The article on being Down and Out in Ventura County (Feature, 8/9/07) was full of the usual liberal mush that passes for commentary these days.

It would have been more useful if there had been an honest discussion of why the middle class is being deliberately destroyed in this country and why America is being turned into a Third World toilet.

Such a discussion would have identified the real culprits in American\’s destruction: American politicians and the bankers on Wall Street. \”Her Honor Maricela Morales\” says it\’s because the government is not doing enough for the poor. Actually it\’s the opposite. The welfare-warfare state has bankrupted this country.

Americans don\’t seem to understand that the government does not get most of its money from its citizens. Instead it gets it from the Federal Reserve, an institution that is neither federal, nor a reserve. Instead it\’s a cartel of private bankers who loan Congress whatever money they want. Citizens are then taxed to pay the bankers for the privilege of using our own money. Americans don\’t know this because the bankers control both the media and our educational institutions.

Since Congress always spends more than what it receives in taxes, the difference gets added to the national debt. It is the national debt that creates inflation, and that is what is destroying the middle class.

It also has not helped that American politicians and the Wall Street bankers have encouraged the invasion of this country by Third World immigrants — legal and otherwise — who have then ended up on the welfare rolls. Morales would probably know something about that.

Center for Immigration Studies analysis of 2006 Census Bureau data, which includes legal and illegal immigrants, shows use of welfare by households headed by Mexican and Latin American immigrants is more than double that of native households.

There is a common, but mistaken, belief that welfare programs are only for those who don’t work. Actually, the welfare system is designed to provide low-wage workers, or more often their children, things like food assistance and health-care. It is the presence of their U.S.-born children coupled with their low education levels that explains why so many immigrant households use the welfare system.

It would have been helpful if the writer of your article had talked about the facts behind the rise of poverty in Ventura County instead of merely dragging out the usual excuses that the government is not doing enough for the poor. 

More government is not the solution. The government is the problem.

John Game,
Oxnard

Zannos “got it”

Thank you so much for \”Down and Out in Ventura County\” (Feature, 8/9/07). Your reporter, Susan Zannos, \”Got it!\” Poverty and misfortune drive the invisible homelessness that is the largest segment.

Of the 600 who were counted last January in the City of Ventura, 400 or more were temporarily homeless for diverse reasons such as those profiled. About 15 percent of the city\’s population earns less than $25,000 per year. Using federal guidelines, those 15,000 people earn less than half the income required for an average apartment! Many others earn more but live only a paycheck or two away from the street.

In the City of Ventura, the Social Services Task Force now includes about 100 committed citizens working on housing, prevention and education, using the \”10-Year Plan to End Homelessness for Ventura County\” www.vchhc.org) as a guide.

Many thanks for your sensitive portrait of our neighbors in the community who struggle so hard to stay off the street.

Karl B. Keller, chair
Ventura Social Services Task Force
Ventura

Wine shop review panned

Your review of Paradise Pantry (“Filling the Void,” Straight Up, 8/16/07, completely missed the mark. Calling the service “indifferent” and hoping for “more welcoming owners” does a disservice to Tina Lebar and Kelly Briglio. We have been to Paradise Pantry numerous times and have always found Tina and Kelly to be charming, informative, engaging and incredibly helpful. Paradise Pantry is a welcome addition to downtown for their excellent wine selection, innovative cheeses and delightful owners.

Kate and Steve Lipson,
Ventura

Don’t restrict my rights

I totally sympathize with Mr. Heyne’s motivation for becoming a \”gun control advocate” (“Tim Heyne turns tragedy into triumph” Feature, 8/16/07). The losses he survived would devastate and probably alter the thinking of anyone. However our emotions cannot alter the simple and tragic fact that the only way his circumstance could have been altered is if he were to have been armed.

Four years ago, our next door neighbor\’s brother slipped into schizophrenia. As he worsened he started to vandalize my property. After I talked to his relatives about the situation, he took exception and came to my front door at 2 a.m., banging on the door and shouting obscenities.

I immediately called the Ventura Police, and they showed up about 20 minutes later. They warned the guy, sent him home, and then left. He was back at my door in one hour, completely drunk, off his meds and threatening to kill me, my wife and our cats. I called again, and once again the police responded in 20 minutes, calmed him down and then left. Then next morning it all started again.

At each of his visits to my house, I was standing behind the front door with a shotgun loaded with buckshot, and, had he broken the door down, I would have killed him. This would have ended his life and completely ruined mine and both of our families’ lives.

My life and the lives of my family were put in jeopardy because of this crap. I vehemently take exception.

You cannot restrict in any way my right to protect myself. My survival is in the balance. It is morally reprehensible for you to even voice an opinion supporting such a position.

No gun control law that Congress passes will ever have any effect on criminals, other than “right to carry” laws. This is a sad testament to our \”civilized society,” but criminals don\’t obey laws, they do, however, give due respect to a visible gun.

With respect to his comment about guns being \”the most vile instrument of death\” I submit that his assailant could have easily used a car to do the same thing and probably not even gone to jail or gotten his insurance raised.

