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Leave Social Security alone

President Bush was born rich, which means he never had to juggle rent, car payments and new shoes for the kids. He also never learned that the important word in Social Security is security.

While I was still working, I would regularly ask for an update of my SSAN account. They would send me a report: You have completed X number of quarters under Social Security. If you retire at 65 you will receive this number of dollars per month. If you die, your family will receive this amount of money each month in survivor benefits until your youngest child turns 18.

This information was essential in planning my retirement, and knowing that my dependents would have a monthly check if I were gone helped me sleep better.

Social Security is not in a crisis. It can be saved my moving that &

36;90,000 cap up to &

36;125,000. That cap has not been changed in decades. Are wages and prices the same as they were back in the '80s? I don't think so. So why is that cap so sacrosanct to President Bush?

George Bush should learn this old axiom: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Leave Social Security alone! ' Jeff Cheek, Medford

One big nightmare

The increase in traffic along Jackson Street cannot be a surprise to anyone. Take a look around; there is the Southeast Plan, hundreds of houses going in the McAndrews/Hillcrest area, the upcoming Northeast Plan and condos, apartments, town homes and tract housing being built in just about every available space. Looks as though we are in for one big traffic nightmare. ' Nancy Grob, Medford

Benefits won't change

The nearly 600,000 Oregonians currently receiving Social Security retirement payments can be assured that nobody wants to change their benefits. As President Bush has clearly stated, anyone over 55 will continue to see the program operate exactly as it does today.

Establishing voluntary personal retirement accounts would go a long way toward providing the economic security future retirees will need. Without prompt action, younger generations will find themselves without the Social Security retirement benefit they think they are already paying for. ' Danna Gustafson, Ashland

Stoplight stings needed

Ho hum. Another day, another two or three near collisions at stoplights on Medford streets.

The Medford Police Department made such a big deal and did such a good job about pedestrians crossing streets that I think people are stopping to let trees cross the road.

Today, I was almost hit, not by one, but by two people running red lights at Stewart Avenue and Oakdale.

Why can't the MPD do the same thing at stoplights? They had the manpower for the crosswalk stings, so they must have the manpower for stoplight stings. It would seem to take less people and don't tell where they will be.

People from the Portland metro area have told me they've never seen anything like it and they really have traffic up there, don't they?

Enough fines would probably be collected to pay any extra manpower used.

It's not young people doing it, either. Most of the people I see running the lights are older.

Maybe they're all color blind. ' Ted Erwen, Medford

Get them on the same page

The March 8 Mail Tribune featured an excellent editorial on the dubious quality of school lunches. A fifth-grader had observed the meals he was served did not meet the nutritional standards he was taught in class. Ouch.

On another page we learned the Oregon Legislature was debating a bill to reintroduce physical education to schools. The difficulty was the expense of implementing PE.

Hm. Could we get the school board and the legislators on the same page? Maybe we could have fewer tubby kids without breaking the 549C budget. ' Hubert Smith, Jacksonville

Disagrees with Will

I disagree with George Will's column regarding public television.

With most media owned by just a few corporations, with agendas on what they want the public to know or not know, who will air the forgotten story, the coverage that gives a different point of view? Who will give in-depth reporting to an event, not just a sound bite? Control the media and you control the minds of the multitude.

Will disparages what he calls the refined minority. Those who cannot afford or have access to music, theater or dance productions find it on public television. A country without affordable exposure to the arts is a country that will lose its soul.

He states that public TV shows could find private broadcast entities to buy them. Maybe so, but if Big Bird doesn't parrot the private network's viewpoint, I envision a taped-beak Big Bird or a Frontline standing at the end of the line.

Those with cable or satellite may have 500 channels to choose from, but most carry slightly different versions of the same thing. Where does one find a Masterpiece Theatre on those 500 channels?

The minute revenue that Public Television receives from the government should not vanish. ' Patricia A. Rickert, Williams

We are all responsible

In regard to the article on the Biscuit fire timber salvage sale, has it occurred to any of these protesters that, as consumers, we are all responsible for consumption of wood products on a daily basis, from toilet paper to the newspaper that printed an article voicing their opinions?

It is almost impossible to completely cut out wood products from the average consumer's life. Why shouldn't we salvage, defined as to save, what is left from this tragedy and reforest? Why not stop this burn from being a total loss and use the wood, instead of cutting into new forest?

I'm sure we won't have to worry about the spotted owl, he was smart enough to pack up and move out when the flames were coming. ' Cindi Looney, Medford

Kiss your rights goodbye

For any president to override state laws and voters' rights would make it quite clear that there is no point in even pretending that America has a true democracy. (How many more interpretations of the Constitution is it going to take before it becomes a piece of toilet paper? Who, of all the existing brain power in this country, is going to write the next one?)

The correct word is euthanasia ... an individual choice made by rational people to avoid unbearable pain when there is no hope of survival.

Those who lack imagination will never understand the agony of the victim until it happens to them or theirs. While thousands die for a righteous cause, the individual is set aside ' no weapon in hand, no power of thought, no future, no miracle ' only waking to more pain.

