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Congress is debating whether to extend or cease unemployment benefits.

Many believe that continuous benefits serves to discourage people from moving on. Cutting them off completely seems to be overly harsh.

I suggested to our senator recently that the unemployment program should have a defined period of support and a "weaning" period. An example would be that after the defined period is over, the next monthly payment would be at 75 percent, one month at 50 percent and so on until the payment ceases. If participants in the program knew, with certainty, what was going to happen they would be able to plan better and be better prepared to move off the program. We might even use some of the money saved to rebuild the economy and provide more jobs. — Myron Hauser, Central Point

The nation's debt crisis stems from the obscene amount of money and power concentrated in the hands of a few, who use it to further enrich themselves through needless wars, tax cuts, offshore tax havens, deregulation, Wall Street larceny, bailouts, corporate subsidies and the shipping of entire job sectors abroad. These are the entitlements destroying America, not Social Security, Medicare or even "Obamacare." It's an under-regulated free market run amok.

The budget could easily be balanced by raising taxes and reining in the military-industrial complex, but plutocrats and their tea party minions insist we do it on the backs of the poor and elderly, or "moochers" as they call them. Republicans made avarice an ideology after being taken over by admirers of Ayn Rand, the notorious Russian atheist who founded Objectivism — a cult devoted to greed.

During the '50s, '60s and '70s, the top tax rate was more than double what it is today. The nation prospered, education was affordable and we had a well-maintained infrastructure. Call me a commie, but we should go back to what works. Social justice: Jesus and the Pope love it; Limbaugh and Fox "News" hate it. Let's choose love. — Michael Steely, Medford

I sincerely hope the negotiations are settled soon and the district sees how harmful they are being to the community.

The latest article showed that the district's hardball tactics are more suitable for the business world — Dr. Long wanting to hire in a bunch of new teachers for half the price of experienced ones. The district seems to hope that by insulting the current experienced teachers by taking their retirement benefits away, and giving them a .78 percent pay increase, they will leave and make way for a new wave of inexpensive teachers.

In the business world, this might work. However, filling our schools with semi-qualified but enthusiastic brand-new teachers willing to work for Walmart wages is a strategy that will produce less educated citizens.

Poor education is statistically related to increased poverty, increased crime, more problems with gangs and all the associated problems and public costs to remedy those. Medford citizens, if you think screwing over the experienced teachers will save you a few tax dollars, you haven't seen the final bill. — Margaret Obermeyer, Ashland

Instead of building a police station or working on our roads, I suggest working on the schools and make them so they are earthquake-proof and safer for the students so their parents do not worry about them. Look at it this way: Schools are not as out of harm's way as they say they are. And this way schools might become a little bit safer. All we can do is try to better our schools, and the money we spend would be for a good cause.

I think lots of people would agree with me. And maybe others have more good thoughts that they might like to add on with what I am trying to say. They should write some of their thoughts down and mail them into the newspaper so we know how our tax money is being spent. — Keith Harvey, Central Point