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Mail December 17-December 23, 2008

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An Open Letter to Gov. Otter and Idaho Legislators

We understand that balancing the budget in this terrible economic climate is a huge challenge, but as a representative of Idaho state employees, we urge you to look at every other option before you consider laying off state workers.

Idaho state employees are smart folks and they understand that now is not the time to push for salary increases. But they also know that laying off state employees is not the solution to the budget crunch. If Idaho state workers are laid off, we can expect to see other state expenditures, such as unemployment insurance and even Medicaid, go up. Sometimes a layoff will lead to another home foreclosure and that will in turn deepen our recession. It's a vicious cycle, and we hope the governor and our legislators realize that the taxpayers will be paying anyway, either in salaries or in services on the other end. It is certainly better for our state economy in general to pay it out in wages.

Even if we don't see layoffs, we know that some vacant positions will go unfilled. But balancing a budget by means of attrition puts an increased burden on remaining state workers and the quality of services can't help but be affected. Not to mention that the need for services is bound to increase during a recession.

We also know that this governor's agenda often calls for trimming away at employee benefits. This isn't the answer either. At a time when everyone is struggling financially, even those fortunate enough to have a job, lessening their ability to pay for healthcare doesn't make the need for healthcare go away. And when people can no longer pay for their own healthcare, the state ends up paying on that end as well. With some of the governor's proposed changes to retirees' benefits, it will be a very short time before we see some of our Idaho seniors, many who gave 20 or 30 years of service to our state, become Medicaid recipients.

So, Gov. Otter and Idaho legislators, please think long and hard as you make these cuts.

—Donna Yule, executive director, Idaho Public Employees Association

Hot Headed Over ICE

What's all the whining about? (BW, News,"Facing ICE," Dec. 10, 2008.) It's unlawful for these arrested miscreants to even be on U.S. soil, let alone stealing jobs here. And as for that Faucher jerk, maybe he ought to be deported, too. Illegal aliens are criminals and parasites, one and all. Their very presence here and practically everything they do on U.S. soil is illegal. They need to be ferreted out, rounded up like cattle, punished for their numerous crimes, then booted back to whence they snuck in from with such extreme prejudice that they will never, ever think of violating our sovereignty again. Enough is enough.

—BajaRat, Hawaii, online

Cope's Bro Goes on Record

Wow, how quick we forget. I, too, enjoyed our mother's mincemeat, but not as much as my wife, your sister-in-law, who made you mincemeat pies (from scratch you pie snob) for Thanksgiving 2007. I just thought it wouldn't be right not to set the record right concerning you not having homemade mincemeat pies since Mom passed.

—Steve Cope, western Washington, online

Money Talks

Campaign financing is the scourge preventing the voice of America from being heard. Every politician in the country moves with the tugs on the strings of those who financed their way to office, their survival requires it financially. We see it at every election in the vast sums of money contributed.

What a clear difference we would have if money to finance a campaign could only come from the district of the candidate's office. Then politicians would have to represent the district as the Constitution intended.

Legislation should be passed requiring all campaign contributions to originate within the area of the office to be represented and could not be accepted from sources originating outside that area. All contributors would be of public record. This would include advertising paid for by extra-jurisdictional persons.

Penalties for violation of this restriction could be a fine (both candidate and contributor) and disqualification of the candidate for office within the state. Want your voice heard? Call your local state legislator and insist on a law to restrict contributions.

—Ronald M. Harriman, Nampa

Debtor's Prison

I can't believe that nobody has come up with anything more imaginative for the financial crisis than bailouts. I remember that old song by Tennessee Ernie Ford: "You load 14 tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt." When did debt become a good thing? Boy, look where it got us.

In the light of this crisis, I suggest that we should change the symbols of the two political parties to reflect their true identities. For the Republican party, I suggest we identify them as sharks, instead of elephants. Sharks are cold-hearted and ruthless, the way Republicans are in business and politics. The new symbol for the Democratic party should be the squirrel, bright-eyed and optimistic. As anyone knows who has ever fed squirrels, they love handouts. We all love government handouts. The squirrels want the government to give us everything we need: free education, food stamps, mortgage loans, students loans, health insurance, Social Security. They used to call that much assistance a welfare state, but now even the government is broke. Poor sharks. Poor squirrels. No one knows what to do.

—Carol Bachelder, Boise

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