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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

My Nov. 5 column inviting tea party and Occupy supporters to engage in a new conversation looking for common ground drew this from one of your readers: "Jeff, the right is right and the left is left, and never the two will twine." We can keep theorizing on your opinion page, or we can try to find out. Visit http://vimeo.com/32677208 for our first crack at a tea party-Occupy conversation. See what you think. ­— Jeff Golden, Ashland

You recently ran an article on the editorial page by a writer whom I believe is with the Providence, R.I., newspaper. This article argued that the wealthiest people were not paying enough in taxes. The fact is that in 2009, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for 37 percent of all federal income taxes paid and that the top 5 percent accounted for 59 percent, way out of proportion to their share of income.

Also, in 2010 45 percent of households paid no income tax at all, yet account for a disproportionate amount of federal spending for Medicaid, food stamps, etc. If a much larger proportion of households paid income taxes, there would be a greater constituency for controlling government expenditures. Moreover, Obama's proposal to prolong the elimination of withholding for Social Security is off the wall. It is irresponsible to eliminate withholding when the outlook for Social Security is so perilous. — Donald Ogren, Medford

My friend Vic dropped by yesterday. He was very excited and high-spirited. Vic has been stirred up about the issue of advertising on our airport tower.

For some reason, Vic thinks the City Council should stand for the wishes of the citizens.

Vic said "I've got the answer."

"Sure," I said. "Let me guess, you are going to get a bunch of guys and occupy City Hall."

"No!" Vic replied. "Nobody wants to walk around a parking lot waving signs in this weather. Here's the answer: I will go into a place of business and tell the manager that if he advertises on the tower, I will never trade here again, and I will also patronize his competitors. Then I will suggest to two of my friends that they do the same. Next, I will ask them to tell two of their friends. It will circulate through the valley like a pyramid from the top down. Can I count on you?"

I said, "Vic, you know that I've never been much into local civic matters, and I think it's a dumb idea, but for you, I will tell two people, but I'm not telling anyone else." — Stan Carstensen, Medford

The Medford secondary schools have once again reduced the already pitifully low number of student instructional days. And for what? A $75,000 two-day conference. I spent 35 years as a secondary school teacher and I submit that, if given a voice, the majority of teachers would find it in the best interest of students not to cut more class days. The solutions to improve student performance are strong teachers, parental support, smaller class sizes, books and more days in class.

What message is the school district sending the students when it clearly demonstrates that the number of class days is a low priority? I have attended numerous training workshops over the years and they are never what they are built up to be.

The article on Nov. 21 stated that some teachers in the district already have participated in the training. So what happened to that experience? If it produced such dynamic solutions to helping student performance, why was the information not shared throughout the district? The only people who will walk away from the training completely satisfied will be the DeFours, the presenters, who will have pocked a large amount of the $75,000 for two days. — Kathleen Davidson, Eagle Point

Sunday's Mail Tribune featured two letters harshly criticizing the Occupy Wall Street movement, both of which contained nonsensical points that demand a response.

John Mittendorf of Medford seems to carefully pick and choose which poll results he reads, because while he writes that current poll results show most Americans are dissatisfied with the president (true), he also says that most Americans consider the occupiers "criminals and/or an embarrassment to the country" (not true). Apparently he doesn't know that every poll shows the majority of Americans support this movement.

Meanwhile, in a separate letter, Gary Endicott of Shady Cove calls the occupiers "anarchists" who are causing "the destruction of our cities and way of life." Now I ask you, dear readers, what do you think is really destroying our way of life? Is it the protesters exercising their First Amendment rights, or is corporate greed, an unfair tax code and corrupt political and financial systems? In other words, the very things the Occupy Wall Street movement is protesting. — Anthony Nelson, Ashland

I write as marketing VP for the Rogue Valley Harmonizers to thank the staff of the Medford School District for their wonderful asistance with our October shows at the Central High School performing arts center. Everyone helped to make the shows successful, from Pam Thoren in facilities to Vince Keys and Chris Salas on the site, to Nick Walsh and his student tech crew.

The Medford School District is doing a great job of renovating the site for use as a public performance space, and the community is well served by these great people. We commend the district for the spirit of public service evinced by the staff. — Robert D. Hall, Medford

The Committee on Deficit Reduction made up of six Republicans and six Democrats couldn't find a way to cut $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years. This should give you an idea of just how horrible our financial condition is. Twelve noted and learned people working almost four months and they couldn't cut a measly $120 billion out of a yearly budget of more than $3 trillion.

The two key words above are "10 years." This would be like a drop in a cup of water. It's totally insane when you realize what's happening to our beloved nation.

It seems to me that many of the people in Washington, D.C., that we have elected in the past 60 years are, and have been, our enemies. If not, how do you explain this: At the end of World War II we were the richest nation on the face of the earth; now we are the greatest debtor nation! Pray for America. — Gordon DeVos, Medford