I am proud to be a Californian and an American. Since this state was born, we have overcome all sorts of catastrophes and natural disasters. We now face one of the worst ever. But it is heartening to see Californians come together, from the little kids who donate their pennies to the giant stores and corporations that have donated truckloads of food, clothing and supplies, even toothbrushes, to those who were displaced or lost their homes.
Forget politics, forget ethnic, racial and social differences. We stand strong as Californians. Out of the ashes, sorrow and despair will grow an even greater and more beautiful California. Let's preserve that spirit.
Michael Ramirez's Nov. 1 cartoon leads the charge against environmentalism as being a factor in these unfortunate fires. Simplistic viewpoints are quick to inflame, whereas a thoughtful perspective takes time, research and critical thinking.
As a departure point, does anyone really think that a thorough and deliberate process of constructive forest thinning has been a priority for commercial logging interests? It is doubtful, but the nuance born of realistic doubt doesn't readily flow from Ramirez's otherwise skillful pen.
Re "Little of Tax Hike Goes to Fight Fires," Nov. 1: Your report on the diversion of taxes collected under Proposition 172 should have been a surprise to no one. We voted to strengthen firefighting resources; the state Legislature and governor knew better, and our intentions counted for little.
Just the day before, you gave favorable coverage to those using the car tax to "benefit firefighters." Sacramento's entrenched politicians are just trying (again) to take advantage of our natural sympathy for fire victims to capture the proceeds of another tax.
Gary R. Albin
Re "Watching the Car Tax at Work on Fire Lines," Oct. 31: Various pundits suggest that California keep its car tax to fund firefighting. It's been a traumatic time, but we should avoid knee-jerk reactions. Steve Lopez, et al, should be calling for a tax on developments in fire-prone areas. Why gouge car owners to fund nonautomobile problems? Perhaps there should be an annual surcharge on every house built in dangerous areas. Create a firefighting superfund from which money could be drawn in such an emergency.
I am stunned by the fires that have swept our communities. I am in awe at the brave men and women who have stepped forward to risk their lives to protect our homes and properties.
It will be a very humble taxpayer who will write out his next check for the car tax that pays for these fire, police and emergency services.
Am I the only one who finds it amazing that the Bush administration can find $87 billion for Iraq but rejected an appeal for $430 million to prevent brush fires in California (Oct. 31)? And now President Bush is coming here to inspect the damage that could have been avoided. I hope that Californians will remember this when they vote next November.
Patricia L. Moore