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The proliferation of opinions in America; Southern California Edison's pension worries; cyber war and Iran

January 24, 2011

Still more opinions

Re "Mouthing off in America," Opinion, Jan. 16

Though I agree that pundits and the rest of us need to be more thoughtful and considered in presenting our opinions, I object to Stephen Randall mentioning Keith Olbermann along with Glenn Beck as someone who presents "not very smart opinions." Olbermann definitely has a point of view, but he always has facts to back up his opinions.

Yes, I am a liberal, so I tend to agree with Olbermann, but there are conservative commentators I respect because they at least present a logical argument: George F. Will, Steve Chapman and (sometimes) Kathleen Parker.

Beck, meanwhile, merely makes baseless assertions, saying the Federal Reserve is going to send a trillion dollars to Europe (not under consideration), that the United States is headed for a Chinese Communist-style government (huh?) and that President Obama, who is half white, has a deep-seated hatred of white people.

Trudy Ring

Sherman Oaks

I do not care a whit whether Beck or Olbermann make a ton of money for their efforts, and I'm certain they do not care whether Randall thinks they posit "smart opinions."

To hearken back to the days of Walter Cronkite suggests most Americans would prefer to have their news spoon fed to them by the news media gatekeepers. I think otherwise and believe that most of us feel empowered with the glut of information.

What matters is that we have a choice to filter out that which does not resonate with us, form opinions on that which does and challenge our dogmas in the gray areas.

Mark Aaron

Santa Monica

Mental illness and its costs

Re "Descent into darkness," Jan. 16

Clearly Jared Lee Loughner is very disturbed, but that probably did not happen overnight. Most people who degenerate into madness go through a slow process highlighted by increasingly bizarre ideations, paranoia, loss of social awareness and boundaries, intense frustration and anger.

This phase of the disease is called the prodromal phase, can last anywhere from a year to three years and usually occurs between the ages of 16 and 24. Loughner apparently went through this phase and was never guided (or required) to get help.

We need to train people to recognize what the signs are and how to alert authorities or parents. This is a very sad example of someone whom people avoided, leaving him alone to deal with his illness.

Matthew Duggan

Long Beach

It saddens me that another person with a mental illness went without help. It also makes me wonder what it will take for this country to come out of the dark ages in regard to mental illness.

We as a society need to realize that people who are mentally ill can be helped with medication and counseling. We need to make it easy for people to get help, and for families to have access to trained personnel.

Millions of Americans live with mental illness and have never harmed anybody. One reason is that they are probably receiving treatment.

If this country truly wants to stop these violent events, it needs to stop stigmatizing mental illness and helping those in need.

Linda Shabsin

Diamond Bar

I was struck that this entire scenario is emblematic of what the "tea party" purports to stand for: unlimited, unfettered access to guns; officials being prevented from placing a protective order on an individual who is an obvious threat to society; and an inadequate healthcare system lest we proffer socialized medicine to the masses.

Don't tread on me? Here's your result. God help us all.

Scott Rost

Murrieta

SCE's pension problems

Re "SCE puts pension burden on ratepayers," Business, Jan. 18

David Lazarus joins the chorus of people distorting the question of pensions in our country. Now it's ratepayers paying for utility workers along with taxpayers paying for government workers. He echoes the refrain: I don't have a pension, so why should they get one?

Instead of complaining about and taking away from other hardworking people, we should be asking how everyone can have a safe and secure retirement.

It is not true that guaranteed pensions are unsustainable. There are ample resources, both private and public, to guarantee everyone a safe retirement. It's a matter of how we as a country and a society choose to spend our

money.

Glen Janken

Los Angeles

Southern California Edison thinks its customers should pay more because it made some bad investment choices.

If, in the future, Edison discovers it has made some profitable investment choices, will it recommend lowering rates?

I know, it is a silly question; SCE only proposes lose-lose propositions for customers.

Dan Daly

Northridge

Lazarus never asks whether the Edison pensions are funded in a timely way, whether fund contributions are made in good economic times and bad, or why executive bonuses and stockholder dividends are paid before workers' retirements are adequately funded (hello United Airlines).

What is the "control" he claims that individuals have over a 401(k)? It is merely the control to place uninformed bets in a game where the odds already favor the house.

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