Letters for November 25, 2010

Good luck

Re “You’ve been warned” (Feature story, Nov. 11):

You hit the nail on the head with this one. “I’ve been warned,” says it all. I’m going to quit on Dec. 1 because I know I’ll feel better than these 1,200 cigarettes I’ve smoked since August have made me feel. Wish me luck.

Greg Caldwell

Smoking hurts children

Re “You’ve been warned” (Feature story, Nov. 11):

A number of medical studies such as the March of Dimes “Orofacial Clefts, Parental Cigarette Smoking, and Transforming Growth Factor-Alpha Gene Variants” (American Journal of Human Genetics 58:551-561, 1996) conclude that women who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day double the risk of orofacial cleft birth defects in their children. And, those female smokers who also carry a gene that pre-disposes their babies to this defect, compound that risk six-fold! These are terrible odds, and the consequences are devastating for families without access to proper medical services. A visit to Smile Trains website, www.smiletrain.org, provides graphic evidence of the impact. Aside from a few media notices in the ’90s, there has been little attention given to the innocent victims of this terrible habit. The proposed list of graphic warnings for cigarette packages should be amended to include pictures of children with this birth defect.

Ron Schoenherr

Ask a doctor

Re “Drug tests” (Feature story, July 8):

Wonderful article. I have developed a cough shortly after trying Spice. I need to test for custody issues. Is this a bad chemical cough? Or my recent change in my cigs, from regular packaged cig to rolling my own with the less expensive pipe tobacco?

Also I recently tried a small amount of Bath Salt. It was kinda cool, I suppose. Coming from a guy against meth, etc., do these “legals” show on urine analysis?

Ron Young
Glendale, Ariz.

Cut war dollars

State legislatures are faced with huge budget deficits that must be dealt with. Because of massive federal cuts in state aid, states have had to cut state services. If voters have not already discovered this, there is also the reverberating negative effect that cuts in state aid have on municipalities or local governments. Given the GOP’s sole focus on spending cuts and total opposition to tax increases, its “scorched earth” spending-cut policies will cause irreparable damage to vital state services.

Local governments are faced with raising taxes merely to keep functioning. The end result will be increases in taxes, whether federal, state or local—or a combination of all three! The task before state legislators is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, if taxes are not raised. Tax increases have become an imperative—it’s only a question of who will pay for those increases.

An increase in sales taxes is not the answer; it’s one of the most regressive taxes, affecting those in the lower to mid-range income brackets the most. It’s income taxes that must be raised (progressive taxation according to ability to pay).

Four things that would go a long way towards reducing deficits: the federal government should increase the marginal tax rate for those with multi-million-dollar incomes, increase the tax rate on unearned income from 15 percent to 25 percent, retain the Estate Tax on those with multi-million-dollar inheritances, and scrutinize wasteful spending in the Defense Department.

The wealthiest of Americans have already had substantial tax cuts. It’s time they pay their fair share!

Paul G. Jaehnert
Vadnais Heights, Minn.

The road to efficiency

The Clean Air Act gives EPA authority to protect public health and the environment and has made our air cleaner and saved lives; now it can help cut global warming pollution and our addiction to oil.

Unlike passenger vehicles, the biggest vehicles on the road—from large pickups to freight trucks and garbage trucks—have never been subject to federal fuel efficiency or global warming tailpipe pollution standards. Some heavy-duty vehicles like 18-wheelers can cover as much as 150,000 miles each year while getting only 6 mpg.

EPA along with Department of Transportation has proposed the first ever global warming and fuel efficiency standards for the trucks.

The proposed standards will save consumers and individual truckers money, reduce our dependence on oil by more than 500 million barrels and cut carbon dioxide pollution by 250 million metric tons—an important step.

Our members of Congress should send their strong support to EPA as it sets standards to cut America’s oil dependence and greenhouse gas pollution.

Mark Kurtz

Teaching to the dollar

Re “An incomplete truth” (Guest comment, Nov. 11):

Brent Busboom is to be commended for his accurate explanation of how charter schools succeed. Simply put, it’s all about more money to juke the scores. Overall, charter schools do worse or no better than most public schools because public schools have a core group of dedicated teachers that keep the school on an even keel.

Suburban schools, especially outside of New York City in Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey have known this for decades. Money equals better schools. Higher socio-economic status of students means higher scores. Money comes from high property taxes for local school districts, some as small as 500 students. These students comprise a higher socio-economic class of students because their parents have the money to pay the high property tax for better schools. And, naturally, better schools usually pay teachers better so students get teachers that are better prepared to teach writing, mathematics and science.

Education, as I understand it, is a socio-economic thing. Otherwise, we can’t rank colleges in this order on the basis of academic achievement of students and their enrollment in these institutions: 1) Stanford and Cal Tech; 2) UC Berkeley and Claremont; 3) UC Davis and USC; 4) UNR and Fresno State; 5) TMCC and Sacramento CC; 6) College of Western Nevada and American River Jr. College; 7) University of Phoenix, etc.

Education has been and always will be a gatekeeper, and it has nothing to do with equality.

Busboom is on target. There is no silver bullet, there is no superman, and there is no Michelle Rhee solution. The answer is based on a combination of factors such as money, socio-economic class and culture of students, families that highly value education and dedicated, qualified teachers.

D.H. Fong

Did the vaccine hurt my nephew?

Just got home from the emergency room vigil for my great nephew who is only 2 and a half years old.

He was fine until 6 p.m. tonight. He had three vaccinations one week ago: H1N1 flu, another flu, and whooping cough. Some or all of which contained mercury and who knows what other contaminants.

He suddenly had a seizure tonight and stopped breathing. Thank god his dad knows CPR. 911 was called, and he was rushed to the hospital.

It is now 2 a.m., and thank god he has stabilized. He will be in the ICU for observation and more testing. Poor innocent baby.

Regina E. King