Where there's smoke ...

After spending 35 years on the front lines of the ill-fated national "war on drugs," I am relieved some common sense has finally colored the local landscape. As the false Puritans who claim moral authority over our God-given right to live our lives as we see fit slowly die and become outnumbered by my/our generation, we can leave a more open and just society for our offspring.

If sick people find relief from any substance, it should be welcomed. Marijuana is the safest consumable in the world (except in Mexico?) and I cannot, for the life of me, understand the logic of its prohibition. Yet some among us would rather see their friends and family take opiates and other remedies from the "Big Pharma" witch's cauldron of profit, than let them grow their own.

The lack of crime and the abundance of revenue will be the deciding factor in our own state's cannabis future. Grow forth and prosper!

— Karl Knapstein



Falling apart

Once again, the "blame game" goes into overtime. Colorado Springs has been in the Republican grip for years, yet it seems our economic woes can be blamed on a multitude of outside influences. Today, for once, it would be shocking for some of the teabag contingent to admit a viable government operates on tax funds and provides services for the communities!

Outright attack on the tax base results in fewer services. The whole "smaller government" concept Republicans cleave to! Honest, objective review shows our government to have grown faster under Republicans than other administrations. (Wait for denial, and outrage!) What has to be the biggest miss in local political history, sadly, comes from here in the Springs. A city that has a major dependence on tourist/seasonal monies, Colorado Springs has opted out of the race to attract out-of-state money in the form of tourist dollars.

Yes, vacation spending nationally, like the economy, is way down, yet all we have to do is glance at our region to see where people went, and spent! Utah spent a ton the last several years advertising, and places like Moab, Salt Lake City, etc., really are holding their own. Jackson Hole, Santa Fe, Eagle's Nest, Austin, San Antonio, even Colorado places like Georgetown, Dillon and Snowmass all have fared well. We haven't. Friends in the local motel industry tell me they've had their worst couple of years ever!

Funny, tight-fisted Republicans (oh, so business-savvy) have given us darkened streets, the huge homeless bruhaha, terrible roads. Golly, I wonder why folks would pass up Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods for Yellowstone, or the sand dunes, or Pueblo's artsy river walks. Seems to me that money goes to those who spend to attract it!

— Justin Profit

Colorado Springs

Help the parks

I've read about funding cuts for city and county parks — the city parks budget has gone from $19 million to $3 million and the county budget from $2.6 million to $820,000. I understand why the city and county have had to make these decisions, yet I am greatly saddened that we could lose our beautiful parks.

A recent survey by the Trails and Open Space Coalition of area residents showed that:

· 98 percent are "somewhat" or "very" aware of the parks budget challenges;

· 79 percent have noticed a decrease in services (trash removal, watering, maintenance);

· 81 percent are concerned about the current situation;

· 63 percent believe we need a regional solution;

· 79 percent would support a new dedicated tax to fund a new regional parks solution.

The survey was given only to adults, but as a Palmer High School student, kids are also worried, so I challenge all middle and high school students to help keep our parks clean, safe and beautiful.

We have a city park near my house, and I have signed up to help clear trash. My 12-year-old sister is volunteering at Garden of the Gods to help with erosion repair. I have volunteered for this project several times over the years, and it's really fun! I am also telling my parents and friends how they can help, too.

Recently, El Paso County purchased Rainbow Falls near Manitou Springs, and a cleanup campaign is planned June 5. More info on volunteering for this can be found at mecacolorado.org/Contribute.html.

Here are more ways you can help: Rocky Mountain Field Institute (rmfi.org), Trails and Open Space Coalition (trailsandopenspaces.org), Proud of Our Parks (sites.google.com/site/proudofourparks).

Let's not wait around for parks to get worse or for money to be found. We can help now.

— Haley Long

Colorado Springs

Teabagging nonsense

I don't know what utopian society Joan Christensen is living in ("Socialism charging," Letters, April 29), but in the real world, people do die for lack of health care.

The poor have free medical care, medicine and dental? Really? I know people who don't qualify for Medicare and Medicaid but can't afford health care. And the hospital still sends them a bill they can't afford. The health care bill will help these people. But God forbid you might have to pitch in your fair share to help others. Myself, I don't mind.

Another thing I don't get is all these rights the teabaggers say they are losing. How could they be losing rights when others aren't? (I haven't noticed any of my rights go missing lately.)

Plus the teabaggers are moaning about taxes. My taxes haven't gone up. What taxes are we talking about? Why weren't they moaning about taxes when Bush was in?

And why all this hysteria over Obama not being an American citizen? His mother was American — that automatically makes him American no matter where he was born. Why do you think kids born overseas who are children of military members stationed overseas, married to non-Americans, are American citizens?

You people need to get a grip. Or maybe not. The rest of us are having a real good laugh at your expense.

Change of subject: It's great that Victor is supporting the law — medical marijuana ("Seeds of change in Victor," News, April 29). Way to go! No, I don't need any weed (so far, thank God). But perhaps the people who come for pot will stay for a bite to eat or look in one of our unique shops. This could be a boon for Victor. A downside might present itself later, but for now it looks like a good decision.

— Steph Hilliard


Singular solution

Joan Christensen stated that "America has the best health care system in the world." Not true. According to the World Health Organization, America has the 37th-best. The best health care system in the world presently resides in France, according to that same study.

