Will fed-up Americans consider a third party?

To the editor:

The newest polls indicate that the public is disgusted with both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the cowardly Democratic Congress.

A token 27 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to the Los Angeles Times. A Rasmussen poll pegs Senate "leader" Reid’s approval rating at an abysmal 19 percent — lower than even the eternally maligned Vice President Dick Cheney. And, wow — here comes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 36 percent.

Overall, more than 70 percent of Americans now put the United States "on the wrong track," and they’re not merely blaming President Bush. They’re blaming everyone, which spells more trouble for Democrats. They swept into Congress a half-year ago promising a new era of clean, competent government. So far, they’ve produced nothing, and the voters have already had it with the new management.

Voters gave Democrats control of Congress because they wanted real change — especially in Iraq. But now it is clear that Democratic leaders aren’t willing to hold their ground, as President Bush continues to control the direction of the war and Congress’ popularity is plummeting.

And it’s not just the war that has people perturbed. Immigration reform has stalled, Social Security is spiraling toward insolvency, while Washington is no closer to a remedy than it was last year — or the year before.

Health care reform is another joke, as again nothing happened. We also still are waiting patiently for the Democrats to curb out-of-control, pork-barrel spending.

People are tired of Washington gamesmanship. No wonder another survey suggested recently that 49 percent of us would consider voting for a third party.

Tom Luscher



Teaming up

To the editor:

The time has finally come for someone to speak for the teachers first. I believe the Teamsters will provide the toughness needed at the negotiation table ("Teamsters eye county teachers union," Thursday Review-Journal). Enough already with the 2 percent pay increases and the people who actually do the work every day being considered last in the contract. I look forward to hearing what the Teamsters have to say.

It’s time we had real representation. If you are in the union, we should listen to a different point of view. If you are not in the union you have no right to complain. Union membership should have a louder voice than it presently has, and the Teamsters may get our voice heard.

Frank Russo



Union man

To the editor:

The main reason for the poor salaries and treatment of Clark County teachers is the woefully inadequate representation provided by the Clark County Education Association. The association may be good at organizing Christmas parties and picnics, but when it comes to providing representation for its members, forget about it.

When I taught on Long Island, my association was part of the American Federation of Teachers. Our union negotiators were on an equal footing with the school board’s negotiator, and provided us not only good salaries and benefits, but caused the school board, administration and principals to treat us as professionals.

Clark Country teachers will see no improvement in their status if they stay with the association. So they should consider voting to let the Teamsters represent them. For me, being a union member gave me dignity as a teacher — something my colleagues in Clark County deserve.




Dirty words

To the editor:

Six years of reading the editorials, columns and letters to the editor in the Review-Journal have encouraged me to revise my understanding of dirty or profane words. Instead of the standard list of four-letter words I grew up with, I now understand that the editors of the Review-Journal consider the following non-four-letter words or phrases as representing something evil:"teacher," "union," "organized labor," "public employee," "educator," "teachers union," "Democrat" and "public employee unions."

I spent nearly 40 years as a teacher/educator who was a public employee represented by an organized teacher union that was supported by, and gave support to, Democratic principles. I learned to respect teachers for their level of education, communication skills, intelligence, expertise in demonstrating difficult concepts to untrained minds and their ability, compassion and willingness to deal with all of the family, emotional, behavioral and growing problems faced by young people in our ever-changing society. They were and still are my heroes.

I also learned to appreciate the efforts of organized labor, in the form of teachers unions, in terms of improving salaries and working conditions. The union efforts I experienced protected the constitutional rights of public employees in the face of a system that was dictatorial and often arbitrary in terms of administrative power, and fought to guarantee that teachers had an equal part in policy and curricular decisions.

Public employee pensions, equitable to those in the private sector for those with similar educational credentials, were negotiated to reward those who dedicated long careers to noble goals. Education is part the science or technique of teaching and part creative art — when treated simply as a business, the bottom line may be appealing, but children lose out in terms of diversity of experience and opportunities to be creative, independent, intuitive thinkers.

Without the efforts of true unions in the past, educators would have been at the mercy of a system similar to that which exists in Nevada: a system and community that lacks respect for teachers, expects them to deal with intolerable class sizes, overwhelming paperwork and standardized testing, incredibly diverse student populations, inadequate supplies and equipment and little say in administrative decisions related to the welfare of youngsters.

I hope you will pardon me for removing the words listed above from my dictionary of dirty words and stick to the ones I grew up with.




Willing bodies

To the editor:

Day after day, we are reminded by the media of our strained military because of the Iraq war. Yet Congress and the Bush administration are overlooking a very obvious source of military replacements.

There are 3 million Americans rotting away in our prisons. An estimated 50 percent of them are military age. And a significant amount of them are nonviolent and military age.

They might be willing to volunteer to serve in our army.

We already use many of these inmates to fight fires in the United States. And there is a huge waiting list of inmates willing to voluntarily fight forest fires. If our military does not want felons in its ranks, then let’s create a separate U.S. Foreign Legion similar to the French Foreign Legion.

The French have been very successful using felons and misfits in their ranks.

We could immediately raise 200,000 or 300,000 more troops on a voluntary basis and save taxpayers billions of dollars in incarceration costs. We could offer them a pardon after five or six years of loyal service and good behavior. If they misbehave, they go back to prison.

For American taxpayers, it’s a win-win situation.

Kermitt Waters



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