Rural Life No Walk in Park

I read your publication from cover to cover and the article that touched my sorest spot was a letter to the editor from George Clark, Eureka, Calif. [“Subsidizing Big Bananas in Our Republic,” 3/15/14 TPP].

I live in the remote Chanchelulla Wilderness area of Trinity County, just over the range from Eureka. One of the major reasons I live here is because I am a retiree on Social Security and I could not afford to own my own home anywhere else. What I’ve got is a 1958-model house trailer on a dry patch of mine tailings and a 42-year-old automobile.

Why the land here has no value is because there is no telephone service and no public utilities. All the trees were cut down years ago and the gold stripped from the ground. And yet, all I hear from the city folk is gripes about how they are “subsidizing my McMansion.” The facts are that when I had a telephone credit card and had to make a 24-mile round trip to a phone booth to use it, almost half my monthly charges were for added-on taxes to support the extension of land lines into rural areas, TDD for the deaf, etc. We have asked now for 60 years for land lines we have paid for but still are being refused. We are the ones “subsidizing” telephone service for others while we do without.

The same goes for electric service: we’ve paid in taxes for TVA-type rural power but we were redlined and blacklisted off the grid now going almost 100 years. Electricity generated here gets sold out of county. Now, a movement is afoot to force us to put meters on our wells and pay like city folks do for our water. But, unlike city folk, no one is going to supply any testing for pollutants, additives like fluoride or mains or reservoir storage, or dig wells.

I am now forced to pay $150 per year to the state for fire protection that doesn’t exist — not one penny has ever been spent in this area to clear out the publicly owned woods of the dangerous trash that has accumulated for years.

My neighbor pays the Forest Service $600 per year for an access road to his privately owned parcel. A group of dope growers used his road (about one mile long) to put in their own road for free, branching off from his to access their commercial plantation. I couldn’t come or go because their dogs attacked my car. The dogs ran game at night and barked all night and kept me awake. They cut down on the regrowth trees and sold them for firewood. All they didn’t get away with was their marijuana crop: the Forest Service came in at harvest time and took it all.

No income tax was paid for the firewood sales. No property tax was paid on the land they bought above us. No fines or reparations were paid to my neighbor or the Forest Service for the damage they did nor the pollution of our water supplies with their tons of fertilizer. No rental was paid for the road. We have to pay taxes for a public dump plus gate fees. The dope growers didn’t pay one penny for the trash removal and clean up the Forest Service did.

What McMansions? What infrastructure? So far all we’ve gotten is the road paved. No phone, no police or fire protection. It is we who are subsidizing everyone else while we do without. As for the dope growers, they went back to where they came from, free.

But they or someone else will be back in the spring to realize up to $1 million in seasonal income without paying income tax, property tax and not spending one nickel here at local businesses. They will keep us out of the publicly owned woods, so no one can hike, fish, camp or hunt. I thought during my final years here I’d be able to enjoy nature. I don’t dare leave my house for a walk.

Carolyn Munn
Hayfork, Calif.

Rebuilding Democracy

Bob Burnett, quoting Mike Lofgren in “The Deep State,” 4/14/14 TPP, is absolutely correct that a not-so-secret cabal of multinational corporations (corporate fascists, I call them) is running our government, whether Republicans or Democrats occupy the White House. Our country is a tiny bit safer with Democrats in control, but not by much.

Burnett correctly concludes, “The left needs new charismatic leadership.” Luckily, this leadership is active and is recognized by a huge number of progressives, if only they would run: Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Either would be exactly who our country so desperately needs to stand up to the corporate fascists. And either would be backed by a surprisingly strong progressive caucus that already exists in Congress, waiting in the wings for just the right torchbearer to step up.

Unfortunately, though Sanders hasn’t ruled it out, Warren steadfastly refuses to run for the top office. I seriously doubt if Sanders could win as an independent, nor that he could beat out Hillary Clinton in a Democratic primary. So, realistically,  our only recourse may be to pull Hillary powerfully to the left, forcefully de-coupling her from her corporate patrons along the way. But, I say, there must be a better way!

I believe strongly in the power of intention. Let us determine, therefore, to recruit either Elizabeth Warren for president with Bernie Sanders as her running mate, or vice versa!

It’s up to us to get them to run and get them elected! It’s the only way I see for We the People to save our democracy!

Nancy Churchill
Oregon, Ill.

