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Our readers speak out

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Money better spent on people, not war Bush's invasion of Iraq is winding down and no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have been found. His original rationalization for his invasion was because Iraq had WMDs. As the United Nations and most of the rest of the world recognized, he was blowing smoke. Now that no WMDs have been found, what will Bush say? Oops! Sorry about all the dead "folks" and the $100 billion wasted?

Think about that $100 billion - each citizen's share of the bill is about $400, or about $2,000 for a typical family - with Montana's portion about $400 million. Compare that to the current state revenue shortage. Wouldn't it have been better if this money had been handed to Montana and the remainder to the other states having revenue shortages?

If the war was only about taking Saddam out — surely it could have been contracted out at a lower cost in lives and dollars.

Sid Neff

Billings

Loving God means caring for his creation I have a question for Dean Anderson (letter April 25). Does he believe everything he reads or just his idol, "Berliner"? Anyway, I think Anderson and he have it all wrong. The environmentalists are the scientists who will save this planet. People like Anderson are the parasites of this world; use up all the natural resources until there is nothing left (Berliner's motto), and then, Anderson and Berliner, too, will die because they killed it all. When there is no clean air to breath, no clean water to drink and when the world is a stinking rotten polluted mess, because of ignorant and greedy people, well, what happens then?

How can he claim to love God and not love or take care of what He created? This makes no sense! I will continue to worship God and his wonders of incredible beauty in my own way. "He who hates God's creations and does them harm, also hates God." My quote!

Penny Blair

Powell, Wyo.

Preserving coal trust wise decision for state I would like to thank our state legislators for resisting efforts this session to invade our constitutional Coal Tax Trust Fund.

The Coal Trust is an invaluable financial resource, more so than many might realize. By year's end 2005, the trust will have provided our state with over a billion dollars! That's money that has been and will continue to be deflected from Montana taxpayers.

The trust is beneficial not only to taxpayers but also to many state programs that rely on its funding — programs for communities that need to improve their water and sewer systems and other important water development projects across Montana. The trust also allows us to maintain an excellent bond rating, providing lower loan rates not only for the state but also for schools and small businesses.

Our legislators made the right choice; they left the Coal Trust intact. By doing so, it will continue to serve Montana as it was intended.

Verner Bertelsen,

Co-Chairman

Montanans for the Coal Trust

Helena

Check out cancer charity fund campaigns During a recent two-day fund raiser for a children's cancer treatment and research hospital, promoted by a local radio station, you heard stories from children, and families of children, affected by cancer. You were also told several Montana children have been treated there. Is this several kids a year, or over the 41-year history of this hospital?

This is what I know about kids with cancer in eastern Montana. Several kids a year are diagnosed with different types of cancer. I have been involved with these families since 1994 and have yet to meet a child who has been treated at this facility.

The doctors who diagnose these kids send them to some of the top pediatric hospitals in the country (Denver's Children Hospital; Seattle's Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center; Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; Salt Lake's Primary Children's Medical Center). "Rare" would be a generous word to use for the frequency of one of our kids being treated at their hospital.

Since our kids are not treated there, the families do not receive any assistance with related expenses, as you might have been led to believe.

Research was also part of this fund raiser. Yes, we do benefit from their research, but we have also benefited not only from the research that is done at the hospitals our kids are sent to, but every research facility throughout the world.

If you gave to this fund raiser, strictly for research, you did the right thing. If you gave because you believe our local kids are treated there and families receive financial assistance, you were misled.

The people of this radio station have done many good things for the people of our community. But from the viewpoint of a father of a cancer survivor, this fund raiser does not do locally what it is advertised to do.

Tim Crowley

Billings

Heights needs retail competition Has Wal-Mart done us any favors by moving one of their superstores into the Heights? Not in my opinion. Since their arrival, too many other stores have closed, with Smith's being the latest fatality. Now Heights shoppers have the option between Wal-Mart and Albertsons. Sure doesn't seem like much of a choice to me.

Will we see prices go up now that there is barely any competition left? Will Heights shoppers once again have to go downtown or to the West End to get any decent deals and the quality of food products people should be able to expect?

