Letters

Latest tax cuts are a fiscal fumble for Bush and Congress

Thank you for the May 12 articles on the latest tax-cut bill, "Who gains from tax-cut bill," and "For GOP, tax relief is political break, too." While it is hard not to respect the positive findings of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation regarding the 2003 tax cuts, I still find it difficult to accept that the country as a whole will gain from the latest tax breaks, with so few of the benefits going to the main body of the middle class.

More troubling is the blithe dismissal of the budgetary implications of these cuts by Republicans and their supporters. With the debt limit due to be raised to $10 trillion soon, it seems the height of political cynicism for Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, to say that the latest cuts send "an important signal to Republican voters and taxpayers that the president and Congress are moving and haven't dropped the ball." How can such colossal fiscal mismanagement not be considered a massive fumble?
Alan Willis
Portland, Ore.

Great athletes don't need boosts to win

Regarding the May 12 article, "Athlete tent gives druglike boost. Should it be legal?": The answer is no - these tents should not be legal. The article enlightened readers about new technology that gives athletes the effects of a natural - and unnatural - high. Yes, high-altitude air is natural, but marijuana is, too. That doesn't mean that it should be legalized. Also, if these are supposedly the best athletes in the world, they should not need anything, not even "special air," to enhance their performance. They should win - naturally.
Laura Distel
Indianapolis

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Simplify instructions for product use

Regarding the May 15 article, "A fast rate of return": Complexity isn't the only factor that leads people to bring their electronic toys back to the store in frustration. Another is the poor instructions and documentation that generally accompany products.

For some reason, companies think that someone who is good at designing a product or writing software will naturally be good at writing instructions for how to use it. But those who know all about something are not the right people to write instructions - they tend to leave out details that are not important to them but are very important to the novice user of the device. They also tend to load their instructions with undefined jargon. Similarly, foreign manufacturers often have people with questionable English-language skills write the English instructions for their products. The results are sometimes hilarious, but almost always not very useful.

There are technical writers who make their living writing product documentation and instructions. This type of writing is a skill, and it would be well worth the cost for manufacturers to pay a technical writer to avoid having their products come back to them. Wise up, CEOs, and you might boost your bottom line.
Steve Buechner
Former technical writer
Madison, Wis.

The circus is no place for an elephant

Thank you so much for the inspiring May 16 article, "Elephant rescue offers mud, bath, and lots of space." From the time I was a child, something didn't sit right with me when I saw elephants performing in the circus. They seemed out of their element, unlike the ones I saw on TV bathing in African mud pits and walking for miles every day. I suspect that, in terms of understanding these magnificent animals, we only have seen the tip of the iceberg. They deserve better lives than being trucked around to perform under the big top.
Ellen Cramer
Washington

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