Rep. Dennis Richardson is spreading anti-union propaganda suggesting that public employees are overcompensated. He's being disingenuous at best.

A recent article in the Mail Tribune showed that public employee compensation, including benefits, is lower than in the private sector for comparable education levels. Public employees have already shared in the state's budgetary woes with furlough days, reduced retirement benefits and years without raises. They will undoubtedly be expected to sacrifice more.

That doesn't satisfy Mr. Richardson. He boasts that if he could, he'd strip unions of their bargaining rights as they did in Wisconsin. It wouldn't save the state a penny, but would give corporate-sponsored Republicans an edge over Democrats in future elections. Fortunately our Legislature and governor don't share his contempt for workers.

Many Americans died for the right to form unions. As a result of their sacrifice, we now take for granted such benefits as the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, sick leave and paid vacation. Those who would drag us back to the days before collective bargaining are either woefully ignorant or seriously malicious.

Remember, it wasn't workers who brought on this recession but the unregulated corporate greed that Republicans so favor. — Michael Steely, Medford

Making electricity from duckweed: What a fantastic idea (MT, March 14).

Many grants were written fostering cyanobacteria to do likewise but duckweed, coupled with little greenhouses and the use of CO2 from proximal weed-burning to enhance biomass growth, is great engineering. And duckweed, a happy eukaryote, doesn't make the bad byproducts that photosynthetic bacteria do.

But this innovation will never come to Southern Oregon, where evolution and progress are a no-no. I have a Japanese friend who, 30 years ago, got kicked out of La Jolla for growing a test batch of Tilapia in his swimming pool. He thought this species ideal for aquaculture, and now we get the aquacultural variety at Walmart.

Sean Roberts complained of having to run a gantlet of every PERS-sucking group imaginable who have lined up to delay duckweed. This included Fish and Wildlife, who probably saw the word duck and reflexively stuck out a hand. Should the process have required an altered RuBisCO — an enzyme that helps fix carbon — to better utilize the elevated CO2 levels, the state cookie bakers union would have probably added a representative to the crowd.

So we will remain a backwater until the tea party dissolves the gantlet. — Gerald Holmquist, Shady Cove

Red Smith's letter of March 12 hits the nail on the head about ceasing the importation of foreign goods in order to put Americans back to work. The question is whether Americans are willing to pay higher prices. It would take a huge commitment by the majority to stand firm, possibly buy and own fewer things and pay the prices. Are we there yet? If not, when? — Margaret Bradburn, Eagle Point

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