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Letters to the editor

July 18, 2003 | Page 4

Why are retirees losing benefits?
The Democrats aren't a solution
Our duty to make Northeastern act
Will money exist under socialism?

Brutality of the system

IT WAS horrifying to hear of the deaths of 19 undocumented workers from Mexico and Central America, suffocated in the trailer of an American truck ("Nightmare in Texas," May 23). It reveals the naked brutality of the world we live in, in which millions of refugees are regularly forced to risk their lives to make a living.

The Texas border incident is eerily similar to one described by the Palestinian writer and activist Ghassan Kanafani in his 1963 short story, "Men in the Sun." Kanafani tells about a group of desperate Palestinian men who try to smuggle themselves across the desert in an oil tanker in order to find jobs in wealthy Kuwait.

The author uses the confined space of the truck as a symbol for the way in which the Israeli occupation entraps ordinary Palestinians and suffocates them. Nations occupied and exploited by imperialists and their allies are turned into death traps, resources are stripped away, jobs become scarce, and ordinary people die, whether they remain inside or try to escape. We have to expose border restrictions for what they are--tools for the ruling classes of different nations to control the flow of labor and to multiply their massive profits.

Pranav Jani, Glen Ridge, N. J.

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Why are retirees losing benefits?

I THINK it's unfortunate that steelworkers and other retirees are losing benefits and support from the companies they built and toiled for so many years. Medical benefits and prescriptions are necessary almost daily for the aging generations, and what do they have to turn to now that their benefits are being dissolved? Nothing!

It's unfortunate that our more mature retirees now make up a good portion of the millions of Americans with no health care coverage at all! This should outrage the public more, but is anyone noticing? More and more companies and corporations continue to cut benefits, and their hardworking employees get the short end of the deal.

Is it an issue of rising health care costs or companies worried about corporate overhead vs. profit? I found out that 65,000 employees of the state of Arizona Department of Corrections may lose health coverage in June 2003, due to the $300 million it is costing the state. Where will it end?

Are the employees of America's great corporations doomed to take care of health care coverage themselves? Who will fill in the gaps? If possible, I'd like to be able to get more information on the corporate restructuring of Bethlehem Steel and the route that retirees are going to take to cover their health and prescription needs.

Phil Landry, from the Internet

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The Democrats aren't a solution

I APPLAUD your decision to publish the letter from Donald Williams (June 20) as, I assume, an opportunity for us to respond to statements from the liberal point of view.

First, we do not "fix the problem" of corporate greed by electing corporate Democrats. We fix it by mass action. Second, while it is true that "a socialist today has no chance of winning nationwide office," voting for Democrats will never change that. Only mass action will. Dr. Williams is wrong to focus on national elections as a tool for change.

Third, yes, we do "remember Florida," but what we remember is not the corporate media lie that the Green Party stole the election from the Democrats, but rather the illegal actions taken by Jeb Bush's Florida government to deny voting rights to thousands of people and the refusal of the Democrats to confront the issue.

Yes, it will take a long time to build a movement sufficiently strong to effectively oppose corporate rule. But electing Democrats is not even a step in that direction.

Susan Bassein, Davis, Calif.

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Our duty to make Northeastern act

CURRENTLY AT Northeastern University, there are zero reported rapes. Since statistics show that one out of every four women can get raped during their time at campus, this means that on a campus of thousands, either Northeastern has excellent security, or rapes are going unreported.

There is almost no place to go to at Northeastern for someone to report a rape. The only thing that Northeastern has to offer are two police officers trained in sexual assault. Thus, if alcohol or drugs are involved, then no one wants to go to the police and possibly get blamed.

What Northeastern University lacks is a rape crisis center or even a rape crisis counselor. Despite Northeastern University President Richard Freeland's claims of "students come first at Northeastern," he seems not to care about women being raped on campus.

The Student Government Association (SGA) and the Resident Student Association (RSA) have both passed resolutions to hire a rape crisis counselor. These resolutions have been signed by Freeland, yet since next year's budget for Northeastern has no proposed spending on a counselor, Freeland seems unwilling to take any real action.

Thanks to Freeland's inability to take action, women have been going to the Feminist Student Organization (FSO) for support. Despite the FSO's commitment towards giving support, none of them are trained in rape crisis counseling. Quite frankly, the FSO shouldn't be asked to counsel when that is something that should already be taken for granted at a university.

Since Freeland doesn't want to take action, the students have decided that it is our duty to make Northeastern act. Over the last few weeks, the FSO, SGA, ISO and a few other groups on campus have been organizing to tell Freeland that the students at Northeastern demand a rape crisis counselor.

On May 20, a speakout was organized to tell Freeland exactly how students feel about rape on campus. Over 300 students walking by the speakout stopped to sign a petition to tell Freeland that there needs to be a place to go to report rape and get counseling. Since Freeland has utterly failed in his promise to the women at Northeastern to take action, it is up to the students to demand that Northeastern makes a rape crisis counselor available.

Ben Larrivee, Boston, Mass.

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Will money exist under socialism?

I READ Eric Ruder's article "How would we make a real democracy?" (SW, May 23) with interest. Nonetheless, the statement that "delegates" of the workers' councils would receive the same "compensation" as "their coworkers" raised an eyebrow. If by compensation you mean money, then is Ruder suggesting that money will have some place in a socialist society?

If so, there is no need for money, as Marx made a good argument for its termination in Capital and Grundrisse. I've always envisioned a system of credits, which could then be used to obtain property, goods and services.

Any differences in "compensation" would come in higher credits to persons who work longer hours (with inheritance outlawed so as to prevent unnecessary hoarding of wealth). That way, one need not worry about ensuring "delegates" make the same as their "co-workers," as it would already be built into the system.

David Bliven, Oceanside, N.Y.

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