Should a nine-year-old boy be allowed to climb Mount Everest?
Yes: 32%
Quit coddling today’s youth. Most readers of this generation grew up without umpteen airbags, knee and elbow guards, or helmets. If the tragic were to happen, at least he will go doing something that he truly enjoys. He wants to truly LIVE.
—J. Stanford, via e-mail

Putting age limits on volitional activities is anti-evolutionary. If his parents are too stupid or irrational to reasonably weigh the hazards of an Everest attempt for their child, and he dies, then the gene pool is better off without that sort of craziness floating around to be replicated. On the other hand, if he survives, then perhaps he has some sort of special gene that is indeed desirable in the gene pool.
—Reasoner, Lexington, N.C.

Illustration by Wade Mickley

No: 68%
I am a strong believer in individual choice. But I think it is a bad idea. When reading Everest climbing accounts, writers inevitably talk about the emotional rigors of the climb. There are often moments where the climbers have to deal with serious situations, and they need to make crucial life-dependent decisions. Most nine-year-olds have simply not lived long enough to have the experience to get them safely through a climb of Everest. Even if he does return physically safe, there may be a large emotional toll. Some of this could be avoided if he just waits another seven years.
—Debbie Wong, via e-mail

This is just too much for a nine-year-old child. There is an age restriction for a reason—maturity. The fact is that innocent minds are just that. This means they don’t have the ability to think things over quite the same as an adult or someone more experienced. True, a lot of us didn’t have the boundaries that children have today, but I know my parents would never have let me do something of this nature. No doubt I admire this child’s ambitions and dreams, and I hope that he will continue to have this on his list of things to accomplish, but would we allow a nine-year-old to drive a car?
—Kimberly, Roanoke, Va.

Do you support more user fees for underfunded public lands?
Yes: 69%
Hunters are required to pay for a license each year, and that money goes toward the care of public lands. All the rest of us get to use them for free. A small user fee would be a great way to raise funds to maintain the forests. We need to do something, and there aren’t enough hunters to pay for the upkeep of the forests the rest of us enjoy for nothing.
—Lorene Burghart, via e-mail

It is no secret that parks and museums are suffering in this economy, and many of the infrastructure problems are just getting worse. Small fees might help, but what we need to think about is the long-term survival of these parks. Everyone wants to build them, but few care about planning for their survival. We also need to explore new ways that the parks, museums, and wilderness areas can be economic engines for their communities.
—Ingles Alexander, Independence, Va.

No: 31%
That is what our existing taxes are for. I feel strongly that parks, forests, and museums should be free, if at all possible. It is a matter of choices. I strongly support funding these areas at the expense of other areas the government supports.
—Mark, via e-mail

I personally think with this being the self-proclaimed “richest most powerful nation on earth,” we should have more than enough money to pay for adequate staffing, maintenance, and expansion of public lands. We have the money, really. It’s just a matter of allocation, and the way it stands now, your leaders don’t seem to want to allocate it to your public lands, except for extraction of natural resources.
—Kevin Caldwell, Marshall, N.C.

What do you think?
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