Letters from our readers.
Oct. 24 1997 3:30 AM

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Get Me to the Church on Time

There are several odd things in Sanda Kaufman's letter ("E-Mail to the Editors," Oct. 16), but the most striking is her reference to Israel as "the mother country." If, as she has said, there are 15 million Jews, how many are from Israel and how many in Israel were born there? The area is the mother country to some people--the Palestinians who were there before and during the invasion by Europeans and Americans. If they are embattled, it is like the old days in the West, with the invaders surrounded in their forts by the Indians to whom the region belonged. We now know that the Indians were right and that the real terrorists were the invading white populations.

However, the main questions are mixed marriage and religion. To even speak of "mixed marriage" reveals a certain racism. There is no such thing as a "mixed marriage," because there is only one human race. A mixed marriage would be with a dog, or a sheep, or some other species. And as for religions, in our day and age they should be forgotten except as interesting historical artifacts. The sooner we are done with all these superstitions, including Judaism, the better off mankind will be. Why do some people still think we should follow the ignorant ideas of mostly illiterate sheepherders who lived 2,000 or more years ago?

--Joss Randall


Your Point is Moooooooooooot

In the article "Hamburger Hyper," David Mastio suggests that Hudson Foods is not at fault in the E. coli spaz. And while I would agree that the whole incident was overplayed, after finishing the article I'm left to conclude that Mastio is blaming ... the cattle?!

Actually, I suppose he is suggesting that the farmers/ranchers are to blame, since it is during their stewardship that the bacteria are contracted. Mastio says that 2 percent to 4 percent of U.S. livestock are infected. According to Mastio, "the real problem" is that the cattle have E. coli to begin with, and that the cattle are fed too close to slaughter time, causing their stomachs to burst during slaughter.

Blaming this problem on the farmer is nothing less than biting the hand that feeds. First, E. coli infects much more than 2 percent to 4 percent of livestock. So withholding infected cattle is much easier said than done. But, more importantly, E. coli contamination occurs when fecal matter comes in contact with meat. Consequently, the cause of the contamination must occur at slaughter time, not on the farm.


I do agree with Mastio's general premise that Hudson is not fundamentally to blame. The fault lies with America's appetite for abundant and inexpensive food. Americans in general, much more than people from other countries, have lost the connection between food and health. We eat without thought to the consequences and expect the medical industry to drop us a pill for our ills, many of which are the result of poor nutrition.

We have industrialized our food systems, and continue to do so, something which classic economics says is not possible, since economies of scale do not easily apply to food production. Yet we seem to desire cheap and anonymous food. Rather than our food being handled by the farmer, it passes through the processing and distribution system, being handled, packed, unpacked, rehandled, packed again, transported, unpacked and displayed, and on and on. It is a good system for dealing with deodorant, but it is simply not a good system for dealing with food.

The answer, as pointed out in the same Newsweek article Mastio mentions, is for consumers to rely more on locally produced food, and to be willing to support farmers and pay more for high quality, safe food.

--Jeff BumpMadison, Wis.


Resistance is Feudal

Regarding Jacob Weisberg's "Tax Evasion": Of course there is a case against the IRS--it is a feudal institution that has been continued despite the fact that we are no longer subjects of the king and thus ought not to be forced to pay for the privilege of working for a living. That was the lot of serfs, who were nearly owned by their lords and whose land was owned by their lords.

What we ought to do to fund the proper functions of government is to charge contract and user fees. These would be plenty to support a government that operates within its proper scope. The fact that you folks find all this bizarre is not different from Europeans finding private ownership of television or telephone companies bizarre several years ago.

--Tibor R. Machan


What's Black and White and Read All Over?

Randall Kennedy was very smooth and subtle as he laid waste to Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom's America in Black and White in "The Glass Is Not Half Full." I particularly liked the way he worked the book through the pessimist/optimist grinder.

I was amused that the Thernstroms start off with a few statistics to initiate their optimism in their "Dialogue" with Kennedy. This annoyed my liberal heart just enough to want to hear more from them.

I would appreciate at some juncture that they drop the high-tea-and-gloves Victorianism and come clean as to their political alliances. In a world of Crossfire, it is so obvious and boring to have interlocutors priss around their hidden agendas, weave intellectually dishonest tapestries, and lob decontextualized softballs back and forth.

--Henry Sholar

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