Letters for May 14, 2009

Letter of the week
A cancerous economy

Re “An outsider’s view of Earth” by Fred Branfman (SN&R Feature, May 7):

Wow. How can someone be so clearly right-on and then suddenly miss his own point completely, not seeing the glaring connection in front of his face?

Mr. Branfman perfectly and brilliantly describes our folly. Then when he discusses the economy, he espouses the backward mode of thought that got us into this horrible mess in the first place. When discussing [President Barack] Obama’s economic stimulus, Mr. Branfman says, “The United States should, for example, be mobilizing to compete with China, which has recently announced plans to lead the world in producing electric cars.”

Mr. Branfman, the high-growth economy, producing inefficient and really unnecessary items (like cars) just for the sake of producing something is the root of the problem that you so beautifully and completely described earlier in your article!

We don’t need to grow our economy. Unlimited growth is actually the definition of cancer, and that is what we have today: cancer of the economy. Anything that grows out of control for no reason except to satisfy itself (as our economy has this past 100 years) is not healthy and eventually kills its host.

It is possible instead to have an economy that has equilibrium, an economy that produces simply what we need and only what we need. Such an economy would not produce many cars, as cars are one of the worst ways to transport people around if we are thinking about long-term survival of our species. An electric car is still a car, made of 3,000 pounds of steel, rubber, plastic and toxic fluids, that generally transports only one person at a time. How would we get the electricity to transport billions of such heavy vehicles around? Electricity production is very polluting, both of CO2 and of many other toxins like mercury, carbon monoxide, etc.

If we are to prevent the biospheric collapse that you describe, we must convert our economy to a slow, deep, locally based one. We must convert from trading mainly material goods to trading mainly services, because services take much less from the Earth and produce fewer pollutants. We wouldn’t be making tons of money, but we would be providing our citizens with their most basic needs and not damaging the planet while we do it.

Convert the auto factories to bus and light-rail factories and have public transportation every five blocks, every five minutes. Stop thinking about growth and think about stabilizing our interactions between each other.

Such a change in our economic thinking would not only make our society more humane, it would greatly decrease our destruction of life on this planet.

Robin Weld

It’s the population, stupid!

Re “An outsider’s view of Earth”by Fred Branfman (SN&R Feature, May 7):

So what are we supposed to do? Just turn the clock back to the pre-Industrial Age or further? I, for one, don’t think we need to go back to hunting and gathering and living in clans.

Instead, let’s put the brakes on human population. We’ve got people popping out kids like crazy just because they can—someone will pay for it! And it turns out that it’s the planet (and the rest of the people on it) who are going to pay.

It’s simple math: Fewer people means more resources for everyone. Stop having kids, already.

Mitch Martinson

Better ‘green thumb’ laws

Re “Vegetable matter” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green Days, May 7):

Thanks for raising the issue of back- and front-yard gardening in Sacramento. Unfortunately, your article failed to probe the issue further. The city’s front-yard ordinance still needs to be updated in two significant ways which were highlighted in our recent report (“The Kitchen Sink: Building a Better Food System in the Sacramento Region”).

First, laws need to distinguish between those who have cosmetic grass lawns, drought-resistant plants or vegetable gardens. Unfortunately, the laws on the books define “overgrowth” and “blight” quite broadly, making many Sacramentans nervous about growing anything other than grass.

And second, the laws should actually promote the growth of food in place of lawns. Collectively, we need to use our precious water where it matters most—food, not lawns.

George Jackson
Environment and Agriculture Taskforce (EAT) Sacramento

Mental healthcare and enoughto live on

Re “Gone mental” by Amy Yannello (SN&R, Frontlines, April 30):

I’m glad Sherrie finally found the help she needs, and I hope she’ll be able to continue going to Northgate Point. I also hope she’s been warned of any potential negative side effects of whatever medicine she’s on. For instance, the weight gain caused by her meds can lead to all of the health risks connected with being overweight, including diabetes.

Since she can’t work because of her illness, she probably, like many of us who have been labeled mentally ill, gets SSI (Supplemental Security Income). Starting in May, many of us have had our SSI payments cut drastically by the state of California.

Many of us also get SSD (Social Security Disability, which is a federal program). I read in the May 3 issue of The Sacramento Bee that next year, for the first time in over three decades, Social Security recipients will not get a cost-of-living increase. This also, of course, affects seniors and the physically challenged.

Despite claims that in the past year that overall inflation has been low, inflation statistics do not include the cost of groceries. Obviously, these are something we all need and constitute a much larger percentage of monthly expenses for a poor person than for a rich one. And it doesn’t take a financial genius to figure out that the cost of groceries is going up and up.

