Letters for November 13, 2003

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Joan Kroc’s gift
At a morning coffee group I recently heard a friend ask in disgust: “With so many deserving charities in need of money, how could Joan Kroc give $200 million to a radio station?” I suggest that Kroc’s gift to National Public Radio was bold, courageous and visionary.

People are helped and lives are saved through contributions to a variety of charities, but what makes life worth living? Some would say it is an interview with a novelist or the words of a poem. Others would say it is the weekly humor of our national treasure, Garrison Keillor. Many would say fulfillment is found in the music of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. This is NPR’s programming.

NPR also delivers in-depth news coverage, in contrast to the emotional sound bytes of ad-supported news. Abrasive as he is, Michael Moore, in his documentary Bowling for Columbine, may have been right when he theorized that, rather than guns, the constant barrage of fear-filled sound bytes is the primary cause of the high level of violence in our country. While I disagree with many opinions expressed on NPR, the news is uniquely delivered through the use of conversation and understanding. This is the antidote to fear.

Joan Kroc left an enormous amount of money to a number of deserving organizations. I believe her best investment for the future may have been her donation to NPR.

Marshall Thompson

Moore truth
You write that you don’t believe Michael Moore hates his country and then ask, “Where else could a guy make a bundle of dough criticizing his government and the corporations that run it? [Inside view, Oct. 30]”

You’re obviously inferring that we live in a very free country, I suppose. While I agree that we do live in a relatively free country, many of our freedoms have been curtailed as of late, and we have very little or no say in the decisions of our government. I am of the opinion that we need to fight back against such attempts on our freedom in every instance, no matter what declared “credible threats” we face. But to answer your question: probably in no neo-colony of the United States.

Furthermore, I believe you commit a logical error in grouping the notion of our country with the government and even the corporations that you acknowledge run it. They are indeed separate, and I am arguing that the power corporations wield over our lives is precisely the problem with the state of affairs in not only our country but indeed the rest of the world as well.

Do you really believe there are only 174 liberals in Chico? I demand a recount. For once the students at Chico State were actually excited about a political speaker coming to campus, and there were plenty of liberals and radicals in attendance.

Adam Walter

Working class heroes
There are so many half-truths, distortions and outright lies in Tom Gascoyne’s article [“Attack of the Wal-Marts,” cover story, Oct. 30] that I don’t know which to address first.

Downplaying the expansion? There have been signs on our doors for months at a time announcing our plans. Our morning meetings are held on the store floor, where customers or anyone else can hear us discussing our eagerness to see groundbreaking begin!

Are we being held responsible for manufacturers leaving our shores? I guess ol’ Sam Walton brought Sony, Honda, Toyota, Dansk and other “furrin” names into our lives and created the service economy that has been so disastrous for working class people! Well, Wal-Mart does offer these people a future, with opportunity for growth and stability. It ain’t GM or U.S. Steel, but neither is GM or US Steel anymore!

Our associates—who do “consort” with one another at work and in our homes—are eligible for two raises a year. One is guaranteed, and a yearly merit increase is there if we earn it. Incidentally, that 28 hours you bemoan allows our associates to cut back from 40 hours when their personal lives require it and still retain full-time benefits, which include health insurance, profit sharing, yearly hours.

Mr. Loveall’s clients offer lovely sounding contracts, but do you know how long you can work for Safeway and not receive journeyman’s wages? I’m afraid I consider the grocery chains and not their employers to be UFCW’s clients.

Did you check to see where Brett Jolley’s fees are actually originating? A concerned citizen? Yeah, right!

I realize journalistic integrity was probably a short-lived dream of the mid-20 century, but I thought alternative papers like yours were still trying to fight the good fight! I was wrong.

Elizabeth T. Hori

Brick in the Wal
I was both surprised and pleased to see your cover story “Attack of the Wal-Marts.” Surprised because of the almost total lack of coverage about this topic locally, and pleased because that’s now a little less true. Trying to alert the average American to the issues you raised in the article is usually reciprocated with a blank stare, a perplexed “I don’t get it” look, or if you’re lucky, a suspicious smirk.

Cesar Chavez said that in the end all we really have is the way we live our lives and the choices we make. What will we choose? Shall we save a buck or buck the system by doing what we can to end exploitation of workers trapped in a global system of poverty? Do we smile right along with Wal-Mart’s happy faces or boycott a store that frowns on unions?

Stopping corporate global exploitation starts at home. But don’t look for help from local politicians. Asking the Chico City Council to pass an ordinance banning Wal-Mart supercenters and their tax revenue from our community is kind of like asking rabbits not to multiply ("it ain’t natural"). The prime directive of local government has always been, what’s good for business must be good for the community.

The conservatives are right. The real power lies with the consumer. The larger question is, how much will the average American be willing to sacrifice? My guess is nothing. The ugly American has already arrived in Chico, chatting on a cell-phone in his SUV, sipping a Starbucks coffee as he drives by another local out-of-business business.

Somewhere in Malaysia a child stitches another Nike logo.

Len Gundert

United we stand
It’s pretty obvious that sour grapes are what inspired your column about Michael Moore’s visit to Chico. Such petty, nitpicking remarks.

It is this lack of support and unity that makes the right wing so successful. I would like to see you take a stand about our eroding civil rights. Your days as a reporter may be numbered if you don’t take a stronger stand.

Jeannette Breen