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Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 11:00 pm

Letters to the editor published in the August 19, 2009, edition of The Explorer.

Dust storms in Arizona are not 'natural'

An Aug. 5 article in The Explorer incorrectly calls the dust storm that threatened Casa Grande on July 22 a "natural event."

Dust storms in Arizona are largely a product of farmland abandonment. In its natural state, Arizona desert soils are mostly kept down by natural vegetation, or absent vegetation by "desert pavement," a tight arrangement of rocks and pebbles that takes centuries to develop.

Almost a quarter million acres of farmland in Arizona were planted to cotton in 1987 but are not now. A small amount of this land is under other crops, or given over to residential or commercial development, or has been restored to natural desert vegetation. But most of this acreage is just abandoned farmland. When the natural winds come along, they kick up the exposed soil to result in dust storms that are decidedly unnatural.

Calling an Arizona dust storm "natural" is like saying that someone beaten on the head with a wooden log died of natural causes simply because the log is natural.

Erik Shapiro, Oro Valley

It took less time to write Constitution

What is going on in the Arizona State Legislature?

Seven months ago, a proposed budget was in its initial phases. To this date, nothing has been finalized.  It took less time for the Constitution of the United States to be developed. We had statesmen then.

I hate a tax increase, and the current behavior of the Republican Party in Arizona is lacking. Citizens in Arizona will not forget this. Some call this behavior the Democratic process. I call this political dodge ball by those set in their ways in their quest for a political scapegoat.  Jan Brewer has it right. Bring this matter to a vote by citizens.

Republicans are weakening their strength in the House and Senate. Democrats will thank many Republicans for their behavior.

I am saddened by the self-centered and self-serving behavior of all involved with this fiasco. It seems that many have forgotten the meaning and importance of statesmanship.

Bob Black, Oro Valley

OV Marketplace could use crowd of burger joint

I am greatly amused by the comment in the Aug. 5, 2009 edition by Patrick McNamara regarding the opening of an In-N-Out Burger, which states, "A possible negative that could impact the final approval of In-N-Out is the burger joint's popularity: When new restaurants open, they tend to attract crowds."

Having been to the OV Marketplace on numerous occasions and finding the parking lots (other than at the movie theaters and Wal-Mart), virtually empty, I would think that the OV Town Council would be begging In-N-Out to build a store and attract crowds.

Crowds generate revenue for the entire shopping complex, something that is, apparently, lacking for the few smaller businesses struggling to stay afloat.


Gwen M. Blair, Oro Valley

Recovering, insured man wonders why

As a person with health insurance who is recovering from a recent health crisis, there are a number of things that I don't understand about the health care debate.

I don't understand how, in a country that values free speech, that individuals who shout and prevent their fellow citizens from engaging in a constructive debate are the ones who believe they are carrying the free speech banner.

I don't understand how we are hearing some people say that our health system is the best in the world – when the WHO ranked us 37th, and the much vilified France, a country with a single payer system, was number 1.

I don't understand how it is not more commonly known that most countries with systems that are labeled "socialist," have citizens who, by and large, enjoy longer life spans than we do.

I don't understand how if a person is born in America, then they may have their entire life's savings destroyed by a single illness, whereas a person from Britain, France, England, Switzerland and countless other world citizens will not.

I don't understand how people can say that the current competition will create a wonderful system – when it has not done so so far.

I do not understand how the inclusion of a government-provided insurance option is somehow not in the spirit of competition, when it only introduces one more competitor that could presumably lower prices to the benefit of the average American.

I don't understand how the government can provide health care to the military and our seniors, but millions of Americans must live in mortal fear of going to the doctor because we seem unable to agree that we all deserve to be healthy.

I do not understand how some now fear "rationing" of health care, while ignoring the widespread rationing that is already put upon us by insurers.

I do not understand how a nation with sons strong enough to take Omaha Beach or Baghdad can't agree that all of its citizens deserve good health care as a simple human right.

