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George W. Bush

President at the helm of sinking ship

We not only watch "The Weakest Link" on TV; the U.S. Supreme Court "elected" him.

Dubya is the first victim of his "leave-no-child-behind" philosophy. Every time he opens his saber-rattling mouth, he bombards us with his 20-word vocabulary, limited to Star Wars wishful thinking, energy development to enrich his friends and a massive tax cut that won't buy the top 20 percent most affluent Montanans five tanks of gas in the first year of the next eight heading downhill. We might as well have re-elected President Taft postmortem.

Ron Moser,

636 W. Artemos, Missoula

Minimum wage proposal

True story found in the numbers

For the past couple of years, every time I read an article in the Missoulian promoted by the New Democrats about the proposed minimum wage, I said to myself, "What can you expect from a bunch of misguided do-gooders who never think things out?" But when the Missoulian wrote the editorial about the merits of the proposed minimum wage at Harvard University, and the comparison to the Missoula City Council's suggested minimum wage, it was too much for a senior citizen to accept.

To compare Harvard to Missoula is totally unreasonable. First of all, they are talking about a well-funded university that employs no seniors, or if any, very few. With Missoula, which has a population of senior citizens whose percentage of the population ranges close to 18 percent (the 2000 census figures are not yet available, but it will be higher according to the University of Montana School of Business) it is unreasonable.

Let us consider some of the facts. A person attaining the age of 65 and who has paid the maximum to Social Security for the last 40 quarters will receive $7.23 per hour, which is a 3.5 percent increase over last year. The new minimum wage from $6.50 to $8.50 is a 31 percent increase. The vast majority of seniors now receives about $2.60 per hour. They got a 3.5 percent increase last year. This amounts to an increase in income of 9 cents per hour. (This is all based on a 2,080-hour year.)

How many seniors are going to be able to pay the increase of services, food, clothing and all the other items that retail stores will have to charge to cover the 31 percent increase in minimum wages?

A lot of fuzzy-thinking politicians will lose a great number of votes from seniors and their families when this all sinks in. This might not be such a bad thing to those who do not look at the whole picture. Not to say anything about editors.

Wilfred A. Kay,

445 W. Sussex Ave., Missoula

Political strategy

Our values are being corrupted

Americans love their myths, especially western Americans, because we live, in a sense, inside a mythology, the romantic notion of the West and the romantic notion of rugged individualism that conquered the West. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing. Myths can inspire. They can teach us important values. However, they can also be abused for political ends.

On the national level, this strategy seems to be the bread and butter of Republican politics. Take, for example, President George W. Bush's energy policy. In order to protect business interests, the interests of his billionaire oil buddies, Bush claims instead that he is protecting "an American way of life," his term for gas-guzzling SUVs. He's right. We love our big cars. Appealing to that love is a no-brainer.

It's no coincidence, however, that this statement comes on the heels of the Ford Motor Co.'s announcement that it will begin to work toward developing a more environmentally responsible SUV. Who is hurt by this decision other than the oil companies? Examine any of Bush's initiatives and you will see the same pattern of deception.

On the local level, the same strategy works for conniving, out-of-town business interests who dupe our local legislators into voting for proposals without careful analysis. They wrap a deregulation bill in the myth of the free market. Our representatives voted based on their belief in that myth, only to discover down the road that they have voted for a flimflam.

Personally, I am insulted when cynical hucksters take the very things I hold dearest, the courage of my forefathers, the Constitution, our love of freedom and use them as a screen for their own selfish ends.

Keith Dunlap,

601 Woodworth Ave., Missoula

Letters policy: The Missoulian welcomes and encourages letters to the editor on topics of general interest. Letters should be about 300 words or fewer. The Missoulian reserves the right to reject or edit letters for content and length. The Missoulian prints as many letters as possible. Letters must contain the writer's name, address and telephone number (phone numbers are for verification, not publication).

Mail to: Missoulian Letters, P.O. Box 8029, Missoula, MT 59807. Fax: 406-523-5294. E-mail: opinion@missoulian.com.

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