Letters to the editor

Compassionate choices should involve common sense

Two incidents, only two hours apart, gave me a closer view of this place I currently call home. Each one involved a verbal exchange; both were insightful.

The first was with a young man at a bus station. I asked a simple question, and was answered with the standard Southern-hospitality reply which included “Ma’am.” I laughed, saying I’m from the North and having a difficult time getting used to that term. He understood, having lived in the North also, and commented, “I know about Southern hospitality, but it should come with some common sense.”

The second exchange was not a cause for laughter. In an outdoor restaurant, my companion and I were approached by a man swaying on his feet and slurring his words. Without a thought, I simply said, “It’s a nice day; we’re enjoying each other’s company. I hope you have a good day. Good-bye.” Common sense indicated that was as much hospitality [as was] needed. My action might not be considered compassionate — at least towards the man who approached us — [but] it was a compassionate action for me, since I chose not to have someone else’s chaos impact me. I accept accountability for my actions, both in my generosity towards others and serenity for myself. Michael Randall May extended his generosity by inviting a homeless man into his home, and Michael may have paid with his life.

At www.ashevillehomeless.org, I found a link listing famous people who were homeless. I’m not famous, so I was not listed. I didn’t know I was homeless until I had to fill out an application and list an address. It was 27 years ago, when I went to live with a friend and look for a job. He was fired a few days after I arrived, and lost his place to live. We didn’t want to go back “home” and live with our parents, so we camped and looked for work — aimlessly, I have to admit. I could have used my parents address [or] found an apartment. Basically, I had options. My friend and I were self-sufficient. We didn’t want to — nor did we need to — impose ourselves on anyone else.

I challenge two names on the “famous” list: Jesus of Nazareth and Buddha. There are homeless people who choose their way of life. If they do not want a home, can they be identified by something they don’t want? Understanding homelessness is trying to take a common-sense approach to a situation which defies common sense.

Many things have happened to me over the years — emotional, physical, financial. When I watched the man walk away from me in the restaurant, I acknowledged that [there], but by the grace of God, go I. When I learn about people like Michael Randall May, who appears to have been bludgeoned to death by a homeless man, I acknowledge that [there], but by the grace of God, go I.

— Victoria Rose
Asheville

Less-than-smart growth

While I like the general slant of your article [“A Clash of Interests,” June 29] and am a rural spring-water drinker with the interests you describe, I take strong issue with one major statement. You say, in bold, that “Asheville has incorporated ‘smart growth’ perspectives,” which is factually incorrect.

Asheville gives lip service to smart growth, but still retains traditional zoning regulations such as unit density, height limits, minimum setbacks and single family zoning. This is the exact opposite of smart growth, and is a recipe for NIMBYism, gentrification, Mcmansions, long commutes and housing crises. Smart growth looks like Manhattan, with urban canyons. Asheville doesn’t.

— Alan Ditmore
Leicester

Speak now, or forever lose your liberty

I am writing this on July 4, 2005, Independence Day. It is a day we should be celebrating and commemorating the first instance in human existence in which men declared Creator-given unalienable rights in a civil document, the Declaration of Independence. It is a day when we may choose to reflect with gratitude on the sacrifice of the thousands who purchased our independence with their blood. It is a day in which we are called to respond with resolve to not let our independence be eroded away and ultimately abolished. It is a day for action.

On June 23, the Supreme Court arbitrarily and unconstitutionally eliminated private property rights. The infamous ruling, with breathtaking speed, rocketed us backward in time: back past all the lives lost in all our wars; back past the ratification of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution; back past the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Prior to that time, a government determined who could own what, and where. There was no such thing as the individual citizen being sovereign, no recognition of unalienable rights, no liberty.

The Supreme Court’s heinous rule of June 23 must be overturned immediately. If the government is allowed to return to “business as usual,” the awareness of what was stolen will soon be replaced in the public’s attention by some seemingly more spectacular current event. This will leave the error of our slumber for some future generation to deal with. The history of mankind clearly shows that once individual rights are lost, bitter and bloody conflict is typically required to regain them. That is not the legacy I want my generation to leave in our history.

If we fail to act now, this could well be the time line of liberty:
July 4, 1776 Liberty declared
1776-2005 Liberty fought for
June 23, 2005 Liberty abolished
July 4, 2006 Liberty forgotten

We have a window of opportunity to throw off this assault on liberty before it becomes entrenched. Call and write your congressman and senators, today.

