Letters for October 13, 2011

Letter of the week
New indentured servitude

Re “The college bubble” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature, October 6):

It’s a pretty fair bet that high-priced education will falter as the economy does, especially when the availability of loans have driven the costs of education through the roof. But Mark Kantrowitz is dead wrong when he says that we’re only “headed to a place with decreased college affordability.”

All you’d have to do is talk to the young people who enlist in the military hoping to defray college costs (if they survive), the students working two and three jobs to minimize their debt load, and the middle-aged people with kids approaching college age who are still paying on student loans to discover that college is not affordable for most.

The student-loan system has given us an illusion of affordability, but it’s really created a new type of indentured servants. Like the health-insurance problem, it keeps people tied to jobs they hate, without the flexibility to strike out on their own, just to make loan payments and keep their children insured.

We’re not seeing the real student-loan crisis, which is the lost productivity, economic growth and technological advances we’d have if so many of our “best and brightest” weren’t saddled with so much debt right out of the gate.

Don Martin

Somebody likes poetry

Re “Waiting for God” by William S. Gainer (SN&R Poet’s Corner, October 6):

Bill Gainer, you rock!

Kim Clyde

Jazz blast

Re “Jazz theory” by Burt Wilson (SN&R Essay, September 29):

I, too, am a former board member [of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society] and a musician. I played my first festival in 1980 when I was 17 and am the STJS’ very first scholarship winner. I am a hard-core traditional jazz player, but there are just not many gigs out there anymore, so now I play in area blues bands.

My take on the name change [of the festival] is a bit different from Mr. [Burt] Wilson’s. First, the club has been run into the ground by Wilson’s buddies. That’s why the club’s finances are not in order. Many well-meaning members of the club are stuck in a 30-year retroactive time warp. They seem to think that the festival belongs to them, and it’s their four-day party, where they get to bring all their friends and their crappy bands to town on the club’s dime.

The cold, hard reality of the situation is that if the club doesn’t make some changes to the musical format, the festival will die. The traditional jazz audience is literally dying out from under the club. A Dixieland-only festival just can’t sell enough tickets to keep the doors open the other 361 days of the year.

The truth is that the festival is our annual bake sale. It’s a fundraiser, nothing more. Those dollars allow our club to finance our once-a-month meetings where traditional jazz is the music that is played and taught. The festival keeps our jazz camp running and our offices open and the lights on.

The STJS can change the name of the festival, but until the talent selection committee actually hires bands that younger people are willing to come listen to, they could call the festival “Woodstock” and it wouldn’t matter. The self-serving culture within the STJS is what needs to change, or the club and the festival will fold within five years. Then the city will take over and turn the festival into a generic, Kenny G-wannabe fusak festival, and that would be a shame.

One thing is certain. I will never be hired to play another festival when this letter gets out, and that’s the problem!

William Bua

Support the name change

Re “Jazz theory” by Burt Wilson (SN&R Essay, September 29):

Jazz fans, take heart: As long as there is a festival, there will be funding for traditional-jazz education and performance at the monthly Jazz Sunday meetings at the Dante Club, and funding for summer Traditional Jazz Camps, and funding for Music Lesson Awards for talented young musicians to pay for their traditional jazz music lessons.

If the name change sells more tickets and attracts sponsors to keep the festival going, then I will support it.

Nancy Giffin
Granite Bay

Her vote wasn’t recorded

Re “Jazz theory” by Burt Wilson (SN&R Essay, September 29):

I would just like to make a [clarification]: Not all [Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society] board members were present at the meeting in which this decision was made. My “no” vote was not recorded, as I had a personal family emergency to attend to that evening, and could not be present for the discussion or vote.

For the record, I am still firmly against the name change, but agree that our format needs to continue to progress in order to “stay in business.” As a musician member of the board, I would also like to note that we only have a handful of musician board members, and last year, three of the musician board members performed at the festival. They were all part of top-notch groups who deserved to be there in the first place, regardless of their position on the board.

Musician members of the board are voted to be on the board for that very reason: because they are high-profile musicians with a solid reputation who our members believe can make a difference.

Kristy Reed

Ask the right question about tax rates

Re “Buffett and apples” (SN&R Letters, September 1):

Letter writer Dennis Johnson calls Warren Buffett untruthful because he skims over the fact that (as Johnson points out), “Most of the rich get their income from capital gains, not wages. The capital gains rate is lower than the income tax rate on wages.”

Mr. Johnson’s observation concerning the tax rates is certainly correct. The question is: Why does this disparity exist? After all, this is not some immutable law of nature, but an expression of national policy.

As Johnson indicates, it is the rich who derive the most benefit from low capital-gains taxes; the middle classes—what’s left of them—benefit relatively little, and the poor, for the most part, not at all. So why do we have a tax code that favors those who can best afford to pay over those who are struggling to make ends meet? Not only is that an injustice, but in times like these, with our entire economy faltering, this kind of favoritism toward the rich is something we simply can’t afford.

This, I believe, is Mr. Buffett’s point. It’s a point that merits not only consideration, but action, and the sooner the better.

Dave “the Math Tutor” Jones