Readers Write: The dangers of big banks and second-hand marijuana smoke

Letters to the Editor for the weekly print issue of July 2, 2012: When power is concentrated – as in big banks like Jamie Dimon's JPMorgan Chase – expect some tyranny. Marijuana is an insidious drug, more harmful than many have been led to believe.

Big banks and concentrated power

Per your invitation on page 34, "We want to hear from you," I had several reactions to the May 28 article on JPMorgan Chase's recent multibillion-dollar failed bet ("A bank's stealth crisis").

Certainly, a business or industry must be profitable to stay in business. The question becomes: How much profit is reasonable, and how is that profit distributed? That opens the subject of economics, capitalism, and the broader purpose of government.

It is my observation that we have many business complexes – financial, health, publishing, legal – which have very little visibility. The situation is very similar to the "money trust" the Pujo Committee (congressional subcommittee) found in 1912-13 during its investigation of powerful Wall Street bankers. Not much had changed by the big crash of 1929, which precipitated the Great Depression.

When power is concentrated, whether in an individual, group, or industry, you can expect some type of tyranny. As Justice Louis Brandeis pointed out: "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

William Haase

Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Perils of secondhand marijuana smoke

I read the briefing, "How America's views of marijuana are changing," in the June 18 issue with great sorrow and anger. The introduction states: 'Recent polls show attitudes toward marijuana use are steadily changing toward greater acceptance, and laws are changing, too.' "

People surely do not know the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke or they wouldn't approve of people using marijuana. I unfortunately had the experience of being a victim of secondhand marijuana smoke for about a year when I lived next to a couple who used "medical" marijuana. Smoke traveled through their bathroom vent into all of the other tenants' vents, and there was nothing we could legally do to block it.

During this time, I saw and heard about the effect of this secondhand smoke on myself and on others, including pets and children. I fully believe that not enough has been made of the effect of marijuana on young minds and bodies. Marijuana is an insidious drug, and its use can be more harmful than many have been led to believe.

Linda Stoner

Westlake Village, Calif.

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