Letters for January 15, 2004

Time to take on organic salad

Re “The salads of wrath” by Vince Beiser (SN&R Cover, December 31):

Just how old is Vince? I’m 41, and the plight of the harvesting farmworker exposed to the gross overuse of pesticides and herbicides is fossil news. Honestly, he ought to go back and read Silent Spring or a biography of Cesar Chavez.

It comes as no surprise when corporate America behaves badly. After all, unregulated capitalism is about profit, not human or environmental stewardship.

What would be a more scathing—and much more interesting—article would be to track the abuses (if any) in the organic-produce industry. This is a segment of the farming community that ostensibly is dedicated to keeping the environment free of chemicals and to maintaining worker safety and health while hopefully even providing a living wage. If you were to find the same or similar problems in the organic-produce business, then you’d have a story.

Curtis Payton

Get on the bus against SUVs

Re “What about those old VW vans?” (SN&R Letters, January 8):

Letter writer Matt Wells’ heart appears to be in the right place, but his logic is considerably off target. Mr. Wells suggests that we need to levy a certain portion of the blame for wastefulness on drivers of “all of the 20-, 30- and even 40-year-old, pre-emission-controlling cars that are still on the road,” in our haste to condemn sport-utility-type vehicles.

Clearly, he hasn’t stopped to consider several salient facts:

First, in proportion to the thousands of grossly overweight and horrifically fuel-inefficient sport-utility vehicles being sold and driven today, the number of older, lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles (old VW vans, for instance) is statistically small.

Second, many of these older “smog-inspection exempt” vehicles are collector cars that are seldom actually driven, spending their final years garaged and preserved by enthusiasts for their historic value.

Third, none of those older vehicles he refers to are, in fact, smog-exempt. Rather, they are subject to the same regulations applicable to all vehicles produced in their year of manufacture. They are only exempt from regular inspections to assure integrity of whatever emission-inhibiting components they may have been originally introduced with.

Fourth, a large number of those old vehicles are maintained with great care and scrupulous attention to efficient performance and optimal operation—in the case of collector vehicles, to a far greater degree than most newer vehicles.

And finally, what represents better application of conservative standards of efficiency than continuing to utilize an older vehicle that has been well-maintained and cared for by a concerned, involved owner? Any individual who thinks that buying a monstrous new car every few years represents a better applied ecological philosophy than maintaining, and preserving an older vehicle in good condition has obviously never read E.F. Schumacher’s seminal work, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.

Chris Carey

Still moving him after all these years

Re “It still moves” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R Arts & Culture, December 18):

I bought It Still Moves by My Morning Jacket, based on Jackson Griffith’s review. I bought it more due to the part of the review describing an aging music fanatic. I figure anyone that can nail me that accurately should dictate my next record purchase. (I enjoyed the first part of the article immensely!)

I agree, this is a great album, and it gets better upon repeated listens. I, too, hear a lot of other bands in their music but think they make it their own. I know that hearing influences in records says more about the person listening to the music than it does about the folks who actually recorded it. That said, as I listen to the album, my strongest ghosts that come out include Neil Young, the Band, Grandaddy, Seam, Codeine (especially song six), and Gene Loves Jezebel (especially song eight).

Thanks for the great article and the great recommendation.

Matthew Hargrove
West Sacramento

SN&R fuels terrorists

Re “To-do list for Uncle Sam” (SN&R Editorial, December 31):

What a way to start the New Year: Ebenezer Screwed offering gratuitous advice to an Uncle Sam that exists in his extremist interpretation of the state of our nation. Instead of offering constructive suggestions on how to improve the Patriot Act, this SN&R editorial espouses that Uncle Sam simply scrap it.

That would leave the United States more vulnerable to terrorism than ever. We should turn over Iraq to the United Nations? It was a body designed to unite the masses but has turned out to be nothing but a weak mass of quicksand.

Yes, the Bush administration has made its share of mistakes, and Uncle Sam could use some good advice. I am certainly not a Bush apologist by any stretch of the imagination. But extremist groups like SN&R want to replace the Patriot Act with the unfortunate act of reinforcing stereotypes about the United States—stereotypes that fuel worldwide anti-American sentiment and offer psychological fuel for terrorists.

Bush-bashing and the adoption of a “hate America first” policy is very fashionable in certain circles—elitist circles that contain so-called members of the cognoscenti, but such circles operate on fiction, not fact. Most of what comes out of such circles is vapid whining without any constructive element to the concomitant criticism.

I have a little advice for Ebenezer Screwed. A little healthy skepticism is a good thing. But it is not Uncle Sam that has screwed you. It is the cyanide of cynicism that takes away the “happy” from your new year.

Bruce L. Thiessen