Your Jan. 14 issue reminds us that we're in for another round of expensive political campaigns. Wouldn't it be great if we could take such exorbitant sums of money out of the process?
Many candidates refuse public funding, knowing that contributions to their campaign can help them gain access to powerful office. Once elected, they can then direct government funding to favored contributors or protect those contributors from government regulation.
Good candidates have to go along, knowing they cannot win using only public funding against such well-heeled competitors.
Two things could change this. Civil Service employees are required to sign an agreement that they will accept no gifts from those they deal with in doing the government's business. Contracting officers have been fired for doing so. What if Congress were put under the same restrictions? Then their votes would be unswayed by campaign contributions, resulting in government for the good of the people.
Also, candidates must be limited to public funding. They really don't need many TV ads, because Internet sources supply information. Project Vote Smart's site and free mailings for those without computers, along with toll-free telephone access to answer questions, allow voters to ignore political gimmicks and access information they really need: issue positions, voting records, campaign contributors, biographical information and performance evaluation.
This nonpartisan organization receives no funding from PACs or any organizations that support or oppose or lobby candidates. Through dedicated volunteers, memberships and nonpartisan foundations, it has worked for over 15 years to build a database with information on the executive branch, Congress, federal judicial branch, state and local officials, and even specific ballot measures by state.
We've seen what a grassroots movement can accomplish. Could it make this change?
— Janet Brazill
A bigger tent
How much did Colorado Springs spend keeping the Olympic Committee here, and how much has been spent on trying to help those folks in what is now referred to as Tent City?
I know there may be a substance-abuse problem among the homeless, but I believe some may just have fallen between the cracks of services that are available. I don't believe it would cost a substantial amount to try to work with these people to at least keep the area clean. If the debris gets out of hand, it will attract rodents that carry disease, and then there will be a much larger problem.
Also, as Tent City grows there is a more likely chance of crimes as people get more desperate just to survive. Maybe mobile homes could be used to help house victims of the economic downturn who aren't just substance-abusers living on the street. Maybe anyone employed by the city making over $50,000 should take a 10 percent pay cut. This money could go to restore city services that have been cut and to improve the lives of the citizens of Colorado Springs, including those in Tent City!
— Debbie Gregory
It's a tech world
There's a big high-tech blockbuster movie out now, and I've been a fan of sci-fi since I started breathing air but I've had little interest in seeing this one. That puzzled me until I remembered someone mentioning an anniversary regarding putting a man on the moon. He'd smirked and said: "Why'd we do that?"
Well, we had science then. Has anyone seen science lately? It's been replaced by something called "tech."
After you've thrown a few people at the moon, you'd expect things to progress as they have been, and eventually you'd want to leave some people up there, and then start throwing people off the moon to other space places, and it's a progression. We're babies in the universe and we were taking baby steps, learning to walk.
But we stopped walking. Our science is now consumed by consumerism. All these new disposable tech devices and other earthly concerns, like this fancy movie, are using up our scientific resources so that there's nothing left for exploration. Nothing left for wonder. We've packed this space rock to overflowing, and our needs are now consuming us. Our technology becomes "obsolete" so quickly that we have to work really, really hard just to keep the river of new devices flowing, leaving only a trickle for anything else.
Why fantasize about meeting otherworldly cultures and visiting beautiful new planets when we have no space program? No science? So I guess my answer to the man-on-the-moon question is: Why'd we make that movie?
— Steve Suhre
Not really Christian
Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson speaks about Haiti being cursed because of what he calls a "pact with the devil" in its history. While it was shocking to hear those words with children dead or dying in the streets, I wasn't particularly surprised. Robertson and his ilk are the antithesis of the Christianity they profess.
These leaders always seem to make news spewing their hatred for folks who don't go along with their narrow-minded and bigoted beliefs. With their voracious appetite for fear-mongering, it's difficult to grasp that they've ever heard the message of Jesus, who commanded them to love their neighbors as themselves, love their enemies, not judge anyone and help the poor. I try to follow that commandment, but I find it difficult to love the person who can make such vicious and hateful statements against devastated, hungry, homeless, grieving, and dying people.
What doesn't Robertson understand about making pronouncements and judgments as if he were God? What about reaching out to those people who have never had a fair deal, were made slaves hundreds of years ago and haven't had a chance to pull out of their misery? Instead, Robertson plays the cursing God.
My Creator is not a curser, but a blesser who identifies with and loves all people and tells us we are God's presence in the midst of suffering and loss, whether it's from a natural disaster or hateful words. Many of us are doing that with our prayers and whatever help we can give. However, we can also use our voices to speak out against the hateful blasphemy Pat Robertson and others exclaim in the name of God.
— Sharlene White
Santa Fe, N.M.
Make our day
I'm a 50-year-young man who became disabled 15 years ago from a back injury and failed surgeries. Age has begun to rear its ugly head, making me a shut-in. I can shop for groceries, pick up prescriptions, and make doctor's appointments; otherwise I am homebound, unable to attend or tolerate social events, worship services, movie nights, etc.
Shut-ins tend to be forgotten by family and friends. I can no longer write a letter because the pain makes my writing totally illegible, and sitting down to write e-mail is exhaustive.
