Letters

Shell shocked

RE: “Shell Ads on the MoJo Wire

12/1/00

I hope I was the millionth pissed off radical to take you to task for running Shell’s ads. After reading your editor’s note, I still assert that your position is untenable.

It may be true that to advertise is not necessarily to endorse, but the distinction is more suited to covering your butt than helping readers get at the truth.

You say you reserve the right not to run “false, libelous, or hateful” advertising. The very first article in the list of your Shell coverage — “Shell wins greenwashing award” — points to the falsity of the Shell ad campaign you are running. So exercise your right, already!

Your invocation of the censorship issue is either naive or purposefully misleading. We’re not talking about a point of view here; we’re talking about an advertisement, a piece of corporate propaganda. The assertions in the ad are not even necessarily the views of anyone in the company — they’re statements calculated to produce an effect. Do you also take ads from tobacco companies to showcase their point of view that smoking is a hip lifestyle choice? Would you run an ad for the Aryan Nations that explained they aren’t really being hateful when they call for separate racial homelands?

You can better achieve your stated goal of giving readers comprehensive information by providing links to a company or organization’s web site and/or references to oppositional resources in articles that criticize a particular company, organization, or point of view. Many readers, like myself, find ads annoying and avoid them, but will often look up the other side’s resources or click on hyperlinks relevant to the text they’re reading. You do not need to shield us from anything, but you also do not need to insult us with lame excuses.

Tamara L. Smith

 



Power in numbers

RE: “Pro-Life International

12/1/00

The underlying premise of unrestrained procreation has more to do with political power than a right to life. It seems to me that religious conservatives benefit primarily from maximizing the numbers of their own adherents.

It is also clear that most of the church-going Catholics in Europe and North America are more or less immune to such exhortations. They keep silent and continue to practise birth control. Quebec, the home of French Catholicism, is where Canada’s first free-standing abortion clinics were established. These arose out of the refusal, on three different occasions, of juries to convict a well-known abortion provider.

If indeed the religious conservatives wish to leave the lives of human beings in the hands of God, they shall not be disappointed. For God is taking up the challenge in the guise of extreme weather events and crop failures and has surely embarked on a continuing and ever-expanding program of population control.

Brian Fisher
Ripon, Quebec

 



Ralph in the dog house

RE: “Smash the Nader Backlash

12/1/00

The case can be made that Nader was doing what he believed to be right, thus living up the highest of democratic principles. But if Gore had gotten two percent of those votes or even one percent in the state of Florida, we would not be having this discussion.

So, despite my respect for the democratic process and my own history of liberal activism, I’m going still going to buy a dog and name it Ralph so that I can kick that son of a bitch’s ass whenever I want.

Matthew Lucas

 



The answer is small government

RE: “Cyberselfish Redux

11/30/00

As usual, Paulina Borsook’s glass of truth is half empty. She does a public service by exposing Cisco as a corporate welfare dipper then proceeds to conflate corporate parasitism with “libertarianism.”

Libertarianism is explicitly (and in every facet that I’m aware of as an editor for the world’s largest libertarian site) opposed to corporate welfare.

The danger that Borsook’s work poses is two-fold. First of all, she is put in the position of defining a philosophy which she has apparently studied little. Her book includes several egregious errors of fact as well as incomplete (or at best dubious) examinations of libertarian ideas.

Secondly, there is the danger that Borsook’s misconstructions will become self-fulfilling prophecies. If those who support corporate welfare identify themselves as “libertarians” based on Borsook’s poorly-framed descriptions, they could conceivably become part of, and even take over, the libertarian movement.

Tom Knapp
Managing Editor, Free-Market.Net

 



11/30/00

This article fails to recognize that everyone without exception is working for their self-interest. Everyone will get the most of what they want if freedom is maximized to allow all to support self-interests. That requires minimal government.

