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Letters to the editor

January 9, 2004 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
A challenge to Corporate America
SW was wrong on the Zapatistas
Death penalty for the worst lawyer

Unite and fight against these cruel cuts

Dear Socialist Worker,
A group of 14 employees, people with AIDS (PWAs) and their caregivers attended a December 9 meeting of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to demand that the county not eliminate its AIDS Waiver program, which provides PWAs with in-home services so they can live independently. At the meeting, the county's top appointed official, Walt Ekard, stated that the planned closure of AIDS Waiver is "only the tip of the iceberg," and that the next few months will see cuts in many more county programs due to the state budget crisis.

Ekard's words mean we have to do more. Separate campaigns around several programs will lead to county workers and program consumers fighting each other--and will only reinforce the perception that there are too many needs to be met.

Instead, we need a united campaign across programs, against any and all cuts. The two main unions of county workers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Locals 2028 and 535, should immediately begin preparations with their more than 8,000 county worker members.

We should discuss which programs are most likely to be cut, how to fight those cuts and what different programs can do to support each other. We should build a broad community coalition, like the one already in formation at AIDS Waiver.

We should build e-mail and letter-writing campaigns, button-wearing days and lunchtime picketing to a big countywide rally. We should build toward strike readiness to show we mean business.

It's never a problem for the state to find the money to take over another country, to shower tax breaks on the rich, to pay off electric company blackmail, or to renovate the death row at San Quentin. Workers and the communities they serve are always the ones to get the squeeze--unless we fight back.

Avery Wear, SEIU Local 2028, San Diego

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A challenge to Corporate America

Dear Socialist Worker,
There is an important lesson to be drawn from the struggle by the Southern California grocery workers. Why were these employees forced to strike to preserve their health care and not the other way around?

Safeway and Albertsons management did not shut their stores' doors, refusing to let anyone work or shop, until the employees accepted their demands. This shows the unequal relationship between the two groups: a small number of executives and stockholders have most of the say in the operation of stores, while on the other hand, tens of thousands of workers have virtually no meaningful input or control over their own workplace.

Who sets the prices? Who decides the store hours? Who picks the location for new stores? Not the clerks and baggers! The owners' power derives from owning the grocery stores, the places of employment for tens of thousands of people.

The United Food and Commercial Workers' strike is a challenge to the authority of the corporations. It is an assertion of the employees' desire to have influence over the affairs that directly impact their own lives.

The basic characteristics of the fight in Southern California exist everywhere. Thus, we are faced with a choice: Which side do we stand on? The status quo of corporate power, or the challenge by labor?

John Green, Davis, Calif.

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SW was wrong on the Zapatistas

Dear Socialist Worker,
I believe that there are several mistakes in the story on the 10th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising (SW, January 2). According to Subcommander Marcos, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) was founded by three ladino and three indigenous people, not by 12 members of the group Popular Politics.

Furthermore, the Zapatista National Liberation Front (FZLN) and the EZLN have extreme commitments to democracy, which often makes them somewhat inefficient. While this is undesirable in many ways, this connection with the people has helped to generate widespread support.

Your reference to the EZLN's refusal to try to seize power represents this democratic, and very un-Western, idea of rule by consensus and "leading by obeying." The EZLN has explicitly renounced vanguard movements.

Also, no one really knows the exact power structure of the EZLN and their support communities. However, Marcos is automatically assigned a prominent role in the SW article as ruling over the EZLN and the support communities and groups. Was this done because he is a European-looking male?

The EZLN is ruled by a council, and Marcos is a military commander and speaker, nothing more. There is a reason he refers to himself as a "subcomandante." Personally I would not want to be ruled by any sort of vanguard movement, and I suspect many other left-wingers would not want to be either. If a select elite ruled, would it really be socialism?

Finally, if one examines the revolutionary laws that the EZLN issued on January 1, 1994, especially the agrarian law, it becomes perfectly clear that they are socialists, though maybe not Western socialists. "Indigenous socialist" would be the best way to describe their philosophy. And I think they would want it that way, since they are the ones who have to live with it.

Lukas, from the Internet

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Death penalty for the worst lawyer

Dear Socialist Worker,
Elizabeth Schulte argues that the rich don't get sentenced to death ("Billionaire killer buys a verdict," SW, November 21, 2003). And that's true, they don't. But the reality of the death penalty is even more stark.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself stated that people who are well-represented at trial do not get the death penalty. Thus, it's not just the rich who avoid the death penalty--it's any defendant who is simply "well-represented."

The best representation money can buy is one thing, but "well-represented" is supposedly what every capital defendant--even the most indigent--should receive under the Sixth Amendment.

Ward Larkin, From the Internet

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