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The 'me' in America

If you stand back from the details and look for the bigger message, the Jan. 20 Indy is more than a little disturbing. In the news items, feature articles, opinions, columns and even the comics there is one consistent message about America today: "If we have to pay for any part of it, then forget it."

Education for our children? Not worth it. Health care for our citizens? Nope. Roads, bridges, transportation systems? Nope, nope, never. Care for the indigent and mentally disabled? Not on my nickel. Don't raise my taxes and don't touch my retirement benefits; nothing is more important than me.

The long-standing reputation of Americans is of a people who are fiercely independent, but also responsible, sharing and caring by nature. These days we seem to be focusing on the first, but shedding the other attributes as fast as possible. The amount of selfishness oozing through the politics and news in our communities today is breathtaking.

It seems that just as other countries are figuring out how to grow their own middle class through advances in education, infrastructure and health care, we are willing to let ours slide backward.

Will we catch ourselves in time to stay competitive on the world stage? Hard to say, but it sure doesn't look that way at the moment.

— Niel Powers

Colorado Springs

PERA solution

I have a great idea for those of us who receive pensions from the Public Employees' Retirement Association ("Pension tensions," cover story, Jan. 20).

We need to find a big insurance company like AIG that really doesn't know what they are doing and have them create credit-default swaps on PERA.

Then we could buy them for pennies on the dollar, bet PERA will default, and, just like Goldman Sachs, win either way!

— Lynn R. Frederick

Colorado Springs

Care for Memorial

Recently, a citizens group was formed called "The People's Committee to Protect and Save Our Hospital." Our objective is to ensure that the health care system stays under the ownership and control of the people as a publicly owned system. As chair of that group, I am quite confident the citizens will vote NO on the Memorial Health System ballot issue if it makes the November ballot.

The citizens of greater Colorado Springs will not allow their hospital system to be gambled. Based on our extensive experience in the industry, we recognize that trends dictate adjustments to business strategies. We also understand there are those who do not believe the city should be in the health care business.

But we are in the health care business, and have been for over 100 years. We have provided over a billion dollars of service since its inception while making millions of dollars!

Secondly, the appropriate business strategy is not to give our system away, but adjust our current strategies as a citizen-owned operation. Our citizenry has been well taken care of by Memorial.

Finally, employees and retirees under the current retirement program could be jeopardized with the loss of PERA, which would be replaced with a retirement program that is evolving and unspecified. Not to mention, as we now know, Memorial will have to pay almost $250 million in fees to walk away from PERA.

The due diligence on PERA liability should have been one of the initial action steps before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, etc. This has been a colossal, shameful waste of money. "Don't fix what ain't broke."

— Ken Barela

Colorado Springs

Cheeky Catholics

I was amazed to read that our local Catholics had enough cheek, and personnel (considering the worldwide shortage of priests), to do a 12-step program to "help" homosexuals. I think that this is highly hypocritical, for a church to worry about "sin," which for centuries had the worldwide Inquisition, and the pedophile scandal for who knows how long?

The Catholic Church Inquisition seized midwives, Jews, homosexuals, Muslims; troublemakers, homeless; Lutherans; intellectuals and heretics off the street and imprisoned them, until the late 19th century. Many were routinely tortured, and fried like pork in public squares. In 1568, the Pope declared the entire Netherlands heretics (3 million people) and King Philip II said that they could be killed by all available means. I'm not making this up, you know!

The moral "high ground" isn't available to any group who abuses anyone, by any means, or covers it up. Historians remember the Pope who was Papal Nuncio to Berlin before World War II; and that Galileo had to say that the Earth was the center of the universe to escape being burned.

My perception is that we need to look to our own lives before we address others' sins.

— David Johnson

Cascade

 

Memo to Boehner

Dear Speaker John Boehner:

I cannot seem to let this go — maybe I'm still in shock. I wonder what you are thinking when you let a bill (written by your own party) go out on the floor that uses divisive language in its title: "job-killing health care reform."

Three questions come to my mind: intellect, propriety and leadership.

1. Do you understand the difference between fact and opinion? Or, maybe you don't think people know the difference between fact and opinion? (Is our speaker dumb, or insulting?)

2. Do you understand what kind of language is appropriate for a legal document at the congressional level (or any level)? Or, maybe you think impropriety is OK in your position, because you truly believe the adjective (job-killing) is true. It is not. Maybe you need to get out more. Or, do you know that the adjective is false, but you allow it because it furthers your agenda (feed the rich, tax the poor). Is our speaker uninitiated, uninformed, or just plain unethical?