You don\’t have to own or use a gun, it\’s your choice. But you can\’t, according to the Constitution, restrict my rights to do so. Same rights for everyone, that\’s the way it is.

W.R. Buchanan
Ojai

Gallegly fails again

Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) had the chance to support legislation that would decrease our dependence on foreign oil, create thousands of clean energy jobs and change the direction of this country’s energy future, but instead Elton once again chose to support tax breaks for the big oil. Gallegly showed just how out of touch he is with mainstream America by voting to support $14 billion in tax loopholes for the oil industry at a time when the oil companies are reaping maximum profits.

Gallegly voted against extending tax credits for the solar and wind industries, he voted against requiring electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources, he voted against local jobs and he voted against reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We need someone who will better represent Ventura County and who can think outside the Republican (big oil) party box.

Ventura County already supports a vibrant and growing solar industry which provides hundreds and hundreds of high quality local jobs. Manufacturers like SolarWorld AG and Professional Solar Products are thriving here and local contractors like REC Solar, Solar Perfect, Prime Solar, California Solar and a half-dozen other solar companies are installing solar electricity systems on rooftops throughout our county, but Gallegly continues to support big oil instead of our local economy.

We need leadership that will guide Ventura County (and our country) towards a clean energy future. We need a congressional representative who will help steer us away from our dependence on foreign sources of fuel and who will support clean renewable energy, local jobs and energy independence.

Talk about a do nothing congressman. Gallegly announced that he was going to retire and it’s time we help show him the door. Let’s work to elect someone who will do a better job of representing the good citizens of Ventura County.

Michael Lind
Ojai, CA

I remember Vietnam

I was dismayed to hear President Bush\’s recent comments on Vietnam and have a heartfelt need to share my thoughts.

I remember our history in Vietnam very differently and believe the president is trying to justify continuing the war in Iraq. According to Robert McNamara (Secretary of Defense at the time), our government\’s war in Vietnam killed at least 3.4 million people, mostly women and children. Many were burned alive by napalm. It was truly an atrocity of immense proportion. We certainly didn\’t leave too soon. And events after the war weren\’t as bad as Bush would have us believe. Not long ago Bush visited Vietnam, celebrated our restored trade relations and later hosted the Vietnamese president in the White House.

It is true, however, that many thousands of Vietnamese people who had collaborated with Americans and weren\’t given visas to go to the U.S. before we left at the war\’s end suffered in re-education camps. We must not let this happen again!  We owe visas to those Iraqis whose lives are in jeopardy because they have worked with the U.S.    

Most \”boat people\” started leaving Vietnm three years after we left and were refugees from a depressed economy partially caused by war damage and our embargo of trade with Vietnam after the war. After U.S. occupation troops leave Iraq and Iraqis sort out how to run their own country (or countries), we have a responsibility to repair what we have destroyed and help restore a viable economy.

The U.S. invasion of Cambodia, which President Nixon tried to keep secret from Congress and the American people, led to empowerment of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge\’s killing fields. Bush neglects to mention that the U.S. did nothing to stop the Khmer Rouge, who we had enabled, and that it wasn\’t until after we stopped killing Vietnamese that Vietnam was able to use its military to overthrow the Khmer Rouge.  

I followed the events at the time as news, have been in Vietnam and was in Cambodia while Pol Pot was still hiding in the forest. But don\’t just take my words or President Bush\’s as the truth. Verify it from the historical record.

Gordon Clint,
Newbury Park

Reframing healthcare

For years, I\’ve been aware of right wing propaganda so pervasive and continuous I assumed it was everyone\’s reality but mine. Only recently have I observed that left wing propaganda, while having less access to major media and thus less impact, makes a complementary contribution to the same illusions.

Take the capitalism/socialism dichotomy. I can find dictionary definitions of each, of course, but that doesn\’t mean any reality matches up with the definitions. I can find definitions for gremlins and fairies, too.

My dictionary defines socialism as “… government or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.\” Capitalism, on the other hand, involves private or corporate ownership and control.

Take healthcare: if the system is working, if people\’s needs are being met at reasonable cost, as in Canada, United Kingdom, Iceland or Cuba, then whatever system is in place is satisfactory. If, as in this country, patients, doctors and others involved report massive failure, damage and frustration, despite enormous outlays of private and public money, correction seems in order.

To do so is not to reach for their models in any other area — be it political or cultural. It does not mean approving of nations that share the model. It is not a test of righteousness. It is also not the overthrow of the existing order, however flawed one may deem it. It is instead a rational approach to a particular problem in a particular context.

Sen. Sheila Kuehl\’s plan approved by both houses of our legislature but vetoed by the governor may or may not be \”socialized medicine\” as he stated, but the reality-based question is, so what? The plan, still alive as SB 840, appears the most \”corrective\” of those in the offing relative to what ails the current system. Rather than being stampeded by ideologues and their labels, we should support it.

Margaret Morris
Ventura