As I see it, there is no school in this state more deserving than Raleigh Charter High School of a decent facility to house the education of the next generation.
Michael Panera's letter challenging Bob Geary's grasp of the facts on light rail (Back Talk, Sept. 21) offered a whopper of his own: the oft-repeated but false notion that motorists pay 100 percent of road costs via gas taxes. Studies show otherwise--in 1998, for example, the California Department of Transportation calculated that gas taxes covered only 62 percent of highway costs, and the gap between gas tax revenues and road-related expenses has further increased as vehicles have become more fuel-efficient. Highway congestion and the need for alternatives will only increase, as North Carolina does not have enough money in its highway fund to even begin to meet its road building and maintenance needs.
Furthermore, Panera conveniently ignores the massive subsidies that automobiles and the oil industry enjoy at the federal and state levels, which must be factored into any discussion of relative costs. Even conservative estimates (including one by the federal Office of Technology Assessment) peg the overall subsidy for automobiles as ranging between $3 and $7 per gallon. If gas prices reflected these actual costs, mass transit would become a much more attractive option for the average commuter.
Mass transit does require heavy subsidies. But ideological blinders do not change the fact that roads do as well.
Who's legal anyway?
Nick Blanchard's outrage at the idea of allowing children of illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition at North Carolina universities (Back Talk, Sept. 21) is both hypocritical and shortsighted. He claims that his ancestors came to this country legally, but unless he is Native American or black, then his ancestors, like mine, chose to immigrate to a country whose government lied, cheated and broke treaties with the native peoples who originally occupied the land that was stolen from them. The dubious origins of our patrimony should prompt some humility about our supposed superiority to present-day immigrants, "legal" or otherwise.
As for the concern that Mr. Blanchard feels about rising welfare costs for undocumented workers and their families in North Carolina, denying higher education to their children will only make it more likely that they will be forced to turn to public assistance in the future. Denied a chance at the opportunities they deserve, these kids will be punished for not choosing their parents wisely. Those who feel that excluding deserving students from public universities is the answer to poverty should instead turn their attentions to employers and immigration laws that perpetuate exploited servitude.
In a story about the film Occupation: Dreamland ["Soldiers' stories," Sept. 14], the name of the film's distributor was incorrect. The distribution company is Rumur Releasing; GreenHouse is the production company.