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I read in the Friday, Dec. 23 paper a letter from a gentleman who in response to the Occupy movement echoed some key thoughts of Ayn Rand, author of the conservative tome "Atlas Shrugged." Namely, that self-interest is the key motivating force of capitalism, not self-sacrifice.

In my youth, I was a devotee of "Atlas Shrugged." It reduced people to simple terms: producers and moochers. But later, I learned that life is not so black and white, with self-interested capitalism on one side and wealth-confiscating socialism on the other.

Life is a thing where good men are laid off for no good reason. Where good families sleep in their cars in December.

Self-interest devoid of concern for our fellow man ... well, it may have sounded good on paper when I was a kid. It may have made the world seem a simpler place to a young person about to set sail, but Dickens showed us a stark world of black and white through the eyes of a fellow who had a dream and woke a changed man.

May 2012 be the year we all learn to see in shades of gray. God bless us, everyone. — Leslie Morgan, Medford

What alarmist dribble your opinion piece was concerning global warming on Dec. 13; "U.S. fiddles around while global warming worsens."

Doing nothing about greenhouse gases is what is needed now; anything else, a waste. No one disputes we are in a warming phase of the climate cycle. We are always in a climate cycle and have been for innumerable eons. The current warming cycle began back around 1850 and is 99 percent caused by variation in the energy output of our sun.

Yes, we should take actions to protect against the global warming effects. It has the potential to cause great disruptions to human activity; the food supply, for one. And sure, switch to more energy-efficient transportation; we will all breathe better and maybe save money, too.

But don't be fooled: If all the cars in the world were to be turned off tomorrow it would have no effect on the climate of the Earth. Thankfully, the world leaders are coming to realize this truth. — Everett Wilkins, Medford

We just read Claudia Maxison's timely letter on the plight of the great small business, "Nice and Easy" which has so successfully gardened for years at Harry and David's show garden and that Beth and John Hallett should be paid the $34,000 owed them as Harry and David survives the bankruptcy and the Rogue Valley keeps buying their good products.

Many of us will be watching to see if this debt is paid to this small local business who kept their roses and corporate landscaping looking "first class." Let's do the right thing, Harry & David, and we'll all keep buying your products.

Happy Holidays! — John and Kathy Gorham, Jacksonville