Letters for October 1, 2009

Letter of the week
Losing our damn minds

Re “Tea bags for two” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, September 24):

The political landscape of our country, if viewed through the filter that mass media is working to directly affix to our eyes, is currently dominated by racist senators, gun-toting protesters and obese shock pundits. We have crowds of what appear to be remnants of the Confederacy gathering in front of our White House [and] making overt threats of secession. We’re literally steeped in polarity.

But is this the case? Does it have to be?

R.V. Scheide points out an uncomfortable truth that both camps would do well to internalize. If we let media agencies and fat men with microphones galvanize us in any direction than toward the center, all we’ll have in the end is a giant divide between us. I’m sure Rush would appreciate the elbow room and the ratings, but is that something our country needs? Those people have a vested interest in keeping us as far to our sides as possible because that’s their paycheck. Meanwhile, we bicker and puff up our chests and accomplish nothing except devising (not-so) witty ad hominem attacks on each other.

So the conservative you saw on CNN is a racist; does this mean they all are? Some people are protesting what they see as unfair taxation; instead of addressing their issue, we simply write them off and call them petty names like children?

We allow our media to dominate our opinions to such an extent that we can no longer be in the room with a person of differing opinion without resorting to schoolyard name-calling and posturing. Think about what our little ones will read in the history books on our generation: “They had elected the first black president, then they lost their damn minds.”

Maybe it’s time for us to turn off the cable news and start having dinner parties with people we don’t know. Maybe we should think about building bridges across that massive chasm we let Rupert Murdoch carve across the face of our once great country. Thanks for the perspective, R.V.

Michael Krebsbach

Taxpayers are firefighters

Re “Smoke, no mirrors” (SN&R Editorial, September 24):

Fire prevention and firefighting in rural areas should be the concern of every Californian. All of us are harmed by the destruction of recreational areas and by the air pollution and watershed destruction brought by wildfires.

Property owners in rural areas pay for their local fire protection and also pay for their increased fire risks through their property-insurance premiums. Cal Fire and other statewide firefighting efforts should be paid for by all taxpayers.

David Goold

Wanted: fire prevention

Re “Smoke, no mirrors” (SN&R Editorial, September 24):

Many who live in designated high fire danger areas have taken steps to protect our properties, yet 1) have had our homeowner’s insurance canceled, 2) pay extra to local fire protection districts already, and 3) repeatedly approve ballot measures for fire-protection funding.

Cal Fire needs to return to being a balanced forestry/fire protection agency, and devote more attention to proper forest husbandry on public and private forest lands. Rural residents are 99.999 percent victims of fires, not perpetrators.

How about stopping fires before they start [by having] Caltrans and local public-works departments maintain nonflammable rights of way? State and local parks prevent irresponsible camp fires? [California Highway Patrol] and local police nail smokers who pitch lit cigs out of car windows?

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Rural residents already pay a premium for the irresponsibility of a handful of jerks, many of whom are visiting from urban areas.

David Wiltsee

Let it burn

Re “Smoke, no mirrors” (SN&R Editorial, September 24):

I’m sure you’ll hear from all the folks who “headed for the hills” to get away from suburban sprawl, only to spread it further into fire country. It seems to me that there are two problems that need to be addressed.

One is the simple fact that global climate change, combined with generations of bad fire practices, absolutely will mean more devastating fires. We need to plan and budget for them.

The other is that our expansion into the wilds is unsustainable, for a myriad of reasons. Just to name a few, the environment is too fragile (and the costs too high) for so many houses to be built in the fire zone. On top of that, the additional use of fossil fuels for these folks to get back and forth to work, school and the store is contributing to the fire problem by sending greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and hastening climate change—hence, more fires that are ever more destructive, if only because there are more houses to be burned.

Hey, folks, from the fire’s perspective, it’s all food: grass, shrub, small trees and your new house. It’s just fuel in a different shape. And as they tell campers in Yellowstone, if you don’t want the bear to break into your car, don’t leave food in it. Californians, if you don’t want the fires burning through the state’s money, don’t put more fuel out there to burn.

How about a fire policy that protects life only? Property is fire food. Let it burn.

Jan Kline

Charge ’em with murder

Re “Safe, not sorry” by Heidi Kriz (SN&R Frontlines, September 17):

[Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger and the Republican state senators are bad news. It is the government’s duty to protect citizens and to ensure their well-being. Schwarzenegger and the Republican state senators are not doing this.

The funding priority for battered women’s shelters should be the same as for prisons, because human life is at risk. Prisons keep the criminals and the murderers in; battered women’s shelters keep the good people in and the criminals and the murderers out.

The governor’s illegal budget cuts, with the backing of big oil (Chevron Corporation of San Ramon), are very dangerous for women and children, who are victims of domestic violence, and it is subhuman. During a recession, with its higher unemployment, government funding for battered women’s shelters should be increased, not eliminated. Obviously, this budget picks on the most vulnerable, and it endangers children. If a battered wife is murdered in front of a closed-down battered women’s shelter, then Schwarzenegger, his oil industry tyrants and the Republican state senators should be charged with first degree murder.

Earl George Richards