School has no heat!

I opened the Denver Post to see a shivering child’s picture on the front page.

She was from a small K-12 school in Silverton, Colo., where winter temperatures often drop below zero.

In November the boiler broke beyond repair. The gym was so cold it couldn’t be used. Pen ink froze and only pencils were useable! Installed space heaters from volunteers overworked and caused the circuits to blow!!

This is a small town with no other suitable building to use for a school and busing is not possible due to snow blocking or causing dangers in the mountain passes. So these kids have braved it through the winter and hope to have a new heating system by next winter.

These children and the community are proud and hope to save this old school that is part of their history.

What a difference between them and the billionaires who have more homes and boats and money than they could ever need or know what to do with.

This school could use a worthy donation for the efforts of the children and staff that have braved it through this long cold winter.

Vivian Weinstein

Colorado Springs CO

Immigrant and worker rights

I have disagreed with much of what Ray Marshall did and said as Carter’s secretary of labor, starting from when he was nominated for the post and said moving forward on full employment (the Humphrey-Hawkins bill) had to be put off until the problem of undocumented immigrants was solved. It seems he has improved a bit — like his call for improving temporary worker programs rather than expand them.

I say we should nationalize the economic activities where temporary workers are “needed,” with a unionized 21st century WPA. The “adjusted” undocumented here now could be part of such programs with “middle class” jobs, health care, vacations, etc.

Anyway, let’s study what he has to say for “sausage” ideas for a possible compromise package that can get the needed votes.

A May Day idea: The original May Day was a call for solidarity with U.S. workers facing the corporate robber barons who brought us state monopoly capitalism. Such international solidarity can help pass just immigration reform, the Employee Free Choice Act and other labor and democratic rights, especially with the progressive possibilities with the Obama administration and improved Congress.

We face the biggest and strongest ruling class in world history. Equality for immigrants and others at home is key to blocking and eventually dismantling U.S. imperialism.

Rosalio Muñoz

Los Angeles CA

Fickle and volatile

Populist outrage at taxpayer-funded bailouts of big financial institutions and auto companies presents both opportunities and dangers to the left in its efforts to consolidate the hard-earned victory over the ultra-right in the 2008 elections.

Populism is volatile and fickle. It can quickly move either left or right, and therein lies the danger.

The specific problem is that people’s understandable frustration and anger, expressed in slogans and demands such as “Bail out people, not banks” can easily be manipulated by the right into an anti-regulation, anti-worker, pro-laissez-faire backlash.

Drop all references to the people from such demands, and we are back to “No bailouts!” — the simple-minded economic do-nothingism that’s exactly where the ultra-right wants us to be.

Foreseeing the inevitable shortcomings of Obama’s economic recovery plan, the right tries to paint the administration as socialist, so that future problems can be sold to the public as failures of “socialism” that can only be fixed by a return to the same unrestrained, neoliberal capitalism that got us in this mess in the first place.

The right will do everything in its power to ensure that the American people do not perceive the truth that Obama’s failures will result from too little socialism rather than too much.

The left has the opportunity right now to tell the truth to the American people about the need for socialism at a time when they are more willing to listen than at any other period in recent history. That’s why it is so disturbing when some socialists merely jump on the bandwagon and repeat populist phrases without elaborating on the need for socialism as a basis for the realization of all such demands.

There will never be meaningful bailouts for people, national health care and an end to foreclosures and other devastating effects of capitalist economic crises unless we move toward socialism in a conscious, scientific manner.

This is an important part of the message we and our allies need to get out in the lead-up to the 2010 elections.

David Pena

West Palm Beach FL

Support dental funding

Thousands of low-income children and adults in Illinois suffer from untreated dental disease. They can’t eat or sleep properly, can’t do their best at school or work; they can’t smile. They are at risk for other, serious health problems. All because of a disease that could easily have been prevented and could easily be treated.

On average, each American drinks 53 gallons of soda a year, and the consumption of soft drinks in general has increased 500 percent in the past 50 years. Soft drinks have no nutritional value and pose many oral and overall health risks, including enamel loss and obesity.

We applaud Illinois state Rep. Lisa Hernandez for introducing legislation that would fund much needed improvements to Illinois’ dental care system, dramatically increasing the number of people receiving dental care, through a modest increase in the sales tax on soft drinks.

Under an amendment to HB 388, revenues generated from a 5 percent statewide soft drink sales tax would fund dental clinics in underserved areas and increase funding for Medicaid dental coverage.

Illinois has among the lowest rates in the nation for government-funded dental care. As a result, we face an oral-health-care crisis. Dental clinics have closed; services have been sharply reduced. All while the need for government-funded dental care has dramatically increased due to the economic downturn and massive job loss. Illinois currently has just one clinic per 8,400 children who rely on government insurance.

HB 388 will help end a lot of needless suffering among the most vulnerable Illinoisans. I urge you to tell your legislator to support this bill. The future of healthy smiles depends on it.

Lauri Frichtl

Springfield IL

Lauri Frichtl is executive director of the Illinois Head Start Association.

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