Web Letters | The Nation

Distorted figures and false choices

It is depressingly common for your commentators to distort facts, and then present false choices. Please examine California's (and other states) budget problem and its causes.

Steven Curtis

Petaluma, CA

Jun 21 2010 - 12:15am

Where should budgets be cut?

It appears that the vast majority of America's voters would find this essay lacking in reality. When state and local governments are out of cash, and taxpayers are tapped out, they desperately need to get their budgets under better control. It makes a great deal of sense to return to the core programs that traditionally belong to government. This is a lot of what politics normally revolves around. An article like this, by unrealistically skipping questions of what should be cut and what functions government should stay out of, plays into the hands of those who are totally antigovernment.

Over 90 percent of expenses fall into these six categories: 1. Infrastructure: bridges, sewers, roads, water systema. 2. Interest on debts and money already spent. 3. Education, from pre-school to universities. 4. Justice, including police, courts and prisons. 5. Pensions, employee retirement and healthcare. 6 Healthcare for the poor and elderly. On top of this, Obamacare forces huge increases in state medical costs that will require offsets in these groups.

Obviously, we need to prioritize within each category and among all of them. Do we keep pre-kindergarten over home health aides? Do we lay off police or fix the water system? One looks in vain for more than figurative screams of angst in these pages when real priority choices are needed. It will be very destructive to simply cry "Don't cut anything!" when it is important to see what items hurt least to be cut or eliminated.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Jun 20 2010 - 6:17pm