Sherrie is right that “There’s going to be more psychiatric hospitalizations, more police intervention, more homelessness.” But it won’t be just because of cuts to mental-health care services.

Liz Purcell

Don’t force your beliefs on others

Re “In their own image” by Kel Munger (SN&R Frontlines, April 30):

I appreciated this article. As a gay Christian (yes, we do exist, and no, we’re not contradictions), I can understand both points of view regarding Proposition 8 and the homosexuality vs. religion conflict very well.

In our great country, no one should be able to force their views on anyone, especially in an educational facility. People have the right to listen to whatever music they please, love who they love and be happy without others trying to shove their opinions down people’s throats.

Keep up the great work, SN&R!

Jax Allyria

Tobacco—strong enough to kill colds

Re “Lose the tobacco ads” (SN&R Letter of the Week, April 30):

The hysterical tone of the letter writer towards tobacco is as if one were sprinkling radioactive material on her Wheaties every morning. Let’s not forget that tobacco is a natural plant and more importantly, historically, smoking it was considered medicinal for thousands of years (that is, until for-profit medicine came onto the scene at the turn of the century).

Thanks to Big Pharma, the entire medical system has been turned upside down. We live in a society where it is now “common knowledge” that a plant is responsible for almost every disease under the sun and absolutely no mention of the devastating and sometimes life-threatening effects of ingesting “medicines” that are made from synthetic chemicals. How one arrives at using chemicals to cure something that is organic—the human body—is beyond me.

Hardly any mention is made of the real reasons why people are getting sicker and sicker: Our addiction to vehicles that spew extremely hazardous fumes into the air, which we then breathe 24-seven until we slowly die. Next time you’re walking around, pay close attention to the sheer number of vehicles whose hazardous fumes you’re breathing in, not to mention the complete takeover of our food and water by chemical companies, and all those years of atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs (the half-life of radioactive material is measured in the thousands of years).

Instead, all I am fed is how tobacco is the No. 1 killer of all killers, filled with poisons. Of course, these same poisons are at microscopic levels in everything we eat.

I’ve been smoking for a while, maybe 10 years or so. During those years I noticed something strange. At times I would quit, due to the information fed me. The last time I quit, I noticed I would get colds. Now that I’m back to smoking, I have not gotten one single cold in three years. Not one. The information that is fed to me about tobacco does not add up. How can something that is supposedly so dangerous to one’s health prevent colds?

Martin Haffner
Citrus Heights

The jets could’ve done it

Re “Truth is imperative” (SN&R Letters, April 30):

Having been called an “historical revisionist” more than once, I readily recognize the great ease to see conspiracy where conspiracy does not exist.

Above all else, however, truth cannot exist independent of rationality and reason.

I am not quite sure the calculus utilized to reach, derive and conclude the government’s complicity in prestaging explosive charges [on 9/11] is accurate.

In fact, I have previously heard men use the acronym SWAG (a “Scientific Wild-Ass Guess”), which I believe to be applicable to the 9/11 conspiracy theory.

I am not a physicist by any stretch of the imagination; however, it takes too far and too great a leap of faith to believe that an object possessed of the sheer size (volume), coupled with the structural integrity of a modern-era jetliner, even with high flash-point fuel, multiplied by the rate of speed upon impact and penetration of a supposed immovable object (a stationary mass devoid of inertia), could not wreak havoc akin to Dante’s “Inferno.

Manny Barboza

Life ain’t fair

Re “The gay tax” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay, April 16):

Kel Munger claims that she doesn’t mind paying taxes (yeah, right) but she does mind paying more than her “fair share,” because she and her lesbian partner are a married couple, but the Internal Revenue Service considers them both as single for tax purposes.

I’m a lesbian who is a Libertarian. I do mind paying taxes, and I really don’t support this whole gay-marriage issue. Why is government even meddling in what should be a personal commitment between two people? The real reason big government is involved is just to collect more taxes and create more government bureaucracy!

Kel Munger complains over and over again that she is not being treated fairly because she is gay. Well, I learned a long time ago that life is not fair. If life were completely fair, I would have Ellen DeGeneres’ bank account and a girlfriend that looked like Portia de Rossi!

Sandy Biroli
via e-mail


In the April 2009: Iraq War Timeline published last week, a list of U.S. dead from February was mistakenly listed in the column of dead for April. A corrected version of the casualty numbers is online. We apologize for the error.