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Your Letters

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The people representing us in Washington seem to think in terms of billions – especially when spending is involved. We hear and see the word so often that our senses are dulled. Even writing it as a one followed by nine zeros (1,000,000,000) doesn’t help much.

The cost of TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) is currently running at $109 billion, we’ve spent $704 billion on Iraq to date, $299 billion for Afghanistan (so far), $940 billion is projected for the health care bill, $862 billion is projected for economic stimulus, $164 billion for interest on the national debt, etc. Throw in several more billion for routine costs such as education, homeland security, disaster relief, add-ons and pork, etc., and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

A teacher once offered me a way to consider the magnitude of a billion. Think about 60 seconds a minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day, 365.25 days per year. From that point of departure, a billion seconds ago was 1978. One billion minutes ago was the year 108, not long after a famous crucifixion in Jerusalem. One billion hours ago our ancestors were living in caves, and one billion days ago, the Pleistocene period was just beginning and Homo habilis was starting to walk on two legs.

At the rate our federal government is spending, $1 billion was just 2 hours and 24 minutes ago.

That’s $10 billion every day, 365.25 days per year. And, because we don’t have that much money, we are borrowing at a rate of $4.1 billion every day, pushing our current national debt to $12.9 trillion.

I know that we can’t continue on this path. You know that also. Furthermore, I’m fairly certain that the people representing us in Washington know it. I’m just not at all sure that they care.

If they do, one has to wonder why they continue digging when the hole is already so deep. Maybe numbers like billion and trillion look smaller when you are spending someone else’s money.

John Palmer

Glenwood Springs

It seems John Hembel has a problem with Rep. Jared Polis spending public money to gather public input on the Hidden Gems proposal. I would point out that he’s at odds with the rest of his motorized compatriots, who’ve been saying for months that Rep. Polis should do exactly what he’s doing.

Anyway, I must correct the blatant misstatements about my organization that Mr. Hembel made in his letter. The Wilderness Workshop does not have a two-year budget of $2.4 million; this year’s budget is $570,000, with our work on the Hidden Gems Campaign accounting for less than a quarter of that.

Neither the Wilderness Workshop nor the Hidden Gems Campaign had anything to do with producing Rep. Polis’ brochure, much less pay for its production.

Last but not least, Mr. Hembel’s innuendo that Rep. Polis may be indirectly funding the Wilderness Workshop is completely untrue as far as I know, and the only thing that prevents me from calling it libelous is that I can’t speak for Rep. Polis. My understanding is that he has put all his philanthropy into a blind trust since becoming a congressman.

It just amazes me how quick some people are nowadays to spread false information, without any sense of obligation to simply check their facts.

Again, I don’t think Mr. Hembel speaks for most Hidden Gems opponents.

Dave Reed

Wilderness Workshop

The actual size and origin of the illegal immigrant population in the United States is uncertain and hard to ascertain because of difficulty in accurately counting individuals in this population. National surveys, administrative data and other sources of information provide inaccurate measures of the size of the illegal immigrant population and current estimates based on this data indicate that the current population may range from 7 million to 20 million. 57 percent of illegal immigrants were from Mexico; 24 percent were from other Latin American countries, primarily from Central America, 9 percent were from Asia; 6 percent were from Europe; and 4 percent were from the rest of the world.

Illegal immigration is impacting our society in many ways including wages and employment, taxes and social services, mortgages and law enforcement. Law enforcement is affected financially due to apprehension and deportation of illegal immigrants from crimes committed such as: identity theft, drug trafficking and gang violence. Illegal immigration takes a huge toll on our environment by leaving an estimated 8 pounds of trash per person in a three-day period, abandoned cars, wildfires, and growing marijuana in many of our parks. Most importantly our national security is greatly affected.

A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences showed :

• The average immigrant annually contributes $1,800 more in taxes than he/she receives in benefits. Over their lifetimes, immigrants and their children will each pay an average $80,000 more in taxes than they will receive in local, state and federal benefits combined.