It will not erase land use issues such as this, but it will give individuals more time and money to band together and put their money where their mouth is and buy lands to protect. This will take this issue entirely out of the political arena once and for all. Then those locally can tell companies to take a hike forcing companies to an area where the local citizens want development.

Michael Glant
Indianapolis, Ind.

 



A bigot by any other name …

RE: “Bamboozled at the Voting Booth

11/30/00

You are addressing incidents that are themselves old enough to vote. The main issue for all of us is freedom from government interference.

Please tell me why people are trying to put more power in the hands of the government? Haven’t we seen the results of entrenched power in the hands of the servants of the people? We started out with an admirable sense of rebellion and now beg the power structure we once fought to take more control of our lives.

Racial, religious, and economic groups are individually promised protection from other groups. Nowhere is there a sense of an inclusive “we” that would help bind us together. Some bigoted ethnic leaders are praised and fawned upon while others are vilified. By cultivating carefully segregated minority groups, many Democratic candidates are assuring themselves continued power. Bigotry is wrong, no matter whose mouth it comes out of. Rewarding any politician who plays the race card, no matter how subtly, is damaging.

Jeffrey A. Sobel

 



Racial inequality persists

RE: “Bamboozled at the Voting Booth

11/29/00

Jason O’Brien’s letter reminds me once again that Americans have a vested interest in denying current evidence of racial inequality and that too many white Americans still insist on defining the experience and the reality of black people.

How does the allegation of voter fraud become equated with “fear-mongering”? What nonsense! The insult is not in the reporting — the insult is in the reality. In reality, the only candidates the Republicans can offer up for high positions are people like George W. Bush and Dan Quayle. And Clarence Thomas? Now that was an insult to black people.

Karen Medlock

 



Libertarian techies create wealth and pay taxes

RE: “Cyberselfish Redux

11/29/00

If Paulina Borsook has evidence that Cisco paid no taxes last year, she should immediately notify the SEC. According to Cisco’s most recent 10K, filed September 29, 2000, “The Company paid income taxes of $327 million, $301 million, and $440 million in fiscal 2000, 1999, and 1998, respectively.” (Item 8, Note 11, Page 67.)

That lie aside, it’s hard to understand what Borsook is so upset about. As far as I can tell from this advertorial for her new book, the accusations against Cisco are that it gave $3 million to preserve an open space near its proposed new campus (Borsook thinks the amount should be more), endowed high schools and junior colleges with Cisco Academies (subjecting the students to futures of endless employability and prosperity), and sold equipment to the government during the early years of the Internet. Never mind that the Internet never blossomed until it was exposed to private-sector use.

I think what really irks Borsook is the deep-seated fear that the libertarians she despises are the ones creating all the abundance this country enjoys today. Meanwhile, the government takes resources out of productive use through coercion and in return provides boondoggle services that would be better left to the free market. The libertarians of Silicon Alley, while acting in their own self-interest, do more good for the world in a day than all the government bureaucrats, working in the public interest, do in a year.

Jim Lesczynski
Media Relations Director
Manhattan Libertarian Party
New York

 



Libertarianism’s the solution, not the problem

11/29/00

This article sounds like it was written by a rabid socialist. Drivel like this motivates me. I will work long and hard to counteract socialist journalists like Paula and their promoting the federal government’s theft of my earnings.

Maybe Paula didn’t exaggerate and perhaps Cisco didn’t pay any corporate income taxes. Well, that’s likely due to the way the government has screwed up the tax system, adding plenty of loopholes for the politicians and their corporate friends to hop through.

Aside from that, however, if a company pays out all its profits in the form of salary, bonuses, dividends and benefits, it naturally doesn’t have any earnings to pay taxes on. The employees and stockholders get nailed for that.

I think the Constitution is a brilliant document, and our governments need to be pared back to their Constitutionally authorized dimensions. I know it’s hard for a socialist to admit, but look at the world today, Paula! Socialism has failed! Harry Browne and the Libertarians have the right idea: get this expensive, wasteful, bureaucratic, corrupt government out of my life!

