Letters to the Editor

Online Extra: More Letters to the Editor for May 5

County must upgrade its critical areas ordinance

Best available science: That is what the Thurston County Planning Commission and elected board members are using when they review and update the critical areas ordinance.

Using a 17-year-old ordinance is like going in for cancer treatment and ignoring effective treatments recently discovered and deciding instead to stick with the older outdated, ineffective treatment.

As a society we cannot pick and chose when we want “best available science applied.”

I support the review and update of the critical areas ordinance and encourage you to speak out publicly in favor too.


It's time to tax the wealthy

I was so glad to see the article on Americans feeling ready to tax the rich (“Tax wealthy, Americans say”). Most of us are feeling pinched and frustrated right now, and we wonder: Where has our money gone? How are we supposed to run this country when most of the money is in the hands of so few? How do we each find health, wealth, and happiness when our spending ends up in the pockets of billionaires and doesn’t come back?

For our health and happiness, we need these billionaires to pay the taxes they owe — both the taxes they legally owe, and the taxes they ethically should owe.

Our country’s policies and practice have been to treat the super rich as the coolest and brightest among us, special people who deserve special treatment. It’s time to recognize them as the smug bullies they are and demand that they pay into the system like the rest of us chumps.

Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest person in the country, has said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Really. How about we don’t let them win.


Pets treated better than humans

My husband and I recently returned from a summit about pain in the United States and specifically in Washington sate.

Washington state is leading the way in pain management deterioration for chronic pain patients with respect to those who are prescribed an opiod.

ESHB 2876 was passed in the 2010 Legislature and is to be implemented in June 2011.

One of the new rules on chronic, non-cancer pain management affects the dosing criteria for chronic pain. By December 2010 the commission repealed rules on previous pain management that had been fairly good rules. In the new guidelines dosage amounts must not be exceeded unless a physic an first consults with a practitioner specializing in pain management.

Do you know how few pain specialists are available?

Many chronic pain patients are already being denied good pain management from their current health practitioner because of the fear of addiction these new rules are implying and how much work in tracking clinical progress and all the other guidelines that must be followed. This will also affect the use of opiods in emergency rooms.

On a recent weekend on a window of our veterinarian’s office there was a poster about pain management for your pet. In 2007, the American Animal Hospital Association addressed the need for the veterinary team to play a role in educating pet owners about recognizing and providing pain management for their pets.

It sounds like four-legged animals can be provided better pain management than two-legged humans in Washington state.


Senate plan would dismantle conservation program

What do people want from their government? Good common sense policy, without all the politics.

Which is exactly what the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program has done for more than 20 years, by ranking conservation and recreation projects objectively, without politics or earmarking.

I want to commend The Olympian for the April 27, 2011 editorial “Politics has no place in state wildlife and habitat programs.” You nailed it on the head.

By changing 20-year-old policy that works to one that suits political needs, the Senate is setting a dangerous precedent by earmarking popular conservation projects instead of those chosen on their merits as best projects for our state.

We need to protect the environment, but in these tough times we also need to protect the jobs and businesses that outdoor recreation creates in our state. The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program does both. You were right to “detest” the Senate plan that would essentially dismantle the program.

JOE HYER, Olympia

Party loyalty has no place in congressional redistricting

Voters in the 3rd Congressional District are participating in one of the last bastions of thoughtful politics. We are one of only nine swing districts nationwide. In recent elections our district voted for Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Our wide range of opinion requires our U.S. representative be thoughtful and beholden to us — not a political party.

Most of America has been carved into enclaves of singular thought, creating party candidate safe areas.

People ask, “What is wrong with our country?” One answer is certainly, re- districting. Congressional races throughout America’s safe districts are won and lost in primary elections. Safe districts make it safe for fringe, divisive rhetoric to flourish. Our district is unique. Here we still have to respect and listen to our neighbors’ different opinions.

I believe respect makes us a stronger America.

We are in the midst of redistricting in Washington state. A redistricting committee typically uses past voting data to make their party stronger by drawing the new district lines to include as many of one party as possible. Redistricting in our state is done by both parties appointing two people each to work out the new lines.

Right now there is a committee deciding how to carve up the 3rd Congressional District to make way for the new 10th Congressional District. Contact them at 360-786-0770 or contact@redistricting.wa.gov to let them know they can keep America strong, by not dividing us by party preference.


