Day: November 11, 2016

Astronomy and the US debt

To the Editor: Numbers in astronomy are astronomical; the U.S. debt is in the same category. There are approximately 300 billion stars in our galaxy. It would take about 100,000 years, at the speed of light, to cross it. It is estimated there are 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Billions used to be extremely large numbers—now lost in the shadow of trillions by our national debt. Our national debt is currently $19.8 trillion. The federal budget deficit was $480 billion in 2015, nearly $167,00 for every taxpayer. The government spent half a trillion more dollars than it took in? Here is a perspective: if you transpose dollars to seconds and go back in time 1 million seconds it would 12 days earlier. Go back one billion seconds and you end up back in time almost 32 years. If you go back one trillion seconds you go back more than 31,000 years. If you go back 20 trillion seconds you are at approximately 600,000 B.C. Distances in astronomy and the speed of light are unattainable and don’t affect our daily lives here in America. But the national debt in the trillions of dollars will bring the U.S. economy to a screeching halt. John P. Rizzo...

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Can the Crystals honor more than 13 a year?

There are close to 5,000 employees who work for the Salem-Keizer School District, so it comes as an annual surprise when such a very tiny number of them are given special recognition by way of the Crystal Apple Award.  Surely, with all the millions upon millions of dollars spent through taxation here in the effort to provide a public education to thousands upon thousand of local children there would be more among those employed than the 13 in 2016 recognized as outstanding. Since the psychology of honoring only 13 is so negative one would think that special consideration would be given to the hardworking, dedicated and often relatively low paid among all those district employees.  Most certainly it would seem more fitting if each school, elementary, middle and high, held an annual event giving recognition to everyone who works there.  Perhaps a small budgeted amount could be set aside to be used by each school’s parent group to cater a luncheon or dinner to honor all who work there.  Perhaps next year, instead of the superintendent receiving a huge salary increase for nothing deserving it except keeping up with other districts’ superintendents pay, that money could be spent to give the many other employees something to honor them. Further, the choice of persons to receive a Crystal Apple are apparently chosen based on the most subjective and random of criteria.  Are these people honored because they provided special enrichment to the lives of the children...

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