BUSH, HERE AND ABROAD
What a wonderful world Bush is creating. We "liberate" Afghanistan, renege on promises to rebuild the country, and stand by (and perhaps cooperate) as warlords and the drug trade flourish.
We "free" Iraq by killing tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. We introduce "freedom of the press" while killing reporters, closing Iraqi newspapers we don't like, and requiring the others to clear their stories with US authorities. In the name of democracy, we sell off the Iraqi assets to American and foreign companies.
We are giving Iraqi "sovereignty" in June, while we dictate who the new Iraqi leaders will be and plan to maintain total control of the country. We appoint a criminal to be ambassador to Iraq.
We send our young men and women to risk their lives in an impoverished country thousands of miles away --- in the name of defending the US. (Did anyone note that this country which was such a threat to us couldn't even get an airplane into the air to defend itself?) And when our soldiers find themselves in terrifying situations, we teach them to kill innocent people who don't understand the word "stop."
We foster hatred of "rag heads," then look away as soldiers burn homes and steal from, humiliate, and torture Iraqis. We contaminate Afghanistan and Iraq with depleted uranium, with devastating health effects on civilians and soldiers.
We violate human and civil rights at home and abroad. We alienate much of the world with our arrogant attitude and thirst for violence. Our "coalition" partner Macedonia knowingly kills innocent people to show their solidarity with Bush's War on Terror.
Every American should be wondering how God could bless this America.
Lynda Howland, Pittsford
Wouldn't it be ironic if the most conservative government in modern American history brings to fruition the predictions of Marxism? Simply stated, Marx argued that capitalism would lead to larger and larger corporations as these businesses bought out, or destroyed through competition, smaller ones. He also argued that the owner class would increase its wealth to the disadvantage of the workers and, through war, protect its markets and safeguard its resources.
What I learned, and then later taught in school, was that Americans had found a way to disrupt and discredit that philosophy. Beginning with Theodore Roosevelt and continuing through most of the presidential administrations of the 20th century, Americans used government as a counterbalance to large corporations. Through regulations and tax codes we controlled the capitalistic impulses predicted by Marx. During that time we saw the creation of the middle class, something Marx said couldn't happen.
The Bush administration is opposed to government regulations. They repeat the words "free market" almost as a mantra to all attempts at rationalizing the markets. We have moved further and further away from governmental control of business excesses. It has not been only Republicans who seem bent on destroying or severely limiting governmental control of the capitalistic system. Government deregulation occurred under Clinton's watch also.
President Bush wants to "get government off our backs." That is a code phrase for letting "the market" determine economic outcome. And Marxist philosophy predicted that would lead to what we are currently seeing. The huge increases in income for the wealthiest the past 20 years is staggering. But, again, Marx predicted this would happen. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the middle class in America.
Shouldn't we be concerned with the growth of Wal-Mart and similar businesses and, through their competitive drive, the wiping out of so many small businesses? Aren't the huge international corporations with their control of governments and of markets further evidence of what Marx predicted? He predicted that these corporations would use government to weaken their competitors. That, too, is occurring.
The lowering of wages in this country as jobs are outsourced to countries with low wages and few if any labor or safety laws is seen as a good sign by the current administration in Washington. Mr. Bush wants to encourage cheap labor ostensibly to do the work native-born Americans do not want to do. Americans would be willing to do those jobs if they paid a living wage. Marxist economic analysis said this would occur.
We are not immune from the forces of history. Marx may yet be proved right.
William C. Elwell, Avocado Lane, Gates
IMPROVING CITY SCHOOLS
It's so frustrating to read about the school problems month after month. In revisiting some books, I came across this, by John Holt in How Children Learn:
"Many people talk as if our problem was to make city schools as good as the ones in the suburbs. This is not the problem at all. We have been able to afford boredom and mis-education in the suburbs because the children have been willing to put up with it.... We can't afford it in the city, because the children won't put up with it, and we have no way to make them. Nothing less than real education will solve the problems of our city schools."
But, as this book was published in 1967, it seems clear that we're not going to get it any time soon. While in his book Holt advocates mostly simple curriculum change, the only solution for parents with children who need to be educated now seems to be home schooling. Their children have only 13 years or less left of legally required education; they can't wait another 37 years for changes that may not even come.
Meanwhile, the (extraneous) debate rages on.
Josh Alexander, Gregory Street, Rochester
MARRIAGE AND HISTORY
I am fascinated and appalled at the religious right-wing extremists' arguments against same sex marriages and unions in this nation. Many of these arguments ignore or distort facts about the legal and religious aspects of such unions.
A marriage license is a legal document that establishes legal rights of the couple. Some people, especially the poor, have a license without a religious service due to the costliness of wedding ceremonies.
John Boswell, author, Yale professor, and renowned expert in the history of the Middle Ages, details his 12 years of research in his 1980 best-seller Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. He shows that same-sex unions were not only allowed in Western society but were also blessed by the Catholic (Christian) Church. He details the history and religious ceremonies used at the time, translated into English.
With these facts, the religious and moral objections lose credibility. Our forefathers were Christian men who believed in the separation of church and state and feared the day that the two would entwine. They believed as we do, in individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
S. Michael Serviss, Rochester
CHANGES AT RUR
It saddens me that WRUR is no longer broadcasting Talik Abdul-Basheer's Black Classical Music radio program, which this paper has featured. I have listened regularly to Talik's show since coming to Rochester to attend the University of Rochester in 1982. The show has been one of a very few means, on our many publicly owned airwaves, by which we could learn about what our country's most creative and most accomplished African-American musicians have done and are doing.
Talik has done us a great service.
Gordon Dutter, Canadice
I was delighted to read Rich Gardner's fine article "Close Encounters of the Bird Kind" (April 14-20). What a fine job he does of blending humor and a personal touch with serious treatment of the topic.
As director of BirdCOR I work closely with Daena Ford, pictured in the article, and others from Braddock Bay Raptor Research and a number of other conservation organizations in the Rochester Area. The wonderful publicity Rich's piece provides is very appreciated by many volunteers and staffers from these groups.
David Semple, Executive Director, BirdCOR, Rochester
Thank you for publishing Joseph Sorrentino's article on the grinding poverty in Mexico. I just returned from Sonora and Baja California, two states where many Mexicans are considered well off. Yet the supposedly well-paid activities director from the resort where I was staying was driving the oldest VW bug I've ever seen, with tires down to the cords.
A resort salesperson boasted about paying chambermaids only $8 a day. When I asked why she was proud about paying such depressed wages, her somewhat contrite answer was, "Well, things cost less here." I walked through Mexican stores in Guaymas and on the non-touristy roads of Cabo San Lucas, and things do not cost less in Mexico, unless you count avocados.
Yet as an older woman traveling alone, I never felt unsafe or unwelcome. Every person without fail greeted my "Hola!" with a big smile and an "Hola" in return. I saw poor Mexicans working hard to please rich Americans, and when I commented to one waiter that I was embarrassed to see so many drunken Americans in Cabo, he just smiled and replied, "Think how difficult their work must be in America!"
Mexicans have so little in comparison with us. Even their public libraries are impoverished, with no children's books to be seen. The Mexicans are good people, generous, polite, and ever hospitable. We Americans haven't a clue how well off we are in comparison to the Mexicans I met.
Susan Swanton, Gates
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