Thursday, December 15, 2005
We Get What We Pay For
There has been a lot of discussion and letters about your series on “illegal” people working jobs in the United States. Although I don’t agree with the points of view shared, I understand the side that says “close the border,” the side that says “open the border,” and all the variations in between.
What I would like to share is this: We—all of us who want to pay the lowest cost for any item; be it lettuce, DVDs, flat-panel televisions, computers, or anything that may require processing of forms (medical included) or customer service agents—need to look in the mirror and know that we are the issue.
People want to pay the minimal amount for their stuff. Companies must look for ways of delivering our stuff for the lowest cost. It may mean hiring customer service agents, programmers and engineers in India. It may mean manufacturing facilities where labor can be obtained for the lowest cost in Asia or Mexico. It may mean Mexicans coming across the border to work in our fields, factories, or as domestic help.
People are happy to blame companies or corporations for this. But who owns these companies? You, me and one or more of our neighbors own these companies. Whether they are public or privately held, someone owns each and every business in the world. And what do we expect from the companies we own? We expect profits and growth.
An example is Wal-Mart. This company is owned by thousands of people either through direct stock or through mutual funds. As owners, people have voices that can be expressed through stock voting rights or by not shopping in this place of business. It is our responsibility to make these choices and own the results.
I do what I can by buying very little and when I do buy I try to do it with as much consciousness as possible for me. It doesn’t solve any problems, yet I think it may reduce some of the damage in some very small way.
Michael Doud | Pacific Grove
Charity is for Chumps
Your article [“Americans: Generous or Chintzy?” Dec. 8-14] gives the impression we are chintzy, when in fact the opposite is true. In part this is caused by the notion that aid is unequivocally good for the recipient. Not so. It usually is just the opposite.
Africa is a great case in point. Clothing donations have put the clothing producers and sellers out of business there! In addition, history is always a good lesson. Remember all the large donations that lifted America from its pre-revolution poverty to its place today leading the free world? Oh—there weren’t any. What we had instead was a system of government that respected property rights, allowed business to flourish, protected inventiveness, and stayed out of the way.
What does the typical Third World nation have? A ruthless dictator, confiscatory taxes and tariffs, a corrupt bureaucracy that punishes business and businessmen, and the lack of property and individual rights. Charity will never solve those problems, and without them solved, the Third World will remain in its present dismal state.
Roger Holliday | Monterey
Give Credit Where It’s Due
I haven’t ever responded to a review I received. I understand that a review is subjective, that the reviewer states his or her opinion and nothing more or less.
The reason I decided to respond this time, however, is about Ryan Masters’ review [“Wind in the Willows,” Dec. 8-14]. It’s not that I disagree with his review, that is his opinion. The reason for the letter is that he describes many of the characters by costumes, down to the color of Toad’s shoes, and yet never once mentions the costume designer.
In most reviews, if the technical designers do receive a mention, it is usually lumped into one paragraph, explaining the appropriateness of a look rather than mention of what those elements actually brought to the performance. I realize that my job as a designer is to support the piece, support the directors’ vision and give “life” to the characters in a look. I’m sure that even Mr. Masters will agree that theatre is a rare art that requires true collaboration and that in the case of “Wind In the Willows” all the design elements do support the actors, and without them it would have been a completely different show.
Kathrine Ogletree | Salinas
The Cost of War
George Bush Nov. 23: “We think of our military families who will have an empty seat at the table this Thanksgiving.” I know of two military families who sat with empty seats. Their grinding pain is perpetual. The president had the company of his daughters. The commander-in-chief sent troops to their deaths for oil, for power, for empire, as specified in the prewar Project for a New American Century. All his original excuses have been discredited. So what does Bush think of military families of those killed in action? Are their dead children just the cost of doing business? Does he consider that perhaps they died for no good reason?
The polled public says overwhelmingly that if Bush went to war without justification, he should be impeached. He’d be getting off easy. The administration should be tried for war crimes.
Let’s Not be Evil
Please let us set the good example as Americans and say no to torture. As Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer said, “We should never use our fear of being attacked as justification for dehumanizing ourselves or others.”
The Senate voted 90–9 to support Sen. John’s McCain’s provision of banning torture. The White House has threatened to veto the measure. Sen. McCain said that “Terrorists are the quintessence of evil. But it’s not about them; it’s about us. This battle we’re in is about the things we stand for and believe in and practice. And that is an observance of human rights, no matter how terrible our adversaries may be.”
My husband, retired Navy CDR Phillip Butler, was a Vietnam POW for eight years. My brother, retired Navy CDR, Frederick C. Baldock, was a Vietnam POW for seven years. They were both tortured and they both believe that torture is wrong.
When I realized how many laws and treaties our country has broken by the use of torture, it made me angry. When I saw a poll that said that many Americans condone the use of torture, it made me very sad.
Please let our government know that you want the United States to lead by setting a good example and say no to torture.
Barbara Baldock | Monterey
Beware of Green Nazi Fascists
Is it an oxymoron to coin the phrase “Leftist Fascists?” Well, in the sleazy and unholy world of politics I’m not sure there are any paradoxical juxtapositions.
We’ve all been duped into believing that fascistic objectives are the singular purview of the extreme right, but that is the apocryphal allegation commonly levied by the left-wing liberals. The truth is that fascistic values and goals cut equally across the political spectrum. Whenever anyone—irrespective of his/her political orientation—loses a grip on what it means to respect everyone’s inalienable right to freely choose one’s destiny and to assume the responsibility for one’s own choices and actions, that’s when the zealotry and irrationality that defines fascistic attitudes comes into play.
It’s the left wing in America that persists in promulgating the lie about man-made global warming, when the overwhelming irrefutable and unbiased scientific evidence proves that global warming is a natural and periodic process, and that the data shows that we are not teetering on the brink of some cataclysmic global disaster wrought by the hand of mankind. It’s the left wing in America that has been behind such civil liberties violations as manifested in motorcycle helmet laws, employers being able to fire employees for smoking tobacco products in their own homes, and other such looney laws. I don’t smoke and I don’t ride motorcycles, but I know fascist subterfuge when I see it.
Wake up my fellow Americans—Democrats and Republicans alike—before the fascists amongst us whittle away every right you now enjoy. The politically correct “Mind Nazis” are out to bring the Orwellian nightmare to full fruition in America.
Jeffrey Van Middlebrook | Pacific
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