Socialism and technology

“Capitalism and jobs” by Pat Barile (PWW, 4/24-30) says it correctly and places the emphasis on advanced technology as the major factor in the loss of jobs in the United States. He correctly requests workers should “get rightfully angry and demand jobs and control over the wealth they create.” He should have also pointed out that under a socialist administration, workers and not capitalists would be in control and technology would be used to reduce the hours worked and give workers more time off to live productive family lives. Using the abilities of all the willing work force, we are presently capable of producing sufficiently for all people in our country to live decently, without economic worries.

Karl DennisTucson AZ

Lost in assimilation

Thanks for an outstanding April 10-16 edition with many informative articles relating to Latino struggles. In particular, the movie review “Forget the Alamo” pungently corrected the mythology that still surrounds this historical event. Also worthy of note was the excellent piece of analysis by Jorge Mariscal, “Cesar Chavez Day in a Time of Nativism.”

When my grandparents left their East European village after World War One and came to the U.S. as penniless refugees, they had no desire to shed their traditional language and culture. But the prevailing “melting pot” ethos gave them (and especially their children) little choice, and the pressure to assimilate to Anglo-American ways was enormous. Many things of un-quantifiable human value have been lost to us in the decades since.

I see no reason to force Hispanic Americans down a similar path today. We live in a part of the world, the Western Hemisphere, that speaks two major languages. Mariscal is right that permitting Spanish-speaking immigrants to retain their language and culture is no threat to the rest of us; instead, we should recognize that it can open new doors of understanding and expression, and can provide us a different lens with which to view the world. The goal for every American today should be to become bilingual, and your newspaper can assist us in doing so.

David OsachyJacksonville FL

The Ryongchon tragedy

I’ve been reading about the terrible tragedy at Ryongchon station in North Korea. What happened there reminded me of a similar tragedy that happened here in the U.S., the Texas City explosion of 1947 when a ship blew up in the port on Galveston Bay. The blast took nearly 600 lives. That ship was being loaded with ammonium nitrate – just like what the trains were carrying in the DPRK.

Given the deregulation of trucking, the condition of U.S. railroad tracks and freight yards, and the Bush administration’s push to weaken environmental controls and worker protection, I think such a thing could happen here again. I live in Chicago which is crisscrossed with train tracks, expressways, and shipping canals that at any time have rail cars, tanker trucks or barges loaded with concentrated chemicals, fuels, and who knows what else.

All the billions wasted on military spending and bogus anti-terrorism gizmos are urgently needed for real and necessary improvements here and now. We need to dump Bush and his ultra-right gang and put people to work on rebuilding the infrastructure here, not destroying lives and homes and hospitals and water treatment facilities and museums, etc., in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barbara RussumChicago IL

Time to end the occupation

A new poll shows that nearly 60 percent of Iraqis want the U.S. occupation to end soon. Instead, our leaders say that U.S. troops will stay in Iraq probably for “decades.”

Meanwhile, John Negroponte, a former accomplice in the Iran-Contra scandal, is in line to be the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, even though there will be no proper government in Baghdad to which he can present his diplomatic credentials. Moreover, even that U.S.-appointed transition authority will have only “limited sovereignty,” oxymoronic as that concept may be.

To top it off, a new Iraqi national flag was suddenly presented, without prior popular consultation, by a clique of U.S.-connected exiles living in London. In the eyes of most Iraqis, the new banner looks too much for comfort like the Israeli flag.

The aforementioned poll also found that nearly half of Iraqis now feel they were better off before the war. One must begin to ask if that unsettling sentiment isn’t true for us, as well.

Cord MacGuireBoulder CO

Vietnam and Iraq

Re: “Soldier’s mom reveals Iraqi nightmare” (PWW, 4/24-30), would you be so kind to send this message to Pat Gunn and tell her she has many thinking people who support her? I heard her story on NPR and it brought back many experiences I had during the Vietnam problem. (I am a Vietnam veteran.)

The Bush Iraq War II is over, maybe, and the egalitarian peace and “nation building” process begins. As our “multinational police force” engages in this process, and using some mathematical computations, this effort will cost over 200 more lives, $28 billion per year and another 300 injured peacekeepers by August 2004. Given the level of continued lawlessness in Iraq, the American military footprint is destined to grow, not reduce, and with undetermined consequences – a legacy manifested in many forms that will confront the United States for years, indeed generations, into the future.

You be the judge and don’t forget to make your informed vote count in 2004!

T.H. SemelbauerKalamazoo MI

End the torture

I recently wrote the following letter to the president. “Dear President Bush: It is enough that your pampered ‘neocon’ advisers have dragged this nation into a very messy quagmire in Iraq. Now we are advised of some disgusting torture acts by American custodians of Iraqi prisoners. These acts of barbarism and incivility must be ended forthwith.”

Hazzim YousifFrom Michigan, via e-mail