Public compassion, giving are inefficient 

The political cartoon portraying conservatives and libertarians as insensitive and callous toward the poor is grossly mistaken (Today’s Cartoon, Pat Oliphant, Wednesday). Caring and compassion are good only when they are voluntary and individual. Voters and bureaucrats are spending someone else’s money. Public compassion is always compulsory and inefficient. Government agencies have spent zillions of dollars over the past decades to alleviate poverty; there is still no lack of poor people. Mostly what we get are well-paid poverty fighters with very, very generous pension packages.

You cannot be moral by voting to be compassionate with other people’s money. Neither voters nor bureaucrats are fulfilling any moral commitment to the poor. The money they are spending doesn’t belong to them.

Public agencies are inherently inefficient because the people whose money is being spent cannot cut off the flow if costs get out of control. Private institutions are more efficient precisely because the payers can cut off the money.

The cartoonist needs some lessons in the philosophy of freedom. Freedom is the right to make your own decisions about how and whether to be charitable.

Leslie E. Mangus
San Francisco

Fix Clipper card system

As a senior citizen (but not too senior), I have a Clipper card which I try to keep current by adding money when I am running low. It seems the abusers are BART and Golden Gate Transit riders (“Clipper card fee aim to prevent cheaters,” Thursday). Why not just charge them or require them to have automatic refills and not penalize everyone?

I think it would also help if Muni and/or the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority changed their readers. The color combination makes it very hard to see what is being charged and what is still left on the card.

Maybe they could change the Clipper card and Fast Pass readers to display a light blue background with black numbers. As it is, even with my glasses, the speed at which the information disappears  on these readers makes it very hard to read and I have run a small negative balance in the past.

Sandra Blue
San Francisco


GOP ran dirtier campaigns

One of your letter writers claims that he can’t recall a “nastier, dirtier campaign than President Barack Obama’s re-election drive so far,” (“Obama campaigning dirty,” Letters, Wednesday).

The reader must only be 3 years old! Does he not remember 2008, when Obama was accused of “palling around with terrorists?” How about the swift-boat ads in 2004 against war hero John Kerry from a champaign-unit draft dodger? Does he remember the Willie Horton ads against Michael Dukakis? Since Obama has been elected he has been called a Muslim, a socialist, a communist, a foreigner, an America-hater and other names this paper cannot print.

The truth is, the Republicans are masters of dirty, nasty politics. What is changing is that Democrats are no longer willing to be bullied and will not continue to play white-gloved politics. Obama’s ads against vulture capitalism, Bain Capital and Mitt Romney simply state facts that are inconvenient for the Romney campaign. Inconvenience does not equate to dirty or nasty.

Whenever Democrats fight back, you can be assured that Republicans will start screaming and displaying their trademark false outrage.

Eric Higgins

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