Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2003

Legislators really do not want to hear from public on budget cuts

Rep. Mike Chenault's article on budget cuts deserves an answer.

I saw your article in the Clarion about budget cuts. I don't think the Legislature really wants any public input on budget cuts. The only people who get the ear of the Legislature are the lobbyists for special interest groups.

The governor is essentially proposing many cuts in areas that various special interests want cut because they have an ax to grind with a particular department or program.

I am a retired associate professor of computer information systems. Before entering teaching, I was a computer systems professional. I know of what I speak when I propose a plan for orderly downsizing.

For the last 10 years I have presented an overview of an honest orderly downsizing plan for state government and state-funded programs

to every House leader and every finance chairperson. I explained how and why government bureaucracy grew. I explained a process for a professional systems study. I tried my best as a professional, but I could tell the horses where the water is and how to drink, but I could not make them drink.

I even pointed out some specifics. For example: there is no way to justify 52 separate school districts in Alaska. If we cut down to eight, we would cut out 44 superintendents and support people. In 1988, I presented a 10-page outline to Sen. Paul Fischer (then chair of the Senate Health, Education and Social Services Committee) on how to cut up to $35 millions from the University of Alaska budget. Of course, nothing happened.

Why has nothing been done? Cutting takes courage -- something notably lacking in legislators worried about the next election. You have

to tell people "No." As long as there was (is) money in the Constitutional Budget Reserve, no honest cuts will be made. (Agencies and programs special interest money groups want gone -- such as loggers and the Habitat division -- will be cut.) All of you hope to put off the pain until the next guy's watch.

So, excuse me, if I do not take your call for where to cut seriously.

William J. Phillips

Kenai

Protesters need to remember military keeps U.S. free country

Just a quick note to say that those protesters at the "Y" in Soldotna wouldn't be able to stand there and protest the war if it wasn't for our military keeping this a free country.

I personally think they should leave town and move to Canada or France.

Shawn Nelson

Soldotna

Those against war need to come up with better slogans on their signs

There seems to be a bit of hypocrisy going on in this country which is shrouded under the slogan of "peace." I have no issue with citizens who

want to protest for this is a freedom that we hold precious as Americans.

It is disturbing to look at some of the signs that people wave -- "Bush the new Hitler," "Justice for Saddam" and "No Blood for Oil" to just name a few.

I believe the majority of the people who carry

signs of this nature are protesting George Bush, content with prolonged inhumane treatment of the Iraqi people and far from professing anything close to "peace." I get the feeling that they are not bothered by the violent treatment of human beings in a far away place -- that is, until it comes to roost upon their doorstep. One day in the future it most certainly will and then they will protest that Bush is a failure for not being proactive enough during his tenure in office.

It would be interesting to know how many of these protesters for "peace" actually understand the complex history that has brought America to this point.

If there is one common denominator here it is that the world would like to contain Saddam Hussein. It is not desirable for any administration to go to war, especially without a United Nations-represented coalition; however, after Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration walked away from "containment" as a policy dealing with Saddam.

World leaders have developed differing opinions (some influenced by special interests) about how and if Saddam can be contained. Most know he has weapons and that those weapons create a threat to humanity. I think they would all like to see him go, but some wanted to to see him go peacefully and others had no faith in the diplomatic process when it came to Saddam and his Baath party.

We are at war, whether we agree with it or not. History will tell the story. The United States, Britain and, hopefully, others (when it becomes popular to do so) will have to work to help rebuild Iraq and establish a tribal government representative of Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. Neighboring Arab nations may pick up some democracy out of this engagement and reform their own governments to rid them of violent rogue factions that breed terrorism. Israel will have to loosen its policy of occupation and retaliation and start a policy of recognition and compromise.

Let's get real, protesters. Bush is no Hitler. Instead of holding these foolish slogans that incite ignorance, do something productive and challenging -- write an intelligent alternative to war on that sign!

Ben Praker

Sterling

Anti-war protesters accomplish nothing by holding their signs

I don't know of another incident that has bothered me more than seeing my fellow Alaskans holding picket signs protesting the war in Iraq. Forever entrenched in my mind are the pictures of those planes crashing into the world trade center towers in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. How grateful I was that we finally had a president who would actually fight to protect our country instead of acting helpless like the previous administration.

To hear President Bush say we are going to fight terrorism around the world was some of the most positive and best news I ever heard. To hear Saddam Hussein offer $25,000 to each family that lost members in suicide bombings to Israel is a direct example of terrorism and reason enough for me to justify our presence in Iraq, let alone the countless documented cases of how he has tortured his own people. I personally would have resumed bombing Iraq the day after the weapons inspectors were kicked out.

To those of you carrying the "Buy books not bombs" signs, if the al-Qaida terrorist network shows up here in Alaska you out to be too ashamed to have our military defend you. Perhaps you ought to throw one of your books at them! Do you actually think standing along our streets in free America holding such a ridiculous sign is doing any of us any good? If this behavior is what being educated is all about, perhaps we already have too many books! For those of you who are educated enough to know how to read, look up the facts, documented facts, on Saddam Hussein and all the thousands of people he and his thugs have killed in the past 35 years.

Perhaps Pastor Dean Nichols hit the nail on the head during his prayer at the archery banquet that was held at John's Bow Shop on March 23: "This is not about whether you are in favor of it, we are already there, now you support our troops and pray for their safety."

And, yes, if you are too lacking in common sense to understand this -- they are fighting for all of our safety.

A relative of mine in Wisconsin heard that the guard unit from a neighboring community was called up to Iraq last week. He went to the bother of finding out the route they were traveling and he took his grandson, and they, too, stood along the road holding up something for the troops to see. Those troops were all leaving their loved ones to go fight in the war. And there beside the road the two of them stood holding a huge American flag letting those troops know that they were being respected and appreciated for making the sacrifices they were making.

The next time you people have nothing to do but stand along the road impersonating a post, let me suggest a few alternative things where your time actually would do some good for our community: Go to the hospital and visit with our sick or elderly, educate yourself so you understand why we are in Iraq, go help your neighbor do something. Anything constructive would be better than standing along a road doing absolutely nothing!

Do you actually think this does anything at all for the war in Iraq? What do you think would happen to protesters under Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, or Saddam in Iraq? Do you have any idea what the term "freedom" means to all of us here in America?

I would personally like to thank all the veterans here in Alaska who have fought for our freedom or are currently in the armed forces. A very special thanks to Ed Martin who always seems to tell it like it is. Another personal friend and veteran in our area is Joe Jurco who served in Vietnam and is currently home recovering from leg surgery. Let these people know you appreciate their sacrifices they made in fighting for our freedom.

As for my family and I, we will pray for our soldiers and support our troops and fellow Americans in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and throughout the world.

John Perkovich

Soldotna



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