Kudos to The Times
Re "Times awarded Pulitzers for public service, photography," April 19
Huge applause to your paper in winning the public service Pulitzer Prize for exposing widespread corruption in the city of Bell's government. Kudos also should be given for your reports on the competency of our teachers, despite a threatened boycott by their unions and your paper's liberal reputation.
Perhaps the pronouncement of the death of the print media is exaggerated. Keep up the good work.
John T. Chiu
I have read the Los Angeles Times for more than 50 years. I love the paper and Los Angeles. I am delighted to see that your writers (and the paper) have been awarded two additional Pulitzer Prizes.
There is much more to investigate. Keep it up.
Kudos to The Times for its coverage of the Bell scandal. I knew that a Pulitzer was an absolute certainty for this story as it unfolded.
However, news of this award and the photography award deserved above-the-fold placement on the front page. With the Internet chomping at the heels of the print media, The Times deserves to blow its own horn.
On the deficit, let's make a deal
Re "Stakes huge in wrangle over deficit," April 17
How we deal with the deficit will not be the plan President Obama put forth, nor will it be the one Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) drafted. It will be somewhere in between; in other words, a compromise.
Over the last several years some politicians and political pundits have wanted us to believe that compromise is a bad thing; they equate it with weakness and failure. They are wrong. Compromise is the only way that equitable solutions can be found. Without a compromise on deficit reduction, the problems will continue. Those who will not compromise condemn us to failure.
It will be interesting to see which party and which politicians will follow the time-honored American value of compromise, and which party and which politicians will not.
The battle royal developing over the deficit may have created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to overhaul our income tax system.
The present individual income tax should be replaced with a system of consumption taxation, in which every individual pays a tax on all expenditures (goods and services), with exemptions for major staples such as groceries.
To alleviate this system's regressive effect, lower-income individuals would be refunded periodically a certain amount of the consumption tax paid based on tax reports filed with the IRS. The penalty for filing fraudulent reports could be set very high by Congress to discourage higher-income individuals from filing fraudulent reports.
This system would catch in its vast net everyone, as underreporting of income would be mostly eliminated. Congress would set the appropriate tax rate to balance the budget and pay off our huge debt over time.
A down-to-Earth job for NASA
Re "62 mpg by 2025," Opinion, April 15
Dan Becker and James Gerstenzang write, "This is auto mechanics, not rocket science." True, but perhaps it should be.
Lately, I've been harboring the thought that NASA's vast intellectual resources would be best put to use on projects more relevant to humanity than, say, putting a man on Mars.
Perhaps a chunk of NASA's budget could be used to help fund a program to design a clean, affordable vehicle that achieves or exceeds the 62-mile-per-gallon goal; this new technology could be licensed to the auto industry. The revenue gained could help fund NASA's other projects.
I'm sure there are many legal reasons this would be difficult to do, but the survival of the planet is at stake. Bold steps need to be taken to prevent a looming disaster.
This is a welcome conversation, given our daily encounters with copious unnecessary lights blinding us after dark and dodging behemoth vehicles in parking lots.
An intervention I remember from the 1970s was enforcement of a national 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. Lower speeds must have saved much oil and checked our carbon footprint. Let's try again to use some simple interventions to accompany our technical advances. We'll be able to live healthier and longer lives.
Don't bet on S&P's ratings
Re "S&P's warning to Uncle Sam," Editorial, April 19
I enjoyed reading your editorial on Standard & Poor's warning about how dangerous our national debt is. The warning sent investors into a panic.
Forgive me, but isn't this the same S&P that gave top ratings to many of the speculative traders and mortgage lenders just a few years ago? It turns out that its ratings proved to be worthless and helped cause the collapse of the middle class and the economic problems we face in our country today.
Before the United States government defaults on its debt, which seems increasingly likely because of the intractable politics involved in trying to cure the deficit problem, we should consider a return to the gold standard.
Such an action would cause an immediate recession, but it would cure the problem of a fiat currency once and for all.
The new standard need not include only gold. It could include silver and platinum. This action would go a long way toward saving the U.S. from eventual default.
Heed the S&P warning. It describes early signs of intractability, something that helped lead to the Depression.
Re "Summer airfares are poised to take off," April 18
There is no reason for passengers to whine about airlines' ticket prices. They are still getting a bargain compared with the prices of years ago.
In the 1950s, a flight between New York and Europe took twice as long as it does today, with one or two fuel stops on the way. For a roundtrip ticket, the passenger could expect to pay roughly what a well-paid worker earned in an entire month.
Today, the trip is nonstop and takes less than half the time (about eight hours), and the ticket price is now only about what many people earn in a single week.
Re "Police make presence felt at Dodger Stadium," April 15
I was at the game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night, and the atmosphere was very heavy.
Things felt different, but they have for a while. Dodger Stadium feels tainted, and its innocence seems to be missing.
The only word I can come up with for what the thugs did to San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow is heartbreaking. That was very much in the air last week.
Re "Gray wolves take hit in budget bill," April 16
Shame on Congress for removing gray wolves from the endangered species list.
I guess the George W. Bush policy of politics trumping science lives on.
Question: How much money was saved and how many jobs were created by this abominable action?
Edward S. Pope