I want to respond to Gene Mirabelli’s article “Poorhouse,
Here We Come” [Opinion, May 11]. While I applaud Mr. Mirabelli’s
effort to back up his thesis (despite not having one) with
statistics and to bring much needed attention to the problems
facing our materialistic, buy-now-pay-later society, he writes
an opinion with no clear understanding of the issues at worst,
or no clear context with which to frame the statistics he
proffers into a comprehensive argument at best. For instance,
in the second to the last paragraph, beginning “Unfortunately,
the wealth is not distributed according to hours worked,”
he makes no effort to explain this assumption. “For the past
several years the rich in this country have been getting richer.”
Maybe, maybe not. It’s not easy to tell given his “snapshot”
recent figures. Further, how exactly would we be sunk if China
decided not to loan us any more money? The reality is that
this is an extremely complex issue that cannot be used as
ammunition in an anti-Bush’s regressive tax-policy bashing.
If China decided not to loan us money (buy U.S.-backed securities)
our interest rates would rise, as would the value of the dollar,
giving American consumers more real purchasing power. This
would, unfortunately, further exacerbate our trade imbalance,
as it would be more expensive for foreigners to purchase American
goods, but less expensive for Americans to buy foreign goods.
While I’ve attempted to refute specific portions of Mr. Mirabelli’s
article here, the broader point I would like to make is that
opinions like this should not be published absent a clear
understanding of the issues and a well-stated thesis. We should
be able to expect more from our print media.
While I might sympathize with Jeremy James’ complaint [“Indie?
Indeed!” Letters, May 11] regarding chains versus local indie
business purveyors of culture, popular or otherwise, I must
take issue thusly. Sometimes local independent businesses
do not meet customers’ entertainment or elucidational
needs. Case in point, the complained about Netflix noted by
Mr. James. For ethnic filmgoers like myself, who may wish
to watch “art” or popular movies reflecting their cultural
tastes or identification, other than venturing to the Spectrum
on occasion, Netflix, vile Web-based concern that it is, offers
a much vaster selection of Hindi, Spanish, Portugese, Tamil,
Arabic, Hebrew, Cantonese etc. movies, complete with English
subtitles than any local emporium, especially one catering
to the still comparatively parochial tastes of tri-city residents.
Nor may I add, on a broader range of topics (say, a travelogue
to the gigantic Hindu Kumbh Mela at Allahabad, India, or talks
by the Dalai Lama, or Sufi mysticism in Iran, among the sort
of discs I’ve rented via the internet from Netflix). And while
I was a past consistent customer of the Music Shack, both
in Albany and Troy, I all too often found my tastes in world
music looked down upon by the staff there when I inquired
about a title I wished to buy or had pre-ordered. So much
so, that buying said such kind of music from, say, Amazon.com,
or even the local Borders or Barnes and Noble a much more
aesthetically (and politely) enjoyable and rewarding
experience than having to endure the snickering and ridicule
of heavy metal/industrial/rap music cretins with about as
much knowledge of other cultures as that of George Bush’s
foreign state department. Not all net-based or large corporate
chains are equivalent to Wal-Mart, and to automatically assume
so is the shallowest of pseudo-populism.
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