• Immigrants benefit the U.S. economy overall, and they may add as much as $10 billion to the U.S. economy each year. It is estimated that the total goods and services that all immigrants consume through their paychecks, plus all that they produce for their employers, is close to about $800 billion.

• Taxes paid by undocumented immigrants go into the SSA’s “suspense file,” when the Social Security number does not match SSA’s records. In 2002, the suspense file grew by $56 billion in reported earnings, with about $7 billion in Social Security tax and $1.5 billion in Medicare tax paid.

Jenell Hilderbrand

Glenwood Springs

I’ve noticed some things recently on these letters to the editor, and also throughout public opinion I’ve heard. People complain about the illegal immigrants in the area. Some I have heard is that because of them the crime rate is worse. How does that make sense? I’m not saying that they don’t commit crimes, but isn’t crime done by more than one race?

People also complain they take jobs away from citizens of America. A majority of the jobs they get are in construction, irrigation and painting. If you want to lower illegal immigration rates, citizens of the USA get off their lazy butt and go get a job in one of those fields.

I’m not trying to say that only Latinos work in construction, but people scream about unemployment, it’s because most Americans don’t want a job in construction or whatever. The Latinos take the job that most citizens don’t want.

So what would happen if we got rid of every single illegal in this area. Construction would almost virtually come to a standstill until people finally decided to take those jobs.

I don’t agree with them jumping the border illegally, but look at all the drug wars going on in Mexico. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be there. They come here for a better life, and I don’t see a problem with that; most illegals come across to get a job and work to become legal citizens of the U.S. They can’t afford to become legal citizens of the U.S. in Mexico. Most people down there are in poverty, those are the people trying to get a better life for themselves and their families.

I remember a letter awhile ago where someone said (I can’t find the paper to quote them), “We all were illegals at some point.” Very true. We showed up and took land away from the Native Americans. So who out of us two races, Latinos or Americans, has committed the bigger crime. Ruthless murder from the Americans for land, or trying to live a better life from the Hispanics?

Joe Capraro


Interesting to see such condemnation of the criminal immigrants in this valley. The hypocrisy is striking. Everyone loves having their car washed, their hotel rooms cleaned, their restaurant dishes rinsed, their food cooked, lawns manicured, oil changed in their vehicles by the same law-breaking Latinos that they would have rounded up and arrested en masse.

Hmmm. Make up your minds. You cannot in clear conscience employ these Latino workers, profit from their cheap labor, and then threaten them with arrest if they poke their heads above ground.

It is OK to work here, but don’t dare try and educate your kids, get health care, or buy a home.

Either legalize the immigrant workers, or shut the border down completely. Tell the agricultural, textile, construction and service industries to look for other cheap labor. And don’t complain when prices explode with the labor shortages.

How many of you out-of-work white Americans will ever pick potatoes or wash a car? None. Pays too little, and the work is too hard. Can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

Many of you claim that you didn’t ask these immigrants to come here. But you surely enjoy exploiting the benefits of our current system with an uneducated ethnic labor pool that works for minimal wages, cannot ever expect the same rights as everyone else and makes your lives easier.

Ben Peery


I am writing to thank Bob Anderson for his letter printed May 19. Thank you, Bob, for reminding all of us how much better and kinder America is towards our fellow human beings than the countries you mentioned. America is now and always has been the leader when it comes to compassion and equity and empathy.

However, there is something that you need education about. We have, in this country, spent ever-increasing amounts of money on things like border fences, more border patrol officers, and other things to stop illegal immigration. The evidence by now should convince even people like you, Bob, that none of these things can solve the problem. Illegal immigration is not so much a law enforcement problem, as it is an economic problem.

Since the inception of America, this has been the one place in the world where anyone is welcome to make a new life. We have not been wrong in this promise, we have flourished because of it. The source of your consternation is misplaced, Bob. The biggest source of the problem is the increasing size and decreasing number of the businesses hiring employees. Laws already on the books are flaunted and abused more often by these businesses. Don’t blame either the immigrants or the border patrol.

But thanks again, Bob, for reminding all of us of the basic goodness of America.

David Mead


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