Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 19

Time to abolish the death penalty

I’d welcome more public discussion and the chance to vote on the death penalty. I’d stand against it.

Killing people is bad. When individuals kill people, we need to take away their opportunity to kill again.

We can do this without killing those individuals. So that’s what we should do, through means such as imprisonment.

Killing people is bad. When groups (such as the residents of Washington) kill people, we need to take away their opportunity to kill again. So that’s what we should do, by abolishing the death penalty.

DAVID BELLEFEUILLE-RICE, Olympia

Rebate program favors foreign cars

The president and his all too agreeable congress have managed to create a genuine dichotomy.

First, they commit present and future generations to billions of dollars of debt to help two American automakers to survive; not all bad, considering the number of jobs related to these activities.

Next, they plan a cash donation to any individual purchasing a more fuel efficient vehicle than the one presently owned.

Unfortunately, when you talk fuel efficiency it directs a large percentage of Americans to think “foreign made,” thus impairing the sales of the two American companies.

The one hand giveth and the other taketh away.

ROBERT L. SILVERMAN, Lacey

Health care reform is essential

Why health care reform? Simple: We can’t afford not to.

Here are a few facts:

In 2008, health care spending in the United States reached $2.4 trillion, and is projected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2016. In 2008, the United States spent 17 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. It is projected that the percentage will reach 20 percent by 2017.

Although nearly 46 million Americans are uninsured, the United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.

The United States spends six times more per capita on the administration of its private insurance-based health care system than its peer Western European nations.

We need to end the unbridled greed of insurance company executives.

Since 1999, employment-based health insurance premiums have increased 120 percent, compared to cumulative inflation of 44 percent and cumulative wage growth of 29 percent during the same period.

Workers are now paying $1,600 more in premiums annually for family coverage than they did in 1999. These rising costs are equal to drops in health insurance coverage.

In turn, the uninsured frequently resort to very expensive emergency care that the rest of us pay for through higher premiums and taxes.

If we stand pat, fewer Americans will have health care coverage, we’ll destroy our economy, and bankrupt our families.

We need universal coverage and a public option to reduce costs and keep insurance companies honest.

Support health care reform.

JOE NILSSON, Olympia

Closing visitor center doesn’t make sense

The closure of the Visitor Information Center on the Capitol Campus – which had been open since 1981 – reveals something about the priorities of government.

The center has long been an extremely helpful gateway to the Capitol Campus for thousands of visitors each year.

Surely there were other cuts that could have been taken.

For example, state legislators deemed this public service of less importance than their own private House and Senate dining rooms, which are being maintained despite devastating cuts to state government services.

Looking at the last published personnel detail online, from January 2007, the House and Senate reported spending a combined $21,825 a month during session for positions described as assistant chef, café, chef, and café manager.

I agree with the criticisms of Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, concerning these tax-funded troughs: Are there not great downtown Olympia restaurants that can feed legislators?

I also find it curious that state legislators are subsidizing a legislative gift shop that appears empty outside of legislative session, and that seems to exist only so legislators can purchase gifts with the state seal on them.

Struggling small businesses in downtown Olympia can satisfy these needs.

Why not at least move the underutilized gift shop into the Visitor Information Center space? Surely its staff can multitask by providing information along with the rare sale.

These are but a couple of areas of state funding that could have been diverted to put people first by keeping the Visitor Information Center open.

DIANA NORTH, Olympia

Fountain should have been turned on

Shame on the city of Olympia.

On the hottest day ever on record (104 degrees), the downtown fountain wasn’t on.

With only 15 percent of homes in Western Washington having air conditioning, you would think the city would have gone out of its way to help the residents here cool off.

Instead, it stuck to the schedule, and the fountain stayed dry for its weekly day off. What would it have cost to have the fountain on one extra day? How much manpower would it have taken to cool the locals off? Too much obviously!

How sad that the city couldn’t look past its own schedule to see the needs of the city.

Shame on the city of Olympia.

KELLI PANUSH, Lacey

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