Letters for February 4, 2010

Better off ignored

Re “Disaster and beyond” (SN&R Editorial, January 21):

While I would agree that the destructiveness of the earthquake was compounded by the existing situation in the country, and that Haitians deserve better, the editorial seems to tiptoe around the [United States’] role in Haiti’s impoverishment and political instability. This lack of examination is surprising in an alternative newspaper.

The United States has never ignored Haiti. On the contrary, the U.S. maintained the Duvalier kleptocracy during the Cold War as a bulwark against any sort of economic development that would smack of socialism. More recently, the United States withheld aid to Haiti when the government tried to raise the minimum wage above $2 a day, thus insuring a low floor for wages throughout the Americas. The United States wrecked Haiti’s agricultural sector by forcing the country to drop protections of its agriculture and then dumping subsidized U.S. rice and sugar. Haiti, the former sugar exporter, even had to start importing sugar. This agricultural policy led to the food riots of last year, not to mention the exodus of rural residents to the packed slums we now see collapsed on the slopes.

And when the Haitian people rose up and elected their own president by an overwhelming vote, the United States had him removed in a coup. Twice. The modernization and development that Aristide had tried to institute were stopped. The new medical school was closed and used to house the U.N. troops brought in to protect the replacement government from the people.

I wonder if Haiti might actually be better off if the U.S. government and military really did ignore it. While the U.S. Embassy in Haiti is the fifth largest in the world, the Icelanders and Israelis seem quite expert at reaching victims, and the Cubans are the ones training the doctors there. Furthermore, the Haitian people are nothing if not organized and resilient.

My hope is that the current attention on Haiti will open the eyes of the American people to the harmful policies of our government and will lead us to demand respect for the Haitian people, participation by Haitians in the reconstruction, an end to interference in Haiti’s affairs and reparations for all the harm that has been done. Americans can do a lot of good for Haiti, but decades of exploitation must end. The Haitian people deserve no less.

Phillip Fujiyoshi

He blames Haiti

Re “Disaster and beyond” (SN&R Editorial, January 21):

The [teases] on your January 21 cover intrigued me: “Why Haiti?” And under that, “Too much pot?”

But no, your editorial was all the usual “Poor Haiti, everybody should be eager to help.”

Well, yes. Haiti is a close neighbor, and we’re big and rich, so we have to pitch in. But I’m angry at Haiti. I blame the victim.

Haiti became supposedly independent not long after the United States did, but it’s been a rolling disaster story for two centuries. Haiti is not just a failed state; it’s a failed culture and a failed society. Apparently, the so-called government simply disappeared after the earthquake. There are reportedly few passable roads, let alone any public institutions capable of helping the people.

I thought maybe “Too much pot?” was a proposed explanation for this. Poor Haiti.

William Murphy

PG&E light means bad pot

Re “Pot glut” by Skip Jones (SN&R Frontlines, January 21):

Can something legitimately be called medicinal if it’s not organically grown? I don’t think so. The tendency of so-called dispensaries to offer only indoor-grown bud is a disservice to the patients of California, who deserve the finest quality, safest, most healing bud for whatever they’ve been diagnosed with. To say that only the buds grown indoors, in artificial environments, with or without questionable chemical inputs are the “best,” or worse yet, the only buds available, is downright tragic.

Just because something is grown indoors under lights does not mean it’s been grown in a sterile environment. In fact, pathogens can be far worse in a closed, unnatural system like the ones Jones seems to prefer. Buds grown indoors don’t have any of the natural controls on pests that make organic produce so desirable and tasty. Nothing about soil is sterile, and yet I still contend that marijuana, like most plants, prefers to have its roots in a natural environment like that in which it evolved.

And to say that an indoor system can provide the quality of bud grown in the glorious California sunshine, which makes this such a prime state to grow in, is silly. No amount of artificial light can come close to the power of the sun, and attempting to do so is ecologically unsound at best. When PG&E is cashing in, something is wrong. This emphasis on growing a particular light green pristine bud, no matter the expense, is ultimately self-defeating.

For Jones to say that indoor is medicinal while outdoor isn’t is certainly a disservice to his “patients.” Organically grown bud, preferably raised in the abundance of nature with natural sunlight, is the only bud that can truly be called medicinal. So let’s all support our local organic farmer, folks.

Billy “O.G.” Budd

Missed a kiss

Re “The long kiss Oscar night” by Daniel Barnes (SN&R Cinema Scoped, January 21):

SN&R film critic Daniel Barnes should consider Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon, who actually locked lips in The Hunger (1983), for his “long kiss” on Oscar night.

William J. Hughes

Ponzi scum!

Re “Will Goldman Sachs help, kill or eat Sacramento?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Snog, January 22):

Is this the same investment banking company that in 2006-2007 bundled $50 billion in high-risk loans, which they sold for $500 billion in the tax-free Cayman Islands and then insured heavily, knowing they would go belly up? Then, when it looked like AIG wouldn’t pay out because of the collapse they created, they asked the treasury secretary (and former CEO of Goldman Sachs), Henry Paulson, to bailout AIG with our tax dollars, so [Goldman Sachs] could get paid 100 cents on the dollar?

Can someone say “Ponzi scum”! This is who Mayor Kevin Johnson is bringing to Sacramento? What a strong move towards ethics and values in Sacramento.

Mark Wirth
Elk Grove