- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2008

The notion promoted by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch that it is somehow a violation of the human rights of teenagers to inform them about careers, job training and educational opportunities offered by the armed services assumes that only the evil or insane would ever consider military service (although the same “progressives” love to criticize any Republican who did not serve in Vietnam) (“Child soldier studies criticize U.S. practices,” Page 1, Wednesday).

As a 20-year veteran of the Air Force who has a son and son-in-law who also are veterans, I hold the view that military service often can be the best thing a young man or woman can do after high school. It provides a vital and irreplaceable service to our nation and is a place where young people can mature in an environment that challenges them mentally and physically and helps them grow in every way. It is one of the few places that will give you full pay and benefits while you are in extended training. Much of that training translates directly into civilian employment.

The military is the single greatest financer of college education in the nation, with evening classes offered at every military base, including overseas, plus opportunities for graduate study and special courses in foreign languages. It provides an opportunity to become familiar, face to face, with people from other nations. When teenagers are planning what to do with their lives and looking for ways to make positive contributions to their fellow citizens, they have the right to learn about the opportunities provided by the U.S. armed forces. The ACLU’s campaign is part of its goal to keep all Americans in a state of perpetual childhood and not learn how to think for themselves and make their own choices.

LT. COL. RAYMOND TAKASHI SWENSON

Air Force (retired)

Idaho Falls, Idaho

The May 20 editorial “Tax and spend in Virginia” has it right: Vehicle and sales tax increases are just another way for Richmond to feast off the pocketbooks of working Virginians.

This attempt at using the buffet line of honest traffic frustrations among drivers is not only bad fiscal policy, but also misleading.

Building and maintaining road infrastructure is an important function of government, but saddling additional tax burdens onto the backs of the struggling home industry and working families is counterproductive.

If transportation were the real concern for lawmakers, they would have planned to fund needed improvements with the more than $35 billion that taxpayers are projected to give the government next year rather than using such an important issue as a convenient political scapegoat for a lack of fiscal responsibility.

JOHN NOTHDURFT

Heartland Institute

Legislative specialist

Chicago

In his Wednesday Commentary column, “GOP: Get back,” Cal Thomas approvingly quotes Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, as saying, “I believe the way back to a Republican majority is to the right.” This assertion ignores the fact that on practically every important issue, more of the voters trust the Democrats. If the Republican Party moves further to the right, it will fall off the same cliff the Democrats fell off after the election of 1968.

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