To the editor: Steve Lopez correctly cites the slow physical decline of John Marshall High School in Los Feliz as a microcosm of the nation's crumbling infrastructure. ("Why throw money at defense when everything is falling down around us?," June 6)
This is simply history repeating itself. Throughout recorded history, dominant societies have gone through cycles in which they decline after their peak influence and go on to play much smaller roles on the global stage.
What Lopez describes is part of the decline of the American empire. Other signs include a divided and dysfunctional political establishment and the inability of our military to adequately police our global empire.
Past empires weren't able to stop their declines, but perhaps we will be the first in history to stage a turnaround. If it is any consolation to Lopez, he should know that other previously dominant societies are still trying to repair their infrastructure.
These things take time to correct.
Ed Hieshetter, San Diego
To the editor: Lopez has given us a false choice between defense spending and infrastructure spending.
Everyone agrees that our infrastructure is doing poorly. But we should look into the various mechanisms already enacted to address that issue, including the gargantuan $800-billion stimulus sold to the American people by President Obama in 2009, largely on his assertion that "we'll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges." Less than 10% of the money found its way to such infrastructure projects.
Now, rather than decide which is more important — defending our country or fixing our roads — why not look at what has happened to money we already granted to our government to fulfill its impressive political promises?
Dave Mulnard, Newport Beach
To the editor: I agree with Lopez.
The United States has about 40,000 troops in Germany alone. The need for our troops in Western Europe ended long ago.
We are better off spending that money on schools, roads and other domestic needs.
Michael Pollak, Los Angeles