Time to speak up
There have been a spate of letters concerning illegal immigrants, primarily ranting about the costs to taxpayers as compared to the amount of taxes the immigrants pay. There does not seem to be as much concern over the billions of dollars the Iraq war is costing taxpayers - or of the thousands of our young people who have died there or the thousands more who have been maimed for life.
Where is the outrage when our wounded are mistreated at military hospitals? Where is the outrage about the pittance our soldiers are paid while military contractors are paid on the average $180,000 per year plus benefits? The poor care our wounded received at Walter Reed hospital is made more appalling when it appears privatization, Dick Cheney's brain child, was largely responsible. Many staffers resigned when they learned IAP World Wide Services, run by two former Halliburton senior officials, was awarded a $120 million dollar contract to manage the facility, leaving the hospital understaffed and with deteriorating conditions.
Privatization was supposed to create cost savings in government but it has not worked that way. War profiteering is rampant in Iraq. Our soldiers should not receive poor pay nor our wounded receive poor care while war profiteers get wealthy.
Waste that goes unpunished should rile taxpayers. While federal authorities cited DynCorp, a Falls Church, Virginia company, for wasting millions on projects in Iraq, the government still has drug interdiction contracts in Afghanistan and Colombia with the company.
There is much to be outraged about now. Illegal immigration is a complex issue and of great concern to all of us. But immigration problems are minor when compared to the awful mess we are in Iraq. Taxpayers - indeed all citizens - now is the time to speak.
Four times the fun
This summer as well as last summer, two of my children participated in the Marian Anderson String Quartet's Chamber Music Week. I can't thank the wonderful women of the quartet enough for the their commitment to educating young artists.
The "Andersons" devoted an entire week to participating children. They taught them, inspired them, performed for them, even ate with them. Each member of the ensemble knew the name of all the 31 children, young adults and one adult participating. How many nationally acclaimed artists devote that much energy and attention to youngsters?
At the concert culminating the week, kids who had never met each other before the program began performed like professionals (and many of them sounded like professionals). My 11-year-old son forsook both a soccer game and a birthday party just to spend extra time with the Andersons - to play more, hear more, learn more. I would never have guessed he would grow to love music this way in one week.