3. Do you know how this reflects on your leadership? Maybe you cannot guide your people effectively through a solemn constitutional process? Or, maybe you think this country is better off divided and angry? Is our speaker a weak leader or a shameless provocateur?

No matter how you look at it, letting your people put something like this out on the floor makes you look bad.

Calvin Trillin wrote (I paraphrase):

One thing you can say about Mr. Boehner,

Some in his party are insaner.

I was hopeful that he was correct. Now I wonder...

Just remember Jim Hightower:

Everyone is better off

when EVERYONE is better off.

Within this context, I truly wish you a successful term as speaker.

— Laura Corr

Colorado Springs

click to enlarge letters.jpg

Richness and rhetoric

In a New York Times poll some months back, it was reported that political discourse in the U.S. is equal to that of the onset of the Civil War.

Excuse me for only pointing out the right-wing hate talk ("Tucson perspective," Letters, Jan. 13). I do not condone any hate speech. Rush Limbaugh reportedly makes $58.7 million a year. Glenn Beck, $33 million a year. Sarah Palin, $14 million a year.

Let me be fair ... Keith Olbermann (MSNBC) was making $7.5 million, Chris Matthews (MSNBC) $4.5 million, and Joe Scarborough (MSNBC) $3.5 million a year, to name a few.

Am I wrong in thinking both sides spin politically heated issues? These folks are not getting rich by spreading "brotherly love." Let's face it, anger sells in these frustrating times.

There has not been any evidence that Jared Loughner was any more politically motivated than any other nut. On a 60 Minutes segment, the FBI reported, "something" tips these people over. I guess it was just a coincidence a Democratic congresswoman tipped Loughner over, though he stated over and over in his twisted messages that he hated government. It most definitely could have been a Republican congressman.

With our new Republican House majority so opposed to health care, where does that leave the mentally ill? Am I wrong to think if we tone the "hate rhetoric" down, and stop making all these political news spinners so rich, maybe we could have a more civil exchange of our differences?

I believe in a civil exchange of ideas. I am thankful I live in a free country where I can write a letter to the paper expressing my pain when I see such brutal things happen in our society.

— Elaine Brush

Colorado Springs

Time to reflect

This letter is a response to Geraldine Russell ("Misdirected blame," Letters, Jan. 20), which was in response to Elaine Brush's letter regarding the Tucson Massacre. Ms. Brush's characterizations were not uncivil, nor did they display a form of hate or viciousness, as you accuse, but were accurate.

There is a significant body of scientific research that validates some connection between violence-laden political speech and violence onto those identified as political adversaries, perceived as political "threats." America has a long history of political violence, leaders assassinated or attempts made.

Some were mentally deranged, but many others had clear political or ideological motive. In many instances, the climate was such that the assassin felt permitted or compelled to take deadly action. This was true in Dallas, Memphis, Los Angeles, D.C., Miami and now Tucson. Dehumanizing, uncivil political hate speech is often a precursor for political violence. That is fact.

Preceding Tucson, only one side made armed revolt a rallying cry in the past election cycle. Only one side has invoked the Second Amendment as political intimidation and possesses popular media celebrities who indoctrinate their followers in the false idea that President Obama is an "alien" and/or some kind of totalitarian menace. Only one side has leaders who just can't stop using violent imageries like "lock and reload" that seek to divide a nation into us vs. them. Any breathing, aware adult knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is insane or merely disingenuous.

This xenophobic violent talk did not directly cause the heinous crimes in Tucson, but the massacre should call upon all of us some level of mature, deep reflection. Threats are not free speech; they are assaults on persons and a free, civil society.

— Bob Nemanich

Colorado Springs

Overplayed story

I am writing about your article describing the vitriol between two hipster losers that can't control themselves ("Iggy vs. Romaine," cover story, Jan. 13). Why they would make front page is beyond me. Why not interview someone who has been working since they were 13, put themselves through college, stayed on the right side of the law, does their job day to day — a true blue-collar worker like myself, instead of these phonies who drink PBR because it's ironic and so slum?

Why ignore the 1 percent that aren't on welfare, aren't denying their responsibilities to their loved ones, don't bump from one relationship to the next, don't embrace tattoos as a right for all young people as a means of expression, don't care about the local music scene, don't attend house parties when they should be at home swaddling the baby, don't spend every other night in detox drunk and depressed because their business partner stole all the money from the medical marijuana shop to pay his child support, etc., etc.

Why don't you interview and feature people, like myself, who really matter in life? Why waste your time on these sordid stories? Why not feature successful people who have been here all along, working in the background? Try something different for a change.

— Chris Alexei

Colorado Springs

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