We can’t just fiddle as the country burns

To the editor:

Regarding Tom Roemer’s Sunday column (“America in decline?”): The fact that we are still ahead of China and India doesn’t mean we aren’t in decline. A baseball team with a huge lead in July can play poorly for a long time before the second-place team catches up.

There are a lot of issues that we face as a country, but what bothers me most about America today is the selfishness — especially in what we are doing today to prepare our kids for the future and to leave them a better America.

Our educational performance is mediocre compared to other advanced countries at a time when education will be absolutely crucial to our kids’ future success. This is partially the fault of an educational system that resists change and partially just a matter of too many Americans not valuing education enough to make it a priority.

At the same time, we’re setting up millions of kids for lives with low-paying jobs (assuming they can find a job), the financial strength of the country we turn over to them will be weakened by the trillion-dollar budget deficits we’ll dump onto their backs because we can’t make difficult decisions today.

I agree with Mr. Roemer that America has strengths that provide us with great opportunities and that the activism of the Tea Party and Occupy movements are encouraging signs that people care. But I disagree with the headline “No reason for self-doubt.” We have lots of reasons and we can’t ignore the seriousness of our situation just because we’re still in first place.

Dave Newton

Las Vegas

Recall critic

To the editor:

Your Tuesday editorial on City Councilman Steve Ross’ recall election made the case that while his particular recall election was unwarranted, “The recall procedure is an important safeguard and safety valve, allowing voters to step in and remove a candidate who has lost the public’s confidence or committed acts that make him or her an embarrassment.”

This apologia for the progressive democratic trinity of interference and abdication in republican government — recalls, referendums, ballot initiatives — is familiar and silly.

When has a recall election ever functioned in this manner? Officials who lose the public’s confidence or become laughingstocks almost always find their ability to perform their jobs completely destroyed and resign long before the tedious procedures put in place to make recall elections rare are overcome –see Anthony Weiner, David Wu and Christopher Lee. Whereas when an official is actually some manner of criminal or moral reprobate — Edward Kennedy, James Traficant and David Vitter — recall elections would do no actual good since all three men were/are routinely re-elected by large margins. What’s the point of this “safety valve” again?

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was not recalled, and neither was his criminal predecessor, George Ryan. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was not recalled, and neither was his New Jersey colleague James McGreevey. All of these officials were pressured out of office by the loss of public support and confidence following scandal and/or criminal behavior.

In nearly every instance in recent memory, whether in this small race in Las Vegas or the recall of Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003, or the current effort against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, the recall is a partisan political tool used to punish one’s opponents during a trough of their popularity in office.

For instance, the signature requirement in Wisconsin for launching a recall election amounts to half the votes Gov. Walker’s opponent received in the election the incumbent just won in 2010 — it could literally have been launched the day after Gov. Walker took office simply with half the supporters of his defeated rival. What sort of perverse system is this?

Recall elections, when actually invoked, are partisan clubs used on perfectly upright politicians whose decisions are temporarily unpopular.

Such a system is merely guaranteed to drive tough decision-making out of politics at a time when we need it most at every level of government. It also guarantees a far more poisonous, partisan atmosphere than even our current toxic stew. This is democracy in the 18th-century, pejorative sense.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the states shall have “a republican form of government.” That means we delegate governing authority to elected representatives and officers for a delimited period of time. How about we let those people govern, and punish them for failure at the next regular election, rather than empower their partisan opponents to threaten and plunge the political process into continual recriminations masquerading as “the will of the people”?

Alexander Marriott

Las Vegas

Like Ron?

To the editor:

Newt Gingrich makes a lot of noise about being the only candidate who carries the Ronald Reagan mantel.

If we consider the Reagan legacy, this is nothing to crow about.

President Reagan gave us voodoo economics. He substantially reduced the level of taxation, mainly for the rich — and, as a result, gave us record deficits. He more than doubled the national debt and made deficit spending an acceptable mode to finance the federal government. Under President Reagan, we went from “tax and spend” to “charge and spend.”

He gave 4 million illegals amnesty and opened the door to a flood of illegal immigration so that now we have more than 11 million illegals.

Some record — but nothing to be proud of.

Karl L. Reitter


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