<b>Big trouble</b>

EDITOR: Here we go again. We are witnessing the periodic partisan political dance intended to convince us that the federal and state governments are trying to do something about huge deficits resulting from runaway spending. Anyone who believes that the tax increase people voted to give our politicians in Sacramento will help is delusional. This state is insolvent.

Our state politicians have accrued somewhere in the neighborhood of $618 billion in debt, mostly from pension and medical benefits promised to public employees. The federal government is adding

$1 trillion or more to the deficit every year, and they are arguing about cutting $1.2 trillion form the budget over a 10-year period. That would only reduce annual deficits by $120 billion on a budget that approaches $3.7 trillion.

If we do not force our politicians to get serious about this problem our dollar value will disappear, the dollar will be removed from its position as the world currency, and our standard of living will decline.

We need to become involved, we need to understand what our politicians are doing, and we need to elect people who understand and commit to fixing this mess.



<b>More school hours</b>

EDITOR: Research says that students who spend more hours learning perform better, so five states are increasing school time ("Five states to increase school time in 2013," Dec. 3). Those states already have 900 hours of elementary instruction required each year, and they will add 300 more. Statistics say that California elementary students are in school for 840 hours per year. California ranks 47th in expenditure per student and in test scores, too. How sad that is.

Urgently needed in California are more school hours. We need more student commitment to getting an education, more parent involvement, more after-school networking, and how about more students taking advantage of free online Kahn Academy classes? Kahn Academy classes can provide extra learning hours without cost. Try a class. Urge your student to try a class. Libraries have computers if your student does not have one. California education desperately needs to catch up with the nation and the world.


Fort Bragg

<b>Threatening business</b>

EDITOR: It is a sad day when the federal government closes Drakes Bay Oyster Co. after decades in business. These jobs are a small fraction of the jobs lost in California due to federal water mandates to farmers, along with increased state and federal restrictions and taxes on business.

Businesses create the jobs and incomes that provide taxes. As a fifth-generation Californian and a business founder and owner of 31 years, I am faced with possible relocation from California due to the highest income taxes and sales taxes in the country, along with the worst business climate — ranked 50th out of 50 states for seven years. Where will California be when most of us who provide the jobs are driven out?



<b>Acts of mercy</b>

EDITOR: "A homeless couple caught the eye of Jack Tibbetts, at home from his studies at UC Berkeley, as he made a Goodwill run for his mom, Penny." Chris Smith's Dec. 2 column caught my eye because my fifth grade class at St. Eugene's has an ongoing assignment.

The students find news articles highlighting people involved in works of mercy. The children summarize the articles, then present them to the class. It's become a growing bulletin board project.

I'll be sharing Tibbetts' work of mercy with my students. His story might be news to most of them, but all of them already have heard of Jack Tibbetts, as have all the children who have been in my fifth grade classes since he was one of my students. Back then, he and his classmate, Jack McCullough, rode their bikes to a store in Santa Rosa and bought me a present. It was a Thanksgiving cactus. Every year since then, it has bloomed its amazing orange blossoms, with minimal care. And each year, I tell my classes that this awesome, little plant goes on a beautiful display each Thanksgiving season.

Starting this year, I'll have an add-on to the story.



<b>Cohn's &‘negatorials'</b>

EDITOR: Google "the glass is half empty" and chances are very good you will find Lowell Cohn's name listed. I read the sports pages to get objective commentary on what's going on in the world of sports. If I want to read editorials, I go to the editorial pages. Although I really don't think you can call Cohn's columns editorials; more accurately they are a negatorials. He has nothing good to say about anyone and, in my opinion, wastes space in a sports section that has been reduced to the point that it no longer justifies a section.