Letters for September 18, 2008

Excellence ensure success
Re “The Olympics inspire us to be our best” (Know You’re Right, Aug. 28):

I am all for excellence, but it doesn’t seem to me that it “sells” in this country, as Amanda Williams said in her column. Excellence doesn’t win success as Williams, in her youth and inexperience, seems to think.

I would only watch half of the nominations for the Best Picture Oscar. Money and position do not usually go to merit; they go to those who were born with them, suck up and backstab to get them, cater to popular tastes, etc. I would like to see the statistics on how many people who inherit trusts funds do anything besides live on their incomes, not to mention become alcoholics and drug addicts. “To the victor belong the spoils"—in war and politics at least!

While we have a civil service system for the lesser government jobs, it does not much apply to high administrative ones. Michael Brown was appointed head of FEMA because he was a friend of a friend in the “right” social circle; he obviously had no experience or concern for his responsibilities, and neither did Rumsfeld, etc. Great minds like those of Confucius and Peter the Great tried and failed to solve the problem of ensuring that meritorious people rise in the world, but Williams seems to believe that they do so I think she needs to learn more about how societies, businesses, governments, etc. operate.

Sheryll Wright

Americans need help
Re “Palin lives up to her conservative values” (Know You’re Right, Sept. 11):

I’m a Democrat, and I’m not criticizing or complaining about Palin’s daughter. I am concerned about Palin’s extreme and fanatical religious views. I feel like there are enough extreme religious fanatics with opposing agendas to warrant a cool head in Washington, one that will defuse anger rather than drive it into a frenzied war of “my God’s better than your God!”

I am also concerned about our economy, but more specifically about the economy of most U.S. citizens. I’ve heard all the double talk about keeping the corporation’s taxes low to promote the economy, and there are some people who actually benefit from the stock market, but there are far more people who don’t have the money to invest in the stock market. They’re too burdened with buying food and keeping the utilities on. Americans need jobs, health care, better education, a safer society, an alternative to oil and we need a united front.

All this bickering will get us is a divided country, and you know what they say about that: Divided we fall. We all have moral values, and they are not all alike. McCain was aware of the pregnancy before he chose Palin, and it makes me wonder if perhaps it is the Republican Party that is actually making a big deal of this situation to promote its views on abortion issues to gain the support of the right-wing conservatives. It seems to me, that we have far more important things to talk about and greater problems to solve in the political debates. I sincerely hope the American people don’t get so emotionally involved over moral values; such as religious morals of whatever philosophy they believe in that they lose sight of the real issues.

Martha Liou

Spread the word
Re “Weekend at Burning Man” (Feature story, Sept. 4):

I am very disappointed in your newspaper. The photos in your Burning Man article by Kat Kerlin were inappropriate for a public newspaper. (Put it on the internet where parents have more control over content to their children or put warnings on your newspaper.) Your very own company mission statement is: “To have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live.” Please tell me how photos of nudity, butt cracks and dildos available to children achieves this part of your company goals? Shame on you for printing those photos and sending them into our homes. We will not be readers anymore and will spread the word of your inappropriate newspaper.

Tawnya Reid

The real challenge
Re “The Olympics inspire us to be our best” (Know You’re Right, Aug. 28):

It’d be nice if everyone could compete in the Olympics or some other area of excellence at the top levels. Most people would, but can’t. This doesn’t mean they’re lazy or expect handouts from the government as repeated in the old fallacious, Republican Party saw. Most people are practical. They know that though born equally they hardly remain so. Some people are more artistic, better athletes, or possess higher intelligence than others.

Stressing competition for greatness begs the question how far people will go to be thought great. After all, greatness pays various dividends while mediocrity earns an hourly wage. Would Alexander of Macedonia have been great if he hadn’t fought so many wars? Could Barry Bonds have broken Hank Aaron’s record without the use of steroids? Were the executives of Enron exemplary businesspeople or simply crooks? It appears that greatness can be bought in a store.

But if we stress self-discovery and development over greatness, wouldn’t we learn how far each of us can go instead of merely concentrating on beating the Joneses? Being the greatest comes and goes with the next record breaker while character is there for a lifetime. And isn’t that better than being just great?

Michael Seidl