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Arsonists undermine society

Ragan Cavanaugh recently wrote a letter to the editor questioning the prosecution of violent ecoterrorists who have burned office buildings and other structures to further their own private agenda. Ms. Cavanaugh's logic barely deserves a response and illustrates just how misguided ecoterrorists truly are.

Cavanaugh questions our democratic system of governance. She intimates that the purpose behind these attacks is a noble cause. These young idealistic terrorists apparently cannot achieve their means through normal channels because of alleged corporate corruption. Cavanaugh fails to cite any facts to support her theory.

The fact is, these terrorists have chosen to commit felonious acts to dictate their agenda at the expense of the great majority. Our democratic system functions quite well and is seriously undermined by those who choose to take matters into their own hands.

Furthermore, while these perpetrators make it a point to never hurt humans or animals, what will they say when a fireman or police officer dies while responding to one of these violent acts? This will inevitably occur.

I sincerely hope that the perpetrators of these incidents, such as the burning of the Swanson Group offices in 2001, are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. ' Steven D. Swanson, president, Swanson Group Inc., Glendale

Time to change habits

At this time of our joint commercial/religious celebration, let us all recognize that our dog-eat-dog, crazed competitive society takes respite in this seasonal pause. Do not fret: Right after New Year's Eve, we can resume:

Kicking the homeless out of their cardboard shelters under the bridges.

Blowing up cities; killing people (to free them).

Arresting and imprisoning countless numbers for doing drugs (not prescription drugs, of course).

Acting in the exact reverse of our supposedly revered Christian Ten Commandments.

Getting ready to vote into office, once again, another set of morally bankrupt, unaccountably wealthy, embarrassingly incompetent leaders.

Well, now! I hope this tongue-in-cheek tirade wakes up some of the walking dead (that's us), and allows us to greet each other with Happy New Year, and have it really mean something! Perhaps we will change our terrifying habits (as above) and do good for the rest of our lives! ' Duane Sample, Jacksonville

Bill would speed recovery

Americans are the largest consumers of commercial wood products in the world. Today we import a large portion of our wood from other countries that have little if any environmental safeguards.

In our country our federal forest managers are unable to even harvest burned, dead trees off public lands. While science supports the harvest, restoration and replanting of these forests, the radical environmental movement uses frivolous and misleading legal challenges to halt any meaningful restoration activities.

Dead trees offer opportunities to provide jobs in our community and to satisfy our insatiable appetite for wood products. Furthermore, these commonsense harvests affect wildlife in a positive manner and speed the path to recovery, creating new forests where otherwise only burned trees and brush fields would remain.

Recognizing this concept, our own Congressman Greg Walden is tediously working to revise current laws in order that radical environmentalists cannot use stall tactics to harm our children for generations to come. His new bill will protect environmental safeguards and public involvement, while speeding the recovery process. ' Paula McCauley, Central Point

Hats off to the Mail Tribune

I've been gone 25 years, but I grew up in Medford. In the Mail Tribune Dec. 17, the front page had encouraging, uplifting stories; I appreciated it.

The giving of 100 free bikes by the anonymous giver, who said the only thing you get is a good feeling ' and I was reminded that Jesus said we could store up treasures in Heaven also by acts done in His name.

Again, the baby Jesus, returned to the Nativity scene, was encouraging when lately Merry Christmas became Happy Holidays, by the grinches.

Finally, the Light One Candle, the annual Mail Tribune feature focusing on helping in the case of a 21-year-old mother raising two little girls and the ways to help her. Again, thanks to a newspaper that just doesn't publish tragedy, but hope. ' James Morrisey, Gearhart

Learn from Washington

In recent weeks, President Bush has admitted he ordered the attack on Iraq with faulty intelligence, has blamed Congress for all our problems, admitted he authorized the government to spy on American citizens, and has seen some of his closest advisors indicted. I suggest he study the life of George Washington. He could learn from a great president.

Washington's father died when he was 11. At 16, George wrote and memorized 110 axioms for civil conduct. Here are a few that are applicable. They guided Washington's character for the rest of his life.

18. Come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unaske'd also look not nigh when another is writing a letter.

40. Strive not with your Superiors in argument but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.

50. Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of others.

56. Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad Company. ' Jeff Cheek, Medford

Message is being removed

It is Christmas once again, that most wonderful time of year. Christmas carols ring in the air with their sweet refrains. It is a time of peace, charity and good will.

At least it used to be. I remember Christmas as a young boy when people's moods and attitudes would change and a special sense of wonder and peace would waft in the air. Christmas shoppers would move with a spring in their step and a smile on their lips.

Many years later this greatest of holidays has been watered down by crass commercialism, increased ungratefulness, selfishness and materialism. Where is the message of peace? Sadly, it is being forcibly removed from the public arena by groups opposed to the message of Christmas. Many government departments and certain retail chain stores have forbidden their employees from saying Merry Christmas. Some stores sell holiday trees instead of Christmas trees.

