Letters | Elephants, donkeys and buffs, oh my


Elephants, donkeys and buffs, oh my

In response to the article “Elephant in the classroom” (cover story, April 21), I am frustrated that the “liberal” vs. “conservative” argument has been breached regarding CU student elections. National discourse has led to this Hatfield vs. McCoy polarization, and our political effectiveness seems to have come to a screeching halt. While tickets have traditionally been formed for CUSG elections, the broad scope of candidates on these tickets does allow for different opinions from both sides, rallying around a few common themes that can change ticket to ticket or year to year.

I am a caucusing Democrat and, in fact, a block captain for the 2008 campaign. I supported the INVEST ticket this spring. I was also at this Leadership Institute meeting and can give you honest feedback as opposed to conjecture about the content of this meeting. To be honest, it was underwhelming. There was a lot of information packed into a small amount of time, and little to none of it seemed to influence the strategy the executives of INVEST had for the election before or after the meeting. As people said afterwards, one of the best elements of that evening was the chance for the whole ticket to come together and talk to each other, taking a moment to really get to know everyone else involved. I don’t see how that could be considered a bad thing.

Lastly, to the continued reference to the expectation of cutting programs and mentioning CoPIRG and ITP, I feel it’s appropriate to make a Bill Maher “New Rule” and state that any further journalistic reference to this needs to include further background on why these two programs were cut, both sides of the story if you will. First, I find issue with conjecture about Republican influence in campus elections without paying regard to the influence CoPIRG has held in campus issues for years. While I agree with what CoPIRG stands for, their events and influence on campus would certainly make a Republican uncomfortable and feel under-represented. Is this acceptable because Boulder is a “liberal” town?

Secondly, the ITP project had stipulations behind its initial funding stating specifically that it should not rely or become accustomed to student fee funding, and that they needed to reach fundraising benchmarks to warrant continued allocations. When the time came for them to have $100,000 in funding and they brought only $7,500 to the table, I can’t see that as a valid effort to stand on their own as they initially agreed. I don’t agree that the word “liberal” should be substituted for “throwing money at the problem” in lieu of other responsible action, and this issue of ITP or student fee funding shouldn’t be drawn to party lines. Any additional reference in this way is irresponsible and is not helping to evolve the conversation.

There were hundreds of students from all sides who worked hard for what they believed in during this election. It is worth remembering that everyone involved with student government is volunteering their time and considerable effort to try and make the campus and CU as a whole a better place, and they deserve recognition for it. While one party did win, the most effective leadership will recognize that each of these student perspectives has merit and should be considered. Personally, I am very confident that the newly elected tri-executives will do exactly that.

That being said, even those not elected should continue working for what they feel is important to students and to the campus. Just because one team wins doesn’t mean we can afford for the other side to stop playing. Regardless if you might be an elephant or a donkey, we’re all buffaloes.

Bill Shrum/Boulder

What Adam and Eve ate

According to last week’s journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, half of the meat and poultry sold in U.S. supermarkets may be tainted with the deadly pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. The study tested 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey in five cities. Half of the bacteria were resistant to antibiotics. One organism — MRSA — is a leading cause of fatal infections in schools and hospitals.

The authors suggest that feeding antibiotics to animals in factory farms may contribute to this resistance. Indeed, two-thirds of all antibiotics in the U.S. are used to promote the growth of farmed animals and contain infectious diseases induced by their extreme crowding and stress.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should ban the routine use of antibiotics in factory farms. The European Union adopted such a ban in 2006. The World Health Organization has recommended a worldwide phaseout.

In the meantime, each of us should replace animal products in our diet with vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes and grains. These foods contain all the nutrients we require, without deadly pathogens, antibiotics, pesticides, carcinogens, cholesterol and saturated fats.

They are touted by every major health advocacy organization and were the recommended fare in the Garden of Eden.

Rudolph Helman/Boulder

Inflation, defined

Inflation: noun — An increase in money and credit which results in a rise in prices. Inflate — verb — ex. to inflate the currency is to destroy its value The value of money, and therefore a measure of its stability, is measured in constant. That constant in this world is the price of that currency in relation to precious metals, in most cases gold. Destruction of the currency is one of, if not the most, heinous acts a government can impose upon its people. It is done to perpetuate those in power and make the economy look good for a short time at the expense of the people’s future.