Even some politicians love their dogs and cats. When their only friends become ill, they will listen to the doctors and have them put to sleep. They would do that for an animal they love, but not for a human ' not for a stranger.

The very moment President Bush overturns the Oregon vote, you can kiss your rights goodbye. ' F.C. Mequish, Medford

South end needs work, too

While recovering from surgery, my daughter from Arizona was here. She took my dog to the dog park on Barnett Road only to have another dog attack mine. Walking the bike path she advised me the fear she had going by berry vines.

I've been able to get out to do some walking and admit the south end of the park looks good, but there is still lots to be done. Instead of spending dollars on the Jackson project, lets put money in this beautiful park so a lot of us gals can use it without any fear.

Also, it seems like a game with graffiti on the buildings. The graffiti gets painted over only to return the next day.

Spend some of our tax dollars putting officers there without patrol cars to catch these culprits and those on the jail work crews cleaning up the bike path area; exercise and fresh air might do them good. ' Nadine Ellis, Medford

Fluoride facts unreported

Adding fluoride to drinking water without any scientific proof that doing so is not harming consumers is irresponsible and harmful to both people and aquatic life. Consider the following facts:

Even proponents agree that fluoridation chemicals are derived from industrial processes and are contaminated with lead, arsenic, mercury and other serious toxins. Arsenic and lead are so toxic that the EPA has established health-based Maximum Contaminant Level Goals for them at zero. Recent studies show that lead is also a possible cause of cancer (MT Feb. 1).

Fluoride is classified by FDA as a drug under its regulation when ingested for a reduction in tooth decay, yet the FDA has never approved its safety or effectiveness.

Many doctors, dentists, PhDs, chemists and other informed citizens have recently testified against mandatory fluoridation of Oregon's drinking water. For reasons known only to them these facts seem to be generally ignored by the proponents of fluoridation.

If we want to be healthy and we want a healthy environment then we can't afford to ignore the facts. ' Seldom, Gold Hill

What did the sweep cost?

Let's see: 100 officers from 11 agencies for seven and a half hours plus a private helicopter. Operation harass 22 homeless people.

And how many tax dollars were spent? I'd feel safer if law enforcement spent money a little more wisely. ' Vanessa Houk, Ashland

Isn't it peculiar?

Not to be a doubting Thomas, however, isn't it peculiar that the price of oil per barrel started rising with the run-up to the budget vote in the Senate to include oil drilling in ANWR? Far be it for me to think there was collusion between this administration and the OPEC nations in manipulating the price of oil, or invoking the great fear factor that this administration is so good at when it suits their needs. ' Yale Sacks, Central Point

Gun owners beware

Oregon gun owners beware. SB 927 is now in the state Judiciary Committee and is destined to further control and restrict gun ownership for lawful Oregonians. All Oregonians who enjoy gun ownership rights for hunting, target shooting or collecting need to contact their state representative and let them know we expect them to defeat this Senate bill.

This is just part of a long line of anti-gun bills now pending. Write your representative today. ' Gary Endicott, Trail

GOP's corporate agenda

The Republicans in Congress made it harder for ordinary citizens to file for bankruptcy, yet they are supporting big corporations in their efforts to declare bankruptcy and to avoid the costs of adverse health effects they have caused.

A particularly egregious case involves W.R. Grace, the corporation that from 1963 to 1990 contaminated Libby, Mont., with asbestos from its vermiculite mine on nearby Zonolite Mountain.

This company declared bankruptcy in 2001 trying to insulate itself from lawsuits and other claims by people in Libby whose health was damaged by the asbestos. Asbestos causes respiratory ailments including lung cancer.

Republicans in Congress pushed through a series of bills trying to exempt asbestos and insurance companies representing W. R. Grace and other companies from pending lawsuits. Now, they are bowing to wishes of the credit card industry to make it harder for low- and middle-income people to file for bankruptcy

Obviously, the Republicans in Congress are focused on protecting and fostering the interests of corporations like W. R. Grace and large credit card companies instead of protecting the health and interests of the general public. ' Marc A. Sylvester, Ashland

Biscuit deserves better

In looking at a March 5 Mail Tribune article titled Protesters settle in for Biscuit fight, consider two blatant deceptions:

1. Other areas of the 500,000 acres burned ... Truth: The Biscuit fire perimeter enclosed 500,000 acres. Of that total, 60 percent was untouched by fire, an additional 20 percent only lightly burned.

2. Forest officials say logging will speed the restoration of old-growth forest ... Ridiculous!

Truth: Big, dead trees provide a valuable service in the recovery of the forest after a fire, and are serving that purpose now.

First, trees killed by fire shed remaining needles, mulching and stabilizing the soil, supporting the first new growth springing forth from the earth.

Next, they cast a shadow, cooling the soil and providing shade for those little seedlings which are everywhere in these burned areas already. They also provide habitat for insect-eating birds to keep the recovering forest healthy.

Logging those big trees would destroy the natural recovery already well under way, causing soil disturbance, erosion on the steep slopes and a disaster for the salmon runs in the pristine Illinois River.

The Biscuit deserves better treatment than it is presently getting from this commercially prostituted U.S. Forest Circus.

Just leave it alone! ' Pat Patterson, Central Point