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Letters to the Editor April 21

Seat belts unnecessary on school buses

Mike Brink's editorial advocating that children wear seat belts on school buses as a solution to everything from bus safety to teenage drinking and driving seems a little over-broad and based on wishful thinking. I don't know how much carryover value they would have in other areas of their lives, but seat belts are not the answer on school buses. If they were, then there would be pressure to install seat belts on TriMet and the MAX. And how about Amtrak?

No, it's not seat belts we need. We need parents to demand of their children that they sit in their seats and obey the instructions from the bus driver. Children seated correctly in a school bus are as safe as belted passengers in a car in almost all situations except a rollover of the bus (unless the crash involves a speeding train, in which case the train always wins).

People who campaign for seat belts in buses need to check with the schools that have them. Visualize every kid on the bus having a 2-and-a-half-foot strap with a hunk of metal on the end of it to smack whoever he wishes. Visualize trying to evacuate a bus in less than 30 seconds when everybody is strapped in. Visualize having the responsibility of enforcing seat belt use for 50 kids while concentrating on driving safely down the road. School bus driving is complicated multitasking. Unfortunately, the only people we can get to drive them are normal everyday people, and most people won't do it.

A bus driver's demanding job is made more difficult by students who think it is their right to bounce around the bus and parents who see it as somebody else's problem to solve. Our money and efforts might be better utilized if we could get volunteers to ride the buses and help enforce the rules that already make school bus travel the safest mode of transportation around.

David A. Cary

Gresham

Gender equity is still an issue in United States

Because equity is still an issue, the American Association of University Women of Oregon joins women around the nation to recognize Equal Pay Day on April 24. This day is observed to recognize how far into each year a woman must work to earn as much as a man earned in the previous year.

In AAUW's Gains in Learning Gaps in Earnings online research it is noted that while women have made remarkable strides in education during the past three decades, these gains have yet to translate into full equity in pay. The gap in earnings is seen within the first year after college graduation and widens during the first 10 years in the work force. Research is showing us that the wage gap cannot be explained by women's choices.

Equal pay for equal work is a simple matter of justice for women. In 1955, Rep. Edith Green (D-OR) co-authored a bill requiring equal pay for equal work. And in 1963, the U.S. Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, a version of the 1955 bill. In 1963 women earned 59 cents to the dollar men earned. In 2006, on average, women working full-time and year-round earned 77 percent of men's earnings. The wage gap has narrowed less than a half-penny per year! The gap in earnings in today's dollars means a lifetime loss of more than $300,000. And the wage gap is larger among minorities. Compared to white men, African-American women make 67 cents on the dollar, and Hispanic women make almost 58 cents. (African-American men make 75 cents on the dollar, and Hispanic men make almost 66 cents.)

The injustice of pay inequality has real consequences. Women's Social Security checks are smaller when they retire. Newly retired men today receive 47 percent more in their Social Security checks than women do. Because women are expected to live longer than men, this means reduced buying power, and thus, reduced spending … an impact that business people need to consider in light of increased numbers of people retiring. Pay inequality hurts families, whether it is total lifetime earnings, or ability to save for retirement, or buying a home, or paying for a college education.

Mardy Stevens

President

American Association of

University Women of Oregon

Gresham

VA has been unpopular for decades

Mike Mattingly, in his letter of April 14, 'has news for me' with regards to Veterans Administration health care. Perhaps he's not read about the poor vet whose healthy testicle was removed at a VA facility. If Mattingly has survived VA health care, that's a good thing. But the VA has been an unfortunate laughingstock for decades; no one political party is solely responsible, as the presidency and the congressional leadership has changed several times over the decades. As per usual, Mattingly stoops to name-calling and simplistically blaming everything from poor care at the VA to the gravy stain on his favorite tie on those eeeeevil neocons. I got over the boogey man a long time ago Mike; perhaps you should try and put that behind you. As for universal health care being a wonderful thing, just look north of the border. There's more CAT scanners for veterinary use than human use in Canada; the average wait for gall bladder removal is nine months; the wait is over a year for hip replacement. Government does nothing quickly or efficiently. Why would anyone want government to totally rule health care, one-seventh of the U.S. economy?

Here's one last barrage of facts before closing. Mattingly continually carps about how our involvement in Iraq has accomplished nothing. I believe our war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have made a positive difference in our national security. There hasn't been a 9/11-style attack since 9/11/01. Contrast that with the explosive '90s - America suffered the first World Trade Center bombings, which was to have brought down both towers but thankfully didn't. There was the Oklahoma City bombing, done by Timothy McVeigh and others in part to protest the mishandled Waco tragedy where scores of Americans (granted, with an odd bent for following David Koresh) were burned to death. There was the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya, the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Tanzania, the Khobar Towers bombing, the bombing of the USS Cole and the debacle in Somalia where America cut and ran, thus emboldening Osama bin Laden to authorize the 9/11 attacks. And what was the U.S. response to those terrorist attacks? A few of the perps of the first WTC bombing, most notably Ramzi Yousef, were prosecuted and jailed. Timothy McVeigh was executed. We lobbed some cruise missiles into a Sudanese aspirin factory and some empty tents in Afghanistan. And the bombings continued on American soil, American embassies, American ships.

While every American casualty is a tragedy, passively sitting back and waiting for the next 9/11 shouldn't be an option either. You can claim to support the troops all you like, but it rings rather hollowly when you continually disrespect their mission.

Jane Pluemke

Eagle Creek