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Offer a Solution for the Working Poor

To the Editor,

Molly McKasson (and Dave Devine) have once again brought the serious and chronic problem of low-wage employment and poverty in our community to the attention of the Weekly's readers ("Working and Not Making It" and "More Than 1 in 4," Jan. 30).

Even the successful development of "Optics Valley" will not change the household income picture for the majority of Tucsonans. The high-tech jobs would be few in number and would go to only a handful of highly educated and/or specially trained individuals. Much of the human capital would be imported from other regions of the country; same goes for the industry clusters that may form around the anchor companies. Anyhow, the Greater Tucson Economic Council has proven itself to be impotent to date.

However, McKasson (and Devine) have once again failed to outline any type of viable solution to the problem. In the past, she has recommended simply raising the minimum wage. In the articles, (they) advocate casting a vote, but for who or what?

Raising the minimum wage will do little to improve the overall financial security of the citizens of our community. The income lost through layoffs by employers who cannot afford the marginal increase in labor cost will certainly equal--if not surpass--the income gained by those who were lucky enough to retain their employment.

I know that the effects of minimum wage increases is a hotly debated topic. The accumulated evidence seems to point to minor positive benefits only in communities where other sectors of the economy are sufficiently robust. And herein lies the crux of Tucson's economic dilemma.

Areas of the deep South, whose economies once resembled Tucson's in many important aspects, now are home to major manufacturers, specifically the automotive industry. People who once worked in the cotton and sugarcane fields--or who were unemployed--are now making $20 per hour and enjoy employer-granted healthcare benefits. This happened because the state and local governments pursued opportunity on behalf of their constituents. Elected officials were happy to offer incentives to the companies, knowing that in the long run there would be a sound return on the investment in terms of an increased tax base and an enhanced standard of living for residents.

McKasson and her crowd don't like "big industry." It doesn't mesh with their "green" outlook. Furthermore, I get the impression that folks in that circle are a kind of anti-capitalists in general. So what is Tucson going to do? One group of leaders has unsuccessfully focused on developing a narrow sector of the economy and the other has ruled out the tried and true approach of being a center for producing large amounts of relatively expensive goods valued by the world markets.

It is encouraging to think that at some point in the near future the population of Tucson will have grown to the point where the old guard of '60s refugees and the retirees will be outnumbered by a new wave of residents who are ready, willing and able to bring economic prosperity to our community. When one of this number steps forward and runs for an elected position with a platform of bringing major industry to the area, then--and only then--will casting a vote make a difference regarding poverty in our community.

--Erich Avedisian


McKasson Needs to Dump Her Baggage

To the Editor,

Molly McKasson's "Working and Not Making It" (Jan. 30) is noteworthy only for its stunning absence of solutions to our community's low-wage problem. Instead of offering solutions, not surprisingly, McKasson offers the unappetizingly jaded view that tries to cast the complexities of Tucson's poverty into rich vs. poor class envy.

Part of the reason Tucson has so much poverty is that McKasson offers the same menu of failed policies that she and her leftist colleagues have formed--policies that have hurt rather than helped the underclass. These social welfare and government programs have trapped people in an environment of dependence not conducive to sharing in the full range of opportunities this nation offers. Worse yet, McKasson has consistently stood shoulder to shoulder with the so-called smart-growth crowd, virulently anti-business in their effort to discourage investment in Tucson and penalize those firms already here. She ignores the fact that no low-wage, high-poverty city in the country has ever improved its lot with a hardened no-growth philosophy. Not a one.

McKasson's political career was also known for her penchant of trying to fix blame instead of fixing problems. As an example, her shrill voice could be heard routinely vilifying what she and her liberal friends call the "sprawl industry," even though it provides 35,000 jobs in our area--steady, livable wages that would help the families profiled in her article.

As politician-turned-writer, McKasson has a new chance to focus more on solutions to Tucson's poverty. One place to start would be to set aside her ideological baggage, replace it with pragmatic ways to help increase family earnings and give the demonizing of some industries a rest.

--Tim Serey


Jump Before It's Too Late!

To the Editor,

Regarding the letter Stuart A. Hoenig ("Class Dismissed, Jan. 30) wrote regarding Molly McKasson's article about poverty in Tucson ("Working and Not Making It, Jan. 23): First of all, Hoenig seems to generalize that that the middle class was born in the early 1800s. The middle class predates that by a bit, but that is a small point.

More importantly, he implies that McKasson cannot see the forest for the trees, but he is guilty of that as well. The history of the world shows that a two-class society has been the rule everywhere for centuries. The middle class has its roots in Europe, and the revolutions fought in the colonies, as well as in France, were incumbent on middle-class help.

