Letters for April 23, 2009

With an ARM

Re “It’s not about the customers” (News, April 16):

Smoke from a handful of crushed leaves and some paper that is mixed with the air of a decently ventilated smoking venue is harmful to your health? If anybody believes that then I have some oceanfront property in Ohio I would like to sell them. Smoke from tobacco is a statistically insignificant health risk.

I think the public should know the truth about smoking bans. Sir George Godber’s plan, referring to the worldwide elimination of smoking, 1975 United Nations third Worldwide Conference on Smoking and Health (Huber et al. Consumers Research Magazine, April 1992): “It would be essential to foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and any infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily to ETS.”

Thomas Laprade
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Smoke stinks, too

Re “It’s not about the customers” (News, April 16):

Regardless of what chemicals are in a cigarette’s second-hand smoke, isn’t simply the smoke itself harmful? There may not be any manmade chemicals in the smoke from my wood fire, but it would be unhealthy to close the flue and sit in my smoke-choked home for eight hours, would it not?

Sarah Brown

Not from our sponsor

Re “Delight in daylight” (Advertising supplement, April 16):

I think it is important to note that the studies in this story were actually conducted using high performance industrial skylights and not Tubular Daylighting Devices. This is important, as a tubular device, originally created for residential applications, can only provide one fifth to one sixth the light output of a properly sized industrial daylighting device for commercial/industrial applications. In fact, just over the mountains in Sacramento, you can find the source of a partnering company with Pacific Gas & Electric and Heschong Mahone Group from the school productivity studies as well as the sole source of daylighting products for Walmart for over 15 years: Sunoptics. Since 1978, Sunoptics has stayed true to its vision statement, “For an Energy Independent America Through Daylighting,” through our patented high performance prismatic daylighting products designed for top-lighting applications. Thirty-one years later, Sunoptics has been installed in over 2,300 Walmart locations world wide as well is the specification for many major retailers such as Best Buy, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Office Depot, Winco Foods, Fresh & Easy, Raley’s and many, many more.

Grant Grable

Existential angst

Re “The taxpayers are revolting. It’s about time.” (Know You’re Right, April 9):

I’m sorry to see that Amanda Williams, like most teabaggers, doesn’t actually know what she is protesting. She is actually protesting the federal government’s lack of fiscal responsibility, not the Obama administration’s agenda, as she stated. But the reason I’m commenting is to point out the inaccuracies in her column.

1. Republicans have short fuses indeed if they are already fed up with the Obama administration, which has been in power for four months, not six months. My advice to adversaries, pace yourself—you’ve still got several years of the Obama administration ahead of you.

2. This recession—now called a depression by some economists—is compared to the Great Depression because it’s the best historical comparison. This recession is much worse than Reagan’s recession. Perhaps the reason Williams doesn’t seem to know this is because the Obama administration has done a fairly good job of protecting those who would rather remain oblivious to the seriousness of the situation. And to be fair, the Bush administration started propping up the banks and corporations that are still too big to fail first—and with virtually no accountability.

3. I have to assume that you have never taken a U.S. history class to claim this: “Whether the New Deal actually worked has yet to be determined.” Wow. But since you are in college, I’ll assume you have taken a U.S. history class at some point in your life, and that reveals you to be an ideologue who eschews facts. I hope you grow out of this.

4. Reagan ended the recession you mention by … wait for it … raising taxes—many times, in fact! That’s right—Reagan cut taxes in 1981 but was forced to increase taxes a half-dozen times in the years that followed. Reagan also grew government and created a huge national debt. Facts are sometimes inconvenient: www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0301.green.html.

5. And the socialist thing again. So have you already petitioned the federal government to remove your eligibility for Social Security and Medicare? Have you sworn off future unemployment benefits and the use of public schools for your children? I wouldn’t want anyone to question your anti-socialist beliefs. You should get on that. Something you might not realize is that by continually labeling Obama and his administration as socialist, you are actually shifting the Overton Window—the range of acceptable public policies, frames and arguments—and making “socialist” a more acceptable label among Americans. So, keep up the good work!

People are angry all right, but they’re angry because Republicans and Democrats in Washington have sold them a bill of deregulated goods, and when it all went to hell, they bailed out the very corporations responsible, while people like us are losing their jobs and homes. People are angry because they don’t feel like their government officials are accountable.

Tracy Viselli

Not a giveaway

Re “Obama nation” (Editorial, April 2):

The financial meltdown of 2008 is turning into the economic meltdown of 2009. That’s important to keep in mind, because public debt isn’t measured in dollars, it’s measured in percentage of Gross Domestic Product. When GDP contracts, debt increases. That’s why stimulus spending can actually reduce the real debt load, a paradox that’s very important for American taxpayers to understand.

Tax dollars are not being “handed over to corporations.” The TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) is senior debt that, assuming the economy survives, will eventually be repaid at a profit. The only way that won’t happen is if the government pussyfoots around and doesn’t finish filling in the hole created by the looming deflationary spiral. If the Republicans succeed in stirring up populist unease of the kind echoed in your editorial, we may end up losing our TARP investments along with our standard of living.

Rich Dunn
Carson City