Regarding your Jan. 10 editorial, "The time is ripe to reform lobbying": There is only one way to break the hold of special interests on government in Washington and in all other levels of government, and it has nothing to do with lobbying itself. Lobbying should be permitted as an essential way to educate elected officials and government employees.
However, I think only individuals who are eligible to vote should be allowed to contribute money or anything else of value to any elected official or political party, and such contributions should be limited to about $1,000 per cause.
Corporations and other special interest groups are not eligible to vote and should not be allowed to continue corrupting and bribing our government officials. Lobby to educate, but keep valuable contributions out of it.
The Jan. 5 article, "The Comptroller: America's prophet of fiscal doom," interviewing David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States, confirmed so many of my concerns, having grown up during the Great Depression.
Mr. Walker's observations are based on financial facts and figures. Mine are based on observation of our societal habits of spending and saving (or overspending and not saving).
Walker is putting it to the government to restructure and reduce its size and to put limits on discretionary spending and policies. I say fine, but it all begins at home.
The American people must restructure their financial habits and quit spending more money than they have coming in. They must look ahead at more than immediate, pleasurable consumption.
I think heavy responsibility also lies with marketing entities - what company can justifiably ask a family (of any status) to buy something without paying for it now? "Don't pay until 2007" - when, no doubt, technology will have made the newest model more desirable. People hungry for comfort are vulnerable, and the onus is on marketing firms (just as it is on the government) to show integrity in their work.
I hope government and business will pay attention to Walker's concerns - even if it is already too late, as he suggests, in some areas of risk.
Doris H. Thurston
Port Townsend, Wash.
In regard to Mansoor Ijaz and James Abrahamson's Jan. 4 Opinion piece, "Secure the US against bloodless terrorist warfare": The authors' arguments seem to be based more on fear than on science.
Electromagnetic pulse happens all the time. Lightning makes it, for instance. Solar flares that generate spectacular auroras make it.
The piece makes it sound like a terrorist with a single weak nuke could take out the whole eastern seaboard of the US with an EMP. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, someone could fry all the electronics in Manhattan with one detonated in space. Or he could just detonate the device close to the ground and cause similar damage from the EMP and a lot more destruction and mayhem - which is, I think, a terrorist's goal.
Finally, the military and most government emergency services equipment is designed to be EMP resistant.
Eugene Pharr Jr.
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