The church I attended for several years has left me. My pastor never visits and I have not received communion in over three years. Several friends have expressed anger, believing I do not want to stay connected. That couldn't be further from the truth.
If you know a shut-in, find out the best, most comfortable way to keep a connection. Everyone has busy lives these days, but shut-ins have not stopped living.
For churches, faith communities and leaders, this has been a grievous failure. It almost feels like the churches are more concerned with numbers in pews and dollars in offering plates rather than the spiritual health and well-being of people preparing for their journey to the hereafter.
I've spoke with many like me, and there is a common fear of being alone when they die. I mean being physically alone as they exhale their last breath. I share that fear ferociously.
I beg and plead with you: If you know a shut-in, call, write a letter, send an e-mail, stop by for a short visit. That alone will have an impact like you won't imagine for a very long time.
For the faith community, get your act together. Millions of souls are in dire need of spiritual attention.
— Brian Lund
Best to find out
Most climate scientists tell us human activities are contributing to global warming, with the possibility of irreversible and damaging consequences. On the other hand, a minority of qualified scientists are skeptics and dispute this conclusion. On such a complicated issue, no one can be absolutely sure who is correct. But we cannot postpone action due to incomplete knowledge, since we will never have perfect certainty.
A prudent person considers the consequences of being wrong in either direction. Suppose we presume the majority to be correct and act accordingly, but they turn out to be wrong. What have we lost? Some short-term economic disruption. But the truth would emerge before too much damage was done due to rapid improvements in sensor technology and computing power.
Besides, many things that scientists recommend, like accelerating the development of renewable energy sources, we should be doing anyway. We would be preserving our environment and developing world leadership in green technology that will be vital when fossil fuel supplies inevitably start to dwindle and become more expensive.
What if we place our trust in skeptics and continue on our present course, but they turn out to be wrong? Sea levels will continue rising to inundate low-lying coastal regions, glaciers will recede, water supplies will be endangered, and increasing drought will threaten food supplies. Millions of people will be displaced from their homes and will fight over decreased supplies of food and water. The possibility of mass starvation and severe social disruption is obvious.
What will future generations think of us if they believe we had the knowledge and means to avert or at least mitigate these catastrophic consequences, yet we did nothing? They will rightly curse our memory.
— James J. Amato
Physics instructor David Esker ("Selective science," Letters, Dec. 24) needs to be brought up to speed on science history. He complains about scientists "ignoring evidence to advance their careers, tarnishing all scientists' credibility." But this is an inflated judgment.
Many astrophysicists recall how Sir Arthur Eddington suppressed or ignored the novel insights and papers of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in the 1930s, concerning relativistic degeneracy as the basis for the limit of compression in white dwarf stars. Eddington went so far as to prevent publication of Chandrasekhar's initial papers, asserting at one Royal Astronomical Society meeting that relativistic degeneracy is nonsense!
Eddington's suppression probably held up proper modeling of highly compressed stars for a decade, but didn't "tarnish" astrophysics or astrophysicists. Chandrasekhar went on to win a Physics Nobel Prize (1983), while Eddington remains iconic in astrophysics for his monograph, The Internal Constitution of the Stars.
Science isn't a uniformly pure or unidirectional process, but rather more often messy and fraught with the conflicts that arise from clashing egos and even political subtexts. In my own college teaching experience, I've found the sooner students are introduced to such examples, the sooner they can drop the rose-colored glasses and fantasy ideations of how they think science should unfold.
In terms of the misnamed "climate-gate," the bottom line is that while the hacked e-mails disclosed a PR disaster for the affected scientists, they do not undermine the fundamental integrity of global-warming data. I could explain this in much more detail, but alas, am limited to this length. As for knowing what's causing global warming, we've known since Svante Arrhenius first noted it: high concentrations of CO2!
I suggest Esker read: "The Discovery of the Risk of Global Warming," in Physics Today, Jan. 1997, p. 34.
— Phil Stahl
Solar Physics Division
American Astronomical Society
It is astounding that City Council would not give Broadmoor CEO Steve Bartolin's letter to them the time of day. Sean Paige seems to be the forward-thinking person here. With thought processes such as those that were exhibited at the last Council meeting, it is no wonder the city has major financial problems.
It is time to stop giving Council the benefit of doubt. Steve Bartolin for mayor!
— Ann Howell
Still blowing money
I thought the city was having a budget crisis and has had to cut jobs because of this crisis. Then why do they have funds to spend on legal actions against the Federal Department of Labor and the Amalgamated Transit Union? I know the city attorneys are working on this, but I also know the city has hired a law firm in Washington, D.C., in this case.
I am sure those city employees now unemployed or those people that have been negatively affected due to cuts in city services would like to know why the city is spending money on this legal action. The city transit department couldn't make the bus system work, and now the city wants to put in streetcars. They say it isn't coming from local taxes, it is federal money, but guess who gets to pay for another incompetent's bright idea?
— Jim Gosse
In "A real Coffee Exchange" (Side Dish, Jan. 14), we stated that the Coffee Exchange is now owned by Anthony and Donna Gazzana; it actually is owned solely by Donna Gazzana. The Independent regrets the error.