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- February 21st, 2011
Other options for migrants
In the early 1970s I was living in Nebraska, where immigrants worked in the sugar beet fields. They were hunched over at their jobs often for 12 to 14 hours a day, and I marveled that they did not break under the strain. The workers’ ages ranged from their 50s down to young children who came after school to help - if their parents were able to get them to school.
At that point in our history, it was hard to know if these people were considered “legal” or “illegal.” Judging by the reticence of some of the adults (and having recently read of the capricious nature of the immigration system), I assume they knew that they were in danger of deportation at any time, for very little reason and with no legal recourse.
They, and the farmers who hire them, have always been caught in the crossfire between our consumer society which insists on low food prices, and a society in need of a scapegoat for its problems. The push-pull economic factors that drive immigration are matched by the idiosyncratic push-pull American mentality. We want the immigrants here working for low wages to ensure that our food is some of the cheapest in the world, but we don’t want them here for a host of other reasons, many of them bogus.
It is said that our society enjoys its comfortable lifestyle on the backs of these “disposable people.” Please come to the Charlevoix Library on February 27 (2:30 to 5:30 p.m.) to discuss more humane solutions to the problems of immigration with Father Wayne Dziekan.

Jean Engstrand • via email

Why are we afraid?
The recent deportation of 17 people from the Traverse City area to Mexico, including a woman who was in her front yard when she was handcuffed, placed in a van and taken to Sault Ste. Marie without an opportunity to notify anyone of what was happening, should alert all of us to the urgent need to look behind the current rhetoric regarding fences, borders and immigration.
Mexican people have worked here for a long time; from 1917-1921 as agricultural “guest workers’ and in the “Bracero” program starting in 1942 until 1963. Mexican workers have been welcomed when it is convenient to have them. Is the recent emphasis on “illegals” at least in part due to American corporations, who have moved to Mexico, taking jobs from the U. S., wanting a ready source of cheap labor?
I worked in an urban elementary school with predominately Hispanic students. I found hard-working adults who labored long hours in low paying, low skill jobs. Their families are important to them. In spite of hard work and long hours, parents found time for family activities and were concerned that their children have the educational opportunities they had missed. Why are we afraid of them?
Before we build fences, real or imagined, between ourselves and others, perhaps we should take to heart the words of Robert Frost, who says in “Mending Wall“: “Before I built a wall, I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out.“
Those who want to learn more about the questions posed by the immigration debate have a unique opportunity to do that Sunday, February 27 from 2:30-5:30 at the Charlevoix Library Community Room. Father Wayne Dziekan, director of the Secretariat for Justice and Peace for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord, will present “Working Together Toward Comprehensive Immigration Reform”. Sponsored by the Little Traverse League for Peace and Freedom, this is free and open to the public.

Jeanette M Hayes • Elmira

Over-population problem
Bob Downes’ recent Random Thoughts on over-population in Egypt hit the nail on the head. Virtually all the threats and conflicts plaguing our world today can be connected to the consequences of more than 6 billion people competing for space and resources on this planet.
Climate change, resource depletion, extinction of species, political instability and a multitude of human miseries are the direct result of too many people. What confounds me is how this basic problem does not have the political priority it deserves.
Fifty years ago, while in elementary school, I was taught that world over-population was a problem of crisis proportions. The most immediate threat was massive starvation in the third world. Advances in agronomy allowed us to continue to feed a burgeoning population, but now, energy, clean air and water are becoming scarce for all of us. How did over-population lose its priority in our list of world threats?

Rick Cover • TC

U.S. dollars and Israel
It seems that Mr. Obama never ceases to bow to Zionist dictates. While $3 billion would have done a great deal of good for the national budget or for health and welfare, he hands it over to Israel instead.
Israel is not as yet the 51st state but you wouldn’t know it from the funds siphoned off the U.S. budget.
Where are the conservatives who will stand up to such excess? Are they choosing to be as blind as when the U.S. spent $335 million to buy personal jets for Mubarak? It’s time to impeach all elected officials who not only waste money but use it to support murder and land theft. At , the blatant spending is detailed.