Will Republicans deny assistance?

I think the federal government should help but I wonder if the Republican members of Congress from Tennesse, Alabama and Mississippi — six of six in the U.S. Senate and 16 of 20 in the House of Representatives — will vote against federal money for their states due to the tornados.

I believe most, if not all of them, say we need to cut back on federal spending and lower taxes. Now could be the time when they can show us that they mean it.


We can address debt without harming Medicare

Ardean Anvik’s letter supporting Paul Ryan’s budget bill is based on faulty economics and an unhealthy philosophy.Economically, he supports an unregulated free market system and justifies giving more to the rich at the expense of middle class and poor because the rich “reinvest it.”

Have we already forgotten that it was lack of financial regulation that lead to our credit crisis and that trickle down thinking is neither supported by economic theory or evidence? Bush tax cuts for the rich helped turn the Clinton budget surplus into a huge shortfall.

Philosophically, Anvik recommends we read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” The Ryan budget plan is based on this book’s philosophy and Ryan has made it required reading for his staff. As a Christian and believer in democracy, it is important to point out the irreconcilability of Rand’s philosophy with the basic principles of democracy and the general welfare. Her emphasis on individualism, her atheistic view that a belief in God is anti-man and thus degrading, justifies unadulterated greed at the expense of everything and everyone.

The Ryan budget is bad economics. It would cut $4.3 billion over 10 years but also cut tax revenues by $4.2 billion. This will lead to even bigger debts and deficits. It is bad philosophy.

Our nation is built on democratic principles of the common good and fairness. We should and can address the national debt, as President Obama’s plan demonstrates, without dismantling Medicare and programs that serve our poor, elderly and disabled citizens.


County should share in performing arts repairs

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts needs repairs and the City Olympia is on tap to fix it. Why do the 200,000 people that live in Thurston County outside of Olympia expect Olympia to repair a facility that we all use?

Thurston County is relatively small, less than 240,000 folks, interconnected collection of people, businesses and governments.Valerie Hammett, my wife, and I live in Thurston County, shop in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater, work in Lacey and Tumwater, eat at restaurants in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater and have attended many events in the Washington Center. We are not unique in our habits.

There are many regional facilities that we all enjoy and with that enjoyment comes the responsibility to maintain the facilities. The region needs to find a way where we can all share the load as well as the joy. Sharing the load lightens the impact to individuals and increases our sense of community.

An increased sense of community is good for general well being of the population.


Not all tax loopholes are a bad thing

“Cut corporate tax loopholes,” so goes the cry.

But one person’s loophole is another’s tax break or tax incentive. States and cites use tax breaks all the time to attract businesses to locate there. Often there is a literal bidding war between states to offer the best tax incentives and lowest rate to attract or keep major businesses — think airplane and auto manufacturing.

Property owners who keep their acreage in “open space” which is beneficial to all, get a property tax break. Should that tax loophole be closed?

What about the tax incentive to install solar panels? Huge corporations like GE put up wind power farms that are heavily subsidized by the government. Should that tax loophole be eliminated?

What about the home mortgage interest deduction? Renters don’t get that deduction. Is that fair?

Eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit for low income? That’s a pure give away of money to individuals. What about all-electric cars, which pay no gasoline tax to help maintain the roads they use. Should that loophole be closed?

And what about the costliest of all tax loopholes in Washington state: The sales tax exemption on groceries? A loophole? Really?

Don’t get me wrong, without a doubt there are loopholes that should be eliminated. Many have outlived their usefulness or were corrupt from the start — the product of lobbyists or conflicts of interest. But one person’s loophole is another’s tax incentive. We need to think this through.


Rural landowners are placed last

I write in response to recent letters and public comments made by Nancy “Zena” Hartung and former Olympia Mayor Bob Jacobs.

They’d made claims that greedy land barons out in the county need to do more for our community and, that rural property owners shouldn’t expect their property to be worth anything.

It would seem Hartung and Jacobs may be serving their own capitalist investments.

By their support of zoning laws that are harmful and destructive to property rights of rural property owners they seek to drive people from their lands and into cities where Hartung and Jacobs own their own investment properties. This seems a part of the Futurewise/1000 Friends of Washington/Washington Conservation Voters plan to run people out of the county and into a future where rural living no longer exists.

