Opinion » Mail

Mail Sept 15-21 2004


As a citizen of this great nation I absolutely must speak out against the conduct we were all forced to observe during the 2004 Republican National Convention. I have never witnessed a more unpleasant, bitter, divisive and ill-spirited political display then this week's convention. In particular the handing out of "purple heart" Band-Aids on the convention floor in yet another pathetic attempt to attack John Kerry's Vietnam War service is an absolute outrage! As a sister of a marine who served with honor in Desert Storm, as a fiancée of a marine who also served with honor in Desert Storm and as an almost sister-in-law of one of the most highly decorated, heroic and severely wounded army veterans of Desert Storm I am deeply offended by this action. It is an insult to everyone who has ever served with honor in the U.S. armed forces and a slap in the face of those soldiers who have been hurt and killed in the line of duty--let alone a massive insult to their families and to the sacrifice and suffering of those who love this country. This is just one more outward sign clearly showing that the Republican Party has lost all respect for our country and for those of us working every day to make it a better place to live. For shame!

--Jacqueline Harvey,



The ten big censored stories article (Censored!, BW, Sept. 1) contains its own elements of censorship. The piece on wealth inequality missed key facts. It is true that wealth inequality has increased over the last 30 years but not due to the tax system as the article implies.

Consider the following: 1. Over the last thirty years over 30 million immigrants have entered the United States. Most did not come with great wealth. Given that they increased the supply of labor at the bottom quartile of income, they also drove down the price of labor, increasing wealth inequality. 2. According to 1999 data, the top 1 percent of earners paid 36.2 percent of federal income taxes, the top 5 percent of earners paid 55.5 percent of federal income taxes and the top 50 percent of earners paid 96 percent of federal income taxes. Stated another way, those at the bottom paid virtually no federal income taxes. 3. The statement that, "people who make $30,000 to $500,000 give relief to those who make millions, or tens and hundreds of millions of dollars a year," is not supported by facts. Given that the bottom 50 percent pays only 4 percent of federal income taxes, providing substantial tax relief requires giving higher income people a tax cut; they pay the taxes. It is a simple mathematical tautology.

The best way to reverse wealth inequality in the United States would be to restrict immigration, creating a shortage of labor, thus driving up its price. This would cause capital to be substituted for labor to some degree, but not enough to offset the premium that labor would receive. The opposition to this idea comes from the establishment right and left. To paraphrase the late Edward Abbey, "big business wants its cheap labor and liberals want their cheap votes."

--Fred Birnbaum,



Even after taking great pains to put myself into the shoes of Joe Conservative during Republican National Convention coverage (utilizing a band saw and a very powerful wench), I couldn't help but feel more than a little patronized by my adopted pundits. I was presumed to have little tolerance for nuance. The economy is strong, according to Governor Arnold, not because any indicators point to such a conclusion, but because it is un-American to think otherwise. For a history lesson I was fed tidy logic, such as: Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, Lincoln was good, therefore the GOP has 140-plus years worth of righteousness on its side. The Republican Party as proudly presented in New York carries a set of values, which is, in the minds of conservatives, intrinsically correct and therefore impossible to prove wrong. Such thinking has not only cheapened, but virtually eliminated viable political discourse in this country.

--Mark Runsvold,



Bill Cope hit the nail on the head. We Ada County Democrats are a "strong, financially-viable, education-promoting, working-man-friendly interest group working for your interests," and we know there are a lot of like-minded folks in Ada County who care about these issues too.

Yes, we exist and we're working, but our "financial viability" could use some improvement. Like most things in this world, we just take it for granted that someone will else (some "fat cat" maybe) pays for the infrastructure that covers rent, pays for printing, buys the signs, helps with candidate expenses, pays for postage, and pays the phone bill. The fact is, lots of people give their time and talents to the party, but we sure could use money too to maximize their efforts. So, if you're one of the 20,000+ loyal Democrats who would like to act on your values and could forego one latte a month, you can make a difference. You can reach us at Ada County Democrats, 4696 Overland Road, Suite 262, Boise, Idaho 83705 or call us at 331-2128 or visit our Web site at www.adademocrats.org.

--Liz Ratcliff,

Acting Chair, Ada County Democrats


The article "Profile of Kawa Taiko" (Idaho Arts Quarterly, Fall 2004) misspelled Vern McCready's name. Also, the group's Hyde Park Fair performance takes place on Saturday, Sept. 18 from 2 to 3 p.m.