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Letters

August 4, 2003



An eye on government surveillance

Regarding your July 30 article "On Chicago streets, cameras are watching": The American Civil Liberties Union's criticism of increased use of police surveillance cameras is in vain. People need protection from violent criminals at every moment. If we are to rely solely upon the police for this protection, then they must be able to observe us at every moment. Of course, increased government surveillance will lead to greater infringement of our freedoms, but the only alternative is to combine police protection with self-protection, as the NRA advocates. The ACLU has not defended the right to keep and bear arms, so what does it expect? Does it think we'll allow ourselves to spend most of our lives unprotected from violent criminals?
Frank Silbermann
New Orleans

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To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who give up liberty for security will wind up with neither. The increasing government surveillance is an example of the old game of "pressure from below, pressure from above," where the problem and the solution are created in the same laboratory. I have witnessed decades in which problems are created, or taken advantage of, to increase justification for government "solutions" that result in bigger government and less individual liberty.
Chip Higgins
Sandy, Utah

Perils of religion in politics

Regarding your July 31 article "New tolerance for faith in politics": The United States is a secular nation. When politicians start using religion in their campaign speeches, it is because they have nothing governmentally constructive to offer. That a majority of respondents to polls favors religious declarations of candidates indicates just how little people know about our history and the inherent dangers involved in religious rhetoric in a political climate.
Teddi Curtis
Corona, Calif.

When gunmakers are accountable

Regarding the July 30 Opinion "Remembering Kenzo, and still trying to change gun law": Susan DeMersseman's claim that "no person who has lost a loved one when a gun was not carefully made or carefully sold feels the least bit of frivolity" is interesting in that there is no indication in her story that the gun was carelessly made or sold. The gun fired when it was supposed to - when there is a bullet in the chamber - and, while the source of the weapon is less clear, it doesn't sound as though it was a sale to an inappropriate person that led to this accident. Yes, this was a tragic event, but it wasn't the gun manufacturer's fault. The legislation under consideration by Congress would not protect manufacturers against injuries caused by defects in manufacture. This is something for which they should be held accountable. It does protect them against those who are grasping at straws to find someone other than the people directly involved to blame. Given the number of people who will find any excuse to sue the industry in an attempt to put it out of business, this is a worthwhile move on the part of our Congress.
Ben Mitchell
Palo Alto, Calif.

Poor salaries for scientists

Regarding your July 29 article "Where are the future scientists?": As a geologist, I say the problem is money. The salaries for scientists are pitiful. I have specialized in water resources the past 28 years in the Southwest US, an area of drought and limited water, yet all the money is made by attorneys who "dabble" in water rights and water litigation. I would not be a scientist again after knowing what I now know about the field. By the time I retire, I won't have much money despite all my degrees and 35 years of hard work.
Ginia Wickersham
Scottsdale, Ariz.

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