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President Obama's State of the Union address; California's beleaguered college systems; Ron Brownstein on healthcare reform

January 27, 2011

Troubled times

Re: "U.S. acts 'together, or not at all,' " Jan. 26

President Obama praised the stock market recovery but said nothing of the continuing foreclosures and the enduring crisis in the housing market. He praised corporate profits but said nothing of how they are coming about by companies squeezing employees here and hiring abroad. He said nothing about the nearly 15 million workers who remain unemployed, for whom austerity is already a stark reality.

He praised teachers but said nothing of the next round of pink slips that they will soon face. Though he talked about innovation, he failed to mention those clever financial innovations created by mathematics wizards on Wall Street that nearly destroyed our economy. Teachers will get more austerity; Wall Street wizards will get more bonuses.

Yes, gays will soon be able to serve openly in the military, but Obama has become a closet Republican.

Gary Peters

Paso Robles

As I listened with interest to Obama's speech, I thought of how great the United States has become and the unfolding years of destiny. Then a grim-faced critic came on TV and started complaining about what the president said and his many mistakes. Nothing was said about Obama's inspired comments.

Very much dismayed (and just like the poet Walt Whitman), I walked outside and looked up at the bright stars with wonderment in my eyes and thought to myself, there is our destiny.

Kenneth Larson

Los Angeles

Wow, what a speech Obama gave us Tuesday night. It was sheer eloquence from a man with a talented tongue. I was moved, nearly to tears, as was House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). But were we crying for the same reason?

Enough with the sarcasm. What did Obama tell us? Nothing much, really. I am dismayed. I am disappointed.

How long can you sit and listen to anyone talk about things they won't do? Which brings up the fundamental problem with politics in general: It is so very easy to talk. You really want my admiration? Don't talk about it. Do it.

Arthur G. Saginian

Santa Clarita

California's college cuts

Re "To save UC, cut enrollment," Editorial, Jan. 21

The Times is rightly concerned with preserving the quality of the University of California in bad budget times. But the editorial misses the difficult choices that all of California's public universities and colleges are being forced to make after two decades of eroding state support.

The California State University system and the community colleges are already turning away thousands of students. The California Postsecondary Education Commission projects that in 2019, 400,000 more students will seek to enroll in the three public systems than today. The state will need 1 million more bachelor's degrees by 2025 to support a competitive workforce.

Even in rosier times, the state's commitment to higher education has declined, jeopardizing the Master Plan vision of broad access to quality higher education.

Californians must decide whether they still believe in that vision, and what they are willing to invest to achieve it.

H. Eric Schockman

Sherman Oaks

The writer chairs the California Postsecondary Education Commission.

Before considering cutting enrollment in institutions of higher learning, the state should consider other options.

Last year, then-Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) introduced AB 656, legislation that would apply a tax on oil extracted from California, with the proceeds to go to the UC, Cal State and community college systems. The bill also would prevent the tax from being passed on to consumers. A similar law exists in Texas.

I hope Sacramento will give some consideration to this proposal.

John T. Donovan

Hacienda Heights

Corporations as people

Re "Are corporations people?," Editorial, Jan. 22

The ridiculous fiction that corporations are persons entitled to constitutional protection may have at last gone too far. AT&T's bizarre claim that corporations can be "embarrassed" is the final straw.

In 1886, a court reporter who was a former railroad president inserted a note in Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. saying that corporations were persons entitled to 14th Amendment protection. It's been downhill ever since.

Big money has corrupted our politics, ruined our economy and plundered our resources. Endlessly corporations have used the Supreme Court to enhance themselves through manipulating our Constitution.

If corporations are persons, then they should die, go to jail, be punished for their bad deeds or go fight in the wars we wage.

Carole Lutness

Valencia

I continue to be amazed at the confabulations of those who serve as cheerleaders for corporations and the super-rich. Those forces seek to imbue corporations with all manner of rights previously held only by individuals.

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