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A no-fly zone in Libya; unions under attack in Wisconsin; Cardinal Mahony's legacy

March 03, 2011

No to another war

Re "A no-fly zone could be tricky," March 1

Given our country's continued though unwanted presence in Iraq and in Afghanistan, is the United States now also seriously contemplating military intervention in Libya?

My sympathies are with the people of Libya, but the U.S. has already been brought low economically by a decade of unnecessary, undeclared and expensive wars. Still, we refuse to grapple with the question of whether we should be the world's cop; nor have we ever raised the far more serious question of whether a democracy can also be an empire. Personally, I think it is a contradiction in terms.

Perhaps as we move ever more seriously toward oligarchy and social Darwinism, that contradiction will finally be resolved.

Lewis Redding

Arcadia

Straight talk on unions

Re "Union fight could reshape politics," Feb. 25

In spite of financial concessions by the government workers' unions, Wisconsin's GOP claims that its attempt to eliminate collective bargaining is "not about union-busting." The issue, of course, is not what Republicans claim it is "about" but what it clearly does.

Without collective bargaining, a union is little more than a social organization for holding picnics on Labor Day. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his cronies know that you don't have to "bust" a union if you have gutted it, and their success in doing so would be a very dark day for American workers.

David Eggenschwiler

Los Angeles

Question: If the federal government does not allow public unions to have collective bargaining on wages and benefits, why should the states?

Jimmy Carter and the Democrats recognized the conflict of interest and passed a bill to prevent unions from trying to influence the politicians who received large contributions from those same unions. Federal employee unions are only allowed to negotiate working conditions.

The Democrats have had several years to change this and have chosen not to. It sounds like a good idea to me too.

Joyce Peyton

Los Angeles

Perhaps it will be instructive to consider the reason that public employees have the benefits they do.

Besides the fact that pay raises were offset by "down the road" pensions, their benefits were created to mimic the advantages private employees receive. That they are now viewed as overly privileged "fat cats" simply demonstrates how thoroughly private-sector workers have been stripped of their benefits under our present economic system.

Leigh Kennicott

Glendale

Soda, sugar and health problems

Re "Help cure obesity, one penny at a time," Business, Feb. 25

Soft drinks are greatly damaging to health and should be taxed, claims David Lazarus. I agree.

However, Lazarus fails to mention a key factor in the obesity epidemic: the massive government subsidies for corn. Huge handouts to corporate corn producers keep prices low, and because soda and fast food have corn and corn syrup as central ingredients, this junk food becomes a cheap option for consumers dining on a budget.

Take away the government cash and unhealthy foods would cost a lot more. This would be a far better way of discouraging consumption.

In the face of the federal deficit, it also makes sense from a financial standpoint to put that federal funding toward more productive causes.

Andrew Dunn

Isla Vista, Calif.

AB 669 would put a

1-cent-per-ounce tax on beverages containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Those who consume such drinks include the poor, who have weight-related medical problems treated at public expense. If a tax reduces consumption of sweetened beverages, that could lower people's risk of developing diabetes.

Soft-drink companies don't want their products taxed, which is understandable. But we have a serious problem. I honestly believe a 5-cents-per-ounce tax is necessary to be effective, but AB 669 is a step in the right direction.

Stephen V. Hymowitz

Los Angeles

I do not drink sodas and rarely eat fast food, but isn't this another tax on low-income people? What about the wealthy who eat in restaurants with many courses, most of them too rich?

Joan Nortel

Dana Point

The verdict on Mahony

Re "Mahony and the city he shaped," Opinion, Feb. 26

Tim Rutten lists all the good works done by Cardinal Roger Mahony and concludes with a tiny paragraph regarding the clerical abuse scandal, quoting Mahony as saying, "I had no idea how deeply and permanently it affected people until I met with the victims."

How many years did it take for him to meet with the victims?

All of Mahony's good works — and that tiny last paragraph — are like a plate of healthy, nutritious food with only a bit of poison in it. I wouldn't eat it.

Therese H.E. Whitney

Sherman Oaks

More than 20 years ago I was on the medical staff of a local community hospital. While seeing one of my patients, I noticed Mahony visiting an ailing retired priest who had requested that the archbishop come to hear his final confession. This was something that the archbishop had done without any publicity or entourage.

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