Louis Black tells us that he believes in the American two-party system of government ["Page Two," Oct. 17] but then goes on to add, "The free-flowing expression of conflicting ideas, the frustrating politics of negotiation ... is actually the founding fathers' greatest triumph." Unfortunately, these statements precisely contradict each other. We will never have a truly free-flowing expression of ideas and/or real negotiation until there is genuine diversity in government. Witness Washington's lockstep approval of the war on Iraq and subsequent cash hemorrhage, the PATRIOT Act, and the tax giveaway to the rich. Not even traditional Republicans – i.e., those who are not members of Bush's neo-conservative freakshow junta – have a place at the table anymore, and Democratic liberals have been gone from all but the invective of talk radio for years. Until the Green Party, the Libertarians, the Socialists, Populists, and yes, even traditional Republicans are given an opportunity to participate in government, the Republocrats will continue to maintain the status quo. The lack of genuine discourse in government is precisely why so many people are disenfranchised from the process. On the other hand, Louis hit the nail on the head the week before when he told us that we can no longer afford the war on marijuana. The direct cost of arresting and incarcerating more than 700,000 people a year for victimless marijuana "crimes" is estimated to be 9 billion dollars per year (see www.mpp.org/harmful.html). If we add to this the cost of lost productivity, etc., the true cost of marijuana prohibition is probably closer to 20 billion dollars a year. Twenty billion dollars would pay the salaries of 300,000 additional school teachers or alternatively would buy a complete monorail system for each of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., Austin included, in five years. Think about it.