Letters for December 22, 2005

Government snoops
Why am I not surprised that top gaming officials, the FBI, and Jim Gibbons are in collusion when it comes to undermining the privacy of Nevadans? As recently reported by the Las Vegas Sun, the three parties met, “to clear up erroneous perceptions on the homeland security front.”

After the secret meeting, Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, is quoted as saying, “Our main concerns have been alleviated.” Thus, we are to conclude, Nevadans and tourists have nothing to fear when it comes to the arbitrary data collection powers granted under the PATRIOT Act and related legislation.

But, to the contrary, even PATRIOT Act architect, Viet Dinh, has publicly expressed concern over the potential misuse of law enforcement databases. An anxiety validated by national headlines rife with public corruption cases—including database abuse.

And the casino industry’s record on privacy is no better: Ask former federal Drug Czar, and lecturing magnate-of-virtue, William Bennett, how his gambling habit became national headlines in 2003.

So, for the FBI, the casinos, and gubernatorial hopeful Jim Gibbons, “what happens in Nevada goes to Washington” for review and clandestine use by unchecked—and potentially corrupt—public officials.

Bob Tregilus

What’s the frequency?
Re “Fear the chip” (Feature story, Dec. 8):

I generally agree that skepticism and measured doses of alarm are appropriate in the public reception of RFID. However, I’d like to clarify a bit about the RFID technology the State Department intends to put in passports. After mandatory public comment was collected, the plan now stands at this: 1. The tag will not be scannable with passport wallets closed 2. The tag will be low-power-emitting, readable only from a few inches, to prevent snooping 3. The tag will be “secure” to some extent, needing info printed in the passport to read the data and 4. The tag will only contain data found in the passport already.

I’m far more frightened of Wal-Mart’s plans to scan my trash or whatever than the passport plan.

Richard Tillett

Glass houses
Re “Sticks and stones won’t keep me awake at night” (Right Hook, Dec. 8):

Keep up the good work, Mr. Lafferty. Your weekly piece is the highlight of this left-slanted publication. It’s the first thing I turn to, as your points of view are relayed with wit and humor and are right on the money. The next thing I usually read are the letters to the editor, many of which are from irate readers who despise your point of view. They are equally as funny. I can picture these Al Franken wannabe’s frantically typing on their Macs, trying to think of the most offensive names that they can call you. If Right Hook pisses them off that much, why do they put themselves through the excruciating pain of reading it? Just stick to Ms. Pike’s column, which I do read most of the time since I like to educate myself on other points of view.

Maybe when we don’t agree with Ms. Pike’s point of view, we conservatives should call her profane names. On second thought, conservatives have too much class.

Allen Murray

The store everyone loves to hate
Re “The big, fat Wal-Mart handout” (View from the Fray, Dec. 8):

There are two sides to every story, even Wal-Mart’s story. So when do you plan to write about Why Wal-Mart Works: And Why That Makes Some People Crazy, the documentary by Ron Galloway? Oh, it’s out there, you just never heard about it on NPR or CBS news.

A comment you made in your review struck me: “Filmmakers interviewed a 21-year-old Chinese woman who works long, sweaty shifts making Wal-Mart toys for $3-$4 per day.”

Some questions:

How many dollars per day would she be making if that factory was not there?

How many dollars per day does it take to live comfortably in her town?

How many people are in line to take her job should she resign in protest?

What is the average per diem wage in China?

Where can I buy these so-called “Wal-Mart toys"? Could it be those are the same brand-name toys sold at every other retailer in America (for a slightly higher price)? Since when does Wal-Mart pay wages directly to any workers in China?

Doesn’t every product sold by Wal-Mart (and every other retailer) say “Made in China” or “Made in Malaysia” on it? You don’t have to boycott Wal-Mart to avoid buying those China-made toys. But you’d have to burn up a lot of gas looking for toys made in the United States, and if everybody did that, your friend in China would have to go back to living on $.50 per day, if she could get it.

Brian Adams