Give gift cards, not cash, to homeless

To the editor:

In his Wednesday letter, Kipp Altemara patted himself of the back for giving a few bucks to the beggars on our streets. I commend him on his intent.

He added, however, "I don't care if they want to spend it on alcohol or cigarettes." Too bad. We all need to care whether we're fueling someone's destructive addiction or actually helping them.

Having been involved at several levels with the homeless, I can easily state that each of them is homeless for a reason -- usually an addiction that they could not control. Giving them cash only prolongs the problem.

Our goal should be to get each of these unfortunates to a facility that will clean them up, dry them out and teach them a usable skill. Giving them money is like handing out razor blades to the self-destructive.

Instead of handing out money, Mr. Altemara should stop by McDonald's or Burger King and buy some $5 gift cards, redeemable only for food. Hand those out to the needy people in the streets. You'll find them very thankful for the meal -- and you'll have done something good that cannot be turned into something bad.

Ronnie Garner


Building ban

To the editor:

In your Wednesday article on how the lousy local housing market is burying signs of overall recovery, no mention is made of why local governments continue to approve building new housing developments. It's a simple matter of supply and demand: As long as houses are added to a market glutted with foreclosures, prices will stay down.

The big builders offer creative financing, and the banks continue to balk at loaning to families who want to get low-priced foreclosed properties and fix them up. Most of the bargain-priced foreclosures are going to cash-sale investors.

Homeowners in Las Vegas are steadily losing value so the building industry can succeed. It's time to stop building spec homes until the local market improves.

Linda Hollis


Solemn oath

To the editor:

All appointed U.S. Supreme Court justices take the same oath. They swear to God they will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Unless the Constitution specifically grants a power to government, the government has no such power.

Under the Constitution, government cannot mandate that citizens purchase anything (including health care) or be penalized by the levy of a fine. Justices who vote to allow government to do so are in violation of their oath and must be removed from the bench.

The 10th Amendment clearly limits the powers of the federal government to those delegated to it by the Constitution.

The Constitution is clear, and if President Obama wants to change it, there is a procedure for doing so. The Constitution has been changed 27 times over the past 200-plus years, beginning with the first 10 amendments, called the Bill of Rights. The founding document, which is the very basis of our republic and, indeed, the very law of the land, cannot be changed by fiat or executive order or legislative vote or whim.

Our current government is headed down a slippery slope here, and at the bottom of that slope lies the kind of tyranny our forefathers fled England to avoid.

Rick Ainsworth


Last resort?

To the editor:

In response to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida by a Neighborhood Watch vigilante:

I was a young teenager, filled with excitement about life's challenges, when my dad gave me some very wise and sound counsel. He said, except as a last resort, never act like a policeman, a fireman or a doctor. They are trained professionals and it is their job and responsibility to act.

Of course, if you could prevent a murder, save a child from a burning building or apply a tourniquet, you would be justified in considering to help as a last resort.

In the case of the slain Florida teenager, I would really question whether confronting the teenager, rather than waiting for a police officer, was the right thing to do. And if I were the district attorney, I would now ask: Was this a situation of last resort? And did the shooter exacerbate or escalate a confrontation that could have been avoided by judicious judgment?

And finally, was this a hate crime based on the race of the victim and the prejudice of the shooter?

From a philosophical point of view, I would ask: Does one ordinary citizen have the right to confront and challenge another ordinary citizen, even under the auspices of a Neighborhood Watch program?

Burton J. Simpson

Las Vegas

No pay

To the editor:

Regardless of political affiliation, most Americans agree the current congressional session is accomplishing little of value to the people -- to us.

We are approaching 1,100 days since the U.S. Senate passed a budget, our national debt is nearly $16 trillion, and the budget deficit is more than $1 trillion. Washington is operating in a budgetless vacuum.

Congress has not passed a budget and the necessary appropriations on time since 1995. As a result, last summer America neared default for the first time in our history, and we lost our AAA credit rating.

In an attempt to get the congressional budget process back on track, a significant number of U.S. senators and House members -- Democrats, Republicans and independents -- have co-sponsored legislation that would require Congress to pass a budget and all appropriations bills by Oct. 1 of each year, or not get paid. If enacted, the law would become effective in 2013.

Interested Americans should demand that the people they elected to Congress support the No Budget No Pay Act. Congress simply cannot shirk its duties any longer.

Frank Tussing

Las Vegas