Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the importance of small business to urban revival and about the benefits of small-scale farming and humanely raised livestock.

Cities must think small to grow big

Regarding your March 28 editorial, "The upside of going downtown": Misguided economic priorities and choices by city governments deserve as much blame for urban decline as the federal policies emphasized in your editorial, but the observation that "fostering entrepreneurship and small business" is gaining favor among mayors offers hope.

There's a common thread among cities that suffered the worst unemployment and flight: They became heavily dependent on giant corporations that lacked roots in the community.

Attracting global corporations creates ribbon-cutting photo-ops and headlines for politicians, but supporting locally owned business and prospective new entrepreneurs produces greater economic vitality and stability.

Despite the corporate hype about globalization, creating a diverse base of independent, locally owned businesses remains the key to any city's economic prosperity.

In the past few years, dozens of cities – including St. Louis, Mo.; Austin, Texas; Tampa, Fla.; Salt Lake City; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Portland, Maine – have formed independent business alliances to shift attitudes and policies toward supporting community-based enterprise, and with great success.

Over time, these networked local Alliances will generate the power to shift toward national policies like those advocated in your editorial.

Jeff Milchen
Cofounder, American Independent Business Alliance
Bozeman, Mont.

Polluting farms are bad for everyone

Regarding Marlene Fanta Shyer's March 29 Opinion piece, "Pork: the other guilty meat," and the March 29 article, "Organic food? Sure, but is it cage-free?": These articles illustrate changing values in farming methods and consumer attitudes.

A growing number of progressive consumers understands that food is not just a commodity but entails the lives of animals and plants, the livelihoods of farmers and farm workers, and the raison d'être of many rural communities.

While organic, fair-trade, and humanely raised foods may cost more at the checkout lane, they pay their own way.

In contrast, animal-confinement operations and chemically intensive monoculture farming receive massive subsidies through the Farm Bill, price supports for water, and federally funded research.

Also, these practices are major contributors to water pollution and loss of native biodiversity. The alternative farming movement represents a welcome convergence of environmental and ethical values.

Catherine Badgley
Chelsea, Mich.

In response to Marlene Fanta Shyer's March 29 Opinion piece on the cruelties of hog farms: Protest against the cruelties of "hog confinements," for which pork-producing factories are known, is on target. But there is another iniquity committed by these establishments.

They produce overpowering odors that far exceed the once-familiar scent of a pig farm. These smells can include noxious gases with a major proportion of the emission being the very poisonous hydrogen sulfide.

When the confinement commences operations, its unfortunate neighbors, within two or perhaps more miles, are subject to being driven from their homes, with a huge loss of property value if they try to sell.

Few of the victims are able to mount a legal defense, and if they do, absence of regulation makes it an uphill fight.

Hugh W. Lowrey
Austell, Ga.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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