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Time to put people first

Now that the spending-frenzy season has again overtaken the land, let’s reflect on another season of rampant buying just passed the national election campaign.

It was a jolly season indeed for politicians, thanks to generous corporate Santas. Almost $2 billion was handed out to continue the corporate class’ hold on power. The sum barely dented their coffers.

However, judging by the hundreds of politicians it bought, the investment should prove very profitable over the long term.

Corporations are mindless creatures compelled by the forces of unchecked capitalism. It’s really the materialistic lifestyles comprising our industrialized society that support the overwhelming power of corporate money. Yet it’s hard to imagine people in a consumer paradise like America curbing their appetites while corporations are spending $23 billion yearly promoting hedonism (a.k.a consumerism) through advertising.

Corporations have spent a century intentionally subverting our “old-fashioned” attitudes of frugality, thrift, charity, simplicity and community. Bewildered and battered, people wonder why they’re working two jobs yet are heavily indebted; why there’s so little time for themselves, their family and their community; why there’s a nagging sense something’s amiss.

Few can withstand the ceaseless barrage of corporate claptrap. But before we can replace the moneyed strictures of the corporate state with the supportive structures of the human community, we will have to clear our minds of propaganda and focus on rebuilding a truly participatory, people-empowered democracy.

Evicting corporate money from our democratic institutions through genuine campaign finance reform is a mandatory first step. Russ Moritz Sandpoint

Thomas plan a real piece of work

I can hardly believe Cal Thomas would seriously offer the proposals he did in his column on welfare (Dec. 17).

“Maryland officials,” he said, “should send a computer printout to all 5,000 places of worship in the state informing them of those in their communities on welfare.” So victims of downsizing, budget-busting, illness or whatever would find their names being distributed en masse.

If welfare is to be handled through private donations, as Thomas wants, perhaps officials could circulate a second list taken from tax records giving people’s incomes, so churches would know whom to ask to contribute to the welfare effort.

Thomas says, “Clergy should begin preaching messages about the privilege of helping the poor out of their poverty.” Good. Then government officials could distribute computer printouts with prescribed sermons. Never mind if a pastor views this as inappropriate to his or her ministry at the time. If the pastor demurs, Thomas would take away the church’s tax-exempt status. He doesn’t say what this would do to freedom of speech and separation of church and state.

Another issue, particularly relevant in small towns: What if the religious beliefs of a welfare recipient are not those of one of the limited number of local churches? Would Thomas have the government make a Unitarian become Lutheran, an Adventist become Catholic, in order to receive welfare?

If churches can help out, that is fine. Heavy-handed government control as proposed by Thomas is not the answer.

I’m sure the pilgrims would agree. Robert Forman Colville, Wash.


Agency worse than feckless; it’s evil

Thank you, James Moss, for your letter, “Real pity is feckless agency.”

As one who was seriously injured on the job in Washington almost 17 years ago, I feel I know the Department of Labor and Industries pretty well. I am still fighting to obtain medical help and I’m well acquainted with the kind of constant physical and emotional pain that could well drive a man to use extreme measures in order to get that pain to relent.

Unfortunately, the public is exposed to only the people who try to use the system. They, in turn, become desensitized to the real pain and suffering of injured workers. Instead, they are led to believe that those people the department doesn’t help are fakers. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is only an excuse for the state to save money and to incite the righteous anger of the people.

As to whether Labor & Industries is weak and ineffective, I say it’s just plain evil. It’s strong enough to tell doctors and hospitals the treatments and opinions it will or will not pay for. This very effectively prevents injured workers from being treated like someone who has good private insurance. This is almost 100 percent effective in denying major surgery to most injured workers.

My heart and prayers go out to the man who had to use a chainsaw and a shotgun to obtain the medical help he needed. God bless him. Sherry R. Ransier Rigby, Idaho


Young protester needs worthy cause

Sometimes, the line between a fight for individuality and simple rebellion is a fine one. I wonder if that line might have been crossed by Andrea McGee, in her fight against having to wear a PE uniform (“Exercising her rights,” News, Dec. 19).

This world is so filled with causes worthy of our effort that a fight against school uniforms (and dress codes) seems rather ridiculous. If it’s an issue of individuality, why not make your own clothes rather than shop at large chain stores? How many Tweety shirts and N.Y. Knicks shorts have you seen others wearing?

Conformity to a common standard will never go away. If you try out for a team sport, you’ll be required to wear a uniform. Just try showing up at a job at McDonald’s in your Tweety-wear. How long do you think your job will last?

