Ham radio anyone?

Calling all radio amateurs who are tired of most Ham contacts and would like instead to have some on a regular basis which are civil, meaningful, thoughtful, informative, purposeful and other stimulating and satisfying attributes.

What say we get in touch with each other, get acquainted, explore thoughts and set up some times to meet on the air for roundtable discussions? Certainly there are many areas of interest, talents, knowledge, expertise and the like among PWW readers and their families and friends, some of whom are Hams.

Are there already some such groups I’m not aware of? If so, please fill me in on the details. I can operate all HF bands between 80 and 10 meters, 160 with less reliability.

For me landline is best contact media since I don’t have a PC or access to one on a regular basis. Please call me and, if you like, I’ll call you right back so it’s on my charges (pretty much a flat rate for me). Phone 907-241-5863; leave message if necessary.

I’ve been active at times and inactive at others since I was first licensed at age 12, almost 56 years ago as W5HGK, My call now is W21AS which I picked up while in graduate school at Rutgers in the 1970s.

Let’s do it!

Bill Ramsay
Grand Junction CO

Wal-Mart fallacy

Response to the letter on Wal-Mart by S.G. Hauser (PWW 9/16-22):

The idea that Wal-Mart stores bring jobs into the community seems plausible but is a fallacy.

Retail operations are not like factories. They do not create anything new to distribute, they only distribute the same goods that would otherwise be distributed by others. So a big Wal-Mart store coming into a community does not “bring in” jobs the way, for example, an auto factory would do. It merely absorbs them from other retail operations which go broke or at least lose business when Wal-Mart comes in.

And because Wal-Mart, because of its size, accomplishes “efficiencies of scale,” it can sell the same amount of merchandise employing fewer people than smaller retailers would employ. So you end up with fewer jobs, not more. A study done by the University of Illinois-Chicago several years ago demonstrated this for the proposed Chicago Wal-Mart operations specifically.

I do not think Hauser’s information on people starting with low pay at Wal-Mart and then getting promoted along the line until they are raking in big management salaries is accurate. This is simply not going to happen with the vast majority of cleaning crew members, cashiers, etc. That is not how corporations are structured — they are always steep pyramids. In the case of the Wal-Mart corporation, the four surviving members of the family of the founder, Sam Walton, are all multi-billionaires as a result of the company’s practices.

Cheap merchandise at Wal-Mart is an attraction, but really does not reflect the cost to the public of Wal-Mart’s operations. To calculate that, you would have to factor in the cost to the taxpayers of the social safety net, especially including health care, that communities have to provide for underpaid Wal-Mart employees, and also the fact that people who make $7 an hour do not have money to spend in the local economy.

Capitalism left to itself always perpetrates monstrous atrocities. That is why Wal-Mart employees need unionization rights, and why we have to keep the pressure on this greedy corporate monster.

Emile Schepers
Northern Virginia

How to steal an election

“Some Princeton researchers made a demonstration video of how it’s possible to steal an election with a Diebold voting machine in under a minute.” If you haven’t seen this serious video, about nine minutes long, about Diebold, you will want to see how the bourgeoisie have solved the problem of free, democratic elections: www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/how-to-steal-an-election-with-a-diebold-machine-200693.php.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Peter Gardner
Via e-mail

Scare tactic vs. reality

Here’s a question for reporters, columnists, bloggers and others interested in the political scene: when people in the Bush administration and elsewhere talk of the threat of Islamic terrorism or Islamic fascism or however they choose to phrase it, do some people reject it out of hand because of the source? If so, could this be a major mistake? Is it for real or is it not? Is it just a right-wing scare tactic to drum up votes for neocons in ’06 and ’08 or does it really exist? If it is real, how would/should Dems cope with it if elected to positions of national decision-making power in ’06 and ’08? How is the current administration dealing with it beyond bellicose rhetoric? Are the media doing an adequate job of covering all sides to this issue?

Will Shapira
Minneapolis MN

Ignore Coulter at your peril

In his Aug. 5-11 PWW book review, Nick Bart correctly calls on readers to expose right-wing media celebrity Ann Coulter’s latest simplistically-titled attempt at confusing working people to identify with an alien (capitalist) viewpoint and to vote against their own class interests. She is also, in effect, trying to make an ultra-rightist such as George W. Bush appear less reactionary by comparison, to the casual observer.

The challenge for activists is how to effectively critique Coulter’s hypocrisy and demagoguery without playing into the hands of the hard-right media-savvy elements she represents and ending up as fodder for her next volume of hackneyed, far-right invective.

R. Seier
New York NY