Letters to the editor

The president's speech

A few detailsseem to have been left out of the plan

Editor, The Times:

There are a few things that really concern me that nobody seems to be talking about in the wake of the patriotic fervor arising out of the terror incident and Bush's subsequent speech.

Why do we need a separate Cabinet-level office complete with its own office building and a very expensive bureaucracy for the so-called "homeland defense"? Don't we already have a Department of Defense? Shouldn't protecting American shores be already under Donald Rumsfeld's purview? Or should we just change the name of that agency back to the War Department, which is what it was called under FDR?

Moreover, Bush isn't saying how much the new department is going to cost, nor how long it is going to be around, nor what kind of authority will be delegated to it.

Given that government bureaucracies tend to cultivate their own constituencies, are we going to be left with another redundant governmental entity?

Since this is apparently going to be a long, ongoing series of operations that, for the sake of descriptive convenience, is going to be called a "war," nobody is raising the issue of war profiteering. As a taxpayer, I want to see every last cent going to aid the men doing battle. Yet, despite the fact that this quest could conceivably cost $100 billion, nobody in the press or in government is discussing how to prevent defense contractors from taking advantage of this campaign in order to unfairly line their own pockets.

Finally, I'm afraid of a "1984"-like scenario where, in the name of security, we have an oppressive amount of violations of our privacy rights while we take it to a vaguely defined enemy, much like the never-ending fight against "Eurasia" in George Orwell's book.

The press, therefore, has almost totally abandoned its responsibility of being a watchdog for the public and instead has become a lapdog for Justice Department head John Ashcroft and Secretary of State Colin Powell in the name of patriotism. This is dangerous to both the U.S. economy and to our freedoms.

— Gary Garland, Lacey

Fix this quick

Our president needs to acknowledge that on Sept. 11 there was one federal agency responsible for the safety of our airlines and that agency utterly failed.

Until that agency and its leadership gets serious about airport security, travelers like myself will continue to stay away, the economy will continue to suffer, and the federal government will ultimately be forced to nationalize the airlines.

— James Scurlock, Seattle

Anti-Falwell reaction

Ignorance on display

I, too, am dismayed by the remarks of Jerry Falwell. However, some would use them as an excuse to attack — viciously — with distortion and sarcasm. Using the "sword" power of her pen, Ellen Goodman ruthlessly slits the (freedom-of-religion) throat of Falwell, and then waves her bloodied weapon high under the banner of tolerance ("We've now witnessed religion's best and worst," syndicated column, Sept. 21).

To equate Falwell with the terrorists is irresponsible journalism. It displays ignorance both of the terrorist ideology and the beliefs of evangelical Christians. I see little evidence that Goodman tolerates those who fall outside her religious comfort zone. She has stooped to the level of those she abhors. With the power of her pen, she bullies others into silence.

— Anthoinette Bom, Redmond

The other war

How far doeslegalization go?

Efforts to decriminalize the drug trade in Colombia, the largest source of cocaine in the hemisphere, is not in the best interests of the U.S. ("Second thoughts: Colombians consider decriminalizing drug trade," Times, Sept. 10).

We blame that country for growing and shipping the drug to us and they blame us for the appetite for it. But if the drive to legalize in Colombia succeeds, it can only encourage and embolden those who would legalize drugs here. Many times we have heard, "The war on drugs is not winnable, drugs should be made legal."

Does that logic carry over to other illegal activities? Efforts to eradicate murder are not winnable, do we legalize it? Theft cannot be stopped, do we make it legal? Rape is prevalent but does anyone want to decriminalize it?

Legalizing drugs might reduce some crime but those who have no money will resort to crime to pay for their drugs.

What about our children? Are we going to legalize drugs for them? How can we convince them it is unhealthy when they see adults openly consuming drugs that have been made legal?

There isn't a country anywhere that has allowed the widespread and unchecked use of drugs and prospered.

— Russell Brown, Everett

Going to work

Where the commuteis just a memory

I was disappointed by your recent story on telework ("Telecommuting fails to fulfill high hopes," Sept. 17).

Contrary to your report, a number of local firms are seeing great success with telework. Davis-Wright-Tremaine law firm reports its program has increased billable hours, improved access to clients and increased employee satisfaction. That hardly sounds like an idea that has failed to live up to high hopes.

Other companies and government agencies report similar success, including Hewlett-Packard, Washington Mutual and the University of Washington.

It's not for all people, all the time. But many employers are finding it's a good way to decrease costs, increase productivity and keep workers happy. A local advertising executive said it best: "It's the way the world is moving. If you fight it, you will lose good employees to me."

As an elected official splitting time between the Capitol Campus in Olympia and my home district in Seattle, I've found telework extremely helpful. I still get all the news from Olympia, but I'm able to spend more time with my constituents and less time driving down Interstate 5. For a region choking on gridlock, it's also one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get cars off the road, maximize workers' time and get people home to their families.

It's unfortunate your newspaper chose to report on a few people who have run into a few problems, instead of focusing on the hundreds of people who have saved time and money using technology to their advantage.

— Ken Jacobsen, senator, 46th District, Seattle

Not going to work

Air travel will be back

Someone should call Chicago and tell Boeing's execs that they and their fellow airline execs have overplayed their hand. These announcements about massive layoffs are clearly bogus. Flying is simply too quick and convenient to give up. Once the dust settles, air travel will return to normal. And with the federal government likely to pick up the tab for airport security, airline costs may actually go down.

There's a telling clue that this is a sham. If air travel is going to decline 20 percent or more, we clearly don't need the third runway at Sea-Tac. Yet where is the announcement of massive layoffs there?

Let's hope Congress catches on to what they are doing and refuses to be stampeded into providing huge subsidies.

— Mike Perry, Seattle