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Letters 4/19/07

- April 19th, 2007
Questionable questions
As of March 20, Grand Traverse County began to enforce an amended state law which makes it “illegal to sell any equipment, products or material specifically designed for the use in the preparation or smoking of a controlled substance, EVEN IF the item could be used for the preparation or smoking of tobacco” or other legal herbs.
Strangely, the statute does not contain a concise list of what constitutes such unlawful equipment; any “questionable” items are to be discussed at the prosecuting attorney’s discretion. While rolling papers and wooden pipes currently don’t fall into the “questionable” category, it should seem at least odd that theoretically they COULD be deemed illegal, due to the law’s ambiguous phrasing. Note that those being directly affected by this new legislation are local business owners and glass artists, and NOT those responsible for the production and traffic of drugs.
While drug use is certainly a serious problem in our area, we should question if there are better ways of tackling such issues without the need to suppress our citizens’ freedom of enterprise and artistic expression. Is enforcing this vague piece of legislation a good idea, or is there a more effective or constructive way of combating drug use in our county, as well as the availability of drugs per se?

Marcelo Betti • TC

Complicated issue
I found the article on Internet gambling by Rick Coates to be quite humorous (4/12). It shows that he did an amateur‘s amount of research on the subject, and has reported the few superficial facts he managed to scratch off the surface of an immensely more complicated issue than he gave it credit for.
If your publication is ever truly interested in this subject, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. I will be happy to send credentials; however, it has been my experience that most “journalists” these days are not interested in this story beyond the sound bite or the hype the headlines generate.

J. Todd • Administrator,
Association of Players,
Casinos and Webmasters

(Rick describes his personal experience with Internet gambling on page 12 of this issue. - ed.)

Women & pay levels
What’s going on over there at the Northern Express? In your recent feature “Best Blunders,” the Reader’s Choice logo leads one to believe that the 25 local “blunders” were selected by readers. It looks more like the work of your editorial team. Actually it looks like the work of Bill Thomas, since many of the listed blunders were related to stories originally reported by the Record Eagle.
And what was my big blunder? You inaccurately simplified a column I wrote for the Traverse City Business News, summarizing the Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation. The misleadingly titled bill would force employers to: make wage and salary decisions based on government-defined worker categories; fill out annual reports identifying staff by gender, race and national origin, then justify each worker‘s wage level; and classes in the art of negotiation would be provided by taxpayers, but only for women and girls.
This is all tied into the myth that women earn less than men, on average, due to widespread discrimination. A three year study of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Labor concludes that women do earn as much as men, or more, when they perform the same work for the same amount of time.
The study was done by Dr. Warren Farrell, the only man ever elected (three times) to the Board of the National Organization for Women. Farrell holds a PhD in American government and constitutional law, and has taught at the University of California, Georgetown University and Rutgers. In 1965 he was recognized by President Johnson as one of this country’s outstanding young educators. A few years ago he ran for Governor of California as a Democrat. He is not a right-wing extremist by any measure.
His vast studies have confirmed what is obvious to many: in choosing jobs, men are more likely to be motivated by money, especially when they have kids. Women are more likely to choose jobs offering safety, cleanliness and flexibility for better balance between home and work. Men put in more hours on the job, have more years of experience in their occupations, and are more willing to relocate for a promotion.
It looks like the Express is trying to carve out a hipsterdoodle image in the community, so I suggest you and your readers who are interested in the “pay gap” read a contemporary take on the issue: “Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About It,” by Warren Farrell (listed as One of the Great Career Books of 2006 by U.S. News and World Reports). Dr. Farrell details 25 different factors that affect pay levels, and offers practical advice for women wishing to move up the income ladder.
In these days of the competitive global economy, one has to wonder why any company would hire men if they can get away with paying women 25% less.
Maybe you guys are on to something since the only men who work at the Northern Express are the owners, a contributing editor, and the only listed management (circulation) position.

Ron Jolly • TC

Botulism & bird deaths
There’s a problem at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. Apparently, global warming is keeping the lake waters warmer, thus producing more zebra mussels (an invasive species) and more seaweed. Together, these elements are purportedly producing more bacteria, and as a result, botulism. Since water birds are eating contaminated mussels, they are washing up dead on the beach.
Is this story being swept under the dunes due to its possible effect on tourism? Is there funding to bring balance to this dilemma? I think it’s a crime that we can spend our tax dollars patrolling for insurgents and death when instead we could be providing rewarding careers for people to nurture and maintain our own countryside, heritage, and legacy.
When the canary dies, the miner flies.

Bruce Grossman • Lake Ann

Catch film series
Robert Downes‘ “Random Thoughts” in the April 5 Express details how documentary films provide “our front row seat on the war.”
Coincidentally, Downes‘ leading example is the film “Occupation: Dreamland” which will be shown on Monday, April 30, at 7 p.m. at the Traverse Area District Library. This is the fifth war documentary sponsored by the local Chapter 50, Veterans for Peace (VfP).
In “Dreamland” both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens on the street speak for themselves about the war and the occupation.
Other locally shown films sponsored by VfP are: “Sir, No Sir,” about Vietnam soldiers in service who opposed that war; “The Ground Truth,” U.S. soldiers‘ perspective on how they are treated in the service and upon their return home; “Iraq for Sale,” about the Iraq war corporate profiteers reaping millions of dollars while treating some of their employees as expendable; and “When I Came Home,” illustrating post traumatic stress disorder among some homeless Iraq veterans.
Many of the films shown locally by VfP or cited in Downes‘ article are produced or distributed by independents, like Brave New Theaters, which offer films for $15 or $20 so families and community groups can experience the realities of war from the viewpoint of the people who actually fight in war.

Tom Shea • TC

Whodunnit?
Re: Your book review of “Murder In The Keewenaw.“
Just wondering, quote:
“...whodunnit involving a fisherman who’s angling for a sturgeon on Lake Michigan with a Barracuda lure. Instead, he dredges up a waterlogged body from Superior’s depths.” Unquote.
I tend to fish streams more than lakes, but how big a reel do you need to fish in Lake Michigan and hook something in Lake Superior?

Greg Keith • Petoskey

(How embarassing! Thanks for catching that one, Greg. -- ed.)
 
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