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Same as always

I must confess I was a week late in reading your excellent, well-researched article on the pathetic state of sex-ed in our D-11 schools ("Sex, lies and duct tape," cover story, April 8). But considering the lack of letters following up the article, I'd like to offer my opinion about having sex education in our public schools co-opted by religious organizations.

Duct tape and rose petals! Scare stories told to illustrate what will happen to you if you don't follow the teachings those programs offer.

In a similar fashion, the founders of Christianity, centuries ago, devised the story of hell-fire and eternal damnation to control the multitudes, keeping them scared and subservient.

Religions never change. That's why we should insist that Planned Parenthood lectures be brought back into the classroom. Our children deserve facts and reason to guide their lives, not threats and moral platitudes.

— Janet Brazill

Colorado Springs

Just calm down

I couldn't help but notice Richard Haenichen's letter ("Bad for Manitou," April 15), and I would like to respond to the accusations put forth.

Foremost, I understand Richard's sentiment about how Manitou Springs controlling where trash pickup services can do business in the town might affect the private trash pickup enterprises. However, that was not emphasized. What was written to jump out at people was more of the same old divisive language that people love to throw around. An act like this "represents a hidden agenda, it's un-American, it's unconstitutional, they want to control our lives," and so on and so forth.

I'd like to theorize that the government of Manitou Springs doesn't have a hidden agenda, but a rather clear agenda. The city is actively pursuing a cutdown on its carbon emissions, based on some rather solid scientific data about the adverse effects of human activity on the planet. If they feel like garbage pickup service is inefficient and want to improve that, I can understand. At the same time, I can understand concerns about how this change will affect these great private enterprises that we all too often take for granted.

On top of all this, the hooting and hollering about how government is trying to run your life is just silly, divisive jargon. Are you the Dos Equis guy? Are you the most interesting man in the world? Put down your hand, because you're not, and this leads me to believe the government doesn't really care about who you choose to pick up the shit you throw away.

If I may quote Jon Stewart's rally cry of the moderate: "BE REASONABLE!"

— Thomas Nelson

Colorado Springs

Major disconnect

It's amazing to watch all the Tea Party protesters who apparently just woke up to realize the national debt more than doubled over the eight years Bush and Cheney were in power. Even more amazing is that they somehow think Obama is to blame.

They weren't upset with Bush's trillion-dollar war, while giving massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, but now they're fighting mad that Democrats want to help uninsured Americans get health care.

When seniors hold up signs saying they want government to stay out of their lives and let them manage their own health care, it can only mean they want to get rid of Medicare and go back to purchasing private health insurance, thus letting that company's bureaucrat decide, based on profit, what care they will receive. Have they really thought this through?

ABC newsman Charlie Gibson probably laid out the ugly truth when he complained that if we insured all those 45 millions currently without health care, it would be really hard for the rest of us to get in to see a doctor! Just let the peasants die!

— Jerry Newsom

Colorado Springs

Resist the drivel

Three cheers for the Independent and David S. Bernstein's April 15 cover story ("Brewing terrorism"). He has provided a valuable public service by examining the forces contributing to legitimization of violence as part of the political process. In doing so, he has also helped to articulate the actions one can take to return to civil debate, discussion and policy work at every level of our government.

Regardless of political affiliation, each of us would benefit from gathering the objective facts on issues and resisting the emotional drivel served up daily in soundbites and by self-serving media personalities.

This is the kind of journalism that sets the Indy apart. Keep it coming!

— Mary J. Talbott

Colorado Springs

The enforcers

In his April 8 letter ("Shake up, not down"), Jake Gaffigan said he last worked at the Colorado Division of Insurance in 1997. I have never met Mr. Gaffigan, but I was interested in his comments about the Division of Insurance's enforcement record, as well as how we accept and address consumer complaints about insurers and insurance issues.

He mentioned 7,000 consumer contacts per year (in 1997), which "should have resulted in a fair number of fines and enforcement actions against insurance companies." In our current report, the division counts more than 28,000 contacts (complaints, inquiries and other informational contacts by consumers) between July 2008 and June 2009. About 5,000 of these inquiries were investigated as complaints. In the same period, the Consumer Affairs section's work resulted in recovered or additional benefits to consumers of more than $13 million.

Since 1997, our Web site (dora.state.co.us) has grown with many hundreds of documents providing information and resources to consumers, as well as to producers and insurance companies. All enforcement actions from 2002 to the present may be viewed on the Web site. In 1997, we did not have the authority to levy significant fines against companies or individuals violating insurance law. We are appreciative of the Colorado Legislature for increasing our fining authority.

Adding up savings, penalties and fines assessed, and surcharges on fines, DORA's Division of Insurance tallied more than $188 million in savings and benefits to consumers for the fiscal year ending in June 2009. This includes a savings of $152 million through work by our actuarial section, which includes the reduced premium charged for workers compensation insurance to all Colorado employers.

We are proud of the progress and look forward to continuing our efforts to protect and educate consumers.

— Marcy Morrison, Commissioner

Division of Insurance

Denver

Help the homeowners

It is time for banks to be precluded from using the foreclosure process until the 2009 bailout provisions are repealed. The bailout included substantial tax benefits allowing many banks and large corporations to recapture losses from past profits and a change in accounting rules, which means the bank gets the property, other breaks and the ability to sue the homeowner. In return, the homeowner gets evicted, loss of all money paid for the home, wrecked credit rating, sued for a deficiency or taxed for forgiveness of debt, and emotional distress.

