Letters: 11/10/16

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Good article Mr. Dyer

My husband and I have enjoyed your Weekly very much. The pictures on the front page are certainly thought provoking every time. Your article Mr. Dyer, “The new harvest of rage,” [Oct. 27] was very impressive, interesting and sad; so much for our great country and supposed democracy. Thank you so much.

Robert and Katharina Orthman

Harvest of rage

Joel Dyer provided excellent insights to help explain the rage felt by so many against political leaders or government in general. Fear and rage were behind slaughters of “foreigners” in 14th Century Europe when Jews, Gypsies and others were accused of poisoning wells following the outbreak of bubonic plague. Germans and Austrians needed someone to blame following the horrors of WWI. People were thrilled when Hitler raged against Communists, Socialists, international bankers and particularly Jews.

Even now, demagogues commonly use similar techniques. They claim that national greatness has been stolen. They demand increased nationalism or tribalism. And they offer simple unspecified solutions, commonly involving greater use of authority, law and order, punishments and militarism. They confidently offer themselves as saviors who know more than any others how to quickly cure the world’s ills.

Until nations face up to their own unwise and unjust behaviors, demagoguery is inevitable. It’s time for Americans to reconsider how and why we invaded Vietnam, Iraq and other nations. What explains our move toward empire and for whose benefit?  Why do we accept massive, unjust wealth distribution and denial of basic human rights? Those include the right to health care, decent housing, nutritious food, quality education, as well as alternatives to cruel and racially biased imprisonment. It may even be the time to explore greater democratic working conditions via worker-owned cooperatives and placing constraints on corporate practices which endanger our water, air and land. It’s time to do something about the impact of money on public policies. Blaming the demagogues is just too easy.

Barry Karlin/Lafayette

Wells Fargo, not so much

Jim Hightower rightly condemns Wells Fargo for “stealing from millions of its small depositors” [Re: “The Highroad,” Oct. 27] in what appears to have been an organized, and dishonest, scheme that has been going on for as many as 11 years.

In my experience, Wells Fargo is not alone in this regard. Some years ago, I opened an account at FirstBank in Boulder and deposited $100. I received a number of aggressive phone calls from the bank demanding that I buy additional services. I refused. But months later I discovered that FirstBank had taken $60 from my account for a “service” that I did not want and had never agreed to.

When I complained, I was told I must have “inadvertently clicked” on the service and “unknowingly” ordered it.

Not so. After considerable argument, I recovered my money, but the experience was a lesson — should another one have been needed — that bank customers must always keep a close eye on their accounts.

Richard Starks/Boulder

Backcountry development

How is the Freehouse off-grid vacation rental business [Re: “Boulderganic,” Sept. 15] anything other than encouragement for development in remote, sensitive and from your picture, very high alpine environments? To her credit writer Sarah Haas raises the issue of the impact to fragile soils but dismisses it with “property owners know best.” The trampling of soils is important but the least of it. What about the roads, construction and vehicle noise, lights and presence of people in wild places that will disrupt wildlife, habitat and scenery?

It concerns me that this isn’t even on the radar screen for the Stillmans, who think the busy rental of such places is just fine, even sustainable, because they’re off-grid. What if every new Google, or other, employee decides they want such a cool get away?

Land Trusts and Open Space initiatives are working very hard to preserve what’s left of Colorado from second home development (personally, I think it should be illegal). Why would an alternative paper in Big Green Boulder want to give it a plug?

Betina Mattesen/Nederland

End car subsidies

Every form of transportation in America is subsidized, but cars are probably subsidized the most. Costs not borne directly by drivers include the medical and other spending caused by crashes killing around 30,000/year plus many more seriously injured.

Other indirect costs include “free” parking which increases costs of store goods and huge environmental impacts.

Even in direct costs, the automobile is the largest net cost for many, perhaps most families (houses cost more, but they also sell for more).

Mr. Paul Danish, in his run for county commissioner, planned to increase already high car subsidies by enacting a sales tax to support roads. A car registration fee increase would better reflect true car costs without a subsidy.

However, road support is deeply problematic. Technological changes in the near future will probably force a dramatic decrease in working hours. That is, if we wish to avoid widespread unemployment with devastating impacts.

This will decrease the need to to widen roads for commuting traffic. Instead of unimaginative road construction, other policies such as changes to zoning should be enacted.

If schools, stores and other single-use buildings were allowed to have living areas attached to them, that would decrease the need for car traffic, with all of its enormous costs.

Brett O’Sullivan/Lafayette