Hartung and Jacobs pretend to be environmentalists while they strive to profit like capitalists. Are their city properties likely to profit directly from critical areas ordinances they champion? How many others in our community who support these “put rural people last” ordinances are also profiting from these same ordinances?

High priced consultants and government departments and their employees are all enjoying the gopher survey revenue generating gravy train on the backs of rural landowners.


Budget balanced on the backs of the needy

In a few weeks the state will have a budget for the next two years. It could be really ugly for many of the most needy among us. The question is, will it be fair?

So far it’s all cuts and no increased revenue. That’s not fair. So far it’s “We can’t increase revenue without 2/3 majority in both houses because I-1053 is a law that passed by 64 percent of voters.” So the unaffordable and ridiculous tax loopholes will not be closed.

That’s not fair.

Wait a minute. I-728 and I-732 (the education initiatives) passed by 70 percent each, and they have been deemed unaffordable and they were suspended — and not for the first time.

Let’s get this straight: An initiative passes and a law is created as a result. But when times are tough we pick and choose which laws to put on hold. Am I missing something here? Why is it that these draconian cuts are the only way to balance the budget?

Why can’t profitable corporations and the wealthiest among us join the rest of us in shouldering this massive burden?

If the state can suspend laws that it can’t afford, then who is to say which laws are suspended. Does anyone under the dome have the spine to stand up to the greed mongers and tea party? Is it really fair to balance the budget on the backs of the most needy.


The poor need access to health care, too

Here’s a thumbs up/thumbs down.

Kudos to the Thurston County Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, medical auxiliary, and others who helped to make the C.A.R.E. Free Medical Clinic at the Tacoma Dome a success treating over 1,600 medically needy patients.

That such a clinic was necessary is a shameful reminder that there are large numbers of our society who are unable to afford medical and dental care.

I saw a number of problems including several with large tumors — one the size of a large cantaloupe — who neglected them because they could not afford the care. These are growths such as would be seen in underdeveloped countries, not in one of the most affluent countries on the planet.

Many of the patients could not afford to see a doctor to renew a lifesaving medication that sells for $3 per month.

Shame on us that the banks and corporations took our economy to it’s knees and that such deep cuts are still being made to health care.

Shame on those who have insurance and begrudge universal care.

Shame on legislators who won’t bite the corporate hand that feeds them in order to raise taxes to cover basic care.

Shame, shame, shame.


How about special election instead of special session?

State legislators failed to complete the number one task assigned to them on time: Pass a balanced state budget.

Then, the governor ordered them to a special session at a cost of approximately $20,000 per day to taxpayers. Now, reliable sources are saying that a second special session will be necessary.

What? 105 days wasn’t enough? 30 extra days wasn’t enough?

The rationale for the delay tactics is waiting for the June revenue forecast before any further compromises are made. Given the trend of declining revenue forecasts for the last four years, this will only mean deeper cuts while depleting the general fund thousands of dollars per day for their efforts.

A second special session is expensive, unnecessary and appalling.

How about a special election?


Not excited about the death of Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden dead. Big deal. Aside from a corpse that’s conveniently disappeared, what do we have?

It would have been a lot bigger deal if he’d been wasted in the first year of Bush’s war on terrorism, despite Dubya saying on record in March 2002, “I don’t really think about him all that much.”

Now, 10 years after 9-11, Osama’s little more than an afterthought. Especially since his body has been buried at sea and we don’t even know if we even got the right guy. But what if we didn’t?

Who would really know?

But even if we did, so what? Both Americans and locals are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the two ill-advised — and illegal — wars going on there with still no end in sight, and the policies of the Obama administration are by and large, despite the lies you hear from the right wing — not so fundamentally different from those of the Baby Doc Bush maladministration: Still at war, still spying on Americans, still haven’t shut down Guantanamo, etc.

So you’ll pardon me if I don’t share in all of the giddy excitement over the death of Osama bin Laden. The only thing it really means to me is that now I’ll probably have to scrape off my bumper sticker, the one with the picture of Osama bin Laden and the slogan, “I’m still free. What about you?”

In the meantime, the killing still goes on ...