Secondly, Joan claims no one dies in America due to lack of health care. A Harvard study says nearly 45,000 people die every year in America due to lack of health care. Joan writes, "The poor have free medical, medicine and dental treatment." This also is untrue. Medicaid doesn't automatically cover all of our poor. The remainder of Joan's screed can be read as visceral demagogy. It was repugnant. I would like to believe that each reader of the Independent was as distressed by it as I was.

We have a private health insurance industry that takes about 30 to 35 percent of its revenue for operating costs and profit. The money spent on medical care is only about 65 to 70 percent. The new health care reform bill endeavors to address these numbers; of course, the insurance industry is trying to circumvent regulation on their "medical loss" ratio. Medicare, by contrast, has an operating cost budget of about 2 to 3 percent.

Christensen said government is an "economic parasite." When it comes to health care, insurance companies are an "economic parasite." England, which has single-payer health care, spends about 10 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. We spend about 17 percent. Persons in England have higher-quality health care, live longer and are more likely to survive serious medical issues. I would like to see America emulate that system.

America should adopt a single-payer system. It is less expensive and more effective.

— Michael Williams

Colorado Springs

Threatened fountains

As a result of city budget constraints, all of our fountains are in jeopardy again of being shut off this summer, not to mention that all but one of the city's swimming pools have already been closed. As citizens of Colorado Springs we should care, not only because these activities bring families together and create memories for a lifetime, but also because recreational activities enhance the beauty and viability of our city. Without affordable recreational and cultural services, it may be hard to attract new business and tourism to our city.

Last year I established Friends of Julie Penrose Fountain, a component fund of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, to actively engage our community in fundraising to sustain the Julie Penrose Fountain in perpetuity. The fountain provides free, safe entertainment for children and adults of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, during cost-effective hours.

While the fountain operates with recirculated water, some water replacement expense is incurred due to evaporation; additionally, staffing is required for public safety and security, and supplies and maintenance costs are necessary for its ongoing operation.

We were successful in raising funds to operate the fountain last summer, but we need your help again this year. El Pomar Foundation has issued a $12,500 challenge grant to sustain the Julie Penrose Fountain in 2010 and beyond. As a community that values families and the enrichment of our children, let's ensure that "no child is left inside" this summer. Together as a community, we can match this challenge grant and keep the fountain flowing for years to come.

Please donate online at juliepenrosefountain.org. Checks may be sent to: PPCF FBO Friends of Julie Penrose Fountain, 730 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.

— Kristen Downs

Colorado Springs

What century?

Graig Yarbrough ("Evoking Jefferson," Letters, April 22) finds "no place in [the Constitution] where Congress is given permission to mandate a program ... such as health care."

He cites Thomas Jefferson: "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated ..."

Three factors undermine Yarbrough's reasoning.

First, the issue isn't health care, but health insurance. Second, that's not in the Constitution.

Third, Jefferson was unaware that an "adverse selection" dynamic arises in the presence of asymmetric information. It took until 2001 for Akerlof, Spence and Stiglitz to get the Nobel Prize for understanding this.

We all know more about our own health than others do (that's asymmetric information). The most healthy judge insurance not worth the cost; the less healthy choose to be insured. Over time, costs rise because the less healthy have more, and more costly, claims. Therefore, premiums rise and the healthiest drop out as they judge insurance isn't worth it. The less healthy remain insured and premiums again rise.

Result: spiraling increases in dropouts and premiums. Absent universal coverage, health insurance systems fail, just as our privatized system is failing.

This spiral is why insurance corporations have high overhead. They work hard to deny coverage to those they judge more likely to get sick and to deny claims of those who do get sick. It's a deadly game.

It's the 21st century, not Jefferson's 18th. We should know that the adverse selection dynamic means the only way for government to provide for the "general welfare" is to mandate universal coverage and tax for that purpose.

End of story.

But not end of argument, because so many ignore this effect.

— Bob Powell

Colorado Springs

Defending Rove

Though I appreciated Rich Tosches' levity on Karl Rove's visit to the Springs ("Pit stop for an icon," Ranger Rich, April 22), he clearly has a bias strongly distorting his perspective on reality.

We all do, I suppose. But when a bias creates an alternate reality so far removed from fact, someone may call you on it. I'll beat my head against the wall for a single letter in hopes there might be an inch to move toward enlightenment, for the liberal cause at least if not for the sake of truth.

The drumbeat from the left that George W. Bush is some sort of mental lightweight simply falls flat. The public persona of Bush as a backwater good ol' boy has been hammered too long. Your description of him as a "dim-witted, confused-looking guy from Texas" may play well on Saturday Night Live, but it makes you look foolish to all but the, well, dim-witted.

Bush graduated from Yale and went on to receive an MBA from Harvard, the highest regarded school of its kind in the nation. Despite his ineloquent off-the-cuff manner, his thoughtfulness is widely regarded by those who worked with him throughout the years.

Each year after 2005, Bush and Rove engaged in a reading contest to see who could read the most books in the year. Though I am sure Dr. Seuss was on the list, Bush read 95 volumes in a single year.

To quote Rove in the Wall Street Journal, "Like so many caricatures of the past eight years, this one is not only wrong, but also the opposite of the truth and evidence that bitterness can devour a small-minded critic."

— Eric C. Mason

Colorado Springs


There are two corrections related to the April 29 ReLeaf supplement:

• A man identified as "Garett" was labeled the owner of Select Health Resources. Garrett is not the owner; the owner is actually someone else who would prefer not to be identified. Also, the preferred website address for Select Health Resources is selectmmj.com.

• A Room to Grow is independently owned and has no business affiliation with Pure Medical and Pure Medical 2 dispensaries.

We regret the errors.

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