Where was that calendar made?

To the Editor,

"Promises, Promises: Has NAFTA Helped or Hurt Tucson?" (February 21) was hopelessly biased. (Writers Molly McKasson and Dave Devine) seemed only to have focused on certain areas and isolated job losses. Allow me to give you another perspective.

First, the largest trading partner of the U.S.A. is Canada. Since NAFTA's passage, have you determined how many jobs were created here because goods from the United States now flow without any duties to Canada?

I am a Canadian. Because of free trade we now do business in the United States. We are a publisher of advertising wall calendars. Currently, we sell 25 million calendars in the United States. We have offices in New York and Tucson. In Tucson, we employ 50 people. Our payroll in this office alone exceeds $1.2 million. Then there are all of the other things we pay that contribute to the economy. We rent 15,000 square feet of a building that was previously abandoned. We spent $200,000 on local trades people to renovate it. We buy furniture, supplies, equipment and tons of other things locally. We pay city, state and federal taxes.

We also plan to expand into the Mexican market this year. Order processing, shipping and other functions will be handled out of our Tucson office. We plan on hiring 30 additional people over the next three years to handle this business.

To finish, I would like to challenge your two reporters, along with everyone else who wants to keep jobs here in Arizona and America: Walk around your house and inventory everything. Do you strictly buy American? Check the labels on all your clothes? Did you buy imports? Did you take advantage of low overseas labor costs to get cheaper items Where were your appliances and electronic equipment made? Did you buy your vehicle based solely on the percentage of American content?

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

--Paul Demsky
Comda International Calendars Inc.

Ignorance, ignorance

To the Editor,

"Promises, Promises" (February 21) is written entirely from an employee's perspective, ignoring an owner's perspective. The article would have you believe jobs are incomes. That's only part of the equation. From the owner's perspective, jobs are also expenses.

A key question from an owner's perspective is "What makes American workers so expensive?" The answer is America's high cost of living. And what makes America's cost of living so high? The answer is the very things the authors champion: high minimum wages, unaffordable housing brought on by environmentalists (e.g., the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan), bloated Medicare and welfare entitlements, etc.

The authors appeal to nationalist protectionism, but nationalism is what makes exploitation of foreign workers possible. Last century, America learned that "separate but equal" does not work domestically. Now, we must learn that it does not work globally, either. Global integration means transcending national barriers, not strengthening them.

NAFTA eliminates a form of economic waste that economists call "transaction costs." Think of transaction costs as "shipping and handling charges." However, unlike shipping and handling charges, they add nothing because they are applied to all transactions, regardless of whether the item was "shipped" or not.

Finally, let us take the authors' position to its logical conclusion: If trade barriers are good, then let us erect as many as possible. We should close the country to foreign investment and trade, like we did preceding the Great Depression. That sure benefited American workers.

--Steve Brandon

Editorial policy, Berkeley style

To the Editor,

Your newspaper is the strangest thing. Just when I decide that the major interest is nonsense, like Hitler's religion, you come back with an interest in what I call "the real world." I would like to see your editorial policy, if you have one. I suspect that the paper is made up by different people, some of whom are the kind I saw in Berkeley back in the 1970s era.

Certainly the local newspapers won't publish a letter like mine. They tell the readers that Tucson is getting better and better. It is for some of us, but not all. At least you were honest enough to have some liberals review the NAFTA situation.

The point is that NAFTA is going to happen whether we like it or not. The Great Middle Class is dying rapidly. I think you should tell people about it so some of them can go to school and move to the Upper Classes. The alternative will not be very nice.

--Stuart A. Hoenig

War hawks down

To the Editor,

James DiGiovanna's assertion that Black Hawk Down is a "great" movie (Film Clips, January 17) defies all wit and good sense. DiGiovanna says the events it depicts are "mostly true," yet the film in no way accurately portrays the Somali side of the story. More than a thousand Somali citizens died as a result of U.S. forces having gone after the wrong warlord, thus putting an end to a peace process that had been well under way. Are you so blinded by patriotism as much as the rest of Middle America seems to be?

I have no doubt Ridley Scott has pulled off yet another brilliant tour de force of filmmaking. But how good is a film really if it doesn't rise above the level of propaganda? The Pentagon as much as admits it considers Black Hawk Down a "recruitment" film, which is not to mention how it was rushed to the theaters in advance of its original release date in March as an apparent ploy to further "war on terror" hysteria. Of course, one might make the case this last was for the sake of getting on the Oscar ballot for this last year--to which I say, what a tenuous smokescreen.

In any event, either you're uninformed or you're lacking in conscience. I'd like to think the former is the case, in which I suggest you do at least some research into the actual history and culture of Somalia before making any claims of "mostly true." If a film comes along, however, which accurately presents a picture of U.S. foreign policy as just as "terrorist" in its method as any "sleeper cell," why then I might use that word "great," even if it isn't quite as technically brilliant. A "great" movie is always one that celebrates social responsibility with a clear-eyed vision of the pathos of the human condition.

It is not one that furthers any agenda, especially one so clearly destructive to the well-being of so many in the world.

--Tom Cox

Parrot ejaculations

To the Editor,

Normally, when foolish people say foolish things, most of us just consider the source and refer to Proverbs 26:4, which states, "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him." Sometimes, however, you have to call them on the carpet, as suggested by Proverbs 26:5: "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit."

Having last night suffered through David Lynch's latest escapade in discombobulation, Mulholland Drive, in part on the recommendation of the Weekly's James DiGiovanna, I feel compelled to answer this fool and save others the agony of enduring Lynch's cinematic water torture. In his capsule review, DiGiovanna labels this film " of the best American films of the last 20 years." I get sick and tired of self-professed "critics" extolling the virtues of music, film, or any other "artistic" medium, just because it's obtuse, abnormal, irreverent, or obscene. They sit atop their little critic perches, chirping out praise for this junk, like a parrot ejaculating sound bytes it's been trained to mimic. All the while they revel in the notion that they are somehow more sensitive or intellectual than the remaining 99.5 percent of us who "just don't get it."

Of the 20 or so people who viewed the film with me, several walked out in the middle, and those who remained to the bitter end were left muttering their discontent over wasting two-and-a-half hours.

Therefore, in fairness to the people who squandered time and money seeing this abuse of celluloid, please give DiGiovanna space in your paper to explain the point, plot and significance of this film, in terms the average mortal can grasp, so that we all may be likewise enlightened. My bet is that he can't come up with anything beyond critic-parrot regurgitations of "bold," "unsettling," "innovative" and "stark."

DiGiovanna was correct about one and only one thing in his capsule review, when he stated, "Mulholland Drive has sometime thing for everyone who truly loves movies." In this case, it was the closing credits.

--Garrett L. Hancock