Letters to the editor: 08-30-2013

August 30, 2013 

Edward Snowden

Is Edward Snowden a hero or a villain? Probably some of both. Overall, I believe he is more courageous than villainous and that history will treat him well.

As a direct result of Snowden’s statements, President Obama recently admitted publicly that the National Security Administration has invaded the privacy of thousands of law-abiding Americans. This follows the recently exposed improper/illegal activities of the IRS. Likely, we have much yet to learn about government excesses against its citizens.

Admittedly, the government walks a fine line when protecting us against terrorists while protecting our individual rights. So far, since 9/11, protection against terrorism has been fairly successful although, as we now know, not without adverse side effects. Part of the solution regarding the latter should be to create independent and effective government oversight.

The president recently announced he is working to solve the NSA problem. As part of this, I also would like to see him treat Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a criminal and invite him to return to the U.S. without criminal charges. We need to learn all we can from him, rather than incarcerate him.

LYLE MYERS, Meridian

SNAP

Regarding SNAP remedy:

“Eliminating the beneficiaries,” as Loren Petty suggested, is just plain wrong. I think those who can have a moral obligation to help those who cannot, though I prefer local, private, nonprofit charities for this task.

Reducing the SNAP program by $4 billion is a good start. In fact, we might save even more money if items such as candy, cake, cookies, pie, pastries, doughnuts, ice cream and soda (you know — junk food) were banned from the program as well. These have little to no nutrition (the “N” in SNAP) and only add to the obesity/diabetes problem. Tobacco and alcohol are banned for health reasons; junk food poses a health risk. People buying junk food on the public dime, getting fat and diabetic, then going to the doctor on the public dime is a double whammy! It’s the whipped topping on a big slice of irresponsible pie a la (com)mode. I’ll skip dessert tonight, thanks.

JASON ABBRUZZETTI, Kuna

Federal lands

The property clause of the Constitution gives authority to Congress to determine what is done with federally owned lands. Two hundred years of case law has resulted in the system of federal public lands that we know today.

A recent New York Times article that published in the Statesman, “Your own private Idaho,” indicates that the specific title of the public lands can have an influence on the number of tourists that are drawn to an area. The author points out that the Sawtooth NRA receives about 1.5 million visitors per year while some of the national parks receive 3 to 4 million visitors per year. The point made is that “national parks” receive far more visitors than NRAs. The lack of the title “national park” for the Sawtooth area represents a significant deficit in potential tourist dollars that the businesses in Stanley, Ketchum and Challis would have loved to capture.

Could it be that Idaho’s general anti-federal attitude is an impediment to economic development? The Sawtooth Mountains appear on our license plates, yet Idaho remains the only Western state without an iconic national park. If Congress grants the federal lands to Idaho (unlikely), it could result in a further loss of tourism dollars.

DENNIS MCLANE, Boise

Wolves

I am writing as a neighbor and an advocate for the environment. I oppose the lethal management of wolves and their delisting in the other 48 states. Methods such as fladry, lights, noise and outriders are effective means of control. Wolf hunting often is based on exaggerations. The IDFG reported wolves killed 92 out of 2.3 million cattle in Idaho in 2013. Wolves are not a threat! Elk are at record levels. Two recent scientific papers published by Oregon and Washington state scientists document the value of wolves to the ecosystem.

They prevent over-browsing, allowing trees and berry bushes to regenerate, feeding grizzlies, birds and small mammals. Their kills feed small mammals, birds and beetles. They contribute to carbon elimination due to regeneration of greenery and cool water for fish.

If Idahoans look at these facts, hopefully they can understand there is a reason for the term “balance of nature” and oppose the killing of this valuable predator. Thank you for providing a forum for facts.

JUDY JARRETT, Springfield, Ore.

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