Letters for the Week of August 31 

Readers sound off on gay seniors, Proposition 13, and Bawdy Storytelling.

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I bet when the author started as a journalist, people told her how hard it was going to be for her to break into professional journalism. Americans love to remind one another how difficult it is to start a new career or business, or realize an idea.

Let me make my point by asking a question: Are there really careers or degree programs where one just waits around while the phone rings off the hook with unsolicited offers of employment?

Life is only as hard as you believe it is. This article is time well wasted. Namaste.

Tyler Palmer, Orinda

"Regaining Trust," News, 8/10

Take Back the Land

I commend Ian Winters, Francis McIlveen, and others striving to revitalize the Northern California Land Trust, a nonprofit provider of permanently affordable housing and commercial space for people and community groups of modest means. The organization's history actually goes back to the mid-Seventies, when a few activists in the farmworker, organic farmer, land-use planning, renewable energy, peace, and social justice movement (not sic) recognized the need for land reform in the United States. The first community land trust in the United States was organized by black civil rights leaders in the South, with the help of the late visionary Robert Swann, a WWII conscientious objector educated in prison by Arthur Morgan, an FDR brain truster. Secure land tenure is step one of a viable economy, along with community-controlled credit and currency, and worker owned co-ops. Consultants mistakenly apply a nonprofit housing developer model — which is dependent on government subsidy and banks — to community land trusts, which Winters and McIlveen are trying to rectify. The "housing bubble" causing the most recent economic meltdown (along with banks) was actually a land bubble. Japan and Britain, which suffered earlier such meltdowns, are starting to recognize this. Land, which is the birthright of all, must be taken out of the speculative market for any kind of stability or fairness. For a primer in decentralist economics, check the E. F. Schumacher Society's website, and the work of the late Mildred Loomis, of the School of Living, in Pennsylvania.

Dale Becknell, Oakland

"The Great Land Grab." Eco Watch, 8/10

Abhorrent and Grotesque

Can our existing, predatory corporate culture, gorging itself as it does on human suffering and misery, get any more cruel and rapacious than this? What is Western civilization if this is what it comes to? If we are incapable of imposing restraints on this behavior by corporate culture, the entire Western system of economics deserves to fail and to fail completely. The sooner the better. Even if we all have to suffer in the process, it is better in the long run.

We have created a system utterly devoid of humanity or conscience, abhorrent and grotesque to the core. God have mercy on us all, if we cannot do any better than this.

Ann Shannon, Portland, Oregon

"A Tale of Two Economies," Full Disclosure, 8/10

Republicanism and the Red Menace

I think the root of the problem is the false capitalism we're seeing.

Republicans can agree with Democrats and others on some issues, but when it comes to voting time, those who call themselves Republicans will always choose what they've been led to believe is a capitalist over a socialist. "Better dead than red" worked then, and it works now.

Labeling Democrats as socialists, while wearing the cloak of capitalism, has given the Republicans the upper hand for decades. Democrats keep having to prove they aren't socialists, while no one questions the Republicans on their non-capitalistic actions (e.g., corporate subsidies). Libertarians had a chance when Republicans joined out of disgust with George W. Bush, but quick-thinking Republicans lumped them with radicals — and voilà, Tea Party.

Now, the Republicans are giving voters another false choice: radical Tea Partiers, plain ol' Republicans, or those damn socialist Dems. And voters who left will return to the Republican Party they "know," and regard Bush II as just a bad apple.

Tracie Douglas, Columbus, Ohio

"Spicing Up Sexy Storytelling," Culture Spy, 7/27

Just Listen

The author seems to be going back and forth too much to be able to tell her opinion, honestly. As in any social situation, you are going to have better-than-average stories and just-average stories, but the point of the whole thing is to open up the audience to new perspectives, and having them laugh at the same time never hurts. Some of the more jaded individuals in the audience might text rather than listen, but that is to their detriment. Every story shared enlightens the listening. You just have to pay attention beyond your own ego.

Christine Rosakranse, Oakland

"An Edible Legacy," Restaurant Review, 8/10


Beautiful article. Berkeley needs to read more inspired stuff like this rather than jealous ranting. Thanks so much.

J. Holland, Berkeley

"The Elephant in the Room," Feature, 7/27

Prop 13 Is the Problem

Proposition 13 has handcuffed California's budget by not only limiting property taxes but by making it extremely hard for its legislators to pass any new laws that would raise taxes. People call for lowering taxes but they still want the government to provide all of its current services with no added cost. Where is this money supposed to come from? California's "fiscal constitution" needs some revision, or soon we will all see the day when we have to pay out of pocket to ensure the fire department will even respond to a call. Or, where we have to provide a credit card number when dialing 911. Is this a little extreme? Who knows, we will see soon enough if California continues its current budget trends.


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