Letters to the Editor

Readers comment on Chinese piracy of US goods, how US labor unions are evolving, and Sam Zell's bid to buy the Chicago Tribune.

Think of the environment, not just the bottom line

The March 22 article, "Boom in coal power – and emissions," really brings to the fore the lack of desire to implement alternative energies for the betterment of both immediate and future generations. In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard is a self-affirmed climate-change skeptic, who only recently has been willing to consider measures to help curb global warming.

Australia is a huge contributor to the global-warming phenomenon, both in emissions per capita and with the export of coal to countries such as China. Australia also has some 38 percent of the world's lowest-cost uranium resources and 24 percent of the world's total uranium reserves. It would be remiss of our prime minister to think only of the benefits of Australia's resources boom and not to think beyond the immediate economic bottom line.

It has been said that Australia was built on the sheep's back because of the country's wool production; it now appears to be being built on the resources boom.

Until countries and leaders can move beyond such immediate economic focus and invest in science and research, we will have to watch in ever-increasing amazement as the numbers indicated in the article are borne out.

Rod Mead
Kambah, Australia

A real union builds relationships

Regarding the April 10 article, "From L.A., a reinvention of Big Labor": Many thanks to the Monitor for breaking with the traditional "unionism equals doom and gloom" format.

What is happening in Los Angeles is truly inspiring. Organizing immigrant labor has led to great breakthroughs in the past, such as César Chávez's "relational organizing" approach, which inspired Christian community activists and was then fed back into the union movement in a more systematized form.

I thought readers might like to know about the way this is affecting the international movement as well. A New Unionism network was set up in March (www.newunionism.net), largely inspired by the new organizing ideas coming out of the US, and seeking to combine these creatively with partnership models of the workplace. In the final analysis, this is where a union stands or falls. If it doesn't actively seek to build productive interrelationships, then it's not much more than a mediocre insurance company.

Peter Hall-Jones
Gex, France

Serve civics, not commerce

Regarding the article, "Sale of Chicago Tribune buoys hopes for US newspapers," from April 11: In an age in which infotainment passes for journalism, how can one believe that a real estate tycoon (Sam Zell) will improve the quality of investigative journalism?

Where is the commitment to providing citizens of a democratic country – a country that hails itself as the very beacon of democracy – the necessary balance in reporting a story such as the buildup to the Iraq war?

I read that Sam Zell is committed to increasing revenues. Will this be done by providing better journalism with enough resources for journalists to write stories free from advertiser control? Or will it be done with in-depth coverage of the next Hollywood scandal?

American democracy is imperiled. Most Americans seem not to care, or they are just too angry to try to change things. It's not profitability that the American newspaper business needs. It is a commitment to journalism that allows a population to be fully informed of what is done in its name.

Paul Chislett
Sudbury, Ontario

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