 and climbing — or the catastrophic impact that two ongoing and endless wars in the Middle East have cost this great nation.

And maybe it is immoral to cast light on the economic havoc these wars have wrought on the United States without mentioning the incalculable death, destruction and genocide these military slaughters have brought to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraq alone has seen more than 1.2 million people killed since March 2003. And this number does not even factor the 5 million Iraqis displaced and the hundreds of thousands maimed or ruined for life by smart bombs and other weapons of mass death. These achievements in death have come at a cost that is slowly draining the economic lifeblood of the United States. And the future does not bode well when we have a newly elected and still-popular president who sees the benefit and virtue of expanding military operations in Afghanistan.

Unchecked militarism is indeed the Siamese twin of imperialism and these unleashed juggernauts need to be brought to account if the United States is ever to return to a position of respect, admiration and economic health. By ignoring the primary culprit in our economic meltdown and focusing instead on Ponzi-scheme con men and greedy insurance executives who foolishly squander bailout support, we do ourselves, our children and the planet a grave disservice that may well lead to incalculable disaster.

— Jim Sawyer, Edmonds

Comments | More in Economy, Federal bailouts, Washington Legislature


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