Stand Your Ground Myths

Sam Uretsky’s, “Nothing To Fear But Trigger Happy Gunmen” [4/15/14 TPP] is a jumble of misinformation; malignment; pseudo-science; gross speculation and ignorance.

I say this as a Liberal Second Amendment advocate.

The portion of the Florida law quoted by Mr. Uretsky, Section 776.013, pertains to the justifiable use of a firearm for home protection. The prior section, 776.012 pertains to the use of force in defense of person, and explains the justifiable use of a firearm for self-defense. Neither section asserts or implies “you’re scared — it’s OK to shoot and ask questions later.” While Mr. Uretsky mocks reasonableness, the actual criterion for a reasonable belief of imminent, serious physical harm involves three elements. All of these elements must be present for an action to be judged as a reasonable self-defense claim.

These elements are: ability; opportunity and jeopardy.

Ability involves the means to cause death or serious bodily injury, by an attacker. These could be a weapon, an implement, a disparity in gender, age or physical size, or multiple assailants.

Opportunity involves generally the physical proximity to effect an attack.

Jeopardy involves actions, not words, or mere assumptions, that a physical attack is imminent or already in progress.

Someone showing me their new rifle has ability and opportunity, but not jeopardy. Someone threatening me with a knife, from a block away, may have ability and jeopardy but not opportunity. An individual who was wheelchair bound, may have opportunity and jeopardy but not the ability, to cause serious bodily injury to another, assuming they were unarmed.

A self-defense claim is not automatically accepted because a person simply asserts such. Our legal system determines whether such claims are valid.

Stand your ground is not a substitute for a claim of self-defense, and becomes irrelevent if self-defense is found not to have been necessary.

Mr. Uretsky portrays those concerned for their safety as irrational and “trigger-happy.” I would refer him to any number of books, videos and training courses on the awesome responsibilities of gun ownership and the avoidance of the use of a firearm, unless absolutely necessary.

Licensed and law-abiding gun owners are overwhelmingly not responsible for the rate of gun violence in our country.

Addressing this problem requires a thoughtful and accurate appraisal, not misinformation and the elimination of a right some happen not to value.

Don Pfeifer
Hempstead, N.Y.

Yin and Yang Economics

The Yin: Socialism — Schools, Libraries, Fire Engines, Shade Trees, Smooth Roads, Buses, Housing, Zoos and Parks.

Now shut your eyes. Try to imagine 24 hours without them.

The Yang: Capitalism — Inventive Creativity, Individual Ego, Achievement, Leadership, the “Can Do” Spirit, Entrepreneurship, To Excel.

Now shut your eyes. Try to imagine 24 hours without them.

[Balance: The secret of a successful political system as existed in the USA circa 1940-1970]

Dr. Doris M. Carter
Worcester, Mass.

Curb Sex Traffickers but Allow Sex Trade

I am writing in regard to the 4/1/14 article “Sex Trafficking, An American Sin” by Don Rollins. Although stopping trafficking of adults and children is extremely important, the government should not use that alleged goal as a pretext for destroying the liberties of consenting adults in the sex industry. Such repressive tactics are near the level of the Taliban in Afghanistan and make matters worse for everyone.

Many adults willingly work in the sex industry as a way to make a good living at something they enjoy. As one prostitute wrote in an article for a national newspaper: “All in all prostitution has been good to me and I have been good to it. ... I don’t really have to work anymore, but I love the business, so I still see my regular clients.”

According to Dr. John Money, who was a leading sexologist and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, sex work can benefit customers too. He said that sex workers, with proper training, can help clients overcome “erotic phobia” and various other sexual dysfunctions. He explained that for the clients, “the relationship with a paid professional may be the equivalent of therapy.”

Having the government investigate, arrest, prosecute and jail those persons is not only a waste of law-enforcement resources but causes incalculable damage and suffering to many harmless people. For instance, the arrest records of sex workers and clients alike can destroy their lives and families, and lead to depression, drug abuse and suicide.

Moreover, prosecuting consenting adults in the sex industry serves to drive the activities further underground, making it easier for those who would mistreat the workers and customers. Persons who become aware of abusive practices in the industry are afraid to go to the police because of a belief that they will be arrested themselves. ...

In May 2013, the UN Human Rights Council received a statement from the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, a network of more than 100 non-governmental organizations throughout the world. It urged governments to “consider the potential of decriminalizing sex work and practices around it as a strategy to reduce the opportunities for exploitative labor practices in the sex sector.”

Joseph C. Sommer, attorney at law
Columbus, Ohio

From The Progressive Populist, May 15, 2014


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