Many years have passed since I was 11 or 12, caddying at Bel-Mar Country Club in Belvidere, Ill. Hindsight tells me I had my share of energy, spirit and probably enough testosterone for any innocent boy.

In the early 1930s, FDR dominated the radio airwaves with his "fireside chats," orating in a "golden voice" his recovery programs: bank closures, NRA, WPA, PWA, TVA, CCC. Most everyone loved FDR for his sincere effort to help the poor and needy.

Eleanor, the first lady, also got in on the act. She was bold enough to publicly chastise the Daughters oif the American Revolution for rejecting Marian Anderson, a talented black vocalist. Eleanor stood up for women; she barnstormed the nation, constantly encouraging women.

As the years began to pass, perhaps I allowed a little trivia to set in. Would I outlive my three older brothers: 59, 74, 79? Certainly, I would never reach my grandfather, 821/2; my father, 89; my mother, 93.

My declining years find me looking out this retirement home window, paying $2,287 monthly. I'm concerned! I'm troubled about those less fortunate, unemployed, those losing homes, savings, investments, pensions.

I'm wondering if the "golden voice" I now hear will bring, or be allowed to bring, the help that is so badly needed? — John G. Grimm, Medford

After continually reading about graffiti or "tagging" and seeing it pop up anew around town, I would like to offer some insight.

When a tagger strikes anywhere in Jackson County, instead of putting the burden of repairing it on the already unlucky property owner, let's put the criminals that do community service to work cleaning it up as part of their sentence.

It's not uncommon to find several people from the same gang, family or neighborhood in the system at the same time. If the tagger knew that it was another member of that element that was down on their hands and knees cleaning their mess, and wonder if there was going to be consequences when that person was released, he might think twice before doing it. — Dan Meyer, Medford

Buried March 14 in a 3-inch piece on page 3 was the note that Oregon's House of Representatives has approved legislation to commit Oregon to the direct election of the nation's president in replacement of the Electoral College.

Does the state's political class consider the way we elect the president to be too trivial an issue to bother with a serious statewide discussion? Or do our political "leaders" view the issue as too important to risk involving the state's citizens in the decision? — Steve Wesche, Ashland

There has been criticism on TV and in the press about the efforts by the federal government to correct the current economic crisis, calling the policy such hot button words as "socialism" or "nationalization" and even "Marxism." Such commentators never offer solutions, just criticism.

The reality is when there is a systemic failure of our economic system, the only institution available to solve the problem is our national government using the tools of fiscal and monetary policy, as well as appropriate regulation.

When there are problems that affect the society as a whole such as war and major disasters, (both physical and economic), it is inevitable that we spend more of our gross domestic product through the government. This is not any of the hot-button words thrown out by the critics, but a rational response to the problems.

Reducing taxes under Reagan was the right response for the eighties, but today's problems require a different policy. We are facing major energy, economic and environmental problems. It is inevitable that more of the nation's productivity will flow through the government as part of the solution, just as it did in World War II and the Great Depression. — Marc Heritage, Rogue River

Medical marijuana and harm reduction are the policies promoted by the drug pushers as a pretext for their ultimate goal of legalizing all drugs. They realize the U.S. public is not generally degenerate enough yet to accept full legalization, so they slyly promote these policies.

Marijuana is a narcotic. It destroys the mental ability of the person using it by destroying their ability to focus and to think creatively. If you want to destroy civilization and promote narco-terrorism, than support legalization of drugs.

Where do you think the drug cartels that terrorize Mexico, or the FARC in Colombia, or the Taliban in Afghanistan, get their money from?

Support law enforcement. Protect our children. Do we as a society have the morality to fight a real war on drugs? If not, then maybe we don't deserve to live in a civilized society. "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." Learn more at www.larouchepac.com — John Mitchell, Medford

Under Bush, Republicans ran up the biggest national debt increase in U.S. history and left the country in a shambles. Now, pretending to care about fiscal responsibility, they would rather sit on the sidelines taunting Obama than help repair the damage.

That didn't win them any points, so they pulled out their big gun: Rush Limbaugh. There's nothing like a drug-addled hate show host to fire up the base, as long as the base considers facts irrelevant.

As much as we need an opposition party, having a buffoon like Limbaugh as spokesman would reduce the GOP to a permanent minority of wing nuts. It's amazing even they can stomach his ignorant tirades.

Rush's corrosive influence would make rational Republican an oxymoron. Like Sarah Palin, he separates the "thinks" from the "think-nots."

Resolving the nation's crisis will require cooperation and sacrifice. But with or without the nut cases who hope we fail, I'm confident that as Obama said, "We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before." — Michael Steely, Medford

Regarding "House Dems say Oregon health reform on track," March 14: Oregon legislators surely know that hospitals nationwide are in precarious financial positions. The ever decreasing payments hospitals receive for services provided are causing them to reduce services, facilities and staff, as your newspaper frequently reports.

If the Oregon Legislature succeeds in pulling $700 million out of hospitals by raising their provider taxes, what will our hospitals cut next? Cancer therapy centers, emergency medicine departments or birthing centers? Insurance companies are not likely to raise reimbursements even though hospital finances are in distress.

Making hospital services less accessible to the public is very cost effective, but will not improve the health care of any of us, including the uninsured. What public policy are state leaders promoting? — Marvin Kazmin, M.D., Medford

Regarding AIG paying $165 million in bonuses: An appropriate federal government response would be a new 90 percent tax rate specifically for employee bonuses at any institution accepting bailout money with no exceptions or deductions allowed. — Keith Massie, Ashland

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