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Letters to the editor

Water for a thirsty Southern California; atheists in the military; saving Medicare

November 17, 2011
  • The Julian Hinds Pumping Plant is one of the hydraulic hearts of California's vast water supply system, built to push water from where it is to where it isn't, no matter how many miles of desert, mountains and valleys are in the way. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
The Julian Hinds Pumping Plant is one of the hydraulic hearts of California's… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

Solar and water

Re "Water's energy — and expense," Nov. 14

If much of the cost of bringing water to Southern California is in the expense of the electricity to operate the pumps in the aqueduct system, and most of those pumps are located in sunny desert locations, has anyone investigated the possibility of building solar power plants on site?

The Solar Energy Generating Systems plants in the Mojave Desert produce electricity for more than 100,000 homes. They use concave mirrors to superheat oil that transfers energy to water, which runs turbine generators. Would a smaller version power the big pumps?

Surely it's time to think outside the big-power-line bubble.

Reggie Kenner

Manhattan Beach

Faith in the military

Re "Atheist soldiers seek their place," Nov. 14

I commend Army Capt. Ryan Jean for having the courage to stand up to the religious indoctrination in our military. This is another discriminatory practice similar to the recently reversed prohibition on gays in the military.

Armies and other groups have been using the "my god can beat your god" battle cry since the beginning of civilization. Religious freedom must include freedom from religion.

These religious zealots, such as the ones threatening Jean, refuse to recognize all the evil perpetrated in the name of religion.

Mark O'Connell


The concept of atheist military chaplains prompts at least two questions: Is it psychologically problematic to desire a position in a field that one believes is pointless? Secondly, have these soldiers seen a foxhole yet?

Steve Hodson

Santa Barbara

It is a disgrace that our military in effect forces soldiers to believe that mythology is real. These troops are willing to die to protect our country and the U.S. Constitution.

Our Constitution is designed to protect us from such nonsense. One should never be forced to state a religious preference. It is difficult to believe that our military opposes the Constitution.

James R. Buch

Los Angeles

Some solutions for Medicare

Re "The Medicare trap," Editorial, Nov. 12

I wish The Times would explain what it means by "reining in spending." I think that all spending on healthcare is what our for-profit healthcare industry charges us. So to rein in spending, either we must buy less healthcare or negotiate better prices.

Simple solution: Scrap our business model and adopt the Canadian one.

Based on healthcare outcomes, we are no better off than our global competitors, but we pay far more. This is unaffordable now, as most incomes have remained flat while healthcare costs have more than doubled since 2001.

If it is politically too treacherous for our leaders to change our healthcare business model, then we will stay on our course to bankruptcy.

John Schoenberg

Redondo Beach

The reason Medicare can't keep up financially is that its base is not broad enough. If it were expanded to a full national program, most of the members would be younger, healthier people. Their premiums would help finance the care for present-day beneficiaries.

This is the true idea of insurance: There is a strong reserve to pay the costs as they are needed. Single-payer insurance for all is the obvious answer.

Julie May

Los Angeles

Challenging Iran

Re "Facing a nuclear Iran," Opinion, Nov. 13, and "Iranian leader vows to demolish any aggressor," Nov. 11

Doyle McManus is caving in to the increasing hysteria about Iran's nuclear weapons program. Its leaders are not stupid. They know perfectly well that they will suffer complete destruction in any serious nuclear confrontation.

North Korea, far more psychologically tenuous, hasn't bombed us or anyone else yet, nor will it. And yet McManus writes that should Iran develop a nuclear bomb, a U.S. president would either have to initiate "military action against Iran" or accept a "nuclear-capable Tehran." Haven't we learned from Iraq that the first option is unacceptable, and the second is what we have learned to live with considering the unstable nations that have nuclear weapons?

By saying our presidential candidates must accept this rigid dichotomy, including military action if Iran does not relent, we may indeed "reap the whirlwind"


Ralph Mitchell

Monterey Park

Its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says Iran will use "steel fists" toward any "fragile materialist powers that are being eaten by worms from inside." Sounds more like a line from a Spiderman comic to me.

Robert Andrews


Sloppy system

Re "Fired by state, but back on job," Nov. 14

As a public employee and registered nurse caring for children in our schools, I cannot abide a system that reinstates employees who, in dealing with patients, steal from them, willfully ignore serious illnesses or physically attack them. These are not errors or misjudgments that might benefit from "progressive discipline."

How would any of us feel if our family were treated by these "caregivers"? Is this the tip of the iceberg?

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