Letters for July 10, 2003

No more voting for the Hulk

Re “Cartoon” by John Kloss (SN&R Opinion, June 26):

Well done by SN&R’s political cartoonist in his depiction of our flowery mayor, Heather Fargo, turning into the Hulk during our city’s disgusting, fascist display of police force in and around the world agricultural conference downtown.

No more voting for you, Mayor Hulk.

William J. Hughes

Fees and taxes are not the same

Re “Take a tax hike” by Matt Johanson (SN&R Guest Comment, June 26):

I find it alarming that a high-school teacher does not know a fee from a tax. I hope he is not miseducating his students!

A tax is something I must pay to support some things I use (roads, libraries, law enforcement) and some things I don’t (schools, welfare, light rail).

A fee is something I pay for something I choose to do—go to a movie, use a toll road or, yes, enjoy a national park.

He says, “Hikers in wilderness areas cost the government virtually nothing.” Right, until a forest fire breaks out, or rescuing an injured hiker costs thousands of dollars.

Johanson believes that “Congress should support the parks and forests through appropriations.” What this means, of course, since there simply aren’t enough tax dollars for all the needs of parks and forests, is that he wants others to pay for his hiking: people like my elderly mother, who can barely walk, never mind hike; people like my small-business-owner racquetball partner who faces yet another exorbitant increase in workers’ comp for her employees; people like my husband and me, who never saw a national park we didn’t like and understand the necessity of paying user fees when we use them.

Lynn Pribus
Fair Oaks

No messiahs in the teenage mutant ninja bloc

Re “Seeds of discontent” by Bill Forman, Cosmo Garvin and David A. Kulczyk (SN&R News, June 26):

The unnamed Sacramento anarchist commenting on the Black Bloc mentions Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and the fact that sometimes those who seek change must break the law. Fine and dandy. But mentioning the big three and then equating their activities to the Black Bloc is absurd.

If I remember right, Jesus never dressed up as a ninja and taunted cops. Gandhi never put a bandanna on his face to hide his identity. And Martin Luther King didn’t run off into a crowd and change clothes to slip capture by the police.

The big three not only stood up for what they believed in and fought the bastards without running, they did so unmasked, quite willing to take their lumps for their beliefs, and as pacifists. In fact, all three had the guts to die for their convictions. That is one reason why we look at them as heroes and as role models.

Until you take off your masks, leave your ninja outfits home with your Underoos and openly confront the powers that be, you ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of faceless cowards.

Scott Soriano

Give us the right scoop in Dish

Re “Late-night nosh” by Lark Park (SN&R Dish, June 26):

I’m a dedicated reader, and I enjoy SN&R very much, especially the restaurant reviews, which I’ve found to be very accurate. But I’ve noticed that something is off with your price guide, or perhaps it’s just not accurate enough.

I’ve been to Harlow’s, Slocum House, and Jack’s Urban Eats, and I wouldn’t really lump them all into the “dinner for one: $10-$20” category. I don’t know if this is an error regarding Jack’s (which runs $6 or $7 a plate) or something weird about the formula you use.

In any case, it seems misleading. If I went to Slocum House expecting the same price range I had at Jack’s, I’d be very confused and kind of pissed for having driven all the way out there to find it’s very hard to escape with a bill of less than $20 for one. At the very least, I’d have to limit myself to one of only a few entrees.

Maybe a rating process that allowed for an appetizer and an entree or a drink and an entree, or that, better yet, worked off of a formula that included dinner for two would start to multiply everything larger, creating a more spread-out rating for each restaurant, more accurately distancing restaurants like Slocum House and Harlow’s from Jack’s Urban Eats or the Jamaica House.

Andy Paul
via e-mail

What’s worse, infidelity or lying about war?

Re “Weapons of mass distortion” (SN&R Editorial, June 19):

I was surprised by your editorial on our reasons for going to war in Iraq. Of course, we didn’t attack Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or to free the Iraqis. Even if they had WMD, that wasn’t enough for a unilateral attack, and since when does the U.S. government care about freedom in other countries?

Yes, the decision to attack was made before there were good reasons. Anyone who understands this administration’s men knows that.

Yes, oil was a factor, as was power in a strategic region. But there’s more to it than that. Don’t you understand “globalization,” the combining of U.S. indoctrination, coercion and the military to assure that our global corporations can maximize profits and control resources and people in almost every country of the world?

In response to how the editorial ended, the unelected president will not set the record straight. He has the majority of important Americans, mostly radical nationalists, on his side anyway. By definition, most human beings are not smart (more than half have a low IQ on a bell-shaped curve). Most people are self-centered, provincial and untrusting of those with lots of money or who are in positions of power.

Hell, most Americans think Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity makes him a worse president than Bush no matter how conniving the latter is, no matter how many times he lies or misleads (which is extensive only 60 percent of the way through his term), no matter that he has broken constitutional laws and no matter that his economic policies are terrible.

Randy McClure

Technology won’t solve a global political problem

Re “Inside the global dome” by Ron Curran (SN&R Cover, June 12):

This story highlighted a critical world issue: the use of genetically engineered food to help end hunger.

President Bush, displaying a sudden concern for the world’s poor, has stated that development of genetically engineered food is a critical key to solving the problem of hunger. But this problem can only be legitimately addressed within the context of world political, military and economic history.

The colonial exploits of the “South” by the “North” disrupted an effective system of traditional agriculture, which had served mankind well for many centuries. Prime agricultural land in poor countries was displaced for growing wheat and other export crops to the United States, Europe and other rich countries for feeding livestock.

Since 1972, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and now the World Trade Organization have done the dirty work for rich economies, to make the “South” more friendly to exports, while creating a market and tariff structure that denies profitable crop prices and a living wage for small, indigenous farmers. Private traders working directly with Cargill and other corporate monopolies now dominate agricultural trade.

Small, free enterprise in the United States and abroad is further compromised by lack of credit from large banks to buy equipment and expensive patented seeds. Families are then forced to move to large cities to work in maquiladoras.

Given these realities, it’s pointless to cite the lack of efficient, disease-resistant, seed technology as a major reason for hunger. The reasons are much more basic, and exporting more expensive technology to the “South” will not feed the hungry of the world.

John McCormack