I grew up in New Mexico, where companies are still trying to buy the right to bury nuclear waste in southern salt mines. The opinion-page article ``Dances With Garbage,'' Feb. 14, describes a similar tragedy. Waste disposal is a national and global problem. Does it really belong in the hands of American entrepreneurs? Should it stay in the realm of moneymaking ventures? Is raping native lands again our answer? What about taking it out of the hands of private profiteers and instituting a national disposal policy including environmentally safe packaging standards, mandatory recycling, and limitations on hazardous-waste production?
It's ironic and humiliating that the same native populations that have tried to teach us by example their traditional love and respect for our mother Earth are now being approached with money in exchange for desecrating the tiny spaces on this planet they've been left to tend.
Ruth Plum, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Locolize federal funds The article ``Mayors See Block Grant as Clock for Cuts to Cities,'' Feb. 14, gives an excellent example of one of the problems with government in the US today, namely that the federal government uses so-called federal funds, which are really our tax dollars, to prostitute our state and local governments and bend them to its federal will.
The federal government uses these funds to usurp the powers of the states and rights of the people guaranteed by the US Constitution. When the federal government extends beyond its constitutional bounds, we, the people, pay and pay dearly.
The solution to this problem is very clear; the federal government should eliminate every department for which it has no direct constitutional mandate, then cut federal taxes by the amount saved. Not only would this bring an incredible drop in the federal budget, it would also free up much income that the states and cities could tax to set up more efficient programs.
It may seem strange to drop or eliminate federal taxes just so the states and cities could raise theirs, but remember: 1) overall taxes would be lower (local programs are smaller and less vulnerable to waste); 2) the people have more control over local spending (a vote is much louder at the city council or state legislature than at Congress or the White House).
We would solve many problems if the federal government would do only those things that are too large for the states to do (such as defense and foreign policy) and leave the rest to states and cities.
Leo J. Krajewski, Lower Burrell, Pa.
The Palestinian image The opinion-page article ``Needed: A Bush Stand for Palestinian Rights,'' Feb. 15, is right on the money. The US, as leader of the West and the largest single contributor to the problem financially and in arms provision, is very much in need of contrition, introspection, and rectification.
The bad news is the accompanying illustration. Granted, it is good to see a Palestinian who still can raise a clenched fist in support of the idea of a homeland in his home land. But the article and the main issue concern not the relatively few men who carry automatic weapons.
The author and all right thinkers focus on the masses of Palestinians who are unarmed. They are unarmed of economic opportunity, self-determination, and educational parity.
We all need to do whatever we can to erase the image of the Palestinian as a gunslinging terrorist, and to build up the image of him as a person very much wanting and needing freedom to grow.
Thomas M. Gallant, Town & Country, Mo.