Feds are crushing property owners

Ever wonder why most of those in Washington inexplicably seem to care little about our country's record-setting deficits? Well, here's a gem of a quote I came across that may speak to that: "The way to crush the (property owners) is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation," Vladimir Lenin, 1917. Isn't this what the current proposals coming out of Congress are setting us up for?

Massive new government programs which can only be paid for with huge debt issues and printed money could, in my opinion and that of many economists, eventually cause significant devaluation of our money and necessitate suffocating tax increases.

In the end, that kind of crisis may just lead to the American people handing over the remaining shreds of our self-reliance to those in Washington to "take care" of us.

Whoever said our politicians don't learn from history?

Taylor Davidson

Broker, Tucson

Save ourselves or our trees?

Re: the Dec. 6 article "Burning our forests is the best way to save them."

Scientists and land managers want to keep our forests healthier and save trees by increasing the number of prescribed burns and not immediately extinguishing natural fires.

However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, smoke from forest fires is a significant contributor to air pollution, which causes human health issues due to excessive, unacceptable levels of fine particulates.

So, here's the rub: Whom shall we save? A tree . . . or thee?

Jill Bernett

Author, Tucson

The problem isn't tenure

Re: the Dec. 5 guest opinion "Ditching tenure tells good teachers: Go elsewhere."

The saying "One side, the other side, and the truth" rings loudly when reading this guest opinion. The writers are correct in stating eliminating tenure is "the wrong way to remedy the problem of underperforming teachers" (their side) but keeping tenure (other side) is also the wrong way to remedy the true problem, which is a poor due process (the truth).

Tenure is a Band-Aid, a temporary measure to fix the fundamental problem of poor due process that has led to abuses. Due process is used in the private sector by every major organization: Terminations, hiring and the awarding of contracts are decided by documentation and due process.

My guess is that talented teachers need tenure only when due process is broken. At a time in our largest school district of site councils, open enrollment and dropping enrollment, I agree that teachers should not have their fears justified - correcting due process, not tenure, will address those fears.

Del Arvayo

Business analyst, Tucson

We need to enact tort reform

These days I seldom agree with "the party of 'no,' " but Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, is right in wanting to limit damages for accident and malpractice victims. This would drastically reduce medical costs from so much wasteful testing by defensive doctors fearing outrageous malpractice suits.

I think JoJene Mills, Tucson lobbyist for Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, loses her objectivity when she argues in a Dec. 5 article in the Star that it would be unconstitutional to cap unreasonable awards.

Both Harper and Mills are entitled to their opinions, but at this time in history, President Obama has a great opportunity to ignore the extremely strong lobby of the Trial Lawyers Association, admit that tort reform is reasonable and trade that compromise on his part in exchange for the public-option compromise from the Republicans.

This just might be the dual compromise necessary to get the much needed health-care reform passed on a bipartisan basis.

Stephen Uhl

Retired psychologist, Oro Valley

DES enforcement good for taxpayers

Enforcing the law that requires the DES to verify the legal status of those requesting access to our welfare system is a good thing. Arizona can no longer afford to be a dumping ground for those seeking to benefit from their illegal entry into this country.

DES-managed public programs are intended to help legal residents of our state. Illegal entrants need to find privately supported services when they need help.

Please stop blaming our laws for hurting the children of illegal entrants. That responsibility rests solely on the shoulders of the parents who illegally entered the United States.

Steven Makowski

Retired, Sahuarita 

No tax increases on middle class

I received my Annual Social Security Benefit Amount Notice for 2010, and it amounts to less than what is was in 2009. The reason for that is the increase in the Medicare insurance deduction and no (COLA) cost of living increase for 2010.

Any time the government costs you money, it's a tax. Call it anything you want, it's still a tax.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

So much for no tax increases on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Where is all of the transparency we have heard about?

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Benn Isaacman

Tucson

Scenic roads will help preserve open spaces

Designating roads as something special will automatically bring more people to them. However, there's a much stronger rationale for doing this if building restrictions help preserve open spaces.

Whatever preserves open spaces - do it! Private property owners have no right to destroy the area's natural heritage for all future generations.

Murray Bolesta

CactusHuggers Photography Green Valley

A very personal look at health care

Re: the health-care debate.

We don't know what the final vote will be. But should it fail, I believe that every member of Congress who voted against it should be morally obligated to go to the affected parties who have life-threatening health problems and personally explain to them (face to face) that the reason they don't have health care is that "I (the congressman) voted against it (while enjoying it myself) because it would deprive the insurance companies of some of their profit. It is 'socialism' in my opinion, and it will add to the deficit."

Would you have enough of what it takes to do this? I certainly could not.

I wonder if any member of Congress could, or would, do it?

Thomas R. Schell

Retired engineer, Tucson

Catalina Highway must be open to all

Once again, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik abuses all of our rights as taxpayers and closes the Catalina Highway to everyone except people fortunate enough to own land up there.

It's a public highway. Your taxes pay for its creation, upkeep and for the sheriff. Yet whenever it snows, the Catalina Highway becomes the private driveway of landowners at Summerhaven, courtesy of the Pima County Sheriff's Department. They can drive on it and enjoy all that Mount Lemmon has to offer this time of year, but you can't.

If it's too dangerous to drive on, please close the road; but don't close it to some and not to others.

Marc Berg

Pediatrician, Tucson