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WE'RE AT A CROSSROADS
Nancy Long's letter included the excellent statement "If you want safer streets, then you have to help make homes safer" [July 24]. Australia has an organization named COMIC [Children of Mentally Ill Consumers], which recognizes that children of the mentally ill deserve treatment and assistance as they face the terror of living with a parent with a mental illness. They have books, movies, and guidelines that this country has yet to provide in the school system.
Long saw firsthand how serving on the front lines in war butchers the soul and how the children of the mentally ill end up fighting their own war without the support and assistance they so desperately need. Our focus, at present, seems to be on cheap, shallow gestures of patriotism when the real patriot will look at how each one of us can make a difference that lasts. One very important means is protecting our children's lives and souls so they can be kinder, stronger, and smarter.
This country is at a crossroads, and each of us is
key to the direction we go from here. The love of violence [is turning us
into] brainless, gun-toting, fist-waving thugs. Reaching down deep and
changing course — now that's a mark of character.
BRIAN FITZGERALD ACTED HONORABLY
A letter writer in the July 24 issue, in reference to the issue of whether to offer a CWLP project manager a large increase in pay, stated, "Well, he didn't get his way, so he quit." I think it's time to stop vilifying this person.
He received an attractive offer from out of state and immediately advised CWLP's management. Recognizing his value to the utility, management asked him if he would consider staying if CWLP would be able to match the pay he had been offered. He said yes but indicated, due to other considerations, that he really was inclined to take the offer.
Ultimately, when there seemed to be considerable
doubt that the pay increase would be approved, and with the time limit on
the offer approaching, he accepted it and tendered his resignation. To me,
that series of events is a far cry from "he didn't get his way,
so he quit."
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED IN NEW SALEM
After Saturday's shape-note singing at New Salem State Historic Site, it took me an hour and 15 minutes to gather my music and close up the Second Berry-Lincoln Store. A steady stream of visitors kept asking me about the store, Abraham Lincoln, shape notes (I showed them how to sight-read "Amazing Grace") and, yes, the budget cuts and layoffs that are crippling Illinois' state historic sites.
In Springfield's little world of heritage tourism, the cuts have created a full-blown crisis. So I'll cut to the chase — if you want to do more than complain about state politics, please consider volunteering at a historic site.
New Salem still plans to train new interpreters from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, and Saturday, Aug. 23. To register, call 217-632-4000.
Several interpreters from Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site joined us Saturday, and six to eight visitors borrowed songbooks and joined in the old songs. But New Salem was a crossroads town, and we faced an empty crossroads. Across the way was Sam Hill's store. Closed. On the other corner, Doctor Allen's. Closed. Only Rutledge Tavern was open. And once the singers left, Second Berry-Lincoln was closed, too.
Volunteers won't solve the budget crisis, but if I keep a building open for a few hours in my spare time, it can make a difference to the visitors who are in town that day to see the Lincoln sites. It's the most, and perhaps the least, any of us can do.
NO BAILOUTS FOR BUSINESSES
I was amazed to hear an economist on PBS say that the taxpayers were interested in shoring up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Along with this I have noted that the media seem to confuse stock-market transactions with the internal private accounting that a business would do.
This economist seems not to know that taxpayers have already been had. Many have lost their homes due to the subprime swindle; innumerable others have lost their jobs; countless others are in financial difficulties due to usurious interest rates on credit cards and other types of loans.
This taxpayer is not interested in rescuing any business establishment.
Fred J. Dietz Sr.
NOT EVERYONE CAN ACCESS THE NET
I enjoyed the commentary in the July 31 issue [Roland Klose, "Things I've learned."]. I was very interested to read that you once listed to shortwave radio as a source of international news. As you may know many international broadcasters are now only available on the World Wide Web. Some however remain on shortwave and I regularly listen to Radio Australia, Radio Netherlands, and Radio Sweden. Lately, the Voice of Russia is booming in nightly.
Occasionally I can catch the Voice of America relayed from the Philippines. The VOA's programs have been decimated during the Bush years and not just on shortwave but online also. The latest move was to discontinue Russian on shortwave. The folks in Washington, D.C., don't seem to realize that not everyone in the world can access the Internet for pennies a day the way we do in the U.S. In Europe you pay for connect time as if you were making a long distance phone call.
SUGAR IS A DEATH SENTENCE NOW
Two weeks ago I found a new restaurant (name withheld) with a killer nontraditional chili. I told a lot of people. This Sunday I went back, wanting good chili. I got a cup and it was sweet, not in the good way. I asked about it and I was told that the owner only wanted his recipe — and it contains sugar. It was bad. I got a cup of stuffed green pepper soup. Sounds great. It was sweet. The owner has a sugar recipe for that too. I am overweight and have relatives with diabetes. In the '70s surprise sugary foods were OK. It is a death sentence now. Do we really need more sugar in almost everything?
A HOLLOW — AND COSTLY — PROMISE
For those who have a misplaced faith in big government, such as the Health Care for America Now Coalition, universal health care is the cause du jour. Having no sound plan for achieving their goals, they refuse to allow an intellectually honest assessment, which would reveal that universal health care, provided by big government, is a hollow promise — hollow because "universal," "quality," "guaranteed," and "affordable" are mutually exclusive goals. Universal, quality, and guaranteed all cost money — lots and lots of money. Efforts to limit profits, implement electronic recordkeeping, and regulate standards may reduce but not resolve the need for lots and lots of cash. Many, if not all, of those efforts just may make things worse — and even the best foreign versions fall short. It seems that the only universal aspect of universal health care through big government is the fact that politicians will continue to promise something for nothing. That trick never works.
TODAY'S FREEDOM RIDERS
Our Amtrak train and bus riders are the "freedom riders" of the 21st century. These riders spearhead partial boycotts of the oil industry and OPEC everyday. When these new riders hear the sound of a train or bus door slam, these smart people know that the oil barons, the petroleum speculators, and the leaders of OPEC can no longer pick their pockets. When these "green soldiers" hear the sound of a train engineer or a bus driver blowing his or her horn, they know it is the sweet music of action: action to cut oil consumption and prices.
Our candidates for the presidency and state and local
offices need to support these green patriots. These candidates need to have
the backbone to find sources of revenue to fund the expansion of our public
transportation networks and free us all from the slavery of OPEC.
Atrazine, dicamba, and 2,4-dicholorophenoxyacetic acid are commonly used in herbicides, not insecticides. A recent Earth Talk column was incorrect ["Green-friendly pesticides," July 24].