Billions for Star Wars

I spent a considerable part of today watching the Senate “debate” the amount of funding for “missile defense” in fiscal year 2003.

The Senate is close to approving a $393 billion Defense Authorization Bill, with the Star Wars funding question holding them up.

George W. Bush wants $7.6 billion in 2003 for research and development for a host of Star Wars systems now underway. The Democratic-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee is recommending that Bush’s request be cut by $814 million. The Republicans are angry about that and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) has introduced an amendment to restore the full funding. Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld is saying that he will recommend that Bush veto the final bill if the Star Wars funding is not restored.

Of course, if the Democrats succeed in cutting the $814 million from Star Wars research and development the money will go toward other programs at the Pentagon, not things like Social Security, health care, child care and education.

The Congress gave the Pentagon so much money for Star Wars last year that the military could not spend all of it. Such is the state of politics in the U.S. today. Back to the streets.

If you are inclined to call your Senate delegation, you can reach them at the Congressional Switchboard: (202) 224-3121.

Bruce GagnonGainesville FL

Corporate welfare in sports

I’ve read lately some pro and con letters for a sports page in the People’s Weekly World. I’m against one because a PWW sports page would be a back-door endorsement for corporate welfare in America.

Rich major league capitalist sports team owners demand major concessions from the taxpayers and city fathers in every host city and state where their franchises are located.

In my hometown of Philadelphia, it’s costing the state and city to pay about $600 million of public money to build two new stadiums for the Phillies (baseball) and the Eagles (football), with the team owners kicking in about another $300 million ($150 million each) for new stadium construction. This, while the state of Pennsylvania had to take over Philadelphia’s public schools due to lack of money to run them. (How many Edison-for-profit articles have I read already in the PWW?)

The City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania have money to spend on sports palaces for the rich, but no money for the children’s education! What’s wrong with this picture? This goes on in almost every major city in America with a major league sports team – Phildelphia isn’t an isolated case.

So, just on the principle of supporting greedy rich team owners with a PWW sports page versus the needy and well-deserving children of all big cities with serious budget problems – I say “no” to any sports page.

Michael P. HillSwedesboro NJ

Nursing shortage?

I am a registered nurse working in the ER at our local hospital. In a recent Phil E. Benjamin column he estimated that there are 1.3 million nurses working in hospitals in the country. Left out is the fact that, according to recent figures, there is probably close to a million registered nurses on the sidelines. This is primarily due to poor working conditions, inadequate salary for the job required, and a woeful lack of co-ordinated benefits.

Mr. Benjamin’s call for “more nurses” could play into the hands of management. Why should management agree to better wages, working conditions, and benefits if there is a whole new generation of “greenies” coming out? It is the classic management response of “take it or leave it, we’ll find someone who does want to work.”

It is also inexcusable that the “professional associations,” which claim to represent nurses, do not address the issue of unified health and retirement options for nurses nationwide. The strength in numbers is there. Increased retention would result in higher quality patient care and increase patient safety.

Larry JammesElsberg WA

Republican menace

Thank you for your recent articles on the environment. I am particularly concerned about the persistent releasing of greenhouse gasses into our fragile atmosphere.

We must work against the reelection of Mr. Bush, starting right now. His stonewalling of this issue on the international level is a crime that should call for a Nuremberg-type trial. How can we ignore the creation of a death chamber on our planet as the atmosphere will become as we change the climate with global warming?

We must pull together to get rid of this Republican menace.

Cletis BeegleTucson AZ