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In the Tribune of March 15, I read that Ashland needs to hike its water rates because in 2010 residents used less water.

I must be wrongheaded because I thought that it was environmentally sound to practice water economy. I thought I was doing the right thing to limit my showers, to do away with my lawn and to use drip irrigation. However, the right thing for our town seems to be to use more water to increase Ashland's income.

Right now I'm off to have a very long shower. I sure wouldn't want Ashland to suffer because I was too stingy in my water use. — Sarah Paul, Ashland

Pfc. Bradley Manning continues to be tortured by the U.S. Military at Quantico, Va. He has had to endure being forced to stand naked in his solitary confinement cell for seven to eight continuous hours and further, he has been forced to stand naked in the corridor in front of his cell. This is a travesty of justice, especially in America, the "greatest, freest, democracy on Earth."

Manning has not been court-martialed nor has he been convicted of any offense. His torture is a blatant and illegal attempt to break him physically and psychologically for allegedly leaking secret documents and videotape of the U.S. military engaging in war crimes and genocide.

Manning is nothing more than a whistleblower and as such he is a national hero. It is not a crime to expose war crimes; in fact it is the duty of any active duty service person to expose war crimes.

Not only is torture illegal, it is immoral and unethical. — J.D. Dixon, Rogue River

A letter from Mike Curtis, self-proclaimed "proud retired teacher," rebuts a recent letter stating that retired teachers make as much as $7,000 per month. He offers as proof of his claim that he "only" grosses $4,283.33 per month from his PERS pension and notes that he "did six years in the Navy" prior to becoming a teacher, whatever that has to do with the price of eggs.

I have only a bachelor's degree and worked in finance for more than 40 years before retiring at 63. (I would have loved to retire at 58!)

Unlike Mike, during my working life, I paid into a 401(k) plan. Social Security pays me less than 40 percent of what PERS pays him and I haven't received a cost-of-living increase in the past two years; has he? I'll bet I'm probably paying part of his PERS pension, too.

Well, Mike's pension sounds a lot more generous than mine. Oh, well, maybe in my next life. I hope my daughter, the middle school teacher, gets a pension as good as his when she retires.— Bill Lucas, Eagle Point

Our president has called for greater innovation to spark our economy. I agree, but where do we focus?

Here is what comes to mind for me: plastic-entombed items that defy easy opening; pre-recorded statements such as "Your call is important to us ... ," "Please choose from the following options ... ," or "Complete the following personal items." If you decline, these clever little dodges will prevent you from ever talking to a person who knows something.

Websites that tell more than you want to know but don't give phone numbers or mailing addresses. Computer programs that are superseded before you learn the old one. Finding a clerk in a big-box department store or damn near anywhere, envelopes sealed on two sides that disintegrate when you try to tear them open.

I know anyone could add to the list. I would like to suggest that the president, both parties and corporate America focus on doing a better job of honest, sensitive customer service without all the computer-generated BS. Let's see some of the call for innovation go to this end. — Sam A. Campbell, Talent

The recent post-earthquake-tsunami explosions and meltdowns at Japanese nuclear power plants should remind Americans that reliance on nuclear power is a dangerous option.

Running a nuclear reactor is as technically involved as manned space flight. Accidents are inevitable. Commercial nuclear reactors contain 1,000 times as much radioactivity as the Hiroshima bomb. Any exposure to radiation increases a person's risk of cancer, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

The 2011 budget submitted by the White House calls for an immediate $36 billion increase — building to an eventual $54 billion increase — in federal loan guarantees to new nuclear power plants over the next 10 years, enough money for seven new nuclear power plants in the U.S., which is currently operating 104. The U.S. Department of Energy already can grant $18.5 billion in loan guarantees, enough for two to four nuclear plants. That's as many as 11 new nuclear plants. How smart is that?

If those dollars were directed to renewable energy options, we would be a lot safer and healthier.

We all know there is no free lunch. The question is: Do we want to pay as much as the unfortunate Japanese are paying now? — Paul Torrence,Williams

We see in the overturn of collective bargaining by Wisconsin Republicans what reactionary "conservatism" intends for working people.

Be clear: 400 people control more national wealth than150 million of our population. That ever-widening economic disparity drives accelerating decline.

They want more! Bailed-out fat cats provided us this great recession. Now bankers, oil men, Wall Street, hedge fund gamblers et al. are doing fine! Corporate bonuses (not to mention foreclosures ... ) set records last year.

But in the name of the "economic emergency," these same high rollers recklessly caused, their hired minions intend cutting anything for a healthy, taxpaying, working middle class.

They won't talk, negotiate, find reasonable solutions nor advocate mutual sacrifice. These same reactionaries wanted to cut medical benefits for 9/11 first responders and returning military. Now it's unions they don't want.

Republican "budgeting" translates to slower recovery, more job losses and more power for the billionaire Koch brothers — who underwrote recent elections, and will continue — unrestricted by transparency or regulation. The Citizens United decision allows them license to buy our democracy without even needing to be identified.

Want government that works for people? They don't! Time for boots on the ground, because newly elected Republican governors and state legislators intend to do this everywhere. — Rob Hirschboeck, Ashland

Before members of the Green Bay Packers or the Milwaukee Bucks or the Brewers thought of giving up some extra to help balance the budget in Wisconsin, even before the UW Badgers thought to tack on an extra $2-per-ticket donation, the public employees of the state took cuts in benefits and pay to make up the deficit for the state they are a part of and serve.

We're being treated to a vision of revolution that begins with abdicating the responsibility that comes with "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." It's a call to surrender democracy to aristocracy, to surrender our responsibilities for a promise of protection.

Remember this: If the nation is threatened, you or your children can be drafted into the common defense — that's why they register at age 18 — and then sent overseas to defend the country in war. On the other hand, in times of economic emergency, your job can be sent overseas without you. That would be the nature of outsourcing.

If you're reading this newspaper, you don't have enough wealth to support a revolution based on lowering the wages of workers. — Robert Canape, Ashland

Regarding the story about the man who, according to him, reached in the back of a truck to pet a yellow Lab who was waiting for its owner at Walmart in Eagle Point, who subsequently bit him: This man, Joseph Gima, then went into Walmart, bought a gun, and shot the dog more than once, notably in the eye.

Of everything I've heard and read about this, no one has mentioned that you should never try to pet any dog, friendly or otherwise, in his own territory, like inside of a car or in the back of a truck. If you choose to do so anyway, it is at your own risk. Dogs protect what is "their" property or territory. The man was trespassing! It seems that any judge would see this. Joseph Gima should be ashamed of himself for saying that the dog is "vicious."

What has since come out about Mr. Gima should tell us something about this man; he is also an alleged drunk driver. Was he also drunk when he shot the poor dog?

I hope the punishment for Joseph Gima is appropriate; I'm certainly not holding my breath. — Terry Vance Sheldon, Eagle Point