Mail and Commentary Oct. 5, 2011 

Online Video Visitation Bad Policy

I recently learned that the Ada County sheriff is starting a new jail visitation policy called “Online Video Visitation.” A family or friend can visit where you want, when you want. Be a part of the moment. So says the postcard about this new policy. On the other side are these “Fast Facts.” In order to get started, an inmate must request your email address be added to his list of visitors. A request to schedule a visit can be initiated by an inmate or visitor. Each visit lasts 25 minutes. An inmate may schedule up to two visiting sessions per day. Visits can be scheduled up to six days in advance. Inmates receive two free visits per week and can purchase additional visits. Paid visits are $6.18 per session. At first reading, this sounds like a phase of new hi-tech socialization. The problem that I see is that many inmates in jail come from low-income families or underemployed or unemployed backgrounds and have not the financial means to afford a computer and equipment necessary to do online visits, and if they did, they could not afford to eat or pay the electrical bill. As an ordained pastor in the Lutheran church (ELCA), who has spent 40 years in parish ministry and has visited inmates in jail and state prisons, I believe that this new visitation policy, however economically sound and hi-tech, is a poor excuse, immoral, unjustifiable and inhumane. I think the sheriff should re-examine the policy and its effects on inmates and their families. Face-to-face visits even between glass is much, much better and more personal. I urge the sheriff to reconsider this new visitation policy.

—Rev. Stan Hoobing, Boise

Boycotting Obama is Dumb

Ted, I am deeply troubled by your attitude toward voting for Barack Obama (“Powerless No More,” Opinion, BW, Sept. 14, 2011). Like many Americans, I see you are disappointed in how Obama has governed thus far but to suggest that liberals, progressives, leftists or anyone for that matter should take their vote elsewhere is beyond stupid. I am a progressive liberal who does not like or approve of everything Obama has done either, but to not vote or vote Republican as you suggest would be more destructive to our fragile country than 10 Katrinas. You suggest that Americans instead vote for the American Taliban, i.e. Perry, Bachmann, Santorum. Or vote for a phony like Romney or Ron Paul? Also you suggest that our vote would be “symbolic” and somehow not a real vote, give me break. Rall, if enough liberals or progressives buy into your argument, I hope you enjoy living under a Perry presidency. You are dumb and could cost this country a great deal in 2012.

—Erik Elison, Hailey

War, What is it Good For? Profit.

I applaud you for publishing the informative “9/11 Blinders” article by Tom Hayden.

As a former Army officer (infantry), I don’t consider myself a pacifist. However, I don’t agree either with the wars in faraway lands that we are fighting at great cost both financially, as well as in lost lives.

These wars are supposed to make America safer and bring democratic forms of government to countries that for eons have been ruled by warlords or dictators. I bet that as soon as we leave these countries to fend for themselves, they will revert to a non-democratic form of government again. I also doubt America is any safer now than it was in 2001. Our borders and beaches are porous. If illegal immigrants and drugs can be brought into the country at will, how many would-be terrorists also slip into America to become “the enemy within”?

More people should become informed about the “Long War” and the underlying real reasons why we are fighting these wars (such as oil supplies in this region) that Hayden writes about. I also agree with his assessment that the money wasted on fighting “Bush’s wars” could be spent more wisely right here in America to fix state and local government crises and to pursue other more important goals such as energy conservation, job creation, etc.

One thing Hayden did not mention is that these wars are lucrative for businesses (like Halliburton Corporation and other contractors). Also, these wars “employ” young Americans as professional soldiers. In the absence of these wars, these soldiers would be part of the millions of unemployed Americans looking for work in a country whose well-paying jobs have disappeared during the past 30 years (thanks to globalization and free trade) to countries with often better-educated workers willing to work for lower wages, such as China and India.

—Robert Boester, Boise

To: Speaker of the House John Boehner

Sir: your use of the term “class warfare” is incorrect. To define: “class warfare” or class conflict ... Class conflict is a term used mostly by socialists, communists and anarchists, Mr. Boehner, are you any of these? Defining a class by its relationship to the means of production, such as factories, land and machinery is a point of view inclusive to societal control of production and labor. This becomes a contest between classes, and the division of these resources necessarily involves conflict and inflicts harm. The implication from Mr. Boehner is that the wealthy “job creators” will be harmed by a modest tax increase. Boo hoo (tiny violin playing). Class conflict within a capitalist society is descriptive of our society. Conflict is seen to occur primarily between the bourgeoisie: me, the poor underclass, and you, the proletariat—the group with wealth and control of production and manufacturing. Class conflict may take on a violent nature and involve repression, assault and restriction of civil liberties (Patriot Act). Potentially, the wealthy “job creators” could impose violence, repression and restriction of civil liberties. Ergo “class warfare.”

—Bob Nicholas, Boise

Social Security Should Stay

Social Security is one of the most responsible programs America’s government had ever created. And because America had always claimed and prided itself on being a fair, just, and responsible nation. And, now, with all America economically struggling, all America will be able to see (be a part of) the true value and worth of how great Social Security really is for all America. Please note: Over 30 years ago, Congress was so jubilant by the massive amount of dollars the Social Security coffers held, that Congress was able to collectively see and agree, that in addition to pay-in Social Security recipients, there are enough dollars to also start help paying for many things all America needs. In plain English, starting at that time, now only the people who paid into Social Security were paying for some of the responsibilities that all America had, and this wasn’t fair, it wasn’t just or right, that every person in America was benefiting from (off the backs of) the people who paid Social Security. Let’s all thank god, for better late then never, for now that it is out in the open, Congress can immediately create and pass a “bill,” making it a law, that every working person in America, from America’s President down, will all have to pay Social Security. Yes, this way, every working person in America will be paying their fair share of those needs that all America has. Again, and again, this is the only fair, just, and right thing for all America to do. Rightly so, this proposed Social Security “bill” should take precedence over the president’s “The American Job Act” “bill” that America’s president proposed during a nationwide TV broadcast on Thursday, Sept. 8, for this proposed Social Security “bill” will bring about immediate economic stability throughout all America. “So It Must Be First! Yes, all America being responsible in its duty to be fair and just, has the power to repair America.

Just like deception and greed have the power to keep destroying all of America.

What To Do! What To Do!,

Should America be fair and just, or, should America preserve and protect vanity? Accordingly, a follow up revamping by our government of all civil service pension programs, and how much each civil servant and all other entities owe Social Security, and how they will all pay Social Security, must also follow, for these many dollars due Social Security, are in the trillions. Again, again, and again, all this is based on if America wants to be the fair, just and responsible nation, as our government had always publicly upheld itself to be. And so, may America’s lawmakers be the responsible body they are all trusted to be by creating and passing said Social Security “bill” without any delays, so America can come to its senses, by every working person in America paying their fair share. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! Doing things right.

—Emil Seljan, Boise

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