What happened? Perhaps we need to go back to the reason for the season. The greatest gift ever given was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger 2,000 years ago, to give mankind peace and good will. As we open our hearts to this gift we will find the peace, joy and good will of Christmas. ' Bob Rolls, Medford

No to Wal-Mart

I think the person responding to Arlene Aron's letter about Wal-Mart missed the point. I believe the reason Wal-Mart was the target of the letter was that this huge corporation is one of the few that, in addition to using foreign sweatshops (as, admittedly, others do), treats their employees with a lack of fairness and respect in regard to wages and benefits. They are also responsible for the demise of many mom-and-pop stores in small towns. As big and as successful as Costco is, you cannot shop there for all your groceries, hardware, etc.

Therefore, Costco does not drive local businesses out and they pay a fair wage, plus overtime, plus benefits and don't need to give their new employees a list of social service organizations to supplement their meager wages (as Wal-Mart does). See the movie The High Cost of Low Prices which examines the 'Wal-Mart economy. When one of the richest corporations in the world is so miserly with their benefits and detrimental to the community, I, too, would say, keep Wal-Mart out. ' Susan Bauer, Medford

How will Lithia resolve it?

Do the powers that be at Lithia Motors think that just because they earned over a billion dollars last year that they have the right to cheat old people? Or anyone, for that matter?

The gentleman in question has a legal guardian, so the transaction should have been null and void from the start. And they say they want to resolve the situation. They sold his car, for crying out loud. How are they going to resolve it? I hereby nominate Lithia of Boise for the Grinch of the Year award!

And I would hope that Lithia Motors would disassociate themselves from anyone who would take advantage of the less fortunate. ' Geri Cook, Medford

Letter missed Rand's point

Apparently, Christopher Lewis read Ayn Rand's Virtue of Selfishness before he could understand it. He missed the whole point of her book.

Rand's book showed that collectivism is immoral. Regarding taxation, she wrote: You cannot steal from Peter to pay Paul, without making Peter a slave. And slavery is immoral. A society based on immorality continually goes downhill. Haven't you noticed our nation's direction?

A truly free society requires a minimal government that is compatible with human nature. We are born with two instincts; sucking and self-preservation. Unlike altruism, instincts don't have to be learned.

Self-preservation drives us to better our own quality of life. We don't naturally put the interests of others ahead of our own. All collectivist systems, even the Democratic Party's Marxism or Republican Party's National Socialism, force citizens, through laws, to act contrary to human nature. That is why, when power-hungry do-gooders completely achieve their objectives, a de facto totalitarian government exists.

Surprisingly, when we are free do what we do best, to improve our own lot, we trade with other people whose talents differ. The specialization of division of labor gives us all a higher standard of living than any government system could ever accomplish. ' Ben Stanos, Ashland

Recommended reading

Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter is recommended reading for everyone.

Read, learn, think, learn, read and think some more. ' Robert and Senta Cook, Medford

Don't let the door hit you

Some Oregon business owners complain about the anti-business environment in our state. They believe unions have an evil agenda: Oregon, with no sales tax, huge corporate loopholes and one of the lowest business tax burdens in the United States, is, apparently, not treating these captains of industry well, and so they are leaving the state.

The union agenda is family wage jobs, decent health insurance, tax relief for working families and the right of workers to organize. There are plenty of good employers who think Oregon is a great place to do business. If a business feels otherwise, I recommend they pack up, and quickly, to make room for those industries who are prepared to treat their workers well.

Don't let the door hit you. ' Philip Newton, Murphy

Learn from history

The following statement by the Lutheran minister Martin Niem?ller always seemed to be relegated to history ' something in the past not to be seen again.

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

However, after the revelations of the past week it rings loud and clear as a warning, especially considering the increase in Bush's approval rating after he confessed to authorizing spying on Americans.

As the saying goes, he who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it. ' Bruce Evans, Talent

The bottom line

The House and Senate should investigate the federal wiretapping of certain calls and e-mails because I didn't hear a straight answer from the administration as to why warrants were not sought either before or after a wiretap when a warrant could have been obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

Granted the case of mainland-to-overseas calls is a special case. But the practice shows a lack of good judgment in my view and is another example of how the current administration extends its reach in questionable ways.

What I did hear from the White House were repeated statements that terrorists are dangerous and move quickly, we need to act fast, we can't tell you our methods because it will tip off the terrorists, and we briefed certain members of Congress which implies the standard of oversight was met. But those points have more emotional appeal than substance in addressing the issue of perceived illegal wiretaps.

We all want our country to be safe. We also expect the executive branch to comply with the law and not make things up as they go along. The Congress should act now and demand straight answers to legitimate questions. ' Steve Haskell, Ashland