Tom Bates

 



The cyberselfish aren’t real libertarians

11/29/00

For over two decades, I have fought to establish the presence and meaning of the term “libertarian” via many methods: letters to editors, calls and e-mails to broadcast talk shows, internet postings, and even heartfelt discussions with friends and family members. But all the grassroots efforts put forward myself and fellow libertarians count for nothing when people with access to publicity machines exercise their freedom of speech by maligning my political label of choice. Case in point: Paulina Borsook, and apparently also the people she describes in her book, “Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High-Tech.”

If you or Ms. Borsook would like to know what a real libertarian is, start at the Libertarian Party’s Web site. Or read the thoughtful book, “What it Means to Be a Libertarian,” by Charles Murray. True libertarianism requires and promotes personal responsibility, while rejecting government handouts or interference in activities that people should handle for themselves.

For example: The Libertarian Party candidate for President in 2000, Harry Browne, demonstrated his belief in this principle by rejecting a huge warchest of matching campaign funds from the Federal Election Commission. Instead, Browne’s campaign and the Libertarian Party convention were funded entirely through private contributions. In contrast, Ralph Nader fought in vain for the 5% vote total he would need to qualify the Green Party for the federal campaign dole in 2004. Pat Buchanan and John Hagelin practically destroyed the Reform Party in a struggle over that group’s $12 milion federal welfare check.

Browne’s truly libertarian campaign platform called for, among other things, an end to corporate welfare and a return to strict legal liability for corporations and their owners. Perhaps this is why Browne didn’t get very many large donations from High Tech’s faux-libertarians, who appear to be more comfortable courting candidates who promise to use tax dollars to subsidize their schemes and bail them out of trouble, as well as the force of government to lock out their competitors.

Please, Mother Jones and Paulina Borsook, don’t misuse “libertarian.” If you want a word to describe high tech predators who demand to be left alone except when government favors can give them an edge, try “libertines.” Or, perhaps, good old-fashioned “hypocrites.”

James Merritt
Santa Cruz, Calif.

 



11/28/00

I was pretty disappointed by your use of the word “libertarian,” appearing in your tirade against “cyberselfish” New Economy giants. You accuse them of resisting taxation, which is a beautifully libertarian standpoint. However, you then go on to accuse these “libertarians” of expecting government hand-outs. I’m not sure how much you’ve researched the Libertarian Party or the libertarian ideals on which America continues to survive — despite our debacle of a government — but there is not a libertarian alive who expects a hand-out from the government, or expects government to do anything but provide for common defense and deliver letters (and I don’t think they should be meddling with the latter, personally).

The fact is that libertarians (and Libertarian Party members) want to end corporate welfare, which is corrupt and anti-competitive. To my knowledge, the Libertarian Party is the only national party which pushes for an end to all government subsidy of private industry.

The word “libertarian” is often thrown around with regard to cyber-moguls, but I expected more from non-entertainment (mainstream) journalism. Anyone who wants government to subsidize anything is about as much a libertarian as Ralph Nader is a Republican.

Do what you will to the “cyberselfish”, but spare us poor libertarians, ok?

Ken Scott
Providence, R.I.

 



New Economy benefits

11/28/00

Cisco may not have paid any federal taxes last year, but if this non-payment of federal taxes was 100 percent legal, your anger is misdirected. You need to get to work and change the tax laws.

Also, while working as a temp in 1991, I scraped together a tiny pittance and bought Cisco stock with it. I am a homeowner today because of Cisco. So when you’re calculating how much Cisco contributes to the tax base, you would honestly have to add to their side of the ledger the $2000 or more that I, and all other investors like me, pay in property taxes each year.