Since I moved to the Heights 10 years ago, it has grown dramatically. Is it possible that all those people shop at Wal-Mart? I certainly don't have the answer. I guess all I can do is hope that some brave souls will be courageous enough to try and fill the gap that all those closings have created. Otherwise, I am afraid that Wal-Mart will have a monopoly in Billings Heights. And that will be a sad day!

Gabriele Kelly

Billings

Falstad's critique of tax cut off the mark Regarding Jan Falstad's use of the terms wealthy, rich, and well-heeled (April 27 Gazette), I'm a little surprised, that based on my yearly income I'm considered "wealthy."

I'm sure my relatives will laugh when I tell them that because we were able to drive a 10-year-old Ford to a rodeo and share a $35-a-night motel room among four of us, we are "well-heeled."

Some of us thank God every day for our lives and good fortune. We give back to our communities through our church and other charitable organizations. We don't ridicule others based on their income level, although I'm sure that jealousy and class envy are not solely the traits of a newspaper columnist.

If you are drawing the road map for my children's future, then allow me to tell them that they needn't strive to do their best when I drop them at school tomorrow. Instead, I will advise them to aim for mediocrity; someone else will pick up the tab.

I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but I am conservative by the fact that I do not like to be told how I should distribute my income. The last time I checked, redistributing wealth had nothing to do with compassion. I think it is referred to as socialism. Until you are able to completely halt wasteful spending of the tax dollars that are already collected, please don't ask me for any more.

According to the figures from Falstad's column, 113,000 of us "well-heeled" taxpayers are going to share 70 percent of nearly $16 million, or $8.25 per month for each of us. That's hardly a windfall in my estimate. I'd be glad to give that money up, although you'll be disappointed to hear that I'll be the one to decide where it goes.

Larry Suek

Billings

Both parties have blocked nominees In several letters to the Gazette, readers have decried the fact that Democrats won't just give rubber-stamp approval to Bush's efforts to get a judgeship for Miguel Estrada. A letter on April 26 blamed Sen. Baucus.

My how easily — and quickly — the right wing forgets about all the delays and flimflam efforts of the right wing to hold up judgeships during the time Clinton was president.

Talk about holding up judgeships! Talk about litmus tests! The Democrats can't come close to the delays and litmus tests Republicans used during the Clinton years.

Don Edgar Burris

Billings

Rep. Fisher insults dedicated state workers I read Rep. Stan Fisher's statements opposing pay raises for state of Montana employees and I am appalled. Fisher insulted many, many, faithful, hardworking people.

Fisher stated that the Montana Highway Patrol and the Department of Corrections workers were the only state employees who perform at 110 percent. How could he have any facts or knowledge to back up this insult? I wonder how he can possibly know which state employees give what percent? I have worked for the state of Montana for over 20 years and can assure that I give my best every day, as do many, many others. How dare he insult us? Has he forgotten that not only are we state employees, we are taxpaying, voting citizens of the state of Montana? Has he forgotten his promise to represent us?

Furthermore, if Fisher, wants to be introduced to his so-called "big people's world," he should try being a single parent, raising children on state wages that have been frozen for more years than not.

That is the big people's world!

Shame on Fisher He has disappointed state employees throughout the state of Montana.

Diane Grutkowski

Miles City

Voters choose candidate who share their views Everyone believes something. It is unreasonable to expect that a person elected to political office would not be influenced by his beliefs, religious or otherwise. The Bill of Rights forbids the government to establish particular beliefs. It does not forbid beliefs from influencing government. Beliefs have been a part of our government from the beginning. When Thomas Jefferson wrote, "All men are created, " he expressed his belief in a creator.

There are those who believe that a conceived baby is not human, or is human but not a person. Some people believe that a conceived baby is not just in a woman's body but is part of a woman's body. There is no good reason why those beliefs should be the only ones to influence government and the laws of the land.

The question isn't whether or not someone's beliefs should he forced on other people. That is inevitable. The question is which beliefs would we rather have influencing our laws. So we vote for people who believe like we do on issues that are important to us. And we expect them to be faithful to their beliefs.

Arlo Pullmann

Laurel

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