Letters to the Editor
Readers write about the Olympics in Chicago, industry lobbies, free markets, brash volunteerism, and presidential candidates.
Chicago residents concerned about 2016 Olympics
Regarding the June 6 article, "A contender, Chicago mulls cost of 2016 Olympics": Not all Chicagoans are enthusiastic about holding the Olympics here. In particular, the longtime residents of the South Side will be most affected. The idea of property values escalating at an exponential rate will cause "urban renewal." It will renew the neighborhood with new infrastructure, higher incomes, and new people. The former residents will be pushed out to the suburbs; families and children will continue to face the same problems, possibly worse; and some will certainly become homeless along the way.
It is just another trend in the perpetuation of institutional racism and a sad misconception that economic capital will outweigh the benefits of social capital.
Industry lobbies deter innovation
In response to the June 5 article, "Beyond gasoline: Prices surge for oil-based goods": The article reminded me of a news segment I saw several years ago about using ground-up rubber tires in the asphalt mix for roads. A potential use had been found for the millions of tons of discarded tires, and the ground-tire roads were far superior and longer-lasting than asphalt, but this advance was shot down by the powerful asphalt industry and its lobby.
One wonders what other cheaper and/or higher-quality alternative products are kept from the public because entrenched industries have the clout to block anything that threatens their turf and profits.
Don't take laissez faire too far
In response to Gary Galles's June 6 Opinion piece, "Call the bluff on campaign fluff": The piece emphasizes the need to present relevant trade-offs when laying out and discussing public policy choices. I couldn't agree more. Too bad we didn't get the correct cost-benefit information about the Iraq war and the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, to name just two biggies of the past seven years.
But more subtle is Mr. Galles's message that if government would simply get out of the way, free markets would solve all our problems. This is utter nonsense when it comes to policy choices that affect environment and public health, where product markets do not properly reflect the social costs involved in manufacture, use, and disposal. This is precisely when government regulation is necessary.
Dennis J. Aigner
Professor emeritus of economics and management, University of California
In aid work, respect authority
Regarding the June 6 article, "Neither landslides nor Chinese troops stop this volunteer": I am utterly unimpressed with the volunteer in Sichuan, Frank Dunne. He is a bull in a china shop and I resent how he is making the Chinese troops his enemy.
Surface contrasts should matter least
In response to the June 5 article, "McCain vs. Obama: A stark matchup ahead": The article opens with, "The contrasts could not be more stark: an African-American Democrat versus a white Republican." What if it was a Chinese man and a Jewish woman? Is that more or less of a stark contrast?
What if the black man is half white and the Republican and Democratic candidates both show an eagerness to cross party lines to bring about change?
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