Letters to the editor

Thank you, Jeff Long, for important letter on Blue Ridge Center

I have been a reader of [Mountain Xpress] for a while. Even though we live many miles from you, your paper is important to us because of your interest in covering the Blue Ridge Center.

We have a dear relative that lives in Asheville, [and] who is suffering from mental illness, and when I read the letter that you published of Jeff Long’s [“Words From the Front Lines of Mental Illness,” Jan. 28], it hit a nerve. We have been trying from afar to get the Blue Ridge Center to respond to problems that we know exist. Mr. Long’s letter is a voice crying out, just as we have been crying out.

I don’t know what it will take to correct the situation. Maybe it’s more funding, maybe more qualified therapists and psychiatrists, maybe better facilities, maybe all of the above. I’m not qualified to make that decision, but somebody had better do something soon. Let us hope that the Jeff Longs of this world will not be forgotten.

Again, thank you, Jeff Long, for putting my feelings into words.

— Jim Pappas
Brockton, Mass.

You have no beef with me

George Gjelfriend’s response [“Cow Patties to That” letter, Xpress Jan. 28] to my commentary [“Cowed,” Xpress Jan. 14] about mad cow disease said that “citing unverifiable studies is a favorite tactic of debaters who lack facts.” Give me a break. I wrote a commentary for the Mountain Xpress, not a paper for a scientific journal. I’m in the phone book and my e-mail address was in the article. People who search for the truth seek out additional information; those who don’t simply throw stones. Information about the studies I cited can be found by reading “Could Mad Cow Disease Already Be Killing Thousands of Americans Every Year?” It’s available at www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/gregercjd.cfm.

Mr. Gjelfriend goes on to tell me, “You may or may not be right, but you certainly haven’t proven your case.” I never expected to prove anything in a short column. I only want people to look beyond the government and industry spin, and look at the science. United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman’s chief of staff is the former executive director for legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Now that’s food for thought!

Since I wrote my article, bird flu [has begun] wreaking havoc in Asia. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that animal agriculture is collapsing. If you want to protect yourself and your family, order a free Vegetarian Starter Kit by calling 1-888-VEG-FOOD, or go to www.GoVeg.com.

— Stewart David

Starve the cold public to feed the tax-cut fever

Brian Postelle’s article [“Looking Ahead,” Xpress Jan. 14] was very informative. It could have been titled “The Art of Bait and Switch.” Postelle describes a firsthand account, at the local level, of the end product of what was sold and bought as the “Gingrich Revolution” to get federal government off the backs of taxpayers, by “starving the beast” except for expenditures related to military and corporate interests. What was being advocated was the use of the corporate model (called privatization) to downsize with outsourcing, using consultants and lobbyists — as well as deregulation — to increase competition.

It was our local congressman, Rep. Charles Taylor, who gained fame as one of the “Gang of Seven,” who were elected to launch this revolution. Rep. Taylor championed the slogan for four-year-term limits, and he is still there in his eighth year, collecting his full salary, as well as other possible benefits.

When Asheville City Council announced last spring their decision to use local tax funds “to hire a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., to look after our interests,” I wondered why Rep. Taylor was not mentioned.

Then I remembered clearly that he was the one who was determined to defeat local and regional support to obtain historical designation of the French Broad River as a development project eligible for federal funds.

It should also be noted, as local governments make plans for future budgets, that this is the year in which the beast is to be put in its grave, covered in a mountain of debt. The congressional plans for privatizing Medicare and Social Security will be achieved by further tax cuts and a vote to make all tax cuts permanent. This is the reality of a “Bait and Switch” political revolution.

— June Lamb

Your purchase = your truest form of voting

Thanks for the article by Stuart Gaines and Nicholas Holt, “The Politics of Coffee,” in the Jan. 21 issue of Mountain Xpress. The article makes a good case for consumer awareness and information in buying coffee, recommending coffee labeled Fair Trade, Global Exchange, Coffee for Kids and TransFair. The latter assures the buyer that decent wages were paid the grower, and that he or she belongs to a cooperative that implements sustainable, environmentally sensitive growing practices.

I would encourage consumers to use similar standards or criteria [for] everything they buy; in fact, I’d add a few more considerations: Is child labor illegitimately used? Is the product harmful to either the producer or the user? Are the products locally grown or produced?

Of course, if we used all these measures in everything we bought, we might buy very little — which might not be a bad idea. Just remind yourself that every time you buy something, you are, in effect, casting a vote for that product — encouraging its increased production.

It may be the most effective vote you have — don’t waste it.

— Ursula M. Scott

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