Letters: State Budget Cuts And The World Cup

Talk of the Nation listeners wrote to the show to share how state and local budget cuts are affecting their lives, and offer alternatives to service cuts. Also, a World Cup fan in Portland, Ore. has a five-step system for picking which team to root for.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, and time to read from your emails and Web comments.

Last month, a federal panel upheld the nearly 30-year-old ban on blood donations from gay men. It's a decision many listeners disagreed with.

But Elizabeth Swanson(ph) emailed from California to say: Thank you to the FDA for not giving in to political correctness and thinking about the good for society. As a regular blood donor for 27 years, I find it very selfish that the homosexual community members continue to push for blood donations given the increased risks of transmission of HIV and other STDs from persons in this high risk category. If sick or feeling ill, donors are asked not to donate to protect the health of the recipient.

Another listener wrote to complain: I'm a 20-year-old gay man living in San Francisco, and I have to say I'm appalled that this policy is still being enforced. We all know HIV and AIDS does not discriminate between sexual orientation or gender, so the fact that we still exclude a vast amount of potential blood donors is just stupid and short-sighted. If blood is properly screened, it doesn't matter where it comes from. That by email from Tim(ph) in San Francisco.

We also got into the debate over state budgets tight almost everywhere, enormous problems in more than a few states. Legislatures are cutting back on schools, prisons, police stations, firehouses and other essential services. Many of you argued it's not just a problem of spending too much money, but of taking in far too little.

Robert Pike(ph) offered one possible solution: I hear about all the tax increases, but one that needs to increase, apparently, hasn't - gasoline. We have, by far, the lowest-priced gas of most countries. We hear about all the talk of getting off oil addiction, why aren't gasoline taxes more popular?

And while our elected officials put teachers and firefighters among others on the chopping block, Sarah M.(ph) emailed from Manchester, New Hampshire, to ask: Why aren't our politicians taking pay cuts? They seem to be one of the few groups that isn't suffering. They make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and we are the ones who must suffer with more tax increases and service cuts to pay for their salaries?

Finally, the United States may be out of the World Cup, but few fans have tuned out. We asked last week who you were cheering for. Natalie(ph) in Portland, Oregon, devised a five-step system. Now that the U.S. is gone, I decide who to cheer for by: One, proximity to the U.S.; two, an African team because that would be great for the host continent; three, scrappy underdog teams; four, cool uniforms; five, hot guys. Well, who can argue with that?

And after a number of high-profile blown calls, the head of the Worldwide Soccer Organization even apologized to two teams. Another listener, Mark Clevenger(ph), added: I'm a soccer official. From this point on, I will be rooting for the officials at the World Cup.

Well, if you follow me on Twitter, I misplaced my BlackBerry last week, but I'm back to tweeting again. You can follow me there @nealconan, all one word. And if you're not getting our email newsletter, stop by our website and sign up. You'll get a daily preview of what's coming up on the program and our picks for the best segments of the week. Go to npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION for details.

As always, if you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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