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Oregon has long struggled to fund human services with "sin taxes" on alcohol and tobacco. Maybe we should expand the definition of "sin" considering the growing incidence of obesity, diabetes, and all the subsequent health issues.

Let's start taxing soft drinks at the same rate as beer. In fact, let's tax all packaged processed foods and "fast food" that serve up huge empty calories using white flour, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives and overdoses of saturated fats and sodium at 3 percent of sales.

Oregon would be able to provide the best health care in America, and maybe we'd need it less. — Stephen Davis, Talent

It was fun watching the lame duck pardon the two dumb turkeys for Thanksgiving. I'm sure Pumpkin and Pecan will enjoy their holiday season much more than our two Border Patrol guards.

Maybe they got to watch the ceremony from their maximum security cells. If Bush had pardoned them at the same time, his approval rating might have gone up a point or two.

Drug smugglers must be awake at night laughing at our stupidity. The National Guard is on the border, but don't carry guns! The smugglers built an air conditioned tunnel under San Diego, and the fence we are building will keep them out.

Maybe Congress can solve — oh, that's right, they're on another long vacation. Oh well, maybe next year. — Tom Anderson, Medford

Sanne Specht wrote a wonderful story about the anonymous donation of a semi-trailer full of coats, blankets, sweatshirts and socks that is given each year to St. Vincent de Paul for distribution to the needy.

The article, which ran Nov. 26, mentioned that St. Vincent had served a traditional turkey dinner Nov. 23. I failed to tell Sanne that the dinner was cooked and served by the Central Point Presbyterian Church. I apologize for this inadvertent omission.

The church members certainly deserve public praise and recognition for their kindness. Each year they provide a feast for the poor and needy of Jackson County. We appreciate their contribution. — Kathy Morgan, Medford

In spite of all the doom and gloom coming out of Washington and Wall Street recently, there seem to be some promising nuggets of hope for the American worker.

The election of Barack Obama must certainly portend the beginning of the end for affirmative action, and the ethnic cleansing that had been going on along America's southern border has recently begun to reverse itself. Illegal aliens unable to find work in the U.S. are returning to their countries of origin in significant numbers. If this trend continues through the 2010 census, Congress might find itself reapportioned in a configuration that represents the American people once more, and will no longer constitute a mob that feels the need to pander to folks who shouldn't be here.

The task before the working public is clear. If the economy ever shows signs of recovery again, every effort needs to be made to prevent a return to government sanctioned discrimination in the work place, and American border states need to be made secure for the folks who are supposed to live there, safe from any future invasion. — Robert Bennett, Grants Pass