Often kids do feel alienated from their peers. But sometimes, they bring it on themselves. It would be a lot easier to respect someone fighting for racial equality or against homelessness, rather than against gym clothes.

This young lady seems to have a desire to fight for justice, so she would do better to turn her energies toward a truly worthy cause. She should call a local homeless shelter or the Crisis Nursery and see what she can do there.

Teamwork is key in this world. You must learn to get along with others. That sometimes requires going along with conformity. School is a privilege, so cherish this time rather than fight it. Elizabeth Rosenkrantz Spokane

Should be exercising good sense

Re: “Exercising her rights,” Dec. 19:

A 3-year-old yelling “Don’t wanna wear that!” can be amusing. Parents encouraging it is another matter.

Is this child’s sense of self so weak and fragile that it can be destroyed by dressing like the others for an hour a day? And how do her parents explain the real world, where paychecks, traffic safety, sanitation, etc., don’t always allow self-expression?

Please, spend your energies on real issues where strong individuals are needed to take a moral stand, not the minor irritations we all put up with in life. Eleanor Hill Spangle, Wash.

Really just a tantrum

In response to “Exercising her rights,” Dec. 19, I say, what constitutional rights? There is nothing in the Constitution that would imply this person can wear anything despite uniform codes.

Oh, the First Amendment? But wait, that says Freedom of Speech shall not be denied by the Congress.

This case is groundless. The parent thinks she should not have to pay for good grades, but the school has already made note that if a family cannot afford the uniform, it will be provided.

Individuality should not be an issue in school. School is not a fashion show, it is a place to obtain an education.

It will not hurt a 12-year-old’s psyche too much to have to wear a uniform for 50 minutes of the day. In fact, it may even save her mother some money in laundry detergent.

This kind of rebellion should not be labeled a court case, but rather as a tantrum of sorts. Brian Thompson Cheney

Rights? What nonsense

It is the constitutional right of a 12-year-old child to go to school and obey the rules and regulations of those who are not only trying to teach ABCs but also how to become a responsible and respectful adult. Parents should support that effort.

Is the uniform a threat to rights or individuality? Hardly. I wore a school uniform for eight years and it did not interfere with my rights and individuality one bit.

Twelve bucks too much? I doubt it.

Go to school, get smart, put on the uniform and grow up in due time. Thomas M. Ryan M.D. Spokane


Gulf War vet cartoon disgusting

On Dec. 18 you sunk to an all-time low, even for The Spokesman-Review. Standing firmly behind the First Amendment, I’m sure, you included on the Roundtable page a picture depicting Gulf War veterans as spotted dogs.

The only thing more disgusting was the verbiage attached to this piece of trash: “Gulf War Syndrome vet” and “101 Delusions.”

The Spokesman-Review’s total lack of sensitivity to the pain and horror of war that has been visited on these solders and their families is unbelievable. It is sad enough that some twisted person would draw such a picture. To think any respectable editor would print it boggles the mind. Doyle F. Wheeler Nine Mile Falls

Dec. 14 stories top-notch

I just want you to know that there is at least one reader out here in the darkness who appreciates positive, well-written articles. The Dec. 14 front page articles on Motor Works (“Engine shop greases workers’ palms”) by Alison Boggs, photo by Colin Mulvany, and the Dan Hansen piece on the Growth Management Act (“Majority favors managed growth”) are fine, positive articles.

Both lifted my spirits. (Maybe the sunshine helped, too).

Keep up the good work. Tom Hargreaves Spokane

FYI: Corvairs are safe cars

Concerning “Bottom lines” (Dec. 16), where supposedly the 1964 Corvair was awarded this year’s Auto Safety Award:

Perhaps it would be of interest to many to know that the Corvair was the only car ever proven to be a safe vehicle.

In the early 1970s, with all the controversy over the supposedly unsafe Corvair, the Department of Transportation and NHTSA conducted a series of tests and concluded that it was no less safe than any other car of that era - perhaps safer than many.

The findings were released in a press release on Aug. 12, 1972. David A. McChesney, president Inland Northwest Corvair Club, Spokane


Don’t treat defenders cavalierly

On behalf of my fellow veterans, I want to say that if we’re willing to believe in our military members enough to send them to war, we should believe them when they claim to suffer from Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome.

After all, a nation that won’t reciprocate toward a military that defends it doesn’t deserve to be defended by it and may yet find itself in a position in which it may be more difficult to find eager defenders thereby. Philip J. Mulligan, Vietnam veteran Spokane

Tags: Letters