Congress should also bail out the arts
Regarding the Feb. 9 article, "The emerging stimulus bill: still big": I applaud the Obama administration for including funding for the arts in the current proposed stimulus package. The fact that it is at all controversial points to the degree to which our public education system has failed in its responsibility to treat the arts as an essential part of a healthy life.
Why is it that when there is a budget shortfall, the arts are the first on the chopping block? As an artist, I can assure you that artists are "real people" whose contribution to society is a far better investment than a Wall Street bank executive's, for whom the entire proposed arts package might represent a single bonus. A lot of artists could be supported for that amount.
Let us set aside for the moment the fact that the arts function as the heart, soul, and conscience of a society and that much of our current economic crisis can be traced to a cultural anemia thereof. Musicians make some of the best computer programmers. Architects are consulted for the design of computer chips. Most of the things you love bear the influence of an artist in some way. The measure of the greatness of a society is the degree to which it supports its artistic talent.
Artists are accustomed to doing a lot with a little, and have a great deal to teach the rest of us about resourcefulness in lean times. As such, one would be hard-pressed to find a better bang for one's buck.
Are local banks the best banks?
In regard to the Feb. 2 commentary, "Community banking: Where people come first": This piece was spot on, but didn't go quite far enough. Credit unions are the way to go. The money deposited gets loaned in your community and invested prudently. The larger ones offer all the array of services one could get at the national, name-brand banks, plus a healthy dose of quality customer service.
In light of the frenzied greed displayed by the large banks, Americans should take their business to credit unions or local banks.
Sarah Smith Redmond
Shelter Bay, Mich.
This commentary sounds an awful lot like an advertisement. I can't see community banking being any better than national banking unless these community banks don't securitize their loans. Loan securitization was one of the big things that caused this economic crisis to become so bad. Since banks could securitize the loans, they didn't have to carry them on their books and they could make more loans. Other people held the risk, not the banks. If the bank making the loan doesn't take the loss if the loan defaults, there is no reason to be careful about whom the money is loaned to.
Obama's strategy is more than charm
Regarding the Feb. 5 Opinion piece, "How fares Obama's multi-tasking?": Framing President Obama's strategy as a "charm offensive" implies the thinking of a simpleton. To the contrary, Mr. Obama has signaled a nuanced understanding of and approach to the difficulties facing our country and the global community. This is in stark contrast to the previous president and his administration, who summarily viewed national and global problems, as well as their attendant solutions, in the starkest of all possible terms: black and white.
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