The nation is facing an unprecedented $4 trillion national debt and a projected $400 billion deficit.
Millions of Americans are out of work and the economy is in a prolonged tailspin and the Congress, paralyzed by wave after wave of scandal and divisive partisan politicking, has been unable to pass any meaningful legislation.
Undaunted, our above-it-all Senate is making plans to spend $18 million to modernize its subway shuttle so that the ranks of the privileged can save a few minutes travel time.
Meanwhile, ordinary folk endure crumbling roads and deteriorating bridges because of inadequate federal funding.
How many times and in how many ways are politicians going to communicate to the people that our necessities are less important than the trappings of power and privilege? Doesn't anybody up there on Capitol Hill care about this country and its people?
It's remarkable that the Democrats in Congress are ready to endorse someone like Bill Clinton, when they must know he cannot possibly win over George Bush.
With a selection like this, most of us should simply write "none of the above" on our ballots and hope they can come up with someone we and the rest of the world can respect, trust and support.
At this point, with Paul Tsongas out of the running, there is simply no one on the ballot for us to vote for. Certainly I cannot vote for Mr. Bush -- I'm thankful I didn't vote for him last time. Nor for Mr. Clinton. It's a non-choice.
I have always believed voting was a sacred privilege and responsibility. But this time I'm not sure it's worth going to the polls, except for the congressional candidates. What does one do regarding the apparently unavoidable slate in November?
Something should be done regarding the cost of running so the presidential candidates don't have to be billionaires to run. Surely there are honest men somewhere in the country who could do the job and do it well. But because of the high cost of running, we are unlikely ever to find even one.
Marianne H. Hart
Gilbert A. Lewthwaite misled your readers when he likeneJerry Brown's flat tax proposal to Margaret Thatcher's poll tax.
While Mrs. Thatcher proposed a flat tax, Mr. Brown proposed a flat tax rate. With a flat rate income tax, taxes rise as income rises.
Mr. Lewthwaite is guilty of bad reporting, and could also be accused of unfairly denigrating the Brown proposal through use of this confused and irrelevant comparison.
Governor Was Right
I am responding to your editorial "Schaefer on the Sidelines." (April 12). Governor Schaefer's a man of great foresight, a man who has spent virtually his entire life in a love affair of sorts with the state.
You are right to the extent that among his many stellar accomplishments Governor Schaefer has brought a renewed commitment to higher education, a $1 billion transportation plan and a big boost to school aid.
At the same time, this is the same man who just two short years ago warned all the counties about then-impending fiscal doom.
And everybody laughed at him. People called him a poor manager and his popularity was at an all-time low. (The press didn't help much either.)
So he listened and he changed his style. He took a more hands-off approach. He let the legislative branch do what it was supposed to do. And he let those elected by their colleagues lead, and look what happened.
And now you want him to change back?
Can't you ever just say "Thank you, governor. Maybe you were right"?
Kimberly A. McCoy
Salman Rushdie's Rights and Yours
Kaukab Siddique's complaint about this newspaper's coverage of Salman Rushdie's recent visit to the United States (letter, April 9) is marred by the dangerous bad logic that has become familiar in such complaints.
On the evidence of Mr. Rushdie's novel, "The Satanic Verses," Mr. Siddique declares, its author is a "purveyor of hate literature" who "obviously hates his people, their religion, and their way of life."
To many readers of the novel -- including not only its literary admirers and detractors, but literate Muslims who find the book offensive on ethnic or religious grounds -- these propositions are not at all obvious.
What is obvious in the novel is that Mr. Rushdie does not regard "his people, their religion, and their way of life" as above criticism. To the fundamentalist mind, evidently, such an attitude not only equals hate but warrants death.
"Muslims in America will have to stand up for their rights to stop this sort of thing from happening," says Mr. Siddique.
What sort of thing? The publication of works they find offensive? News media coverage of a celebrated writer driven into hiding by a sentence of death from a foreign government for his writings?