Vocabulary lesson

For those who opine that the U.S. is headed toward "socialism" and then "communism," I thought a few definitions might be in order. So, with thanks to MSN Encarta:

• so·cial·ism or So·cial·ism, noun. Definition: 1. political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles. 2. movement based on socialism: a political movement based on principles of socialism, typically advocating an end to private property and to the exploitation of workers. 3. stage between capitalism and communism: in Marxist theory, the stage after the proletarian revolution when a society is changing from capitalism to communism, marked by pay distributed according to work done rather than need.

• com·mu·nism, noun. Definition: classless political system: the political theory or system in which all property and wealth is owned in a classless society by all the members of that society.

• cap·i·tal·ism, noun. Definition: free-market system: an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods, characterized by a free competitive market and motivation by profit.

To those who receive a monthly Social Security check or government retirement and/or disability pension, it is a form of socialism. So while you are decrying "socialism" and its evil ways, please return your money to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the national debt. Thank you.

— Joan Lucia-Treese

Colorado Springs

Help from the dead

In keeping with the effort to save city money, it seems to me the large expense required to water, mow and otherwise care for the grass at the city cemetery might better be spent seeding the place with prairie grass and wild flowers, with even a few cacti, sagebrush and yucca thrown in.

What better way to set a good example toward water conservation? Surely our dearly departed would be proud to help lead the way toward sensibility in landscaping. I seriously doubt anyone will dig up their relatives and haul them away if the city decides to go "natural" and "green."

— Steve Luera

Colorado Springs

Get on board

To fix public transportation in this region, you must first understand public transportation. It should be designed to keep passengers moving, not sitting, as an efficient transportation alternative.

This is best accomplished by an east-west, north-south grid system. Transfers are made at intersections (not a money-wasting terminal), and buses run from Point A to Point B and then turn around to head in the other direction Thus, the operator can take a break, and the bus can be shut down, saving fuel and reducing air pollution. Or, if the bus is behind schedule, the operator can use the break time to return the bus to schedule.

As a result, passengers get where they are going in a timely manner. Substantial savings are gained when support staff is reduced (i.e. security, terminal supervisors and maintenance, plus general operating costs). Larger buses can run on major routes and smaller buses on minor routes, which act as feeders to major routes or just take a passenger from home to the nearest grocery store.

Maybe it's time to ask those who operate transit on a daily basis what is wrong with our system. RTD in Denver has been named the best transit system in the U.S. several times, but I suspect our transit system would be one of the worst. Shouldn't we at least strive to make the Top 100 transit systems? With a little forward thinking, open communication and work, this can be accomplished. I know my fellow bus operators and passengers believe this can be accomplished and are willing to give it a try.

It really can't be any worse!

— Jim Gosse

Colorado Springs

Park ponderings

As I trudge and pull my life toward caring for my hundred-millionth square foot of turf along the Front Range of Colorado, the death of America the "Beautiful" Park gives me pause to reflect and write some thoughts on the matter of bluegrass and our perfect, arid, high desert climate. The reality of achieving anything remotely close to a high-quality lawn is a challenge at best and foolish on anything but the most tightly controlled commercial properties.

All commercial properties are "winterized" to prevent a costly, pipe-bursting catastrophe, and anything less than above-average winter snow brings the death zones of "winter kill." Why bluegrass? Some say the cost, or maybe the fine color when supercharged with the best fertilizers and many inches of water. Then there is the "feels best on bare feet" rhetoric. But who goes barefoot anymore?

We need to re-examine our priorities in regard to our public parks, schools and other public spaces, toward a more "native" blend of grasses. Let us start with our park disaster — overseed with a drought-tolerant blend and write a new chapter toward our water conservation efforts, and turn this lemon into lemonade. Happy parks bring happy people and the quality of life, and that is Colorado Springs.

— Karl Knapstein

Colorado Springs

Hatred on display

After the recent displays of domestic terrorism (Dr. George Tiller's murder, the shooting at the Holocaust museum), I was alarmed while driving by Planned Parenthood in Old Colorado City.

I witnessed an older lady vehemently screaming at a young African-American woman entering the facility. It struck me how hateful and venomous the older woman sounded and looked. I agree the people who pray and hold signs in front of Planned Parenthood have the right to do so, and many times they reflect their stance appropriately. But this woman represented only hatred and negativity.

