Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Hearings with no...
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Hearings with no listening

Stephen Tuttle - June 28th, 2010
Befuddled and beleaguered BP CEO Tony Hayward had his day before
Congress. He apologized, he groveled, he’d have probably prostrated
himself before the committee members had he thought of it. Our
elected representatives, ever vigilant, were having none of it. They
blustered and pontificated and bloviated. They were filled to bursting
with self-righteous indignation. Hayward sat and absorbed it all, the
demon being cast out by a nationally televised public exorcism.
We seem to enjoy these spectacles. Some horror befalls our collective
sense of decency, usually as a result of something that genuinely
damages many or all of us, and members of Congress hold public
hearings. The intent of these hearings, at least ostensibly, is to
get to the bottom of said problem and call the rascals responsible to
account.
Congress holds these hearings with some frequency but little success.
We did it during the savings and loan scandals and subsequent
collapse, firing for effect at hapless chief executives who exploited
the quasi-deregulation of their industry until the entire damned thing
collapsed around their feet.
Then we had at the tobacco company executives who comically swore,
under oath, that they did not believe cigarettes were addictive and
they weren’t completely convinced they were even harmful. That one
was especially fun.
Then there were the Wall Street investment house bosses taking their
turn trying to explain why they allowed a handful of employees to
create investment instruments based on sub-prime loans and then
watched the housing market and the investment houses crash and burn.
Ironically, not one of them said, “We did it because it was legal and,
at the time, we were making obscene amounts of money from these
things.”
Next came the automobile company executives who spent most of their
time answering questions about why they came to Washington in their
corporate jets and little time explaining why they kept making crummy
cars despite losing tens of billions of dollars.
The poor CEO of Toyota, who understood neither our language nor our
culture, was next in the dock. He tried mightily to explain that all
Toyotas were not careening wildly out of control and that he was
really, really sorry, anyway.
While one assumes there is some purpose to all of this excoriating of
alleged evil doers, the results are decidedly unsatisfying.
Some savings and loan executives were convicted of crimes and served
time. New regulations were put in place that might have been helpful
before-the-fact but did little to help the people who lost their life
savings and saw their lives shattered. This was closing the barn door
after the horse had left, wandered through the pasture, jumped the
fence and was headed to another state. Just a trifle late.
Usually, the CEOs leave feigning chastisement. In a worst-case
scenario they return to a distressed Board of Directors, are summarily
fired and float to Shangri La, or a private Caribbean island of their
choosing, under the benevolent canopy of a golden parachute so
bizarrely generous it would embarrass the robber barons of old.
For the Wall Street and AIG execs it was a terrible reckoning,
indeed. They took their verbal thrashing and walked away with a
gazillion dollars. Their pained expressions of regret could hardly
disguise their soon-to-follow knowing smiles. One assumes they giggled
like a toddler being tickled as they returned to their palatial
offices and decided to which of their several McMansions they’d be
heading on the week-end. “The Hamptons on Friday, dear, or should we
jet to Monte Carlo?”
The point is these highly publicized Congressional hearings accomplish
almost nothing in the bigger scope of things. They are always many,
many days late and billions of dollars of the public’s money short
before it ever even occurs to them to hold the hearings. Sometimes the
companies have to shell out a few billion dollars but rarely enough to
have a real impact on their bottom line. Most of us already know the
cause of the problem long before the first gavel falls and the
mandatory swearing in of witnesses begins.
In the case of BP, the frontline decision-makers opted for speed, to
save a few million bucks, instead of safety. Ironically, it’s quite
likely no laws were broken in the process. The Wall Street twits saw a
way to make huge money and just kept doing it without regard to any
consequence beyond tomorrow’s balance sheet. No matter the scandal,
the cause is almost always the same bad marriage between lax or
non-existent laws and regulations and corporate decision-makers unable
or unwilling to resist the temptation to cut corners to make more
money.
Congress might consider taking a look at the history of these various
catastrophes and do something pro-active instead of being perpetually
reactive. How about some regulations with actual teeth and the resolve
to enforce them? How about some regulatory agencies that actually make
sure the rules and laws are being followed instead of bureaucratic
lapdogs who are, in some cases quite literally, sleeping with those
they are supposed to regulate? How about a Congress that writes laws
that both allow business to flourish, or fail, while at the same time
protecting the public? And wouldn’t it be nice if they would do this
before the next financial or environmental cataclysm arrives?
They hold their hearings to great fanfare and then do almost nothing.
That’s why we’ve stopped listening.

 
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