Taking aim at wolves
Re "Anti-wolf pack is ready to hunt," April 25
The political pandering by Congress in removing wolves from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana is yet another act of hubris in the ongoing man versus nature battle.
Elk hunter and head of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition Ron Gillett's characterization of the wolves as "Canadian" is laughable in its attempt to make this debate about some kind of invasion of wolves across geographic boundaries. His real motivation is his own financial self-interest in having hunters come to his property to shoot the same elk that he so disdainfully indicts the wolves for killing to stay alive themselves.
The hypocrisy displayed by people like Gillett is both laughable and disgusting.
I read this article with interest and dismay. Gillett seems to miss the point that wolves are hunters and predators by nature. Unlike Gillett, wolves must hunt to survive; they have no choice.
Wolves are remarkable and beautiful animals and have every right to share this planet with people. What right does anyone have to eliminate them?
Suzanne E. Feighery
I can only laugh painfully at Gillett calling wolves "the most cruel, vicious predators in North America" without seemingly the slightest recognition at the irony of such a statement made as he eagerly anticipates slaughtering them.
What taxpayers are saying
Re "Voters want tax plan to go on the ballot," Times/USC Dornsife poll, April 24
The Times makes it sound as if there are only two options for dealing with California's budget deficit, when there are other ways to solve this problem other than cutting spending or increasing taxes.
One way is to develop new revenue sources by what we call the old-fashioned way: Earn it. There are many ways the state can bring in additional revenue. With all the brilliant people in state government, agencies and our universities, surely we can come up with innovative ideas by providing new or improved services for the benefit of all taxpayers.
Most of us don't back tax hikes. There is sufficient money, but it's being managed so poorly that we have big deficits. I, for one, back proper management of our money.
How about forcing the folks in Sacramento (and every city hall within the state) to live within their means and spend wisely? How about rewarding people and departments that get their jobs done under budget?
Granted, this is not just a public sector problem, but it sure is more rampant without oversight.
Because our legislators are stuck in gridlock in their budget negotiations, it only makes sense to let the voters make their own decision.
Should there be spending cuts? Yes. Should the existing taxes be extended? Yes as well.
Why not let us decide? We're the ones suffering the consequences no matter which way the decision goes.
Summing up Gov. Jerry Brown's argument: "Vote yes on my tax increases for police, fire and schools, or there will only be enough money for carpool lanes, bullet trains to nowhere and giant public employee pensions."
An expensive defense
Re "Defending a bad law," Editorial, April 21
Your editorial misses an important objection to the House Republican's decision to hire former Solicitor Gen. Paul D. Clement to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
The House majority has the right to defend this discriminatory law. But Clement is not simply one of the nation's leading attorneys; he is also one of the most expensive. The American taxpayer will pay Clement's firm $520 an hour to defend a law that belongs in the dustbin of history.
If the GOP really cares about fiscal responsibility, it should fire Clement.
The Times argues that, as with any person, DOMA deserves the best possible defense. This sounds reasonable, but there are important differences between defending a person and defending a law.
A person convicted of a crime may be fined or imprisoned and stigmatized for a very long time. Time served cannot be regained. In contrast, a law overturned suffers no harm. It can be modified and reinstated as lawmakers determine.
It is good for an obviously bad law to go undefended; in fact, it is a mark of a mature society.
Re "Candid cronyism," Editorial, April 21
The only thing that is worse than the sentence reduction for Esteban Nuñez, the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, is that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has no moral reservations and defends himself by saying that "of course you help a friend."
This blatant abuse of his power as governor (a power he refused to wield for more deserving inmates) will probably never earn him a nomination for a "Profiles in Courage" award. Shame on you, governor. And now you defend your action?
Re "Man's life insurance policy is coming to a dead end," Business, April 22
I am facing a similar situation to Philip Mendel's, whose monthly life insurance premiums will rise from $25 to $510.
I have a $500,000 term life insurance policy that my now ex-husband and I purchased in 1997. It was scheduled to end sometime in the 2020s, and the premium has been $233.20 every quarter.
I have recently received notice that my new premium will be $2,745.40. The policy, a safeguard against potential loss of spousal support, will have to expire because I cannot afford the premiums.
There should be plain-English statements of premium change dates on such policies that the purchaser must acknowledge so that they will not be caught unaware. Healthy competition and empowered consumers would be the result.
North to South
Re "Should we feed North Korea?," Opinion, April 21
It is truly remarkable that the North Korean government is concerned that many of its people face starvation if they do not receive food aid at once. Joining in this humanitarian concern, we should make every effort to assist those truly in need — but ensure that only those truly needy, and not the military or political elite, receive the food.
Let's send whatever goods are needed to South Korea with the understanding that anyone from North Korea who is hungry has to be allowed to travel to the South to get the goods they need.
To make sure everyone takes only what they need, the needy must be allowed to bring any and all family members with them to prove that they are the intended recipients of the food.
Surely the North Korean government will trust everyone to return, just like they want us to trust that the food would only be used to help the starving.
Paying the piper
Re "S&P should avoid political soothsaying," Business, April 24
Michael Hiltzik has it all wrong. The Standard & Poor's warning on the U.S. debt is not about politics; it is a warning to be taken very seriously.
We cannot continue to overspend and borrow. The United States, like any other debtor, must eventually pay the piper, which will not be pretty unless we change our ways now. Our dollar will be further devalued, our stance in the world will be further lowered and, worst of all, our children and grandchildren will have a sharply reduced standard of living.
Mark E. Buchman