Less than second rate
EDITOR: I read with some amusement former Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment of the president's national security team ("Cheney: Obama's picks '2nd rate,' " Sunday). I would suggest that many of Cheney's fellow citizens believe that the performance of the team of Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice would have to come up several tiers to be considered "second rate."
Listen to both sides
EDITOR: Both liberals and conservatives make good points. Liberals decry the ever-increasing concentration of wealth in fewer hands because of financial scams and tax dodges. Conservatives have a healthy skepticism about government's ability and right to solve problems the market could solve better. Why not satisfy both left and right by using the Internet to promote transparency of government budgets, with the ability to compare one government unit with comparable units elsewhere in detail?
This would introduce market competition to the public sector as exists in the private sector and vastly increase government efficiency.
At the same time, in places where using market forces are not so efficient, like the power grid or mass transportation, a government properly overseen through transparent governance should collectivize production and services. If everyone on the grid paid the true cost of their energy, and was paid for the true value of energy they generate through solar and wind, our carbon emissions would plummet. This would be in effect a free-market solution to the crisis of climate change.
The market does some things best. The government can do other things best. Don't listen to ideologues who push too far to the left or right because of blind faith in ideology.
Guns and fatalities
EDITOR: Gun fatalities account for about 31,000 deaths per year. It's estimated that there are about 270 million guns in the U.S. If you own a gun, the chances that it will be involved in a fatality in any given year are very small.
If, however, yours is involved in a fatality, then the most likely event is that it will be used for a suicide. If it isn't used for a suicide, then it's far more likely to be used to shoot someone who is known to the person using the gun. This is often a family member. From the victim's perspective, people are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by someone they know than by a stranger breaking into a house.
I'm in favor of banning assault rifles and large-capacity magazines. People who own guns should be licensed with appropriate background checks and screening. Otherwise, I have no problem with people owning guns. I do think gun owners should have a clear understanding that the gun, if used to kill someone, is far more likely to be used as a weapon for suicide or to kill someone known to the person using the gun.
Cats aren't criminals
EDITOR: There is probably "no reasoning with the majority of feral cat advocates" because they have an understanding of the problem Nancee Tavares overlooked ("Feral cats," Letters, Saturday). There is a feral cat problem because many humans don't take care of their domesticated cats.
People move away, abandon their cats and rationalize that they can live by hunting and finding shelter under a bush. These were once "cuddly kitties" brought home as toys to be discarded when the novelty waned. More important, people don't have their cats spayed/neutered, thereby creating hordes of feral cats who didn't chose their fate.