In April 2001, the dollar’s value stood at $261.41 per ounce of gold. At the end of the Bush presidency and the massive spending, war and government expansion that went with it, at the start of the 2008 election cycle, the value was $963.46. A 2001 dollar was worth 27 cents. During the campaign the value climbed to $750.54. The dollar gained to a value of 34 cents. However, from November 2008, with the election of Obama and the Democrats to complete control, to today, the dollar has gone to $1,500 per ounce of gold. The dollar has lost half its value in just two years of Democrat rule, to 17 cents of its 2001 value. This is exactly what destroyed Argentina, Germany and many others in the last century. Now it seems to be our turn. Think about it.

David Cook/Loveland

On the road to plutocracy

In case you missed it, legislators and lobbyists for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans have effectively declared war on the rest of us. It is difficult to process, much less believe, amid the vast numbers, misleading rhetoric and information overload of the past few months, but based upon the following information, this is real.

Let’s quickly review the crucial points: Currently, the top 1 percent of Americans are taking in nearly 25 percent of the nation’s income every year, which means that the top 1 percent control 40 percent of the total national wealth. Since the Supreme Court voted in January 2010 to allow unlimited corporate spending, and the U.S. Code of Judicial Conduct does not apply to the Supreme Court, we are very clearly on the route to becoming, if not already quite obviously, a plutocracy. Money rules. Not surprisingly then, we find that 261 of the 535 members of Congress are millionaires. The ongoing budget battle that threatened to shut down the government hinges on whether the most affluent will see their taxes lowered beyond what are already historically low rates while the masses see crucial domestic programs not only reformed but entirely dismantled. This is all within the context that, as indicated by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, the nation’s debt is our biggest threat to U.S. national security.

As a patriot seeking the proverbial conciliatory “Middle Path,” it pains me to realize that the Republicans have become the party for the rich and those who would be essentially their serfs out of identification with bizarre, radical social ideologies and a weak understanding of the math. The Democrats, left with serving the rest of us, have been weak to articulate but are finally mobilizing in the face of such an unprecedented onslaught. My personal ax to grind is that there is an obvious, systematic movement to cut the American people off at our knees and lie to our faces. Over the past three months, Republican elites have simultaneously sought enormous benefits for the wealthy while attacking programs and policies that are crucial to nearly everyone else in America (collective bargaining rights, NPR, PBS, Medicare, Medicaid and, most nefariously, our much-valued Planned Parenthood), all under the premise of austerity and shared sacrifice.

Many will counter, “Well!? What’s wrong with that? We have to cut the deficit. According to the marginal-productivity theory, higher incomes correspond to higher productivity, and these Type A personalities make a greater contribution to society via the ‘trickledown’ phenomenon that promotes growth and creates jobs for the common man; they shouldn’t be punished for their success. And the common man can stand on his own without wasteful government spending.” Well, not quite. We, the commoners, need these basic things that we all pay taxes for: education, military protection, medical research, roads, just to name a few, and it’s important to recognize that over 60 percent of our taxes go to fund such controversial but necessary behemoths as national security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — The Big Four that need massive reforms.

Trickle-down economics has been shown to be an elusive fiction spoonfed to the masses to keep us pacified.

The data shows that when tax rates for the wealthy are reduced, the three measures of how life is for the average working American (annual median income growth, annual average hourly wage growth and job creation) do not always improve, and often become worse. And the supposedly über-productive, hard-working, effective multitaskers are not being punished for their success by a long shot — even Warren Buffet warns that he, along with many of the most affluent in America, are not (but should be) paying their fair share of taxes, and that the wealthy have never had it so good.

Now, what’s left of the average American’s meager pocket book will be going straight to the heavily subsidized, highly lucrative financial, agricultural and energy corporations, as gas hits $4 per gallon. This isn’t just a regular supply and demand issue when 1) ExxonMobil, the largest American oil company, reported a 53 percent increase in its fourth-quarter profit in January, 2) it can actually be a criminal offense to criticize such agribusiness monstrosities as Monsanto and Cargill, and 3) our specially appointed consumer advocate, Elizabeth Warren, has been demonized for building accountability and balance into the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

So what can we do? Read. Read everything. Read Paul Krugman’s blog. Read President Obama’s April 13 speech, “The Country We Believe In,” and decide what you believe. Notice how the same event is spun and distorted by various media outlets — it’s a bit more pervasive than just Fox News. Join groups seeking to get us off of oil, out of debt and providing our own localized food supply. Find out why no one is suggesting debt forgiveness for the middle class as an economic stimulus strategy. And what exactly have your congressional leaders been doing over the past two weeks that you need to catch up on? Demand that they share ideas and articulate how to stop our descent into plutocracy. Pay an enormous amount of attention to the budget debate over the coming months, because it truly represents a divergence of values not seen in this country since the Civil War.

Most of all, remember what it really means to be an American.

Danice Crawford/Boulder

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