— Kent Mottinger
Candler

One bill, one vote

Like most other citizens of the city of Asheville and the county of Buncombe, I am a customer of the water system (for both my business and my home), and I watched and listened as my elected representatives tried to hammer out a new water agreement. Unfortunately, the specter of having legislators in Raleigh decide this issue [has materialized]. I’d like to make a suggestion: I think that a little old-fashioned democracy should take hold, and I’d like to call the suggestion, “One bill, one vote.”

We have all read and heard about the various opinions, viewpoints and issues, but as of yet, none of our elected officials have asked the 43,000 water customers residing in both the city and the county, as a group, what they think.

With the upcoming citywide elections in early November, I think that this offers us an opportune time to hold a referendum and ask the people who are footing the bill for the water what they want. Do they want the city to run it, the county, or a regional system? Do they think differential rates are fair or not? Do they care? We have four months to argue, woo and fret, but before we allow the courts or the legislature to decide this issue, let’s at least ask the people paying the freight what they think.

— Dwight A. Butner
Asheville

Do we punish all recreational drugs?

I’m writing about Bob Neiwoehner’s thoughtful letter: “Could the Senator Be Misinformed?” [July 6].

Perhaps Neiwoehner should have asked Sen. Dole whether she thinks all users of recreational drugs should be punished. And what about those who “push” recreational drugs on TV? Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are all recreational drugs. All are designed for the sole purpose of giving or enhancing pleasure.

So why are some recreational drugs given approval by our governmental agencies, and not others? It’s not safety, because in the few short years that Viagra has been available, it has caused more deaths than marijuana, which has been used for over 5,000 years with no documented deaths.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that politicians receive millions from the pharmaceutical industry and nothing from the marijuana industry. (See the Web site www.saynotodrugs.org.)

Perhaps? Perhaps “perhaps” is the wrong word.

— Kirk Muse
Mesa, Ariz.

Speak up — voices matter

Many Americans are blockheads: brainless slugs who shut their eyes — intentionally or otherwise — to fact; lemmings who believe everything they’re told. Contrary to what U.S. Sen. Dole stated in a February 2005 letter to me, the Bush administration did not have U.N. authority to launch a military strike on Iraq. Hussein also had nothing to do with the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. Further, George Bush intentionally misled the nation in regards to evidence he presented concerning Iraq and WMD. This was not simply a case of “bad intelligence.”

Rather than squander over $300 billion (small government?) on an unnecessary war to bring “Democracy” to Iraq — which will take how much longer and cost how much more in financial debt and human lives — wouldn’t it have been wiser to concentrate on pursuing Al Qaeda and preventing the London bombings? The support of reckless policy for political survival — why the White House is allowed to continue lying about Iraq — is the reason the United States is now caught in a self-destructive, two-front war.

The few in our government who aren’t filled with political guile cannot provide us with justice for a reason. They are too few in number. Americans interested in justice, though their number may be few, shouldn’t be cynical or idle. Regardless of those who really represent themselves, voices matter. Regardless of party affiliation, write your senators and congressmen. Let them know what you think of their “leadership.” Lay it on the line: Official hearings are needed. Investigate Bush’s lies.

— John Rhodes
Efland

More eco-concerns from students

The following excerpts are from letters written by middle-school students at Rainbow Mountain Children’s School. Part 1, on the topics of energy and air quality, was published June 22. Here are the other environmental concerns the students picked for individual study.

I am deeply concerned for America’s water usage. On average, a single American citizen uses 168 gallons of water per day, 60 percent of which comes from use in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. Some of it even comes from unattended leaks: A dripping faucet can use up to 15 gallons per day; a leaking toilet can use up to 100 gallons per day.

To save, purchase water-saving devices: showerheads (which can save up to 3 gallons per minute) or conservative laundry machines (around 6,000 gallons a year). Buying a dual-flush toilet can save up to 12,000 gallons in a year!

Defrost your food in the refrigerator instead of running it under warm tap water. One piece of bleached paper uses 12 ounces of water [and produces deadly toxins which build up in waterways]. Remember that when you wad up your next essay.