Barbara Young • Bear Lake

Vulgar show
The Saturday night opening act of the TC Comedy Fest at the Opera House was an affront to the people of Traverse City. His vulgarity and disrespect are a far cry from comedy. The uneasiness of the crowd grew until one individual had the courage to challenge the blasphemous statements of Joe DeRosa by simply alerting the performer that he had crossed the line.
The ensuing death prayer wishing the demise of the objector was both graphic and demonic. Is this what we want to project as the Record-Eagle describes, “family friendly events”? At the very least Mr. DeRosa owes apologies to the individual who led the exodus, the people to whom he subjected his disgusting and dehumanizing excuse for comedy, and the entire community for misrepresenting the character of Traverse City. At the most, Mr. DeRosa might do as suggested and take the darkness he inflicted on us back to New York.

Rick Oosting • via email

Camp‘s war on reform
Message to U.S. Rep. Dave Camp:
I watched you on CNN last evening talking about the new health care bill. I assume that you have seen the article by Wendell Potter in the November 15, 2010 issue of Newsweek and from his book “Deadly Spin.“ It explains in simple language just what you Republicans are trying to do.
It is unfortunate that you have all been bought and paid for by the drug, insurance, and health care lobbies. Even more unfortunate is the fact that most of the Democrats have been bought off too. Just where does that leave your constituents? It is high time that you faced the fact that we are all not quite as ignorant as you think we are. Health care and drug costs are out of control and health care reform is the only way out. Now let‘s get together and help our president put the public option back, put the lobbyists out of control, and come up with the health care plan that we both want and deserve.

Walt Lund • Kalkaska

Don‘t blame messenger
The letter written by Rebecca Peterson about autism and vaccines in the last issue of Northern Express was very one-sided. In defense of Dr. Wakefield, it might be interesting for the readers to further their own research into his work and not be too quick to judge this man in such a negative way. He is a beloved man in the autism community, because he has personally helped so many of our children recover from horrible afflictions of ulcerative colitis, leaky gut syndrome, and has saved many parents and children from giving up the battle against autism.
The presence of heavy metals in our vaccines has been proven. How could anyone believe that is a waste of money to reformulate vaccines to get the thimerosal out? We need to continue to green our vaccines; they aren’t there yet. And to use the word “deaths” and “outbreaks” in the same sentence as Dr. Wakefield is very slanderous.
If you really want to dig for the truth regarding autism and Dr. Wakefield, I would encourage you to go deeper. Autism is classified as a medical condition, it has reached numbers of one in 91 diagnosed, and is an epidemic. This type of letter written by Ms. Peterson doesn’t do autism any favors. If you want to research the truth, check out both sides of the argument.
I am not blaming vaccines specifically for autism, but I know Dr. Wakefield isn’t the enemy.

Heidi Mahler, autism mommy • TC

Media manipulation
I have been taking a course in neuroscience and brain function and just finished the section on memory. Interestingly, Stephen Tuttle’s column of February 14 illustrates the lessons I have learned. He states Gorbachev said that Reagan’s spending on the military impoverished the USSR, causing it to crumble.
In learning new material, information is first encoded within a context: we remember the source, for example. Later, as memories are transferred to the frontal region of our brain, the context is lost—the source of a quote gets lost. That describes the basis for Tuttle’s statement.
Someone—perhaps in a magazine with a rightist slant—stated that Reagan brought down the USSR through military expenditures. That statement eventually loses its context and is assumed to come from Gorbachev’s lips.
I challenge Mr. Tuttle to come up with an actual quote from Gorbachev that supports his assertion that U.S. military spending caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. Trouble is, another principle concerning memory formation is operating: It doesn’t matter if a statement is demonstrably false—just by repeating it, large numbers of people will believe it is true. That illustrates the power of FOX News in manipulating the thinking of the American people. Better to say nothing if someone says something egregiously wrong -- or better yet to begin a new misunderstanding -- provided you can find friendly media to purvey your misbegotten idea.

Richard Fidler • TC

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