One may argue that's what a delinquent homeowner deserves and I would agree, if not for one simple fact: They changed the rules in the middle of the game, favoring one side — the banks. The public kept hearing about "too big to fail." So they were forced to do what they did, to avoid another Great Depression. Fine, but if you're going to change the rules so banks will not lose any money on loans, remember they made the loan (usually requiring money down). Thus, you should also suspend the foreclosure process for banks that implement these new rules.

Would any homeowners ever enter into an agreement if they knew the rules would change and make it more advantageous for the bank to foreclose than to service the loan? That's what happening. Do you ever wonder how the banks, which today are making no loans, are making record profits?

What is described above is just one of numerous abuses being used by banks to make these "record profits." The least the government can do for the homeowner is suspend the foreclosure process or release the borrower from any loss as a result of the process until the rules are made fair for all.

— Kevin Donovan

Colorado Springs

Strong mayor or not?

The deliberations over a radical change in structure of this city's government seem completely off the mark. The city's problems have little or nothing to do with structure, and everything to do with people inside the structure. Most of those people are beholden to, or aligned with, business and/or military powers supporting them.

So the choice is between a "professional city manager" with a council overseeing it all, versus the "strong mayor" or "big boss" system. But it doesn't matter, since any "big boss mayor" would be under the feet of the same powers of business and military interests. No gain at all.

The current council has too many mediocre businesspersons. They are not usually intellectual powerhouses, shall we say. Advanced degrees in political theory or political science? Not a plethora of those.

Suppose we elevate one current councilperson to a "strong mayor" seat with large salary and big responsibilities. We would still have that mediocre person calling the shots. No solution at all.

Most Springs voters got seduced by the ridiculous claims that "smaller government and reduced spending" would be dandy with no destructive outcomes. But even a 5-year-old can figure out that you can't do more with less. A city of almost 500,000 and growing, with seriously reduced taxes, financing and spending, cannot function effectively. Can't be done. Former City Manager Penny Culbreth-Graft did a heroic job to keep things afloat, but no wonder she quit.

There's an old axiom: "All politics depends on whose ox is getting gored today." Exactly. The current experiment of "smaller government and less taxes" is producing very ugly results, and many people warned about this. When will the pain gore enough oxen? On that day, the voters will change the people in government, and the structure won't matter.

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

Healthy option

There is one health care reform alternative that no politician wants to talk about. I wanted to call it the "public option" but I'm told that's been taken.

Here's the plan: Everyone in the country will agree to eat more salad and less cheeseburger, get daily exercise, drink more water, quit smoking, no alcohol, no candy, no soda, no sugar, no salt, no MSG, no ice cream. Fast-food restaurants cannot be built within a mile of any school or residential area, high fructose corn syrup gets reclassified as a WMD, bacon gets reclassified as a dog snack, hot dogs get reclassified as ... we'll just throw them and bologna out.

More walking and less driving, no deep-fried anything, everyone must spend at least one hour a day outside, under the age of 12 it's two hours, and no more excused absences of any kind from PE classes, a daily multi-vitamin will be a must, etc., etc., etc. ...

It's actually more pages than the real health care bill, so I have little hope it will catch on, or even that anyone will be able to grasp the full scope of it all. But isn't it comforting to know that there are reasonable alternatives?

— Steve Suhre

Colorado Springs

Evoking Jefferson

Sorry, Dwayne Schultz, but "The public option is constitutional" is not the end of story ("No argument," Letters, April 15). I've read the Constitution and I find no place in there where Congress is given permission to mandate a program of any kind such as health care.

I humbly give you Thomas Jefferson, a pretty important person in this discussion: "[O]ur tenet ever was, and, indeed, it is almost the only landmark which now divides the federalists from the republicans, that Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated; and that, as it was never meant they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money."

Notice the use of "enumerated."

Congress may only do those things enumerated in the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment, added after some Constitutional ratifiers were concerned about the power of the general welfare clause, specifically states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

There are no implied powers. Once again, Jefferson. When asked to read between the lines to "find" implied powers, Jefferson responded that he had done that, and he "found only blank space."

"Where the meaning of the constitution is clear and unambiguous, there can be no resort to construction to attribute to the founders a purpose of intent not manifest in its letter." Norris v. Baltimore, 172, Md. 667; 192 A 531.0.

Congress is not authorized to assume any powers not enumerated in the Constitution, end of story, end of argument.

— Graig Yarbrough

Colorado Springs

Mom's mad as hell

Why is no one locally or nationally talking about all the strong earthquakes and now volcanic eruptions we are recently experiencing, one right after another? Haiti, Japan, China, Chile, Mexico and now Iceland, on and on. I am really concerned about this and cannot help but wonder what the heck is going on below us. Is someone setting off nuclear bombs? Is our little friend in Iran being a nuisance, or maybe North Korea? Why is no one discussing this?

You would think the media would be all over this, wondering why Mother Earth is so pissed off at us. I can understand the excessive snow and rain come from the evaporated waters with global warming. But I do not understand these horrific earthquakes and now eruptions. Maybe Mom is striking back as she doesn't like her insides being disturbed so much. I would really like to hear or read some discussion of these strange occurrences so close together.

— Jane Madden

Colorado Springs

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