Laurie Galvan

 



Trumped up accusations

RE: “Bamboozled at the Voting Booth

11/28/00

I think this is most ridiculous article I have ever read. Everyone knows about black oppression in the past, but to try to say that this oppression is as strong as ever is simply being blind to reality. Are you trying to say that blacks need someone to hold their hand to vote because otherwise the evil white man will stop them?

This is an insult to all Americans, and especially to African Americans. You keep spouting the fear-mongering rhetoric, but I have not seen one example with evidence of this really happening. It’s similar to the national hysteria about the black churches recently burning in the South; when the truth came out that many white churches were also burned and the motive was proven to not be racial, there was very little exposure to this truth.

For America to move forward we must stop the fear-mongering and the spreading of outright lies and misstatements for political gain. We are in the 1990s, not the 1960s, and although racism does exist in areas, it is absolutely not as prevalent as you would like the public to believe. But, if you yell loud enough and look hard enough, I’m sure you will continue to convince people that they are victims.

If you want a fact about history, here’s one: More Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than did Democrats. Look it up. Report this fact instead of innuendo about recent past Republican presidents without offering one shred of evidence.

Jason O’Brien

 



Greens will wither

RE: “Smash the Nader Backlash!

11/28/00

In my opinion, there were only three reasons to vote for Nader, assuming you are a liberal:

  1. You are so committed to the prospect of creating a viable 3rd party that all other issues of public importance are set aside.
  2. You are an idiot, because you have bought into the lie Nader propagated that there is no difference between Gore and Bush.
  3. You are self-absorbed and narcissistic, because you believe it is more important to make your own conscience feel good rather than do something for the public good.

I have been what some would call a “raving liberal” for 36 years of adult life. I have supported Nader and the Green Party with my money. But it will be a cold day in hell before I give one dime to the Green Party again and I know many Democrats who feel the same way.

I suspect that about 80 percent of the money the Green Party gets in off years comes from Democrats. I think this is going to dry up and the Greens are going to go the way of the Reform Party. I guess that’s too bad. But, I for one, will never forget that Nader had a large role in giving us the most illegitimate president in American history.

Bill Batten
Santa Rosa, Calif.

 



11/27/00

This is the silliest article I have ever read in the MoJo Wire. The Greens will not hurt any future liberal candidates because the Greens will never get 1 percent in any election, anywhere, ever again. There is nothing more dangerous than a well-meaning fool.

John Guntner
Springfield, Va.

 



11/27/00

Nader showed himself to be a selfish bastard, like the poster says. And to top it all, he never got his 5 percent so he ruined this election for nothing. Do you know what it will be like to watch that disgusting Bush smirk for four solid years?

Jennifer Galante

 



The conservative menace

RE: “Pro-Life International

11/27/00

This appalling interference with the UN process by fundamentalist religions (I include the current leadership of the Catholic church) must be fought by every fair-minded person.

This is not a majority movement even within the church’s own ranks. In the case of Catholics it is obvious from birth rates, particularly in countries like Italy and Spain, that people are just ignoring the church leadership.

These people are not just a right-wing nuisance — they are evil. HIV/AIDS is causing untold misery in countries in Africa and in large areas of the US. The abstinence message is directly causing death.

The Holy See’s special status at the UN must be revoked. Governments should be obliged to inform their people who makes up their official UN delegations and should be held accountable for their actions.

Dianne Proctor

 



11/27/00

By fanning the flames over abortion issues both groups have struck gold. The Pope is a smart man. Obviously by banning contraception you can’t break the abortion cycle, thus pro-life support and its money will continue to flow. It’s a great campaign idea but globally immoral.

With a bumper crop of six billion the world is already burdened with the collapse of global fisheries, deforestation, and global warming. With dust following every furrow and wells sucking air as they probe ever deeper into failing water tables, what are we going to tell the 270,000 babies born every day? Sorry, kids,the feedlots are full, holding tanks are backed up, and resources are scarce, so find another planet. Face facts, pro-lifers, without freely available contraception, global options for humanity will just get uglier and uglier.

Michael Weatherby