As a member of the fire service for over 30 years, I was disappointed by the Sept. 25 MT editorial "Give volunteer firefighters a break."

As a member of the fire service for over 30 years, I was disappointed by the Sept. 25 MT editorial "Give volunteer firefighters a break."

Although volunteer firefighters have been the backbone of the American fire service for centuries and routinely make a difference in saving property and lives, the MT's premise that staffing fire stations with firefighters of "modest credentials" is paramount to saying commercial airlines can staff their airplanes with pilots of modest credentials.

A primary reason why current training standards are more intensive is the increase of responsibilities that first responders may encounter. As an example, paramedic qualifications, confined space/high angle rescue, hazardous materials, and buildings that burn and collapse faster are a few of the scenarios that firefighters of yesterday did not routinely encounter that are commonplace on the modern fire ground. As a result, paid or volunteer firefighters should be adequately equipped to quickly develop a safe and applicable risk assessment for a wider range of emergencies.

An example of the implementation of "modest training" has currently been on display with the NFL replacement referees. — John Mittendorf, Medford, retired training chief, Los Angeles City Fire Department

Why don't we hear about George W. Bush anymore? Probably because his policies led to two wars, an economic collapse and a huge debt. Even Republicans avoid talking about him.

Yet Romney has the same plans — tax cuts for the rich, special favors for large corporations, eliminating regulations on banks, let people suffer without health insurance, spend money for the war machine, and be quick to draw a line in the sand or risk an unnecessary war.

Given this picture, why would anyone think Romney would handle economic or political problems better than Obama? — Norma Anderson, Ashland

It is exasperating to know there are people who cannot or will not analyze data.

Household income is down 5.7 percent since June 2009 yet they believe they are better off. Second quarter GDP growth revised downward to 1.3 percent, but they think Obama's plan worked.

Obama's lip service to jobs and laser-like focus on a health care bill the majority of us do not want has kept unemployment above 8 percent, and the only possibility of decrease is people dropping out of the work force. His foreign policy is in disarray and the myth of the world liking us because he is president has been exposed. Hope is gone; the only thing he has changed in four years is the subject when asked a question.

So, while Ms. Strong (Sept. 27) and other Obama sticker-bearers call for civility, we'll try our best, but we wish they would make better decisions. — Donald C. Young, Medford

Ashland Community Hospital provides many services that this community would not want to lose.

Like many hospitals, ACH has been losing money for various reasons. Medicare continues to cut reimbursement for services. We currently receive approximately less than half of the costs incurred. This will not change with ObamaCare. There has also been less reimbursement for patients on OMAP, and there are also the patients that are unable to pay due to lack of insurance and jobs.

This is not just a local issue, it is a national issue. The day for stand-alone community hospitals is rapidly going away. To stay viable, it is now necessary to combine forces with another entity due the direction of health care services.

After approaching 25 other large facilities and with much thoughtful discussion with the board of directors and others in the community, Dignity Health was chosen. Dignity has the closest philosophy to ACH and the community, and for what they can offer in financial resources to our community and to ACH.

While any change can be uncomfortable, I view the agreement with Dignity as a positive move in order to retain the caring, compassionate environment that ACH currently has. — Karen Campbell, RHIT, Medical Record Coder, Ashland Community Hospital

The Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument applaud the establishment of Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado, signed by President Obama on Sept. 21. Through the Antiquities Act, an area with deep spiritual significance for Native Americans of the Four Corners area now has permanent protection. This designation has implications for all Americans, however, because we all benefit when special places are protected.

Chimney Rock has long been a site for researchers and visitors interested in its unique cultural attributes, and now many more people will be able to take advantage of what it has to offer. This designation will result in the local area's enhanced economic viability as well as improved protection for this vulnerable place.

Numerous studies show that protected lands create jobs in rural areas, jobs that are more viable than those tied to extractive industries such as timber. Protecting our nation's cultural, scientific, and scenic resources is compatible with boosting local economies through the creation of recreation, tourism, and restoration jobs! — Barb Morris, president, Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

With negative election rhetoric rising, it's easy to forget that America is still one nation. As many know, political language has become rougher since the Fairness Doctrine for media was lifted in 1987. Nowadays, many media members and politicians on both sides openly question their political opposition's loyalty to America. When the Fairness Doctrine existed, this rhetoric was limited since the media were required to cover both political sides. Obviously, those days are gone.

Ironically, both political parties sometimes quietly agree. However, since agreement is now seen as a weakness, many political operatives demonize opponents to inspire their voting base. Although politics has always had this aspect, today's media has pushed America into a Blue versus Red mindset.

Restoring the Fairness Doctrine is impossible. Therefore, it's important to find objective truth beyond the media-driven sound bites of both sides.

Today, America is at a crossroads comparable to the Depression. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke stating that our nation's long-term debt puts us at the edge of a fiscal cliff shows this. Regarding debt, the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan seems balanced since everything from defense to social programs is scrutinized.

To solve America's debt crisis, we need to try to act as one nation. — Perry Casilio, Talent

It is a myth promoted by the current government and the media that there are vast numbers of Americans without access to health care, and that they are in danger if the health care system is not drastically changed to a government plan.

No one in need of care can be turned down at an emergency room or hospital. By that, I mean "in need" of care. Not just wanting some minor care or treatment. Lacking "medical coverage" is quite different from lacking "medical care."

If you do not have coverage it means that you will need to pay for services you receive, or the rest of us will have to pay through our taxes, premiums, higher costs at hospitals and at doctor's offices. Basic care is already guaranteed to everyone on an "as needed" emergency basis.

Those who want more care can pay for and receive all the health care they can afford. If that doesn't seem fair to you, then maybe you should stop looking for someone to take care of you and go to work so you can buy the coverage you want. You already have the coverage you need. — Thomas Allen, Medford