Clearly this is no coincidence. If we look at all political systems where we see anything resembling freedom as we recognize it, we also see an earlier birth of a middle class. A ruling class does not willingly grant freedom for all, and a lower class does not have the power or knowledge to begin to claim freedom. Communism has always removed the middle class wherever it has existed for long; it is one of the party planks.

It is this simple: Eliminate the middle class, and you eliminate the possibility of political freedom. Conspiracy theory? You be the judge. It has been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Our middle class, fat on apathy, toys, complacency and the further acquisition of wealth, does not realize what is transpiring. The issue of "eternal vigilance" is a foregone conclusion.

Get a clue, middle-class America. A frog will jump out of a pan of boiling water if thrown in. A frog in water brought to a gradual boil never knows what hits it. Wake up, the water is boiling!

--Steve Vetter


He Likes Him! He Really Likes Him!

To the Editor,

I am a long-time Weekly reader (practically an "addict") and have been in Tucson for six years. I just wanted to drop you a letter praising the work of James DiGiovanna in the Weekly. His reviews demonstrate an excellent knowledge of both cinema and culture. I realize he must receive a fair amount of negative comments from various detractors, but I wanted to say that there are also a lot of us out there who REALLY enjoy and look forward to his reviews. I feel that he is a great asset to the Weekly and deserves high praise for his honest and insightful commentaries.

The best to you and everyone at the Weekly (the only paper worth reading in Tucson).

--Patrick Sparks


She Dislikes Him! She Really Dislikes Him!

To the Editor,

You were right, James DiGiovanna! Your movie review of The Hours ("Time Bomb," Jan. 16) begs for a hate-mail response. But I will resist.

Still, I was appalled by the mean-spiritedness of your movie review and the shallowness of your judgements. You slammed Meryl Streep's acting, Phillip Glass' music and Stephen Daldry's direction. Although you did have a good word to say about Nicole Kidman's acting, you had to quickly demeaned that, too, by comparing this role to her other roles where she was really awful. You went on and on about the issue of the changed nose, as if that was the heart of the story.

And with regard to the story, which you said was weak, you reduced it to: "Ostensibly (this is) a movie about the different ways that lesbians had to cope with themselves at different historical periods." I ask, if that were true, why would that make a weak story?

I am sorrowful that a work of such quality as The Hours was reviewed with such vitriol and such a poverty of imagination. Please, moviegoers, see this movie and judge it for yourselves.

--Barrie Ryan


Quit Picking on Poor Portillo

To the Editor,

I almost always find something to enjoy in Renée Downing's reviews and columns on language usage. However, her ongoing petty sniping at Arizona Daily Star columnist Ernesto Portillo Jr., is a bit pathetic. She took an entire column to heap scorn on him in November, and got in some not-so-subtle digs in the Jan. 30 issue as well ("Once More, With Clarity"). If she continues to let that bile bubble much longer, you're going to have to bill her as "The Grammar Vixen" or "Tucson's Very Own Maureen Dowd!" I'd still read her stuff if she got a new title, but I earnestly just want her to be my good ol' Grammar Goddess.

--Tom Gelsinon


Drop the False Clichés, Ms. Tuttle

To the Editor,

I was surprised by the defective reasoning in Connie Tuttle's "We the Misogynists" (Jan. 23). A criticism of George W. Bush's looming war with Iraq is worthwhile. But it is Bush who is an aberration, not society, with his strident insistence of war against a now-peaceful country.

The author links war with misogyny, claiming that society marginalizes women--and characteristics associated with women, such as compassion--and that this promotes war. Who does she think Golda Meir of Israel, Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom and Indira Gandhi of India were? Men in drag? All, as prime ministers, went to war.

Tuttle's column disparages the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations that helped mold Western culture. This is bankrupt feminist ideology. To read the history and archaeology of any civilization, including that of China and India, is to find episodes of war, violence and subjugation. She belittles anyone who believes this, offering as proof only subjective opinions and name calling.

The author concludes by implying current war rhetoric is a macho reflection of an American and Western culture in decline. Yet Western civilization created science, rational thought and democracy, all concepts that have allowed society to progress, given women an equal voice and spawned modern technology.

Unfortunately, Tuttle promotes the false clichés of an ideology that spews faulty logic, hatred of men and disdain for Western culture. These ideas do not withstand the rational analysis and scientific inquiry of modern Western thought; hence it is Western culture that must be wrong.

--D.H. Evans

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