Blurry days for film
Re "The dog days of moviedom," March 30
If movies are so bad, how come we are watching them at home, lining our queues with what we want to watch? I think not.
The experience of "going to the movies" is just too expensive, lacks value and hence becomes a special occasion only. For instance, last weekend I took my daughter to see "Beastly" for her birthday. The kid ticket cost $9 and a small popcorn and a drink cost $10. When so many folks are spending no more than $5 on lunch or dinner off a value menu, I fail to understand how the movie industry doesn't get that you can't drive frequency with a lack of perceived value.
We will see all those movies, good or bad, but it will be through Netflix, movies on demand or Redbox, and at home.
A couple attending a movie theater with ticket prices, snacks and parking can spend $30 to $50. The theaters feature loud, long, jackhammer-edited previews of coming attractions. Patrons endure seat kicking, telephoning, viewer talking and out-of-focus screens. The mostly R-rated films increasingly "star" vulgarity, endless profanity, sexuality and graphic violence, often in massive, glorious 3-D.
Film attendance is "slumping"? Duh!
Proposition 13 and state's deficit
Re "Consider a few other issues while hollering about taxes," Column, March 27
It was entertaining to read Steve Lopez's latest liberal angst. He provides no recommendations for budget cuts and instead desperately tries to justify higher taxes.
The reason many of us will vote against extending taxes, if they ever get on the ballot, is that the Legislature needs to finally live within its means. The Legislature, dominated by Democrats, has shown that it cannot be trusted to stop spending by itself.
It is better to say no on taxes, even if that shuts down the state, to force the Legislature to do its job. We could then vote to reestablish and increase taxes for programs that are necessary.
Del Mar, Calif.
On the revenue side, I agree with Lopez that Proposition 13 and the required two-thirds vote for any tax increase are two of the primary reasons for the fiscal mess.
On the expense side, Lopez has to agree that the costs of services to illegal immigrants, not to mention the costs of delivering their children, add substantially to the state's fiscal problem.
Those elderly U.S. citizens Lopez says contribute greatly to the deficit deserve the benefits they receive because they contributed to the system when they were working. Many of the illegal immigrants did not contribute.
I agree with economist Chris Thornberg: Blow up Proposition 13 and pass a majority 51% vote to increase taxes.
My wife and I are still stupefied by the inequities that Proposition 13 has created. In our own property taxes, we enjoy the "benefit" of having owned our house since 1975.
Yes, with an adjustment to spread property taxes more evenly, we would have to do some belt tightening. But, in the name of fairness, we are willing to pay more of our fair share. We also favor extending the temporary tax increases to help reduce the budget deficit. It's also time to get rid of the tax giveaways that favor the wealthiest among us.
We all need to start thinking more about others than almost exclusively about ourselves. If we move in that direction, perhaps we can cleanse ourselves of the toxic atmosphere we have created.
Robert C. Lutes
Proposition 13 has one provision that should remain: the limit on tax increases for individual homeowners. Dropping that will only increase the number of homeless and discombobulate the retirement planning of countless others. The additional money must come from commercial properties and those fortunate enough to own multiple homes.
Leave the one item in Proposition 13 with merit alone. Those of us who have benefited from it will be gone soon enough, and those blessed with good-paying jobs can move in.
Nurses and medical costs
Re "Patients are their practice," March 29
Describing nurse practitioners as doing many things that doctors do but for less money is an insult to nurse practitioners and doctors both. Nurse practitioners are limited to working within a defined scope of practice with standardized procedures to follow; they may handle most routine cases within their area of expertise. However, complex and emergency cases must be referred to a physician.
In looking at the cost-benefit of nurse practitioners, the cost of the physician assigned to work with the nurse must be factored in. Also, in systems that use both nurse practitioners and primary care physicians, the nurses typically have smaller panels of patients, so their lower salaries also reflect that.
Nurse practitioners clearly have a role to play, but they are not like cheaper doctors.
Michael E. Mahler, MD
Young doctors frequently avoid primary care because, burdened with huge debts from medical school, they aim for more lucrative specialties such as radiology, dermatology and gastroenterology.
I suggest that the federal government offer to pay off medical school debts in exchange for postgraduate training in one of the primary-care fields (family medicine, general internal medicine or general pediatrics) followed by practice in that discipline.
Harold N. Bass, MD
The hidden cost of popcorn
Re "A tub of calories," Editorial, March 28
Everyone knows exactly how and when President Obama should bring Moammar Kadafi down. Of course my solution is the right one.
We must supply Kadafi with an abundance of irresistible movie popcorn and watch him quickly self-destruct.
"We're no fans of the nanny state." Such a line has no business in a Times editorial; it clearly belongs in the funny pages.
Re "The collapse of Detroit," Opinion, March 27
As a child in the 1950s, I lived in southeastern Michigan and frequently visited Detroit. There were visits to Hudson's Department store at Christmas to spend hours marveling at the model train layouts. There were adventures to Belle Isle in the vibrant Detroit River for picnics.
Last summer, I visited Detroit and drove past the home that was visited so often so long ago in happier times. The house still stands and is in reasonably good condition, but the neighborhood resembles a war zone. There are fire-gutted houses on the street, trashed houses with all of the windows broken and roofs caved in, and vacant lots. Tour books list Belle Isle but warn readers that it is not recommended to visit at night. I didn't stop to shop or have lunch.
Is Detroit an indicator of where the U.S. is headed?
Charles L. Hand
Re "Bonds' ex-mistress testifies," March 29
I couldn't help laughing while reading this, but it's really not funny. It seems that the sanctity of marriage is under attack, but not from the gay population, and not only from the more obvious transgressors such as Barry Bonds.
We usually give a wink and a shrug when reading about the antics of our hero athletes and movie stars, but as this behavior becomes endemic in our culture we witness the institution of marriage becoming fragile and trivial. There seems to be little concern over things like divorce, adultery, living together unmarried and untold single parents who often require welfare to raise their children.
This assault on marriage and family values is strictly the doing of us heterosexuals and has nothing to do with gays or gay marriage.
Bet the house
Re "Efforts to legalize online poker gaining steam," March 26
How convenient online poker would be. A person could lose his house without ever leaving it.