— Tynan Devries

Invasive (non-native) plants can have huge negative impacts on an ecosystem. [Without] natural enemies, they quickly reproduce and overrun the native plants of the area, therefore wiping out the food supply for native animals. A garden of non-native plants requires watering, mowing, trimming and more maintenance overall. (A lawnmower emits 10 to 12 times the pollution of the average car; every 1,000 square feet of lawn you water uses 10,000 gallons per summer.)

The solution is simpler than you think: Landscape your yard with native plants. They require very little or no watering, fertilization or mowing. They have evolved along with native wildlife, so they will attract a variety of wildlife to your garden.

— Sarah Beth Wright

Did you know that there is at least one new invasive species every month? Kudzu is one notorious example. Kudzu vines grow very fast and take over environments, [and] the bugs and birds cannot live with their environments taken over.

We just don’t normally think about these things. I mean, I don’t get up every morning thinking: Oh, my gosh; I don’t want to pollute the Earth! But think about it sometimes and just be aware.

— Clarkie Kabler

The other day I was going fishing with my friend when I noticed that I couldn’t see any fish! This could be due to lack of genetic diversity, genetic inbreeding or genetic drift, and 45 of our plant and animal [species] in Buncombe County suffer from it!

[Endangered or bottlenecked] species are more affected by genetic drift — when the diversity of alleles in a new generation becomes different than those of the parenting generation, eventually altering [or eliminating] the species for good. It is possible to undergo lack of genetic diversity through geographical isolation. A house built on what was once a meadow may separate a population into two different groups [and the] pool of gene variants in the populations may be different.

The National Park Service owns 7.9 million acres of parkland to save [populations] from habitat loss. Help save our animals, and save the Earth!

— Valentina Stader

It has come to my awareness that there is a decrease in the bee population, caused by parasitic mites that were first found in bees that Paraguay imported from Japan. The parasite has become pesticide resistant, so it keeps spreading. [Without bees,] how will the flowers get pollinated, and what will happen to the honey industry?

Not only do flowers get pollinated by bees, but there is an estimated $1 billion worth of crops that are pollinated by bees [annually]. The honey industry brings in around $100 million per year in profit. Just imagine what would happen if we didn’t have any more bees to make honey! What would you put in your tea or have on your sandwich?

— Brooke C. Dotson

The thermo-mechanical process is the easiest way for making paper. My concern is that they use [mostly] 100 percent virgin wood [with] poor recycling quality. Our young forests are being cut down and all those baby trees will never grow up — just to make us paper, like this is typed on.

There are other ways of making paper that are a lot better for our environment, like using trees with longer fibers, [doing] less bleaching and [more] recycling. I would love to see our world explore more environmentally healthy ways of making our paper.

— Makenzie R. Peterson

Meat consumption is bad for the planet:

1) Industrial countries use a lot of grain, soy, energy, water and chemicals to grow crops [to feed animals].

2) Large livestock populations throw off the greenhouse gas, methane.

3) Large, factory-type buildings [house] thousands of pigs, chickens or other animals in small, closed-in areas. (Ducks never get to swim in water, which is very sad because they never get to be free and happy.)

4) All over the Earth, people eat more than 2.2 pounds of meat a week per person (4.5 pounds in the United States). (It takes [up to] 2,500 gallons [of water] to produce one pound of meat.)

The choice people make to eat meat doesn’t bother me. Just please consider how the food you’re eating is treated. Consider eating organic, free-range animals — the kind not raised in factories in inhumane conditions that threaten our planet.

— Acacia Carman-Hauri

I believe that people who own pools should stop using chlorine, because you’re swimming in bleach! Plus, some people are allergic to chlorine, and it also causes sinus symptoms and studies show it triggers exercise-induced asthma.

Ionizing water purifiers created by NASA and used on space missions is a common water purifier and pool sanitizer. There are many other solutions, so you can stop using chlorine pool sanitizers!

— Justin Hall

I am really concerned about the mold problem we have in our homes. Mold affects our health in many ways, and can exacerbate conditions such as allergies, asthma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and much more.

A good way to get rid of mold is to put a dehumidifier in your basement, or wherever you have a mold problem.

Molds are actually an important part of the natural community and have been around for a long time. They are classified as fungi, and their role is that of decomposer, breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen trees and dead leaves. Do we want them to break down our bodies, too?

— Chelsea Chittick

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