Letters for June 26, 2003

Editorial reflexes are off

Re “Class dismissed!” by Tom Walsh (SN&R Editor’s Note, June 19):

Tom Walsh reflexively encourages Democrats to badger Republicans into accepting tax increases. This disappoints me because he ignores the larger issue of why we are in this mess in the first place.

Since 1999, spending went up 36 percent, while revenues went up only 26 percent. Therefore, why not suggest to the Democrats, “Put up some real spending cuts. Give California a budget that shows you know how to live within your means.”

Take them to task for crafting a budget that actually spends $3 billion more this year than the one we had last year. Castigate them for using the recent $2.4 billion federal windfall on more spending. Ask them to eliminate waste and fraud before we raise taxes.

The state pays $125,000 to state board members who work two days a month. But, no, we must raise taxes, even though the car tax will take $3 billion away from working Californians, even though the sales tax will take $250 a year from each family and cost the state 150,000 jobs and even though the cigarette tax is counterproductive.

Never mind that the last time we raised taxes, revenues actually went down. And never mind that raising taxes would tell lawmakers that they can be bailed out, no matter how extravagant their spending, thus eviscerating the need for reform. No, never mind any of this. Let’s just raise taxes.

Our economy is struggling. Companies are leaving the state. Over 1 million Californians are out of work. We need people to spend their money in the private sector in order to stimulate job growth and revenues, which will have a similarly stimulating effect on tax coffers.

Raising taxes at this point would not help in this regard, and thus is ultimately counterproductive.

Assemblyman Tim Leslie
R-Tahoe City

Davis was a big supporter of criminal-justice spending

Re “Cartoon” by John Kloss (SN&R Opinion, June 19):

It seems as though Mr. Kloss has bought into the chicanery of the anti-recall effort by Governor Davis and friends.

According to state census information, California is home to over 36 million residents. Thirty million dollars [to recall Davis] divided by 36 million people equals just over 83 cents per resident to kick this criminal out of office.

Just take a look at the $40 billion hole he dug for us. We can’t afford not to send Gray on his way.

Gavin D. Affatica

One modified gene away from ruin

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

The cover story on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the upcoming Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology was excellent.

Capital Public Radio had some info bites from protesters, and the Bee managed to squeeze in some facts from experts, but the local TV stations have been whipping up fears that the rally could degenerate into violence—featuring the same breaking window over and over, along with shots of police officers taking baton training. (How are batons different from billy clubs?)

Does television always have to find conflict? Can’t they report the good news that citizens are exposing the cozy relationship between politicians and transnational agricultural corporations for what it is—a way to make a lot of money off the backs of the poorest people and farmers?

The cops should be out there offering demonstrators doughnuts and coffee because their unborn great-grandchildren will benefit from our whistle-blowing.

There are far better ways to raise food than Monsanto’s vision of the future, which is vast monocultures of GMOs dependent on chemical inputs.

Worse, once GMOs are released, they cannot be called back. The pollen from GMOs will “drift” into other farmers’ fields and spread out over the years until there is nothing else. You thought star thistle, Scotch broom, pigeons, starlings, rats and other exotics were bad?

A cautionary tale: A single graduate student may have saved farming in North America! Michael Holmes, a doctoral student at Oregon State University, planted seeds in soil containing genetically modified Klebsiella planticola, a common soil bacterium. After sprouting, all the seeds died. The Klebsiella, modified to create ethanol out of wood chips and corn husks, caused a chain reaction that killed the sprouts.

According to geneticist David Suzuki, “The genetically engineered Klebsiella could have ended all plant life on this continent. The implications of this single case are nothing short of terrifying.”

Lauren Ayers

World’s breadbasket will be hidden in corporate pockets

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

A grave danger lies in the fact that genetically modified seeds are, by law, patentable, meaning the seed manufacturer owns all rights to its usage. A company such as Monsanto does not sell this type of seed to the farmer. It is leased to the farmer. And along with that lease, there is a contract.

In these contracts, there are stipulations, such as the farmer agreeing to use only Roundup brand weed killer with the Roundup resistant strain of seed. If the farmer decides to quit using the genetically modified seeds, the farmer must let that land go fallow for two or three years before planting any other seeds. Most farmers could not afford that.

Recently, a farmer’s crops were contaminated by a neighboring industrial farm through seeds blowing in the wind or pollination, and Monsanto sought payment from the farmer for growing its seeds. He refused to pay. Monsanto brought suit against him and won in court; patent rights were determined to supersede the farmer’s rights.

The more genetically altered crops are allowed, the closer these crops get to all our natural food sources. And the courts are favoring the control these five or so corporations seek to gain over our food sources—worldwide.

Paula Lomazzi

Legislators must have skipped the ‘rithmetic lessons

Re “In a state of receivership” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, June 12):

The authors of California’s financial debacle were elected by the people of California, who are the product of some of the worst school systems in the nation. Surprise, surprise.

Luke Reinhart

This just in: Kucinich inspires a Republican!

Re “Kucinich reloaded” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Essay, June 5):

As a registered Republican who read about Dennis Kucinich and immediately became a volunteer on his presidential election campaign, I thank you for your article.

Seeing firsthand the effect he is having on non-Kucinich citizens, how he speaks to their heart, humanity and vision, I now believe he can become president in 2004.

Vince Scarich
via e-mail

Persist in hope, resist cynicism

Re “Kucinich reloaded” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Essay, June 5):

I was very moved by this illuminating piece regarding Ms. Welsh’s history and current perspective of presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. I was, however, disheartened by one of her last statements, one that conceded an inevitable loss: “He’ll not be president in 2004.”

It contradicted what she seemed to believe in response to what Kucinich told her about being a cynic.

We are working not only diligently, but with a renewed, passionate fervor behind a man with values with which we can identify. I am realistic and realize that Ms. Welsh may be right, but I’m working each and every day to prove her wrong. And we may be able to if we just continue to persist.

Michael Carr
via e-mail