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Bush wants Americans insured

Re: the Sept. 22 editorial "Compromise bill to insure kids deserves to pass."

President Bush strongly supports the State Children's Health Insurance Program to help children whose families cannot afford private health insurance but do not qualify for Medicaid. Since February, he has been calling for a 20 percent increase in funding for the program.

Unfortunately, some in Congress want to expand this important safety net far beyond its purpose. Their plan would encourage middle-class families, to move their children from private health insurance to this public assistance program.

We have a better idea. First, let's find and enroll the 900,000 kids already eligible for SCHIP that haven't signed up. Then let's make health insurance more affordable for all Americans. For starters, President Bush wants to give every American family a $15,000 tax break for purchasing health insurance. According to the Lewin Group the president's plan would allow 20 million more Americans to obtain health insurance.

The administration is committed to working with Congress to renew the SCHIP program for the truly needy and make health coverage more affordable and available to all Americans.

Tevi D. Troy

Deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.

Portland is not all that great

Re: the Sept. 28 column "Portland trumpeted; no fanfare for Tucson."

Thank you, Ernesto Portillo Jr., for the rational discussion of Portland, Ore., the apparent pride of the Pacific Northwest now that Seattle's dreadful traffic problems seem to have knocked it off some folks' lists.

I've been to Portland many times and went on the best possible basis: an expense account. I've eaten in those restaurants, the best of them, stayed in nice hotels and enjoyed the city very much, but it's no panacea. The weather, except for the roughly three months of summer, is miserably depressing. The light rail is very nice and reasonably handy for the people who find it goes where they want it to. Portland is called The Rose City because of the seeming preponderance of that particular flower. And, heaven only knows, they get plenty of rain.

Tucson is not Portland, and just as importantly, Portland is not Tucson. Portillo is right. The grass is greener there, because it rains all the time.

Don Pelley

Tucson

Video games are like drugs

Re: the Sept. 25 article "Halo 3 a must have."

I have never played a video game, but I have watched friends and their kids play them. I recently was around when a friend "sentenced" a kid to no gaming for a week for some infraction. The way the kid carried on you would think he would have preferred a bloody beating to a week without video games. It was ugly.

I cannot see the difference between their gaming and someone doing hard drugs. They have a hard time stopping, and think and talk about playing an awful lot. Oftentimes they stay up way way too late playing, which affects their real-life performance the following day.

It seems to me there is not all that much difference between video games and meth. Gaming won't rot your teeth and make you look old before your time, but still wastes your life with nothing to show for the time and money spent.

Bob Enyeart

Sales, Tucson

Pity for future documentarians

Re: the Sept. 22 article "Burns' 'War' gives inside look at WWII."

You can't help but feel sorry for whoever is the Ken Burns for our wars in the Middle East. Imagine the problem of mentioning all of the 150-plus ethnic backgrounds of the troops.

However, Congress will no doubt pass laws on how many lines of type will be in the books for each ethnic group, and how many seconds of film will be shown for each ethnic group in the documentaries.

Bud W. Simons Jr.

Tucson

Trash fee should be based on volume

Re: the Sept. 26 letter to the editor "Make trash fee a progressive tax."

The letter writer identifies a serious structural problem with Tucson's garbage tax, but he proposes a solution even more negative than the present system. Both the current $14 per month fee and the supplemental income tax the author proposes have no relationship to the actual services rendered by the city's collection of garbage.

Garbage collection differs from police and fire protection because it is a service where each household receives an explicit and measurable benefit.

The city could reasonably bill households for the volume of trash it collects from each. Households that produce the most would pay the most, and those that produce no garbage for the city to collect would owe no money.

This "pay as you throw" billing method would allow individual households the freedom to choose whether to use the city's garbage collection service or have their waste hauled away by a private company.

Charging households by their use is the most fair and free way for Tucson to pay for its garbage collection.

Ted Wells

Ronald Reagan fellow, The Goldwater Institute, Phoenix

Community could take over El Con

Re: the Sept. 23 article "Deserted core of El Con Mall may be razed," and the Sept. 25 editorial "El Con Mall needs to return to its roots."

Thanks to the Star for the article and editorial about El Con Mall. The fundamental problem with El Con is the lack of creativity and vision by the Kivel and Papanikolas families. They allowed Park Place to languish and decay. The same is true for El Con, until they brought us In-N-Out Burger and other stores in a strip-mall configuration.

If they continue to own and develop El Con, it will become more of the same; a testimony to mediocre vision with no creativity.

An alternative would be to form a coalition of business leaders, citizens, elected officials and community activists coupled with grant funds to initiate a campaign to purchase the property. This could transform El Con into a community-owned center that would couple retail outlets with community facilities.

I understand the cynicism with this type of idea, but why not start thinking outside the big box?

Richard N. Wood

Research analyst and statistician, Tucson

How are we paying for Iraq?

Re: the Sept. 27 article "Bush seeks a total of $189B for Iraq, Afghan wars in '08."

President Bush wants $189 billion more for Iraq. Regardless of one's view on the invasion of Iraq and the catastrophe this created, one thing is crystal clear: No one has explained how we are going to pay.

We will soon reach $500 billion spent on Iraq alone and will surpass $1 trillion with a continued presence, replacement of devastated military equipment, wasted billions in no-bid contracts and unaccounted-for monies, and lifelong care for our wounded soldiers.

How are we going to fund education, science, national parks, or create a real energy plan, keep our food safe, modernize our infrastructure, secure our borders and ports, or resolve our health care issues?

The president, presidential candidates and Congress must tell Americans how we are going to pay for Iraq and its long-lasting, disastrous consequences without running our country and resources into ruin.

Kathy Krucker

Retired teacher, Tucson