American glasnost. I'm all for it. Who wouldn't be? After reading Charles Bowden's book review "NAFTA Shave" (August 31), it's obvious that Bowden isn't for openness and perestroika-type free trade around the world. I confess I didn't read the book he reviewed, but I must respond to his attack on NAFTA.
First of all, tariffs and trade barriers are widely believed to be the primary cause of the Great Depression. Why would acting opposite to the cause of the Great Depression not have the opposite effect on the economy as well, i.e., cause a Great Boom?
Secondly, if we don't agree to free trade with Latin America, what is to keep our primary competitors--Japan and the EU--from doing so? Ponder that possibility and think about what kind of effect that would have on American jobs.
Finally, the thing that most concerned me about the review was the blatant American jingoism--or, in this case, gringoism. Don't tell me that someone down there doesn't have a bumper sticker saying, "Think Globally, Act Locally."
I believe it was Albert Einstein who said, "Nationalism is the measles of mankind." I couldn't agree more. We should think of ourselves as fellow human beings first and not as citizens of opposed nations. If Bowden is truly concerned with the "common person" being exploited by robber-baron types, he should think about how the robber barons of our time benefit from pitting the masses against each other on the battlefield and in the factories through nationalism. It's simply "divide and conquer."
I bet you'd be all for letting immigrants come to this nation to work by opening the borders; I know I am. Well, since that's out of the question in this provincial nation, why don't we let the work go to them?
However, if you're the kind of person who yearns for the good ol' days of things like the Great Depression and the Cold War, by all means let's turn back the clock to nationalism's heydays by subscribing to Bowden's outdated beliefs.
Arthur Jacobson's "Immobile Home" (September 14) should have alarm bells ringing and red flags flying in all our heads. The Phyperses still have a permit for a mobile home, which a county employee assured them twice by phone and once in person that was valid, and that there was nothing more they needed to do.
Based on this assurance, and having no reason to assume they had to second-guess and research anything a government representative told them, they spent $90,000, their life savings, in improving their mobile home with polystyrene insulation and stucco, so that Jim Phypers could live there without having his neurological disease exacerbated by cooling and heating problems. They also installed their solar electric, water harvesting, and graywater systems.
After they completed their work and had no other options, then the county notified them they were not in compliance and would have to move (in effect, destroy) their mobile home.
They now have an extension of the order in which they can try to achieve what the county knows is near impossible: Get an engineering firm to certify the now existing polystyrene-stucco work, try to bring the lap pool in the greenhouse (which Jim needs in order to exercise limbs that will otherwise atrophy from peripheral neuropathy) into compliance, and certify the greenhouse.
But this isn't really about safety or engineering. And this is not just about the Phyperses; it's all of us in a lot of trouble, because an older couple comes up with a solution to a 40-year-old problem of how individuals can live economically without destroying our habitat, and the solution has to be destroyed because it doesn't conform to the building code.
We need to ask if this sounds anything like "It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."
We need to ask, "Does the building code conform to planetary survival for the human species?"
We need to understand that we face two categories of danger here: destruction of habitat, and destruction of constitutional rights by slow erosion through the state's right to regulate. More and more people seeking to live in ecological harmony in the county and city are being told they have to move or leave their homes. We should begin a conversation now leading toward a national association of alternative builders.
We should also look now to the Phyperses' immediate needs, which are legal assistance for a judicial review and suit, a structural engineer to certify polystyrene-plaster and the suitability of the greenhouse as an Arizona room, people to log on to their website (www.azstarnet.com/~recorder), and people to send letters of support and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.