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Letters to the editor

February 6, 2004 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Exploiting tragedy to justify state murder
Fighting back against a toxic industry
Dean, Green or anybody but Bush?
Kucinich is an honest union man

Temp workers are left out

Dear Socialist Worker,
In your article addressing Bush's State of the Union address ("The real state of the union," SW, January 23), you mention that the unemployment level only seems to drop because many workers have stopped looking for work and are no longer collecting unemployment. This is true. But there is another extremely important aspect to these figures that you fail to mention.

Like many others in this country, I have only been able to find temporary work. My previous job was as a temp, and I lost that job due to a lack of funding. I was without work for close to a month before I was able to land the job I am currently working (also a temp job).

Because I was only a temp at my previous job, even though I worked there for over two years, I was not eligible to collect unemployment when I was laid off. And because I could not collect unemployment, I was ignored by the unemployment statistics.

There are thousands of workers just like me who cannot collect unemployment and are therefore ignored by the statistics. Therefore, unemployment was always, and still is, much higher than the Bush administration has led this country to believe. That aside, I wish to thank you and all your staff for providing such a valuable publication. It is a paper that is much needed in these trying times.
Chris Berez, Poolesville, Md.

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Exploiting tragedy to justify state murder

Dear Socialist Worker,
Minnesota's governor Tim Pawlenty is exploiting a college student's disappearance in a bid to bring back the death penalty. Volunteers have been searching for Dru Sjodin since December. In the meantime, Pawlenty has used the fact that the man charged with her kidnapping is a convicted sex offender to manipulate public sentiment.

Now he wants to bring back capital punishment, through a referendum to amend the state constitution. Pawlenty cynically claims that his proposal would protect everyone except those who commit the worst crimes. But there is no such thing as a "fair" death penalty.

Minnesota abolished the death penalty in 1911 after a botched hanging. State killing is no less brutal today.
Andrew Jagunich, New York City

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Fighting back against a toxic industry

Dear Socialist Worker,
Your article "Natives suffer higher rates of disease" (SW, January 23) tells an important story--but not all of it. Indeed, Native communities "ended up as victims [of uranium mining] because they lack political clout." But this leaves out two parts of the story: the victimization of Native communities was not accidental, and those communities learned to fight back and win.

Native lands were also targeted for nuclear and other toxic waste disposal following a 1984 report for by the California Waste Management Board that advocated targeting toxic sites in communities that were small, rural, poor, older and uneducated. But with support from environmental justice activists, these communities learned about the issues and have organized and fought back.

One prime example is the 113-day occupation of the proposed Ward Valley nuclear waste dump in California by five Colorado River tribes, and supporters such as Greenaction, that beat back the federal government, the State of California and the nuclear waste industry.
Susan Bassein, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, Davis, Calif.

For more information, visit www.greenaction.org.

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Dean, Green or anybody but Bush?

Dear Socialist Worker,
As the 2004 presidential elections approach, many activists are debating what position to take on the elections. The New York Socialist Project, a discussion group of left wing groups, recently sponsored a forum titled "Dean, Green, Anybody But Bush?"

Howie Hawkins, a leading member of the Green Party, argued that, in the context of what he called "anybody but Bush hysteria," progressives have a responsibility to fight for "regime change" in Washington, D.C., by organizing against both the Democrats and the Republicans. Hawkins urged the audience to support Green Party candidates in the November Presidential and Senate elections, and emphasized that militarism will have to be a central issue to the campaign.

Kenny Schaeffer, a member of Democratic Socialists of America, spoke in favor of supporting Democratic candidates. "Mass movements are the key" to creating change, Schaeffer said, but spoke in favor of supporting a Democrat such as John Edwards for president because "Democrats are a vehicle for winning social reforms."

While Hawkins spoke of the need to oppose both the Democrats and the Republicans because both represent "Bushism," Schaeffer said that it is "irresponsible to equate the Democrats with Bush's agenda." While some members of the audience felt that endorsing a Democratic candidate could force the Democrats to pay more attention to progressive causes, most people in the room expressed a desire for Ralph Nader to run as the Green Party candidate to put forward an alternative to the two major corporate parties.
Sarah Hines, New York City

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Kucinich is an honest union man

Dear Socialist Worker,
I sincerely think that you are wrong about Dennis Kucinich. He is an honest union man who has stood with us in labor time and time again. He is a member of IATSE in good standing and is in favor of withdrawal from NAFTA and the WTO. In fact, he marched with us here in Seattle in 1999 to oppose the WTO.

Whether he is incorrect in his allegiance to the Democrats is another matter entirely. However, do not impugn the character of a man you do not know and have not stood shoulder to shoulder with as the tear gas fell. As for me, I have been there with Dennis and I know his honor and his solidarity.

When you cast aspersions upon a good man, it cheapens your organization and dilutes your message. When Sam Gompers ran for president, many people said nasty things about him. But those untruths did not prevent him from making a strong impact and shifting the debate in the proper direction.

Your organization has many fine principles it claims to stand for. Only when it walks the talk and shows true solidarity, will its ideals be realized.
Walt Creekmore, from the Internet

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