It is the responsibility of her peers, the people praying next to her, to intervene and educate her that her actions do a great disservice to their cause. By standing there silently, while she verbally abused a woman entering a facility, I would assume that you condoned the hatred and anger she expressed. I assume that pro-lifers could debate that standing there silently would be condoning murder. However, the screaming I witnessed does not engage or convince anyone, instead creating barriers and walls.

I gratefully realize that many have placed energy and funding into alternative programs, and this abusive woman does not represent all of the pro-life activists in Colorado Springs. However, to those who protested quietly while this woman spewed hate, your protest lost credibility.

— Julie Novak

Colorado Springs

Block your ears

If I see one more bumper sticker saying "Live Simply" plastered to the bumper of an SUV, I think I am going to scream.

— Dana Campbell

Manitou Springs

Battling depression

Always willing to help with pragmatic and practical advice, I have suggestions to help in times of recession (the current euphemism for depression).

• After planting your backyard vegetable garden and visiting Goodwill and Salvation Army, ordinary non-military citizens can blame their next-door friends for voting against the most recent tax increases.

• Write your state legislator and tell him or her to repeal TABOR forthwith.

• Castigate your neighbor across the alley for supporting Bush's wars and tax cuts for the rich, when you and 40 million good folks can't afford health insurance, and millions live in poverty.

• Walk to the nearest Dusty Mud Park and smell the urine wafting from locked restroom doors. Do not try the water fountains, but ask anyone you see if they hate taxes and voted against all tax increases.

• Write your City Councilor and ask if he or she is proud to have won office on a promise of smaller government and spending cuts.

• Look up that quip used by Ronald Reagan, Douglas Bruce and many Republican politicians in the last election, "Government is not the solution, it's the problem," and then ask yourself why you are complaining to government about vanishing city services. Have a good chuckle with the late Reagan.

• Fix your own potholes. Become your own cop by buying more guns, knives, locks and nunchucks. Get more hoses in case your place catches on fire.

• Finally, enjoy the editorial pages of the Gazette. (Get one free in any dumpster.)

At least there's more than enough money for nuclear subs, aircraft carriers, plush military officers clubs, Gitmo and the like.

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

No sympathy for surfers

To Tom MacDonald ("Giving me static," Letters, June 18): Please explain why the government should be responsible for providing you with television (or at least a coupon to make obtaining the signal supposedly less of a financial burden)? Is TV really a "necessity to stay informed"?

One percent of television is information, the remaining 99 percent revenue-generating programming. The government isn't providing coupons to keep citizens well-informed. It's an attempt to make it as easy as possible to keep the economy of television running smoothly.

We've deviated overwhelmingly far from the founding principles of this country if a luxury such as television is considered a right that should be provided by the government. I fail to feel sorry for everyone crying about the digital conversion.

What about the tribes in Africa that have no electricity and, thus, no television? The government should most definitely provide them with power and provide each hut with a TV and satellite connection. After all, they must be incredibly under-informed.

— Nicholas B. Lee

Colorado Springs


It's tyranny

I am always sickened when cops set up roadblocks to catch drunk drivers, and people not wearing seat belts, because it shows that Colorado is degenerating into a police state.

Is there anyone out there who still understands what freedom means? Roadblocks to catch drunk drivers are the antithesis of the time-tested and honored belief that people are "innocent until proven guilty." Roadblocks (checkpoints) make all drivers guilty until they are proven innocent by some cop talking to and observing them.

As if such violations of our privacy aren't enough, these government thugs are also issuing fines for people who aren't wearing seat belts! Hello! Is anyone awake out there?

Folks, it's a purely personal choice whether or not to wear a seat belt. It is none of government's business! Real freedom — not the emasculated, emaciated kind being offered to us by our power-loving rulers — includes the right to live dangerously.

That includes rock climbing, bungee jumping, sky diving, hang gliding, cave diving, extreme sports, smoking, drinking, taking drugs (wow, how radical), and any other high-risk activity. A person's health is his own business!

— Alexander Daube

Colorado Springs

Which way to pay?

We need more comparisons between what is being paid in to health care insurance policies per individual and how much of a tax increase a single-payer plan would be. I work for myself, and what I pay in a month for insurance, my deductible and what insurance doesn't cover, I bet my tax increase would be far less. I would rather pay the tax increase.

— Lisa Pearl


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