Neil Myers, Independent, Oro Valley

Insurance only coverage that pays for itself

Congresswoman Giffords states that in 1932 a "battle between individualism and socialization in medicine" started, according to the New York Times.

She failed to mention that the federal government started the public health care system two years later, in 1935. Before that, the individual, the state, and the local communities were responsible for health care. Today, in every community, we have some form of government health care competing with the private sector.

By 1980, the government was into health care to the tune of 40 percent. This is real competition. Before that, in 1972, hospitals found that many folks thought they had a "right" to free health care, and hospitals started pushing for patients' rights. Hospitals used to have a pool of money to help with the uninsured, but it was drying up. Many people were expecting others to pay their way, and no wonder; the government has been quietly paying costs for many groups in this country, including unwed mothers and their children, since at least the 1940s.

It used to be said that with rights came responsibilities. Now we have the government. We have the government wanting to take over the private sector (insured) part of our health care system completely, because it's the only part of the system which actually pays for itself, and makes a profit. The Feds need an infusion of cash now, since so many folks are retiring, and are part of the 14,000 supposedly "losing" their insurance every day.

Instead of handling their already full plate, and encouraging the private sector to create jobs for those losing them at this time, people in the government just want to pay for everything for everyone, with other people's money. This is socialism.

Rebecca LoPorto, Tucson

Reconsider your position, Rep. Giffords

The following is an excerpt of a letter to Congresswoman Giffords on Aug. 11. My intention was to also provide the response from her office; however, they have chosen not to respond.

I would like to ask that you reconsider support of the H.R. 3200, America's Affordable Health Choice Act that has been brought to the floor.

While I agree there are many items in the current health care system that require attention, I believe that it is not in the best interest of the country to try to hurry a poorly conceived bill through both houses.

While I do not believe in the "shouting matches" that have been occurring around the country, I do believe in the message, we the people want to be heard.

It might be better to evolve the health care system rather than revolutionize it. While I didn't read every word of the document, there are many provisions in the document that are cause for alarm: for example, adding section 59B to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 that allows the Internal Revenue Service to levy fines against anyone that chooses not to participate in the health exchange.

For those of us that pay attention, it seems that the rush to get this legislation through is more about the 2010 election cycle than actually what is best for the country. It is also obvious that the big pharmaceutical corporations are going to get rewarded in this new plan, as evidenced by their $80 million advertisement campaign in support of the health care initiative. Political expediencies and profit motivation for a select few are not valid reasons to overhaul a health care system for over 300 million people. If this health care program is so good, then why are government officials inside the Washington, D.C. beltway exempted from it for five years? Nothing rings emptier than 535 legislators telling the people of the United States that this is best for them, but it's not good enough for us.

True leadership is based on action, not hollow words.

Michael Naish, Oro Valley

Tax credit helps poor children get quality schooling

Dave Safier's column last week on the evils of the tuition tax credit is yet another example of the viewpoint: "Big Brother knows best how to spend your tax dollars."

Mr. Safier, the beauty of the tax credit is that it doesn't make distinctions over who the state deems "needy" enough to use it. It's not a welfare program; it's a freedom program. The tax credit gives individuals the freedom to actually have a say in where some of their tax dollars are being spent. And what is so wrong about that?

You point to all the "undeserving" rich kids getting "free" tuition, but what about all the other kids who would never have the chance to go to a private school if the tax credit didn't exist? I assure you, for every one "rich" student receiving the tax credit, there are probably 50 to 100 "poor" students who would not be attending private school if it were not for the tuition credit. But they don't deserve to go, do they? After all, they're not rich.

Let's call a spade a spade, shall we? This isn't about fairness; it's about money. For every student educated in private school, the public school loses money. I'll wager that it is far cheaper for the state to educate these kids using tax credits for private school tuition than it is to hand over the huge amount paid to public schools per student every month.

Perhaps you should redirect your efforts into finding out why private schools are able to operate on a shoestring budget while producing higher quality education than the public schools. That is really the question, isn't it, Mr. Safier?

Lori Sellstrom, Tucson

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